“OH THE PLACES WE WILL GO!”

MERRY THURSDAY-

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” 1 Cor. 2:19
Years ago when our first child was graduating high school and on the way to college; Frank’s sister gave our son the Dr. Seuss book entitled “OH THE PLACES YOU WILL GO!” I believe he still has that book because his aunt passed away not many years later. One of the quotes is;
“You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So… get on your way!”

Dr. Seuss
The Christian journey is the best journey one could ever embark on which will have no regrets. Gills commentary says, “that no one had ever fully perceived and understood the value and beauty of those things which God has prepared for his people. All the world had been strangers to this until God made a revelation to his people by his Spirit. To say that the eye had not seen, nor the ear heard, was, therefore, the same as saying that it was not known at all. All people had been ignorant of it. Neither have entered into the heart of man – No man has conceived it; or understood it. It is new; and is above all that man has seen, and felt, and known.”

The Christian journey of redemption is such a mystery that man simply cannot comprehend it. Gill again says, “God has held in reserve” the wisdom that is revealed in the gospel. He gives us eyes to see and hears to hear but we have to remain open to his love of redemption and the plan of God. I mean, every part of you, your life, will change. The way you look at yourself, the way you look at other people, the way you look at the church, the way you look at life, the way you look at the lost, the way you look at everything will change because you’ll have a new sense of the greatness of our God.

Oh the places we will go! God has so much in store right now! This voice of the Lord opens the hearts of the hungry and calls them to a place of restoration and healing in God’s glorious dance. You are not forgotten. You too are a part of His plan. It’s not accidental! Nothing about your life is an accident.

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains” Dr.Seuss

GLORIFIED

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Herein is my Father glorified —John 15:8

Once you begin to see the glory of the Lord for yourself your view of everything changes. You begin to come to the greatest of all conclusions, everything that exists exists to display the glory of God. The galaxies and solar systems, the sub-atomic and microscopic world, the creatures in the sea, the birds of the air, and the innumerable land creatures and insects. All of these things display the wisdom, creativity, and power of God. But there is even a greater display of God’s glory than all of these wonderful things. What could it possibly be? His greatest glory is reserved for the sinners, the ungodly of this world. God’s greatest glory is seen in redemption, the forgiveness and transformation of the dregs of fallen man. Jesus’s glory was clearly seen in the forgiveness of the harlot called Mary, the restoration of the betrayer called Peter, and the salvation of the self proclaimed chief of sinners, the persecutor also known as the Apostle Paul. Here is how A. B. Simpson describes the glory of God.

“There is nothing that glorifies God so much as for a weak and helpless man or woman to be able to triumph through His strength in places where the highest human qualities will fail us and to carry on in divine power through every form of toll and suffering. A spirit naturally weak, irresolute, selfish, and sinful, transformed into sweetness, purity and power and standing victorious amid circumstances from which its natural qualities must utterly unfit it brings glory to God. A mind not naturally wise or strong, yet directed by a divine wisdom and carried along the path of a great and mighty plan, being used to accomplish stupendous results for God and man-this glorifies God. Father, let me glorify Thee this day and adorn Thy doctrine in all things I do.”
So that brings us to you. Could it be that all the bad stuff that has happened in your life is just an opportunity for glory at the end of the day? If that’s the case we have to glory in our problems and even in the afflictions in our lives. God is serious about His glory, He is serious about redemption and restoration in your life. Draw near and lean on His mercy, I think the Lord is about to show His glory in your life.

RESTING BY THE RIVER

Psa. 23:1,2 ¶ The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

This is a beautiful picture of the spiritual rest the Lord gives His sons and daughters. The Amplified Bible says it like this, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters”. That is one of the beautiful functions of the wonderful Holy Spirit, He gives us rest for our souls. This is one of the greatest of all needs in today’s crazy world. Stress seems to be the order of the day; seasons of earthquakes and national disasters, political chaos, racial contention, economic tsunamis, and incurable pandemics. Without this place of rest to run to we can easily be overwhelmed by the troubles of this life. Have you learned the importance of following the Shepherd daily to the waters of rest. I think I would have shipwrecked long ago without learning the blessing of resting in the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry of the waters of rest.

