NOT EATING AND DRINKING

Rom.14:17 – for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This verse sums up the Christian life. Paul is adamant, the kingdom of God is not about a system of rules and religious observances. The kingdom of God is spiritual and closely related to the Holy Spirit. The book of Romans has a theme connected to the righteousness of God that comes by faith. Being declared righteous by faith in the sacrificial death of Christ opens the kingdom of God up to us. Peace with God, peace in our own life, and peace with others is the fruit of the righteousness of God in our lives. Having been justified by faith we have peace with God. Joy is also the fruit of being right with God. It is in access to the kingdom of God that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and our joy begins to overflow. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this verse.

“Righteousness, peace, and joy, are very comprehensive words; and each of them includes much, both of the foundation and the superstructure of religion. Might I limit the sense of them, it should be thus:—As to God, our great concern is righteousness—to appear before him justified by the merit of Christ’s death, sanctified by the Spirit of his grace; for the righteous Lord loveth righteousness. As to our brethren, it is peace—to live in peace and love, and charity with them, following peace with all men: Christ came into the world to be the great peace-maker. As to ourselves, it is joy in the Holy Ghost—that spiritual joy which is wrought by the blessed Spirit in the hearts of believers, which respects God as their reconciled Father and heaven as their expected home. Next to our compliance with God, the life of religion consists in our complacency in him; to delight ourselves always in the Lord. Surely we serve a good Master, who makes peace and joy so essential to our religion. Then and then only we may expect peace and joy in the Holy Ghost when the foundation is laid in righteousness.”

Stepping into the kingdom of God by faith is what the book of Romans is all about. Today you and I have access into this kingdom life. We can step into the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Lord, being filled repeatedly with the Holy Spirit.

I LEAVE YOU PEACE

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

It is important to understand the context this scripture is given in order for us to appreciate the magnitude of this promise. In just a of couple hours (or less) Jesus would be arrested and taken by the temple guards to stand before the high priest, King Herod, and Pontius Pilate. The religious leaders were committed to stopping this new movement. They had proven that they would go to extreme measures to stop the spreading of this new religion. Jesus would be killed the next day, these apostles realized that their lives were also in serious danger. So let’s evaluate their predicament: first, Jesus was about to be nailed to the cross, there source for everything was about to be taken away. Second, their lives, too, were in grave danger. It seems like they could have been killed at any moment. Third, the task, to do the things Jesus had done seemed to be overwhelming. This was what they were facing when this promise was given, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse.

“When Christ was about to leave the world he made his will. His soul he committed to his Father; his body he bequeathed to Joseph (the rich Pharisee), to be decently interred; his clothes fell to the soldiers; his mother he left to the care of John: but what should he leave to his poor disciples, that had left all for him? Silver and gold he had none; but he left them that which was infinitely better, his peace. “I leave you, but I leave my peace with you. I not only give you a title to it, but put you in possession of it.” He did not part in anger, but in love; for this was his farewell, Peace I leave with you, as a dying father leaves portions to his children; and this is a worthy portion. The legacy that is here bequeathed Peace, my peace.”

The promise is shocking as well as supernatural. He has promised us peace; peace with God, peace in our own lives, and peace no matter what we may be facing in life. Maybe you are facing troubled waters today. Whether it is family related, ministry related, health issues or money, He has promised to give peace that keeps us in the worst circumstances imaginable.

I GIVE YOU PEACE

Jn.14:27 – Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

The Lord’s ways are not our ways. We can see that very clearly in today’s verse. The disciples were past begging Jesus not to leave, they were in absolute meltdown. There was no way they could imagine going on in their gospel mission without Him, that would be absolutely unthinkable. He had greater plans for them than they could ever imagine. There would not only be life and ministry after Jesus died, it would be better and greater than any of them could ever imagine. He was leaving, the Holy Spirit was coming, and peace that passes all comprehension would be their’s. Here are some thoughts from John Calvin on today’s verse.

“By the word peace he means prosperity, which men are wont to wish for each other when they meet or part; for such is the import of the word peace in the Hebrew language. He therefore alludes to the ordinary custom of his nation; as if he had said, I give you my Farewell. But he immediately adds, that this peace is of far greater value than that which is usually to be found among men, who generally have the word peace but coldly in their mouth, by way of ceremony, or, if they sincerely wish peace for any one, yet cannot actually bestow it. But Christ reminds them that his peace does not consist in an empty and unavailing wish, but is accompanied by the effect. In short, he says that he goes away from them in body, but that his peace remains with the disciples; that is, that they will be always happy through his blessing.”

