BEAUTY

May 12, 2015

Psa. 27:4 ¶ One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. 

What  is your definition of beauty? Is it the symmetry of someone’s face or maybe a sunset that reminds you of some impressionist’s masterpiece? Or maybe beauty to you is the smile of a grandchild or the first steps of your firstborn. As they say, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. For the golfer, it is the perfect swing; the fisherman’s beauty is the ‘fight’ in that trophy bass, and for the baseball fan it could be the ‘perfect game’ pitched by the starting pitcher. King David had his own definition and ideas about beauty, he had seen the Artist and Creator of all beauty and recognized anything of beauty in this life is only a shadow pointing to the One Who is altogether lovely. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on David’s view of  the beauty of the Lord.  
“He would dwell in God’s house, not for the plenty of good entertainment that was there, in the feasts upon the sacrifices, nor for the music and good singing that were there, but to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple. He desired to attend in God’s courts. That he might have the pleasure of meditating upon God. He knew something of the beauty of the Lord, the infinite and transcendent amiableness of the divine being and perfections; his holiness is his beauty, his goodness is his beauty. The harmony of all his attributes is the beauty of his nature. With an eye of faith and holy love we with pleasure behold this beauty, and observe more and more in it that is amiable, that is admirable. When with fixedness of thought, and a holy flame of devout affections, we contemplate God’s glorious excellencies, and entertain ourselves with the tokens of his peculiar favor to us, this is that view of the beauty of the Lord which David here covets, and it is to be had in his ordinances, for there he manifests himself.” 
Henry got it, he said ‘His holiness is his beauty, His goodness is his beauty. The harmony of all His attributes is the beauty of his nature’. The beauty of the Lord is spiritual and can only be observed by revelation. We first see His beauty revealed to us in the written Word. From there we see the love shining through His Son, His grace revealed through His sacrificial death, and His life on display and available to us through His resurrection. Once you have seen His beauty then all of the other ‘beauties’ in this life fall in place and gain perspective. All true beauty in this life points us back to the Author, after all He is the Master Artist and is setting His beauty on display all around us. 

CAVES OF REMEMBRANCE

May 11, 2015

MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS BAILEY  
PSALM 57- “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: For my soul trusteth in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, Until these calamities be overpast.”

I was not prepared for the storm that hit the Metro Area weeks ago. I was over at Marysong ministering to them, when I received a text to “take cover, because a tornado was near”. The girls were already on edge because of the high winds, sky turning green to a scary black. I was trying to set them at ease by lighting candles, praying and listening to worship music when the power went out. Then I got the text to “take cover” I knew things would deteriorate into full force fear. We all went into the hallway and begin to recite the Psalms. Most of the girls were holding up pretty good as the storm passed, but two of them were overcome with fear. I wondered how my grandchildren were making out at the school and daycare on our property. The students lined up in the bathrooms some singing and some crying. Our administrative staff helped holding babies and calming the little ones. Thank God the storm passed and all was safe! Power was out in the area for hours, later we heard the train cars in Elmwood blew off the high bridge and trees down all over. Amazing how quickly a storm can come and mess up your world! 

David faced these kind of storms again and again when he was being chased by King Saul or  his own son taking over his throne. He learned to make the caves that sheltered him feathered with God’s wings! Instead of looking at the darkness and hopelessness  he saw that an almighty force was in control. Makes me wonder how many caves had inscriptions of David’s plights and when he came across them again, he would recall the past deliverance? 

