THE FLOOD OF WILD AND DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

1 Peter 4:3-5 – You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead.

Drunken and immoral behavior is really the order of the day (have you been to an NFL football game lately?). I suppose people feel safe in their bad decisions because ‘everybody is doing it’. Peter’s observation is quite relevant in our world today; when someone gets converted their old friends and drinking buddies are absolutely blown away. Their first response is to try to gently woo you back into the fold. They will make some lame appeal like, ‘you know that Jesus drank wine don’t you?’ Then they will deteriorate to something like, ‘you Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites”. Then they will pull out the old faithful, “don’t judge me, the Bible says not to judge”. After all else fails their true colors rise to the surface, that comes in the form of profanity laced insults. Here is how Albert Barnes describes this.

“In respect to which vices, they who were once your partners and accomplices now think it strange that you no longer unite with them. They do not understand the reasons why you have left them. They regard you as abandoning a course of life which has much to attract and to make life merry, for a severe and gloomy superstition. This is a true account of the feelings which the people of the world have when their companions and friends leave them and become Christians. It is to them a strange and unaccountable thing, that they give up the pleasures of the world for a course of life which to them seems to promise anything but happiness.”

If you experience true conversion this will surely be your experience. I remember two of my lost friends made a feeble attempt to win me back to ‘their side’. Actually they drove all the way from Michigan to New Orleans to try to persuade me to reconsider my ways. After one short conversation they were back on the road headed north. As for me, I am glad I left that life in my youth. I have been spared plenty grief and enjoyed the goodness of the Lord.

ORACLE

1Pet. 4:11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

One of my faith heroes was the great preacher George Whitefield. He preached during the time of colonial America and is called by many America’s spiritual father. There are reports of his preaching that sound almost impossible until you consider the source. Ben Franklin was trying to debunk what he considered the exaggerations of Whitefield being able to preach to a large crowd. Shockingly, Franklin actually proved the amazing claims. Franklin said that Whitefield preached to a crowd of 25,000 in Philadelphia (with no amplification). Not only was Whitefield attracting crowds, he was also effecting people. Thousands of future Americans were born again in those services. It is said that Whitefield preached face to face with 80% of the population in the colonies in those days, thousands were converted. Here are Whitefield’s own words describing the power of his preaching.
“I’ll tell you a story. The Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1675 was acquainted with Mr. Butterton the [actor]. One day the Archbishop . . . said to Butterton . . . ‘Pray inform me Mr. Butterton, what is the reason you actors on stage can affect your congregations with speaking of things imaginary, as if they were real, while we in church speak of things real, which our congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?’ ‘Why my Lord,’ says Butterton, ‘the reason is very plain. We actors on stage speak of things imaginary, as if they were real and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.’”

“Therefore,” added Whitefield, ‘I will bawl [shout loudly], I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher.” So if you ask Whitefield, “Why do you preach the way you do?” he would “probably say, “I believe what I read in the Bible is real.”
Whitefield lived and preached as if the scriptures were true. His words carried that unexplainable sense of authority, I guess you would call that the anointing. Our country was birthed during that amazing season of spiritual outpouring. I believe that there was a sense of destiny in the preaching of George Whitefield. Could that be what is needed today? I believe it is. I believe destiny is about to appear again and America will respond.

THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD

THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD-
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” or “as good stewards of God’s many-sided kindness” (Weymouth) 1 Peter 4:10

Years ago Frank preached a wonderful message on this scripture. In fact Frank was describing the face of Victory Fellowship in the years to come. We had just moved to Airline Highway and our vision was to have a multi-racial church. His grace after all is multi-faceted. We wanted to welcome the “Frank and Parris” of our day. God’s grace can reach anyone. The word manifold in greek is “Poikilos”-1) a various colors, variegated 2) of various sorts. (Thayers) Barnes says- His favors are not confined to one single thing. Let’s study this word a little closer.
Barclay says this about this scripture: “No possible problem can arise to which the grace the God cannot supply the solution; no possible task can be laid upon us which the grace of God cannot find a way to do. There is no possible set of circumstances, no possible crisis, emergency or demand through which the grace of God cannot find a way, and which the grace of God cannot triumphantly deal with and overcome. There is nothing in life with which the grace of God cannot cope. It is indeed sufficient for everything.”
I love what Spurgeon says,”We are told of “manifold mercies,” that is, mercies which are folded up one in another, so that you may unwrap them and find a fresh mercy enclosed in every fold. Manifold as in a bundle, take Christ in his different characters, and you will see a marvelous variety – prophet, priest, king, husband, friend, shepherd. Take him in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, second advent, take him in his virtue, gentleness, courage, self-denial, love, faithfulness, truth, righteousness – everywhere it is a bundle. Some of God’s judgments are manifold, but all God’s mercies are manifold, and Christ being the sum of God’s mercies, hath in fold upon fold of goodness. He is ‘a bundle of myrrh’ for variety.”
The grace of God flows into every part of us and lives out His own life in all the diversified experiences and activities of our manifold life. His graces come to us unfolded in beautiful variety and completeness. Even the river that flows from God flows from manifold streams of supply. Simpson
Not only will we never understand this word Grace but we will never stop needing it. What is it today that you are in need of that He cannot supply? He knows what you have need of before you even ask, He is just that kind of God. Not only does He comes but He brings His gifts full of variety and depth! Now that is some good preaching!

