MY PORTION

Psa. 73:26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
The Old Testament is filled with pictures and images of supernatural reality. One such example is the inheritance of the levites. The levites were the priests and worshippers associated with the tabernacle and, later, the temple in Jerusalem. All of the Jewish tribes received a portion of the land of Israel, that is all of the tribes except the tribe of Levi. Why did the Lord not give them land? Their inheritance was to be the Lord Himself. This is a great picture of New Testament believers and our inheritance. Our treasure is not here on this earth, our treasure is God Himself. To those who have not seen the beauty of the Lord and the treasure we have in Him this may seem not very appealing. To those who have eyes to see, it is the greatest of all treasures. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on the portion of a Christian.
“God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which “they are to rise to at the end of the world”. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and the tree of life that grows, “in the midst of the paradise of God” [Rev. 2:7]. The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another: but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in anything else whatsoever, that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in them.”
David understood this as well as anyone. He had grasped the value of knowing and walking with the Lord from his youth. From the day the anointing came upon him after Samuel prayed for him David embraced the greatest of all treasures. That’s why he sang, “My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”.

GOD IS IN HIS CITY

Psa. 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
I don’t know if it is just me but I hear the word community an awful lot recently. I hear it applied to our nation, our city, a neighborhood, I even heard it in defense of Christians joining in on the revelry of Mardi Gras. For me, community has a special connotation. It started for Parris and I when we became part of the Christian Community called God’s Army back in the seventies. We learned a lot and went through some really tough times in those days but there was something unique and special about that community. What made it different? Today’s verse tells us, God was in the midst of us. He made our society very special, actually it was supernatural. That is why I love the local church, this is where we experience true community and of course this is where we find God in the midst of us. Here is how Matthew Henry describes today’s word.

“God has assured his church of his special presence with her and concern for her; his honor is embarked in her, he has set up his tabernacle in her and has undertaken the protection of it, and therefore she shall not be moved. The church shall survive the world, and be in bliss when that is in ruins. It is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Not disturbed, not much moved, with fears of the issue. If God be for us, if God be with us, we need not be moved at the most violent attempts made against us. Deliverance to the church, though her dangers be very great: God shall help her; and who then can hurt her? He shall help her under her troubles, that she shall not sink; nay, that the more she is afflicted the more she shall multiply.”
Without His presence community is just a club or an organization with temporary written all over it. The family community breaks up, businesses split, friendship wander apart, all human communities are just that, natural and human. We need the Lord in our lives individually, we also need Him in all our relationships. He is the bond that makes it survive, He is the engine that drives it, and He is the joy and love that sustains it. Yes, God is in the midst of His community and He helps and sustains her.

UNTOUCHABLE

Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Psalm 91:10

We all know we live in a hostile environment. We are attacked from the outside by our enemy the devil, from the inside from our own lusts, and in our day to day life by the spirit of the world that works through the lost people all around us. In my early days as a Christian I was often fixated on this war that we are thrust into the day we are born again. I was what you would call devil conscience and trial conscience for several years. When I experienced a greater infusion of the Holy Spirit a number of years ago I became aware of the supernatural protection that was part of my inheritance. Christ was in me and His anointing was and is upon me. I have an invisible power, kind of like a force field, that is impenetrable by the enemy. Here is how A. B. Simpson describes this blessing available to Christians.

“It is possible to be so filled with the Spirit of Jesus that all the shafts of the enemy glance off our heavenly armor. It is possible to so know the presence of Jesus that all the burrs and thistles which grow on the wayside fail to stick to our heavenly robes. All the noxious vapors of the pit disappear before the warm breath of the Holy Ghost, and we walk with a charmed life even through the valley of the shadow of death. The red-hot iron repels the water that touches it and the fingers that would toy with it. If we have been set aflame by the Holy Spirit, Satan will keep his fingers off us, and the cold water that he pours over us will roll off and leave us unharmed. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not (1 John 5:18).”

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Our protection is to stay full of the Holy Spirit. Praying in your heavenly language and associating with Holy Spirit filled people is critical to experience this blessing. No wonder Paul said “be filled with the Spirit”, he knew the importance of daily and continual fillings in order to stay in that untouchable zone of the Holy Spirit. Pastor John Osteen used to always say “a fly won’t land on a hot stove”. Stay in the fire and you too will be untouchable.

BETHESDA COMMUNITY


Merrry Monday with Parris Bailey
WHY BETHESDA COMMUNITY
In the Gospel of John vs 5:25 says; “ It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, WILL COME ALIVE. Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself.”
Last week while cooking supper I heard on the US NEWS that Opioid use has killed more than 33,000 people in 2015 alone. Overdose deaths nearly equal the number of car fatalities. Also the first time in our history heroin overdoses alone surpassed gun homicides. It is reaching epidemic proportions. Right outside our doors the interstates are filled with trafficking this lethal drug. We need to realize that this isn’t happening in some dark alleyway in shantytowns. Addiction has gone mainstream hitting every small town, big cities including the social elite. We can try to blame the person but in reality this world can’t handle their hurts. The prison systems are failing, and prescribing more meds simply isn’t working.

