GODS MOUTHPIECE

MERRY FRIDAY BY PARRIS-

“Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” (Job 6:26)

The Lord has really been speaking to me about what kind of voice we are to this world? All through this year and beyond I truly want to stay a mouthpiece or a trumpeter for my Father. Are we just another voice in the wind as the book of Job describes? Are you still singing the “old song” of this world? Yelling at the tv, traffic, our bosses like everybody else? And let’s not forget our kids, and even our pets? I shudder looking back raising my kids and the frustration that grew within me at times. If only I could have put the apron over my head like Susannah Wesley did and lift my voice to God instead of my circumstances! Thank God my kids laugh when we talk of those days! But in 1994 at a young age of 37 the Lord arrested me and took me down into the ocean of his love and begin a slow reboot and rebuild in my life. Today I find myself still walking out that touch in my life. I want to open my mouth wide so he will fill it.

I love the story of Blind Bartimeus—”And blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me” Mark 10:46-52.

Spurgeon elegantly says, “Me thinks we hear his shout. It is not to be imitated; no artist could throw into an utterance such vehemence or such emotion as this man would cast into it.—”Thou Son of David, have mercy on me ” Every word would tell, every syllable would suggest an argument, there would be the very strength, and might, and blood, and sinew of that man’s life cast into it; he would be like Jacob wrestling with the angel, and every word would be a band to grasp him that he might not go. “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” The gate of heaven is to be opened only in one way, by the very earnest use of the knocker of prayer. Thou canst not have thine eyes opened until thy mouth is opened. Open thy mouth in prayer, and he shall open thine eyes to see; so shalt thou find joy and gladness. It is the burning lava of the soul that hath a furnace within—a very volcano of grief and sorrow—it is that burning lava of prayer that finds its way to God.”

Yes the Master Jesus stops and looks our way! Let your mouth become a burning lava of prayer flowing to the throne room of God. For we know “The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” Cold prayers never win God’s ear. Draw your bow with your full strength if you would send your arrow up as high as Heaven. Go ahead and blow that trumpet!

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

THE FOURTH OF JULY

Matt. 5:14 ¶ “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matt. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, what kind of visions does it stir up in you? Family gatherings, hot dogs, picnics, fireworks or does it take you farther back back almost 250 years to the birth of our nation?Things have changed a lot in those 250 years, they have changed a lot in my life time. Those changes confirm that we have lost our sense of national purpose and destiny, we have forgotten who we are and why we are. When I go back to those earliest days at the birth of our nation I am always shocked at the role Christianity played in the founding of this great nation. I want to share some quotes from some of those men that will bring you back to the beginning, back to the days when we became “One Nation under God”.

– George Washington, Prayer –

“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.”

– Samuel Adams –

“We have this day [Fourth of July] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come.”

– United States Congress 1782 –

“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”

– John Adams –

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

– John Adams

“[The Fourth of July] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

So I say; Lord, do it again. Let the winds of spiritual awakening settle on the land of the free and the home of the brave once again. God, bless America one more time. Remind us of who we were so we can again return to the people our world needs us to be.

HE OPENS PRISON DOORS

Acts 16:26,27 – and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.

One of the strange things about being in bondage to sin is this, we actually think we are free. Peter said that the world preaches freedom but is actually enslaved to sin themselves. That just about sums it up; the tendency is to strut around thinking you have your stuff together when nothing could be further from the truth. Case in point; the current opioid crisis. It’s no longer the stereotype junkie who’s is bound by drugs, its quite often the businessman, businesswoman, student, or housewife. Addiction has a way of creeping up on you. It starts with a little relief, a little pleasure to replace your stress and pain. Gradually it takes over your life. That’s the way it is with all sin, the promise of momentary pleasure without mentioning the consequences. Augustine knew about this promise of sinful pleasure, He discovered the only way out.

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! . . . You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. . . .O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”

What was the key to Augustine’s discovery? To me it was the most life changing event in my life. It is not the rules or laws of religion that free a person, it is the experience of a greater pleasure than the one that held us captive. It is joy found in knowing Christ that breaks the chains of addiction to sin. Whatever your sin of choice; whether it is sexual pleasure, relief from anxiety through alcohol or pills, or even the addiction of ambition, the solution is always the same. The pleasure found in knowing Christ and experiencing His powerful presence is the only way out of the prison of sin.

OPEN PRISON DOORS

Is 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to bring liberty to every area of our lives. This scripture applies the picture of being held captive in a prison to all those who are outside of Christ. It is in the gospel that prison doors are opened and we are free to march through into our brand new world. Our bondage seems to come in two basic ways. The first (and most obvious) one is being enslaved to sin. Each one of us were born with this inner nature of sinfulness. It is our common heritage being born as part of a fallen race. Our natures are engrossed with sin, sin is what we are so sin is what we do. The first open door we ever encounter in life is the one where the prison doors of slavery to sinfulness swing open as we hear and embrace the gospel. The gospel is the power of God and sets the captives free.

