WAKE UP

WAKE UP

Eph. 5:14 ¶ The Message
Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

Obviously, the Apostle Paul is talking about a state of what he called spiritual slumber. What a great picture of being vulnerable, we are never in a more dangerous place than when we are asleep. I’ll never forget the time Parris and I fell asleep in our hotel room in Moscow with our door left unlocked. We were passed out from jet lag and a long week of all day street ministry and carelessly did not lock our door before we went to sleep. That night someone came into our room and stole my wallet. What a strange feeling I had when I woke up the next morning, I had been vulnerable in my sleep and was totally unaware. Paul was calling for the church in Ephesus to awaken from their sleep, spiritual slumber puts us in a state of spiritual vulnerability. Here is a quote from Albert Barnes’ commentary on this passage.

“Sleep and death are striking representations of the state in which men are by nature. In sleep we are, though living, insensible to any danger that may be near; we are unconscious of what may be going on around us; we hear not the voice of our friends; we see not the beauty of the grove or the landscape; we are forgetful of our real character and condition. So with the sinner. It is as if his faculties were locked in a deep slumber. He hears not when God calls; he has no sense of danger; he is insensible to the beauties and glories of the heavenly world; he is forgetful of his true character and condition. To see all this, he must be first awakened; and hence this solemn command is addressed to man. He must rouse from this condition, or he cannot be saved. But can he awaken himself? Is it not the work of God to awaken a sinner? Can he rouse himself to a sense of his condition and danger? How do we do in other things? The man that is sleeping on the verge of a dangerous precipice we would approach, and say, “Awake, you are in danger.” The child that is sleeping quietly in its bed, while the flames are bursting into the room, we would rouse, and say, “Awake, or you will perish.” Why not use the same language to the sinner slumbering on the verge of ruin, in a deep sleep, while the flames of wrath are kindling around him? We have no difficulty in calling on sleepers elsewhere to awake when in danger; how can we have any difficulty when speaking to the sinner?”

Wake up! Our world is more dangerous than you can imagine. In that place of spiritual slumber we easily fall into laziness and compromise. Only those wide awake in Christ can be prepared for the days we live in. Awake oh sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

YOU DRINK TOO MUCH

YOU DRINK TOO MUCH

Ephesians 5:18. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit.”

Have you ever had too much to drink? That is really a loaded question because who sets the standard of drunkenness? Are you good as long as you can still stand up? Maybe your definition goes along with what the law says is legally too drunk to drive. Maybe you describe too much as being when you pass out or go to toilet hugging. For me, I choose not to drink alcoholic beverages. First of all alcohol is a slippery slope that leads to bad decisions and horrible consequences. Secondly, God has provided a much better drink, He has given us the new wine of the Spirit. You can’t have both so I think I’ll stick with the new wine.
Jonathan Edwards had some interesting observations about spiritual drinking. He said that there was no such thing as excessive spiritual drinking. Now that’s what I am talking about, you can get as intoxicated as you like on new wine and all the consequences are good. Here is Edwards’ comment on Eph.5:18.

” ‘And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit.’
As much as to say, In this there is no excess. It is no matter how full ye are of the Spirit. A being full of wine, or being “drunk with wine,” were expressions of the same import in those days. Thus when the apostles were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, some “mocking said, These men are full of new wine” [Acts 2:13]. There is excess in being full of wine, but no excess in being filled with the Spirit. There is no excess in spiritual enjoyments. We may be drunken with the Spirit, and there is no excess in that, as ’tis said, Song of Solomon 5:1, “Drink, and be drunken, O beloved.”

Now just think about the comparison of the consequences of spiritual drunkenness to being drunk on alcohol. If you drink too much booze you do stupid things such as getting into fights, car wrecks, profanity, and possible sexual compromise. Excessive drinking can lead to other problems such as losing your job, your marriage, or loss of friends. Ultimately excessive drinking will effect you physically; all sorts of disease is connected to alcohol consumption.
Now what about spiritual drinking, what are those consequences? The first is extreme joy that drives depression out of our lives. You keep drinking new wine and you begin to be overcome by God’s love, this tends to spill over into our other relationships. Our marriage improves, our friends are better friends, and our job performance improves. Finally, spiritual drink connects us to the power of God. We live a more moral life, we have power in our testimony, and we can actually be used by God to bring miracles into other’s lives. So what am I going to do, I think I’ll have another drink.

THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

“The Atmosphere of the Holy Spirit” Part One
– Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

“Do not over-indulge in wine–a thing in which excess is so easy– but drink deeply of God’s Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Eph.5:18 Weymouth)

Below is excerpts from the book, “EMBLEMS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT” by F.E. Marsh.

The Amplified Bible says, “ever be filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit”. Marsh begins to explain that, “being filled with the Spirit is not just filling to the full but the Spirit becomes an element in which the saints are to move, to live as fish in the sea or birds in the air. The Holy Spirit as we are environed by Him, not only fills the lungs of the spiritual being, but He environs to our protection.

1.The Atmosphere Sustains: without the atmosphere our planet earth would not exist. Breathing the air yields 3/4 of our nourishment, while the other 1/4 depends on water and food. Without air the plants and animals couldn’t sustain themselves. What the atmosphere is to this earth is what the Spirit is to a Christian. The Christian learns to live in the inner circle of the Spirit-for he is in the world but not of it. Even the Word is God breathed into us. Everything is held up by the word of his power.
2.The Atmosphere Presses: Were it not for the pressure that is on this earth we would all float away or explode! How we so need the Spirit to press in upon us all. When the Spirit presses upon us by his power, self is pressed out of the way and Christ is enthroned within us. He presses us in the realms of his truth, he presses us in the way of holiness by bringing conviction upon our hearts, he presses us by enlarging our hunger for him. He presses us toward the mark of his high calling. He simulates us by the promise of His Word, and he attracts us to the coming of Christ , and makes us long to see him whom we love. The Holy Spirit “fell on” or pressed himself all throughout the book of Acts.
3.The Atmosphere Protects: Just as meteors are broken up by the friction of the atmosphere so the Holy Spirit protects us from the things of this world. “Walking in the Spirit we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” As we stay within the circle of the Holy Spirit or live “under the apple tree” we will be able to defeat anything that comes against us. When we stay in the Spirit’s environment we are kept in the Spirit. Living in the divine we learn to look through the divine and therefore walk in love. The water spider makes its nest in the water but cannot live in the water and yet it does. The spider comes to the surface of the pond, and with a quick movement captures a globule of air, and then puts it in his nest and lives in the air. OH LET US LEARN TO LIVE ON THE GLOBULE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! HAVE A GREAT MONDAY!

SINGING A NEW SONG

SINGING A NEW SONG

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

David was all about the new song. He had tasted the sweetness of the other world and earthly songs would never do for David. This all started for him after that day of days when the prophet Samuel poured the oil upon David. From that very day the Spirit of God continued to “rush upon” David. He was singing the songs of heaven. Jonathan Edwards experienced a similar anointing on his church in Northampton in the 1700’s. They even had a weekly Sunday afternoon service where they sang exclusively the revival songs of Isaac Watts. Edwards preached a message about the new song of the Spirit that flowed out of the heart experiencing this spiritual renewal. Enjoy this short excerpt from that sermon.

“The melody of the heart with which they sing is new. Before they knew but how to sing praise to God: they were unlearned; they could make no melody in God’s ear; they had no skill in divine music; they had not learned the tune, nor could they sound one harmonious note. Their hearts were like an instrument that is unstrung and broken, wholly out of tune. The notes were most jarring and discordant. If they pretended to sing praise to God, it was howling and not singing in God’s ears. But now God has put their hearts in tune. Now there is some inward harmony. Now there is divine harmony that is melodious unto God.”

