PIERCING THE DARKNESS

PIERCING THE DARKNESS

2Tim. 3:1 ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

We are obviously experiencing a melt down in our society. Our Christian, Protestant heritage in our country has been eroded in my life time. We would never imagine the horrors that have crept in among us. Columbine marked the beginning of a new season, characterized by our godless culture. As many people have recently said, “America’s chickens are coming home to roost”. The recent debacle at the Batman movie in Colorado seems to have launched us into a new level of insanity. Perilous times have come. Paul’s prophesy is being fulfilled. Here are a couple of word definitions on the word perilous. Vincent emphasized it being a specific season.

Perilous times-Lit. hard times- denotes a definite, specific season.

Thayer spoke of the difficulty in facing and surviving perilous times

1) hard to do, to take, to approach
2) hard to bear, troublesome, dangerous

Matthew Henry exposes the self centeredness that precipitates this violent behavior. Obviously this man they call the Joker was only consumed with himself, he was miserable and no one else mattered. This was clearly a mark of the perilous times.

“Paul tells Timothy what would be the occasion of making these times perilous, or what shall be the marks and signs whereby these times may be known. Self-love will make the times perilous. Who is there who does not love himself? But this is meant of an irregular sinful self-love. Men love their carnal selves better than their spiritual selves. Men love to gratify their own lusts, and make provision for them, more than to please God and do their duty. Instead of Christian charity, which takes care for the good of others, they will mind themselves only, and prefer their own gratification before the church’s edification.”

For us who are His living in these dark times the opportunities are all around us. When these difficult seasons are pummeling the world, the lost have nothing left to put their confidence in. There is no where to hide, even the movie theaters are dangerous.
Today, during these prophesied perilous times, it is our time to present Christ to a traumatized world. As Jesus predicted, men’s hearts would be failing them for fear. For the Christian we have a shelter to run to in these dark days. The Lord is our defense and rather than hiding away in fear, we stand in confidence, presenting Christ to the world. Timothy lived in perilous times. Church members were being arrested and killed as he pastored the church in Ephesus. Paul told him to stir up the gift of God that he had received through the laying on of hands. He also said, God had not given him a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind. It is in times like we are living in that we discover who we are and what we believe. Darkness is covering the earth but the light of the gospel pierces the darkness.

REFLECTED GLORY

REFLECTED GLORY

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Most of the commentaries I have read about this verse say that this passage is poetic, like the words to a song. Several suggestions were made about how James came up with this verse. One commentator said that James may have had an ear for rhythm. Another said that these were probably the words of an ancient greek poem. Still another commentator said that these were the words of an early Christian hymn. Regardless where these words came from, they are very descriptive capturing the beauty of the Father of all creation. Bishop Wordsworth spoke powerfully about this passage from James.

“GOD is the Father of all lights- the light of the natural world, the sun, the moon, and stars, shining in the heavens; the light of reason and conscience; the light of His law; the light of prophecy, shining in a dark place; the light of the gospel shining in a dark world; the light of the apostles, confessors, martyrs, bishops, and priests, preaching the gospel to all nations; the light of the Holy Ghost shining in our hearts; the light of the heavenly city; God is the Father of them all. He is the everlasting Father of the everlasting Son, who is the light of the world.”

Jonathan Edwards also spoke about this verse in a sermon in the 1730’s. He said that the Lord is, first of all, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 1:18 He is called the only begotten Son. This phrase is the word monogenes in the greek New Testament. It means one of a kind or uniquely generated. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. The reason His generation is unique is because it is eternal, without beginning. He has always been the only begotten of the Father. Edwards went on to say that we have become sons of the Heavenly Father by the Spirit of adoption. We were children of darkness and have become His children by the infusion of His Spirit into our lives. We are no longer orphans, we have become sons and daughters of the Father of lights.
Paul also called the Lord the Father of Glory in Ephesians 1:17.This is the Glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ and is now the reflected Glory that is shining in the life of His church.
If you are born again, the reflected Glory of the Father of lights is shining out from you into your world, your life is impacting people more than you know. There is a difference about you that may be subtle but it is full of power. Christ, the hope of Glory, shines out of your heart. He is shining in your home, in your place of business, and when you gather with friends. The Father of lights is penetrating the darkness of this world. Where is this light shining from? It is shining from your face.

LOST 2012

2012 “LOST”