The second and more subtle bondage is the enslavement to some system of works. For the jewish race it was the law of Moses. Every religion or self help program has invented another form of or a type of the law. Though the principles may be good they contain no power to change our lives. The open door into freedom is found only in the gospel.

Most humans are bound in some degree to both of these types of slavery. Sadly, many Christians, after finding freedom from the prison of sin, embrace another system of works that brings them another kind of bondage. Still other Christians, after apparently being forgiven from their past indiscretions, return to sinful behavior because of a misunderstanding of grace. Whether it is enslavement to sin or some system of works freedom is nowhere in sight and as a result, locked up in a cell is where you stay.

There still remains an open door in front of all of us. The open door is forgiveness and deliverance from sin by the power of the gospel. The gospel is our open door into a whole new life. Staying in that place of freedom is possible by the power of the Spirit. Walk in the Spirit and you will stay free, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.

YOU SEE ROCKS I SEE STONE SOUP

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MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS – You see rocks, I see stone soup!

“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?” Joshua 4:6
Joshua finally crossed the Jordan River at Gilgal. He and Caleb would be the only two survivors from the 40 year wilderness ordeal. Crossing into the promise land was to him an eternal moment. He commanded that they bring 12 stones out of that river to remember that a whole generation died full of unbelief. This year will be our 27th year doing Feed The Multitudes. To some it will be another year eating with barbecue & family thankful for the day off, and a few more will be thankful for their freedom. July 4th represents our spiritual freedom that we have been given as a nation and the cost it came with. For Frank and I, Feed the Multitudes has become a memorial about when God taught us to give out of our own need. Stone soup truly turned into a supernatural event.

Too many of us live upside down for too long. Dwelling on the ‘have not’s’ rather than what God has given. Our lists never stop and the news just keeps feeding our lust for more vengeance. Stop seeing the rocks and turn them into memorials. Over 27 years ago, Frank and I found ourselves with a big ole list of what we thought was gigantic needs and mishaps. Facing bankruptcy with four small mouths to feed was overwhelming and staring at failure was daunting. We saw rocks but in reality it was stone soup. He is the God that shows up, twenty seven FTM’S have passed since that first small FEED THE MULTITUDES and in so many ways it left an imprint upon our lives. Find the hurting and in return God will not only supply their need through you but increase your joy in giving. Joshua crossed over, he left years of the horrible memories of the wilderness. He saw so many lose their grasp on the God of provision. I pray this July 4th, as you celebrate our God given freedom, that you too remember the goodness of the Lord over your life and your loved ones. It came with a cost! Pray over our precious nation and our new president and remain faithful at your post! Tell your testimony to others and pour out to your community that God has placed you in. Don’t die in the wilderness of doubt and unbelief! Take out your stone of provision and keep it close to your heart!

FINALLY FREE

May your will be done.

MATTHEW 26:42

What actually happened that day in the Garden of Eden? How did things that started so promising go so bad so fast? What exactly happened to man in that garden? The Bible teaches that we literally became enslaved to sin on that fateful day. Man who was bubbling over with promise suddenly lost his bearings. What was damaged and imprisoned that day was our will, our ability to make right choices. We became somehow ensnared to the promise of the pleasures offered by sin. Knowing to do right, we always seemed to choose the bad. The promise of the pleasure of sin seemed too much for us to overcome. So the battle for man was the battle of free will. Christ had to become a man and win this battle for us, that is what Calvary and Gethsemane were all about. Not my will but your will be done. Here are some thoughts about the freedom that Christ purchased for us from Andrew Murray, freedom to follow God from our hearts.

“When God made man in His image it was, above all, with the purpose that the desires of man would be in harmony with the desires of God. This is the high honor of being made in the likeness of God—that we are to feel and wish just as God. In human flesh man was to be the embodiment and fulfillment of God’s desires.

But God created man with a will of his own and the power to choose and make decisions for himself. And after man had fallen and yielded himself to the will of God’s enemy, God in His infinite love set about the great work of winning man back, that man would make the desires of God his own once more. As in God, so in man, desire is the great moving power. And just as man had yielded himself to a life of desire after the things of the earth and the flesh, God had to redeem him into a life of harmony with Himself. And so the Son came into this world to reproduce the divine desires in His human nature….”