Edwards is pointing out the dramatic, total change in the nature of someone who is born again. We couldn’t praise God before, there was no praise in our hearts. He describes this new spiritual experience as a spiritual harmony. Before Christ, we were in discord with Him, His church, and His creation. Once we have been transformed by His grace, we begin to have harmony and joy in our hearts. This joy cannot and must not be contained, it flows out of us in a beautiful new heavenly song. It becomes the song and rhythm of our lives. Then we begin to see it, we have lived our lives discordant, we lived out of step with the Lord and His kingdom plans. We were ignorant of His purposes. His church was irrelevant to us. The renewal of the Spirit changes all of that. We are now in harmony with our God. We take great delight in His plans and purposes for our lives. His church becomes our very life. Instead of walking lock step with the world, singing their songs, our hearts are filled with the songs of heaven. Our sins have been washed away, His love has been displayed for us at the cross, His Spirit is being poured upon is excessive measures. How can we stay silent? We have to sing this new song.

FULL OF SOMETHING

Full of Something

Ephesians 5:18 Wuest
And stop being intoxicated with wine, in which (state of intoxication) there is profligacy. But be constantly filled (controlled) by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.

Your going to be filled with something. I’ll never forget the Georgia preacher on vacation in New Orleans back in the summer of 1995 (why would a preacher choose New Orleans for his vacation). Somehow, he stumbled upon people from our church and ended up in our revival services These weren’t just any services, we were right in the middle of an old fashioned, Holy Ghost visitation, it was anything but normal. The services were filled with joyful singing that lasted for hours, joy was in the house, and many people were experiencing unspeakable joy. Almost everyone was laughing that deep belly laugh, that is everyone but the Georgia preacher. He couldn’t “get it”, the more he tried, the more frustrated he got. In talking to him later he said that at one point the Lord told him he couldn’t be filled because he was already filled, he was filled with something other than the Holy Spirit. There was no room for God in his life. Like I said before, all of us are full of something. Wuest brought this out in his comments about today’s verse.

“Excess” is asōtia, from sōzō, “to save”, the literal meaning being, “unsavingness”; that is, that which is asōtia has nothing of a saving quality about it, but rather, a destructive one. The word as it is generally used expresses the idea of an abandoned, debauched, profligate life. The words “profligacy, debauching,” well describe its meaning. “Filled” is plēroō, “to fill up, to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally, to flood, to diffuse throughout.” In Acts 6:15 we have Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit. Faith filled Stephen in the sense that it controlled him. The Holy Spirit filled Stephen in the sense that He controlled him. Therefore, the fullness of the Spirit has reference to His control over the believer yielded to Him. The verb is in the present imperative; “Be constantly being filled with the Spirit.” The interpretation is, “Be constantly, moment by moment, being controlled by the Spirit.”

Well, back to the preacher, late one night, around 1 am after one of the services, I heard uncontrollable laughter coming out of the hallway. I went out to see the Georgia preacher being carried out of the church. He was literally being carried out by two people, hand and feet. They carried to the car, drove back to the hotel, carried him through the lobby and up the elevator, and took him into his room and literally put him in bed. The next day I found out what had happened, the preacher began to empty himself of himself, and as he did, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Joy unspeakable flooded his soul. I guess you know where this is going next. I have to ask the question,”What are you full of today?”

REDEEMING THE TIME

REDEEMING THE TIME

Eph. 5:16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

It is important for us to be spiritually alert. I will never forget when I heard about revival in August of 1994. Revival was something that I had longed for throughout my Christian experience. Revival had broken out in various places around the world months and even several years earlier and there I was, clueless. I was not tuned in to what the Lord was doing, it was as if my spiritual senses were dull. The time of revival had come and it was passing me by. There are special seasons of God’s outpourings that come from time to time. Not everyone recognizes these seasons, as a result many people miss out. It could be because of wrong teaching or just spiritual apathy, nevertheless, when God begins to move it is important to be ready. These seasons are too rare and precious to miss them. A.B. Simpson pastored during one of these seasons in the early 1900’s. Listen to His thoughts on redeeming the time.

“Two little words are found in the greek version here. They are translated ton kairon, in the Revised Version, “Buying up yourselves the opportunity.” The two words, ton kairon mean, literally, the opportunity. They do not refer to time in general, but to a special point of time, a juncture, a crisis, a moment full of possibilities quickly passing by, which we must seize and make the best of before it has passed away. It is estimated that there are not many such moments of opportunity, because the days are evil. Like a barren desert, in which, here and there you can find a flower, pluck it will you can; like a business opportunity that comes only a few times in a life-time, buy it while you have a chance. Be spiritually alert; be not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, buying up for yourselves the opportunity.”
Sometimes it is a moment of time to be saved; sometimes a soul to be led to Christ; sometimes it is an occasion for love; sometimes for patience; sometimes for victory over temptation and sin. Let us redeem it.”