“The still waters by which he leads them yield them, not only a pleasant prospect, but many a cooling draught, many a reviving cordial, when they are thirsty and weary. God provides for his people not only food and rest, but refreshment also and pleasure. The consolations of God, the joys of the Holy Ghost, are these still waters, by which the saints are led, streams which flow from the fountain of living waters and make glad the city of our God. God leads his people, not to the standing waters which corrupt and gather filth, not to the troubled sea, nor to the rapid rolling floods, but to the silent purling waters; for the still but running waters agree best with those spirits that flow out towards God and yet do it silently.”
I can remember very clearly the first time I found myself in this semi-conscious state resting in the Holy Ghost. I was prayed for and fell under the power of the Spirit for the first time. I found myself totally caught by surprise as I was overtaken by the restful, waters of joy. Resting, laughing, and overcome by love; that’s the very place the Shepherd wants to takes us. This is the beautiful place of restoration, cleansing, and empowering. Go ahead and take a break in the River, this is the place you have been looking for all of your life.

HE RESTORES MY SOUL

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He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Ps.23:2,3

Before we met Christ, our souls were in a continuous state of shambles. Our pride and sin had blinded our eyes, our tragedies and offenses had wounded us. Our conversion began the work of restoration in our lives. Only the Shepherd could restore our soul. Here is a thought from Adam Clarke on this restoration.

“Brings back my life from destruction; and converts my soul from sin, that it may not eternally perish. Or, after it has backslidden from him, heals its backslidings, and restores it to his favor.”
After conversion we still need the restoring work of the Spirit in our lives. Temptations, offenses, and calamity tend to take their toll on all of us. Only the work of the Spirit can restore our souls so that we can walk with our Shepherd. Here is what Spurgeon says about the restoration of our souls.

“When the soul grows sorrowful he revives it; when it is sinful he sanctifies it; when it is weak he strengthens it. “He” does it. His ministers could not do it if he did not. His Word would not avail by itself. “He restoreth my soul.” Are any of us low in grace? Do we feel that our spirituality is at its lowest ebb? He who turns the ebb into the flood can soon restore our soul. Pray to him, then, for the blessing—“Restore thou me, thou Shepherd of my soul!”

The Apostle Paul says in best in Titus 3:5 “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”.
So, how is it with your soul today. There is renewal and restoration available for us every time we step into the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit. These are the waters of rest that the Shepherd gently and faithfully leads us to. You may feel tired or drained emotionally, there is renewal in the Holy Spirit for you. You may feel like the work of the ministry is just too much for you, good news, these are waters of rest as well as restoration. He will bring rest to your soul and strength for tomorrow’s journey. He is restoring our souls and making all things new again.

SAVED

He shall save his people from their sins.
Matt.1:21
What a powerful word from the angel that visited Joseph, “He will save His people from their sins”. The word save in the New Testament is quite powerful. It is describing way more than just a ticket to heaven, it is describing a quality of life. Save comes from the Greek word sozo. That word smacks of wholeness. Forgiveness of sin brings us into wholeness for our spirit, soul, and body. Sin has stolen from all of us. It has decimated our relationships, it has tormented our minds, it has violated our conscience, stolen our money, and poisoned our bodies with disease. That’s why this angelic word is so profound, the forgiveness of our sins restores what was lost by our sin; it restores everything. Charles Spurgeon shares powerfully about this verse, check it out.
“Many persons, if they are asked what they understand by salvation, will reply, ‘Being saved from hell and taken to heaven’. This is one result of salvation, but it is not one tithe of what is contained in that boon. It is true our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all his people from the wrath to come; he saves them from the fearful condemnation which their sins had brought upon them; but his triumph is far more complete than this. He saves his people from their sins. Oh! sweet deliverance from our worst foes. Where Christ works a saving work, he casts Satan from his throne, and will not let him be master any longer. No man is a true Christian if sin reigns in his mortal body. Sin will be in us-it will never be utterly expelled till the spirit enters glory; but it will never have dominion.”
What has been stolen from you? Have you lost precious relationships with family and friends?

