SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS

Lk. 24:46,47 – and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

As most Christians do, I took another look at the cross this Easter season. If you take a few minutes to look at Calvary, you can easily be swept away in the love of God. I began to reflect on the seven things Jesus said while dying on the cross, these words are deeper than any ocean. Here are those statements with a few short comments.

1. Lk.23:34 – “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

This type of forgiveness is unthinkable to me. The men killing Christ are committing the vilest sin imaginable, killing God’s Son. What was the Lord’s response ? Forgiveness and love.

2. Lk.23:43 – “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

These were the words spoken to the man we call the thief on the cross. This man was likely suffering a just and well deserved execution. He obviously had heard of Jesus of Nazareth and when he realized he was dying next to the Lord, he began to cry out for mercy. Rather than eternal punishment he slipped into paradise with Christ.

3. Jn.19:26,27 – “Woman, behold your son.”

This tender statement shows us who Jesus considered family, those who believed on Him.

4. MK.15:34 – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Again, the unthinkable happens. Jesus took God’s judgement of sin, your sins and my sins, on Himself. This is why Jesus felt forsaken at the cross. He bore my punishment that I could enjoy fellowship with the Father and the Son.

5 Jn.19:28 – “I thirst.”

Of course Christ was human and experienced excruciating thirst at Calvary. But this speaks of more than physical thirst, Jesus is thirsting for God to be glorified by the restoration of fallen man. This was why He came and why He died.

Passion notes -The Fountain of Living Water now thirsts for the souls of men and women to come to him. He thirsts for your friendship.

6. Jn.19:30 – “It is finished.”

The cry of victory as His suffering was coming to an end; redemption had been accomplished, we were delivered totally from the shackles of sin.

7. Lk.23:46 – “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Finally, Jesus yields His Spirit up to the Father. As He died in weakness as a human, He is totally dependent on the Father to raise Him from the dead. Three days later it all began, Christ was raised from the grave and the gospel began to be proclaimed in all the world.

MOCKED AND RIDICULED

Matthew 27:27-30. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

No one likes to be mocked. Many times the accusations come a little too close to home. You know what I mean, being laughed at for being fat after you have put on a few pounds. Or maybe someone laughing at your outfit (you thought it looked pretty good). I can remember the smirks and whisperings in the back rooms with famous preachers I used to hang around with. Our church in New Orleans was never big enough or rich enough and after all we were one of ‘those’ kind of churches. You know the kind, not only were the poor there, there was way too much of those Pentecostal carryings on. That brings us to today’s passage, Jesus was very familiar with being mocked, as a matter of fact He was beaten, spit on, and laughed at because of His ministry. The last straw was raising Lazarus from the dead. The audacity of actually calling out to a dead body that had been in the tomb for four days. The catch was this, the body listened and Lazarus came out of the grave. Here is how Spurgeon describes this cruel behavior.

“Ridicule is very painful to bear at any time, and soldiers have been masters of that cruel art when they have been encouraged in it by their leaders. Remember, brethren and sisters, who it was that bore all this shameful treatment from these brutal men, — your Lord and the angels’ Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, who had designed, for a while, to veil his Deity in human flesh. And there he stood, to be “set at nought,” — to be made nothing of, — by those rough Roman legionaries, the creatures of his own hand, whom he could have destroyed in a moment by a word or a wish. What matchless condescension our gracious redeemer displayed even in his own deepest degradation and agony!”

Christ bore my ridicule, the Creator was mocked and beaten unjustly. He humbled Himself and forgave. It was this incredible love that began to win His enemies. Lord, strengthen us, strengthen me, to walk in your steps.

THE NEW JERUSALEM

Rev. 19:7,8 – Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.

John’s description of the church is quite a contrast to the Babylonian harlot, the one world church. The church on earth has bought in totally to the spirit of the world, the spirit of antichrist. They act like the world, think like the world, talk like the world; all because the spirit of the world is in them. This weekend Egon Falk, a Danish Evangelist who ministers in Tanzania, told me about the spiritual condition of the church in Europe. He said that many European Christians are socialist in their belief system and have no problem with abortion. Our country is speeding down the same path being led by the broken academic world; our schools and colleges are swallowing up the path toward socialism. This big government approach is paving the way for a last day universal government that tries to run our whole society. Man is arrogantly trying to build a utopia without the Lord in it. The judgement of the antichrist, the false prophet, the one world government, and the false church are all imminent. Christ will return Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s passage.

