HERE I STAND

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Rom. 1:17 For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith”.

We all have to have something to believe in. Without a final authority, man wanders through life doing what is right in his own eyes. Public opinion, or political correctness, rules the day unless we have something of substance to stand on. That is where Martin Luther found himself when he was summoned to appear before the emperor and the representatives of the Pope at Worms. His answer began to break the chains of spiritual darkness that had strangled our faith and hindered man’s creativity and freedom for hundreds of years. His words “Here I stand” reverberate through the halls of history. Here are Luther’s own words when threatened with death by the powers of the political and religious world.

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the scriptures or clear reason, for I do not trust in the Pope or in the councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. God help me. Amen.”

Luther had found somewhere to stand, he would make his stand on the written word of God. His commitment to the scripture caused him to translate the Bible into the common language of Germany, that’s when the floodgates were opened, the Bible began to be available for all mankind. The results have been hard to fathom. Here is how Eric Metaxis describes the importance of that event.

“There isn’t a historian the last five centuries who could argue against the idea that Luther’s stand that day at Worms—before the assembled powers of the empire, and against the theological and political and ecclesiastical order that had reigned for centuries, and therefore against the whole of the medieval world—was one of the most significant moments in history. It ranks with the 1066 Norman Conquest and the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta and the 1492 landing of Columbus in the New World. And in its way, it far outweighs all of those historic moments. If ever there was a moment where it can be said the modern world was born, and where the future itself was born, surely it was in that room on April 18 at Worms.”

So what are you standing on? We live in another time similar to Luther’s when God’s word is being threatened and abandoned. We are being challenged everyday for our faith. You have to make a decision like Luther, recant your belief in the Bible or take your stand.

WHY I AM ALIVE

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Rom. 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

When I think of my college years and the search I was on I always come to the same conclusion, I was searching for a purpose. I knew I was not an accident and there was some kind of plan for my life, I needed to find it. My purpose became clear when I stepped into the light of the Son of God. Like Blind Bartimaeus, the first thing I saw when the lights turned on was the beautiful, smiling face of Jesus. As I began to look around the landscape of my life over the next few days I saw my world differently. I finally saw it! Maybe I could not have articulated it at first, but I was born to glorify God with all my life and to enjoy Him forever.

That was the beginning of my discovery of the purposes of God. Like John Piper, and many others over the last 300 years, I learned about God’s purposes from Jonathan Edwards. He taught that our reason to live was to glorify God by pursuing and living for His glory. Here are some thoughts from John Piper about our reason to exist.

“All of this amounts to the deep and inescapable realization that God made the world to communicate his glory—that is, the greatness and beauty of his manifold perfections. And he made me to experience his glory, and through this experience to glorify and thank him. I am created to magnify the glory of God—not the way a microscope magnifies (making small things look bigger than they are), but the way a telescope magnifies (making things that appear small to the world look as gigantic as they really are). And I know intuitively that thanking God is a way of glorifying him. God’s glorious beneficence is magnified in my humble, dependent, thankful witness to his goodness to me. This is confirmed in Psalm 50:23: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.”
So, have you tasted this goodness for yourself? It is way different than I ever expected. It is in losing my life and identity in Christ that I gain my life and true identity. I am so grateful for that day that the Lord switched on the lights in my life, it is so good to be able to see through the fog of this world.

MADE FOR HIS GLORY

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Rom. 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Revival really changed everything for me. I never realized how man centered I had made God. I thought everything in creation was about me, or mankind in general. I believed the chief purpose for creating everything was for man’s enjoyment and prosperity. That was radically turned upside down by the touch of God. What do I mean? I was always about God’s gifts to me, not really about God Himself, I was fixated on His blessings. The touch of God brought the Lord to the center of my life. In a moment of time I saw it, it was not His gifts that my heart yearned for, it was Him. That’s why everything in creation is aimed at glorifying God. When God is glorified and I step into that whole arena, I am satisfied, filled with ultimate joy. That’s it, God is glorified and my soul is happified (that is actually a word even if spellcheck doesn’t get it). Here is how John Piper describes this reality.

“It is also intuitively obvious to me that if God’s self-revelation obliges me to thank him, then the revelation of God’s glory is for my good, that is, for my enjoyment. This is what I sense intuitively. Paul expects us to discern this in the things that are made. And this is what I do discern: if there rises in my heart a profound indebtedness to God for the revelation of his glory, then I am a witness to the truth that this revelation is good for me. It is also self-evident to me that a gratitude to God that finds his gifts pleasing but his person displeasing is not a gratitude that glorifies him. Therefore, it is evident that in creation the goodness of God’s gifts are meant to give us a taste of the goodness of God himself. In this way, our thankfulness is a form of glorifying him, not just his gifts.”
So my ultimate happiness comes from knowing the Lord. This is what I was born for, this has become the definition of my life. Like Paul said in Phil. 3:8 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” When you find Him for yourself your real life will begin, like Jesus said, it’s in losing your life you finally find it.

