OVERFLOWING FOUNTAIN

Rev. 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

This verse describes the Apostle John’s last vision in the series of visions that make up the book of Revelations. It describes a beautiful picture of the blessed trinity. The River of the Holy Spirit is proceeding from the Father and the Son. This portrays the love shared between the Father and the Son flowing out in another distinct person. As Jesus is the Word or understanding the Father has of Himself, the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of the Father’s love for Himself. As John describes it in his gospel and his first epistle; Jesus is the Word of God and God is love. Just as the Word is a person His love is also a person, the awesome third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes this overflowing fountain that results in the river of the Holy Spirit.

“From what has been said, it appears, that the pleasure God hath in those things which have been mentioned, is rather a pleasure in diffusing and communicating to, than in receiving from, the creature. Surely, it is no argument of indigence (poverty) in God that he is inclined to communicate of his infinite fullness. It is no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain, that it is inclined to overflow. Nothing from the creature alters God’s happiness, as though it were changeable either by increase or diminution (decline). For though these communications of God—these exercises, operations, and expressions of his glorious perfections which God rejoices in—are in time; yet history in them is without beginning or change. They were always equally present in the divine mind. He beheld them with equal clearness, certainty, and fullness, in every respect, as he doth now. They were always equally present; as with him there is no variableness or succession. He ever beheld and enjoyed them perfectly in his own independent and immutable power and will.”

In other words, the love of God is eternal, no matter how long it has been flowing or the quantity of the flow, He is not diminished. He is sufficient, a thousand times more than sufficient to meet us and keep us and satisfy us in every circumstance. Let the River flow. The River is flowing from the Father and from His only begotten Son. This River of love is flowing toward

FREE RIVER

That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God—1 Corinthians 2:12

Parris and I recently moved to Covington, Louisiana; a bedroom community of New Orleans. Our house is actually on a small river called the Bogue Falaya. We have been able to spend a little time on this river on our days off on our kayaks. I have become more and more observant to the spiritual lessons you can learn by watching the river. One thing that I have come to appreciate is the freedom the river affords. Even though all of the properties on both banks of the river are private property, the river is available for whosoever will. There are kayakers, and fishermen, and children playing in the river. It is open to whoever wants to enjoy the cooling current. In the same way there is a river that flows from the throne of God. It is a river of grace and refreshing for all those that are thirsty. Here is something A. B. Simpson said about this river of grace.

“Always take grace as something you do not deserve, something that is freely bestowed. The long, deep, boundless river is free-as free at the mouth as it is at the little feeder stream. It is free all along its course; anybody can come and drink, and anybody can come and bathe in its refreshing waters. Do you believe that? God has given us His Holy Spirit that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God. It is a sad thing for a poor starving child to look longingly through the window and see a fire and the happy family sitting around a laden table. What is the good of knowing that there is warmth and love and light if it is not free? God has freely given all the goodness of His grace and love.”

The Bogue Falaya is quite shallow near my house. As you go down river other streams and tributaries join together that form quite a wide and deep river within just a few miles. The river of God has many currents and changes as you step into its flow. There are seasons when it may seem shallow and fast moving that leads to other places that are deeper and wider than you could ever imagine. Step into the river of God. It will wash you and heal you and transform you into another person. The only way that you cannot benefit from the blessing of the river is by staying stuck on its banks.

HEALING WATERS

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said,
streams of living water will flow from within him.
JOHN 7:38

A lot happened to me stemming from the outpouring of the Spirit beginning in 1994. I guess it all started for me with an adjustment. I often joke that my “receiver” had been broken. Just as a radio has a receiver, every Christian also has to actually become a receiver for his own well being as well as for those he is to reach out to. Well, mine had been broken. As a young Christian I had unknowingly grown adept at receiving. Later on, the years of pastoring had dulled my spiritual senses and as a result my “receiver” had been broken. In the Holy Spirit atmosphere of revival, The Lord began to open my heart again. I began to drink living waters. My soul began to spring back into life. Here are some powerful words about today’s verse from Andrew Murray.

