THE DRINK THAT LASTS FOREVER

Rev.22:17 – The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

The fact that humans get thirsty proves there must be something somewhere that will quench our thirst. Thirst is basic to being human and water is the basic substance that quenches that thirst. Is it possible that there is a spiritual parallel? I believe there is. The fact that our soul gets thirsty shows that there has to be something to quench our soul thirst. You may not identify the correct substance to satisfy your thirsting but our thirst for God is basic to our human condition. To those who meet Christ there is a taste of this living water but this taste is more of a tease than a completion. The times we encounter living water in this world points to something greater, a completion or fulfillment that awaits in the life to come. The world offers only substitutes, Christ offers a drink that is a foretaste of life to come. Here is how C.S. Lewis describes it.

“What would it be to taste at the fountainhead that stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating? Yet that, I believe, is what lies before us. The whole man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy. As St. Augustine said, the rapture of the saved soul will “flow over” into the glorified body. In the light of our present specialized and depraved appetites, we cannot imagine this torrens voluptatis, and I warn everyone most seriously not to try. But it must be mentioned, to drive out thoughts even more misleading—thoughts that what is saved is a mere ghost, or that the risen body lives in numb insensibility. The body was made for the Lord, and these dismal fancies are wide of the mark.”

I have to admit I have been quite surprised at the abundance and power these tastes often provide for sons and daughters in this world. I can only imagine the immensity of what these moments point to. To see Christ for myself and drink at His fountain in eternity is beyond my ability to comprehend. So the conflict still goes on inside of me, I thirst and drink and I am grateful. I know what I taste now is just a drop of the ocean of love that waits in His kingdom come.

FOUR MONTHS

Jn.4:35 – Do you not say, “There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

Sometimes the unthinkable happens. The planters are overtaken by the harvesters. Jesus may have had Amos’s prophesy in mind when He was describing this supernatural harvest. Amos 9:13 – “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it.” Amos was describing the harvest at the end of the age, Jesus was saying that this time had come. Here are some thoughts from Barclay on this supernatural harvest.

“For once, it is the contrast between nature and grace of which Jesus is thinking. In the ordinary harvest men sowed and waited; in Samaria things had happened with such divine suddenness that the word was sown and on the spot the harvest waited. H. V. Morton has a specially interesting suggestion about the fields white for the harvest. He himself was sitting at this very spot where Jacob’s well is. As he sat, he saw the people come out from the village and start to climb the hill. They came in little batches; and they were all wearing white robes and the white robes stood out against the ground and the sky. It may well be that just at this moment the people started to flock out to Jesus in response to the woman’s story. As they streamed out in their white robes across the fields, perhaps Jesus said: “Look at the fields! See them now! They are white to the harvest!” The white-robed crowd was the harvest which he was eager to reap for God.

Jesus went on to show that the incredible had happened. The sower and the harvester could rejoice at the same time. Here was something no man might expect. To the Jew sowing was a sad and a laborious time; it was harvest which was the time of joy.”

So maybe these are the days we are living in, the days when the reapers catch up with the planters. When that begins to happen look up because the Day of the Lord is at hand. Maranatha !!!

HOW SWEET IT IS

Ps.119:103 – How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

It hasn’t always been that way for me, I haven’t always loved the Bible. I guess you could say there was a day when I hated the Bible. I hated it because of the demands I thought it placed on me. I had no idea that it was in the Bible that I would actually find freedom from the bondage that sin and the law had placed on all of us. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not saying that we can do whatever we want without ramifications. I am saying that the word of God produces a change in us that could be a self fulfilling prophesy. God’s word places a demand and then enables us to fulfill that demand and actually like it. What a deal, He places His word and His Spirit in us, the word of righteousness and the power of God to live it. Here is a glimpse from Luther’s famous intro to Romans that shows his love for God’s word. This is the intro that Wesley read that strangely warmed his heart.

“This Epistle (Romans) is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel. And it is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes….

Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1); it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Ghost.”