Expositor Bible says, “That faith is blessed, and cannot but be strong, which is nurtured by the remembrance of past acts of rewarded faith, as the leaves of bygone summers make rich mould for a new generation of flowers. So the singer betakes himself to his shelter till “destructions are gone by.” Possibly these are likened to a wild storm which sweeps across the land, but is not felt in the stillness of the cave fortress. Hidden in God, a man “heareth not the loud winds when they call,” and may solace himself in the midst of their roar by the thought that they will soon blow over. He will not cease to take refuge in God when the stress is past, nor throw off his cloak when the rain ceases; but he will nestle close while it lasts, and have as his reward the clear certainty of its transiency. The faith which clings to God after the tempest is no less close than that which screened itself in Him while it raged.”
“When you sigh

The wind becomes a sonnet

When you laugh

The storm around me ceases

You whisper

And all my enemies are scattered

You surround me

With angels on assignment” (Amanda Cook) 
 

HE ANOINTS MY HEAD WITH OIL

May 10, 2015

Psa. 23:5 ¶ You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows. 
David was a man of the Spirit. His whole life and ministry where an outflow of the anointing that was on his life. From the lion and the bear, to the Philistine giant, the jealous king, the rebellious son, and the Philistine armies; David was able to rise above and conquer every foe. He understood exactly what he meant when he penned the words, “You anoint my head with oil”. Today’s church has majored on programs, ministries, and principles with little or no mention of the anointing. The anointing is the weapon of our warfare to do damage to the kingdoms of the world and to establish the kingdom of God. Martin Luther spoke of the intoxicating effect of the anointing of the Spirit and the powerful effect it has on our world. Check out Luther’s thoughts on the anointing of the Spirit. 
“The Holy Spirit makes them not only courageous and bold, but also so secure and happy that they get drunk with a great and boundless joy. David is thus speaking here of spiritual power, joy, and intoxication-the power of God; and a joy in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul calls it; and a blessed intoxication, in which the people are filled not with wine, for that is debauchery, but with the Holy Spirit. And this is the armor and the weapons with which our Lord God equips His believers against the devil and the world; that is, He puts the Word into their mouths and puts courage, that is, the Holy Spirit, into their hearts. Unafraid and cheerful, they attack all their enemies with that equipment. They smite and conquer them despite all their power, wisdom, and holiness. Such warriors were the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. They stood up in Jerusalem against the command of the emperor and the high priest and acted as though they were veritable gods and all the others mere locusts, and they pressed forward with all strength and joy, as though they were intoxicated, as some actually mocked them and said they were filled with new wine. But St. Peter showed from the prophet Joel that they were not filled with wine but with the Holy Spirit. Afterward he flays about with his sword; that is, he opens his mouth and preaches, and with one stroke he rescues three thousand souls from the devil.”
The one thing that can change the world is the one thing that has been ignored and even despised in church. We must have the anointing  if we expect to change our world. The Lord has given Victory Fellowship a sharp sword to use in our battle in New Orleans. That sword is a production called Beyond the Grave. What is the source of the impact it has enjoyed? It is the outflow of Holy Spirit intoxication from the years of saturation at our church. Oh Lord, anoint our heads with fresh oil!!!

