WILL JESUS CHRIST RETURN TODAY?

WILL JESUS CHRIST RETURN TODAY?

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.
Lk.12:35,36

Most Christians that I know say that they believe Jesus is coming back in their lifetime. I have always believed that, at least I thought I did. Every few years someone will make a calculation about the date of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These predictions are usually ignored and if they are not ignored they are usually mocked. This recent prediction by Harold Camping has fallen into the mocking category. All of us, even the non-christians will quote the verse, “No man knows the day or the hour…”, and just laugh about another foolish nut job or make accusations about impure motives. I know because I have done both.
Something happened to me the other day when Parris and I were talking about this recent prediction. We began to say what if this man were right, just pretend he is right, and as I said that something began to happen in our conversation. We began to talk about the “what ifs”, what if this loved one gets left behind, what if one of us gets left behind? What would their life be like if they didn’t make it, what would my life be like if I didn’t make it? Then we began to discuss the possible scenarios with the church and society in general. Suddenly, the coming of Christ became very real in our conversation. As we sat there we became aware of the nearness of heaven and what it would be like, what we would be like in the kingdom of God.
Maybe you say you believe in the imminent return of Jesus, but have you thought about it lately? I mean, have you really thought about it? Have you thought about who will be there and if you will be there? If you think you will make it, do you have a solid answer for why you will be with Him? If the Lord were to ask you today, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”, what would you say? You may technically know the right words to say, but are those words and beliefs real in your heart.
If nothing else, we should be grateful for the insight or the foolishness of Harold Camping. At least he has everyone talking about things that really matter. By the end of the day today we will all know if he was right, hopefully it has caused you to think about eternity, the end of the world, and about your spiritual condition. If one of us don’t make it, it has been good knowing you.

IS THE RAPTURE MAY 21?

IS THE RAPTURE MAY 21?

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matt.24:11-14

People have been making predictions about the return of Christ since the time of Christ. Paul wrote his letters to the church in Thessalonica to correct one of these predictions. Some of the believers in Thesalonica had believed Christ had already returned and others had left their daily lives to go out of town to wait on a mountain for the Lord’s return. Paul wrote his letter to correct them about their thoughts about the coming of Christ. He said that we could be ready for that day and it should not catch true Christians “like a thief in the night”.
Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, believed Christ returned spiritually in the 1800’s, and the end of the age would be 1914. He proved to be a false prophet. In the 1970’s, David Moses, the founder of the “Children of God” set a date predicting the destruction of America, most of his followers left the country until the date passed (we were actually glad to get rid of them). May 21 will undoubtably prove to be another false prediction, but that should not cause us to fall into a spiritual sleep. These false predictions themselves are an actual sign of the end of times.
The signs of the nearness of the end of the age and the coming of Christ are all around us, but know one can know the day of His return. The surprise element not only keeps us guessing, but is intended to keep us ready. If the end of the world, as we know it, is upon us, how should it effect our behavior? It is kind of like getting ready for your wedding, but not knowing exactly when the date will be. There is a joyful anticipation as the longed for date draws near, the excitement deepens as you make final preparations. What kind of preparations need to be made? Most importantly, we must prepare our hearts. Our God is a jealous God and He will not share our affection with anyone else. He wants to be our first love, friendship with the world is considered adultery and disqualifies us from our relationship with Christ. Make improving your relationship with Christ a priority in your life, that is the only way we can be prepared for that great and terrible day.

WILL JESUS RETURN MAY 21?

WILL JESUS RETURN MAY 21?

