PAUL’S ONE THING

Phil.3:13,14 – Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Today’s verse in Philippians always reminded me of David when he said, “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” Like David, Paul too had been captured by this “one thing”. David saw this beauty in the tabernacle in his times of extravagant worship, Paul had been captured by beauty on his journey to Damascus when He saw Jesus for Himself. In a moment he was changed from a profane man into a worshiper. The encounter with Christ was so stunning that it changed the focus of everything in Paul’s life for the rest of his life. Rather than breathing out curses he was breathing out the praises of the Lord. Here are some beautiful thoughts from Daniel Wilcox who lived in 1676-1733.

“O my soul, what sights have I seen in the house of God! what provisions have I tasted! what entertainments have I had! what enlargements in prayer, and answers thereto! what impression under his word, what entertainment at his table, as he has sometimes brought me into his banqueting house, and his banner over me has been love! And though I cannot, it may be, say so much of this as some others; yet what I have found, I cannot but remember with thankfulness, and desire more; and as this was in the house of God, here would I still desire to dwell.”

What insights, what provisions, what enlargements in prayer, what impressions from His word, and what entertainments at His table; these can only be the words of someone who had tasted of the ‘one thing’. This ‘one thing’ is bigger than our enemies, more powerful than sickness, greater than our debt, and stronger than death. This is the one thing we dare not live our life without. Maybe you could never imagine yourself satisfied with this kind of radical spiritual life. It only seems radical because of your perspective. There is no way to imagine beauty without prior experience, it must be seen. So don’t be too surprised if you are ambushed like Paul was, being ambushed by beauty is absolutely irreversible.

TO KNOW HIM

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.

Do you know Jesus? That is a common phrase heard amongst evangelical believers. The problem with this is it is easily misunderstood. What does it mean to know Jesus? Does it mean have you answered an altar call, or prayed the prayer ? Or does it mean you have answered the question right when you are asked are you going to heaven when you die? Paul talked about “knowing” Jesus in today’s verse. For Him it wasn’t a casual statement or something that happened once upon a time, it was a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord that was increasing throughout his life. It wasn’t an add on in his life, for Paul knowing Christ was his life. Paul said that to know Christ was the most valuable possession that he owned and the very pursuit of all his energy. His ministry seemed to be an overflow of his pursuit. Here is how Steven Fry describes Paul’s statement.

“From a prison cell in Rome, Paul pens this personal letter in which he comes to terms with an accomplished past and a confining present. After his past as a persecutor of God’s people and through his “superior” religious activities as a Pharisee, Paul came to the liberating conclusion that all is rubbish compared to knowing the Lord! Freed from the stagnation of yesterday’s victories and the emotional paralysis of yesterday’s mistakes, Paul knew that the only thing that ultimately counted was knowing the Lord and being obedient to His will. Not only was his past subsumed by this singular passion, his present imprisonment could not snatch from him the joy of knowing Christ. Prison chains could not keep him from pursuing God, nor dull his effectiveness in ministry. Paul’s desire to know Christ sprang from no other motive but to enjoy Him. He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake, not his own. He was a lover of God, not a user of God.”

I love that statement, He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake. So let me ask that question once again, do you know Jesus? Do you know Him as your passion, your goal in life and your friend? Answering this question is where life begins.

THE UNLIKELY EVANGELIST

Jn.4:39 – And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.

The woman at the well in Samaria seemed the least likely candidate to be an evangelist. She was more likely to die an early, soon to be forgotten death. She was far too well known amongst the men of that village, she was especially hated by the women. Who knows the damage this home-wrecker had inflicted on her home town. A preacher, an evangelist, unthinkable. That all changed the day Jesus stopped for a drink at Jacob’s well. All it took was one conversation and this woman’s life was unalterably changed. Jesus had operated on her soul, the results were undeniable. Rather than hiding in the shadows, this woman of Samaria began to share the story of her life change to whoever would listen. She had drunk the living water Jesus had spoken of, the results were undeniable. Here are some thoughts from Barclay on this unlikely evangelist.