OIL ON YOUR HEAD, FIRE IN YOUR BELLY

Oil on the head and fire in the belly!
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

We will never get to the point when we can say we have experienced the fullness of the Spirit, just as we can never come to the end of the love of God. It’s a continual fire that is meant to consume us. I see it happen all the time in Christians, they get filled with laughter, or blessed with a new job or salvation comes to their household and then BAM the fire comes! People love to talk about the river of God but boy are they suprised to hear what goes on in the river. Yes, jump in, yes swim in the river and yes drink my friends. But know, my beloved, that as sure as I am writing this, the fire is a coming.
Peter says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Pet.4:10
A.B. Simpson puts it this way; “Has He come to you as a fire? Has He come to consume the perishable and the corruptible, the sinful and the narrow? Has He burned out of you the foolishness, the sinfulness, the weakness, and the selfishness? Will you let Him? O this is a wholesome fire; it is a blessed fire. The thing you want consumed is a wilderness of woods and swamp. When a fire starts in a swamp, how quickly the wild things get out. How the serpents hiss and flee, and how everything is cleansed. God wants to burn the nest of scorpions out of your heart.” (ouch! Me have scorpions and serpents!)
Peter mentions our inheritance and how incorruptible it is, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” I Pet.1:4-7 Allow the Holy Ghost to finish the work in you.
Mr. Simpson wrote it so well, I dare not change what he is saying, listen to this; “Ask Him to let the fire in. If you have anything wrong in your heart, ask Him to come and consume it. There are things in your bosom that you want burned out. You want it to be as empty as a vessel that has been through the flames. We need not only to be washed out, but to be burned out, if we would be pure vessels fit for the Master’s use. Ask Him to send the fire, and receive it as the fire of love. O for the Divine love that endureth all things, that hopeth all things, that never faileth. Let it burn on and on and never cease — the unquenchable fire of God in the heart. Then shall it be what the fire is in the wheels of human industry, moving the machinery of life. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Before the day closes, you may be like that burning bush, baptized with fire, a glowing thing — little and obscure, but a wonder to earth and heaven, alive with light and glory and purity; nothing in yourself, but, like that wire which runs along your streets, charged with electric fire so that a man would not dare touch it, it is so alive. So you, though little and lowly, may be fiery channels to touch other lives, and make them yield to Him. Let us realize that the dispensation of today is supernatural as that of Pentecost.”
Try me, move me, do want you want with me Holy Ghost!

EMOTIONS VS. AFFECTIONS

Emotions versus Affections
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

1 Peter 4:12,13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

I seem to refer back to 1994 all the time, after all my life as a Christian dramatically changed. I would have been 37 years old and pastoring Victory Fellowship for over 16 years. Over this past weekend we had our annual Women’s Retreat at Gulf Shores, Alabama. There were about 80 of us and we stayed in condo’s overlooking the ocean. We had a unusually fabulous time, with preaching of the Word, fellowshipping and eating great healthy food. The juice bar was a hit! But during our stay a sudden storm past through and brought hurricane-like winds up to 60 MPH. In fact, one of our girls had their back car window bashed in by a flying chase lounge! Just as suddenly as it came, it was over, but the landscape had drastically changed. That’s exactly what happens when God visited us in 1994. It was a “suddenly” and after it blew in, our landscape changed.

The greatest impact on my life was learning the difference between my emotions and my affections. After I had laid on the floor for weeks getting filled with joy by the Holy Ghost I began to see that for years as a Christian I had let my emotions “rule the roost”. I remember the Lord telling me that my religion would not sustain me in the years to come and I needed to turn off all the faucets of my life and go down deep with Him.

A.B. Simpson says it like this:
“I think that to make sense of this, it would serve us well to distinguish between emotion and affection. I want to suggest that though our emotions are subjected to the ups and downs of life, both to the pinnacles of ecstasy and the depths of depression at different times, our affections are to be the unmoved abiding anchor whether our emotions are storm-tossed or still. Happiness relates to emotions, joy relates to affections.”

I had to learn that emotions are formed and fueled by instinct. Affections are formed and fueled by values. What we value shapes how we respond, interpret, and face circumstances in life. The less we fail to cultivate our affections positively, the more we will be driven by our emotion.

Jonathan Edwards contends that we always do what is our greatest affection (or what we value the greatest); that is, the will is always the same as our affections. Emotions, however, are often very different from what we will. I may hate rigorous exercise, but something deeper moves me to do what I hate: my value of good health. My value of good health (or my affections for good health) trumps the emotional allergy to exercise.
I had put all my eggs into one basket so to speak with the natural surroundings around me. Whether my husband, children or friends did or didn’t do what I expected affected me. In 1994, my value’s changed. When you are completely filled with the Holy Ghost your appetite truly changes. It makes you want more of Him and you begin to see that your whole life is meant to live in total appreication and satisfaction of Him alone. Peter in the above scipture was talking about two feelings- one of joy and one of sorrow. (The church was going through intense persecution at the time of his writing)
A. B. Simpson explains it like this:
“There are atmospheres in Christian life that greatly differ. Some of God’s children live in a cellar all their days, where the light is dim and the air damp; others live in shaded rooms and dim light, where the sun seldom shines; but others dwell in the very sunlight of God’s perfect love. The element of their being is not duty, conscience, doctrine, intellectual conviction or even Christian work, but divine love–the sweet, mellow, warm air of the Father’s house and the Father’s heart, the love of God poured out into the heart like the warm sunshine by the Holy Spirit abiding in the heart, and dwelling ever on God’s glorious gift and everlasting pledge of His perfect love, His own beloved Son.” Which atmosphere is your dwelling place?