So there you have it, “he that the Son sets free is free indeed.” Finally in Christ our eyes are opened. We finally see that there is a better way, a better life, and a sweeter pleasure. Christ Himself become our passion, the foolish pleasures of this world have finally been broken from off our lives.

MAXIMIZE YOUR PLEASURE

Phil. 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. 

Have you ever thought about why it is tough to resist sin? Now for each of us some sins are more difficult than others. Some may tend to fall into gambling while someone else has no interest. Others may lean toward alcohol or drugs as their temptation of choice while others have no attraction to those sorts of things. Still others seem to gravitate toward sexual promiscuity or possibly pornography; the truth is that sin has a strong allurement connected to it. What is the strange attraction to sin, it is the promise of pleasure. It is joy that sin always manages to promise.

So how can one overcome their sins of choice? Is it will power or just making a quality decision? Sorry to say human will has no power over the temptations of sin. Our wills are enslaved to sin until we meet Christ. Actually it is the promise of joy in God that liberates us from the snares of sin. It is in the enjoyment of God that the power of sin loses its hold on us. How can that be? The enjoyment of God is so superior to the foolish pleasures of sin that there is no contest. We are freed by the power of His love. Sam Storms describes the power of pleasure in God in this quote from his book ‘Pleasures Evermore’.

“We succumb; we give in; we say yes to sin because we believe its promise of more pleasure than God gives. This leads me to the simple conclusion that the only way for us to successfully resist sin is by maximizing our pleasure in God. The key to victory over sin is satisfaction with all that God is for us in Jesus. Or again, the only way to fight the seductive power of one pleasure is with a greater pleasure, a more pleasing pleasure, the pleasure that comes from falling in love with Jesus.”

How does this truth work in the real world? Think how you fall into your sin of choice. You open yourself up to allurement from being in the wrong place looking at the wrong things. We have to put ourselves in the way of spiritual allurement. Look on Christ in His word, at church, and in worship and you will be drawn in by His beauty. You too will discover the attractiveness of Christ and experience freedom from the power of sin.

THE FOURTH OF JULY

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Matt. 5:14 ¶ “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
Matt. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The Fourth of July, Independence Day, what kind of visions does it stir up in you? Family gatherings, hot dogs, picnics, fireworks or does it take you farther back back almost 250 years to the birth of our nation?Things have changed a lot in those 250 years, they have changed a lot in my life time. Those changes confirm that we have lost our sense of national purpose and destiny, we have forgotten who we are and why we are. When I go back to those earliest days at the birth of our nation I am always shocked at the role Christianity played in the founding of this great nation. I want to share some quotes from some of those men that will bring you back to the beginning, back to the days when we became “One Nation under God”.
– George Washington, Prayer –
“Oh, eternal and everlasting God, direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit. Daily, frame me more and more in the likeness of Thy son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in thy appointed time obtain the resurrection of the justified unto eternal life. Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy son, Jesus Christ.”

– Samuel Adams –
“We have this day [Fourth of July] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come.”

– United States Congress 1782 –
“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”

– John Adams –
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

– John Adams
“[The Fourth of July] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

So I say; Lord, do it again. Let the winds of spiritual awakening settle on the land of the free and the home of the brave once again. God, bless America one more time. Remind us of who we were so we can again return to the people our world needs us to be.

ALWAYS VICTORY

2Cor. 2:14 ¶ Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

 

 

Victory is the name of the church I have pastored since 1979. At this writing that has been over thirty six years. I don’t have room to tell the story today, but let’s just say God gave our church that name. Over these thirty six years I have come to appreciate and come to some different conclusions to what victory looks like. Think about Jesus for a moment; did it look like victory when he was betrayed by one of his disciples and forsaken by the rest? How about when He was drug by the temple guards to be tried by the Sanhedrin. Did it look like Victory when He was mocked by the foul Herod? And then there was the scene before Pilate, did Jesus look victorious when Pilate ridiculed Him, had Him beaten and mocked by the soldiers and then nailed to a cross. Jesus looked like an utter failure. When His cold, dead body was carried to the tomb, Christ appeared as the embodiment of defeat.

Then there was the Apostle Paul, surely he looked victorious. Let’s listen to his own words describing what his story looked like.  2Cor. 11:24-27 “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness”

 

So how is any of this victory and how does it relate to us? Christ clearly said His kingdom was not of this world. It was His suffering that purchased eternal victory for us. As for Paul, his suffering is a picture of how the world despises who we really are. What was his victory? His message was changing thousands of lives in his generation and his words are changing millions of lives today. So victory doesn’t like like man’s normal definition of victory. Paul has influenced more people than anyone in history; he spent the last few years of his life in a Roman prison. He was then beheaded for his faith. Don’t get so down on yourself for your so called little accomplishments. You are making more of a difference than you know.