So have you tasted this sweetness that Luther is describing? It is the sweetness of the Word of God. Like all of us, Luther didn’t always have a taste for the scriptures. That happened after he too was born again. One day he hated it, the next day he loved it. Maybe you don’t take time to read the Bible, maybe you think its boring or dry. Taste it for yourself, you may be surprised at the sweetness of its taste.

THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS

Acts 3:16 – And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

The resurrection changed just about everything. Jesus was raised from the dead for us, that’s why Paul called it firstfruits, Jesus was the prototype. One day all of us will be raised from the dead. When Jesus was raised from the dead all authority was given to Him by the Father as a man. That’s what changed everything, a human was given all authority over demons, sickness, and death. Jesus turned around and gave that authority to us. That’s what it means when we were given authority to act and pray in His name. In today’s verse Peter is used to heal a lame man in the Name of Jesus. I guess what all of us need to determine is this, have we too been given authority to minister in His Name and what would that mean. Here is how Maclaren describes it.

“The name of Christ, then, is the representation or embodiment of that which Christ is declared to be for us men, and it is that Name, the totality of what He is manifested to be, in which lies all power for healing and for strengthening. The Name, that is, the whole Christ, in His nature, His offices, His work, His Incarnation, His Life, His Death, Resurrection, Sitting at the right hand of God—it is this Christ whose Name made that man strong, and will make us strong. Brethren, let us remember that, while fragments of the Name will have fragmentary power, as the curative virtue that resides in any substance belongs to the smallest grain of it, if detached from the mass….yet in order to realize all that He can be and do, a man must take the whole Christ as He is revealed.”

So Peter made it very clear that day, that lame man was healed by the authority given to him to act in the Name of Jesus. In other words we have been given the power of attorney to act in behalf of Jesus. If that is true, it is not our resources that are important but the resources invested in the Name of Jesus.

FOUNTAIN IN YOUR SOUL

Eph.5:18,19 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Being drunk in the Spirit is not some new bizarre twist on Christianity forged in the halls of charismania. Spiritual intoxication is as old as communion or any other sacred part of our Christian faith. Even though this intoxication is often characterized by laughter and extreme joy it is saturated with the very holiness of the Lord. Actually it has erupted throughout church history often scandalizing segments of the body of Christ. It has often been connected to critical seasons for the church, equipping Christians for the persecution and temptations that are rampant in the world. Here is how Augustine described spiritual intoxication and drinking in his day.

“The Holy Spirit has come to abide in you; do not make him withdraw; do not exclude him from your heart in any way. He is a good guest; He found you empty and He filled you; He found you hungry and He satisfied you; He found you thirsty and He has intoxicated you. May He truly intoxicate you! The Apostle said, “Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery.” Then, as if to clarify what we should be intoxicated with, he adds, “But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart”. Doesn’t a person who rejoices in the Lord and sings to Him exuberantly seem like a person who is drunk? I like this kind of intoxication. The Spirit of God is both drink and light.”

Many have left the church in our generation because of a dissatisfaction that has developed in their souls. Churches have scrambled and morphed into a culturally acceptable model to try to keep the crowds. The changes in church hasn’t helped meet the nagging thirst that is in the dissatisfied souls of this age. The solutions are as old as the gospel itself, man is thirsting for God and nothing less will do. The solution for today’s world is the same as the one that has surfaced throughout history. Man is thirsty for living water, the water that becomes a veritable fountain in our souls.

THE SPIRIT WHO HEALS

Lk.6:19 – And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.

The healing power of Jesus reminds me of one of the last Old Testament prophecies, Mal.4:2 – “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings;”

The healing rays of His anointing are like the rays of the sun, they are everywhere and effect everyone. During His earthly ministry His anointing flowed out from Him and healed all who came to Him. Today His power hasn’t diminished, if anything it is increasing. This anointing shines out from Him like the beams of the sun touching and healing all who come in faith. Here is a powerful statement from a Catholic charismatic, Raniero Cantalamessa, on the healing power of His anointing.

