“Loving our swine more than Christ!”

July 19, 2016

MERRY TUESDAY-BY PARRIS

“Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.” Luke 8:3
What! Are we reading this right? A whole multitude surrounded Jesus and asked him to DEPART from their country, just because he took away their swine? Jesus had just finished delivering one of the most graphically possessed people in the gospels! But instead of seeing a Savior they saw that Jesus took away their commerce. It must have been quite an impact to see 2000 swine floating! Not a pleasant sight indeed. I remember the Lord spoke to me vividly to “go to the bottom of the ocean” and let it all go. What swine are you holding onto? 

Pulpit commentary has an interesting note to add-“They felt they could not keep both the Savior and their swine, and of the two they preferred their swine! And He returned back again. The chance, as far as the Gadarene district was concerned, was gone for ever. Jesus probably returned thither no more. Within forty years this district was the scene of one of the terrible calamities of the great Roman war.” 

Redemption is to me so amazing. We love the guy who died for others, we love the long hair bearded one that seemed to float around speaking love stories hanging with the cool cats and condemning the religious. But don’t touch my secret stash and tell me what to do and when to do it. We all paint this mythical Jesus in our own way. 

The Christ that I have come to know demands all but gives us the strength to hand it over. Somehow he even convinces us it’s a joy and not a sacrifice. I remember the bag of weed that seemed so important back in the day! Really????? 

He will definitely come touch your stuff but how freeing it is to be free of it. I am quite certain when Christ walks into my room there will be more to hand over. Let the work of redemption continue in my life! Like the Gaderene demonic that once walked the tombs, I pray I will follow him all the days of my life. 

FRESH OIL

July 18, 2016

Num. 11:7,8 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. 
I often think of the revival meetings we conducted at a church in Costa Rica in 1995. It was a traditional Assembly of God congregation that invited me to do a week long revival with two meetings each day. That first service was a real challenge, there was a distinct religious apathy in the air that could be cut with a knife. I’ll never forget the giant vase of anointing oil on the pulpit. It became a picture to me of that particular church. The oil was old, rancid, and had a distinct smell about it. I kept thinking about the importance of fresh oil as I plowed through that first service. David said it like this, “But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil”. Just like that church needed fresh oil, many of us become stale and need fresh oil upon our lives. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes it.
“Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for ever. Old hat will not suffice to impart unction to thy spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. To-day thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God, but he who has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far more speedily than thou dreamest.”
As for that church in Costa Rica, the lord was incredibly merciful to me in that very first service. In that very first altar call a young refugee girl from Nicaragua answered the salvation altar call. The Holy Spirit fell on her mightily and something vey powerful began that day. As she was praying to receive Christ, “FRESH OIL” fell on her. She began shaking, laughing, crying and fell out under the power in the middle of that traditional service. Fresh oil can change everything. Needless to say that was the last dry device we had that week. This young Nicaraguan became a lightning rod for the lightning strikes of God all week. Many young people came to Christ and the church was turned right side up for the glory of God. 

FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT

July 17, 2016

Sanctified by God the Father.
Jude 1:1
Sanctified in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:2
Through sanctification of the Spirit.

1 Peter 1:2
I love to read those old books. Jonathan Edwards uses a phrase that describes today’s verses, he speaks about the economy of the Godhead. What he is describing is the amazing way that these three-in-one work in harmony. Jesus said that He and the Father were one and He also said that He only does the things He sees the Father doing. They are inseparable and always work together. Today’s scripture describes their “economy” in the work of sanctification. This reminds us how important He sees holiness as in our lives. He is not content with our forgiveness alone, He is looking for change. The Father loves us and sent His Son so that we could be set apart (sanctified) for Himself. Jesus died for us to make this separation a possibility, the Holy Spirit works in us to accomplish this work. Here is how Spurgeon describes it. 
 “How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity; who think of Jesus as if he were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just, but destitute of kindness. Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father, and the atonement of the Son, so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit. In deeds of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united in their deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are one, and in the actions which flow from that great central source they are still undivided. Specially notice this in the matter of sanctification….And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness-upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit which is your meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Let’s face it, our God loves us and wants to separate us from this world. He loves us with a jealous love and is working on our hearts to separate us from the world for Himself. What is our part? All we need to do is yield to His love. 

