May 14, 2016
Psa. 59:10 The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.
I love the book of Psalms. David bares himself before the Lord again and again. We learn about transparency and humility as we learn from the man with a ‘heart like God’s’. In today’s verse in the KJV the Psalmist describes God’s ‘preventing mercy’. He reveals how God has had us all along and by His mercy has intervened time and time again on our behalf. I think back in my own life, especially in my rebellious years, how the Lord protected me from the foolish ramifications of my own decisions. Mercy! He kept me when I was stoned and asleep at the wheel spinning in circles in the snow while going 80 MPH off the road on some interstate highway. He kept me from prison in all my foolish choices I made in my youth. He prevented me from marrying the wrong person and blessed me with a beautiful co-laborer who has been the joy of my life for almost 43 years. He has prevented me often times in my Christian years, from launching out on some foolish ‘gospel errand’ and kept me from potential horrendous consequences. He has met me and kept me and blessed me again and again by his preventative mercy. Charles Spurgeon spoke about this in his commentary ‘Treasury of David’.
“God who is the giver and fountain of all the undeserved goodness I have received, will go before me and lead my way as I march onward. He will meet me in my time of need. Not alone shall I have to confront my foes, but he whose goodness I have long tried and proved will gently clear my way, and be my faithful protector. How frequently have we met with preventing mercy—the supply prepared before the need occurred, the refuge built before the danger arose. Far ahead into the future the foreseeing grace of heaven has projected itself, and forestalled every difficulty. God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.”
Now that I am in Christ I am learning to come to this fountain that never runs dry. I drink and I am refreshed, strengthened, empowered, and satisfied. His goodness never ceases, never diminishes, and never becomes stale or boring. The more you drink His mercy the more you want. Thank God today for His preventative mercy. Not only does it keep you from trouble, it also steals your heart.
May 13, 2016
PS. 63:1 ¶ O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
Spiritual thirst is a gift from God. The natural man has no thirst for the living God. He may have interest in spiritual conversation but it is some sort of performance that he can take pride in. In his heart he thinks ‘surely God is pleased with me because of…’. You can fill in the blanks, usually a combination of so-called spiritual knowledge and some sort of good deeds or religious exercises. Thirsting for God Himself is quite different. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this thirst.
“Thirst is an insatiable longing after that which is one of the most essential supports of life; there is no reasoning with it, no forgetting it, no despising it, no overcoming it by stoical indifference. Thirst will be heard; the whole man must yield to its power; even thus is it that divine desire which the grace of God creates in regenerate men; only God himself can satisfy the craving of a soul really aroused by the Holy Spirit. My flesh longeth for thee; by the two words soul and flesh, he denotes the whole of his being.”
David is describing something that is quite different from just religious exercises and chatter, He is describing a longing for intimacy with God Himself. He is the fountain, the living water that flows out from Him is the blessed Holy Spirit. This is the true drink our souls long for. Thomas Brooks also described the blessing of true spiritual thirst.
“He doth not say my soul thirsteth for water, but my soul thirsteth for thee; nor he doth say my soul thirsteth for the blood of my enemies, but my soul thirsteth for thee; nor he doth not say my soul thirsteth for deliverance out of this dry and thirsty land, where no water is; nor he doth not say my soul thirsteth for a crown, a kingdom, but my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee.”
This is it, spiritual thirst is not even going after the benefits that God offers us, it doesn’t look for His gifts; spiritual thirst is looking for Him. So let your troubles bring you to the fountain. Sure your problems can bring you there but the solution will be far different, far better, than you ever dreamed.
May 12, 2016
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field … let us see if the vine flourish.
Song of Solomon 7:11-12
Parris and I acquired a painting in Bulgaria a number of years ago. We were having dinner in a hotel restaurant and saw a painting on the wall that really spoke to us. It was a portrayal of several women working in the fields. They were harvesting wheat and drinking from a water vessel during their labors. It seemed so fitting to me. We too are laboring in the fields with joy. Our joy comes from our continual drinking of the living Water Jesus gives us. Our joy overflows as we share God’s love together with our fellow laborers. Someone on the team purchased that painting and gave it to us as a gift. It hangs in our home as a constant reminder of our calling; harvesting and drinking with our brothers and sisters as we go. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on today’s word.
