THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE

Gen. 28:16,17 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I love the story of Jacob’s ladder. Just think about it, teenaged Jacob was away from home for the first time that historic night. He was troubled by estrangement from his family, running for his life in fear of Esau, and troubled about his provision and safety into his journey to a place he had never been. That’s why the night was historic; the angelic visitation, the vision of the ladder into heaven, and the sudden awareness that ‘God was in this place’ changed Jacob’s life. Though nothing had changed on the outside everything had changed for Jacob. Abraham and Isaac’s God had now become the God of Jacob.

Visitation by the Holy Spirit assures us of God’s sovereign plan for our lives. Maybe you are troubled about your future. Put yourself in a position to get into the presence of the Lord. Like Jacob, a sudden glimpse of the fact that ‘God is in this place’ will bring you to a sense of the sovereign reign of the Lord. That is the place where you too can even sleep with a rock for a pillow. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse.

“This vision gave very seasonable comfort to Jacob, letting him know that he had both a good guide and a good guard, in his going out and coming in,—that, though he was made to wander from his father’s house, yet still he was the care of a kind Providence, and the charge of the holy angels. This is comfort enough, though we should not admit the notion which some have, that the tutelar angels of Canaan were ascending, having guarded Jacob out of their land, and the angels of Syria descending to take him into their custody. Jacob was now the type and representative of the whole church, with the guardianship of which the angels are entrusted.”
I sometimes feel like Jacob’s ladder has come down in our gatherings in Metairie. When we come together we know ‘God is in this place’. This coming week is important, it may be historic as we set aside time for SUMMER SATURATION. Hope to see you at Jacob’s ladder.

JACOB’S LADDER

Gen. 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

I have been thinking about Jacob’s dream about the ladder that went into heaven ever since last Sunday. Jacob saw angels coming up and down the ladder showing a connection between the two worlds. When Jacob awoke from his sleep he realized he was in the presence of the Lord. He called the place Bethel which means the house of God. Last Sunday it seemed as if we had unusual access into the presence of God all throughout the day. There was a greater than usual awareness of heaven in the house. That is how Jacob felt after seeing his vision, God was there and history was taking place.

Adam Clarke says that this dream speaks to us about three distinct things. First, he says it speaks of the sovereign plan of God. The Lord was showing Jacob that he had him in this life changing moment. For Jacob, his future was in the hand of the Lord. Secondly, Clarke says that this speaks to us about the connection of the two worlds by the ministry of angels. Christianity is supernatural. Times of visitation like Jacob was experiencing confirms that. The open portal we are experiencing at Victory Fellowship also assures us of the supernatural involvement of the Lord in the details of our lives. Finally, Clarke said that this ladder is a type of Christ. This is how Clarke expresses that;
“Nothing could be a more expressive emblem of the incarnation and its effects; Jesus Christ is the grand connecting medium between heaven and earth, and between God and man. By him God comes down to man; through him man ascends to God. It appears that our Lord applies the vision in this way himself, 1st, In that remarkable speech to Nathanael, Hereafter ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man, secondly, in his speech to Thomas: I am the Way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
So God is amongst us, revival is in our midst. God’s timing is perfect, Summer Saturation should be very powerful beginning this Sunday.

FINALLY FREE FROM ADDICTION 

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

We live in a world of addictions. People are addicted to pain meds, illegal drugs, alcohol, porno, gambling, shopping; the list is pretty much endless. All of us are susceptible to addictive behavior, it is part of the flaw of having a fallen nature. We all have certain vices that we prefer and easily fall prey to their promises of pleasure. The promise of pleasure is at the heart of all addiction, humans are willing to risk their marriage, their health, their jobs, and even their very lives for the momentary pleasures offered by the voices that seem to drowned out all sensible behavior. How can a man be free from the quagmire of sin that entraps him? The superior pleasure offered by Christ is the only permanent solution to this dilemma. There is a sweeter pleasure in Christ that is greater than all the inferior pleasures of this world. John Piper says this pleasure is available to us in the written word, check this out.

“The divine aim of Scripture is not that by reading we be moderately joyful. The aim is that our joy—the joy of Christ in us—be full. Full would mean, at least, so strong that it pushes any idolatrous competing pleasures out of our heart. It would mean that selfishness has come to an end. We are no longer to be a sinkhole of craven neediness, but a fountain of life—givers, not takers. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. That water is drunk through his word. And the overflowing joy he promises, therefore, comes through reading . I am sure there is a fullness of divine joy that we will not attain until we see his unmediated glory; but who can tell what measures of joy in God are possible, even in this fallen world, if we give ourselves utterly to the word of God?”
Piper has discovered a path to this joy which seems absurd to the unrenewed mind. He says that is in reading the Bible for ourselves that Christ is revealed to us. When that happens in your life the chains of addiction will be broken. They lose their pull on us in light of the higher pleasure found only in the Lord.

WEIRD UNCLE FRANK

1 Cor. 4:15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

Christians can be really weird. One minute they call you their spiritual father, the next minute they treat you like a weird uncle. It always strikes me funny when someone who was converted in our church, grew strong in the Lord, and even launched out into ministry and even calls me their spiritual father acts as if I’m their weird uncle instead. You know, weird uncle Frank. It used to really bother me but not so much anymore. I don’t presume to compare myself to great men of God in history but many of them were also treated like a weird uncle. ‘They are sort of related but you know, a little off.’ Jesus’ family thought He had lost His mind and tried to get Him to stop the nonsense and just come back home. Paul was betrayed and abandoned by many of his sons. 1Cor. 4:12-15 “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Matthew Henry describes the relationship Paul claimed as their father in the gospel.