“The occasion of this song; and that is the reign and dominion of that omnipotent God who has redeemed his church by his own blood, and is now in a more public manner betrothing her to himself: The marriage of the Lamb has come…..You have here a description of the bride, how she appeared; not in the gay and gaudy dress of the mother of harlots, but in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints; in the robes of Christ’s righteousness, both imputed for justification and imparted for sanctification—the stola, the white robe of absolution, adoption, and enfranchisement, and the white robe of purity and universal holiness. She had washed her robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and these her nuptial ornaments she did not purchase by any price of her own, but received them as the gift and grant of her blessed Lord.”

The rejoicing in heaven was spontaneous. The world system was finally being judged and Christ was about to return. I think all of us become distant and lukewarm, the time for repentance and renewal has come.

THE ESSENCE OF THE TRINITY

MERRY MONDAY

Parris Bailey

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen 2 Cor. 13:14

Years ago I had what I define as an open vision when we were facing one of the darkest trials in our lives. I have spoken of it many times through the years and recently I read a book that describes more or less the vision I had when it was speaking of the Trinity. What I saw was a huge boarded room filled with books and heavy wood paneling. I realized that I was standing outside the door of this room and saw three people sitting at the table beckoning me to come in. It’s hard to describe but I could tell by revelation that I was standing without and all I needed was to open the door and go in. When I sat down at the table I knew it to be the Father, Son, and The Holy Spirit. The fellowship of what they shared with each other was overwhelmingly strong and it began to fall upon me. They had scrolls in their hands which I perceived to be my life and I began to feel alarmed. But the presence of the three in operation of their gifts began to communicate to me that they would be with me throughout my life. The vision closed with all of us agreeing in prayer together as the rolls began to unwind. I was left with a feeling of overwhelming peace.

Little did I realize that there was a painting (circa 1600) that describes what I saw. The Trinity sitting at a round table in divine fellowship. You will notice the cup is being passed- the one that Jesus agreed to take. He too knew there was a plan for his life. The fellowship we have with the Trinity is eternal and they come with an eternal plan and it is a good one! In fact the world is caught up in their eternal plan. Every plant, animal, and human being placed upon this earth works in harmony with the dance of the Trinity. Their essence spills over onto us and we learn to celebrate the life of the trinity!

Calvin says “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice and every human being is “formed to be a spectator of the created world and given eyes that he might be led to its Author by contemplating so beautiful a representation. You are not a shooting star or a floating asteroid orbiting through the universe non-existent and without purpose or notice. Your world is much bigger than you think”. Calvin also said, “Satan so much endeavors to accomplish as to bring on mists with the view of obscuring Christ, because he knows, that by this means the way is opened up for every kind of falsehood. This, therefore, is the only means of retaining, as well as restoring pure doctrine—to place Christ before the view such as he is with all his blessings, that his excellence may be truly perceived.”

So go ahead open the door and sit down at the table around the eternal fellowship of the Trinity!

TOO EASILY PLEASED

Ps. 63:5 – My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

I think we live in a world really confused at the basic essence of spiritual things. Many think that getting too close to the Lord will diminish our enjoyment of life, nothing could be more wrong. In today’s passage, David is describing a totally satisfied and happy life that has as its only source spiritual delight. The Lord Himself becomes the source of joy and the object of our delight once we are transformed by His grace. It’s not that our pursuit of happiness and pleasure is wrong, its just we are looking in the wrong places having our eyes blinded by this present age. Read this famous and often quoted statement from C. S. Lewis; I have to agree whole heartedly, we are far too easily pleased.

“The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

So what kind of delights are you caught up in today? The deceiving pleasures of this age blind our eyes to the greatest pleasure of all. One taste of His heavenly sweetness and you will gladly abandon the foolish pleasures of sin. I have to agree with David and Mr. Lewis, Christ Himself is far more satisfying than anything in this mud puddle of a world.

