CONSTANT RENEWAL

September 17, 2016

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 

Whether we realize it or not, all Christians live in need of constant renewal. One way of saying it is that we all tend to leak. My need for refreshing reminds me of my daily, total dependency on the Lord. The life in the Spirit Commentary touches on how we can do this in their comments on today’s verse. 
“Peter’s “times of refreshing” is one way of speaking about the baptism in the Spirit. The people can now experience the renewal or “refreshing” of their souls through the joys and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their repentance, not only will their sin be forgiven and they will receive relief from their guilt, but they will also experience spiritual renewal through the Holy Spirit.” 
This experience is even more critical in light of the world’s condition. Are you baptized in the Holy Spirit? If so, are you taking advantage of the benefits this blessing brings you on a daily basis? How can we do this? It’s really quite simple, stir up the gift of the Spirit in your life. Stir up the Spirit by extended times of worship. Stir up the Spirit by praying for long periods of time with your heavenly language. As you make this a daily part of your life, you will begin to experience these times of refreshing in your own life. Here are some comments from the Fire Bible on today’s verse. 
“Throughout this present time and until Christ’s return, God will send “times of refreshing” through the outpouring and work of the Holy Spirit) to all who truly turn from their own way to follow God. Although difficult times will come before Christ returns and many will abandon their faith in God, he still promises to send times of spiritual revival, renewal and refreshing to encourage his faithful followers. Christ’s presence, spiritual blessings, miracles and evidence of the Spirit’s power will be a reality for those who endure opposition from the world, reject its evil influences and remain true to God during the difficult times ahead.”
Staying in a state of renewal is almost impossible if you are not consistently in fellowship with people who also love renewal. The church you attend and its view of the Baptism in the Spirit is critical for you to walk in the power of the Spirit. Renewal is available to you, step into His presence and begin to enjoy these spiritual blessings. 

Trusting God for Daily Needs

September 16, 2016

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Matt. 6:25
Jesus taught us total dependency on our Heavenly Father. If you are having a hard time trusting Him, maybe struggling with fear about provision or your health, I want to give you a couple of thoughts. First think about the power of God and the sovereignty of God. He can do anything. He is the creator of galaxies and stars, and comets and black holes, and the artist who paints the sky and the sculptor who has fashioned us in His image. He was there forming us in our mother’s womb, caring for us at birth, and watching over and providing for us every day of our lives; even in our most rebellious days. Next, consider God’s love for us. His love is clearly seen in His Son Jesus. He showed His love as He fed the hungry fish and bread; His compassion was seen again as He healed the blind, the lepers, the deaf, and the maimed. Who can forget His love displayed as He healed the little boy tormented by demonic, suicidal thoughts? Then of course there is the unmistakeable taste of love as He pours His Spirit upon us. Check out how Luther describes the provision of the Lord. 
“We can’t seem to let go of our anxieties and worries as long as we live. Yet God gives us everything we need hour by hour, without needing any assistance from us. So why do we keep on having foolish fears and anxieties about trivial little needs, as though God can’t or won’t supply us with food and shelter? Accordingly, Christ is plainly telling us what foolish people we are….Still, we continue to grope along in our blindness, even though it’s obvious that we’re incapable of providing for our basic needs without God. This alone should be enough to make us Christians and to keep this thought in mind: Undoubtedly, I never held in my own hands even one fleeting moment of my life. If I must trust God for my very life and limb, why should I worry about how I’m going to find nourishment from day to day?”
If God is really this powerful and that incredibly loving I have nothing to fear. He had me when I was born, He watched over me in my rebellious years, He has carried and provided for me as a Christian, and He will faithfully carry me to the end. 

