RAPT UP OR JUST TICKED OFF
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
Rev. 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” John made a special effort to inform us that he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day while a prisoner on the island of Patmos. This meant there were times that he wasn’t in the Spirit. In my Spirit, Soul and Body class I am attempting to teach the class to be aware whether they are in the Spirit or in the flesh. Our whole Christian life must be sustained and maintained by the Holy Ghost through the same simple faith by which we first began. Paul even had to remind the church in Galatians 3: 3: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” I believe many of us live our everyday lives totally unaware whether we are in the flesh or the carnality of our mind or living in the spirit. Jesus said “having eyes you cannot see, having ears, but not hearing.” This is how offenses come into our lives.
There is a song that we sing here at Victory, “I want to be more heavenly minded”. Being earthly minded I find gets me into trouble every time. In fact the majority of the offenses I have seen in the body of Christ happen over being earthly minded. Somehow they allowed their soul man to override their spirit man, and if they don’t watch out they begin to have layers of offenses build up in their lives. I wonder how Frank would feel if one day I walked in and begin to drag up from 38 years ago to the present every thing that I felt that he had done wrong? Wouldn’t it be obvious that I have not been “living in the spirit”. One of the chief characteristics of the spiritual man is to have his abode with the Heavenly Spirit. It is not so much the man, as the addition to the man, which constitutes his high character and heavenly power. We should not grow discouraged when we realize that at times we have allowed ourselves to be offended or led away into our carnal natures. For the Holy Spirit will come to us in his very loving and gentle way when we are ready to expose our carnality and fill us again with His Holy Spirit. When He does, wow the world becomes beautiful again. At the moment, John the apostle became “filled with the Spirit or wrapped in His power” he saw a whole new world around him. The Holy Spirit will always fill us up with his infinite supply for all our need.
We can learn to “love in the Spirit”. Let’s read what A.B. Simpson says about this love- “The apostle had just been visited by Epaphras, one of the ministers of the Colossian Church, and he had reported to him the condition of that Church. It was all summed up in one sentence, “He declared unto us your love in the Spirit.” This seems to have been the one characteristic of this Colossian Church; it was full of love. Its fellowship was perfect, its union unbroken; its members were filled with charity, unselfishness and consideration for one another. There were no gossiping tongues; there were no slanderous rumors; there were no misunderstandings and quarrels; there were no criticisms, murmurings and bad feelings, but all were joined together in harmonious love and beautiful cooperation in the testimony, work and worship of the Church. And this was manifestly a divine unity. It was “love in the Spirit.” It was not mere partisanship, nor personal friendship; it was not because they were clannish, and united in little cliques of personal favoritism, but it was all so heavenly, so holy, so Christ-like that it was evidently the prompting of the Holy Ghost. And so, as the apostle hears of it, he exclaims with thanksgiving and deep joy, “We give thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” WOW! THAT’S A LIFE IN THE SPIRIT!
I encourage you to join the many others that have put down the “axe of offense” and decided to live a life in the Spirit. You can begin to live in Him and move in Him and have your being and then every day will be “the Lord’s day”; then will all life be one ceaseless Sabbath of holy rest and heavenly fellowship, and every place be a sanctuary, every season a Sabbath, and every moment a heaven of peace and joy and love. Amen and amen……
JOINING GOD’S CHORUS
2Cor. 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;
All of God’s creation is in constant movement, responding to the chorus leader, the Lord, in heaven. The ocean, sky, trees, the flowers of the field, and even the animals are engaged in God’s song which sometimes even resembles a holy dance. In today’s verse Paul uses a very descriptive word trying his best to describe the Lord’s provision for his sons and daughters. He describes it with the word epichoregeo. Look at the interesting definitions of this beautiful Bible word.
The word – he that ministereth, is very emphatic; it signifies he who leads up the chorus, from to, and to lead the chorus; it means also to join to, associate, to supply or furnish one thing after another so that there be no want or chasm.
to be a dance leader,
1) to be a chorus leader, lead a chorus
2) to furnish the chorus at one’ s own expense
3) to procure and supply all things necessary to fit out a chorus
It seems as if the scriptures point to a harmony of all of God’s creation, responding to God and responding to the needs of His creatures. We see the mom responding to the cries of her baby, the clouds responding to the parched earth below. We hear the cardinal crying out to the song of his mate in the early morning and the baby birds chirping out it’s cries for the morning worm from it’s mom. My beagle, Phoebe joins in this song every morning as she begins to sing out her morning song, knowing I will respond with her breakfast (she has me trained well).
