COME TO THE OASIS

Matt. 11:28-30 – TPT – Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear.

This verse reminds me of the services Pastor John Osteen used to conduct at Lakewood Church on Thanksgiving week. Pastor John was a full on Holy Ghost guy. As a matter of fact his famous book was “The Confessions of a Baptist Preacher”. It was his story of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Those services were a place of refreshment for ministers and Christian leaders from all over the world. In those days they fondly called their church I Houston an oasis of love. What a great name! It was a place of spiritual rest and refreshing in the spiritual desert our world had become. We all need a place of spiritual refreshing, a place to recharge and recover from the heat of the day. In the Passion Translation, quoted above, it uses the two pictures of rest. It speaks of an oasis and being yoked to Jesus. Here is what the notes from the Passion say about this verse.

“Or “Bend your neck to my yoke.” The metaphor of a yoke is that it joins two animals to work as one. It is not simply work or toil that is the focus here, but union with Christ.

As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. The Aramaic could be translated “Come to me and I will cheer [refresh] you. I am cheerful [refreshing] and humble in heart, and you will find cheer [refreshing] for your soul.”

All of us need refreshing, as David often said, “we are traveling through a dry and dusty land”. I have to agree, even many churches have become quite dry in recent years. I remember driving through the Mojave desert back in the seventies with an evangelism team headed to Phoenix. Our air conditioning was broken and it was really hot. We crossed over the Colorado River and made a decision. We got out and went for a swim. We had found an oasis for our journey. A time of refreshing was needed that day, we needed God’s Oasis of Love. Maybe you feel dry in your journey today, its time to drink from His well of living water, it is a refreshing oasis that travels with us every where we go. I

OUR LAMPS ARE GOING OUT

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

When, exactly, did your lamp start to go out? Was it when your expectations of what your life would look like didn’t quite pan out? Maybe it was when your marriage lost its sparkle and you started feeling kind of discouraged or even trapped? Or maybe it was when your sickness lingered and you felt like your prayers weren’t answered. It could have been more of a slow fade; you know, neglecting your spiritual activities and feeling like you may be missing some of the ‘fun’ the worldly people are getting in on. Whatever started it, if you are honest with yourself, your spiritual flame is getting dimmer and is threatening to go out. Here is how Maclaren describes this verse.

“Our lamps are going out,’—a slow process that! The flame does not all die into darkness in a minute. There are stages in its death. The white portion of the flame becomes smaller and the blue part extends; then the flame flickers, and finally shudders itself, as it were, off the wick; then nothing remains but a charred red line along the top; then that line breaks up into little points, and one after another these twinkle out, and then all is black, and the lamp is gone out. And so, slowly, like the ebbing away of the tide, like the reluctant, long-protracted dying of summer days, like the dropping of the blood from some fatal wound, by degrees the process of extinction creeps, creeps, creeps on, and the lamp that was going is finally gone out.”

This is a great description of the deterioration of our spiritual lives. It rarely happens all at once, it is almost always a slow, gradual deterioration. If you think back at the early days of your spiritual journey everything was so exciting. You were excited about your Bible, you loved Sundays, and home group, and would never miss special services and guest speakers. But gradually your spiritual activities lost their joy and then missing them became a more common occurrence. What was the source of that joy and excitement in the beginning and and how did you lose it? For that answer we have to go back to Jesus’s parable, especially the part about the oil. The oil is the key. It is a picture of the Holy Spirit in our lives and is the very source of our spiritual life. How do I replenish the oil in my life? The answer is simple, look to Jesus, the oil is flowing from Him.

RENEWAL AND REFRESHING

Acts 3:19 – Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

This promise became from precious to me during an unusually difficult season in my life. I had been pastoring Victory Fellowship for a number of years and had experienced favor and blessing on everything from family to church and in my personal spiritual experience. The body of Christ went through a season of very unusual difficult times in the late 1980’s and the blowback from that was effecting every part of my life. I was feeling it with family drama, financial and ministry problems, and my spiritual condition was not the best. These problems brought me to a place of spiritual hunger and thirst, times of refreshing began to break out in my life. I love the Amplified Bible’s rendition of this verse. “So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord”. Here are some thoughts from the Life in the Spirit Commentary.

“To urge them to turn from sin to faith in Christ, Peter said that “Times of refreshing [will] come from the Lord.” For years the Jews have been expecting the messianic age, the golden age of blessings. The prophets themselves spoke about the coming of spiritual strength and blessings. This new age has dawned with the coming of Christ. Peter’s “times of refreshing” is one way of speaking about the baptism in the Spirit. The people can now experience the renewal or “refreshing” of their souls through the joys and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their repentance, not only will their sin be forgiven and they will receive relief from their guilt, but they will also experience spiritual renewal through the Holy Spirit.”

