THE ETERNAL IMPRINT

February 1, 2016

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Gen. 32:30
Jacob was never the same, after he left the presence of the angel. He had an encounter with God. His “wrestling with God” in Genesis 32 would lead to great blessing, but that blessing literally marked him for the rest of his life. To be touched by God leaves an eternal imprint on our lives. To be touched by God changes the way we walk. It changes the way we talk; the way we think; the way we do business; the way we deal with our families; the way we handle our relationships; it changes everything about us. God’s touch leaves a lasting imprint!

John Piper prayed this, “I love that touch. I want it more and more. For myself and for all of you. I pray that God would touch me anew for his glory. I pray that he would touch us all. O for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with water so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with thunder and lightning, let us bow before it. O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash.”

The word “touched” means “to lay the hand upon” –. Here it simply means divine influence. When we are touched, we have soundness of character and begins to free us from all our hang-ups and fears that have kept our voice silent. You cannot know the forgiveness of Christ until you have been declared not guilty. You cannot be set free from the deadness of sin until you accept the new life Christ offers to you. You cannot receive and understand the voice of the Spirit speaking to you until God touches your life. 

Francis Frangipane said, “If we will study the life of Moses, we see how he sought God and lived in fellowship with Him. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Notice that “everyone who sought the Lord would go out.” — Exodus 33:7 If we are going to truly seek the Lord, we must “go out,” as did Moses and those who sought the Lord. We must pitch our tent “a good distance from the camp.” What camp is this? For Moses, as well as for us, it is the camp of familiarity. Because He knew that our human nature is unconsciously governed by the influences of the familiar. If He is to expand us to receive the eternal, He must rescue us from the limitations of the temporal.”

Get out of your comfort zone, and let the hand of God put His Eternal imprint on you! 

Christ’s Final Promise

January 31, 2016

John 14:2,3 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 

You can usually tell what is important to people when death draws near. I’ll never forget the day of my dad’s death. It was Thanksgiving Day 1987. My dad wasn’t interested in his bank account or any of his possessions that day, he wanted to be with his children. We all gathered around his bed as he said his last goodbyes and took his last breath. 

Today’s verse is just that for Jesus, He is gathering with His friends for His last words before He died. In chapters 14-16 in John’s gospel we see an intimate glimpse into those last moments with His friends. In this passage He talked about what really mattered. He revealed why He really came, to open up a way for us to live a new kind of life. This flows out of a new intimacy with God characterized by a profound relationship with the Holy Spirit. Here are some words from Jonathan Edwards about this passage. 
“The promises of the new covenant were never so particularly expressed and so solemnly given forth by Christ, in all the time that he was upon earth, as in this discourse. Christ promises them mansions in his Father’s house. Here he promises them whatever blessings they should need and ask in his name. Here he does, more solemnly and fully than anywhere else, give forth and confirm the promise of the Holy Spirit, which is the sum of the blessings of the covenant of grace. Here he promises them his own and his Father’s gracious presence and favor. Here he promises them peace. Here he promises them his joy. Here he promises grace to bring forth holy fruit, and victory over the world. And indeed, there seems to be nowhere else so full and complete an edition of the covenant of grace in the whole Bible, as in this dying discourse of Christ with his eleven true disciples.”
Here we see that Jesus died for more than just a life that lasts forever, we already had that being created in the image of God. He came and He died to give us a different quality of life. This life is the very life that Jesus enjoyed with His Father. He purchased that for us. This new kind of life begins when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This Spirit filled life is life indeed. 

FULNESS

January 30, 2016

And of his fulness have all we received. John 1:16

If you know anything about humans you know that without Christ there is a profound emptiness. Most of us try our best to cover it up, some do a better job of it than others. No matter all our efforts this emptiness effects every part of our lives. It effects our emotions, our relationships, and everything we do with our lives. The only solution, the fullness of Christ; Christ enters our lives and His fullness permeates every part of us. He satisfies our heart, heals our emotions, and fills us with purpose and direction. The life that Jesus lives and displayed for us in His humanity becomes ours. His joy, His peace, His love for His Father, and His love for hurting people becomes our life. We begin to live off of the fullness that spills out of Christ and flows into us. Charles Spurgeon shares about the fullness of Christ like only he can. 
“These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ. There is a fulness of essential Deity, for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead. There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in his blood, for the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin. There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in his life, for there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. There is a fulness of divine prevalence in his plea, for He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. There is a fulness of victory in his death, for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in his resurrection from the dead, for by it we are begotten again unto a lively hope. There is a fulness of triumph in his ascension, for when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men.”
So our lives of emptiness is over, we are now living off of Christ’s fullness. After reading today’s devotion I hope you get this; this fullness of Christ is not just our theology but the very life that we live. Every practical area of my life can begin to live off of the fullness of God that we have received in Christ. 