“There was introduction. The Samaritans were introduced to Christ by the woman….

It is at once our precious privilege and our terrible responsibility to bring men to Christ. The introduction cannot be made unless there is a man to make it.

Further, that introduction is made on the strength of personal witness. The cry of the Samaritan woman was: ‘Look what he has done for me and to me.’ It was not to a theory that she called her neighbors; it was to a dynamic and changing power. The church can expand until the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of the Lord only when men and women themselves experience the power of Christ, and then transmit that experience to others.”

So maybe she was the unlikely evangelist to people who knew her, she was the perfect choice for the Lord. Why would He trust His most precious message to unscrupulous people like this former adulteress? Surely He could have found a better choice. No this was His choice because He was all about His glory, imperfect vessels carrying the most precious substance, this is how God glorifies His grace. Those who knew the woman knew her imperfections, now they saw the power of the gospel displayed in her life. Maybe you will be the next unlikely evangelist.

THE SHOCKING WORK OF GOD

Mk.5:15 – They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened.

I have been attracted to the Great Awakening for many years now. This awakening was closely connected to the birth of our nation in 1776, maybe it will be connected to this season we are currently in. We need another national awakening desperately. Jonathan Edwards and his congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts were closely connected to the birth of the Great Awakening. His account of its beginning told of some shocking conversions. Here is one of those accounts.

“And then it was in the latter part of December that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work among us; so that there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons that were to all appearance savingly converted; and some of them wrought upon in a remarkable manner. Among these, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman that had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town, in whom there appeared evident a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; a new and truly broken, sanctified heart. Yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have on others, and was ready to conclude (though too rashly) that some would be hardened by it in carelessness and looseness of life, and would take occasion to reproach religion; but the event was the reverse to a wonderful degree. God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening others, of anything that ever came to pass in the town. I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my private conversation with many. The news of it seemed as a flash of lightning upon the hearts, both of young people and others… The noise among the dry bones waxed louder and louder. All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was thrown by. All the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only; except so much as was necessary for people’s carrying on their ordinary secular business.”

The woman who was a “company keeper” was probably the least likely candidate in Northampton to be a catalyst for revival. Her life was scandalous but the grace of God apparently made her conversion a sign and a wonder to her town. Who knows, maybe you too can become a sign and wonder to upend your community. What does it take? A life touched by God is where it all starts. From there, it seems to spread like a fire in a dry land. Before long, your whole community can become a raging fire.

THE ETERNAL IMPRINT

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Gen. 32:30
Jacob was never the same, after he left the presence of the angel. He had an encounter with God. His “wrestling with God” in Genesis 32 would lead to great blessing, but that blessing literally marked him for the rest of his life. To be touched by God leaves an eternal imprint on our lives. To be touched by God changes the way we walk. It changes the way we talk; the way we think; the way we do business; the way we deal with our families; the way we handle our relationships; it changes everything about us. God’s touch leaves a lasting imprint!

John Piper prayed this, “I love that touch. I want it more and more. For myself and for all of you. I pray that God would touch me anew for his glory. I pray that he would touch us all. O for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with water so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with thunder and lightning, let us bow before it. O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash.”

The word “touched” means “to lay the hand upon” –. Here it simply means divine influence. When we are touched, we have soundness of character and begins to free us from all our hang-ups and fears that have kept our voice silent. You cannot know the forgiveness of Christ until you have been declared not guilty. You cannot be set free from the deadness of sin until you accept the new life Christ offers to you. You cannot receive and understand the voice of the Spirit speaking to you until God touches your life.

Francis Frangipane said, “If we will study the life of Moses, we see how he sought God and lived in fellowship with Him. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Notice that “everyone who sought the Lord would go out.” — Exodus 33:7 If we are going to truly seek the Lord, we must “go out,” as did Moses and those who sought the Lord. We must pitch our tent “a good distance from the camp.” What camp is this? For Moses, as well as for us, it is the camp of familiarity. Because He knew that our human nature is unconsciously governed by the influences of the familiar. If He is to expand us to receive the eternal, He must rescue us from the limitations of the temporal.”