“The Great I Am” 

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MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” Rom.1:20

In the Book of Daniel we watch with mouths open the fall of King Nebuchadnezzar. (Dan 4:30) He is warned by God not to take credit for all his powerful deeds as king. But somehow we just know he will slip. With bated breath we read of a powerful man being turned into a beast, furry haired thing scratching along the dirt gnawing on vegetation and dreaming the things animals dream of in their sleep. In his humbled state he declares God as being the great I am and is restored back to his former self. He learned there is one creator -THE GREAT I AM. We too are without excuse trying to control what we can’t control and own what we don’t own. In a weird realty we see a world being turned into animal’s ways. Turning downward and never looking up. What is the answer? To worship the creator not the creation. When we became born again a new king stepped into our lives and took over our reign. I Cor 4:7 reminds us gently when it says “what do you have that you did not receive?” When Christ steps into our lives a supernatural rearranging takes place in us. We stoop low and remain thankful for the ups downs bumps and breakthroughs we have in this temporary setting. Ephesians 3:20 says; “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Thank God for the power of God replenishing our desire to take credit and control.

Jen Wilkin in her book None Like Him says, “Worshiping the creation rather than the creator doesn’t cause us to protect life or steward creation. It causes us to devalue life and consume creation. This is because all worship of the creation is actually a veiled form of self worship. Consider abortion, human trafficking, domestic violence, and child abuse as daily evidences of our disordered worship of people. Rather than treating people as image bearers, we treat them as consumable and expendable, only holding value insofar as they feed our desires. Dig through our landfills and gaze on our shattered landscapes to discern our disordered worship of things. Rather than stewarding resources, we treat them as consumable, expendable, only holding value insofar as the satiate our cravings. When we attach our worship to something less than God, we end up consuming and casting off the person or thing we worship in his place. And in the consuming and casting off, we reveal that the true object of our worship is self. We make a shameless declaration of “I am”.

SPIRITUAL IMPARTATION

Rom. 1:11-12 – For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

The further we drift away from New Testament Christianity the less power the church has at her disposal. At first glance at the book of Acts one thing was clearly unmistakeable, Christianity was supernatural. Speaking in tongues, prophesy, spiritual gifts, visions, and dreams, as well as miracles and healings are all there in the first few chapters of Acts. One of the first events was Peter and John healing the lame man in the temple. Remember Peter’s words, “Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give to you”. What did Peter have? He had the power of God imparted through a spiritual gift. Paul spoke about this in today’s verse, he longed to go to Rome to bring a deposit, the impartation of a spiritual gift. Here is the definition of impartation.

Impart, metadidomi: To give, share, impart, distribute, grant. The word implies liberality or generosity. It is used to exhort those with two outer tunics to give one to someone who has none (Luke 3:11); to encourage people to give with cheerful outflow (Rom. 12:8); and to urge workers to labor with industry in order to give to him who has a need (Eph. 4:28).”
What did this impartation consist of? It was a spiritual gift. Here is the definition of a spiritual gift.

Gift, charisma: Related to other words derived from the root char. Chara is joy, cheerfulness, delight. Charis is grace, goodwill, undeserved favor. Charisma is a gift of grace, a free gift, divine gratuity, spiritual endowment, miraculous faculty. It is especially used to designate the gifts of the Spirit (12:4–10). In modern usage, a “charismatic” signifies one who either has one or more of these gifts functioning in his life, or who believes these gifts are for today’s church.

Every minister carries a variety of spiritual gifts. This is the whole basis of ministry. Ministry is not just practical tips on how to live a better life. Ministry is the impartation of God. These spiritual gifts are imparted through preaching, prophetic words, and the laying on of hands. I believe it’s time to return to New Testament church life. Our world is in need of this power, nothing else can impact our culture in its present state.

ARE YOU A SAINT?

Rom. 1:7 ¶ To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: ¶ Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Living in New Orleans we hear the word ‘saint’ used a lot. Everything from our beloved football team ‘The Saints” to the Catholic use of the term in this predominantly Catholic city, to the famous song, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. The funny thing is few people understand what the Bible means when it calls people saints. Paul uses the term saint in today’s verse referring to all the Christians in the church in Rome. We can understand a little about this word if we look at the greek word used by Paul in his letter. It is the word hagios which literally means set apart to be holy. This tells us that a saint is a saint not because of their personal deeds or goodness. A saint becomes a saint totally by the work of God. Here is how Albert Barnes sees it.