“The church was about to engage in earnest labour, and desired her Lord’s company in it. She does not say, I will go, but let us go. It is blessed working when Jesus is at our side! It is the business of God’s people to be trimmers of God’s vines. Like our first parents, we are put into the garden of the Lord for usefulness; let us therefore go forth into the field. Observe that the church, when she is in her right mind, in all her many labors desires to enjoy communion with Christ. Some imagine that they cannot serve Christ actively, and yet have fellowship with him: they are mistaken. Doubtless it is very easy to fritter away our inward life in outward exercises, and come to complain with the spouse, They made me keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept: but there is no reason why this should be the case except our own folly and neglect. Certain is it that a professor may do nothing, and yet grow quite as lifeless in spiritual things as those who are most busy.”
I think we are entering into a season of intense harvest. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. The Lord is calling His sons and daughters into this life of joy. There is nothing in this world like it, drinking living water as we work in the Lord’s Vineyard.
May 11, 2016
Psa. 59:16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.
How could David sing when his life was in constant peril? Was he in denial of the severity of his circumstances or was there something more? The reason David could sing in the midst of turmoil is because he had glimpsed the other side. Eternity was real to him, sometimes even more real than the here and now. “How could that be?” you may ask. David had experienced something few had tasted in his day. David had experienced the very real presence of God in his youth. For him, it started that day when Samuel anointed him with oil. David’s life could never be the same. Here is how Charles Spurgeon described the life of David the worshiper.
“The wicked howl, but I sing and will sing. Their power is weakness, but thine is omnipotence; I see them vanquished and thy power victorious, and for ever and ever will I sing of thee. Yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning. When those lovers of darkness find their game is up, and their midnight howlings die away, then will I lift up my voice on high and praise the lovingkindness of God without fear of being disturbed. What a blessed morning will soon break for the righteous, and what a song will be theirs! Sons of the morning, ye may sigh tonight, but joy will come on the wings of the rising sun. Tune your harps even now, for the signal to commence the eternal music will soon be given; the morning cometh and your sun shall go no more down for ever. For thou hast been my defense.”
The good news for us is this, the Holy Spirit is being poured out on all mankind today. You too can taste the edge of eternity. When you do, the things of this earth lose their attraction and its problems lose their sting. Step into this song of the Lord. Like David, sing about the power of God and sing about His mercy. Before long you will have a sense of God’s goodness and the reality of heaven will be your constant companion. The Lord will be your treasure and He will be your refuge in whatever trouble you may be facing.
May 10, 2016
Is. 42:10 Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise from the ends of the earth,
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!
Singing is a gift and the invention of God. Singing is the expression of our hearts, it displays the things we love and feel strongly about. We sing about our lovers, our dreams, our troubles, and even about our troubles. Singing can strengthen us when we are weak, encourage us when we are down, or even console us in our darkest days. We celebrate our victories with singing and “rally the troops” for battles yet won.
In today’s verse Isaiah is prophesying about a future day when all of the earth would sing. Actually he was describing the joy that began on the day of Pentecost and is still spreading to the nations now. All the earth will reverberate with the joyful song in preparation for the Lord’s return. That is what we are working for, that is why we too are singing. Matthew Henry spoke about this gospel day in the 1700’s. Here are some of His words.
“Now, this being the new thing which God declares, the newness of the song which is to be sung on this occasion is this, that whereas, before, the songs of the Lord were very much confined to the temple at Jerusalem (David’s psalms were in the language of the Jews only, and sung by them in their own country only; for, when they were in a strange land, they hung their harps on the willow-trees and could not sing the Lord’s song, as we find, Ps.137: 2-4), now the songs of holy joy and praise shall be sung all the world over. The Gentile nations shall share equally with the Jews in New-Testament blessings, and therefore shall join in New-Testament praises and acts of worship. There shall be churches set up in Gentile nations and they shall sing a new song.”
Henry lived just before the great modern missionary movement began. He would have burst into song himself if he had seen what is happening in world evangelism today. The good news is that we are in it. We are in the gospel day. The earth is bursting into song, the final Hallelujah Chorus about to begin. It’s time to join in with the song. It’s time for all of us to sing the new song among the nations.
May 9, 2016
Is. 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
One of the tendencies that many of us have is getting stuck in what the Lord has done in the past in our lives. Our God is shockingly creative and loves to surprise everyone with His tendency toward doing a new thing. I got saved in the Jesus Movement. Many Christians had a really hard time with hippies claiming to be Christians. God sat in the heavens and laughed as He shocked the world again with His new thing, hippies actually being radically born again. Calvin described God’s new thing as being like the sun in dwarfing all of the other celestial bodies. Here are his words.