Recently I watched a documentary about the African cats. One of the story lines was a cheetah raising her cubs. What an amazing relationship they had, the mom going to extreme measures to protect and care for her little tribe. She would cry out to her cubs, and they would respond with their cries of dependency to their mom. She continually risked her life against predators to care for her own.
This brings us back to our main story or song. All of creation responds to the directions of our Lord. The most amazing thing about all of this is His infinite care and concern for us, His children. He has gone to extreme measures to care for us. How extreme, He became a man and suffered and died for us on the cross. Today, He is listening for our cries. He is our heavenly high priest and His ears are open to our prayers. Just as the mom respond to her baby, the cardinal sings back to his mate, the cheetah calls out for her young, our Lord is calling out and responding to us. How can we stay silent? His silent song is almost deafening. Today, He is responding to every cry, creation itself is on call for His directions. If the animals respond to their young, how much more will our Heavenly Father respond to us? I think it’s time to join the heavenly chorus.
YOU GOTTA EAT
John 6:55-57 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
If you live in New Orleans, you are all about good food. As we all know, “You gotta eat!” We love our gumbos, our red beans, jambalaya, blackened red fish, you get the picture. All of us become self proclaimed experts on good food. I am partial to gumbo. I tend to judge a good New Orleans restaurant by their gumbo (the coffee is important too!). Obviously we eat for more than just nourishment, we also eat for pleasure. Of course the ultimate purpose for eating is to sustain our healthy life. The enjoyment of the rest of our life depends on being healthy, which is majorly determined by our eating habits. Charles Spurgeon spoke about today’s scripture, listen to his thoughts about feeding on Christ.
“We live by virtue of our union with the Son of God. As God-man Mediator, the LORD Jesus lives by the self-existent Father who has sent Him, and in the same manner we live by the Savior who has quickened us. He who is the source of our life is also the sustenance of it. Living is sustained by feeding. We must support the spiritual life by spiritual food, and that spiritual food is the LORD Jesus. Not His life, or death, or offices, or work, or word alone, but Himself, as including all these. On Jesus Himself we feed.”
One of our American holidays is Thanksgiving. This celebration is centered around the family meal, all of us gathering with our loved ones to give thanks to the Lord for His bounty. This annual celebration is something we look forward to, we reconnect with family, and for many, we reconnect with our Lord. We all stop to remember that we are sustained everyday from His hand. The Thanksgiving meal reminds me of the jewish Passover feast. The jews are taught to gather with their family to celebrate God’s goodness and to remember their deliverance from Egypt. Instead of turkey, they serve a lamb. This lamb is a picture of what Spurgeon was saying and what Jesus was teaching in today’s word. We must feed on the Lamb of God. Our Thanksgiving is not that different. We also stop to remember the goodness of God and to celebrate our deliverance from spiritual bondage that our forefathers left behind in Europe.
Our daily nourishment is on Christ Himself. He is our daily bread. As we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we are feeding our souls on food that will nourish us and produce spiritual health in our whole being. At the same time, there is no greater enjoyment than the joy found in this incredible spiritual feast. As we eat His body and drink His blood, we find ourselves in His presence. This is the place of total satisfaction, the place of intense, eternal joy. Remember, YOU GOTTA EAT!
PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SPIRIT
Gal. 5:25 ¶ If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Over the years there have been outpourings of the Spirit in every generation. There have been many different outward manifestations at different times. Some have been quiet and serene and others quite loud and demonstrative. There have been reports over the years of many various types of outward signs of God’s outpourings. There have been swoonings, shaking, laughing, crying, jumping for joy, running, trances, jerks, and various other types of physical tokens of God’s presence. Some people love these holy interruptions, others not so much. The Bible neither condemns or encourages such things, there is not clear instructions or rules governing these outward signs.