GRACE AND OBEDIENCE

September 15, 2016

Heb. 5:8,9 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 

This verse tends to be somewhat disturbing to some evangelical Christians. It is those ‘horrible’ last five words that are problematic, “to all who obey Him”. Somehow being justified by grace through faith makes people think obedience is no longer required. That’s simply not true. Justification deals with our past sins and brings about the miracle of either a return to obedience or the beginning of obedience. Christ doesn’t just forgive us and leave us in the quagmire of our sinful lifestyle. Impossible! His work of grace brings us out of rebellion into a new life of obedience to God. He is the author of eternal salvation. Eternal salvation is more than length of days or a pass to heaven when we die; it is a new quality of life now that is characterized by holiness and joy. It is God’s grace that has brought us into this joyful path of obedience. Here is how Murray describes this verse. 
“There are some who think that salvation by faith is all, and obedience not so essential. This is a terrible mistake. In our justification there is indeed no thought of obedience in the past. God justifies the ungodly. But repentance is a return to obedience. And without repentance there can be no true faith. Justification, and the faith by which it comes, are only for the sake of obedience, as means to an end. They point us to Christ, and the salvation which is to be found in union with Him. And He has no salvation but for them that obey Him. Obedience, as the acceptance of His will and life, is our only capacity for salvation. Jesus Himself said that the Father would give the Holy Spirit, that is, salvation as it is perfected in Christ in heaven, to them that obey Him. To such would He manifest Himself; with such would the Father and He dwell. The salvation of Christ was wrought out entirely by obedience; this is its very essence and nature; it cannot be possessed or enjoyed but by obedience.”
I love this, repentance leads to obedience. Justification clears our past, our slate is clean. This new heart filled with grace enters into the joyful path of obedience to God. What a tragedy to think that grace just enables us to continue in the miserable life of disobedience to God. 

TEMPTED

September 14, 2016

Heb. 4:15 ¶ For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 

The heavenly priesthood of Christ is one of the greatest mysteries unveiled for us in the Bible. Jesus the Son of God is my priest. Jesus the Son of Man is my priest. Unthinkable! As the Son of God, He unveils to me the beauty and majesty of the Heavenly Father. He is the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact imprint of His very nature. As the Son of Man He understands completely everything I face in my daily life because He went through these things Himself. He is touched with the feelings of my weaknesses. He faced every temptation and test and passed through perfectly. He represents me to the Father. He is my heavenly representative; only this man of perfection could accomplish this incredible work. Because of what He has done I have total and complete access to the Father’s presence. Here is how Andrew Murray describes this verse. 
“Holy brethren! partakers of a heavenly calling! would you be strong to hold fast your confession, and know in full the power of your Redeemer God to save; listen to-day to the voice of the Holy Spirit: Jesus was in all things tempted just as you are. And why? that He might be able to help you. His being able to sympathize has no other purpose than that He should be able to succor. Let the one word be the food of your faith; the other will be its fruit, your blessed experience. Just think of God giving His Son to come and pass through all the temptations that come to you, that He might be able to sympathize, and then lifting Him up to the throne of omnipotence that He might be able to succor, and say if you have not reason to trust Him fully. And let the faith of the blessed High Priest in His infinite and tender sympathy be the foundation of a friendship and a fellowship in which we are sure to experience that He is able to save completely.”
What kind of temptation are you facing today? He understands. Not only does He understand He is able succor you. In our modern language, able to help and strengthen you to overcome every challenge to your faith. Be encouraged, you have a High Priest today. Look to Him and receive strength today. 

LIVING CHRIST

September 13, 2016

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God—Romans 15:7

Many religions have high standards, Christianity has impossible standards. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who use you. Turn the other cheek. Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Without divine intervention living the Christian life is unthinkable. Only one has accomplished it, no one else even came close. Augustine had come to the same conclusion, that living the high standards of the Christian faith was beyond the realm of human possibility. Augustine’s solution? “Lord, command what you will, but give what you command”. Did you get that? The only way for us to follow the Lord fully is Christ Himself living and doing it inside of us. It’s is not us but Christ in us that lives that incredible life. That’s why Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” A. B. Simpson spoke about this high calling with Christ living the life in us, check Simpson’s thoughts out. 
“Our text (today’s verse) sets forth a sublime principle, and it will give sublimity to all of life. It is stated elsewhere in similar language, ‘Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus’. Col.3:17 This is our high calling, to represent Christ and act in His behalf and in His character and spirit under all circumstances and toward all persons. “What would Jesus do?” is a simple question which will settle every difficulty, and always settle it on the side of love. But we cannot answer this question rightly without having Jesus Himself in our hearts. We cannot act Christ. This is too grave a matter for acting. We must have Christ and simply be natural and true to the life within us. Then that life within us will act itself out. How easy it is to love everyone and see nothing but loveliness, when our hearts are filled with Christ. How every difficulty melts away and everyone we meet seems clothed with the Spirit within us when we are filled with His presence.”
This teaching is actually very practical. Christ in us is a better parent, a better student, a better teacher, a better spouse, a better employee; He lives the standard in us that His word requires. What an amazing God. I have to agree with Augustine. Lord, require anything at all of me but you must fulfill that requirement in me. 

The Language of the Heavenly Bridegroom 

September 12, 2016

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me. 

Song of Solomon 6:5
I am not sure any of us will ever comprehend the love of Christ for His church. The world can fight and pull its hair out but Christ will never take His eyes off His Bride. Her eyes have made a conquest of His heart and Christ condescends Himself with grace to allow Himself to be overpowered by the faith and love of His people. The faith and love that He puts in us! We have such a limited view of our redemption! 