“Behold, I do a new thing. This shews more clearly what the Prophet meant in the preceding verse, for he declares that there shall be “a new work,” that is, a work unheard of and uncommon, and which, on account of its greatness and excellence, shall throw into the shade the reputation of all other works; in the same manner as the brightness of the sun, when it fills heaven and earth, causes the stars to disappear.”
The ESV Study Bible shows how the Jewish people during the Babylon captivity were stuck on the Exodus and Isaiah was challenging them to look for God’s new thing. Here is how that study bible describes it.
“The original exodus did not exhaust God’s power but provided a pattern of new exodus-like deliverances. The Jewish exiles should not live in the past but should look for God to bring them home from Babylon through another “exodus.” a way in the wilderness. Where there is no clear path forward, God creates one. rivers in the desert. Where there is no natural relief or refreshment, God provides it.
Now God intends to reveal surprising new prophecies. Unprecedented acts of God are on the horizon—unprecedented, lest his own people treat his deeds dismissively.”
God’s works tend to happen suddenly and overwhelmingly. The Azusa Street Revival was also one of those shocking new things. Speaking in tongues, trances, healings and deliverances; no one saw it coming and the world has never been the same. Maybe, just maybe we are entering into one of God’s new things. Don’t get stuck on the way He has done it in the past. Let those past seasons challenge you. I think the most shocking new thing of all may be just ahead.
May 8, 2016
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-
IT IS WRITTEN MATT. 4:4
I grew up in a time where TV watching didn’t happen much. First of all, it was in black and white and my dad had first dibs. When I wasn’t outside exploring in the woods, I loved to sit down and read a good book. Maybe one of the very few “gifts” I feel I have, is the ability to read well and I thank God for the gift that was given me. I have fond memories of Little Women, Green Dolphin Street and Black Beauty among a few. Only because each of these books were given to me by special people in my life. So when I became born again, the passion for reading the Bible ramped up even more. I feel it was the one thing in my life that would remain constant. The stories in the Old Testament intrigued me and the New Testament especially Paul challenged me. Being a Christian without staying in the Word of God, is like leaving the compass behind on a trip. You will get lost, period.
I couldn’t agree with Spurgeon more when he said, “I look not upon the Scriptures as a harp that once was played by skillful fingers and is now hung up as a memorial upon the wall. No, they are an instrument of ten strings still in the minstrel’s hand, still filling the temple of the Lord with divine music, which those who have ears to hear delight to listen to. Holy Scripture is an Aeolian Harp, through which the blessed wind of the Spirit is always sweeping and creating mystic music such as no man’s ears shall hear elsewhere, nor hear even there indeed, unless they have been opened by the healing touch of the Great Physician. The Holy Spirit is the word, and the word is, therefore, living truth. Be assured of this, and because of it, take the word as your chosen weapon of war.”
We can babble all day with our own beliefs in this or that, argue about the next person being voted into office and howl at the moon. Haha – but at the end of the day, stay in the Word. It will guide you to the end-Christ Himself.
Even Christ when he was faced with a bunch of lies from Satan himself, immediately said “it is written”. Jesus even knew that his own theories or empty speeches wouldn’t get the devil off his back. And did Jesus even know the scripture? He saturated himself in it —it was his daily food and the compass that set him on the right course. I pray my friends that you too would fall in love with what He has to say!
May 7, 2016
Pas. 133:1 ¶ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
God’s creation is absolutely bursting out with pictures of God’s kingdom and of God Himself. Recently, Parris and I were snorkeling and saw all sorts of God’s creatures in the sea. It was quite amazing, if you would be still and “flow” you were no longer a spectator or intruder but you found yourself as part of the “dance”. We saw starfish, sea urchins, and of course a wide range of fish. There was a large sea snake and a sting ray and sometimes you would be surrounded by thousands of small fish. I think the thing that grabbed my attention the most was the group of squids that were flowing in a formation (a group of squids is called a squad). It was as if they were not a group of creatures but were actually flowing as one in some sort of formation. It reminded me of the local church when it is flowing together as one in the ocean of God’s presence. There are always obstacles that try to take us out of the flow and causes us to strike out on our own. The place of safety and blessing is to stay in formation, moving together as one in the flow of His Spirit. Here are some thoughts from William Bridge on today’s verse.