“This power, which is the Holy Spirit, still now comes out of Jesus. Now that He is resurrected and is “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness”, that power comes forth from Him even more truly and more powerfully, if we can say that, than when He walked the earth. This power heals everybody. This is the decisive point we need to understand and to believe right now. We should say, as Jesus did in the synagogue at Nazareth, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled!”. The Holy Spirit does not have problems with numbers. A human doctor in front of a crowd of people with many and varied ailments would throw up his arms and say he was unable to heal everybody. But not the Holy Spirit. Just as the sun can bring light to one person or to a billion people, so too the Holy Spirit can do the same in the spiritual realm.”

Do you believe this is true? The healing power of the Holy Spirit is unlimited. He is everywhere and moving in the power of healing to all who come to Him in faith. He is literally being poured out on all mankind in these last days. Are you in need of a healing miracle? Step into His anointing. If you are having trouble receiving get into an atmosphere where His Spirit is welcomed and moving. Allow believers to pray for you. You too can experience the healing power of His anointing.

JESUS HEALS

Matt.8:3 – And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

 

The healing power of Jesus is just as real today as it was the day the leper reached out to the Lord. Leprosy had taken away this man’s money, his family, and his hope. If something didn’t happen soon it would take his life. Maybe he had heard about the miracles of Jesus. He concluded Jesus had the power to heal, the only nagging question; would he heal him? Any fear of rejection gave way to his desperation. Sometimes desperation comes really close to faith. He bowed down in worship before the Lord, “I know you can, I’m just not sure you will heal me”. That was it, Jesus reached out his hand and his skin was cleansed. The leprosy was gone. Maybe you have questions today, “He did it for others, would He do it for me?” Why don’t you ask Him for yourself, He may just give you an answer. Here is how Spurgeon describes this scene.

 

 

“Anyone else would have been defiled by touching a leper; but the healing power in Jesus repelled pollution. He touches us by the finger of his humanity, but he is not thereby defiled. His touch proves his condescension, his sympathy, his fellowship. It was no accidental touch: “Jesus put forth his hand. ” Our Lord has come to us by his own act and effort: he was determined to come to us in all our loathsomeness and pollution. After the touch came the word: “I will. ” One has well observed that Jesus never says, “I will not.” He wills, whether ether we will or not. “Be thou clean ” was the royal word of one conscious of abundant power.

What a work, to cleanse a leper! Yet it is easy enough to our King, seeing he is divine: else unbelief would be most reasonable.

With what pleasure Jesus spake! With what joy the leper heard! With what curiosity the bystanders looked on! They had not to wait: the miracle followed the word without a moment’s delay. The cure was instantaneous.”

 

 

It’s one thing to believe miracles happened somewhere else and in some other place. The shocking good news, He is here now and His miracle power hasn’t diminished. Today He just might be reaching out His hand to you.

SOBER INTOXICATION

Eph.5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

There have been seasons of renewal all throughout church history. There are many similarities but also differences that can be observed. Two of the things that influence the way we receive and define renewal is our cultural bias as well as our theological bias. There was a powerful outpouring of the Spirit in the Roman Empire during the 3rd century after Christ. Imagine what a different world they were part of, totally different from the one we are part of today. Their view of Revival was effected by their culture just as ours is in our modern world. During the outpouring in the 1990’s I observed how theology could effect our view of Revival. I experienced the Vineyard version, the Assembly of God version, and the word of faith version; you can connect the dots. Here are two accounts of Revival from the 300’s from Cyril and Ambrose.

“They are not drunk in the way you might think. They are indeed drunk, but with the sober intoxication which kills sin and gives life to the heart and which is the opposite of physical drunkenness. Drunkenness makes a person forget what he knows; this kind, instead, brings understanding of things that were not formerly known. They are drunk insofar as they have drunk the wine of that mystical vine which affirms,“I am the vine, you are the branches”.”

