EYES WIDE OPEN
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
We have been given an incredible capacity to learn and understand truth by the Lord. He has created all of mankind with the natural ability to comprehend and assimilate information, even truth concerning the word of God. But natural understanding alone is not enough, not nearly enough to satisfy our hungry hearts. There is another kind of learning that comes only by divine revelation, as Paul said, spiritual understanding is “discerned” by the Spirit. The Lord has to open our hearts or it is impossible to comprehend the things of God. Jonathan Edwards spoke frequently about the difference between natural and spiritual understanding, give your attention to his words.
“THERE are two kinds of knowledge of divine truth, speculative and practical, or in other terms, natural and spiritual. The former remains only in the head. No other faculty but the understanding is concerned in it. It consists in having a natural or rational knowledge of the things of religion, or such a knowledge as is to be obtained by the natural exercise of our own faculties, without any special illumination of the Spirit of God. The latter rests not entirely in the head, or in the speculative ideas of things; but the heart is concerned in it: it principally consists in the sense of the heart. The mere intellect, without the will or the inclination, is not the seat of it. And it may not only be called seeing, but feeling or tasting.”
Sometimes you have to sort through Edward’s words, but it is well worth the effort. Edwards reminds us of the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge of the Lord. Spiritual revelation is the opening of our hearts to spiritual things. Edwards speaks of “seeing, feeling, and tasting” spiritual realities. These spritual senses are the essence of spiritual revelation, and brings our heart into the spiritual arena. Has your heart been effected by God’s Word? This is where revelation begins to come, when that happens, we are influenced deeply by His words, and through these awakened affections He speaks to us.
Our heart becomes affected by the beauty and grace of the Lord, our hearts become inflamed with the passion that comes from the Lord Himself, from that moment on, all things become new.
IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD #3
Mary Monday by Parris Bailey
“Is there anything too hard for god?” Gen. 18:14
This weekend was a big weekend. It started last Friday night when we had “Beyond the Grave” in which we gave out over 300 booklets for people that came up to receive the Lord. We also had over 30 people get water baptized. I wept. There is something about people rushing to the altar to find Jesus and make a life change. Many of them will go back to their seats with just an emotional “touch” like watching a movie that they cried in. But others might be like this particular young man that walked up to Frank and told him that he went up to an altar call 10 years ago at a BTG service and tonight he brought his youth from his United Methodist church here because he is the youth pastor. You just never know what is happening in someone’s life.
Some of the reason why I found myself crying is that I know that none of this comes easy. It’s not like one can snap their fingers and have God show up and “do his thing”. It takes stepping out time and time again and believing that the gospel is truly what this world needs. I cried because not everything in my life is perfect and complete-but when God steps in, it becomes complete. That altar call showed me again that there is “nothing too hard for God”. He can change a situation in a moment.
Another milestone happened also Sunday night, we had another Mary’s Song graduation. Two of the girls finished Phase One (5 months) and another finished the 2nd phase (10 months). The 2nd phase girl tonight shared her testimony how she had gotten an abortion years ago and her body and her mind were messed up for years, putting her into a life of drugs and jail. While at Mary’s Song she has lost over 50 pounds, received healing in her body and forgave herself of the bad decisions she made. She also had put art down for over 10 years and just these past few weeks, picked up a brush and begin to paint some of the most beautiful paintings that I have ever seen. “Is there anything too hard for God”?
What are you facing today? Maybe you feel as if you have no place to turn nor is anyone listening. Another Mary’s Song girl didn’t have a drug or alcohol problem but had a rejection problem that drove her into deep depression. She too is receiving the love of God. He is a fountain and this fountain is made just for you. I pray that you can open your heart to receive this Love. What we think is impossible, weak, without strength, not able or impotent, God takes and changes it into something beautiful. He makes all things new…….yes he does!
BETTER THAN LIFE
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
The love of God is better than life. Actually life is better translated here as lives. What could David have meant? With all the different kinds of lives available to man, how could this statement be true?
Here is what Augustine said about David’s incredible claim.
“God’s mercy is better than lives. What lives? Those which for themselves men have chosen. One hath chosen for himself a life of business, another a country life, another a life of usury, another a military life; one this, another that. Divers are the lives, but better is thy life than our lives. Better is that which thou givest to men amended, than that which perverse men choose? One life thou givest, which should be preferred to all our lives, whatsoever in the world we might have chosen.”
Augustine points out the real choice made available to us. We can have all of the various lives and identities the natural world offers or we can have His life. Augustine sees this passage as, “Your life is better than any natural life”. Why is this true? It is true because God Himself is life and when He comes to live inside of us, life really begins. Before He came, we were all wandering aimlessly throughout this world longing for direction, hungering for peace, searching for “our life”. When He came and revealed Himself to us and in us, everything changed. We understood for the first time what David meant when he sang “your love is better than life”.
