GOD IS IN HIS CITY

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Psa. 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
I don’t know if it is just me but I hear the word community an awful lot recently. I hear it applied to our nation, our city, a neighborhood, I even heard it in defense of Christians joining in on the revelry of Mardi Gras. For me, community has a special connotation. It started for Parris and I when we became part of the Christian Community called God’s Army back in the seventies. We learned a lot and went through some really tough times in those days but there was something unique and special about that community. What made it different? Today’s verse tells us, God was in the midst of us. He made our society very special, actually it was supernatural. That is why I love the local church, this is where we experience true community and of course this is where we find God in the midst of us. Here is how Matthew Henry describes today’s word.

“God has assured his church of his special presence with her and concern for her; his honor is embarked in her, he has set up his tabernacle in her and has undertaken the protection of it, and therefore she shall not be moved. The church shall survive the world, and be in bliss when that is in ruins. It is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Not disturbed, not much moved, with fears of the issue. If God be for us, if God be with us, we need not be moved at the most violent attempts made against us. Deliverance to the church, though her dangers be very great: God shall help her; and who then can hurt her? He shall help her under her troubles, that she shall not sink; nay, that the more she is afflicted the more she shall multiply.”
Without His presence community is just a club or an organization with temporary written all over it. The family community breaks up, businesses split, friendship wander apart, all human communities are just that, natural and human. We need the Lord in our lives individually, we also need Him in all our relationships. He is the bond that makes it survive, He is the engine that drives it, and He is the joy and love that sustains it. Yes, God is in the midst of His community and He helps and sustains her.

WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS QUIET

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Psa. 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!
Psa. 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge.
That’s one of the things that stands out about growing up. “How many more days until Christmas? Why can’t we open one of the gifts now?” Then there were those endless trips to Grandma’s house, “Are we almost there? How many more hours will it be?” Waiting, children just don’t want to wait, they want it now. Sounds a little too familiar. Nobody wants to wait. Presents before Christmas, sex before marriage, IRS money before the check actually comes, buying everything before you can afford it. Yeah, no one likes to wait for anything. That’s one of the things that begins to change as we grow in the Lord. Waiting becomes part of the blessing itself. Waiting is where we are strengthened, waiting is where we receive guidance, waiting is where we meet God. We are in that waiting for Christmas mode right now, actually this is the best part of the season. This is where we too can meet God. Here are some words from Louie Giglio on waiting on the Lord.
“Quiet moments are rare and it can be difficult to find stillness, but take a few minutes today to quietly and deeply consider the Lord. Try not to read or study or be distracted—just be still and meditate on the person of Jesus and all He has done for you. Think about His birth, His infancy, and the dawn of light rising over a dark and weary world. Think about His death and sacrifice, and the gift of life He extends to you. Meditate on His resurrection, His power over the darkness and the grave. Drink in His presence and in the stillness seek His face. And think about His coming, the day you will see Him face to face.”
My mother in law lives up on a mountain near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. You can walk from her house up the mountain road and be totally engulfed in the silence of God’s creation. There are sounds there for sure; the wind in the pine trees and the singing of the birds, but these are the beautiful sounds of silence. Look for a quiet place today and just be still. Maybe the sound of silence will help you hear the sweet voice of the Lord.

“The ever abiding constant River”

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS –

“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” Psalms 46:4
It’ funny how still after all these years, I cannot seem to move away from “there is a river”. The river of his presence seems to remain a constant theme in my life. Just recently a portion of Canal St in New Orleans is closed because it has a gigantic sinkhole right at the end of it. Evidently there is a huge “river” of water flowing underground from broken water pipes. I pray you too have found this underground river of His cleansing, His ever flowing love and grace.

Ralph Erskine says it this way;

“God the Father is the river: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13 .

God the Son is the river, the fountain of salvation: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1 .

God the Spirit is the river: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 7:38 4:14.

I have mentioned our property flooded a few months ago and it has been amazing to me the amount of sand that has been left behind. Also new shoots of bamboo are shooting up everywhere. Everywhere the river goes there is life.

Exposition goes to say- “What are the streams of this river? Answer — the perfections of God, the fulness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and these running in the channel of the covenant of promise.”

