THE JOY OF OBEDIENCE

1 Sam.15:22 – And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

This word, obedience, is like a dirty word. There are probably curse words that are more acceptable, even in so called Christian circles. What does it mean to obey God’s word? Actually, it is more than following a certain type of behavior or following a religious dogma. True obedience is all about the heart. What do I mean? Repentance from sinful behavior is a great example. Its not good enough to stop using drugs or other sins of choice to be acceptable to the Lord. He is looking for more than that. He is after our heart. In conversion that is what happens. repentance is a change of heart where you delight in doing different things. Before you may have delighted in consuming alcohol or drugs, now you delight in worship and going to church. That is more than a change of behavior, that is a heart change. Here is Dane Ortlund describing Edwards and his view on obedience.

“What is obedience? Doing what we love to do, out of a heart alive to beauty. Sin is doing what we love to do out of an unregenerate heart; obedience is doing what we love to do out of a regenerate heart. Sin is living out of our natural impulse; obedience is living out of our new impulse, what Edwards calls the new sense of the heart…. Edwards’s great insight regarding true obedience is that the will only chooses what the heart loves. The two—heart and will—operate in tandem and cannot do otherwise. The trouble is that we reflexively think of obedience as doing what we don’t want to do. Ponder the word obedience for a moment. Don’t you immediately think of that as submitting to what another wants us to do? I can either obey God, we think, or I can do what I want to do.”

This is why repentance is a supernatural thing. It is the Lord that grants repentance, it is His influence by grace through faith that produces a heart change. This is the story of the ages; Paul being turned from a persecutor to an apostle, Mary being changed from a woman of the night to a worshipper, and people all over the world today drinking from this cup of amazing grace. The Lord delights in obedience because it is the evidence of His work of grace in us.

MORE VALUABLE THAN BIRDS

Matt.6:26 – TPT – Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?

What is the point of this teaching, talking about birds and flowers ? What exactly is Jesus getting at? The point is that sons and daughters are not like the lost people of this world. The natural man has his whole focus in life on this world or the present kingdom. That way of living lends itself to worry and, at the end of the day, wasting your life. The Lord finishes this passage with these famous words “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be provided”. He cares for us more than birds and flowers, knowing that frees us to live our lives for what really matters, the kingdom of God. Here is William Barclay’s on this passage.

“There is no worry in their lives (the birds), no attempt to pile up goods for an unforeseen and unforeseeable future; and yet their lives go on. More than one Jewish Rabbi was fascinated by the way in which the animals live. “In my life,” said Rabbi Simeon, “I have never seen a stag as a dryer of figs, or a lion as a porter, or a fox as a merchant, yet they are all nourished without worry. If they, who are created to serve me, are nourished without worry, how much more ought I, who am created to serve my Maker, to be nourished without worry….” The point that Jesus is making is not that the birds do not work; it has been said that no one works harder than the average sparrow to make a living; the point that he is making is that they do not worry. There is not to be found in them man’s straining to see a future which he cannot see, and man’s seeking to find security in things stored up and accumulated against the future.”

So what does living for the kingdom look like? Paul said it wasn’t food or drink but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Trust liberates us to press into God. We seek Him in the Bible and in worship, we reach out in love to those around us, and we live in fellowship with our spiritual and natural family. Touching Him and Him touching us frees us from worry and allows us to live for what really matters.

MEETING HIM IN THE PAGES

Ps.34:8 – Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Far too often the Bible is read and even studied for the wrong reasons. One of the common mistakes is using the Bible as a sort of “roadmap for life”. Of course we can find direction for our life in the Bible but that is not the point. The Bible is God’s word and is a revelation of God. Think of it like this, Jesus said “if you have seen Me you have seen the Father”. Jesus became a man so we can see the glory of God. Jesus is also the Word of God. When we search the scriptures we are touching God Himself. This is one of the ways we “taste and see”. We read the scripture and hear His voice. The point of reading scripture is not to find a way to live, it is to meet with the Lord. Here is Dane Ortlund describing Jonathan Edwards approach to God’s word.

“Edwards distinguishes between two different kinds of knowledge of Scripture. One “remains only in the head,” while the other “rests not entirely in the head or in the speculative ideas of things; but the heart is concerned in it.” Consequently, Edwards suggests, this latter kind of knowledge “may not only be called seeing, but feeling or tasting.” The crucial question is not whether we can explain what is in the Bible, but whether we can enjoy it. Like a chef who has mastered an elaborate recipe yet does not enjoy eating it, Christians can master what is in the Bible yet not taste the succulence of it. This is not to say we should shun knowing what is in the Bible. We must know the recipe if we are to enjoy the dish. “Such is the nature of man, that nothing can come at the heart but through the door of the understanding.” But the dish is not made to be dissected and scrutinized. It is made to be eaten. In short, God must give us eyes to see the beauty of God that is before us in Scripture.”

