ANGELS WITH WATERMELONS

MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS

“With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation”

Isaiah 12:3

Lately I have been seeing our church services filled with angels carrying watermelons. They must know it’s that time of the year when the miraculous happens, the hungry get fed and Christ walks among us because he goes where the hurting are. Our 30th year of Feed the Multitudes is upon us. Each year we watch wide eyed as we see the heavens open and people come from far and wide to offer “their 5 loaves and 2 fish” for the biggest free food festival held in New Orleans ever! Presently our pews are filled with bags of groceries, empty shoe boxes lay scattered in disarray, red white and blue wave all over the property. Latrines, tents, barricades, and the sound of chopping sausage for the red beans are all repeated sights. But who sees the angels flying around with watermelons in their hands?

Mark Twain once said about watermelons, “It is chief of this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.” Somewhere in this chaos Victory and our church lays aside all talk of business, conference updates, church growth principles and our own real life issues and we begin to watch the angels swirl over our heads. The watermelons are necessary because from days of old these delicious vegetables have an unbelievable root system that makes it 96% water. The angels come to bring us living water because without the living water we become just another meal for just another day.

July 4th is not only about our great country remembering its roots in God and coming together in celebration of our freedom but July 4th, to Frank and Parris, is a reminder that Christ really comes to bring life and as we pour, he pours back into us. I have had my stormy days and will continue to have them. The angels with the watermelons always remind me to pause, laugh and look up to join in the sweetness of all that God has to offer. Just maybe as you wash someone’s feet that day or serve them food you can find something to be thankful about and love on your brother/your sister. Oh don’t forget to grab yourself a watermelon.

GODS LIBARY

MERRY SATURDAY BY PARRIS-

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” Ps.8:11

I learned an amazing fact the other day about beetles. That God must have loved beetles because they end up being the largest variety of species on the earth. There are 400,000 different kinds of beetles that they have classified and scientists are still finding more of them. Tell me, how does one make 400,000 different kinds of beetles? In fact one could be so bold to say, that without beetles the earth would be in big trouble. The ecosystem would become unbalanced. From bringing pollen to flowers, breaking down dung to masquerading as ants, beetles rock in my world.

Joseph Caryl, the English Puritan Bible commentator, proclaimed that “All creatures have a teaching voice, they read us divinity Lectures of Divine Providence.” He taught that every particular beast, or every single creature is able to give instruction . . . the least as well as the greatest, the Mouse as well as the Elephant or the Lyon; the Shrimp as well as Leviathan; the Hysop on the wall, as well as the Cedar in Lebanon; the Grasses of the field, as well as the oaks of Bashan. John Flavell’s reflections on “spiritual husbandry” resembled Francis of Assisi when he affirmed, “It’s an excellent Art to discourse with Birds, Beasts and Fishes, about sublime and spiritual Subjects, and make them answer to our questions.” “Believe me,” he said, thou shalt find more in the Woods than in a [library] corner; Stones and Trees will teach thee what thou shalt not hear from learned Doctors.

“Our five senses are so many Doors whereby . . . External Objects are conveyed to us, and the Soul is to take notice of them.” We hear God speaking in each of these. “From the Sun, to the Stone; from the Cedar, to the Violet; every creature hath a voice to teach us something of God. This whole World is a School of man. All the Creatures spell this to us. . . .” John Bailey of Connecticut spoke of everything in creation as constituting a part of “God’s library,” a vast resource from which people could “read their fill.” From the beauty of open fields to the hard-working faithfulness of a good horse, the natural world provided entry to the mystery of God’s glory. For the person of discerning spirit, the tiniest creature witnesses to the source of its amazing life in God’s providential care. But don’t stop with the creature, he said, go on to the source. “The Fountain must needs have more than the Stream.” In the same way, John Flavell of Dartmouth urged his congregation to “Make a ladder out of earthly materials,” using matter—even cattle and corn fields—to ascend to God. He described “the World below [as] a Glass to discover the World above; Seculum est speculum.”

I pray you take the time to examine God’s library. Take out the God glasses and see, lean forward with your ears and he just might have something to say to you.