Historically, many prominent men and women of God have experienced some profound interruptions in their lives. I think of Jonathan Edwards and the sudden appearance of God’s manifest presence in his services. Many meetings were interrupted with crying out to God, weeping, laughing, and what he called “faintings”. There were times when young people were incapacitated and could not make it to their homes, many staying the night at their host homes, after Bible study, because they were too overcome by the Glory of God. Then there was the sudden appearance of God at Azusa Street where lives were disrupted internationally by God’s visitation. Missionaries, ministers, and hungry Christians came from all over the world (quite an accomplishment in 1906) to experience the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
These interruptions were not over when the meetings stopped or the people returned home. The people who really “got it” would never be the same. Charles Spurgeon spoke of three characteristics in the life of someone touched by this fire. First, he said there would be a new humility in the person’s life. Anyone touched by the greatness of God becomes painfully aware of their own deficiencies and at the same time, they recognize the greatness of God. Next, there is a new profound happiness in their life. To be touched by God is to taste the edge of the joy of heaven, it is impossible to ever be the same. Heaven will be a place of ever increasing joy that will increase in intensity throughout eternity. To to be touched by even the edge of this realm is beyond description. Finally, there is a new holiness. The presence of God is like a refiner’s fire. He convicts, cleanses, and transforms us, our lives are more than interrupted, they are transformed. The old habits and sinful pursuits will begin to disappear.
When it comes to physical manifestations, we should probably hold back our assessments until we see the fruit in the lives of the participants. Rather than saying “that is surely not God” or even “I know that is the Lord” it is better to wait. Usually you don’t have to wait long. Usually the fruit starts to grow pretty soon after the encounter.
WHO SHALL SEPARATE US ?
Rom. 8:33-35 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Let’s face it, this world is full of trouble. We all deal with the fall out in our lives resulting from bad decisions. Smoking, substance abuse, even improper dietary practice, all of these things bring about health issues, sometimes very serious issues. Then there is the trouble that comes on us from other people’s bad decisions. Should I list them, unfaithful spouses, rebellious children, goofed up politicians, crooks, cheats, the list is endless. Then for the committed Christian, there is the backlash of living a godly life. Our life itself causes other people a problem and many lost people will do their best to make our lives miserable. That is actually what Paul was describing, the stuff that came at him was the direct result of his Christian life. What is the solution, Paul said it was the love of God. He said nothing cold seperate us from His love. John Gill spoke powerfully about the love of Christ in relation to this verse, listen to his powerful words.
“That Christ does love the elect of God, who are the persons here spoken of, is evident from his undertaking for them, espousing their persons, assuming their nature, dying in their room and stead, paying off their debts, and redeeming their persons, by going to prepare a place for them, by interceding for them, by supplying them with all grace, and using them in the most free and familiar manner; which love of his is wonderful, matchless, and inconceivable, special and peculiar, free and undeserved, exceeding affectionate, unchangeable, durable, and for ever. This is the bond of union to Christ; and the union which is made by it is exceeding near and close; it is real; perfect, and indissoluble, nothing can separate from it.”
What a powerful word! He embraced us as individuals, took on our nature, died in our place, He is praying for us, supplies us with overflowing grace, and uses us for His glory. What can compare to this love, and, as Paul said, “what can seperate us from this kind of love”? There is no trial too big, no pit too deep, no debt too large, no sickness too strong, no demon too fierce, no enemy too powerful. There is nothing that can seperate us from His love, nothing that can defeat His love, and nothing that can withstand His love.
So it really doesn’t matter what kind of pit you are in or how you got there. If it is from your own doing, His mercy is everlasting. If it was someone else’s stupidity, He has provided a way of escape, if it is outright persecution, rejoice. The Spirit of Christ and of Glory rests on you.
THE HIDDEN PATH
Psa. 65:11 You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness thy salvation.
The Bible talks about a hidden path that drips with fatness. Fatness is an interesting word. In the Bible it is describing a life of blessing and satisfaction. Fatness also speaks of the anointing. Isaiah spoke about fatness breaking the yoke of oppression from our lives. So in this passage David is describing a path that not many walk on, it is a hidden path. This secret walk is a life saturated with the goodness of God. This path will lead us through some difficult times, but even if it takes us in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death, He is there and our path still drips with fatness. Charles Spurgeon shared some incredible thoughts about this hidden path. Check this out.