“They were made Christians by his ministry. He had laid the foundation of a church among them. Others could only build upon it. Whatever other teachers they had, he was their spiritual father. He first brought them off from pagan idolatry to the faith of the gospel and the worship of the true and living God. He was the instrument of their new birth, and therefore claimed the relation of a father to them, and felt the bowels of a father towards them.”
Just like natural fathers, spiritual fathers are far from perfect, I say give them a break. So whether I am your spiritual dad or just weird uncle Frank, God is still God. The Lord is the one that does the work. At the end of the day we are just vessels of His grace.

WHEN WE COME UP EMPTY

The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
1 Kings 17:16
Merry Tuesday by Parris
Life happens when we reach for our barrel of resources and find it empty. You thought for sure the last time you looked, it had more reserves but now your hand is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Is your cruse of oil empty? Did you fall asleep in the process of living and have been awakened only to come up dry? Please see the faithfulness of divine love. Christ is ever so patient waiting for us, to expel all of us, down to the very last drop.

Famine comes in all sorts of ways. A bad doctor’s report, a tragic accident, absentminded on the job and you are given a notice. From economic collapse to spouses walking out. We find ourselves suddenly depleted. Even more excruciating is when others seem so unnoticed by your need that they reach out their hand for more. God has a funny way of calculating the math. We call it the miracle of multiplication, when God takes over our empty. The scripture reference refers to a widow that is taking her last meal with her son. We don’t know the whole picture other than there has been a famine in the land and she is a widow eating her last meal. Elijah is directed by the Lord to visit her because provision is coming not only to her and her son but to Elijah as well.

McClaren’s commentary says, “no sacrifice to God is ever forgotten and he will not be indebted to no-one”. So as the widow prepares the meal for the prophet, “the barrel wasted not nor the cruse of oil”. God’s math takes over and the household has supply for many years.

Did you wake up to trouble my friend? Has your barrel shown up empty and the cruse of oil gone? Allow the Holy Spirit to visit you again with fresh rains from heaven and he will bring his storehouse with him. Did you lose your way in some offense with another brother or sister? Has man failed you yet again? Look again in your cupboard and see you still have that last barrel of flour and that small cruse of oil. You may not like the messenger but look again and you just might see God’s mighty angels. Never, never discount God’s means of provision. There is “he that scattereth, and yet increaseth”. Your barrel will be full of peace and your cruse of oil will be poured out in love. The infinite riches of God that he has for you can never be exhausted. He supplies in the most miraculous ways!

UPHELD BY THE POWER OF GOD

Matt. 14:30,31 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

We know Jesus walked on the water but Peter walked on the water too. Sure, Peter started to sink, but he got out of the boat and made his way to Jesus. This story is in the Bible for a reason, maybe the Lord is calling all of us to a deeper life in the Spirit. Maybe there is some water walking in all of our future. Water walking is seldom planned, it comes out of nowhere. Suddenly a storm blows up and you have no other choice, stay in the sinking boat or walk on the water with Jesus. It could be the Macedonian call in the night, a voice out of a burning bush, or a vision interrupted by a knock on the door. What we decide to do in those moments is critical, do we stay in the boat or get out and walk with Jesus. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on water walking.

“When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid. It was by faith in the power of Christ he was upheld; when that faith failed, by which the laws of gravitation were suspended, no wonder that those laws returned to their wonted action, and that he began to sink. It was not the violence of the winds, nor the raging of the waves, which endangered his life, but his littleness of faith. Jesus stretched forth his hand. Every moment we stand in need of Christ: while we stand—we are upheld by his power only; and when we are falling, or have fallen, we can be saved only by his mercy. Let us always take care that we do not consider so much the danger to which we are exposed, as the power of Christ by which we are to be upheld; and then our mountain is likely to stand strong.”

Maybe you are in one of those storms. Human ideas and resources will never be enough to deal with a storm, only the power of God will do. Peter knew what he had to do, so do you and I; doing it is what matters. Consider the power of God, forget about the wind and the waves, He is more than able to uphold you with His power.

WALK ON THE WATER WITH ME

Matt. 14:28,29 ¶ And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

Walk on the water?! Really?! That’s what I felt the Lord was asking me to do in 1994. To step out of the place of safety I had learned to operate in and step into the supernatural. Actually He was asking me to step out of the boat of ‘how to grow a church’ jargon, into a life in the River of God. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was getting ready to take the platform in that Sunday morning service like I had been doing for years. I knew this time was going to be different. I heard Him gently say as I walked up the stairs to the pulpit, “Will you walk on the water with Me?” I really had no choice but to say yes. I was so tired of the ‘same old same old’ that I was ready to take a risk and get out of the boat. As soon as I said yes, I felt the atmosphere change in our church. The glory of the Lord was filling the auditorium. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry about walking on the water with Jesus.

“The communion of true believers with Christ is represented by their being quickened with him, raised up with him, made to sit with him, and being crucified with him. Now, methinks, it is represented in this story by their walking with him on the water. Through the strength of Christ we are borne up above the world, enabled to trample upon it, kept from sinking into it, from being overwhelmed by it, obtain a victory over it, by faith in Christ’s victory, and with him are crucified to it. …Thus the sea of the world is become like a sea of glass, congealed so as to bear; and they that have gotten the victory, stand upon it and sing…”
So what does walking on the water mean to you? Maybe its coming to Christ for the very first time, maybe its yielding your talents and resources to Him. Maybe you are like me and it means being willing to step out of your comfort zone into the realm of the Spirit and His gifts. Whatever it means, GET OUT OF THE BOAT. Only then will you feel the touch of Jesus upon your life.