I LEAVE YOU MY PEACE

January 29, 2016

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

The times that Jesus lived in could be characterized by lots of things, it wasn’t noted as a time of peace. It started at His birth, Jerusalem was said to be in an uproar at the news the wise men brought about the birth of a Jewish king. Herod went on a rampage killing male children under two years of age. It wasn’t much better during His ministry years. Think about it, his home town friends tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. Then there was the constant attack of the Pharisees and Saducees that was relentless through His entire ministry. Then there were the suicidal maniacs that He dealt with, outrageous storms, betrayal on His staff, and abandonment from all His friends. It ended with the suicide of one of His disciples and His execution from an unholy alliance between King Herod, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, and the high priest of Israel. Doesn’t sound like much peace; unless. Unless you knew the spiritual peace that Jesus lived in. Nothing fazed Him because of the peace that resonated in His life from His relationship with His Father. This was the same peace He had enjoyed from eternity, the peace of God. This is the peace that Jesus offered His disciples in today’s verse. This is the same peace He offers us today. Here is an excerpt from Jonathan Edwards on today’s verse. 

“He had no earthly estate to leave to his disciples who were as it were his family: but he had peace to give them. It was his peace that he gave them; as it was the same kind of peace which he himself enjoyed. The same excellent and divine peace which he ever had in God; and which he was about to receive in his exalted state in a vastly greater perfection and fullness: for the happiness Christ gives to his people, is a participation of his own happiness: agreeable to what Christ says in this same dying discourse of his, “These things have I said unto you, that my joy might remain in you.” And in his prayer that he made with his disciples at the conclusion of this discourse; “And now come I unto thee, and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them.”
There you have it, there is a peace available to Christians that is bigger than all the stress in this world. The way things are going, we need it now more than ever. So we have two ways to live, trying to be at peace by fixing our broken world or living in a state of peace that flows from intimacy with God.

White Fields

January 28, 2016

John 4:35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 

The sun was just coming up over Lake Ponchartrain as we were driving across the Bonnet Carre Spillway. It had been a long night of driving, we were on our last leg driving in from California. I had been sharing the driving with a missionary friend, Glen Swarthout, we were driving to my home town after being away for several years. I was sitting in the front seat while Glen was taking the last leg and decided I would read my Bible. It just so happened that one of my passages for that day was John 4. Today’s verse jumped out of the page right into my face. I was experiencing one of the most profound God encounters I have ever had. It wasn’t a vision or even a trance like state; it was more of a sudden awareness of God’s presence and a clear sense of calling and destiny. I was beginning to taste that my life work would be connected to the New Orleans area. As I continued to read the verses, they were like the word of the Lord just for me. 

John 4:36-38 “Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor”. 

I sensed that this is where the Lord had called me to labor. I also saw that others had gone before me and prepared the ground. I knew in my heart that an incredible harvest was ready to be reaped. 

I am writing this devotion almost forty years later. A lot has happened in those forty years. What started out as a street ministry ended up as a thriving church. Victory Fellowship has seen the Lord do remarkable things. We have seen thousands of people converted, multiple churches started regionally, missionaries sent to the nations, and a variety of incredible ministries at our home base. Feed the Multitudes (a giant free food festival) has been taking place since 1990, Beyond the Grave (a multi-media production) has been going on since 1999 with over 70,000 decisions for Christ, and recently we have begun two restoration centers, Mary’s Song for the ladies and 180 for the men. 

Who could have imagined these things on that morning in a borrowed car driving in to New Orleans. But here is the strangest thing, my heart tells me that there is more, way more. I have a strange feeling that what we have seen is just a teaser, that the main harvest is yet to come. So what should we do? Look on the fields, they are white and ready for harvest. What do we need? We need harvesters that have a love for lost souls. 

THE ONE WHO DWELT IN THE BUSH

January 27, 2016

Deut. 33:16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness, And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let the blessing come “on the head of Joseph, And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.’ 