So maybe you are feeling a little exhausted and out of breath by the adversity that we all face in this life. Living in this world guarantees resistance and exhaustion. We can take courage from this incredible promise, the Lord send times of refreshing again and again from the presence of the Lord. The Lord is faithful to His people, spiritual hunger and thirst is a sure sign that renewal is well on the way.

SEEING THE BEAUTY OF CHRIST 

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MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.…” Matt 13:15

We all do it, not catch the beauty of the moment. We spend too much of our lives looking down that we can’t see the upside of beauty. This week was Summer Saturation and I just love putting aside life and camping out all week in church meetings and worship till the cows come home. In doing so, things begin to surface inside to come up and out. By the end of the week I usually “get it sorted out” feeling like I’ve had the most amazing shower ever! All the crud of the world pale in comparison to his presence! One of those mornings in camp meeting Frank and I were able to jump on our road bikes and go for a long ride along the lakefront of New Orleans and into City Park and back. After saturating all week it felt good to get some exercise in. I loved feeling the morning breeze along the lakefront, seeing the waves lapping at the mossy steps, loved riding under the cool shade of the oaks in City Park. Everything was lush, verdant from the monsoon rains we have been having. It dawned on me that all of creation is shouting yes back to their creator.
Jesus tells us “blessed are ye that see, and your ears that hear, because the prophets of old longed to see what we see and to hear what we hear”. The beauty of Christ in us is a never ending journey into the miraculous of redemption and the mystery of his love. While in worship I began to see vast rooms of treasuries; Christ seemed to be walking with me saying “all that I have is here before you”. There were silhouettes dancing all around me in the rooms of Christ’s treasures and I realized it was people that the Lord has given for his kingdom. Yes the beauty of Christ is all around us. In the book of Revelation Chapter three, Christ says we need to be anointed with eye salve so we can see; to see the world of his beauty and his love, to see the needs of the hurting around us, to see we are but extensions of his hand.
HELEN KELLER said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision. The seeing see very little. The panorama of color and action which fills the world is taken for granted. It is human, perhaps, to appreciate little that which we have and to long for that which we have not, but it is a great pity that in the world of light the gift of sight is used only as a mere convenience rather than as a means of adding fullness to life.”

ENLIGHTENING, ENLARGING AND STRENGTHENING 

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY -“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth” Ps.72:8

For years I never realized that my engine was running low spiritually. I had all the basic training down as a Christian. I was given a solid salvation experience, received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in my life that helped me tremendously, and had a love for the word of God. When I found myself self-absorbed and fighting personal devils, I reached out to others and attended church every time the door opened. Worship was a part of my life, and my Christianity was my most treasured commodity. But somewhere along the line, somewhere in the great Christian journey, I had left the intimacy of Christ far behind. Sure, there are lots of reasons why it happened to me, but still how shocking it is when you realize that He is not to be found near! I am so thankful that God does indeed come near, He will step on your boat, rain on your parade or the Rock will fall on you. You can count on that, He will come and bring His refreshing rain over and over again in your dry seasons.
Come let us return unto the Lord

For He has torn us

But He will heal us

For He has wounded us

But He will bandage us

And he will come

He will come to us like rain, spring rain

If we ask, He will come
Send His rain on everyone

For every child (soul) needs rain, spring rain by Kevin Prosch

 

Getting caught up with the everyday hassles of life, raising children, making ends meet, bad relationships, dead churchs, angry bosses or customers-all of this and more cause us to leave “the beauty of the Lord” and start sweating and toiling all over again. Are you able to recognize the signs of dehydration? Grumpy, negative and critical just to name a few wonderful sure tell-tale signs. Get “under the spout where the glory comes out”, find your drinking hole, your secret place in the most high, asap!

“O how pleasant are the effects of rain to languishing plants, to make them green and beautiful, lively and strong, fragrant and beautiful! So the effects of Christ’s influences are most desirable to drooping souls, for enlightening and enlivening them, for confirming and strengthening them, for comforting and enlarging them, for appetizing and satisfying them, transforming and beautifying them. A shower from Christ would soon make the church, though withered, turn green and beautiful, and to send forth a smell as of a field that the Lord hath blessed; and likewise some drops of this shower, falling down upon the languishing graces of communicants, would soon make them vigorous and lively in showing forth their Saviour’s death at his table.” John Willison.

If we ask Him, He will come, let the spring rains come and heal my soul!