Touching the Bible is touching the beauty of God. In it we see His kindness, His nearness, His power, and His wisdom. Most of all we see His love for us. Reading the scripture becomes personal when the Lord actually meets us in the pages

WHY I READ DEAD PEOPLE’S BOOKS

Her.12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Like most all of us Christians I thought I knew better than the old dead guys. I had heard what others had said that the old dead guys had taught. You know, Luther was the justified by faith guy, Edwards was the ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ guy, and Calvin was the predestination guy; check. That was the way I looked at it until I read some of their writings myself. I was stunned by Luther’s Christmas sermons and his teachings on Psalms, absolutely the best I had ever read. Reading Calvin for myself also shocked me, he was all about God revealing His glory in all things, especially creation. Then there was Jonathan Edwards, his message on Revelation concerning the lion and the lamb (The Excellencies of Christ) absolutely had me undone. I realized how shallow I was and how shallow the teaching of the charismatic/Pentecostal brand of Christianity had become. These men who had gone before us were raised up by the Lord to teach us. We are intended to stand on their shoulders. Ignoring them is one of the worst mistakes this generation of Christians has made. Here are some thoughts from C. S. Lewis on reading old books.

“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. . . . This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more “rampant than in theology. . . . Now this seems to me topsyturvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. . . . It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. . . . We all . . . need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. . . . We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century . . . lies where we have never suspected it. . . . None of us can fully escape this blindness. . . . The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”

That is why we need Spurgeon, and Bunyan, and Augustine; to ignore them is to ignore the voice of the Shepherd through the generations. So I say go find yourself a good old sermon or book to read. Don’t be satisfied with what someone else said someone believed. Go read the old dead guys for yourself. You may realize they are not dead after all but are just witnesses that have gone before us.

LOVE

1 Jn.4:8 – Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The simplest truths in the Bible actually open up bottomless oceans of revelation. To put it bluntly, it is impossible to understand the One who is eternal. Take the last part of today’s verse for example, “God is love”. Now the natural man may think that love is God in some metaphysical way but that is not the case. Love that originates from a human is created and limited at best. Others may take this to mean that God will overlook our sins and accept us like we are. That is only partially true. He doesn’t overlook our sins He cleanses them by the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Being holy He cannot overlook sin, He had to deal with it. That was the whole point of Calvary. So what is this God is love thing? The Lord loves His uncreated Son. He has loved Him from eternity. This love between the Father and the Son is actually so profound that it is actually a person, the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus is the Word of God the Holy Spirit is the love of God. Here are some thoughts from Dane Ortlund describing Jonathan Edwards view on the love of God.

“For Jonathan Edwards, the fountain for all Christian loving is the love of God himself. This love has existed within the Godhead from all eternity, ultimately spilling out in the divine act of creation, an act that filled no need on God’s part but was simply the natural overflow of God’s own joyous intratrinitarian refulgence….. Reflecting on the two places in 1 John where we are told that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16), Edwards argues that this assertion “shows that there are more persons than one in the Deity: for it shows love to be essential and necessary to the Deity, so that his nature consists in it.” Love is who God is. For God to love is for God to be God. “The very nature of God is love. If it should be enquired what God is, it might be answered that he is an infinite and incomprehensible fountain of love.”

God loves His Son. How does that impact me? If I am a purchased son of God, Christ is in me and I am in Him. The love that the Father has for His only Son is now focused directly on me. This love is beyond imagination. This is that bottomless ocean.

BEAUTY OF PREACHING

1 Thes.2:13 – And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

One of the scary things about social media is what I call “Facebook Preachers”. Apparently, given the opportunity, many view social media as an opportunity to “preach” their own personal beliefs. The one thing overlooked is that there is such a thing as God’s calling into ministry. When someone who has God’s calling to preach begins to proclaim God’s word, it actually is the word of God. Man’s opinion confuses people, God’s word in His mouthpiece is another thing altogether. That is one of the reasons it is important to attend a local church, the preaching of the word of God by one of the Lord’s called ministers is irreplaceable in our lives. Here is Dane Ortlund in his book on beauty in the ministry of Jonathan Edwards describing the preaching of God’s word.

“The preaching of the Word of God is the word of God. Such a claim makes us nervous…..But understood rightly—namely, that when the Bible is responsibly preached, it is God speaking—Edwards would agree with the sentiment. “That word that is preached is the word of God,” preached Edwards in the summer of 1741. “And when it is preached according to his institution, you ought to look upon it as the sounding of the trump of God to give men warning and to call them to himself.”