I remember a Friday night revival service in 1995, Dick Mills was visiting our church. He came into the service and you could see he had his spiritual antennas up. Revival was in the air and he was not about to miss it. He was looking for revival, he was redeeming the time. In that same season we had several other guest ministers who actually despised what was going on in our church, they had come with their own ministry agenda. They couldn’t afford to redeem the time, they had other plans. Do you have “other plans” or are you looking for God. One of the greatest reasons for people to miss these special seasons is because they have other plans. They are just too busy to experience a God season in their life.

TUNING YOUR HEART

TUNING YOUR HEART

Eph. 5:18-20 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Several years ago the band, Delirious, performed a concert in our church. Before the show that night, I had the pleasure of meeting the leader of that band, Martin Smith. He was a joy to be around (I remember him prophesying over a coming move of the Spirit touching children in our church). Before his performance that night, he spent several minutes tuning up his voice. He loved to sing those high notes and wanted to get his vocal cords ready. It was quite interesting to see the importance he placed in tuning his voice. Jonathan Edwards spoke about tuning our spiritual voice. He says it takes preparation to be able to really worship. Listen to his thoughts about this spiritual exercise.

“Not only the matter of the song must be learnt, but also the music of the song. But the music of this tune consists in the melody of the heart. Eph.5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” As in order to learn the music of other songs, the voice must be tuned, so in order to learn the music of this song, the heart must be tuned. The music of this new song consists of holy admiration, in exalting thoughts of the glory of God and the Lamb and the great things of the gospel; and in divine love, in loving God for his excellency appearing in the face of Christ, in holy rejoicing in God and in delight and complacence of the soul in Jesus, whereby we, having not seen him, do love him and “rejoice with unspeakable and full of glory”(1Pet. 1:8). They that are unacquainted with this spiritual melody, they can’t learn to sing that new song.”

I love Edwards thoughts on this verse, our hearts must be tuned in order to worship. What does it mean to have you heart spiritually tuned? How can my heart be tuned to God’s worship? To be in tune means to come into harmony or agreement with God. We are brought into harmony by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Without the influence of the Spirit, we are just making discordant sounds. The sounds may or may not be generated by human talent, but without the anointing, they are ineffective in worship and are not acceptable worship. True worship is the work of the Spirit. Only a heart tuned to God Himself can enter into that place of spiritual harmony.
That Delirious concert was a very special night for me. Not only did I enjoy the music, I was spiritually refreshed. after meeting Martin Smith that night, I gained a new respect for true worshippers. In order to have an effective night of worship you have to tune up both of your instruments. You have to prepare your voice, and according to Jonathan Edwards, you have to tune up your heart.

THE NEW SONG AND CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

THE NEW SONG AND CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

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;
Eph.5:18,19

All of us know about the importance of Christian community and spiritual unity, at least in our heads we know it is important. But bringing that concept into our experience is another matter. It is too easy to see the faults of others (and overlook our own). Easily offended, we pull away and never experience the blessing of walking together with others in one heart, one spirit, and one faith. It is easier to walk away than to forgive (or maybe ask for forgiveness) than it is to press on and face the challenges and the blessing of human relationships. Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of Christian community and the role worship plays in the unity of that community. Here are a few of his comments.

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Our song on earth is speech. It is the sung word. Why do Christians sing when they are together? The reason is, quite simply, because in singing together it is possible for them to speak and pray the same Word at the same time; in other words, because here they can unite in the Word. All devotion, all attention should be concentrated upon the Word in the hymn. The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses that our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say, that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words. Yet we do not hum a melody; we sing words of praise to God, words of thanksgiving, confession, and prayer. Thus the music’s completely the servant of the Word. It elucidates (clarifies) the Word in mystery.”