The disciples would be more than happy with His blessing. Joy unspeakable was about to be their portion. When Christ was with them physically on earth thy were not much more than spectators to His works and teaching. They were about to be swallowed by the Holy Spirit themselves as they were thrust head long into an unthinkable ministry. Signs and wonders would be the order of the day as the whole world would be turned upside down in the days and years ahead. So maybe you have been asking the Lord for something and it just doesn’t seem to come to pass. Don’t be surprised when He does things in a little different, unexpected way. Hang on for dear life, I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

SLEEP TIGHT

Ps.3:5 – I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.

There is nothing fun about sleepless nights. Sometimes sleeplessness comes from stress, not sure of what tomorrow holds for you. Today’s verse is a tremendous promise, a promise that you too can sleep well tonight. David’s life was full of stress; lions, giants, backslidden king, betrayal by friends and sons, yet David said he was going to lay down and sleep. What was David’s secret? It lies in the word ‘sustains’ David could rest because he was literally resting in the Lord. The Lord was sustaining him. Here is how Dick Mills describes this promise.

“The big word here is sustained. It is a word that speaks volumes. The Hebrew word is SAMAK. It has a wide range of meanings like, to lean upon, to prop up, to bear up, to uphold. God sustains and upholds His people. The verb translated ‘sustained’ means to provide security and safety, to protect, support and uphold. When he wakes up the next morning, he discovers that nothing has bothered or threatened him during the night.”

Here are some ways Bible translators translate this verse.

God’s Word Translation

I lie down and sleep. I wake up again because the LORD continues to support me.

The Message

I stretch myself out. I sleep. Then I’m up again—rested, tall and steady,

New Living Translation

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.

The Bible in Basic English

I took my rest in sleep, and then again I was awake; for the Lord was my support.

Septuagint

I lay down and slept; I woke again, because the Lord will support me.

I love the different flavors found in Bible translations. From God’s Word Translation I am reminded that the Lord is my support. The Message Bible reminds me that I can find my rest in the Lord. The NLT reminds me that I literally have a Watchman watching over me when I sleep, what an incredible benefit.

What is keeping you up at night? I have a feeling if you will reach out to the God of David, the One Who never slumbers, you too will find sweet rest. Ps.121:3 – “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.”

I have a word from the Lord for you

“SLEEP TIGHT”

THE PEACE OF GOD

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds—Philippians 4:7

The presence of God can have some strange effects on us. He comes in so many different ways. Sometimes, there is an uncanny awareness of peace when He comes. Not just the peace that comes from knowing everything is going to be okay, not even the awesome peace from being right with God. I’m talking about a different kind of peace, the peace ‘of’ God, the peace that God Himself enjoys. Jesus prayed for us that we would enjoy the relationship with the Father that He has enjoyed for eternity. Think about it, the nature of that relationship is entirely spiritual. We can enter into this life, the very life of God, as we draw near by the blood of Jesus. God’s peace, the peace that He enjoys, comes to us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Here is a quote from A. B. Simpson about God’s peace.

“It is not peace with God, but the peace of God that [keeps our] hearts and minds. The peace which passeth all understanding is the very breath of God in the soul. He alone is able to keep it, and He can so keep it that “nothing shall offend us.” Is this your experience?

God’s rest did not come until His work was finished. Nor will ours. We begin our Christian lives by working, trying and struggling in the energy of the flesh to save ourselves. At last, when we are able to cease from our own work, God comes in with His blessed rest and works His own divine will in us.”

Has your day to day grind or maybe an unusual situation in your life taken away any sense of peace in your life? Stress and anxiety can lead to all sorts of other problems. Your solution is not a vacation (that often leads to more stress), not a toddy, or not even a shopping spree. There is a place of rest that remains for the people of God. As David said, “Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart”. Open your heart. It often begins with a scripture, one stands out to you, God is speaking. Then it moves into pondering the verse. Finally, it spills over into thanksgiving and worship. That is the place where peace moves in. You step into God’s arena, you begin to experience His peace. So today could be a really great day. Your circumstances may or may not change, but God’s peace is calling you in.

THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME

simon-maennling-27238.jpgHeb. 6:5 who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age,

This passage has intrigued me for several years. The Message Bible brings out an interesting flavor in this verse, “once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—”. I love that, the powers of the world to come breaking in on us. Ever since I began to experience the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit moving in and on my life I began to catch glimpses of what Paul was getting at in this passage. The Holy Spirit is the kingdom of heaven, every touch of God is a small taste of the very atmosphere of heaven. This touch is saturated with God’s love, peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable, and a perseverance that endures and conquers all things. Think about it, heaven itself, the kingdom of God, is breaking into our world every time we step into that realm of the Spirit. Here are some thoughts from Watchman Nee on this passage.

“The kingdom of God is at once present and to come (Matt. 6:10; 12:28). As to time, it lies ahead of us; as to experience, it is ours today. God intends us to enjoy foretastes here and now of the powers of the future age. All that will be true then universally should be the church’s experience in some real measure now, for all is hers. What is the use of merely knowing all about conditions in the kingdom: the rest, the life eternal, the everlasting covenant, the overthrow of Satan, the authority of God and of His Christ? These are not future prospects alone but powers to be tasted here and now. To taste means to eat a little. It is the preliminary to a feast. We cannot yet feast on all the good things of the kingdom, but we should be savoring them. Where spiritual resources are in demand, let us not live by the present alone. The powers of the age to come are ours.”
If what we are tasting now is this good I can’t imagine how wonderful heaven will be. That’s what Peter meant when he quoted David, “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Tasting this goodness that is breaking into our world today delivers us from the attraction to the world and sets our hearts clearly on His coming kingdom. Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!!

MY REDEEMER LIVES

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Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

I read Job from a different perspective after Hurricane Katrina ravaged our city. I never dreamed in a million years that I would see such devastation. There were miles and miles of utter destruction, not a bird or animal or human would be anywhere in sight. It resembled a movie set, torn up infrastructure with no life. Many people committed suicide, many others had emotional breakdowns; many thousands left for good. That’s why I was reading Job, Job made it and I wanted to know how.

In today’s verse Job made his declaration of faith while the storm was raging. This was not just a principle he was trying, this was the belief of his heart. He knew that God had promised redemption, He had given His word that a Redeemer would come. Job believed God. Here are some thoughts on today’s scripture from Jonathan Edwards.

“He that can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” he knows him to be better than all. For as has been observed already, ’tis implied that he knows that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He sees in him that glory and excellency that is delightful and ravishing. That beauty is so great, so divine, that the sight of it, when it is so clearly seen, is above [all] things sweet. It fills the soul with a light so divine and powerful that it is impossible but the soul should be withal filled with peace and pleasantness. A sinking dullness and sorrow is not consistent with such bright light. “What can be better to the soul than to see the face of the only begotten Son of God, that is full of grace and truth? And while the soul has that light, it will have comfort. In vain is the rage of Satan, or any of his instruments, to the contrary.”
It would be several thousand years before Job’s prophesy would be completely fulfilled through the appearance of Jesus Christ. The Redeemer did show up for Job though. He came to Job in another storm. Not sure what Job thought at first sight of this storm, it was storms that had taken most everything that Job owned and loved. But this was not an ordinary storm, the Redeemer was in this one. God revealed Himself to Job in a new and powerful way that day, his trial was over and recovery was on the way. What’s the lesson from Job? Get hold of God for yourself, He alone will satisfy and keep you no matter what comes.

WORK TO ENTER REST

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Is. 26:3 – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Let’s face it, the world is filled with trouble. People are filled with trouble, and if we aren’t careful, their troubles will swallow us up. It is a promise but a tricky endeavor to be in the world but not of it. Have you found the key to that kind of life? It boils down to this, you have to be filled with a supernatural peace to be unaffected by the world. How do you get there? That’s the tricky part, the Bible says to labor, even strive, to enter that rest. Here is how A.B. Simpson describes it.
“In the old creation, the week began with work and ended with Sabbath rest. The resurrection week begins with the first day-first rest, then labor. So we must first cease from our own works as God did from His, and enter into His rest. And then, with rested hearts, we will work His works with effectual power. But why labor to enter into rest? See that sailing craft-how restfully it glides over the waters, its canvas swelling with the wind and borne without an effort! And yet, look at that man at the helm. See how firmly he holds the rudder, bearing against the wind, and holding her steady to her position. Let him for a moment relax his steady hold and the vessel will fall listlessly along the wind. The sails will flap, the waves will toss the craft at their will, and all rest and power will have gone. It is the fixed helm that brings the steadying power of the wind. The steady will and stayed heart are ours. The keeping is the Lord’s. So let us labor to enter and abide in His rest.”
So maybe, even probably, you are facing some kind of stormy seas in your life. The Master is at the helm, we can rest in His care. How can I be sure? That is where the laboring part comes in. We have to press in to the peace of God. Seek Him in the Bible, seek Him in worship and prayer. Draw near to Him and allow His peace to become yours. Before you know it the tension in the world will be all around you but not in you, then you know you have begun to enter the rest of God.