Get out of your comfort zone, and let the hand of God put His Eternal imprint on you!

REDEEMED FROM DESTRUCTION

MERRY THURSDAY – BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” Ps. 103:4

“Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me”

I often think of this song when I make my way over to Marysong to visit with the girls. There are so many stories with the girls that got them there. All I know is they all end up needing the same Jesus that I needed when I was 16. It doesn’t take them long to realize that he has been “WATCHING OVER THEM THEIR WHOLE LIVES WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT”. Christ truly redeems their life from destruction. Redemption doesn’t stop at salvation but he gives us a crown of lovingkindness.
Spurgeon says, “Our Lord does nothing by halves, he will not stay his hand till he has gone to the uttermost with his people. Cleansing, healing, redemption, are not enough, he must needs make them kings and crown them, and the crown must be far more precious than if it were made of corruptible things, such as silver and gold; it is studded with gems of grace and lined with the velvet of lovingkindness; it is decked with the jewels of mercy, but made soft for the head to wear by a lining of tenderness. Who is like unto thee, O Lord!”
Watching the girls change is just supernatural. They are even amazed at the goodness of The Lord. But it isn’t easy!
The Lord surrounds us with His lovingkindness and His tender mercies. Our lives, from before we were ever born, are surrounded by God with His lovingkindness and His tender mercies.
This is one of those passages in the Bible that reminds us of how practical God’s love is for us. His love is not just a doctrine to examine in church or Bible class. It is actually an experiential reality that keeps us in the darkest of times. For David, this love is what held him when he was in exile for years. This mercy kept him and restored him when he fell into sin with Bathsheba. This lovingkindness and tender mercies were his bread when his son Absalom tried to take over his father’s kingdom. Maybe you are in trouble today. Maybe depression has grabbed you and tried to choke the very life from you. If so, remember this family love God has for you. Even better, He has loved you from your mother’s womb. You are His. He is with you, watching, caring, and loving you all of your days. Bless The Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name. Don’t ever forget His benefits. He has crowned you with life!
The stories never get old and they never stop at Marysong Restoration Center!

RAINING TEARS

RAINING TEARS AT HIS FEET

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. Luke 7:36

Raining tears at His feet she was never the same
Raining tears at His feet she was ever changed
As the air filled with love all who could smell saw
All who could reach out into the atmosphere became caught
into another world.
Your sins are forgiven rang into the air
for she who is forgiven much has much to love

Raining tears at His feet, she tasted something new
Raining tears at His feet, Her hair became a song,
Redemption has come, hopelessness gone.
She has broken open her box and it forever sings.
All her empty loves gone, it yearned for so much more.
Copious tears wetting his feet, turning into something sweet.

Your silent nights are over, the dayspring has sprung
Your pursuit ends here, your thirst is quenched.
As you rained your tears at his feet, you are never the same
Worship is all around, His pleasure has become your treasure.
She came with an offering, she came with a longing.
I must put an end of yesterday—
I must break this cycle, I bring an offering to him and for him alone.
I have spent myself on so many others, now I bring my offering to the only one.
I will not leave till I give my offering, I will not go till I finish what I started
The atmosphere in the room changes, it all ends here tonight
I bring him my offering, no one even sees the need.
Broken box, extravagant unashamed kisses pour out, nothing to fear all is behind
Her hair still contained the fragrance, her body washed, her spirit renewed
That night she slept with wonder, that night was the first night she slept alone.
She was at peace——it was what she was born for.