THEY TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

”MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here.” Acts 17:6

I am sure it has happened to you, hasn’t it? When you came home and made the bold proclamation of how you found Jesus to your family? I can still hear my dad blurting out expletives to me which weren’t nice at all. Your old friends that you ran with for years threw you out! In the book of Acts it was said that the apostles “turned the world upside down”. What an impact they made and it has never stopped! Have you turned YOUR world upside down?

There was so much that needed to be changed in us! First off, the way we thought of God has completely changed. We are so thankful for grace and his love for us. Our heart has turned upside down in love with Christ alone. Then our hopes changed because we begin looking for the heavenly abode. Our desires and pleasures became holy, whereas before they were gross and carnal. Personally I loved sex, drugs, booze and riotous living but now you can’t keep me away from the house of God and bible study. Before I listened to secular music, horror movies and sad novels; now I can’t stop reading his word and worshiping with his new song! Yes what a life! The sad books and albums were burned long ago. Bibles and books by the old divines are spilling over my bookshelves. Sundays before I spent sleeping all day from the party the night before, now I’m spending my waking hours being filled up in the house of God. My family loved to toast wine in silver goblets now I take communion with Christ. Everywhere in my house are portraits of people in the Bible whereas before it was nothing of importance. How has your world been turned upside down?

Even your very nature has changed. Before you were fretful or had a temper and even the dog was afraid of you. No one knew when you would erupt or fall off the deep end again in some drug/alcohol induced state. You couldn’t keep relationship with anyone and over and over again you would find yourself alone and in a sullen state. But now, there is a skip in your step and a song in your heart. Social media is a bore to you, and your desire is to see the world turned upside by the new voice God has given you. The old prejudices that once plagued you are gone, replaced by the love of God for your brethren.

Yes, welcome home dear friend. Come join us in the great brigade – “lets go turn the world upside down”!

YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OWN OIL

Matt.25:8 – And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.

I heard someone say once “God has no grandkids”. Actually that is quite a profound statement. No one can have a relationship with the Lord for you. If you were raised by God fearing Christian parents you still have to find the Lord on your own. If your spouse is a strong believer that really will have no benefit for you on that great day. Not even your pastor will be able to put in a good word for you when the Lord returns. The point of this parable is that each one of us have to make spiritual preparations for the Lord’s return. According to Jesus, there will be many people who think they are good spiritually that will be in for quite a shock. Each one of us have to work out our own salvation. Jesus said we have to have oil in our lamps, they must be trimmed and burning. Here is how Matthew Henry says it.

“Those that would be saved, must have grace of their own. Though we have benefit by the communion of saints, and the faith and prayers of others may now redound to our advantage, yet our own sanctification is indispensably necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself, and therefore let every man prove his own work; for he cannot get another to muster for him in that day. Those that have most grace, have none to spare; all we have, is little enough for ourselves to appear before God in. The best have need to borrow from Christ, but they have none to lend to any of their neighbors. The church of Rome, which dreams of works of supererogation (overpayment) and the imputation of the righteousness of saints, forgets that it was the wisdom of the wise virgins to understand that they had but oil enough for themselves, and none for others.”

I think one of the traps we easily fall into is trying to measure our spiritual life by the life of others. That is not a good idea. When the Lord appears it won’t matter what others have or haven’t done, all that will matter is your spiritual condition. So get those lamps trimmed and burning, Jesus is coming soon.

WHEN THE LORD CAME TO OBED-EDOM’S HOUSE

2Sam. 6:11 And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

I love the story of the Levite, Obed-Edom. He was probably a poor Levite, probably just getting by like everyone else. His story serves as an amazing contrast to what had just happened to Uzzah. Uzzah had touched the ark with his hand, forbidden in the law, and suffered the consequences of death. He had been helping transport the ark to Jerusalem where David planned to build a temple. Uzzah’s sudden and shocking death caused a sudden change of plans. Obed-Edom lived near where the tragic incident took place. He kept the ark at his house for the next three months and he and his family were incredibly blessed. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this blessing.

“The Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household. The same hand that punished Uzzah’s proud presumption rewarded Obed-edom’s humble boldness, and made the ark to him a savor of life unto life….Let masters of families be encouraged to keep up religion in their families, and to serve God and the interests of his kingdom with their houses and estates, for that is the way to bring a blessing upon all they have. The ark is a guest which none shall lose by that bid it welcome. Josephus says that, whereas before Obed-edom was poor, on a sudden, in these three months, his estate increased, to the envy of his neighbors. Piety is the best friend to prosperity. In wisdom’s left hand are riches and honor. His household shared in the blessing. It is good living in a family that entertains the ark, for all about it will fare the better for it.”