Edwards believed that when he stood up to preach, he was himself the voice of God to his people. Receiving the words of a preacher, whether of Jonathan Edwards or the unknown but faithful preacher down the road from your own house today, a congregation receives the words of God. Rejecting the preacher’s words is to reject God’s words and thus God himself. The preached word is “the voice of the great God.”

God’s written word is amazing. His willingness to use imperfect, frail vessels to proclaim His word is shocking. The Lord used a minister by the name of Dick Mills to teach me the power of the spoken word when I was still in Bible College. Brother Mills loved the written word and literally soaked himself in scripture. When he began to preach or teach God’s word became a fine instrument in his mouth. If you are a minister, preach His word. If you are a Christian, get under anointed ministers. It will be a great treasure in your life.

THE BEAUTY OF GENTLENESS

Eph.4:1-3 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The first three chapters of Ephesians talk about the majesty of election, sovereignty, redemption, salvation, and our eternal inheritance in Christ. The power and force of the revelation given to the Apostle Paul takes our breath away. Chapter three concludes with a prayer that we would be empowered to glimpse the revelation of God’s love for us in Christ. It is overwhelming!! The crazy thing about this is Paul’s follow up in Chapter four. Paul says therefore, because of all He has done for us in Christ, we are to walk in humility and gentleness. That’s what the revelation of Christ’s greatness does to us, it humbles us. One sure way to know if you are “getting it” is the effect the revelation has on us. Paul says it should be humility and gentleness. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on humility. Pay close attention, this is classic Jonathan Edwards.

“Holiness, as I then wrote down some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature, which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness and ravishment to the soul. In other words . . . it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers; all pleasant, delightful, and undisturbed; enjoying a sweet calm. . . .

The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the years; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun’s glory, rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrance; standing peacefully and lovingly, in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms, to drink in the light of the sun.”

What a great analogy!! My soul, as a Christian is like a little white flower. Humble, sweet, soaking in the light of His glory, planted in His community with His other flowers. The results of this humility and gentleness, the fragrance of Christ fills the atmosphere. Plant me Lord in the garden of God.

SUPERMEN

Eph.1:16-18 – I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,

You ever think how different things will be in the new heaven and the new earth? Its really hard to imagine because things will totally shift. Just zeroing in on one thing, our vision or the way things will appear, can give us an indication of how much things will change. I can think of three things right off the bat that will cause an unthinkable transformation in everything.

First, the whole of creation was effected by the fall of man and the fall of Satan and many of the angels. We have no way to know how different things will be when that curse is removed at the return of Christ. Secondly, the world is now lit and held together by the sun. In the new world there will be no sun because the Lord will be its light. Third, our bodies will be changed. Having immortal bodies like Jesus will change everything. Think about it, our new bodies will have new eyes. Here is how Dane Ortlund explains some of Jonathan Edwards thoughts on seeing in the new world.

“The thinking Edwards gives to the role of sight in the believer’s life is not limited solely to spiritual vision. In one miscellany that considers the glorified body of Christ, Edwards reflects on what believers’ physical eyes will be like in their glorified existence in the new earth. He surmises that believers in the new heavens and the new earth will be able to see across the entire universe since Christ, not the sun, will be lighting the whole universe, and the light emitted by Christ’s glorified body must be far faster than the speed of light in a solar system lit up by our sun.”

One of our problems in life is comparing our world and everything in it by our limited experience. If our bodies are to be like Christ’s resurrected body (and they are) we will be quite different from the way we are now. Could it be our fixation on superheroes is rooted in who we will be ? 1 Jn.3:2 – “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

When God advances His larger plan through us!

Merry Monday by Parris

“Hannah prayed unto the Lord” I Sam. 1:10

I had mentioned last time I wrote that the Lord spoke to me while praying for my family that I was in fact praying over the city all these years. I tell you I was undone! He was in fact using my earnest prayers for the great city of New Orleans. I had a hard time connecting it with scripture until someone reminded me about the story of Hannah who was barren and then conceived and gave her son Samuel to the Lord who impacted the nation of Israel. Hannah prayed unto the Lord.

But listen to what Jack Hayford says,

“For Hannah, she gave birth to Samuel, who became one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. 

God uses the burden of Hannah’s heart to bring a surprisingly larger solution to a burden of His own heart.  Barrenness was not only Hannah’s condition, but Israel’s condition as well.  It was a season of spiritual need and with little prophetic activity, and God sought a voice to speak on His behalf to His people.  Hannah could not know that her intense intercession for a child was moving in concert with God-brining her a son, but also bringing forth the will and blessing of God for a whole nation.  As she entrusts the longings of her heart to God, He moves on her behalf, but also advances His larger plan through her at the same time.”