MY CUP IS OVERFLOWING

May 9, 2015

Psa. 23:5 ¶ You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows. 
David had learned the importance of being filled with the Spirit to ward off the depression that easily comes from the attacks that come against the righteous. David had faced the loss of everything at the hands of the Philistines at Ziklag yet he was able to ‘strengthen’ himself in the Lord. What does that mean? Of course it speaks of accessing this presence of God in prayer which was the strength of David’s life. If you are a Christian, especially if you are involved in ministry, you will face continual adversity in this world. It is critical that you learn to strengthen yourself in the Lord by building yourself up in the Holy Spirit . That’s is what today’s verse describes; a spread spiritual table, oil poured on your head, and an overflowing cup in the presence of your enemies. Luther knew from experience the taste of adversity for the sake of the gospel.Listen to his description of how to overcome all of those attacks. 
“But such power, joy, and blissful intoxication are manifested in the believers not only when they prosper and have peace, but also when they suffer and die. When the council at Jerusalem, therefore, had the Apostles flogged, they rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Christ. And in Rom. 5:3 St. Paul says: “We also rejoice in our sufferings.” Later on many martyrs, men and women, when to their deaths with happy hearts and laughing mouths as though they were going to a happy festival or dance. They not only boldly and confidently conquered the devil and the world through their deaths, but were also cheerful with all their hearts, just as if they had been drunken with great joy. In our times, too, many have died cheerfully because they have confessed Christ. Similarly we learn that many die in their beds with a fine understanding and faith and say with Simeon, “With peace and joy I now depart,” so that it is a pleasure to behold, as I myself have often beheld it. And all this because, as the prophet says, they are anointed with the oil which the Forty-fifth Psalm calls an oil of gladness and have drunk from the overflowing cup which the Lord has filled.” 
The greatest adversity we could face would be martyrdom and the Spirit tempers even the most unthinkable bouts with persecution. I can remember how much I despised reading ‘Fox’s Book of Martyrs’ in Bible School   I felt inferior and afraid as I read the stories of martyrdom in that book. I had no understanding of the power of the anointing and how huge joy was in being able to endure difficulties. What kind of enemies and battles are you facing? Drink His cup and you too will laugh your way through your troubles. 

WATERS OF REST

May 8, 2015

Psa. 23:2  He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

Over the years, the Lord brought several men of God into my life to influence me in specific ways. One of those men was Dick Mills. Dick has gone on to his heavenly reward; while he was here, he had a profound impact on my life. I remember the first time I met Brother Mills was in a service at Bible School in 1976. I remember how he called one young man out of the congregation and as the man approached Dick, Brother Mills gave him a word from the Lord. The young man fell on the floor as if he had been shot by a gun. I saw for the first time the profoundness of the operation of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Over the years as I developed a relationship with Dick, I began to grow in my appreciation of the marriage of the Word and the Spirit in ministry. This would be the foundation that I built my ministry on. To preach and teach God’s Word and to wait on the moving of the Spirit would be the two pronged emphasis of our church. Here are some thoughts from Thomas Dale on today’s powerful verse.

“With guidance to “green pastures,” the psalmist has, with good reason, associated guardianship beside “still waters:” for as we can only appropriate the word through the Spirit, so we shall ordinarily receive the Spirit through the Word; not indeed only by hearing it, not only by reading it, not only by reflecting upon it. The Spirit of God, who is a most free agent, and who is himself the source of liberty, will come into the heart of the believer when he will, and how he will, and as he will. But the effect of his coming will ever be the realization of some promise, the recognition of some principle, the attainment of some grace, the understanding of some mystery, which is already in the word, and which we shall thus find, with a deeper impression, and with a fuller development, brought home with power to the heart.”

From the very first chapter of the Bible we see the working together of the Word and the Spirit. This is how we are born again, this is how we learn, this is how we grow up in Christ. So thankfully we don’t have to choose which is more important. Just as I need both air and water, I need the Word and the Spirit daily in my life.

HE RESTORES MY SOUL

May 7, 2015

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul

Ps 23:2,3

This year has been named 180 at Victory Fellowship. That is the name of our new men’s restoration center as well as a constant reminder of God’s plan of restoration and repentance. In David’s Shepherd’s Psalm he speaks about restoring our soul. Look at the definition of restore from the Mounce word book.

“Restore – to be returned, be brought back; from the base meaning of turning back comes the figurative extension of restoration of relationship, as when one returns in repentance to God”

So David is saying that this relationship of intimacy with God is deeply connected to repentance. Repentance connects us to our loving Good Shepherd.

Recently I was in a service like no other I had ever been in. I spoke very briefly (about 10 minutes) on the passage in Acts where the Bible says that “God granted repentance to the gentiles”. As I sat down men began to line up at the microphone in the front of the auditorium. They were confessing their sins publicly. What a holy and liberating moment. God came down in that place and lives were dramatically changed. He was making us whole and holy in His presence. Wholeness and holiness are closely connected. That why this verse is so powerful, God’s restoration is repentance that leads to wholeness and holiness. Here are some thoughts from Richard Baker on today’s verse.