THERE IS A RIVER OF LIFE

Psa. 46:4 ¶  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
There is a River!!! This is the River of Life that Jesus prophesied about in the temple in Jerusalem. He interrupted the services in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles crying out with a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink’. He was so overcome with passion His appeal burst out into pleas compelling people to come and drink. David sang about this river, Ezekiel prophesied about it as he waded in over his head, and John declared that this river was flowing out from the Father and the Son. Spurgeon describes it as smoothly flowing divine grace.
“Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilising, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It 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 Fire Bible says that this river is a continuous flow of inspiration and power.
“God’s ‘river’ is the continual flow of his grace (undeserved favor, mercy and help), inspiration and power working through and among his faithful people. This pure, life-giving river flows from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is described as flowing from God’s throne and constantly refreshing his people on earth and those in heaven. The most important benefit of this river is that it brings evidence of God’s presence among his people: ‘The LORD Almighty is with us’.”
This River is not an experience or even the power of God, the River is a person. It is the third person of the blessed Trinity, the precious Holy Spirit. Have you found your way to the River of God? You see, it is not good enough to believe that there is a River; you must get into the River. The River is a place of refreshing to those who drink it, it is a place of cleansing for those who bath in it, it is the source of power to those who will swim and live in it. I have to agree with David,  ‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God”.

TAKE A BATH

TAKE A BATH

Heb. 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

The Lord speaks to us visually, He paints pictures of spiritual truth in our minds. In this passage The Lord is speaking to us about having our bodies washed with pure water. Obviously, there is more than hygiene at stake here. In the Old Testament the priests would wash themselves in the laver for the cleansing of the flesh during their temple duties. This speaks of a very interesting spiritual truth tied closely to water baptism in our Christian faith. Obviously, Christians are not immune to the contaminations of the world in our daily walk. Even though our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus, we still live in a contaminated world. The influence of the deeper life in the Spirit has an effect on our lifestyle. We are purified by the Spirit from the stain of sin that is in the world. Yes, we are washed in His presence, washed in His pure living water. Andrew Murray spoke powerfully about the deeper life available to us in Christ. Here is what he said about this verse.

“Our bodies washed with pure water. It is not only in spirit, but with the body too, we enter into the Holiest of All. It is on us here, where we are in the body, that the presence of God descends. Our whole life in the flesh is to be in that presence; the body is very specially the temple, and in charge of the Holy Spirit; in the body of the Father is to be glorified. Our whole being, body, soul, and spirit, is in the power of the Holy Spirit, a holy sacrifice upon the altar, a living sacrifice for service before God. With the body, too, we live and walk in the Holiest. Our eating, drinking, our sleeping, our clothing, our labor and relaxation, all these things have more influence on our spiritual life than we know. They often interrupt and break the fellowship we maintain. The heart and the body are inseparably joined- a heart sprinkled from an evil conscience needs a body washed with pure water.”

Our lifestyles are powerfully effected by the presence of God. His presence changes the very essence of our being, He effects our heart itself. That is critical. All of our actions spring from our hearts. When our bodies are washed in the living water our lives will be profoundly changed.
This reminds me of another very visual picture from The Lord. The long haired, unshaven prophet, John the Baptist standing in the Jordan River, he was preaching, prophesying, and calling a nation to repentance. He was baptizing thousands in the waters of the Jordan. As he did, he said another was coming after him who would baptize them in the Holy Spirit. John immersed in water, Jesus immerses in that pure, living water that transforms our lives. Go ahead, take a bath.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Acts 3:19-21 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

The Lord promised that there would be seasons of renewal in preparation for His coming. It seems clear that the season just before His return could be characterized as “the best of times and the worst of times”. It is the worst of times because of the birth pangs of creation itself and the increase of demonic activity as the end of this age comes upon us. Of course it is the best of times because The Lord has saved His best wine for last. The days just before the Lord’s return promise to be filled with a great move of the Holy Spirit. Of all the times of refreshing throughout church history these times will be the best. Here is some commentary from the Life in Spirit Commentary.

“…Peter mentions two additional benefits. “Times of refreshing [will] come from the Lord.” For years the Jews have been expecting the messianic age, the golden age of blessings. The prophets themselves spoke about the coming of spiritual strength and blessings. This new age has dawned with the coming of Christ. Peter’s “times of refreshing” is one way of speaking about the baptism in the Spirit. The people can now experience the renewal or “refreshing” of their souls through the joys and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their repentance, not only will their sin be forgiven and they will receive relief from their guilt, but they will also experience spiritual renewal through the Holy Spirit.
The second benefit of turning from sin to Christ is the return of Jesus from heaven. God appointed Jesus beforehand to be the Messiah of the Jews. Peter reminds his hearers that as Jesus taught, his second coming will not take place immediately. A period of time must lapse before his return to this earth. Until that day Jesus makes his home in heaven. But when he comes again, God will “restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” Then will take place the fullness of renewal—the restoration of all things.”

The baptism in the Spirit evidenced by the heavenly language has fallen out of popularity in our new version of 21st Century modernism. Slick programs, short services, and cute cliches have replaced altar calls, speaking in other tongues, healing, and casting out of demons. I think that is about to come to an abrupt end. Another generation is coming forward that has never seen a true time of refreshing from The Lord. The spiritual storm clouds have gathered on the horizon, the wind from another world has begun to blow, times of refreshing from the presence of The Lord are upon us.