“There is a special path dropping with fatness to those who walk therein, it is the secret walk of communion. Oh! the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth hath no words which can set forth the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus’ bosom. Few Christians understand it, they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of Nebo: they live in the outer court, they enter not the holy place, they take not up the privilege of priesthood. At a distance they see the sacrifice, but they sit not down with the priest to eat thereof, and to enjoy the fat of the burnt offering. But, reader, sit thou ever under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of the branches thereof; let thy beloved be unto thee as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, and thou shalt be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. O Jesus, visit us with thy salvation! ”
This passage reminds me of my tree planting days. As the old poem says, “it was the best of times and the worst of times”. Those tree-planting outings were filled with trials and filled with blessing. It seemed like we were cold and wet for months but at the same time there were precious encounters with God that could not have happened anywhere else. I can remember one particular morning, in a time of discouragement and depression, I began to look to the mountains and began to call out to God. I was at the point of quitting (whatever that meant, how can you walk home to NOLA from the woods of Washington State). It was as if God came down in the whole valley and showed off His Glory just for me. In that moment His nearness strengthened me and filled me with courage to press on. Being on that hidden path was the strength and the source of my life.
Maybe you feel like throwing in the towel. All of us have been there. In those times, in our weakest times, His strength is revealed to us and in us. As Paul learned, His power is perfected in our weakness. Take a walk today on the hidden path, it is the place of adventure and the incredible fatness found in Christ.
STRIPPED AND STUNNED
Heb. 4:12,13 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed (stripped and stunned) to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
What an amazing spiritual truth, our life of usefulness to the Lord does not begin in a place of strength, but it starts in a place of weakness. Our life really begins when we find ourselves “stripped and stunned” at His feet. For Paul it started at the feet of Jesus on the Damascus Road, for Peter it was after his denial of Christ to the servant girl through his restoration by the Resurrected Christ. For Mary, it was pouring out the oil on His feet, for Zacheus, it was climbing the sycamore tree. Jacob was stripped and stunned after wrestling with the angel, Isaiah was undone when he saw the Lord high and lifted up. For John Wesley, it was his helplessness in the storm at sea, for George Whitefield, it was his inability to find God in all his religious endeavors. Have you found yourself stripped and stunned recently? That place of total humiliation is turned to a place of acceptance and empowerment by just one touch of His hand. All of us have to come to the end of our own efforts and struggles, only then can we, “be still, and know that He is God”. A.B. Simpson brought out the stunning meaning in this passage. Check out his powerful words.
“The literal translation of this phrase is, all things are stripped and stunned. This is the force of the greek words. The figure is that of an athlete in the Coliseum who has fought his best in the arena, and has at length fallen at the feet of his adversary, disarmed and broken down in helplessness. There he lies, unable to strike a blow or lift an arm. He is stripped and stunned, disarmed and disabled, and there is nothing left for him but to lie at the feet of his adversary and throw up his arms for mercy. Now this is the position to which God wants to bring us, where we cease our struggles and attempts at self-defense or self-improvement, and throw ourselves helplessly upon the mercy of God.”
Most people have an inflated idea of themselves and their own relevance and importance in this world. At the end of the day, our lives are very small and only gain importance when Christ begins to dwell in us and control our lives through His masterful plans. Paul describes the power of the Word of God at work, stripping away the ego and pride in our lives so that we can be pliable and useful in the Master’s hand.
As we come near to Him, His relevance increases, ours decreases. Lord, open our eyes that we may lay at your feet, “stripped and stunned” by Your Glory.
Christians are Peculiar and his Prized Possession!
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
In these thirty some years I have begun to think that I have seen it all when it comes to “weirdness” or downright outrageous. I also realize that our church has been known to attract some very, very interesting people. The good thing about that is that we seem to have never a dull moment at Victory. In our very early years of ministry I was the church’s receptionist, and in walked Frank’s next appointment who sat down in the chair next to me and immediately struck up a conversation with me. Oh, we talked about everything, our hair, our nails, she had unusually strong features. After she left from the appointment with Frank, he came out with a weird look on his face. I was told that the she was really a he and needed deliverance. I guess you could say “welcome to Nola”!