“He restoreth my soul.” He restores it to its original purity, that was now grown foul and black with sin; for also, what good were it to have “green” pastures and a black soul! He “restores” it to its natural temper in affections, that was grown distempered with violence of passions; for alas! what good were it to have “still” waters and turbulent spirits! He “restores” it indeed to life, that was grown before in a manner quite dead; and who could “restore my soul” to life, but he only that is the Good Shepherd and gave his life for his sheep?”

This brings us back to that verse in Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

This is the whole point of the Shepherd’s Psalm, the Good Shepherd came to give us life and that more abundantly.

HEIRS OF GOD

May 6, 2015

Rom. 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

What is the significance of being an heir? I guess it all depends who you are an heir to. The heir of a king inherits a throne and all that goes with it. The heir of a wealthy man inherits  wealth. Even more than than all of the possessions, you inherit their name. Today’s verse tells us that we are heirs of God the Father and fellow heirs with Christ. I have heard teaching on this over the years that really missed the whole point. The focus has often been all of the wealth and possessions that we inherit from our relationship with Christ. This aspect of our inheritance pails in comparison to our true inheritance. We have inherited God Himself. We are heirs or have inherited God. Here are some insights from Matthew Henry on today’s verse. 
“The Lord himself is the portion of the saints’ inheritance, a goodly heritage. The saints are spiritual priests, that have the Lord for their inheritance. The vision of God and the fruition of God make up the inheritance the saints are heirs to. God himself will be with them, and will be their God.”
Some have focused on heaven as being our inheritance; you know, the gold streets, the foundation of precious stones, wealth beyond compare. All of those things are really lagniappe, heaven is heaven because He is there. Here is how Adam Clarke describes our inheritance. 
“It is neither an earthly portion nor a heavenly portion; but GOD himself, who is to be their portion. It is not heaven they are to inherit; it is GOD, who is infinitely greater and more glorious than heaven itself. With such powers has God created the soul of man, that nothing less than himself can be a sufficient and satisfactory portion for the mind of this most astonishing creature. Joint heirs with Christ. Partaking of the same eternal glory with the glorified human nature of Christ.”

If you are born again you are far richer than you can imagine. We have inherited the Lord’s name, His authority and His wealth. More than all of that, we have God Himself as our portion, it doesn’t get much better than that. 

MY OVERFLOWING CUP

May 5, 2015

Psa. 23:5 ¶ You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
I love that last phrase, ‘my cup overflows’. What do you think David meant by that? Could it be that David was experiencing an overflowing filling of the Holy Spirit even as he penned these words? Absolutely! I think David had learned the art and the importance of living a life full of the Holy Spirit. David was actually a prototype of the New Testament Christian. He basically was used by the Lord to introduce charismatic worship to God’s people. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and the resulting joy in a more consistent fashion than any of the Old Testament prophets. David was all about the overflowing cup. Here is a short thought from Augustine on this phrase. 
“My cup runneth over.” Or as it is in the Vulgate: And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is! With this cup were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognized not those that belonged to them; not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations; while they gave thanks and said, “I will take the cup of salvation!”
Thou hast gladdened my mind with spiritual joy. “And Thy inebriating cup, how excellent is it!” And Thy cup yielding forgetfulness of former vain delights, how excellent is it.”

Augustine had drunk of David’s inebriating cup. In the world that we live in, we simply won’t survive unless we also drink from this intoxicating cup. Augustine recognized that this was the cup that enabled the martyrs to face unthinkable horrors. It is from drinking the cup of the Holy Spirit that we finally understand that the joy of the Lord is literally our strength to live in difficult times. 
Here is a thought from John Trappe on this same phrase. 