“Jesus said in his conversation with the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:13–14). In today’s text the promise is even greater: Rivers of living water will flow from his heart, bringing life and blessing to others.
John says that this refers to the Holy Spirit who, while Christ lived, had not yet been poured out. Christ first had to be sacrificed to God by the eternal Spirit and, by virtue of the resurrection, be declared by the Holy Spirit as the Son of God (see Romans 1:4).
Then only would the Son of God receive power from the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit, for the children of God to be able to declare, “The Holy Spirit of Christ lives in me.”

What does one need to be able to experience the promise of the streams of living water? Only one thing: an intimate clinging to Christ—an undivided submission to Him and the assurance that His Spirit will do the work within you that you yourself cannot do. You need a faith which trusts Him from day to day to let the living water flow from you.”

These waters are called “living” for a reason. Everywhere the river goes everything springs back to life. You see learning to receive was not the end of this experience, it was the opening of the door into a whole new way of life. All you need is to open a crack in your closed heart, the water is looking for a way to come flooding in. From that point, everything begins to change. Your heart is healed, spiritual hunger replaces apathy and dryness, bondages to habits are all broken, and the broken parts of your life begin to come alive. Healing waters have come, drink in and be made whole.

STEPPING INTO THE RIVER

MERRY FRIDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.” Ps.46:4

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13.

Jesus becomes the river in our life and the fountain of salvation: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” Zechariah 13:1 What are the streams of this river? Ralph Erskine says, “the perfections of God, the fulness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and these running in the channel of the covenant of promise.”
When we read Ezekiel we read of this river as “waters that came down from the right side of the house, and rising first to the ankles — then as the prophet passed onward, to the knees — then to the loins — became afterwards a river that he could not pass over; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. We see in this river Christ Himself full of grace flowing out to me and to you. He gives us water “to satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth.” Job 38:1-41. He becomes to us a “fountain of gardens,” “well of living waters,” “streams from Lebanon”. The very same river shall indeed make glad the city of God, which is the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. When we depend on this river, we will find the tree of life, that beareth twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth her fruit every month.” My friend we can live in this River! Jesus can become to us a broad river of refreshment protection and living streams for healing. It is time to step in as the waters are ever moving. Learning to let go of your past hurt and shame as you allow Christ to bathe you, wash you and make you clean is the only way we are to live as a Christ filled believer. “Sir, I have no man! Said the man at the pool of Bethsaida. So many of us tend to “lose focus” on our real purpose of our life when we let others hurt us and depend on man. He bids us drink! It’s the only way life is sustained. What are you holding onto? Paul prays that our spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless till his appearing. (1 Thess. 5:23) Why is that? Because Paul knew we could get caught up, distracted and worn out by this world pitfalls. Learning to step into his presence and allowing the rain of the Holy Spirit will wash away the pain torment of “when things don’t go the way we thought”.
All around us is the dry and thirsty ones looking for the same refreshment and someone needs to “carry them to the waters”, I can only pray we can be that angel.