Luke 19:10 “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

We at Victory Fellowship have named the year 2012, “LOST”. We feel the Lord intensifying His call to follow Him in seeking and saving the lost. Have you ever been led by the Lord to pursue the unsaved aggressively? In our tolerant, seeker sensitive, relevant world; evangelism can be considered intolerant or narrow minded. How dare us impose our beliefs and values on anyone else. Don’t you know that everyone’s opinions and beliefs are valid and just as significant as yours? At least that is what the world believes. For those who know Christ and listen to His voice, you know the time is now to reach out to the hurting, confused, and disillusioned who are around us every day.
How would one know that the Lord is calling you to reach out to the lost? Its really quite simple. It often starts with a growing compassion for an individual or a group of individuals. Every time you see this person (or persons) or even think about them there is a growing compassion for them. Sometimes its as if you can even feel their pain. This is a sure indication that the Lord is calling, equipping, and anointing you for this opportunity for evangelism.
This reminds me of my wife Parris and her love for hurting young women. All throughout our Christian journey, Parris has talked about having a ministry for these hurting young girls. This compassion (some would call it a burden from the Lord) resulted in the forming of a rehab ministry called Mary’s Song. The result of yielding to this affection and passion for hurting young women has been a steady stream of girls giving their lives to Christ, being nurtured and discipled 24 hours a day, and finally reentering their world with a new faith, a new confidence, and frankly, a brand new life. There is nothing that compares to the joy of seeing the lost found, to see them discovering a love for Christ and beginning a brand new life.
Have you ever felt a love for someone or a group of someones that you do not know? If you have, be assured that this is the work of the Holy Spirit. All that is left for you to do is to yield. This compassion from the Lord is supernatural in nature and is a guarantee for success in the area that the Lord is calling you to. Rest assured, if you yield to this calling from the Lord, you will not be alone. You may be surprised at others who are feeling the same thing. Obviously, if the Lord is involved in this strange kind of love, He is speaking to others as well. Maybe He is calling you to work with young women, Mary’s Song always needs help. Maybe, He is calling you to reach out to the homeless, there is a group of people that do that on a regular basis here at Victory. Could it be evangelism in the inner city that is pulling at you, every Friday night there is a team on the streets at Broad Street in New Orleans. The opportunities are endless; from prisons to hospitals, from child evangelism to ministry in the retirement homes, there is a place for you to reach the lost.

CLOYED WITH LIGHT

CLOYED WITH LIGHT

Is. 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.

John 1:4-5 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The world we live in is shrouded in darkness. Not just the lack of light, but a darkness that effects everything. The world is clenched in a spiritual darkness that enslaves every person that comes into this world. It effects our perception of everything. Without the light that shines from the face of Jesus shining in our hearts, it is impossible for us to see. The Lord recently gave me this Christmas poem. I hope you enjoy it.

CLOYED WITH LIGHT

The world was cloaked in darkness

The kind that clouds your mind

The hopes and dreams from days gone by

We knew we’d never find

But the promise still reminded

Of God’s eternal plan

That in the midst of darkness

His light would shine again

It started in a meadow

Bleating sheep sounds filled the night

The dark was filled with Glory

Then singing cloyed with Light

We had never heard such singing

The joy was beyond compare

The darkness had been conquered

His love was in the air

The Light brought us to a manger

To a stable and an Inn

In Bethlehem we found the Savior

That’s where life began

At the time of Jesus birth, the land of Israel was experiencing a time of unprecedented darkness. It seemed as if the promises of the prophets, by now hundreds of years old, were just the words of dreamers without the slightest chance of ever coming true. It was in that time of chances that were slim and none that the Light began to shine. The Glory of the Lord began to shine in the meadow outside of Bethlehem. Hundreds of years before, another shepherd had sung and danced before the Lord in this very place, but even the Sweet Psalmist’s songs could not be compared to this night. The angels could not hold back their joy as they began to sing the greatest of all announcements. “Joy to the world! Today in the city of David is born a Savior which is Christ the Lord”. The darkness had been pierced by light, the world could never be the same. Christ had been born in Bethlehem. The world was being cloyed with light.

Today, we live in another time of deep darkness. It seems as if the world is permeated with a godlessness, an apathy about the spiritual realities that surround us. At times, it may seem as if the story of the birth of Christ is irrelevant, only a story from long ago. The promise of the Savior’s return to reign as a king seems to some like just another myth, a crutch for people who cannot cope with life. It all sounds strangely familiar, could it be that the Light of His Glory is about to split the sky once again? Merry Christmas. Come Lord Jesus.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

John 1:9-13 J.B. Phillips – That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He came into the world – the world he had created – and the world failed to recognize him. He came into his own creation, and his own people would not accept him. Yet wherever men did accept him he gave them the power to become sons of God. These were the men who truly believed in him, and their birth depended not on the course of nature nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God.

Without God, this is a very dark world. Most people spend their whole life groping through the darkness, trying to find their way through the minefields of life. Have you ever been out in the dark without a light? During my Bible School years, I was part of a tree planting team trying to raise funds for our ministry. We would camp in the forests of the Northwest always several hours from the nearest towns. It was really dark in those woods at night. We had some unusual experiences trying to turn on our lanterns in the middle of the night (I’ll spare you the stories of trying to find the latrine when the lanterns go out). Parris has a story about going to the kitchen tent before daylight, trying to turn on the lantern, only to find the river actually at the edge of the kitchen tent when the lights came on. Not good to be camped on the river when the unexpected floods come. Christ is our Light in the midst of a dark world. When Christ was born, He became the Light to this world. At a horrible time of darkness Christ came, His glory began to penetrate the light. John Gill has some interesting comments about Christ as the Light of the world.