There is another way! Now after ten years running a restoration center working with women, I still find myself searching for more ways to bring hope and recovery to anyone that darkens the door. The intake requests never stop and the back door to use again never closes. Once a drug user myself, I learned from personal experience to never “leave the community” or in my case the kingdom of God. We can never underestimate the power of redemption. Jesus still saves, baptizes and delivers. Jesus is still walking the halls of institutions and the alleyways.
The good news is the message of God gives life where the dead are. Matthew Henry says, “He is to his creatures the fountain of life, and all good; author of their being and well-being; the living God, and the God of all living. It is by the voice of the Son of God that souls are raised to spiritual life; it is wrought by his power, and that power is conveyed and communicated by his word: The dead shall hear, shall be made to hear, to understand, receive, and believe.”
The Bethesda Community exists to show forth redemption to a fallen world. The Bethesda Community will use the model Jesus used with his disciples. They lived, prayed and ate together for three years. These twelve men changed the world after the resurrection, preaching teaching and baptizing in the name of Jesus. In Acts 2:46, you hear community again when we read, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart”.
This coming June we are launching of our new Discipleship Training School. it will consist of a one year program for ages 18-25 who will enroll for a small fee and have hands on training, learning missions, inner city evangelism, and attend our Bethesda School of Ministry. They can also elect to further their college education while living here. The Campus will provide a Christian atmosphere or safe zone, so to speak, to study, be discipled, and live a deeper life.

It is our goal to raise $80,000 to equip each 8 two-bedroom apartment with furniture, finish out the apartments with needed appliances, plumbing and electrical work. Please pray for us as we impact the next generation.

FREE FROM MISERY

Eph. 1:6,7 – So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

Let’s face it, most misery is self inflicted. What do I mean? For example, financial chaos is likely the results of bad decisions with spending or laziness in regard to our employment, health issues can often be traced to poor eating habits, and alcohol and substance abuse lead to all sorts of miserable conclusions. Whether we are honest with ourselves or not, we are mostly victims of our own bad choices.

Obviously this is not always the case. Sometimes other people’s choices throw us into misery; a drinking parent, a cheating spouse, or a crooked boss. Other people can also lead us into the pit of despair. Whether our own choices or the behavior of others have messed up our lives, redemption brings us from the clutch of misery. Christ purchased us in our state of misery and brings us out. How does He do it? He does it by changing us. We are changed by His grace at the very core of our being; the results are that we start living our lives in a different way. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes it.

“God hath made man’s emptiness and misery, his low, lost and ruined state into which he is sunk by the fall, an occasion of the greater advancement of his own glory, as in other ways so particularly in this, that there is now a much more universal and apparent dependence of man on God. Though God be pleased to lift man out of that dismal abyss of sin and woe into which he has fallen, and exceedingly to exalt him in excellency and honor, and to an high pitch of glory and blessedness, yet the creature hath nothing in any respect to glory of; all the glory evidently belongs to God, all is in a mere, and most absolute and divine dependence on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

If you have struggled with bouts of depression that may lead to alcohol or substance abuse or any other type of destructive behavior, redemption is the solution. It starts with forgiveness but doesn’t stop there. He continues with transformation; we are changed on the inside. We see our lives differently, we see the Lord differently and our behavior begins to change; not because we have to but because we want to. Redemption has made us new kinds of people.

I REALLY NEED HIM

Eph. 2:8, “For by grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

I don’t know about you but I really need God in my life. Let’s face it, without Christ we are all screw ups. We have a tendency to mess up our own lives as well as just about everyone else’s lives around us; that is without Christ. The good news is that there is hope for all of us, that hope is found in Christ. How does He do it? First He works on us to communicate our incredible need for Him. Then He begins to reveal His greatness and goodness to us. As we embrace Him we discover a whole new world. It starts with forgiveness from all the mess we have made; next He begins to drag us out of our misery. Most of the misery is internal, He works on our hearts and replaces our misery with contentment and joy. He also begins to work on the horrible messes we have made. He not only forgives but He also restores. Here are some thoughts about our need of God from Jonathan Edwards.
“Tis of God that Christ becomes ours, that we are brought to him, and are united to him: ’tis of God that we receive faith to close with him, that we may have an interest in him. Tis of God that we actually do receive all the benefits that Christ has purchased. ’Tis God that pardons and justifies, and delivers from going down to hell, and ’tis his favor that the redeemed are received into, and are made the objects of, when they are justified. So it is God that delivers from the dominion of sin, and cleanses us from our filthiness, and changes us from our deformity.”
So how is it with you? Have you figured it out yet that without him you are pretty much hopeless? Or are you still in the “I got his mode” thinking you can sort out your life on your own? The funny thing is sometimes our worst messes turn out to be hidden blessings. They bring us to our senses so that we realize we really do need Him. They also provide a great opportunity for God to be glorified as He sorts everything out. Just face it, we all really need Him.

THE WRATH OF GOD

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

This is one of those subjects that most people, including Christians and preachers, want to avoid at all costs; the wrath of God. We love the gentle, loving Jesus; we love the doctrines of the love and grace of God. No one wants to hear about justice or holiness. God is full of mercy and His grace endures forever but He is also holy and just. All sin demands justice if God is just. What is the answer, how does grace make peace with justice and wrath? That is what the cross is all about. God poured out His anger against sin on Jesus as the representative of mankind. Because justice was satisfied by the cross, His offer of grace comes to all those who believe on His Son. His mercy and grace are unthinkable, so is His wrath. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes the wrath of God in sermon, SINNERS IN THE HAND OF AN ANGRY GOD.

“So that thus it is, that natural men are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold ’em up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out; and they have no interest in any mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.”
Edwards is speaking about all of those who are outside of Christ, everyone who has rejected God’s grace offered as a gift through the death of His Son. Just as His grace is sure, so is His justice. So the question is begging to be asked, how is it with your soul today?