Christ takes pride as well as pleasure in His church; He clothes us with beauty and adorns us with grace. He has given us “faith that overcomes the world”. Song of Sol 8:6 says His ”love is strong as death, and jealousy is cruel as the grave”.  

Spurgeon calls it “the language of the Heavenly Bridegroom” to His spouse and goes on to say, “In great condescension, He speaks to her, and bids her take note that her eyes have overcome Him. The Heavenly Bridegroom confesses Himself to be overcome by the very look of the eyes of His spouse; she has but to gaze steadily upon Him, and His heart is vanquished by the glances of her eyes. He loves his bride far too well to allow any division of feeling to separate them in heart from one another. It is because He loves us so much that He permits our prayers to conquer Him; it is not so much because we love Him as because He loves us, that He permits the look of our eyes to overcome His heart.”

If we go back through time and look through Christ looking glass, we know in ages past that Christ’s delights were with the sons of men. The Apostle Paul called it the mystery of the Godhead that He should not only become man but redeem us! Oh He can’t take His eyes off of us! Where do your eyes find sight today? In the political unrest of yet another election? The decreasing bank account or your ill news of your health? Christ bids us to look beyond these earthly entrapments and gaze into His eyes. He speaks His heavenly language all around us insuring us of His love and commitment to us as our husband. When we give vent to His voice we are change into the heavenly image of His sacred church. 

People laugh when I show them my wedding dress. All it was is a muslin sheet with a hole cut out, and the sides sewed up. But when I hold it, it speaks of a new love that Christ gave me on my wedding day. He was overcome by my eyes! He put something so amazing, so beautiful in me that I am forever caught, bought and captured. His language is all around me swallowing me up on a daily basis. Sometimes my deafness overtakes me, but He comes and reminds me again of his love for me. JUST ONE LOOK! 
“Fashioned from the very fabric of God

At the start of time, set free to decide

I will love You, You’re the One who loved me first

Just one look from Your eye, I’m captivated by

The eyes of the Lover, the eyes of the Lover” 

Misty Edwards

  

ALL KINDS OF HELP

September 11, 2016

Heb. 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

All of us need help! I have not always been aware of just how needy I am but it seems that the more I grow in Christ the more aware I become. There is some very good news for us needy folk, our God loves to help us, that is one of the ways He displays His glory. I recently searched through the Bible looking for the type of help that comes from the Lord, here is some of what I found. 
In today’s verse the word for help is BOETHIA. This is really an archaic nautical term that is no longer in use. Our English equivalent is FRAP. What does it mean to be frapped? Frapping is what they did to wooden vessels during a storm. To secure the boat from the pounding waves the boat was wrapped with ropes to hold it together. This is a picture of what kind of help we get from the Lord during the storms of life. He fraps us, literally wrapping us in Himself to keep us from being torn to pieces by the storms of life. 

Another word for help is EPIKOURIA or ally seen in Acts 26:22 “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—” Paul is describing how the Lord has been his ally in all the attacks and challenges in his life. In other words, the Lord Himself stands up for us in the midst of our enemies, He is our Ally. 

Paul also describes practical help that we receive from the Holy Spirit in the midst of our weaknesses. He says in Rom. 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” The word helps here is SUNANTILAMBANOMAI. This word describes the Holy Spirit joining with us against our struggles as we pray in the Spirit.

Another New Testament word for help is BOETHEO which means to succor or help us in times of distress. This is how the word is used in Heb. 2:18 “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted”. If you are going through times of stress He is there to help. 

Finally there is the famous title that Jesus gave the Holy Spirit, PARAKLETOS. He is the one who is called alongside to help us in every situation of life. He literally never leaves us and is always present to help. This is how Jesus said it, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—”