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. “Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'”
Mk. 13:33-37 NASB

There have always been people that make predictions about the date of Christ’s return (Jesus called these people false prophets). The Lord clearly told us that we could recognize the spiritual seasons we live in but no one could know the day or the hour of His return. The most recent prediction is May 21, 2011. This prediction was made by Harold Camping who has also made other predictions of the return of Christ in the past that obviously proved to be wrong, there must be good money to be made making false prophecies.
One of those previous predictions of the coming of the Lord was October of 1988. Many Christians bought in to that prediction, even some of my friends. I remember a Sunday just before the predicted date someone put tracts with this prediction on all the cars in our church parking lot. This made me think about the ridiculous fruit of these predictions, when Christ comes, what will determine if you are ready? It seems the implication of these messages is that you must believe their prediction in order to be spiritual and to be really safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being prepared for that great day has nothing to do with knowing dates. Being prepared for the coming of Christ is all about the heart. Jesus warned us about being spiritually asleep when the day of His coming arrives. Having a daily, personal relationship with Christ is what it takes to be ready for the return of Christ. Do you have a daily walk with the Lord?
The story I am always reminded of when I think about the Second Coming, is the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus told this story as an illustration as to what being ready would look like. Five of the virgins had no oil in their lamps and were called foolish, they were fast asleep when the Master returned. Five were called wise because their lamps were full of oil, when their Lord returned, they were ready. Of course the meaning of this story is obvious, the oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. When a Christian walks with Christ, he is continuously filled with the Spirit, his lamp stays full of oil. The person who neglects Christ has an empty lamp. How is it with you today, is your lamp trimmed and burning? Mr. Camping has been wrong before, but what if he gets lucky this time, will you be ready?

MY SPIRIT PRAYS

MY SPIRIT PRAYS

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.
1 Cor.14:14,15 NASB

Parris preached a message recently where she stated, “Your spirit is the master, your soul and body are the servants.” Is that true in your life? Is your inner man ruling your life or are you being controlled by your emotions or your fleshly lusts?
One of the ways the Lord has provided for us to strengthen our inner man is by praying in the Spirit. Paul said that when we pray in the Spirit our mind is “unfruitful”. That is another way of saying our mind is uninvolved or does not comprehend what is happening. When you begin to experience and practice praying in the Spirit, you begin to yield control of your life to your inner man (energized by the Holy Spirit). As a result, your mind, therefore your soulish, controlling self, yields control of your life to the Spirit.
We all want to stay “in control” of our lives because we think we know best. This is one of the reasons our prayer language is essential, it is about yielding control of your life to the Lord. When you yield your tongue to the supernatural flow of the Spirit, at first, your mind will say you are crazy. After awhile, you will begin to enjoy and trust the moving and leading of the Spirit as your inner man is being built up and strengthened by this dynamic, supernatural gift.
When I first sought the baptism in the Spirit, I seemed to have a bad case of lockjaw. I was experiencing the presence of the Lord, but having quite a hard time yielding my tongue to the Lord. (It seems it is more common for men to experience this lockjaw manifestation.) One night, while I was sleeping, I began to dream that I was praying in other tongues. The dream became so powerful that it woke me from my sleep. To my delight, from that night on, I began to experience a release and began to pray regularly in this heavenly language. Why did it happen in my sleep? I guess the Holy Spirit caught my soul and my body off guard. In their state of unconsciousness, my spirit was able to receive and began to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
Is your life being controlled by soulish emotions or carnal appetites, if so, you need the Baptism in the Spirit. After you begin to pray in tongues (a lot), you will be on your way to a Spirit controlled life.

STAMMERING LIPS

STAMMERING LIPS

Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, “Here is rest, give rest to the weary,” And, “Here is repose,” but they would not listen.
Isa. 28;11,12 NASB