“Every time you drink, you receive the remission of sins and you become intoxicated with the Spirit. It is in that sense that the Apostle said, “Do not get drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit”. He who becomes intoxicated with wine staggers, but he who becomes intoxicated with the Holy Spirit is rooted in Christ. How truly excellent is this intoxication which produces the sobriety of the soul!”

Even though there are differences in the way people respond and define outpourings of the Spirit, they are all essentially the same. Notice the similarities to what many of us have experienced. The things that stand out to me are the emphasis on joy, spiritual intoxication, the scriptures, redemption, and an emphasis on Christ Himself. People may respond differently under the anointing and have different interpretations of what it may mean; at the end of the day God has come down and refreshed our souls. Come and visit this generation Lord!

GALILEAN FISHERMAN OR A VOICE FROM HEAVEN

Acts 2:7 – They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

Peter was on fire that day, he was speaking like a man from another world. He was actually speaking a new language rather than the language of this earth. Many in the crowd that day didn’t get it. All they could hear was the Galilean twang in Peter’s voice. He had the smell of a fisherman (even though he had left his nets years before). All the crowd could see was an uneducated yahoo, what good could possibly come out of this.

But something was going on that these bystanders couldn’t quite get. Twice in this passage Peter is said to be speaking in what we would call elevated or supernatural speech. First it was the speaking in other tongues. To those with deaf ears, it sounded like the babbling of a drunken man. Paul called it the language of angels, I like to call it my heavenly language. This prayer language is supernatural and flows out of what Jesus called our innermost being. Paul said it was praying in the Spirit. To the natural man this language is foolish, to the spiritual it is the very power of God. After the mocking and accusations of drunkenness Peter stepped forward to give a word of explanation. This too was called elevated speech in the original language. Peter was speaking in the language of the people by the power of the Spirit. Acts 2:14-16 describes it, “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel…”

Even though he spoke by the Spirit only a portion of the crowd could “hear” Peter’s message. Thousands heard the voice of heaven and were filled with the Spirit, many others could only hear the voice of a Galilean fisherman. Peter had been changed by the Baptism in the Spirit, he was now speaking the language of heaven. Things haven’t changed much today. Many are still offended by the language of the Spirit, to many others that language just makes them feel right at home.

THE DAY THE CONVERSATION CHANGED

Acts 2:22 – Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know —

“Can you please keep those kids quiet!” Peter was trying to grab just a few more minutes of shut eye before he was back on that boat again. He had been going out at night fishing for years on the Sea of Galilee, tonight would be like hundreds of other nights; or would it? He had memories of fishing with his dad, now it was more serious. Peter and his fishing partners had bills to pay and food to put on the table. He was hoping for a better night tonight, he couldn’t afford too many more like last night; fishing all night and no fish. Something just had to give.

Have you ever known a fisherman? If so you already know Peter. His conversation was about tides and bait and nets and boats. His words were predictable and understandable because he knew about fish. People talk about what they know. That was about to change for Peter. After another long night of no fish an unexpected interruption changed everything. An itinerant preacher wanted to borrow Peter’s boat, reluctantly Peter agreed. Maybe he thought it might change his luck. Was that ever an understatement. After the preaching was over Peter heard the words that would change his life and his conversation forever, “launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”. Reluctantly Peter followed the instructions and what happened next was over the top. Fish began filling the nets, so many fish that the nets began to break and the boat began to sink. Somehow they got those fish to the shore and that’s when the conversation changed, “follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men”. It’s funny, you would think the fishermen would be talking fish stories after a catch like that. How could they? Jesus had stepped onto their boat.

Peter began to speak a new language that day. How could he just talk about fish after Jesus had disrupted everything? From that day Jesus was at the center of his conversation, how could he really talk about anything else?

That brings us to us. We all talk about the things we know. Motorcycle guys talk motorcycles, guitar guys talk guitars, and golfers talk golf. You catch the drift. What could change any of that? The conversation changes when Jesus steps onto your boat. Suddenly, guitars and boats and football games aren’t that important. The conversation has changed. From now on you will be fishing for men.