LOST YOUR MARBLES

Toodles and His Marbles

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

I loved the movie “Hook” with Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook. In the movie, there was a guy named Toodles who had lost his marbles and would walk around saying “lost, lost”. Thad Butt (one of the Lost Boys) found his marbles and returned them (Which in reality his marbles were his happy thoughts). Maybe you too have lost your marbles and you have grown up to become a lawyer and have forgotten how to fly which was the case of Peter Pan. I love the line from Wendy when she said, “so Peter, you have grown up?”
I think people take their lives for granted. Everyday seems just like the day before. We find ourselves in ruts that we can’t get out of. Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, downer friends and working at jobs that we hate, all make for a very toxic lifestyle. Being a pastor, Frank and I have been at many a bedside staring into the eyes of regret. Would you like me to go on? We live with the TV on all day and night, or playing the latest XBOX game, with the curtains drawn having no concept of the outside. The yard never gets done, (if you have a yard) cleaning, painting and paying bills is something you avoid at all costs. And we wonder why we struggle? As a Christian we must answer the question that Jesus is asking us. Are we experiencing the abundant life that He has promised or do we even care? The Marysong girls are finding out that there is another way. To most of them, going outside, going to the beach sober, and even ordering Starbucks is all new to them. Yes, it takes months to create new habits and thought patterns. One story about the girls I found interesting, you see after a few months we give them an iPod to listen to Christian music while they work. One of the girls, after listening to the songs for the first time, put down the iPod uninterested. Months later, she absentmindedly put it in her ear to listen to it. Within seconds she found herself knowing the songs and entering into fellowship with her Lord. As we grow in the Lord we will find our appetites change and also our behavior. Thats what makes growing in Christ exciting, there is a reward for our labor. It’s time for all of us to find our happy thoughts again!
The Preachers Homiletic Commentary says this, “His love is more lasting in its effects while wine perishes and soon ceases to exhilarate and refresh. Christ’s love is eternal and unchanging in its effects as well as in itself and is able to fill the soul with joy in the absence of all earthly comforts, and the loss of all earthly possessions. His love is more beneficial for it exhilarates the soul, and through that, influences the whole man. His love purifies while it gladdens.”
It’s time to throw out the old wine, turn off FOX NEWS, STOP LISTENING TO PLASTIC FACE PREACHERS, OPEN UP THE CURTAINS, GO OUTSIDE AND PLEASE FIND YOUR MARBLES!

SATURATING RAIN

SATURATION- THE WEALTHY PLACE

Psa. 66:12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

It’s been raining for days and the ground is saturated. After days of consistent rain, the ground can take no more. Saturation has been reached, now the flooding starts.
Today’s verse of scripture describes the beauty of spiritual saturation. Looking at the word, wealthy, gives us a glimpse into the beauty of this passage. The original word is revayah. It could be translated as satisfaction, overflowing, wealthy or saturation. It describes the contrast of the troubles we face in our daily lives with the refreshing that comes from the touch of God. In the world we face constant challenges and disappointments, but there is refreshing that comes in the place of saturation.
Refreshing and spiritual strength comes from the anointing of the Lord. The anointing of the Lord is tangible and increases upon us as we learn the power of saturation. Spending extended periods of time under the anointing has profound influence upon our lives. In our face paced world, we need to make saturation a priority in our lives. Spurgeon captured the victory and breakthrough that follows these times of saturation in our lives in his comments on this verse.

“How wealthy is the place of every believer, and how doubly does he feel it to be so in contrast with his former slavery: what songs shall suffice to set forth our joy and gratitude for such a glorious deliverance and such a bountiful heritage. More awaits us. The depth of our griefs bears no proportion to the height of our bliss. For our shame we have double, and more than double. Like Joseph we shall rise from the prison to the palace, like Mordecai we shall escape the gallows prepared by malignity, and ride the white horse and wear the royal robe appointed by benignity. Instead of the net, liberty; instead of a burden on the loins, a crown on our heads; instead of men riding over us, we shall rule over the nations: fire shall no more try us, for we shall stand in glory on the sea of glass mingled with fire; and water shall not harm us, for there shall be no more sea.”

What kind of challenge are dealing with in your life? Our natural tendency is to try to turn to our own devices in dealing with our issues. Learning to lean on the Lord in our troubles is an incredibly important part of our walk with God. The Lord delights in helping His sons and daughters. Spiritual saturation is the way to walk in the power of the Lord on a consistent basis. It is not enough to wait until we are in trouble to call upon the Lord. We must develop a lifestyle of spiritual saturation. When saturation becomes a way of life for you, you will have the ability to step over into that spiritual realm in an almost effortless manner. Yep, I was going through a difficult time and the Lord brought me out to a place of refreshing saturation.