HEART TEARS

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:37

What a picture of redemption! It shows how much our emotions are to overflow toward our Savior! When He walks into the room do we treat him as ordinary? Or even better when our brothers and sisters come for a visit! My oh my how many times did I turn my head away! Some historians say that this woman was no stranger in this Pharisees house. We of course don’t know but everyone seems to know what her occupation was! It was also indicated that she had an encounter with Jesus earlier and came to this house to give thanks. Whatever the case is, her encounter was timely and newsworthy. Her life was turned upside down and instead of using her precious oil on men, she poured out her life onto Christ. All the feelings inside of her became white as fullers soap and she knew the old ways were finished. Her repentance filled the washbowl and poured over! The same hair that she used on others she used for the Son of God. The Pharisee on the other hand showed no common courtesy to Christ because he thought he was just another fixture in the room. In fact it sounds like he didn’t show any attention to Jesus at all. But this woman begin to cry and cry and kiss his feet over and again using her hair as a towel and wiping away the oil and the tears. We will call them heart tears! What a spectacle she must have been in the room! To those that know where they have been and know where they are, they have no trouble being a spectacle all the days of their lives. The alabaster box of devotion breaks out in all of us. We give him back what was meant for him in the first place. We can never diminish the guilt of sin and the amount of grace that it took to free us from it!

Christ turns to the annoyed Pharisee and demands him to “look at the woman”! Christ chides him by saying, ‘You gave Me no water for My feet; but she has washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.'” What a changing of places there is now! The Lord has made the first to be last and the last to be first! Simon the Pharisee thought himself far more advanced than this woman. Where are your heart tears?

“The Heavenly Gardener”

MERRY MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” John 20:15

Such an encounter Mary had and she supposed him to be the gardener! Well in some ways he is a gardener of sorts tending to the gardens in our soul. It happens to all of us! The sudden surprise when Christ walks into the room. Throughout our ministry I have had the pleasure of hearing of such encounters. It’s what makes ministry the best occupation in the universe. When the heavenly gardener shows up everything changes!

Mary from Magdala had every reason to miss the Christ standing before her. The last 24 hours were full of blood, beatings, and then the tomb. She gathered the spices to anoint the dead and hurried to the tomb bringing her own tomb of troubles.

Little did she realize she was going back in time when she went forward to the tomb. There was another garden long, long ago where Adam and Eve did the unpardonable. Little did she know she was the new Eve restoring the kingdom and the curse that fell on man. The heavenly gardener is always about his fields tending to his harvest. He calls her out by name just as he did that other day in the garden. Mary woke up out of her dream of death and met Christ the resurrected one. He commissioned her to finish the story of redemption by going to all the world and telling others the good news.

Ambrose says this about the garden; “Jesus went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden (John 18:1)” many mysteries are included in this word, and I believe it is not without reason that our Savior goes into a garden… Because a garden was the place wherein we fell, and therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin the greatest work of our redemption: in the first garden was the beginning of all evils; and in this garden was the beginning of our restitution from all evils; in the first garden, the first Adam was overthrown by Satan, and in this garden the second Adam overcame, and Satan himself was by him overcome; in the first garden sin was contracted; and we were indebted by our sins to God, and in this garden sin was paid for by that great and precious price of the blood of God: in the first garden man surfeited by eating the forbidden fruit, and in this garden Christ sweat it out wonderfully, even by a bloody sweat; in the first garden, death first made its entrance into the world; and in this garden life enters to restore us from death to life again; in the first garden Adam’s liberty to sin brought himself and all of us into bondage; and in this garden, Christ being bound and fettered, we are thereby freed and restored to liberty.”

No matter what you are facing my friend, the gardener has a way of bringing your winter to a close. He is tending to his business and calls you out by name. He has lifted the curse, and called you out by name! He is all around, he is in you working his eternal plan!

The Heavenly Architect

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“The very stone the masons rejected as flawed
has turned out to be the most important capstone of the arch,
holding up the very house of God.
The Lord himself is the one who has done this,
and it’s so amazing, so marvelous to see!” Ps. 118:22

It’s amazing how blind one can be to God all around us. We are so bent on why He didn’t come through for us in one situation when right in front of us the heavenly architect is at work, for He never stops. Years ago right after the garbage pick up came to my house I noticed a small folded up piece of paper by the trash can. When I went to pick it up I noticed that it was neatly folded up into squares. Hesitating at the trash can, I opened up all the squares and out came a large diamond inside. Just think, I almost threw the rubbish away not knowing the precious stone was inside! What a special day that was for me!

It was the same way during Jesus’ time. While the Jewish people were standing around staring at the beautiful edifice of the temple and all of it’s handiwork, the real temple was standing right next to them. Jesus even remarked to the crowd that he would rise again in three days. Christ was called the “headstone of the corner” and they/we discarded him as rubbish. Christ was cast outside as useless, unnoticed and aggressively treated as an enemy. Man loves to build his towers of Babel constructing man’s ideas, thoughts, and percepts, but all of that will topple. All along Christ was the stone of God’s own quarrying and preparing. From the extraordinary birth, to His signs, wonders and miracles, God set him apart. He fulfilled all the prophecies yet we did esteem him not. “We chased him out of this world and flung away God’s precious jewel because this world’s counterfeit outshone in our eyes”. Spurgeon

Today Christ comes to be the chief cook and bottle washer to our spiritual building. We find Jesus digging among the rubbish of our lives and then call us his precious stones in his quarry. He bonds us to himself and will bring out the precious diamonds in us all. The head of the corner joins God and man together in time and eternity! For this is the Lord’s doing and is marvelous in our eyes. To them that believe he is forever precious! He becomes the beauty and the ornament of the true building. He is the sure foundation that has been laid in our lives while men continue today to build corrupt buildings out of evil designs. Do you believe the heavenly architect knows what he is doing in your own life? Don’t let the tower of Babel become the voice of your future for it will come to naught! Christ himself is building us up together in him; allow the master carpenter to work within!