THROUGH HIM

July 16, 2016

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever. 
Romans 11:36
Every Christian realizes that the Lord began the supernatural work in their lives and also have a good idea that He will finish what He started in us. Like the book of Hebrews clearly says, “He is the author and the finisher of our faith”. The real challenge for all of us is to see Him working in our lives right now. It is not only that the work is “of Him’ and “to Him”, it is “through Him” that we begin to experience God in our day to day lives. This is where we experience victory and joy, this is also where God is glorified. This is the real Christian life. Here is how Watchman Nee describes the importance of God working in us now. 
“God must be the Originator of all spiritual work. His will must govern its beginnings; on this we are all agreed. Indeed we would go further and say that all is to end too with Him, so that, in Paul’s words, “God may be all in all.” But there is something more. He is not only the Originator and the Consummator of all things; He is the Worker too. And where His power is at work, all will issue in glory. Our trouble is that, while we know the beginning must be “of Him” and the end “unto Him,” we forget the other vital fact, that all in the middle, all the great activity that lies between, must be “through Him.” If He is to have glory at the last, we must be in no position to claim any. God’s will governs the beginning, “His glory the end, but His power must permeate the whole operation between. In practice the question of glory is settled not at the end but in the middle.”
This daily involvement of God in our lives does not happen just because we have the right information. It doesn’t flow out of our beliefs or out of putting certain principles into motion. Where does it flow from? It comes from intimacy with God. As we draw near to God in worship and searching the scriptures the Lord begins to become more real and more active in our lives. He is alive in our prayers, our conversations, and in the very activity of our lives.  

UNTRACEABLE

July 15, 2016

Rom. 11:33 ¶ Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 

Paul describes the riches of God as so vast that they are untraceable. Have you ever been lost before? It can be quite daunting. Parris and I had one of those “untraceable” experiences on our trip to California after we were first married. Of course that was way before cell phones or GPS or anything like that, and we were hopelessly lost. I don’t know if we went through Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, or all of the above; but we were lost. You could say our route was untraceable. We ultimately found an interstate and got our bearings but it was quite a little journey. Paul is saying that the wisdom and virtues of God are so immense that they are impossible to trace. It’s like getting lost in the Alps, there is no way to begin to see it all. In this life we catch glimpses and are overwhelmed, in the world to come we will have all eternity to explore the depths of the riches of His love. Here is how Wuest describes this untraceable path. 

“Godet says; “Like a traveller who has reached the summit of an Alpine ascent, the apostle turns and contemplates. Depths are at his feet, but waves of light illumine them, and there spreads all around an immense horizon which his eye commands.” Robertson comments; “Paul’s argument concerning God’s elective grace and goodness has carried him to the heights, and now he pauses on the edge of the precipice as he contemplates God’s wisdom and knowledge, fully conscious of his inability to sound the bottom with the plummet of human reason and words. “Past finding out” is anexichniastos, “that which cannot be traced out.” Vincent translates, “that which cannot be tracked out.” The word could be used of a blood-hound who found it impossible to follow the scent of a criminal, or of a guide who could not trace out or follow a poorly marked path in the woods.”
So have you found yourself on this untraceable road? The difference in this road and the ones we are lost on in this life is quite profound. This is a good kind of lost, lost in God’s love. Once you find this untraceable path you will settle for no other journey. 