“The word saints—hagios—means those who are holy, or those who are devoted or consecrated to God. The radical idea of the word is that which is separated from a common to a sacred use, and answers to the Hebrew word kodesh. It is applied to anything that is set apart to the service of God, to the temple, to the sacrifices, to the utensils about the temple, to the garments, etc., of the priests, and to the priests themselves. It was applied to the Jews as a people separated from other nations, and devoted or consecrated to God; while other nations were devoted to the service of idols. It is also applied to Christians, as being a people devoted or set apart to the service of God. The radical idea, then, as applied to Christians is, that they are separated from other men, and other objects and pursuits, and consecrated to the service of God.”
So maybe its not only football players or ancient men and women of God that are saints, maybe you are a saint. Its not the estimation of your holiness or works but the work of Christ at the cross that makes you a saint. What is our part? Our part is yielding to His voice. He loves us and calls us out of the world to a place of separation from the world, as we yield we become one of His saints.

BONDSERVANTS

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY- 

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” ROM.1:1
1. a servant δοῦλος * doulos * slave (literally or figuratively, involuntarily or voluntarily; frequently therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency): – bond (-man), one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the other.

I love writing out the definition of the bondservant. Paul, loved to give himself “that title” and with it came so much meaning. In today’s world, we do everything we can in life to free ourselves from all authority and headship. But when we are in Christ, our lives takes on a new dimension. Recently a small community in Louisiana not far from where we live faced tragedy and lives were taken way before their time. One cannot just walk away and not be affected. I pray all of us use this tragedy and so many others to pause and evaluate our lives. “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matt. 10:39

Expositor’s Bible says it like this, “You are, with infinite rightfulness, the bondmen of your God. You see your deed of purchase; it is the other side of your warrant of emancipation. Take it, and write your own unworthy names with joy upon it, consenting and assenting to your Owner’s perfect rights. And then live out your life, keeping the autograph of your own surrender before your eyes. Live, suffer, conquer, labour, serve, as men who have themselves walked to their Master’s door, and presented the ear to the awl which pins it to the doorway, each in his turn saying, “I will not go out free.” With eyes open, and fixed upon the face of the Master who claims us, and with hands placed helpless and willing within His hands, we will, we do, present ourselves bondservants to Him; for discipline, for servitude, for all His will.”
Give me Father, a purpose deep,

In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;

Faithful and true what e’er the strife,

Pleasing Thee in my daily life;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn,

And from the world now let me turn;

Living for Thee, and Thee alone,

Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;

Only one life, “twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,

Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;

And when at last I’ll hear the call,

I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;

Only one life,’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,

If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
C.T. STUDD

IMPARTATION

ROM. 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

I remember the first time I really gave attention to this scripture. It was a scripture shared with me by Dick Mills when he was planning a ministry trip to our church in New Orleans. For the first time I think I began to see the importance of spiritual impartation from the scriptures. Over the years impartation has played an extremely significant role in our ministry. Today, I want to reflect on several ways we can be impacted through spiritual impartation.

First, I think of the preaching of the word of God. Preaching is about more than just receiving good practical information. Preaching God’s word is one of the major ways we receive spiritual impartation into our lives. I think of the sermon Peter preached at Cornelius’s, the Roman Centurion’s house. Peter was preaching about the death and resurrection of Jesus when the atmosphere in the room suddenly changed. Everyone in the room began to be powerfully impacted by the anointing. God’s gift of the Holy Spirit was being imparted to everyone in the house through the spoken word.

Secondly, I think about the gift of prophesy. Many times throughout my Christian journey I have been powerfully impacted through a prophetic gift. I can remember sitting on the front row in a meeting near Dallas, Texas in August of 1994 when Rodney Howard Browne started to prophesy specifically to pastors who were in that meeting. As he prophesied under the anointing I felt as if someone was placing a literal coat upon my shoulders. I was receiving a powerful impartation through the gift of prophesy, my life and ministry were being permanently and dramatically changed.

Another tool the Lord often uses is corporate anointing. Recently we were in some meetings at our church near New Orleans when, during worship, a powerful anointing came into the room. Suddenly, almost everyone in the house was being impacted by the powerful presence of the Lord. I heard a report today how a young man, James Widener Jr, was powerfully touched and felt as if someone was piling boats on top of him while he was on the floor. He was trying to describe the heaviness often felt when God’s glory fills the room.