Who do YOU say that I am ?

MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS

Matt. 16:15 – “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

It is imperative that Christ comes to each of us at some point in our lives, (sooner I pray than later), and asks us this same question. Even the disciples didn’t directly answer him until he imposed this question upon them. They wanted to deflect and tell him what others have said. Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me paint the backdrop of this question. Jesus had been traveling from one city to the next and there had been one disappointment after another. The cities where most of His mighty works were done, repented not. The people welcomed his material things; but when He began to speak to them of heavenly things, they “went back, and walked no more with Him.” Jesus then came to the region of Caesarea Philippi and took the disciples to a remote and rocky region by the coasts where he could birth the Ecclesia- His Church. Expositors bible says, “As the dew of Hermon, and as the flowing of the water-springs, shall be that Church of the living God, which, as the sequel will unfold, had its first foundation on this rocky hillside and by these river sources.” Up to this time He has spoken always of the kingdom, never of the church.

Peter’s answer came not from himself but by the Spirit. Expositor bible says, “This is a question we should every one of us be frequently putting to ourselves, “Who do we say, what kind of one do we say, that the Lord Jesus is? Is he precious to us? Is he in our eyes the chief of ten thousand? Is he the Beloved of our souls?” It is well or ill with us, according as our thoughts are right or wrong concerning Jesus Christ?”

I can almost picture Christ standing amidst the rocky mountain cliff and commending Peter for his confession.

Matthew Henry says, “This is the conclusion of the whole matter.” And Lange jumps in with “we must enter it by a complete transformation into a second and new life which is from heaven. This new life was germinating in the hearts of the disciples. Every believer who is enlightened by the Father is also a rock.”

So as your start into Monday I pray you too by the Holy Ghost confess; HE IS MY CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. As Jude wrote, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24-25). It might just change your mundane Monday!

THE ESSENCE OF THE TRINITY

MERRY MONDAY

Parris Bailey

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen 2 Cor. 13:14

Years ago I had what I define as an open vision when we were facing one of the darkest trials in our lives. I have spoken of it many times through the years and recently I read a book that describes more or less the vision I had when it was speaking of the Trinity. What I saw was a huge boarded room filled with books and heavy wood paneling. I realized that I was standing outside the door of this room and saw three people sitting at the table beckoning me to come in. It’s hard to describe but I could tell by revelation that I was standing without and all I needed was to open the door and go in. When I sat down at the table I knew it to be the Father, Son, and The Holy Spirit. The fellowship of what they shared with each other was overwhelmingly strong and it began to fall upon me. They had scrolls in their hands which I perceived to be my life and I began to feel alarmed. But the presence of the three in operation of their gifts began to communicate to me that they would be with me throughout my life. The vision closed with all of us agreeing in prayer together as the rolls began to unwind. I was left with a feeling of overwhelming peace.

Little did I realize that there was a painting (circa 1600) that describes what I saw. The Trinity sitting at a round table in divine fellowship. You will notice the cup is being passed- the one that Jesus agreed to take. He too knew there was a plan for his life. The fellowship we have with the Trinity is eternal and they come with an eternal plan and it is a good one! In fact the world is caught up in their eternal plan. Every plant, animal, and human being placed upon this earth works in harmony with the dance of the Trinity. Their essence spills over onto us and we learn to celebrate the life of the trinity!

Calvin says “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice and every human being is “formed to be a spectator of the created world and given eyes that he might be led to its Author by contemplating so beautiful a representation. You are not a shooting star or a floating asteroid orbiting through the universe non-existent and without purpose or notice. Your world is much bigger than you think”. Calvin also said, “Satan so much endeavors to accomplish as to bring on mists with the view of obscuring Christ, because he knows, that by this means the way is opened up for every kind of falsehood. This, therefore, is the only means of retaining, as well as restoring pure doctrine—to place Christ before the view such as he is with all his blessings, that his excellence may be truly perceived.”

So go ahead open the door and sit down at the table around the eternal fellowship of the Trinity!