PEACE FROM ANOTHER WORLD

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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.
John 14:27
There are different kinds of peace that we can enjoy in this world. There is the peaceful calm at the sunrise, sometimes its like the world is waiting in silence for God’s next great adventure. Then there is a peace that comes when it appears by natural circumstances that we are in a place of provision and safety. There is also a peace that comes after a fruitful day of hard work, gratification that your labor will be well rewarded. All of these things are natural and subject to change without notice. The peaceful sunrise can give way to a catastrophic storm. Our peaceful circumstances can be blown away in an instant by a barrage of bad news. Our labor can be swallowed by famine or thievery; in all of these cases our peace is more of a facade than a place of refuge. Today’s verse describes a different kind of peace, the peace of God Himself that has nothing to do with our circumstances. Watchman Nee describes this peace in his comments on today’s verse.
“It is not just a question of peace but of “my peace.” It is not only that God gives me peace but that “the peace of God,” the deep undisturbedness of God, keeps my heart. We get troubled when things go wrong, but let us realize something else. God chose this world to be the arena of His plan, the center of what He has set Himself to do….He is not afraid to wait another thousand years if need be. That is the peace which is given to us. Paul says the peace of God should be a garrison for my heart. What does that mean? It means that a foe must first fight through the garrison to reach me. The garrison must be overcome before my heart can be touched. So I dare to be as peaceful as God, for the peace of God—that peace which is keeping God—is keeping me.”
So don’t allow good times or bad times to deceive you; both are liars that turn our hearts away from the source of peace that is bigger than all of our fears. There is a shelter from life’s storms which ultimately conquers all of the storms of life. What is that shelter? Of course it is the peace we find in the very arms of God.

ETERNAL PRAYERS

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MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”

ACTS 10:4
God never forgets his prayers he puts within us. He needs our voice to utter his promises over the earth. Each season that passes he sends his Rain to water our precious seeds. His word says we plant them into the ground weeping but there will be a time or a season that we will rejoice over the harvest of our prayers. I bet if you close your eyes you can remember specific places in time where you uttered a new prayer over your circumstances or over someone’s life. They became eternal prayers.
“Our prayers don’t die when we do. God answers them forever. You never know when His timeless answer will reenter the atmosphere of our lives, and that should fill us with holy anticipation. Never underestimate His ability to answer anytime, anyplace, anyhow. He has infinite answers to our finite prayers. He can answer them more than once. And He answers them forever.” (Excerpt From: Batterson, Mark. “Draw the Circle.”)
Your mouth can become a huge instrument for the Father speaking life into the next generation. The scriptures you’ve been given are not for naught, they are life and will change this present darkness. His words to us and our prayers back to him are memorials. Eternal prayers that are more far reaching than we could ever imagine.

One of the girls at Marysong recalls a story of her mother attending in the early years here at Victory and during this time her mother died of cancer. The Marysong girl was separated from her mother for years so never really knew she was a Christian, much less that she attended our church. At some point in this girl’s life she tried to take her life and shot herself. Instantly she found herself falling when a hand from heaven grabbed her and pulled her back. Years later she found herself at Marysong and when she walked into the door she felt like “she came home”. I believe her mothers prayers circled her for years and became a memorial. One long eternal prayer from the breath of God. He needed her mothers mouth to utter hope over her daughter while she sat in the hard victory pews weeping over her estranged daughter. He knew the day would come that she would take the gun and take her life. I would love to think Jesus turned to her mother and said, “I got this”, then grabbed her daughter back from the dead places.

So my friend keep circling and keep loosing your mouth to join in heaven’s song. He never forgets nor ever sleeps.