As we see our world becoming increasingly dark and dangerous, we see the need of strengthening our community of faith (we normally call it church). The bond that strengthens this family is the fellowship we have with the Holy Spirit that with share with our Christian community. Singing the new song of the Lord with our spiritual family is the place this bond of unity is formed. I think of the picture of the 120 priests singing and playing their musical instruments together at the dedication of Solomon’s temple. As they lifted up their voices in one accord something unprecedented happened, that building was filled with the cloud of God’s Glory. No one there that day could ever go back to life as normal. That was impossible, they had tasted something only found in one place. They had tasted the very life of their community. After all, the scripture says that God inhabits the praises of His people.

REDEEMING THE TIME – AGAIN

REDEEMING THE TIME – AGAIN

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Eph.5:16

Time is one of our most precious of all commodities. Our time is not unlimited, we have a fixed amount of time on this earth given to us by the Lord. Our wise use of time is one of the things about our lives that will be evaluated at that great day when each of us will stand before the Lord. Our lives are all a series of “times” allotted to us by the Lord, these times are viewed, by the Lord, as treasures, or opportunities given to us for the advancement of His kingdom. There will come a day when time is no more, time will be swallowed up by eternity, and all of us will be instantly standing and living in the fruit of our labors here on earth. Dick Mills has some valuable insight into this phrase “redeeming the time”. Listen carefully to his words.

“This verse contains an illuminating Greek word for time: kairos (kahee-ros’). This is time adapted to circumstances. Kairos can be defined as: 1) A set time for action, 2) the right moment, 3) the opportune point of time when a thing should be done, or 4) the time appointed to accomplish a certain task.
In Ephesians 5:16 we are admonished by Paul to “redeem” the time (kairos) appointed to us by the Lord. Newer translations render this phrase, “buying up the opportunity,” indicating we need a natural acumen (understanding) to help us to interpret our spiritual opportunities.”

All of us live in a world screaming for our time. The Lord is different, He is quietly waiting for us to turn our attention to Him and to see the value of the time He has given to us. Seeing the value of something is the key to wise stewardship, especially of our time. We give ourselves to the things we perceive as important. How can I redeem the time and why would I want to? One glimpse of Him and His greatness will answer all of those questions. When you “see” Christ for yourself, your value system is radically upended, what you deem as important will change. When that happens, you will immediately see the value of one of the Lord’s greatest gifts to you, your time. In light of what Paul said about living in the evil day, we have to redeem the time, frankly, we don’t know how much of it we have.

REDEEMING THE TIME

REDEEMING THE TIME

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Eph.5:15,16

We are rapidly heading into a new year, 2010 is over and 2011 is about to begin. At the end of each year it is good for us to reflect on our past year and begin to think of the new opportunities just ahead of us. In today’s scripture Paul talks about redeeming the time. What is he saying, how can I buy back lost time? Obviously we can’t buy back time that is past, but Paul is describing a supernatural lifestyle that can begin to make the very best use of our time and in some ways begin to buy back lost time. Paul talked about the way to make the best use of our time in the next few verses, he said we could do this by staying filled with the Spirit.

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Eph.5:18-20

The word Paul uses, dissipation, literally means to waste your time. He is saying we can buy time back by staying full of God. Jonathan Edwards preached a message called “Redeeming the Time”. Listen to his take on this passage.

“YOU have now heard of the preciousness of time; and you are the persons concerned, to whom God hath committed that precious talent. You have an eternity before you. When God created you, and gave you reasonable souls, he made you for an endless duration. He gave you time here in order to a preparation for eternity, and your future eternity depends on the improvement of time.—Consider, therefore, what you have done with your past time. You are not now beginning your time, but a great deal is past and gone; and all the wit, and power, and treasure of the universe, cannot recover it. Many of you may well conclude, that more than half of your time is gone; though you should live to the ordinary age of man, your glass is more than half run; and it may be there are but few sands remaining. Your sun is past the meridian, and perhaps just setting, or going into an everlasting eclipse. Consider, therefore, what account you can give of your improvement of past time. How have you let the precious golden sands of your glass run?”
2011 is just in front of us. Let’s take to heart the words of Paul and of Jonathan Edwards, stay full of God this year, as you do, you will be buying back lost time.