THE WHOLE WORLD IS AN ANTHEM

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“Those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.” Psalms 65:8-9 ESV

Hey what does your morning look like? Do you check the latest story on instagram, or troll endlessly through Facebook? Worse yet turn on the tv and fill the house with news. I’m not here to get into your business by any means. Funny thing is while you were sleeping the God of creation had a busy night!

I may be guilty of all of the above too but I try to value God in my mornings and look for his handiwork and listen to the song. I find whatever transpired in my darkest night somehow looks brighter in the morning. Earth begins its sweet routine and life is good again. Some might find this brutal when they have lost so much but time, with its gentle hand, heals us through earth’s cycles. At some point in my morning I go lay down on the couch and read His glorious word, pray for my family and for the things that come up in my spirit and then head outside to reset my life. Our great manager had been circling the earth with his mercies. Martin Luther says, “God must be always attending to it with rain and heat, and must do everything to make it grow and prosper while the farmer lies at home and sleeps. God puts his crowning handiwork on everything”.

As we shuffle along through our lives we forget that the footsteps of God, who is the great fertilizer, may be traced by the abundance which he creates, he is all around us. His bounty makes the earth give vent to praise. The birds and the cows along with the grasses of the fields all respond back to his voice. The constant ripple of the waves and the hissing of the wind along with the cloud formations twirl and swirl according to his rhythm. The Treasury of David says “Nature has no discords. Her airs are melodious, her chorus is full of harmony. All, all is for the Lord; the world is a hymn to the Eternal. Blessed is he who, hearing, joins in it, and makes one singer in the mighty chorus.” Selah

WHAT DOES DESPERATE LOOK LIKE?

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Mark 9:25

We all hate the dreaded phone call. You know, the one that the nurse calls back and you have to come in and talk to the doctor because something showed up on the X-ray? Or the door bell rang in the middle of the night and it’s the police telling of the nightmare you never dreamed of. I will never forget getting “served” January 1st one new year indicating a lawsuit. God has a way of getting our attention through such a thing called LIFE! At some point we just have to hit the wall and become desperate.

In the above passage there is a story about a demon possessed boy and even after the disciples prayed for him, he was not delivered. His father had reached the desperate stage and called out to Christ to help his unbelief. I can’t imagine watching as a parent over a child that tries over and over again to kill himself. Sometimes Christ gives Satan full advantage so the victory will become Christ’s alone. Human agency is utterly powerless and only when we’ve spent it all that His glory shines the greatest.

How does desperate look to you today? But look here, the master comes soon enough. It is almost as if Christ surveys the field of battle and begins to strategize which way He will begin the attack.

He comprehends the difficulties of the case in an instant. Our part is to yield and turn to the Lord with all of our heart. And like this poor father, cry out and say “help my unbelief!

Spurgeon says, “for my Master will soon stoop over you, and take you by the hand and lift you up, and your comfort shall begin, because the unclean spirit is cast out. “Ah! he means to destroy me,” says the soul under conviction. Nay, soul, God does not destroy those whom he convinces of sin. Men do not plough fields which they have no intention to sow. If God ploughs you with conviction he will sow you with gospel comfort, and you shall bring forth a harvest of his glory. His matchless grace can encounter no rival.”

God honors the desperate and there is no shame when we call out to him confessing our unbelief. Let him survey the battle and soon enough deliverance will come!

“BLACK AND BLUE”

Merry Friday by Parris

Have you ever felt like your prayers are making God black and blue by their pounding?

Jesus quoted a parable about the unrighteous judge that said, “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’ LUKE 18:1

Jesus the great mediator is always about his business as the minister of the sanctuary. He ever lives to make intercession for us. Our prayers rise like incense and are not forgotten or in vain.

There is a story in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian stays at the Porter’s house and it says; “the next day they took him and led him into the armory, where they showed him all manner of weapons which their Lord had provided for pilgrims; as sword, shield, helmet, breast-plate, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out.” Eph. 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” As a pilgrim we can take “ALL PRAYER” AND POUND AWAY AT HEAVEN’S DOOR. EVEN IF GOD TURNS BLACK AND BLUE FROM OUR POUNDING, HE DOESN’T TURN A DEAF EAR.

My friend pray always — with all prayer — Matthew Henry says; “With unwearied importunity renewing our petitions till they be granted, and supplication for all saints. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favors received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. It is ‘the panoply of God,’ therefore we are to be endued with it, not by exercises in our own strength, but by dependence on Him. We shall never put on the armor of light unless in silence we draw near to Him who teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight. Communion with Christ, and only communion with Christ, receives from Him the life which enables us to repel the diseases of our spirits. If we go forth into the world of struggle from the secret place of the Most High, ‘no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper,’ and we shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

All prayer is our voice that gets us through all our circumstances!