 “My cup runneth over.” He had not only a fulness of abundance, but of redundance (superfluous repetition). Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.”
Trappe saw two things in this short quote. We are to develop a lifestyle of repetitive drinking. We are also to stay full so we have ‘drink’ to poor out on the hurting of this world. Trappe agreed with David, ministry comes from the overflow of my brimming cup.  

GOD ENRICHES THROUGH IMPOVERISHING

May 4, 2015

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Redemption, to the blind, will never understand by taking something away one gains. God started this whole plan of taking away to give back by giving up his only Son. Jesus spent His whole life demonstrating how love dies to live. 
If you don’t watch out, you will miss the silver lining, so to speak, with your God given life. One can get caught up in what was lost or taken rather than what was gained. Bars are filled with stories of sorrow, cheating, and horror stories. Life got the best of them and the blind keep stumbling. Whereas Christianity makes us live by the unseen rules that eternity’s halls are filled with. Let Joseph be your guide as he walks you down the hall entitled “God intended it for good”. His story of 17 years in prison; innocent, betrayed by his brothers, and living his whole life in another county than his own speaks loudly. 

Thomas Watson says this, “See here the wisdom of God, who can make the worst things imaginable turn to the good of the saints. He can by a divine chemistry extract gold out of the dross. “oh the depth of the wisdom of God”. (Rom 11:33) It is God’s great design to set forth the wonder of His wisdom. The Lord made Joseph’s prison a step to preferment. There was no way for Jonah to be saved, but by being swallowed up. God suffered the Egyptians to hate Israel. (Ps. 106:4) and this was the means of their deliverance. The apostle Paul was bound with a chain, and that chain which did bind him was the means of enlarging the gospel. (Phil. 1:12) God enriches by impoverishing he causes the augmentation of grace by the diminution of an estate. When the creature goes further from us, it is that Christ may come nearer to us. God works strangely. He brings order out of confusion, harmony out of discord. He frequently makes use of unjust men to do that which is just.”

When I turn my eyes off of eternity, and let my eyes become deaf to the voice of God, my precious world can scream with my own injustices. David had to get a grip also for in Ps. 55 he says,  “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” Joseph was bold enough to tell his brothers- “I am Joseph” and David after all he went through with Saul and his son left a fortune to build the house of God. What will you leave behind?

BEING BRUTAL WITH YOURSELF

May 3, 2015

HAPPY SUNDAY-

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” Ps. 51

Repentance is a beautiful thing. When the light shines in, the roaches begin to scatter. When Jesus walks in the room, let all men be laid low. Having a sorrow over sin because how it grieves God and affects others is a good thing. I will never forget a church member banging on my front door and I am still not sure what they were ashamed at, me finding out about their adultery or the sin itself. When God shines his precious light on us, it means he has our number and its time to dump our heavy load. Pat Robertson says, “its time to be brutal on yourself”.

I love this from Expositors- “Wash me, beat me, tread me down, hammer me with mallets, dash me against stones, do anything to me, if only these foul stains are melted from the texture of my soul. There is no real well founded gladness without the consciousness of divine forgiveness. If we are to stand fast, we must be stayed on God.” Oh thank God for the love of God being shed upon our hearts. Imagine Christ’s blood being poured over that huge mountain of sin, oh precious gift of salvation who can deny it’s power!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1John 1:7 Have you taken the time lately and allowed God to purge you and wash you? Repentance comes before Revival—so many people react out of the hurt or perceived hurt that we have done to them. Seventy times seventy is how much we need to continue to forgive.

Have you felt like the “bones” which had been “crushed” are beginning to reknit, and thrills of gladness to steal through your frame? (Gill) Gods cleansing power to mankind is unexplainable but causes us to change supernaturally. Without God’s love, we are lost and it can just become like any other religion, working our way through the hoops and never coming to the end of our search. Let his love come to the hidden man of the heart. Lord wash us through and through!

Let now only repentance come in to us but revive us again oh Lord! Fill us with the joy of our salvation that will spill unto others in this crazy, mixed up world.


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