If we don’t watch out we get caught up with the have nots rather than the God that has and is working on our behalf that we can completely lose sight of God’s nature and who he is. As Hannah prayed God had it all under control, he was just looking for that mouthpiece that was willing to lift up her voice and live surrendered to God. Hannah lived grace, actually her name meant grace. The divine weaver of our lives always manages to take the bad, the disgraced, the dark in our world and weave in his beauty. What I love about Hannah was that her pain brought her to worship and that’s when our world changes. When we are confused worship, in pain worship, lonely worship, criticized worship! When we move in concert with God the world around us begins to change.

Then Hannah prayed and she just took her time to glorify God and his mighty power!

“There is no one holy like the Lord;

    there is no one besides you;

    there is no Rock like our God.

The Lord brings death and makes alive;

    he brings down to the grave and raises up.

 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;

    he humbles and he exalts.”

So when you cry out to God, just realize he is working on such a much larger scale than you could ever imagine!

DO I REALLY NEED TO PRAY IN TONGUES ?

This is a sermon outline that I preached at Victory. I posted it because of the importance of our prayer language. You can look at the scriptures posted and strengthen your faith concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Enjoy !!!

I. TWO KINDS OF TONGUES

1.ONE IS STRICTLY A PRAYER LANGUAGE – TALKING TO GOD

1 Cor.14:2 – TPT – When someone speaks in tongues, no one understands a word he says, because he’s not speaking to people, but to God—he is speaking intimate mysteries in the Spirit.

2. ONE IS A MESSAGE INTENDED TO BE INTERPRETED

1Cor. 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

1Cor. 12:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

1Cor. 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

1Cor. 12:10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

1Cor. 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

II. WHY DO I EMPHASIZE THE PRAYER LANGUAGE

1. SPEAKING INTIMACIES TO GOD RESTORATION OF INTIMACY

1 Cor.14:2 – Message – If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him.

1 Cor.14:2 – TPT – When someone speaks in tongues, no one understands a word he says, because he’s not speaking to people, but to God—he is speaking intimate mysteries in the Spirit.

2. IT IS A SIGN TO THIS GENERATION

1Cor. 14:22 ¶ Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

Is. 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue

He will speak to this people,

Is. 28:12 To whom He said, “This is the rest with which

You may cause the weary to rest,”

And, “This is the refreshing”;

Yet they would not hear.

3. IT CREATES AN ATMOSPHERE FOR THE SUPERNATURAL

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Rev.1:10 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,

4. BUILDS FAITH

Jude 20 ¶ But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

Jude 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life

5. THIS CAUSES US TO GROW SPIRITUALLY

1Cor. 14:2-4 – For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

6. HELPS ME OVERCOME MY WEAKNESSES

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.

7. THE PROPHETIC NATURE OF THE PRAYER LANGUAGE

1Cor. 14:13-15 ¶ Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

Acts 2:17“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,

That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

Your young men shall see visions,

Your old men shall dream dreams.

Acts 2:18And on My menservants and on My maidservants

I will pour out My Spirit in those days;

And they shall prophesy.

8. THE ANOINTING AND PASSION FOR INTERCESSION

Rom. 8:27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Rom. 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

9. CONNECTED TO GOD’S WILL

Rom. 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

10. WALKING IN LOVE

Jude 20 ¶ But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

Jude 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

11. RELEASING THE PRAYERS OF JESUS

Rom. 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

12. BY PASS NATURAL THINKING

1Cor. 14:14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.

1Cor. 14:15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

13. THERAPY AND REST

Is. 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Is. 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.

Is. 28:12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

14. PUTTING TO DEATH THE DEEDS OF THE FLESH

Rom. 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

15. WISDOM FROM GOD ACCESSED

1 Cor.2:10-13 – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

16. CONNECTED TO THE PRESENCE

Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

17. RENEWAL OF OUR MIND AND OUR INNER MAN

ISA.28:11,12 – For with stammering lips and another tongue

He will speak to this people,

To whom He said, “This is the rest with which

You may cause the weary to rest,”

And, “This is the refreshing”;

Yet they would not hear

18. BE STRENGTHENED IN YOUR INNER MAN

Eph.6:10,18 – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might…..praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

19. RELEASING THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT

Acts 2:17,18 – “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

20. HELPS US STEP INTO THE SPIRITUAL REALM

Rev.1:10 – I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet

21. HELPS US TO PRAY

Rom.8:26 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.