WHEN THE RIVER CAME

WHEN THE RIVER CAME

Merry Monday – Parris Bailey

“There is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God.” Ps.46:4

Twenty years ago, Frank and I stepped into an unbelievable river- the river of God. We were like those that dream. I still remember hearing The Lord say to me, that “my religion would not sustain me for the years to come” (something that I didn’t really want to hear). I started the long trek into the bottom of the river where He began to change me from the inside out. It is not pleasant when you have to take a long look at yourself and your belief system. It was time for me to rekindle my first love. Marriage, raising all those wonderful kids of mine, and pastoring had caused me to drift from my source. I found myself full of dead works and a hardened heart. Spurgeon says, “Believers drink of that river and thirst not for carnal delights. They are made “to lie down in green pastures,” and are led “beside the still waters.” Now this solid, lasting joy and peace of mind sets the Christian so on high above all others, that I boldly testify that there are no people in the world to compare with him for happiness. But do not suppose that our joy never rises above this settled calm; for let me tell you, and I speak experimentally, we have our seasons of rapturous delight and overflowing bliss. There are times with us when no music could equal the melody of our heart’s sweet hymn of joy. It would empty earth’s coffers of every farthing of her joy to buy a single ounce of our delight. Do not fancy Paul was the only man who could say, “Whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth,” for these ecstasies are usual with believers; with their sunshiny days when their unbelief is shaken off and their faith is strong.”
I began a life long quest to have God “become my all in all” and I was determined to let nothing “separate me from the love of God”. As I reflect back on the twenty years of river walking I am thankful that He brought me back to my first love and put an unspeakable joy into my heart. Many times circumstances come my way (Hurricane Katrina, death of a love one, family problems and the care of the church) and weigh on my mind. THERE IS A RIVER that is always before me and it’s up to me to take the dip into His presence and drink again. He told us if we drink of Him, “out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water springing up into everlasting life”. Have you found this river my friend? Have you continued drinking of Him or have you gone back into dead works? He beckons us to enjoy His beauty, partake the communion of His presence. The cares of this world aren’t worth it, HIS PRESENCE IS EVERYTHING. THERE IS A RIVER!

MOVE TO THE RIVER

MOVE TO THE RIVER

Psa. 1:3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

I often think of the special season Parris and I experienced when we went to Bible School in California shortly after we were married. One of those memories was our trips to the San Joaquin River that was near our Bible College. There was nothing like the cool refreshing waters of that river on those hot summer afternoons in the San Joaquin Valley. That valley is actually more like an irrigated desert. The areas that were not irrigated were barren and desert like. I remember noticing the incredible, distinct contrast of the plants growing near the river in comparison to those far away. All along the river was growth; trees, grass, bushes; everything was flourishing and green. Just several hundred yards away from the river everything turned barren, very little could survive away from the river. That brings us to the analogy in today’s verse. We must live by God’s river if we want to flourish, everything away from God’s river is stunted and barren. Here are some comments by Spurgeon about the importance of this spiritual river.

“By the rivers of water; so that even if one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ, are never failing sources of supply. He is “like a tree planted by the rivers of water”, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; not unseasonable graces, like untimely figs, which are never full flavoured. But the man who delights in God’s Word, being taught by it, bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an essential quality of a gracious man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable.”

A.B. Simpson spoke about the River of the Holy Spirit and how He is critical to our spiritual well being.

“The river is the Holy Ghost; the planting, the deep, abiding life in which, not occasionally, but habitually, we absorb the Holy Spirit; and the fruit is not occasional, but continual, and appropriate to each changing season. His life is also prosperous, and his spirit fresh, like the unfading leaf. Such a life must be happy. Indeed, happiness is a matter of spiritual conditions. Put a sunbeam in a cellar and it must be bright. Put a nightingale in the darkest midnight, and it must sing.”

So maybe you feel like you are in some sort of spiritual desert, life may seem to be barren with little or no spiritual fruit. Take a trip to the river, even better, move to the river. As David said, we need more than just occasional trips to the river, if we want to prosper in life we have to move there.