First things are always special. First car, first house, first kiss: somehow those first things define our lives. That’s how it was with Moses. In today’s verse Moses is at the end of his life. Over the last forty years Moses had innumerable encounters with the Almighty. There was the day The Lord appeared in the cloud for the first time, then the time He appeared on Mount Sinai, the many times He met Moses in the tabernacle, and of course it would be impossible to forget the time he was hidden in the cleft of the rock and the glory of The Lord passed over him. But still, there was something about that first encounter Moses could never forget. For Moses, He was still the One who dwelt in the bush. Matthew Henry makes some interesting comments about this One who dwelt in the bush. 
“He crowns all with the good-will, or favorable acceptance, of him that dwelt in the bush, that is, of God, that God who appeared to Moses in the bush that burned and was not consumed, to give him his commission for the bringing of Israel out of Egypt. Though God’s glory appeared there but for a while, yet it is said to dwell there, because it continued as long as there was occasion for it: the good-will of the shechinah in the bush; so it might be read, for shechinah signifies that which dwelleth; and, though it was but a little while a dweller in the bush, yet it continued to dwell with the people of Israel. My dweller in the bush; so it should be rendered; that was an appearance of the divine Majesty to Moses only, in token of the particular interest he had in God, which he desires to improve for the good of this tribe. Many a time God has appeared to Moses, but now that he is just dying he seems to have the most pleasing remembrance of that which was the first time, when his acquaintance with the visions of the Almighty first began, and his correspondence with heaven was first settled: that was a time of love never to be forgotten.”
That bush encounter caught Moses by surprise, he was just enduring another day just like thousands before. This was just another day of chasing sheep. At least it was until The Lord spoke to Moses from the bush. “Take the shoes off of your feet because you are on holy ground.” From that day on for the rest of Moses life he would be on holy ground. For the next forty years The Lord would be “the One who lives in the bush” to Moses. Do you remember your first time? When you stop and think about it He will suddenly be right there with you again.

THE INVISIBLE FRIEND

January 26, 2016

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:23-25;27 NKJV).

Four hundred years after Joseph was buried in Egypt, another Hebrew, named Moses, was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. This made him grandson and heir to the king of Egypt. Moses was raised in the midst of wealth that we cannot imagine. But when he had come of age, Moses chose what Paul called the “reproaches of Christ” (Rom. 15:3) because they were more valuable to him than all the gold and power in the palace.
The reward that Moses received in exchange for his “sacrifice” was the same reward that God gave to Abraham and to Enoch. It was not something measured by natural, tangible wealth. The reward was God Himself. In Genesis 15:1, God told Abraham that He was his reward. In Deuteronomy 10:9, He told the Levites that He was their portion. By faith, Moses forsook Egypt. Have you forsaken Egypt or is Egypt still in your heart? All throughout the Bible, Egypt is a type of the world. The only way to get Egypt out of your heart is to drive it out by getting more of God in your heart. Egypt must be replaced by Zion. The invisible God must replace the visible treasures of this world.
Moses caught a glimpse of a reward more valuable than all the wealth, power, and entertainment that this world has to offer. The angel of the Lord appeared to Moses “in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush” (Exod. 3:2). As he beheld the bush, it burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. God said, “I am who I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exod. 3:14). Moses didn’t fear the wrath of the king because he saw a greater king that day in the fiery bush. Once you have trembled in the presence of the almighty, majestic God, the ruler of Heaven and earth, you cannot fear man anymore. Moses didn’t care what Pharaoh said or how much power he had. He didn’t care how many armies or how much gold he had. He could look Pharaoh in the eye and not be afraid because he had seen the One who we all have to fear. Moses looked at Pharaoh and realized that the king of Egypt was just a coward, hiding behind his gold and his army. How could Moses be afraid? He had been in the fire. He had seen the bush. He had seen the glory. How could he be afraid of a natural man when he had seen this awesome God? Moses had stepped into the presence of the invisible God who inhabits eternity. He saw God for himself. He saw the One who our natural eyes cannot see. Moses glimpsed the King of Glory with the eyes of his heart; God was bigger to him than any man or any problem on earth.

TOUCHED BY A MOMENT 

January 25, 2016

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS- “And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken” Gen. 21:1 

This passage speaks of the faithfulness of God in our lives. He will visit us time and time again. Time passes but the promises of God never grow old. Our part is to remain faithful and to keep watering the seeds that He has planted within our hearts. Matthew Henry said, “True believers, by virtue of God’s promises, are enabled to do that which is above the power of human nature, for by them they partake of a divine nature, 2 Pt. 1:4.” We don’t live in a happenstance world where we live by chance or being at the right time at the right place. I don’t think I can ever grasp that as a Christian, my nature has become divine. Christ has stepped into my life and He brings a creative force to the promises God has brought to me. 

Ever since the young age of 16 I have found myself serving in the house of God where I have seen “God visit just as he has promised”. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would spend so many hours “gazing into the face of God”. What an honor and what a privilege that the promises of God are true and have come alive! He loves to visit his people and give life, encouragement and miracles. This song comes to mind when I think about the many visitations of God. 