There is a river. Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilizing, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God.”

If you don’t watch out, one might grow tired of the river or ignore it; pretend that the river doesn’t exist. But as Christians we know “there is a river –it will have its way in our lives and hearts. It cannot be walled in or stopped. It will overflow its banks and take what it wants and leaves behind new life and new growth.

Step into the river my friends–it’s streams will take you right into His presence.

BE STILL- GOD REIGNS

Psa. 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”
This verse has been special to me for many years. It was actually the one the Lord used to speak to me in 1977 that ultimately landed me back home in New Orleans. Taking matters into your own hands often leads to bad choices that, in turn, lead to unpleasant consequences.

Often times, especially when we are in tight spots, we tend to get ahead of ourselves, or better, we get ahead of the Lord. Yielding and trusting in the Lord puts us in position for Him to orchestrate the circumstances ahead of us as well as pouring His peace into our hearts. Thinking back to my dilemma in 1977, I could have strived and pushed to start a ministry where I wanted to go, or I could be still before the Lord. I am so glad I waited, favor and guidance is better than stress and frustration any day. Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Edwards on being still before the Lord.
“The great works of God, wherein his sovereignty appeared, had been described in the foregoing verses. In the awful desolations that he made, and by delivering his people by terrible things, he showed his greatness and dominion. Herein he manifested his power and sovereignty, and so commands all to be still, and know that he is God. For says he, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. In the words may be observed…A duty described, to be still before God, and under the dispensations of his providence; which implies that we must be still as to words; not speaking against the sovereign dispensations of Providence, or complaining of them…We must be still as to actions and outward behavior, so as not to oppose God in his dispensations; and as to the inward frame of our hearts, cultivating a calm and quiet submission of soul to the sovereign pleasure of God, whatever it may be.”
Recognizing that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, ruling all things is a good place to start in our ‘being still’. He is orchestrating events for His kingdom plan to be realized. He turns the evil plans of the lost into tools to advance His kingdom. He blesses the work of His sons and daughters who joyfully wait on Him. Be still!! God will be honored and we will rest in His love.

VERY PRESENT HELP

Psa. 46:1 ¶ God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Martin Luther used to sing this Psalm in times of trouble. I love this incredible promise. He is a ‘very present’ help in times of need. He is not just a promise that somehow things will work out, He is very present when things go bad. I can’t think of a better promise, God Himself is with us, especially in times of trouble. In the margin of my Bible it says that the Lord is a ’well proved’ help. He not only shows up Himself, He has proven over and over again to be faithful to help His sons and daughters. Your problem may seem overwhelming but just stop for a moment and sing. He lives in your song and is much greater than any of our troubles. Here is what Matthew Henry said about this verse.

God is our refuge and strength; we have found him so, he has engaged to be so, and he ever will be so. Are we pursued? God is our refuge to whom we may flee, and in whom we may be safe and think ourselves so… Are we oppressed by troubles? Have we work to do and enemies to grapple with? God is our strength, to bear us up under our burdens, to fit us for all our services and sufferings; he will by his grace put strength into us, and on him we may stay ourselves. Are we in distress? He is a help, to do all that for us which we need, a present help, a help found (so the word is), one whom we have found to be so, a help on which we may write —It is tried, as Christ is called a tried stone. Or, a help at hand, one that never is to seek for, but that is always near. Or, a help sufficient, a help accommodated to every case and exigence; whatever it is, he is a very present help; we cannot desire a better help, nor shall ever find the like in any creature.”

So if you are going through some troubles today let’s join in with Martin Luther, David, and countless other saints who have sung this

Psalm. If you sing softly and pay close attention you may hear those songs from centuries gone by. Trouble often comes but trouble also is temporary. Our God is eternal and is a very present help in our lives today.

THE HAPPY RIVER

Psa. 46:4 ¶ There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
Far too often, the missing ingredient in the church is joy. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven”. Jonathan Edwards also said, “Heaven is a world of love”. Being loved is the source of our Christian joy. Heaven is a place of joy because it is a world of love. So what about this happy river that David sang about? The river is a picture of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us a foretaste of heaven, an actual taste of what heaven is like.