Maybe sin has stolen your peace of mind or health. Or maybe your finances have been ransacked and your possessions pilfered. Could it be you have become more dependent on pills or drink than you are willing to admit? All of these things is what the angel had in mind when he spoke to Joseph. “Call His name Jesus, He will save you from your sins.” All of that can change as you drink from the cup of salvation. You see when you say those often repeated words, “I am saved”, you have said a mouthful. You may have received more than you know.

“Celebrating 37 years”

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

Psalm 126 “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad”
When was the last time you dreamed? Last week I “attempted to jog/walk” through LaSalle Park listening to the latest Jesus Culture “Let it Echo” on my iPhone.(Loved it!) I was so enjoying myself, praying for my usual stuff when the Lord began to stir me about the 37 years being here at Victory. It was if I was in a dream! What a beautiful journey of the Love of God! Most of the folks at Victory know the story of Frank and I driving a car back to New Orleans, that wasn’t ours, bringing only what the car would hold, with our 4 yr. old son Jeremy. It was early morning the sun was rising over the city, and the Lord gave this verse, John 4:38-“I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” For the next 37 years at Victory we have done just that, reaped where so many have labored over this precious city.

When the Lord turns back our captivity, joy comes! The summer of 1973, we walk right into some “Jesus Freaks” around the Mardi Gras fountain at the Lakefront, singing and worshipping. Frank and I were ripe for the harvest we never looked back. We got married, went away to Bible School. Now it was fall 1978 and we found ourselves right smack in the Charismatic move impacting the city reaping where others have sown. Our church exploded.

As I jogged around the park, I saw so many that have plowed up this city, restoring the ancient wells that God intended to be here. People came in broken and left full and ran to the nations. In the Treasury of David it says, “In proportion to the sorrow of sowing will be the joy of reaping”. I pray you too have found this hidden joy. Christ changes people into reapers, after all isn’t this what redemption is all about? We sow our precious seed and God brings the harvest. Whether it be the tent meetings we had, our school that preached Christ for 32 years, Bethesda Bible School training leaders, the many productions we have had, including Beyond the Grave, feeding the hungry through “Feed the Multitudes”, creating communities of restoration centers where the broken can come, hosting care groups throughout the city—-Christ is preached and redemption comes to life.

By the time I walked back to the church from my run, these 37 years have turned my/our tears into joy, filling our mouth with laughter. I can truly say, The Lord hath done great things and we are glad! Happy 37!

RESTORER AND NOURISHER

Ruth 4:15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

The Word of God is full of subtle, hidden meaning. The Old Testament story of Ruth is like that. Ruth, who was a foreigner, was married to one of Naomi’s sons. After the death of Naomi’s husband and son, Ruth remained loyal and faithful to Naomi. Through a series of events she was married to Boaz, an elder in the nation of Israel. The prophesy in today’s verse comes from that story, speaking of the child of Boaz and Ruth. This child became a type of Christ and the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David. This was the messianic line which in this case came from a Moabite young woman. Today’s word is an incredible prophesy about the prophetic significance of this child. Obviously these titles are speaking of one greater than even David. Who else but Christ Himself could be the RESTORER and NOURISHER of our souls. Here are the meanings of these two titles from Zodhiates Old Testament word book.
1. RESTORER OF LIFE – SHUB- come back; to turn around (figuratively); to turn to Jehovah (i.e., a spiritual return to the Lord; to be converted to God
THIS IS THE WORK OF THE LORD – REPENTANCE AND RENEWAL

2. NOURISHER – KUHL – contain, hold, abide, bear, nourish, provide

This is a great description of the present day ministry of our Lord. First, He is the great Restorer of life. All of us were once hopelessly lost in our transgressions and sinfulness. Jesus came to each of us through the power of the Holy Spirit and convicted us of our sin and converted us to this new life. Strangely, the sway of all of our past habits and addictions lost their attraction to us. We were drastically and permanently changed. Christ restored us to our destiny as sons and daughters of God.