Finally, the spiritual impartation takes place through the laying on of hands. Jesus laid hands on people, the apostles often laid hands on people, and laying on of hands was actually treated as a doctrine of the early church. The laying on of hands transfers the anointing one person has received into other people’s lives. The key is for the right people to lay their hands on you.

So put yourself in an environment to receive from God. There is much He wants to add to our lives.

PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL #1

Rom. 1:16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Our world is in a constant state of change, and regretfully many of these secular changes gradually but steadily affect the church. Regretfully we are losing our moorings, our connection to the heritage of our Christian faith.

Over the past twenty years I have been on a spiritual safari, searching for the reality of God in my life and in His church. This journey inevitably leads me to the past, to the men and women who have gone before us. I find myself drinking from the ancient wells of our fathers. The wells of Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry and many others keep attracting me and calling me to drink. The more I drink; I am convinced of two things. First, I am a Protestant Christian. The message that birthed Western civilization penned by the Apostle Paul “The just shall live by faith,” and echoed by Martin Luther 15 centuries later is still the foundation of Western Civilization today, the undergirding of His church and the anchor of my soul.

Martin Luther was lost in the snare of human effort and a system of religious works until one day he read those words from Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith.” Those words brought freedom to his soul and began the revolution that drug Europe from the shadows of the dark ages. The Protestant Reformation had begun.

As a monk, Luther later wrote, he was tormented by the thoughts of damnation for sins, saying that he “hated this God who punched sinners, if not with silent blasphemies at least with huge murmurings. I was indignant against God. As if it were not enough that miserable sinners, eternally ruined by original sin, should be crushed…through the Law of the Ten Commandments…and so I raged with a savaged and confounded conscience.” He therefore turned to the Bible. The Catholic Church had always taught that grace was active, in the sense that it came into force at the Day of Judgment when the righteous would be separated from the damned. As he read Romans 1, Luther became convinced that the grace of which Paul wrote was passive, hence available to everyone. This led to his conclusion that salvation came not through penance and repentance, nor through the intercession of saints and martyrs or the prayers of the church, but by faith alone. It was an entirely new idea. As Luther re-read Romans 1:16-17, he wrote, I felt myself straightaway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise.” This led to the further belief that the Bible was the sole authority. In 1517, he nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg University.

Just like Luther, we are accepted by God not on the basis of our works but by faith in Christ alone. This is the foundation stone of our Christian faith.

Part 1 of 3 days – PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL

FROM HARE KRISNAS TO JESUS FREAKS

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH, TO THE JEW FIRST, AND ALSO TO THE GREEK” ROM.1:16

It was the 70’s-I was the youngest sibling in my family. My brother played in a rock and roll band so I was accustomed to waking up to my room shaking with Jimmy Hendrix or Janis Joplin. I was so lost that as a young child after I saw the movie “Jesus of Nazareth”, I would find my sister’s horseshoe and promise to be “good” and throw it over my shoulder. My mother on some Saturday’s would clean the church that we would visit and alone in that little auditorium kneeing on my knees I would try to listen to something…..anything. Little did I realize that Christ was just a breathe away. He was closer that I ever dreamed. But unfortunately my journey took me down deep into drugs rebellion and at last the “Hare Krishnas”.  Eating vegetarian food was hard, and chatting the prayers 100 times on my special beads tiring. Funny every time I left the Krishna temple my weights seemed heavier and my guilt unbearable. During that infamous summer Frank and I went to see “JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR” where the movie shows multiple scenes of the crucifixion. Frank turned to me and said, “remember when Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life and no man comes to the Father except through me?” Later on that night we went to the lakefront and ran smack into some Jesus Freaks worshiping out there. Within a few weeks we found ourselves married and headed off to bible school in California. Immediately I found myself free from drugs, alcohol and found joy to my sorrows. To this day I found redemption to be my answer. When I play back the great tape of my life I can see the hand of God watching over me. Through the thick and the thin it was if I heard this inner voice telling me that my life would get better. All I can say is I never want to go back to that  “old life”! The Fire Bible says salvation means “bringing safety through” or “keeping from harm” among other things. Have you’ve experienced the power of God? God can deliver you from your present condition when you call upon the name of Jesus. Am I ashamed of the gospel? I believe many Christians have not totally understood their salvation and have become ashamed. We haven’t taken the time to realize or haven’t received the revelation of what Christ went through to save us. We will spend eternity understanding the width, height and length of His love.