“Christ is that light, that famous and excellent light, the fountain of all light to all creatures; that gave light to the dark earth at first, and spoke light out of darkness; that light of all men in the earth, and of all the angels in heaven, and of all the saints below, and of all the glorified ones above: he is the true light, in distinction from typical lights; the “Urim” of the former dispensation; the candlestick, with the lamps of it; the pillar of fire which directed the Israelites by night in the wilderness; and from all the typical light there was in the institutions and sacrifices of the law.”

Thankfully, we don’t have to wander around in the dark anymore, that is a dangerous way to live. Christ has appeared in these last days and His light is shining. It is shining through the proclamation of His word and is shining through the faces of His sons and daughters. If you feel like you are wandering around in life in need of guidance, turn to the Lord. He will light up your life. Not only will you have clear direction in life, you will also have satisfaction. Light and life are found in Christ.

KEVIN TRIMBLE AND THE GLORY OF GOD

KEVIN TRIMBLE AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD

John 11:1-4 ¶ Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

One of the struggles that everyone deals with is this, how do you sort things out when bad things happen. If God is good and cares about us and is involved in our lives, how do you handle tragedy. Our natural mind thinks that everything in this world should be perfect, that the Lord should take away all the pain, sickness, and suffering from this world. It is easy to forget that we live in a fallen world that is hostile to God, as a result, stuff happens in all of our lives. Recently, a young man from our church experienced extensive injuries in an ambush in Afghanistan. An IED went off and took two of his legs and one of his arms. This young man is a dedicated Christian, raised in church, and totally sold out to Jesus. This is the kind of story that none of us want to hear. We all hear the unanswered questions in our brain, “Where was God when the bomb blew up? Why is He allowing one of His own to experience such suffering?” These and many other questions haunt us when something like this strikes someone so close to our hearts.
This is what Mary and Martha had faced when their brother Lazarus died. “If He had only been here this never would of happened.” Jesus said something in His response to one of His disciples questions that we need to look at, “this sickness is for the Glory of God.” Of course Jesus was not talking about the sickness itself giving glory to God. He was speaking of what He would do in Lazarus’ life as a response to the sickness. After the death, the sorrow, and all of those tough questions, the Lord displayed His Resurrection power in Lazarus. He always does. Let me say that again. HE ALWAYS DOES!!!. It may not come the way you thought or when you thought, but if we wait upon the Lord He will display His Glory. Many thousands of people have been effected by the story of Lazarus over the years.
Now that brings us back to Kevin. I don’t want to make light of this horrible tragedy, his family is going through more than I could ever imagine. All I know is this, Kevin’s story is not yet finished, as a matter of fact, it is just getting started. The Lord has plans for him. As Jeremiah said, ” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”. (Jer 29:11) Obviously, this is not the plan anyone expected or wanted, but when it all pans out, God will be glorified and all of His sons and daughters will be satisfied. The Lord’s plans tend to become clearer as time passes by, keep your eye on Kevin, the Lord is about to show His Glory.

LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD

LIGHT IN A DARK WORLD

John 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

We live in a dark, dark world. We grow so accustomed to the darkness, that we don’t even realize the lack of spiritual light all around us. We only become aware of our circumstances when someone turns on a light. Before Christ appeared on earth, there was also a time of great spiritual darkness. In the midst of that hopeless world, the lord set apart His prophet John. Isaiah called him “a voice crying in the wilderness”. I have often wondered what Isaiah meant. Was he speaking of the wilderness of Judea or was he speaking about the spiritual wilderness our world had become? Maybe he was speaking about both. When John burst on the scene, it was as if someone turned on a bright light. Jesus said that John was a burning and shining light. In the 1800’s John Gill spoke about Jesus’ comments about John, this is some of what he said.

“He was a burning and shining light. He was not that light, the famous light, the Messiah, the Sun of righteousness; yet he was the phosphorous, the forerunner of that light, and was himself a very great one: he had much light himself into the person and office of the Messiah; in the doctrines of faith in Christ, and repentance towards God; in the Gospel dispensation, and in the abolition of the Mosaic economy; and gave great light to others, in the business of salvation, and remission of sins, and was the means of guiding the feet of many in the way of peace. His light of pure doctrine, and of a holy and exemplary conversation, shone very visibly and brightly before men; and he burned with strong love and affection for Christ, and the souls of men; and with flaming zeal for the honor of God, and true religion, and against all sin and profaneness, which he was a faithful reprover of, and for which he lost his life.”
I love that last comment Gill made about John, “he burned with strong love and affection for Christ and the souls of men”. That love was the result of the fire that was burning in his soul. The fire of God had fallen upon John, his life had become a bright light in a dark world. Today, our world is in desperate need of spiritual light. Where does that light come from? Jesus said that we are the light of the world. When anyone has a spiritual encounter, and continues to walk in it, he becomes like John, a burning and shining light in a dark world. Have you been baptized in the fire of God, have you been lit up with a passion for God? That burning and shining is the fruit of revival. Something has been awakened in your soul. It is a hunger and love for God which, like John, spills over in a love for souls. If you have been “lit up by God recently, it’s time to start burning and shining. We can’t hide our light under a basket, we have to let it shine.