Secondly, the ministry of Jesus continues for us as a Nourisher. After our new birth, He nursed us and sustained us as a mother cares for her new born child. He has supported us and kept us alive by His constant work of renewal. We are daily nourished and renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of His word.

HE RESTORES MY SOUL

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul

Ps 23:2,3

This year has been named 180 at Victory Fellowship. That is the name of our new men’s restoration center as well as a constant reminder of God’s plan of restoration and repentance. In David’s Shepherd’s Psalm he speaks about restoring our soul. Look at the definition of restore from the Mounce word book.

“Restore – to be returned, be brought back; from the base meaning of turning back comes the figurative extension of restoration of relationship, as when one returns in repentance to God”

So David is saying that this relationship of intimacy with God is deeply connected to repentance. Repentance connects us to our loving Good Shepherd.

Recently I was in a service like no other I had ever been in. I spoke very briefly (about 10 minutes) on the passage in Acts where the Bible says that “God granted repentance to the gentiles”. As I sat down men began to line up at the microphone in the front of the auditorium. They were confessing their sins publicly. What a holy and liberating moment. God came down in that place and lives were dramatically changed. He was making us whole and holy in His presence. Wholeness and holiness are closely connected. That why this verse is so powerful, God’s restoration is repentance that leads to wholeness and holiness. Here are some thoughts from Richard Baker on today’s verse.

“He restoreth my soul.” He restores it to its original purity, that was now grown foul and black with sin; for also, what good were it to have “green” pastures and a black soul! He “restores” it to its natural temper in affections, that was grown distempered with violence of passions; for alas! what good were it to have “still” waters and turbulent spirits! He “restores” it indeed to life, that was grown before in a manner quite dead; and who could “restore my soul” to life, but he only that is the Good Shepherd and gave his life for his sheep?”

This brings us back to that verse in Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

This is the whole point of the Shepherd’s Psalm, the Good Shepherd came to give us life and that more abundantly.

GOD ENRICHES THROUGH IMPOVERISHING

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-
“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Redemption, to the blind, will never understand by taking something away one gains. God started this whole plan of taking away to give back by giving up his only Son. Jesus spent His whole life demonstrating how love dies to live.
If you don’t watch out, you will miss the silver lining, so to speak, with your God given life. One can get caught up in what was lost or taken rather than what was gained. Bars are filled with stories of sorrow, cheating, and horror stories. Life got the best of them and the blind keep stumbling. Whereas Christianity makes us live by the unseen rules that eternity’s halls are filled with. Let Joseph be your guide as he walks you down the hall entitled “God intended it for good”. His story of 17 years in prison; innocent, betrayed by his brothers, and living his whole life in another county than his own speaks loudly.

Thomas Watson says this, “See here the wisdom of God, who can make the worst things imaginable turn to the good of the saints. He can by a divine chemistry extract gold out of the dross. “oh the depth of the wisdom of God”. (Rom 11:33) It is God’s great design to set forth the wonder of His wisdom. The Lord made Joseph’s prison a step to preferment. There was no way for Jonah to be saved, but by being swallowed up. God suffered the Egyptians to hate Israel. (Ps. 106:4) and this was the means of their deliverance. The apostle Paul was bound with a chain, and that chain which did bind him was the means of enlarging the gospel. (Phil. 1:12) God enriches by impoverishing he causes the augmentation of grace by the diminution of an estate. When the creature goes further from us, it is that Christ may come nearer to us. God works strangely. He brings order out of confusion, harmony out of discord. He frequently makes use of unjust men to do that which is just.”

When I turn my eyes off of eternity, and let my eyes become deaf to the voice of God, my precious world can scream with my own injustices. David had to get a grip also for in Ps. 55 he says,  “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” Joseph was bold enough to tell his brothers- “I am Joseph” and David after all he went through with Saul and his son left a fortune to build the house of God. What will you leave behind?

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.