RIVER-WALKING

MERRY MONDAY! “MY RIVER ENCOUNTER”
by Parris Bailey

“But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” Is. 33:21

Frank and I did something rather out of the ordinary, we bought three acres of property on the Boque Falaya River in Covington. It happened suddenly and to our surprise our family celebrated Christmas with us surrounded by trees, playing in the river, climbing a tree house and swinging from a rope swing. The clear nights seeing the stars have caught me by surprise along with the singing birds of many kinds, varied wildlife and the many types of aged trees. The previous owner planted over 20 different variety’s of bamboo so it has a bit of a oriental feel to top it off. The wood beamed cathedral ceiling with it’s burning wood stove reminds me of the many winters we would be up in Gatlinburg near my mother. New Year’s Day when all the family went their ways, I was determined to “take a walk” in the river despite the rain. I had foreseen this moment and had bought “hip boots” for this very purpose. The little Boque Falaya is shallow here and clear which makes for perfect walking. The only way to get down to the river is by rope so I began the trek down into the river and walked along downstream where you see nothing but woods for hundreds of yards on both sides of the river. It took awhile for my mind to settle itself after the events of the holidays. Like most of us, nothing is ever just perfect with our families or church families. The more I walked down the stream the more I was becoming just another part of his beautiful creation. This was harmony and He was there orchestrating all things for His glory. Oh yes, there is a river “the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.” Ps.46:4 “The presence and power of God are sufficient at any time to make up to us the deficiencies of the creature and of its strength and beauty. We have all in God, all we need or can desire. Many external advantages Jerusalem has not which other places have, but in God there is more than an equivalent. If God himself be the river, it must needs be inaccessible to the enemy; they can neither find nor force their way in.” (Matthew Henry) Charles Spurgeon must have been walking on the Boque Falaya for he writes: “This is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God. The streams whereof in their various influences, for they are many, shall make glad the city of God, by assuring the citizens that Zion’s Lord will unfailingly supply all their needs. The streams are not transient like Cherith, nor muddy like the Nile, nor furious like Kishon, nor treacherous like Job’s deceitful brooks, neither are their waters “naught” like those of Jericho, they are clear, cool, fresh, abundant, and gladdening.” Go ahead and get those “hip boots” on!

FLOWING FROM THE THRONE

FLOWING FROM THE THRONE

Rev. 22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

One of the great pictures of the Holy Spirit is given by John in today’s verse. John said that this “river” was proceeding from the Father and the Son. That is a mouthful. The very love that is shared between the Father and the Son is actually a person. This person is the Holy Spirit. To John the Baptist, He appeared as the heavenly dove. To the Apostle John, He appeared as a beautiful river of life proceeding from the Father and the Son. Jesus said that if anyone was thirsty they could come to Him and drink. We are able to actually drink from his river of life living water that will effect every part of our lives in ways that are past our ability to comprehend or express. He literally makes all things new. Jonathan Edwards spoke about the effect this River has on everyone and everything it touches. Here is a short excerpt from Edwards’ comments on this verse.

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. This river is the river of God’s pleasures, as it is elsewhere called, and is the Holy Spirit, and therefore proceeds both from the Father and the Son, from the throne of God and the Lamb. The fountain of all good flows out in this stream. Christ himself has told us what the living water is, or which is the same thing, the water of life, that is, the Spirit of God. ‘Tis called “a pure river, clear as crystal,” to denote the holiness of it, for God’s Spirit is the Holy Spirit. ‘Tis the holiness of God in abstract; and therefore when a river is made use of as an emblem of it, ’tis meet that it should be a river of extraordinary pure and clear water, clear as crystal. “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit.” Firstly and chiefly, ’tis meant that the water had life in it. Common water is mere passive, dead matter, but this water is alive. ‘Tis a living divine person. This water is not only something living, but ’tis life itself. ‘Tis that Spirit that is the very life of God, and so is divine and infinitely perfect life, and act, and energy; for which cause partly the Spirit of God is called “water of life”, because divine life is the very matter of this water.

This River is more than an experience. This River is a person, the wonderful third person of the trinity, the blessed Holy Spirit. So today, Jesus is still crying out, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink. Out of your innermost being will begin to flow this beautiful river of the Holy Spirit.

DIP BABY DIP

DIP BABY DIP

2Kings 5:10-11 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’

It can be very hard for humans to receive supernatural ministry. You see we have preconceived religious notions about the way we think we should receive. Many of us want God’s help, we just want it our way, a way in which our so called dignity remains secure. The Lord will have none of that, He seems to be unconcerned about human dignity and sometimes engages a frontal attack on our pride. Such was the case with Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army. He had heard of the miracle healing power being seen through Elisha and he wanted to be healed from his leprosy, his only problem, he wanted it done a certain way. He was appalled at the instructions of Elisha, go dip in the disgusting Jordan River seven times. That was absurd, they had much nicer rivers in Syria. No way was he getting in that river, especially seven times. All Naaman could hear coming from Elisha was “Dip, baby, dip”. Keep dipping in the river and your disease will leave. Adam Clarke spoke about this conflict in Naaman’s life, check this out.