“It is a pleasant thing for the saints and people of God to agree together; for the same word which is used here for “pleasant”, is used also in the Hebrew for a harmony of music, such as when they rise to the highest strains of the viol, when the strings are all put in order to make up a harmony; so pleasant is it, such pleasantness is there in the saints’ agreement. The same word is used also in the Hebrew for the pleasantness of a corn field. When a field is clothed with corn, though it be cut down, yet it is very pleasant, oh, how pleasant is it; and such is the saints’ agreement. The same word in the Psalmist is used also for the sweetness of honey, and of sweet things in opposition to bitter things. And thus you see the pleasantness of it, by its being compared to the harmony of music, to the corn field, to the sweetness of honey, to the precious ointment that ran down Aaron’s beard, and to the dew that fell upon Hermon and the hills of Zion: and all this to discover the pleasantness, profitableness, and sweetness of the saints’ agreement.”
So if you feel a little out of step get back in the flow. You can’t stay full of the Spirit, full of God’s love, and be out of step with His people. Become like the squid and flow with the squad.
May 6, 2016
John 3:16 ¶ “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The simplest of all verses actually takes us into the deepest waters of God’s wisdom, love and grace. Jonathan Edwards has taught me much about the glory of God; especially in God’s work of redemption. Here is a short quote about God’s glory displayed in this verse by Edwards.
“[It] glorified God’s holiness and hatred of sin: his hatred of sin never so appeared [more glorious]. [It] glorified the justice of God.”
This is almost a forgotten characteristic of God in our anything goes world. God’s holiness, His hatred of sin, and His justice are all clearly seen in the death of Jesus on the cross. Think about it, all of our sins were judged at the cross. God hates sin; our sins were placed on Christ. Because of God’s hatred for sin it had to be judged. That’s what Calvary. Is all about. Justice was satisfied by the punishment of His Son in our place. This same act also glorified the grace of God. Here is another short quote from Edwards.
” [It glorified the] grace of God. [The] unsearchable riches of grace opened to view the infinite fountain of God’s love.”
What an amazing display of God’s grace was also seen at the cross. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. The grace of God is magnified by His death on the cross for fallen man. Amazing, justice and mercy in the same act.
Edwards also points out that the death of Christ for fallen man displays the wisdom of God. Here is what Edwards says.
“[It glorified the] wisdom of God. And [it glorified] the glorious excellency of God in general, as Christ therein showed his infinite esteem of God and love to him; in that when he had a mind that sinners should be freed, he had rather bear such great suffering, and be so exceedingly humbled, than that their salvation should be to his dishonor. Now, it is exceedingly to the glory of God that so honorable a person as Christ should so love him.”
The cross displays the eternal plan of God. Even before creation His plan was in place. Christ’s wisdom is beyond our understanding, the simplicity of the cross opens up this profound wisdom. Amazing, Justice, holiness, mercy and wisdom all seen through the the beauty of the cross.
May 5, 2016
Pray for each other.
Have you ever thought about prayer? No, really. Have you ever really thought about prayer. All religions practice some kind of prayer. The Hindus have some sort of chanting, the Muslims turn toward Mecca, and the Catholics have their rosaries. The problem with all of these prayers, they are all focused on human effort. Only true Christian prayer can actually qualify as prayer. What do I mean by that? Real prayer is a mysterious combination of human endeavor and supernatural intervention. Prayer actually originates in heaven. Our role is more of a yielding than initiating. That’s why all true prayer finds an answer. Christ is the heavenly Intercessor, His prayers are released in us through the Holy Spirit. That’s why Paul said we don’t know how to pray as we should but the Holy Spirit prays through us. These God initiated prayers are powerful and bring God’s kingdom down here on earth. Here are some practical guidelines from Andrew Murray about prayer.
“Intercession is an indispensable part of prayer. It strengthens our love and faith in what God can do and is a way of bringing blessing and rescue to others.
Begin by putting forward those who are close to you, those with whom you live. Pray that you will be a help and not a hindrance to them. Pray for wisdom, for consideration toward them, for goodness and love, and for your self-sacrifice for their good.
Pray for your friends and for all with whom you come into contact….Pray for all Christians, for spiritual leaders and others in positions of authority.
Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer. Make a list of the names that God has laid on your heart and pray for their conversion. You belong to Christ; He needs you to bring the people around you to Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit will strengthen you to actively care about others. Pray, too, for the poor and the neglected. Pray for the unconverted and for mission work….Remember that you have been “saved in order to serve, and you are on earth for the sole purpose of making God’s love known to others.”
The easiest thing for me is to start out worshipping and praying in the Spirit. Soon, the Lord takes over and we find and effectual time of prayer. It’s not hard, all it takes is a yielded heart.