For those that don’t know, the ark was the resting place for the real presence of God in the Old Testament. The ark was kept in the holy of holies in the tabernacle of Moses and in Solomon’s temple. This is where the cloud would manifest. David was making Jerusalem the capital of Israel and was setting up a temporary tabernacle there until a permanent temple could be built. The tragedy with Uzzah happened as the transport was taking place.

What should I take from this story? First, God’s presence is real and He is holy, He must be revered and respected. Secondly, welcome Him into your home. You and your house will experience the blessing of Obed-edom.

WHAT DOES DESPERATE LOOK LIKE?

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” Mark 9:25

We all hate the dreaded phone call. You know, the one that the nurse calls back and you have to come in and talk to the doctor because something showed up on the X-ray? Or the door bell rang in the middle of the night and it’s the police telling of the nightmare you never dreamed of. I will never forget getting “served” January 1st one new year indicating a lawsuit. God has a way of getting our attention through such a thing called LIFE! At some point we just have to hit the wall and become desperate.

In the above passage there is a story about a demon possessed boy and even after the disciples prayed for him, he was not delivered. His father had reached the desperate stage and called out to Christ to help his unbelief. I can’t imagine watching as a parent over a child that tries over and over again to kill himself. Sometimes Christ gives Satan full advantage so the victory will become Christ’s alone. Human agency is utterly powerless and only when we’ve spent it all that His glory shines the greatest.

How does desperate look to you today? But look here, the master comes soon enough. It is almost as if Christ surveys the field of battle and begins to strategize which way He will begin the attack.

He comprehends the difficulties of the case in an instant. Our part is to yield and turn to the Lord with all of our heart. And like this poor father, cry out and say “help my unbelief!

Spurgeon says, “for my Master will soon stoop over you, and take you by the hand and lift you up, and your comfort shall begin, because the unclean spirit is cast out. “Ah! he means to destroy me,” says the soul under conviction. Nay, soul, God does not destroy those whom he convinces of sin. Men do not plough fields which they have no intention to sow. If God ploughs you with conviction he will sow you with gospel comfort, and you shall bring forth a harvest of his glory. His matchless grace can encounter no rival.”

God honors the desperate and there is no shame when we call out to him confessing our unbelief. Let him survey the battle and soon enough deliverance will come!

SPEAK IN TONGUES AND PROPHESY

Acts 19:1,2 – And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

This description of the birth of the church in Ephesus is critical in understanding the purpose and the power of the Christian life and the Christian church. Christianity is not a creed or a system that we espouse, it is a dynamic life birthed and empowered in us through the Holy Spirit. In this chapter of the book of Acts we see the church in Ephesus birthed after an outpouring of the Spirit on twelve Christians. Paul laid his hands on them and prayed when he realized they had never been baptized in the Holy Spirit. When Paul laid his hands on them they began to speak in tongues and prophesy. This was the birthing of the power source in these twelve Christians that shook all of Asia Minor with thousands of converts and many churches that were birthed. Today’s world is no different. I feel like asking that same question to many churches and even pastors today, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit after you believed?” Our churches need to be baptized in His presence if we are going to effect our world today. Here are some comments from the Life in the Spirit Commentary on this passage.

“Paul perceives their need for the anointing and asks, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”. This question deals with their experience of the Spirit… Paul’s question does not deal with their receiving the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. From the time the Ephesian twelve were converted, they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, as all Christians are. Thus, the question is not about receiving the Spirit in salvation, but about what is basic to Luke–Acts and to the immediate context, namely, the Spirit’s anointing with power subsequent to the experience of salvation… Paul recognizes, therefore, that the Ephesian twelve are lacking in regard to the charismatic gift of the Spirit…..”

Are you lacking the power of the Spirit in your life? The immersion or baptism in the Spirit is something that happens again and again in our lives. If you are thirsty and feel powerless find a place where the Spirit is moving and camp out, you too will speak in tongues and prophesy.