“Behold , I thought – God’ s ways are not as our ways; he appoints that mode of cure which he knows to be best. Naaman expected to be treated with great ceremony; and instead of humbling himself before the Lord’ s prophet, he expected the prophet of the Lord to humble himself before him! Behold I thought;”

That was Naaman’s problem, he “thought” too much. This prophet needs to come see me, doesn’t he know who I am? He needs to do a religious ceremony, dip in the muddy Jordan? Absurd! Who does that prophet think he is anyway? I’ll just go to the other prophet, he won’t be so weird. So much for Naaman’s ideas, he was furious. His pride was getting in the way of his ability to receive. Sound familiar? Have you ever been there? Maybe you are there right now. Fortunately, Naaman came to his senses and got into the river. After the seventh dip the leprosy was gone. How about you? Maybe you don’t like the way God’s miracle power is poured out. Maybe you really can’t stand the thought of speaking in tongues. Maybe it’s the falling under the power or the loud singing that sets you off. Or maybe it’s all of the touching associated with those kinds of services. Maybe it’s time to get over your preconceived ideas of how you should receive from God. Maybe it’s time to learn the lesson from Naaman. Maybe it’s time to dip baby dip.

A FOOL AND HIS RIVER

A FOOL AND HIS RIVER

Acts 2:12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”

The move of the Spirit can be quite interesting. Jesus said it was like the wind. You don’t know when, how, or where, but suddenly it begins to blow. I’ll never forget the funny incident that happened in 1994 with one of my pastor friends (he will remain anonymous). A bunch of us from several churches in New Orleans were at revival meetings in Dallas, Texas. There was an altar call given for all the ministers from Louisiana to come to the front. That’s when the floodgates broke. Many of the ministers, myself included, were powerfully touched by God that day. At least just about everybody got hit, one of the pastors was in the men’s room when the dam broke. This poor brother had huge questions about the outpouring for years. Sometimes timing can be everything. Jonathan Edwards spoke about people’s questions and unwillingness to receive the outpourings because of the sometimes strange occurrence that go along with it. Check this out.

“I would pray those that quiet themselves with that, that they proceed on a principle of prudence, and are waiting to see what the issue of things will be, and what fruits those that are the subjects of this work will bring forth in their lives and conversations, would consider whether this will justify a long refraining from acknowledging Christ when he appears so wonderfully and graciously present in the land. ‘Tis probable that many of those that are thus waiting, know not what they are waiting for: if they wait to see a work of God without difficulties and stumbling blocks, that will be like the fool’s waiting at the riverside to have the water all run by. A work of God without stumbling blocks is never to be expected: “It must needs be that offenses come”. There never yet was any great manifestation that God made of himself to the world, without many difficulties attending it. It is with the works of God as ’tis with the Word of God; they are full of those things that seem strange and inconsistent and difficult to the carnal things that seem strange and inconsistent and difficult to the carnal unbelieving hearts of men. Christ and his work always was, and always will be a stone of stumbling, and rock of offense; a gin and a snare to many.”

That was a very funny statement, I never want to be “the fool” waiting at the riverside for all of the water to pass by. The outpouring of the Spirit can have some messy side effects. How do we judge if something is real? There are several sure indications of the reality of a move of the Spirit. First, does it violate scripture or the Spirit of the word of God. Secondly, have similar things happened throughout history. Finally, what is the effect on the participants? If God is being glorified and people are being changed to be more like Christ it is a pretty good indication. If you are watching the water pass by it might be time for you to jump in.