Are you beginning to connect the dots? Joy is connected to God’s love and the Holy Spirit is the outpouring of God’s love. If that is true, the River of God, the Holy Spirit, flows through His church and fills His church with an abundance of joy. Here is how Augustine saw it some 1600 years ago.
“ When the mountains shake, when the sea rages, God deserteth not His City, by the streams of the river. What are these streams of the river? That overflowing of the Holy Spirit, of which the Lord said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, out of his bosom shall flow rivers of living water.” These rivers then flowed out of the bosom of Paul, Peter, John, the other Apostles, the other faithful Evangelists. Since these rivers flowed from one river, many “streams of the river make glad the City of God.” For that ye might know this to be said of the Holy Spirit, in the same Gospel next said the Evangelist, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that were to believe on Him should receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus being glorified after His Resurrection, glorified after His Ascension, on the day of Pentecost came the Holy Spirit, and filled the believers, who spake with tongues, and began to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Hence was the City of God made glad…”

So maybe what our church, or every church, needs is more of the Holy Spirit. David was familiar with the River of the Holy Spirit. He sang about the presence, prophesied by the power of the Spirit, conquered armies by God’s power, and even danced with all his might in the presence of the Lord. So let’s be about that serious business of heaven, step into the river and maybe you will be dancing too.

DO, DO, DO

Psa. 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

Sometimes I think it is hard for the Lord’s dutiful servants to receive impartation from the Lord. Christian workers tend to get fixated on programs, routines, principles, goals, performance… You get the idea. Working continually, praying, counseling, witnessing, administrating, serving. Sometimes we tend to act as if God’s work depends on us. If you haven’t figured it out yet; it doesn’t. The kingdom of God will be complete on this earth, our privilege is to be part of it. It’s success is not dependent on us and our performance.

How do I know this? Actually I am describing the corner I had painted myself into after pastoring in New Orleans for sixteen years. I had discipled, counseled, and led daily morning prayer for most of those sixteen years. We had done street evangelism, friendship evangelism, cell ministry, door to door ministry, hospital ministry, and too many other projects and programs to mention. I was exhausted.

Of course we had seen a lot of fruit in those years but I was done, running on empty. What was the problem? Dutiful servants forget how to receive. We can become so busy helping others and always having the answer for whatever comes up that we can no longer receive from God. Actually receiving from the Lord can be something we have forgotten, something we used to do a long time ago.

I am describing my condition in 1994, sixteen years of pastoring had drained the well dry for me. That’s when my life was turned upside down (or right side up) once again. In one morning (actually it spilled over into the afternoon) my life was radically changed. What happened? I fell into the river, got swallowed up by God, fell into a trance, got drunk on the new wine; whatever you want to call it. My receiver got fixed. I was sitting in a revival service when I somehow got it. I was the problem. I needed God too.

In that life changing moment it was as if a switch was turned on inside of me. I changed from the serving and pouring out mode into the receiving and drinking mode. In that instant my life was flooded with God. It was as sudden and dramatic as my salvation experience. I was experiencing my second conversion. I was being delivered from being a pastor, I was just a Christian again. Now don’t get me wrong, twenty one years later I am still pastoring the church in New Orleans. I am just not a professional anymore. I am just a Christian.

THERE IS A RIVER OF LIFE

Psa. 46:4 ¶  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
There is a River!!! This is the River of Life that Jesus prophesied about in the temple in Jerusalem. He interrupted the services in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles crying out with a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink’. He was so overcome with passion His appeal burst out into pleas compelling people to come and drink. David sang about this river, Ezekiel prophesied about it as he waded in over his head, and John declared that this river was flowing out from the Father and the Son. Spurgeon describes it as smoothly flowing divine grace.
“Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilising, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God.”
The Fire Bible says that this river is a continuous flow of inspiration and power.
“God’s ‘river’ is the continual flow of his grace (undeserved favor, mercy and help), inspiration and power working through and among his faithful people. This pure, life-giving river flows from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is described as flowing from God’s throne and constantly refreshing his people on earth and those in heaven. The most important benefit of this river is that it brings evidence of God’s presence among his people: ‘The LORD Almighty is with us’.”
This River is not an experience or even the power of God, the River is a person. It is the third person of the blessed Trinity, the precious Holy Spirit. Have you found your way to the River of God? You see, it is not good enough to believe that there is a River; you must get into the River. The River is a place of refreshing to those who drink it, it is a place of cleansing for those who bath in it, it is the source of power to those who will swim and live in it. I have to agree with David,  ‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God”.