WORK OF ART

July 14, 2016

Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

I remember years ago when Dick Mills gave today’s verse as a prophetic word to my wife Parris. It was a beautiful word about the various giftings that at that time were yet to be displayed in her. I began to see this verse from a different perspective that day as I heard Brother Mills tell Parris “you are the Lord’s work of art”. Here is Brother Mills’ definition of this beautiful Bible word. 
“workmanship, poiema: From the verb poieo, “to make.” (Compare “poem” and “poetry.”) The word signifies that which is manufactured, a product, a design produced by an artisan. Poiema emphasizes God as the Master Designer, the universe as His creation (Rom. 1:20), and the redeemed believer as His new creation (Eph. 2:10). Before conversion our lives had no rhyme or reason. Conversion brought us balance, symmetry, and order. We are God’s poem, His work of art.”
The Lord has a unique and special plan to be displayed in each of us. You too are His work of art or His masterpiece. Here is how Watchman Nee describes this verse. 
“The first clause could as well be rendered “We are his masterpiece.” The church is the very best God can produce. It can never be improved on. We look around and see breakdown everywhere, and we wonder, what is the church coming to? I tell you, she is not “coming to” anything; she has arrived. We do not look forward to discover her goal; we look back. God reached His end in Christ before the foundation of the world. As we move on with Him in the light of that eternal fact, we witness even now its progressive manifestation. In Romans 8:30 Paul tells us that those God has foreordained He has both called and justified and glorified. Thus, all His own have, in His intention, already been glorified. In Christ the goal is reached. The church has already come to glory!”
Individually and corporately God is working on His painting. We catch glimpses of its beauty now, the day is coming when will see His work unveiled in all of its glory. It will be breathtaking. Until that day yield your life to the master artesian, He is working on you and through you on His magnificent work of art. 

THE GOODNESS OF GOD

July 13, 2016

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.Psalm 118:1

Those who know Him for themselves know about His goodness. If you have ever experienced His powerful presence then you understand what I am saying, His presence is an unveiling of His goodness. Remember when the Lord passed over Moses and hid Moses in the cleft of the rock? The Lord said His goodness would pass over him. Then again at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, all the priests could sing was “the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever”. 

This revelation of the goodness of God changed my life forever. I had been struggling with unrealized expectations and an unhealthy dose of ambition when I was overwhelmed in His presence with the sense of the goodness of God. That settled everything for me, the Lord was my portion and the rest would sort itself out. Here is how Martin Luther explains the goodness of the Lord.

“God is good—much better than humans. God, from the very bottom of his heart, is inclined to help people and continually do what is good. He doesn’t like to get angry or punish people…. People could never be as patient as God is. They would punish a hundred thousand times sooner and more severely than God does. God proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is good and loving. His daily and continual goodness shows this in rich and powerful ways. This psalm says, “His love endures forever.” In other words, God continually does what is best for us. He provides for our bodies and souls and protects us day and night. He continues to preserve our lives. He lets the sun and moon shine for us and allows the sky, fire, air, and water to serve us. The Lord causes the earth to give us everything we need—grain, food, cattle feed, wood, and the resources for making wine and clothes. He gives us gold and silver, homes and families, spouses and children, animals, birds, and fish. Who can count all the Lord’s blessings?”
He has filled the world and our lives with goodness. Even in this fallen world with all of is challenges and trials, His goodness stands above everything and is enough for all of us. Maybe you are feeling a little overwhelmed by your circumstances today here is a little encouragement. take a few minutes and join in the song of David and the priests, “the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever”. The song may bring you into His goodness and when it does your world will change. 

SPILLING BEAUTY AND GOODNESS

July 12, 2016

Psa. 45:1 ¶ My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words:
I love the Psalms, they are literally infused with the fragrance of Christ. This Psalm says it all, “my heart burst its banks, spilling beauty and goodness”. How does someone get to a place like this in their experience? Actually, this is the results of a deep touch of the Holy Spirit upon your life. Once you see Him as He is you really have no other option, your heart is filled with beauty and goodness and it has to come out somehow. It comes out in a display of love that we call worship. This is the source of worship, seeing God and responding. Actually worship is our response, I say that worship is the act of enjoying God. David was really the prototype of Christian worship, from the day the anointing came upon him worship was part of who He was. Here is how John Gill describes this anointing on David. 