Pure Heart

September 10, 2016

 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.Matt.5:8
Have you ever really thought about this promise? No, really! Just think about it for a moment. This is a promise to be able to see God. I think of it like this, this enables me to see God in every part of my life; in the small things, the really big things, and even in those most difficult moments. To see God consistently in my life makes all the difference in the world. It takes away the fear and the second guessing, it allows me to enjoy life and know that He has my back all the time. But this brings us to the next question, how do I get a pure heart? Actually the pure heart is a gift that we receive by faith. The Lord promises to take away our “stoney heart” and to replace it with a heart of flesh, a new heart. This is the new birth or what Jesus called being born again. But here comes the tricky part, we have to walk in this new life consistently to experience these benefits. When we walk by faith in this newness of life, that’s when we see God. Luther spoke about this verse in a practical way, pureness of heart in the real world. Check this out. 
“Some dreamers claim that in order to have a pure heart, people have to hide in a corner, enter a monastery or convent, or seek the solitude of the desert. They claim people shouldn’t think worldly thoughts or spend any time on secular matters. Instead, all their thoughts should be about heaven. These dreamers deceive both themselves and others with their mistaken notions. They lead people astray and do a lot of damage. Scripture talks about having pure thoughts and a pure heart in a way that is consistent with being a spouse, loving and caring for your family, and doing everything a parent does. In fact, God insists that we fulfill these responsibilities. Whatever God commands can’t be impure. In fact, it’s this very purity that allows us to see God.

Even dirty and unpleasant work, such as shoveling manure or washing diapers, is pure and holy work if it comes from a pure heart.”
I really relate to this. After all, I worked my way through Bible School with one of those manure shoveling jobs (literally). That is where I learned how to practice this verse, keeping my heart pure and seeing God in the everyday events of my life. 

ENTERING GOD’S REST

September 9, 2016

“Let us fear therefore, lest haply a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to have come short of it.” Heb.4:1
I have recently become more and more aware of the importance of the heavenly ministry of Jesus. Most people have little understanding of this current ministry of Jesus and are only focused on what He accomplished in His earthly ministry. You see His death on the cross was always aimed at more than just forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. It was focused on the ultimate goal, the quality of our new life in Christ. Christ not only died for us, He entered into heaven for us. He is seated at the right hand of God and Paul said that we are currently seated together with Him. Christ entered into this heavenly life in the presence of the Father to show us the way, Jesus is the way into this new life behind the veil right now. This isn’t just for Christians when they die, absolutely not, it is for us now. This is the source of the enjoyment and power of our Christian life. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on today’s verse. 
“We have seen that with Israel, after its deliverance from Egypt, there were two stages. The one, the life in the wilderness, with its wanderings and its wants, its unbelief and its murmurings, its provocation of God and its exclusion from the promised rest. The other, the land of promise, with rest instead of the desert wanderings, with abundance instead of want, and the victory over every enemy instead of defeat: symbols of the two stages in the Christian life. The one in which we only know the Lord as the Savior from Egypt, in His work on the cross for atonement and pardon. The other, where He is known and welcomed as the glorified Priest-King in heaven, who, in the power of the “endless life, sanctifies and saves completely, writes God’s laws in the heart, and leads us to find our home in the holiest of God’s presence.”

So there you have it, the children of Israel left Egypt by faith but a whole generation never entered the “rest of God” because of unbelief. This is a picture of the person who believes in Christ’s death, understands forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but never enters into the full life of the Spirit not seeing Jesus in His present day heavenly ministry. After all, this Heavenly Priest King is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. 

THE REST OF FAITH

September 8, 2016

For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because they were not united by faith with them that heard. For we which have believed do enter into that rest.      Heb.4:2,3

Receiving from the Lord is all about faith. Daily, we enter into this supernatural life in the Spirit by faith. I often think of the moment everything began to change for me in the summer of 1994. At that time I had been pastoring a church in New Orleans for sixteen years and frankly I was just tired. Tired of preaching and tired of the every day drama of ministry. I was reluctantly attending revival meetings in Rockwall, Texas conducted by Rodney Howard Browne when my life was dramatically changed. I had been watching people experience the power of God all week while I received nothing when in an instant a light turned on inside of me. I got it, you receive the Spirit by faith, you always step into this heavenly realm by faith. It was like a switch turned inside of me and at the same time the heavens were opened. I found myself caught up in the Glory of the Lord. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray about entering this deeper life by faith. 
“The land was waiting: the rest was provided; God Himself would bring them in and give them rest. One thing was lacking; they did not believe, and so did not yield themselves to God to do it for them what He had promised. Unbelief closes the heart against God, withdraws the life from God’s power; in the very nature of things unbelief renders the word of promise of none effect. A gospel of rest is preached to us as it was to them. We have in Scripture the most precious assurances of a rest for the soul to be found under the yoke of Jesus, of a peace of God which passeth all understanding, of a peace and a joy in the soul which nothing can take away. But when they are not believed they cannot be enjoyed: faith is in its very nature a resting in the promise and the promiser until He fulfill it in us. Only faith can enter into rest.”
Just as the children of Israel could not enter the land of promise because of unbelief, many church folk are caught in the same dilemma. They have left Egypt (the world) but have not entered the promised rest because of unbelief. There remains a rest today for the people of God.