We are obviously in a very unusual season. All over the world the signs of the last days spoken of throughout the scriptures are being fulfilled. From the unrest in the Middle East, to the earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia, from climate change, to the unprecedented storms and floods, our world is experiencing the birth-pangs of the coming new kingdom. In today’s verse, Isaiah predicted another kind of sign. Paul quoted the above scripture verse, applying it to the prophetic sign of supernatural languages or “speaking in other tongues”.
I received the gift of tongues when I was a new Christian in 1973. Speaking in tongues has been part of my daily life since that time. This language of mystery has been a great blessing to me. The Lord has used it to minister to me and encourage me many, many times. The prayer language has many different purposes and functions, one of those is to be a supernatural sign to this generation.
I will never forget some revival meetings I conducted in Monterey, Mexico many years ago. I was holding daily services at a church there and was focusing on the person of the Holy Spirit. One night toward the end of the service we were having a time of ministry to the people through the laying on of hands, many were receiving a fresh impartation of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I was worshipping the Lord as I prayed for people, sometimes in English and some times in my heavenly language. After the service the pastor approached me and said I was repeating an old unused Spanish word for wine, and asked me if I was doing it on purpose. Of course the answer was no, I was clueless to the words I had been praying during that time of ministry. The word I was saying was “mosto”. He said it was an old word for wine. I looked it up recently on the internet, it actually means “new wine”. The Holy Spirit was giving a clear sign that night, He was pouring out the new wine of the Holy Spirit and was bearing witness to His work with this old unused word for new wine in Spanish.
Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you have to speak in tongues to be saved or I am not saying you do not have the Holy Spirit if you don’t speak in tongues. All I am saying is that there is more, there is always more. The Holy Spirit is God, He is infinite. If you have experienced Him in salvation that does not mean you have received all there is of God. Actually, heaven will be an endless unveiling and receiving of more and more of Him, there will never be a time when that stops because of the infinite nature of God. Today, look to Jesus, John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit, that is what He does. As you look to Him with an open heart, don’t be surprised when you begin to experience the sign of the stammering lips, when that begins to happen, you will become a sign to this generation.

EMOTIONS VS. AFFECTIONS

Emotions versus Affections
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

1 Peter 4:12,13 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

I seem to refer back to 1994 all the time, after all my life as a Christian dramatically changed. I would have been 37 years old and pastoring Victory Fellowship for over 16 years. Over this past weekend we had our annual Women’s Retreat at Gulf Shores, Alabama. There were about 80 of us and we stayed in condo’s overlooking the ocean. We had a unusually fabulous time, with preaching of the Word, fellowshipping and eating great healthy food. The juice bar was a hit! But during our stay a sudden storm past through and brought hurricane-like winds up to 60 MPH. In fact, one of our girls had their back car window bashed in by a flying chase lounge! Just as suddenly as it came, it was over, but the landscape had drastically changed. That’s exactly what happens when God visited us in 1994. It was a “suddenly” and after it blew in, our landscape changed.

The greatest impact on my life was learning the difference between my emotions and my affections. After I had laid on the floor for weeks getting filled with joy by the Holy Ghost I began to see that for years as a Christian I had let my emotions “rule the roost”. I remember the Lord telling me that my religion would not sustain me in the years to come and I needed to turn off all the faucets of my life and go down deep with Him.

A.B. Simpson says it like this:
“I think that to make sense of this, it would serve us well to distinguish between emotion and affection. I want to suggest that though our emotions are subjected to the ups and downs of life, both to the pinnacles of ecstasy and the depths of depression at different times, our affections are to be the unmoved abiding anchor whether our emotions are storm-tossed or still. Happiness relates to emotions, joy relates to affections.”

I had to learn that emotions are formed and fueled by instinct. Affections are formed and fueled by values. What we value shapes how we respond, interpret, and face circumstances in life. The less we fail to cultivate our affections positively, the more we will be driven by our emotion.