A RIVER OF DIVINE SUPPLY

A RIVER OF DIVINE SUPPLY

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” Psalm 46:4

 

Years ago, in fact about 21 years ago, I came across this scripture in Psalms and began to experience a unusual supply of His presence in my life and in my church. For the first time in my life I realized that I had put myself on a ridiculous treadmill of performance, excellence and shear willpower. I never imagined the divine supply and refreshment of God that could come unto my life once I repented of my works of the flesh. He restored the years that the cankerworm, so to speak, had eaten from my life. People literally walked up to me and said that I looked twenty years younger. Something so special, so intimate happened to me that I’m still not able to comprehend nor put into words. This scripture has so much meaning. Have you found yourself weary and beaten down by how your life has turned out? Maybe you are successful and everyone around you sees your importance but has it flowed out from the river of God?  God doesn’t measure our success by our measurements. How’s it working for you? I pray that you, like me, would get arrested and taken down into the river!

There is a river that you can drink from and live by all the days of your life. It will sustain you in the toughest times. John in the book of Revelation saw a “pure River of water of life clear as crystal proceeding from the throne of God” and it brought healing to the nations. He can bring healing and deliverance to you today if you would but open your mouth wide.

Spurgeon said “divine grace is flowing, fertilizing, full and never failing, it yields refreshment and consolation to believers. There is the river of the water of life of which the church above as well as below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it flows it serene course without disturbance. Happy they are who know from their own experience that there is such a river.”

Some say the river is symbolic of the Holy Spirit constantly flowing through our lives showing us the attributes of our Heavenly Father and opening up the treasures of the scriptures. Even JESUS on the great day of the feast cried out with a loud voice compelling people to drink from him. Jesus spoke of having a supernatural divine supple supply of joy, healing and strength for the journey. My question is have you spent time drinking of this precious river that He has provided everyday for us? Drink again and keep drinking.

 

GOD’S RIVER

Psa. 46:4 ¶  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

Parris and I love to kayak on the rivers near our house. Recently we went for a paddle down the Bogue Falaya River. Needless to say, the river is teeming with life. From the Kingfisher patrolling the river to the egrets looking for some breakfast, there is always a lot going on. If we are lucky, we sometimes even see a river otter sneaking a peak at who is intruding his world. Ezekiel says that everywhere the river goes there is life. Ancient civilization was closely related to rivers. Everything that pertained to life was connected to life on the river. The crops needed the water, food came from the river, transportation, cleaning, and of course the water itself. Everything was dependent on the life that the river provided.

No wonder Jesus used the river as the picture of spiritual life. “Anyone who is thirsty”, He cried, “must come to Me and drink”. He has water to give that quenches the very thirst of our souls. Our spiritual life is totally dependent on this river. Here are some thoughts from John Bunyan on this river of God.

“At the bottom of grace’s holy river, we see the glory of God. We are healed, made whole, and kept safe by grace, through the redemption that comes from Christ, to the praise of the glory of God. This river bottom is good and solid, for grace will not fail. Christ has proven that God will never lose His glory, and therefore they who drink of this river without a doubt will be saved, so long as they drink of it with a spiritual appetite. In the glory of His wisdom, this river of grace gave joy to God. He created it according to His own plans, the fruit and product of His wisdom. That is why, lost soul, you should please Him by doing that which gives Him most joy: come to the waters, dive into them, and do not be afraid of drowning. Trust God alone as you float in His grace, borne by the current into His praise, where you will see His throne.”

So we are still river dwellers today. Its in this river that our thirsty souls are satisfied and as Bunyan said, we are carried along by praise until we see His throne. So like the Kingfisher, we are patrolling the River drinking in all the life it provides. Like the egret we are up early searching for our next meal. Like the otter, we are swimming in the current, enjoying this life given to us by God.