But the Bible, has a way of taking our peculiarities and making it its own. In Titus 2:14 it says, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The word peculiar doesn’t mean odd or weird. But is translated from a Greek word which is made up of two words, one which means “around,” as a circle, and the other which means “to be.” It can be charted by a dot within a circle. This will help us to understand the meaning of the combined word. As the circle is around the dot, so God is around each one of His saints. So God has His own all to Himself. They are His own private, unique possession. That is, it is in the sphere of God, circumscribed by God, surrounded by Him.
Someone would have really had to convince me that the people that lived in the Jesus Commune in the 70’s were dots within a circle. All I could see was me living in a funny farm at times. I am sure you have felt the same when around the body of Christ.
This is also a place of high privilege. In 1 Peter 2:7, the Greek has it, “Unto you who believe, is the preciousness.” That is, the preciousness of Jesus is imputed to us. He becomes our preciousness in the eyes of the Father as He becomes our righteousness before the law. The Son dwells in the bosom of the Father, closest to the Father’s affections. Marvelous grace, that we sinners saved by grace are brought into that favored place closest to the Father’s affections. The Father loves us as much as He loves His only begotten Son. What a pillow on which to rest our weary hearts when going through a testing time!
I have heard Frank mention, at times, about his uncle Peck and his Uncle Bud and talks about how he has a little Indian and Asian descent. Peculiar? I should think so! God made the Jewish people peculiar and kept them away from other nations. They were indeed His prized possession. God’s love is intense, tender and peculiar in the way He loves us. He desires a relationship with us that brings us blessings and safeguards within that circle. The birth of Jesus was peculiar and His coming back for His church will be very peculiar. The very name “Ekklesia” signifies “the separated ones”. We are the called out ones.
Wuest says, “Peculiar” is periousion, from the participle of perieinai, “to be over and above.” It also means, “possessed over and above,” that is, “specially selected for one’s own; exempt from ordinary laws of distribution.” It refers therefore to a private possession. The word “peculiar” is from peculium, “a private purse, a special acquisition of a member of a family distinct from the property administered for the good of the whole family.” Thus, Christians are the private possession of God. We are to bear his monogram.
So do we live like we are bought with a price? Do we glorify God in our bodies, surrendering daily to his headship and control? We are brought into a beautiful family of God. So the dot in the circle doesn’t sound so bad after all……
WHO CAN STAND WHEN HE RETURNS
Mal.3:2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.
The last prophet of the Old Testament spoke about the overwhelming effect the coming of the Lord would have upon the earth. At His first appearing, Christ came to this earth clothed in humility. From the day of His birth, His appearance brought upheaval on the earth. From the trembling shepherds to the amazed magi. From the religious leaders to King Herod, everyone was impacted by His humble birth. Throughout His ministry, from His teaching to His miracles, the world stopped and took notice of this humble prophet from Nazareth. Charles Spurgeon spoke of that coming great day of the Lord, hear His words about the great and terrible day of the Lord.
“His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, I am he, they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the I am? His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendor of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him.”
One of the songs in Handel’s Messiah was from this verse, “WHO SHALL ABIDE THE DAY OF HIS POWER”. I can remember going to a performance of Messiah several years ago. I can still remember feeling the fear of the Lord come on me as one of the singers sang out that verse, “WHO CAN ABIDE THE DAY OF HIS POWER?” I remember wondering what it would be like for the lost in that great day. As Spurgeon said, the earth trembled in fear at the death of our great King. How will creation respond to His glorious return? Today, creation is groaning and calling out in anticipation of the greatest of all days, the day when the heavens will be split in two and the earth will tremble and heave at the appearing of King of the Universe. Who can endure the day of His power? The answer to that question is the most important answer of all the questions ever asked. Those who are hidden in the “cleft of the Rock”, like Moses was when God’s Glory passed over him, only the hidden ones can endure that day. To be naked, without Christ will be the most terrifying of all experiences. I remember the line in the song, “Hide Me Away In the Cleft of the Rock” being sung by Joe Cruise in a revival meeting at our church. As Joe sang, you could feel the cloud of His Glory filling the building. That presence is our place of refuge in the great and terrible day of the Lord. There is nothing like the safety found hidden away in Christ. Will you be able to endure the day of His coming?