Jonathan Edwards contends that we always do what is our greatest affection (or what we value the greatest); that is, the will is always the same as our affections. Emotions, however, are often very different from what we will. I may hate rigorous exercise, but something deeper moves me to do what I hate: my value of good health. My value of good health (or my affections for good health) trumps the emotional allergy to exercise.
I had put all my eggs into one basket so to speak with the natural surroundings around me. Whether my husband, children or friends did or didn’t do what I expected affected me. In 1994, my value’s changed. When you are completely filled with the Holy Ghost your appetite truly changes. It makes you want more of Him and you begin to see that your whole life is meant to live in total appreication and satisfaction of Him alone. Peter in the above scipture was talking about two feelings- one of joy and one of sorrow. (The church was going through intense persecution at the time of his writing)
A. B. Simpson explains it like this:
“There are atmospheres in Christian life that greatly differ. Some of God’s children live in a cellar all their days, where the light is dim and the air damp; others live in shaded rooms and dim light, where the sun seldom shines; but others dwell in the very sunlight of God’s perfect love. The element of their being is not duty, conscience, doctrine, intellectual conviction or even Christian work, but divine love–the sweet, mellow, warm air of the Father’s house and the Father’s heart, the love of God poured out into the heart like the warm sunshine by the Holy Spirit abiding in the heart, and dwelling ever on God’s glorious gift and everlasting pledge of His perfect love, His own beloved Son.” Which atmosphere is your dwelling place?

CALL UPON HIS NAME

CALL UPON HIS NAME

32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
Joel 2:32 KJV

This passage of scripture was the text Peter preached from in his famous sermon on the day of Pentecost. In that message, the Lord was speaking through Peter announcing this new season of access to God for all of mankind. It goes without saying, our world is in a mess. Our prisons are full of young men and women who have lost their way. The hospitals are filled with the sick, many of whom have lost all hope of ever having a life. Our kids are side tracked, lost in a world of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Families are splintered, divorce has ravaged our world leaving broken hearts and broken homes in it’s cruel wake. We are in need of a spiritual awakening. How can this awakening begin? How can my life experience this deliverance that Joel prophesied about and Peter introduced to our world? In today’s verse the word, “delivered”, stands out, here is the definition found in Strong’s and Zodiates word books.

delivered – malat
(by implication) to escape (as if by slipperiness); causatively to release or rescue
the most prominent facet of meaning is of deliverance or escape from the threat of death, either at the hands of a personal enemy (1Sa 19:11; 1Sa 23:13) or a national enemy (2Sa 19:10), or by sickness (Psa 107:20).

There is a way of escape out of the heartbreak and traps of this world. How can you escape, it is more simple than you can imagine. Call upon the name of the Lord. The name Jesus actually comes fom the Bible word that means salvation. As the angel announced to Joseph, “call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins”. If you are in trouble, just call out to the Lord. When you call He will answer. What are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose but your pride, Your answers are just a prayer away.

THE BEGINNING OF WORSHIP

THE BEGINNING OF WORSHIP

To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Gen.4:26

There are all sorts of prayers that are offered in the world, did you know that the Lord doesn’t even hear some prayers? The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one way to approach God, that is through the blood of Jesus Christ offered as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. In today’s verse we see the first time, after the fall, that man began to call upon the Lord. This verse is closely related to the death of Abel and his offering of blood that ultimately ended in Abel’s death at the hand of Cain. True prayer and worship flow out of the revelation of the cross. It was the blood of the cross that opened up heaven for us so that we have access into the presence of God.
All over the world today, deceived mankind is trying to climb into heaven by ill conceived religious plans, plans conceived in the heart of fallen man. Today, Muslims are praying toward Mecca, hindus are chanting the names of their gods and eating food sacrificed to idols, people are praying on their beads and crawling up church aisles on their knees, and others think that they have access to God because of their good deeds or offerings, still God’s ears are shut. Some think they are heard because of their confession or their knowledge of the scripture, still God pays no attention to their cry. What does it take to get His attention, we must approach Him the way He opened up Himself. It was the Lord who poured out His life at calvary, only when we turn to the cross and believe in our hearts that His death was our death, then heaven’s gate flings wide open. Just as it was in the beginning, when man began to call upon the name of the Lord, we have to go His way. Learn well the lesson of Cain and Abel. Cain brought his religious offering but Abel came in the only acceptable way, Abel came in by the blood. Today, all around the world, people are calling on the name of the Lord. What is His name, His name is Jesus the Savior of all who call upon His name. Maybe today, you feel as if the Lord is far off, He seems to be uninvolved or unconcerned with you. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is close by, only a prayer away. Call out to Him in your time of trouble, He will hear your cry and answer your prayer.

WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS

WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS

So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives.
Isa.59:19

Water is a very powerful force. Recently, we saw the destructive power of water in the tsunami in Japan, that wall of water destroyed everything in it’s path. Even more recently, we saw the overflowing waters of the Mississippi River washing away people’s homes, schools, businesses, churches, and farms. Flood waters are relentless, no one can stop the persistent power of an overflowing river.
Just as we see in all creation, overflowing rivers are a picture of a spiritual reality. The Holy Spirit is actually a continually overflowing river, flowing out from the fountainhead at the throne of God. Man can build up barriers in their lives to block the flow of the Spirit, but just like in the natural world, sometimes these levees break.
There are all sorts of levees in this world, spiritual levees, the kind people build to make sure God keeps His distance and doesn’t mess up their plans. Our government builds it’s humanistic levees, our churches build religious levees, and individuals normally build carnal levees. None of these human barriers can resist the flood waters of God’s Spirit once the river begins to rise. They may hold for awhile, but when the waters of the Spirit rise, they quickly fail.
The revelation of the Spirit tears down the humanistic levee as He reveals Himself as Creator, Savior, and soon coming King. In the light that flows in the River of God, the humanistic man centered theology of this world is exposed for what it is, man’s efforts to replace God. The power of the Spirit destroys the religious levee, He begins to show us that spirituality is way beyond having only the outward form or structure of religion, we need the power of the Spirit. As the power of God is demonstrated from the changed lives in the River, the walls of religion fall down flat. The joy of the Lord destroys the levees of carnality. As we step into the flooding waters of His presence we are caught by surprise. Suddenly, we are right in the middle of joy unspeakable as the joy of the Lord fills and satisfies our hearts. That’s when we finally understand, the joy found in the River of His presence can destroy that lust for sensual pleasure in our hearts. What kind of levee are you hiding behind? Look out! I think your levee is about to break!!!

THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2011

THE GREAT FLOOD OF 2011

…it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.
Ezek.47:5

It seems like every week we have another unprecedented tragedy demanding our attention. If it is not an earthquake or a tsunami, it may be a nuclear disaster. If not a nuclear tragedy, then maybe another terrorist attack or the capture or death of the world’s most wanted. This week we are having catastrophic flooding, floods we haven’t seen in our lifetime. If we are not careful, it is easy to become callous and not realize individual’s lives are being decimated in these horrible events. I drove through the Morganza Spillway recently and was painfully aware of what may happen next week. Hundreds of homes are in the path of the Mississippi River and will be destroyed if they open the gates. Many will lose all they have (further north people have already lost everything).
Floods are often catastrophic but are also a picture of the move of the Holy Spirit. I had a vision when I fell into a trance in the outpouring of 1994. In this vision I saw the whole New Orleans region under water. I do not feel this vision was fulfilled in the Katrina event of 2005. The sense that I had was this flood was the flooding of a river and not of a storm. Don’t be alarmed, it seemed this flood was not a catastrophe but actually the greatest blessing of our lifetime. I believe it was a glimpse of a coming regional spiritual awakening, one pictured by the river of the Holy Spirit seen in the vision of Ezekiel.
When the Spirit of God begins to visit an area, it can be quit alarming. The Holy Spirit will come suddenly and for many, unexpectedly. It will carry many of the similarities of a river. It is powerful and uncontrollable. It has cleansing characteristics as well as the ability to bring fertility and prosperity in its wake. The one thing that we sometimes forget is this, this spiritual river is more than an experience that we can take or leave. The River is a person, the third person of the trinity, the beautiful Holy Spirit.
He is flowing out from the Father and the Son, the actual manifestation of the Father’s love for His Son, expressed in a person. This awakening may be upon us. As we have seen the signs of the times all around us, the greatest sign of all is the flooding of this spiritual river. Get ready, the greatest Bible days of all may be just ahead.