It doesn’t take much to “get touched by a moment”. The question is, do we allow Him to interrupt our lives? Have we paused, opened up, slowed down long enough just to hear something……anything! Is there a song that is sung within you? Sarah named her visitation laughter ( Isaac) What will you name yours? He will come just like he promised! We are seeking a place of abiding in Christ, where we are keenly aware of His presence within us.

“When the heart is touched the core of our being is touched. When the heart is touched someone has gotten through all the layers to the center. We have been known. We have been seen. We have been pierced. The touch of God is an awesome thing because God is God. Just think of what is being said here! God touched them. Not a wife. Not a child. Not a parent. Not a counselor. But God. The One with infinite power in the universe. The One with infinite authority and infinite wisdom and infinite love and infinite goodness and infinite purity and infinite justice. That One touched their heart.”

Let this new year be filled with “touched by a moment”!

ARMED WITH A STICK

January 24, 2016

Ex. 17:5 ¶ And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go.

Moses was on the verge of an incredible journey, a journey of trials and temptations in the wilderness that would last 40 years. It was a journey of danger and responsibility, and the only thing that could sustain him was an encounter with the Holy One of Israel. Moses endured the challenges that he faced “as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). Armed with just a stick, Moses stood on the edge of the Red Sea and looked straight into the face of the most powerful empire that the earth had ever known. This meager instrument was all he had, but it was the tool that the Lord gave him to use against the Egyptians. In the same way, God will give you the tools that you need to deal with the problems in front of you. I have no idea what trials you are facing today, but God knows. What I do know is that the only way for you to endure whatever problem you’re facing is to have a heart-encounter with the invisible God. Despite the circumstances, you can endure by seeing with your heart this God who is invisible.

How can you have this kind of experience in our modern world? It’s really quite simple but difficult at the same time. Like The Lord told Moses, stand still and see the salvation of God. We must be still. What does that mean? Somehow, shut out the noise and cluttering your life. Somehow, get in a place so quiet and wait. Yo will surely find your invisible friend.

Before his experience with the burning bush, Moses tasted a life like no other. He had dined on the finest foods and partaken of the finest drinks from all over the world. However, Moses had never tasted anything like the One who appeared before him on the back side of the desert. He had lived in the greatest luxury, but it could not compare to the riches of God’s presence. Moses had seen the power and authority of Pharaoh, but he had never witnessed such power and authority as he did on the day that he fell on his face before the great I am. From that day forward, Moses walked with his unseen friend. His unseen friend was there, touching him, speaking to him, empowering him, and equipping him for his journey.

Today, this unseen friend is still here. The Holy Ghost wants to walk with you, just as He walked with Moses. Have you been in the fire and heard the voice of God? Have you set your eyes on this unseen friend, this awesome God? Everywhere Moses went from that day forward, he saw this One who is invisible. Maybe today is the day you will stand still and see this invisible God.

UNTHINKABLE

January 23, 2016

Job 36:26 – The Message – Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite,  greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!
The universe exists to display the eternal, unthinkable quality of our God. Numbers or statistics cannot describe the immensity of God’s creation, it is way past finding out. With all our scientific advancements we can’t even understand the planet we live on fully. Recently, scientists came to the conclusion that the greatest valleys and caverns on earth are way underneath the ice and snow in Antarctica. I recently read that 95% of the ocean is still unexplored. I also recently heard about a new planet called Planet Nine that is ten times the size of earth probably running on some strange elliptical orbit way out beyond Neptune. We can’t even begin to scratch the surface of creation, it is huge. That is what eternity will be about, exploring this incredible, infinite creation of Our God. Here are some thoughts from Andrew Murray on this in unfathomable God.
“The greatness of God’s being and glory, though beyond our understanding, is a reality that we give too little consideration. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so far beyond our comprehension are the thoughts and ways of God. A deep appreciation of this is of the utmost importance in the spiritual life. We need to look up to God with deep humility and holy reverence, and then with childlike simplicity to accept the teaching of the Holy Spirit. His greatness, power, wisdom, holiness, grace, love—all are far above that which we can grasp or understand. The Word declares, “Oh, the depth of the riches … the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out” (Romans 11:33). “Our hearts are meant to respond, “Indeed, how wonderful, Lord, are all Your thoughts! How deep are Your purposes!” Our meditations upon what God is ought always to fill us with a holy reverence and deep longing to know and honor Him. When you worship God, therefore, cry out, “How great is the glory of the Lord who is my God and Father!”
When we come into His presence, then and then only can we begin to taste the edge of His ways. His touch brings the sense of His greatness into our lives, restoring the majesty and our awe of God. Draw near to Him in worship, linger in His presence. You will begin to say with Job, “He is infinite, greater than anything I could ever figure out”.


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