  
“The Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward (after Samuel anointed him with oil); not as a spirit of grace and holiness, which probably had come upon him before this time; but a spirit of prophecy, as did on Saul after his unction; and which particularly showed itself in music and poetry, in which he immediately became very eminent, and he was taken notice of for it, and which was the means of bringing him into Saul’s court; and a spirit of wisdom and prudence, in civil as well as in sacred things; and a spirit of fortitude, of strength of body, and courage and valor of mind; whereby he was enabled to encounter with the lion and bear, and get the mastery of them; which, with all other gifts of the spirit fitting him for government, he was now endowed with, and which continued with him.”
Have you connected the dots yet? Worship is supernatural by nature. Worship is birthed by the visitation of God. That’s why worship makes no sense to the carnal person. The natural man views it as singing songs about God, true worship is not that at all, it is interaction with the most incredible of all beings. Joyful singing is spontaneous, this is what the psalmist meant when he said, “My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness”. Your view of worship really describes your spiritual condition, how is it with your soul?

FREE AT LAST

July 11, 2016

Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
 1 Corinthians 3:16
Freedom is something that all of our hearts long for. That desire to be truly free manifests itself in many different ways. We see it in the flood of refugees into our country. Even people that don’t particularly like our culture in America long to be here seeing the freedom and opportunities that exist in the USA. We also see this in the reckless behavior embraced by society today. Drinking, substance abuse, and endless pursuits of immoral sexual exploits characterize our society. They claim that “that” is freedom and even so called Christians dabble in the sins of the flesh cloaked with this appeal to be free from “religion”. Kind of reminds me of something the Apostle Peter said, “For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.” 

Freedom is what all of our hearts cry and long for but where do we find it? It comes from having Christ in us and really being aware of His presence. Here is how Watchman Nee describes this.
“A revelation of the indwelling Spirit was the remedy Paul offered the Corinthian Christians for their unholiness. Their need, like ours today, was to grasp the fact that God Himself had taken up His abode in them. To many of us, the Holy Spirit of God is quite unreal. We regard Him as a mere influence—an influence for good, no doubt, but no more than that. In our thinking, conscience and the Spirit are more or less identified as some “thing” within us that brings conviction when we are bad and tries to show us how to be good. Like the Corinthians, our trouble is not that we lack God’s gift of the indwelling Spirit but that we have not yet awakened to the reality of His presence. We fail to appreciate the essential holiness of the One who has made His abode within our hearts.”
That’s it, the freedom that we long for is actually God Himself. If you think about it, that is quite funny. The common spin on God is either that He makes our life miserable by taking away all of our fun or He is some benevolent Santa Claus that overlooks all of our compromise. He is neither. He is holy, merciful, and in His presence is fullness of joy which produces the freedom our hearts really want. 

POWER TO GET WEALTH

July 10, 2016

Deut. 8:18 ¶ And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 

This is a powerful verse that contains God’s plan for provision for His people and His kingdom. Notice this beautiful Hebrew word- power – koaḥ – Mounce word book defines this word as “strength, power, might, ability; often physical strength and the vigor of good health, sometimes simply ability to accomplish an action”. The Lord is telling us that He imparts to each of us ability, endurance, power, and favor to be productive in this life. This enabling from the Lord comes from His anointing on our lives. This Hebrew word – koah – is the equivalent of the New Testament word DUNAMIS. The Lord anoints and equips His people to perform and produce beyond the natural expectations for whatever situation they may be in. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on today’s verse. 
“God-giveth thee power to get wealth. Who among the rich and wealthy believes this saying? Who gives wisdom, understanding, skill, bodily strength, and health? Is it not God? And without these, how can wealth be acquired? Whose is providence? Who gives fertility to the earth? And who brings every proper purpose to a right issue? Is it not God? And without these also can wealth be acquired? No. Then the proposition in the text is self-evident: it is God that giveth power to get wealth, and to God the wealthy man must account for the manner in which he has expended the riches which God hath given him.”
That is incredible!! The Lord provides the seed, the sun, and the rain; and He causes the seed to sprout and flourish and bring forth the harvest. In the same way the Lord gives us natural talents and then enhances and multiplies them by His Spirit. He places us in circumstances for us to use our talents and then gives us favor for them to bring abundant harvest. 

Here is the most important part, this verse says God does all these things to establish His covenant. He prospers us for the advancing of His kingdom. Understanding that is critical for you to rise to your full potential. The Lord’s eyes search throughout the land for those He can trust to advance His work, that’s where His blessing comes to full completion. 


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