NEW HEART

NEW HEART

Psa. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

I often think of the homeless man that got a new heart in church. I’m talking about a physical heart, you know, the kind you have thumping in your chest. He got in the prayer line reeking of booze, received prayer, and got a new heart. He actually went into the old Charity Hospital in New Orleans that week for open heart surgery and to the doctor’s great surprise, he didn’t need his operation, he got a new heart. Actually, every time someone is born again they receive a new heart. That is the blessing of Christianity, The Lord gives us all brand new hearts. That is how we change. Our old heart was corrupt, prone to sin. Our new heart is different, our new heart loves God and everything to do with this new life. Henry Smith speaks about today’s verse and this new heart, check this out.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, etc. David prayeth the Lord to create him a new heart, not to correct his old heart, but to create him a new heart; showing that his heart was like an old garment, so rotten and tattered that he could make no good of it by patching or piecing, but even must cut it off, and take a new. Therefore Paul saith, “Cast off the old man; “not pick him and wash him till he be clean, but cast him off and begin anew, as David did. Will ye know what this renewing is? It is the repairing of the image of God, until we be like Adam when he dwelt in Paradise. As there is a whole old man, so there must be a whole new man. The old man must change with the new man, wisdom for wisdom, love for love, fear for fear; his worldly wisdom for heavenly wisdom, his carnal love for spiritual love, his servile fear for Christian fear, his idle thoughts for sanctified works.”

This is the power of the Christian faith. Every religion has high standards and aspirations for man. From Buddhists to Hindus; from Jehovah’s witnesses to Hare Krishnas, all of them want man to live more moral and better lives. The problem with all of them is this, there is no ability to change the heart. This is the source of all of our problems. Like Jeremiah said, our hearts are desperately wicked. We must be born again. When Christ comes into your heart you become a new creation. You actually have a heart transplant.
Thinking about the drunken homeless man I have to laugh. The Lord was using this unexpected miracle to prophesy over all of us. This man need a new organ in his body, all of us need a spiritual heart transplant. So if you have been struggling with sin, pray David’s prayer, “Create in me a clean heart oh God”.

CATCH THE SONG

CATCH THE SONG

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
Zeph.3:17 KJV

We recently had a series of services in our church in NOLA. It was an awesome time of saturation. One of the guests was Kelanie Glockner. She is a worship leader with a prophetic anointing. One of her songs was called “Catch the Song”, it seemed to be God’s word over us corporately, and for many, individually. Here are the words from this powerful song, see if you can “catch the song” of the Lord.

Catch the song above your head
Jesus is singing over you
Hear the melody of heaven
It’s time to sing with Jesus

Let the verse break in, find your freedom in the rhythm
Of His unrelenting love, He rejoices over us
Get caught in the swell of eternal worship
Dry wells will flow when you hear it
Open up your mouth!

We are getting in tune, we are people He can sing through
And His song will be heard, heaven’s song invades the earth
We move with the pulse of the Holy Spirit
Dry bones will dance when they hear it
Open up your mouth!

There is a song of the Lord being sung over His people in preparation for the harvest of the earth. He sings songs over nations, over cities, over churches, and over you. What kind of song is the Lord singing over you today? Is it a song of restoration from past hurts and disappointments? Or maybe He is singing a song of healing over your broken heart. For some, He is singing a song of deliverance, you are no longer enslaved to the sinful passions of this world. For others, He is singing a song of intercession and supplication, calling you into a deeper place of communion with Him. For some, He is singing a song for the lost, He is calling you to be a voice to the people living their lives far from the love of our Lord. Can you hear the song that He is singing, go ahead, catch the song above your head, Jesus is singing over you.
As you begin to sing this new song of the Lord, something very powerful begins to happen. First it happens to you, the Lord begins to bring you into a supernatural world. You become aware of the realm of God, how real He is, how powerful He is, and how good He is. Next, He begins to pour this song through you. Of course it is much more than a song, it is the very life of Jesus being expressed through your life. The supernatural presence of God becomes part of your “normal” life. This begins to effect the people you come in contact with. As the song says, “Dry wells will flow when they hear it” and “Dry bones will dance when they hear it”. Go ahead, CATCH THE SONG, Jesus is singing over you!!