Can you sing David’s song? I know you can sing the song, but do these words express the feelings of your heart? In the light of eternity it doesn’t really matter which of the “lives” you choose here. What really matters is that you choose the “steadfast love that is better than lives”.
LOOKING UPON GOD
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Psalm 63:1,2
David had caught a glimpse of God in his life. Once that happens to someone, their life is changed permanently. How can someone go back to the menial, natural life after they have seen the Glory of the Lord. David had seen what natural eyes can never see, he had seen the Goodness of the Lord only seen by those who have been given eyes to see. Have you ever caught the sense of His presence, not just a belief in that God, but a spiritual partaking of that Goodness? This is what had effected David and this is why he had to sing. Charles Spurgeon makes some amazing obsevations in his comments on this verse. “Our misery is that we thirst so little for these sublime things, and so much for the mocking trifles of time and sense. We are in very truth always in a weary land, for this is not our rest; and it is marvellous that believers do not more continuously thirst after their portion far beyond the river where they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; but shall see the face of their God, and his name shall be in their foreheads. David did not thirst for water or any earthly thing, but only for spiritual manifestations. The sight of God was enough for him, but nothing short of that would content him. How great a friend is he, the very sight of whom is consolation. Oh, my soul, imitate the psalmist, and let all thy desires ascend towards the highest good; longing here to see God, and having no higher joy even for eternity.”
I think we are all far to content with spiritual life void of the power and manifestations of God. Christianity is more than a creed or a philosophy of life, it is a life filled with power, the very power of Almighty God. It is easy to be lulled to sleep, being told that we shouldn’t have to “feel” anything. Spritual perception, or seeing, is not the same as physical feelings. We rarely feel or see spiritual reality with our natural senses, but our spiritual eyes and ears are opened by the grace of God. As we hunger for Him and long to “see” the Glory of His Presence, He will reveal Himself, He always does.
ARE YOU THIRSTY?THIRSTY SOUL
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Have you ever been thirsty? I know we get thirsty everyday, but have you ever been really thirsty? I can remember being really thirsty one hot summer afternoon in New Orleans. I had recently started cycling for exercise. My normal time to ride was in the morning but I had gone with a friend for a long ride that afternoon and it was hot even by New Orleans standards. After about 15 miles we ran out of our water supply (we had another 15 miles back to the car). When we started having cold sweats on that hot afternoon we realized something was wrong. Thankfully we found a store with a hose (hose water had never tasted so good). When you get really thirsty everything else takes a back seat, you will do almost anything to get a drink. Living in this crazy world can be compared to that bike ride on a hot summer afternoon. If that describes your life, you need to have a drink. That is what David was singing about in this psalm. He was spiritually thirsty and he had to have a drink. Charles Spurgeon has some interesting observations about thirst in his comments about this verse.
“My soul thirsteth for thee. Thirst is an insatiable longing after that which is one of the most essential supports of life; there is no reasoning with it, no forgetting it, no despising it, no overcoming it by stoical indifference. Thirst will be heard; the whole man must yield to its power; even thus is it with that divine desire which the grace of God creates in regenerate men; only God himself can satisfy the craving of a soul really aroused by the Holy Spirit.”
Have you become aware of the thirst in your soul? The grace of God awakens our hearts until we become aware of our spiritual need. All of us are in a long spiritual race, we have to have a CONSTANT water supply because of the conditions of the world and the length of our journey. Go ahead, have a drink, have a drink of LIVING WATER. Just like Jesus said, if you drink this LIVING WATER you will never thirst again.
A WILLING Heart
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
This is an interesting connection, our spiritual joy and a willing spirit. Most christians “know” what the christian life should look like. They know how to be a better mom or dad. They know what actions to take to improve their marriage. They even know about tithing and supporting the work of God. Most of the time lack of knowledge is not our problem, the problem is not having a willing heart. David draws an amazing connection in his prayer between joy and the willing heart. You see joy comes from the presence of the Lord, the impact of the anointing is to bring us into a place of pleasure in His presence, from here our heart is changed, the result, a delight to do the will of God. His will no longer appears as a sacrifice but a pleasure that is unequaled anywhere in this life. This is the fruit or the evidence of a changed life, a willing spirit that finds pleasure in the work of God. Albert Barnes zeros in on the connection between renewal and the willing heart, here are some of his comments on this verse.
“It would seem here to mean a “willing spirit,” referring to David’s own mind or spirit; and the prayer is, that God would uphold or sustain him in a “willing” spirit or state of mind; that is, a state of mind in which he would he “willing” and ready to obey all the commands of God, and to serve him faithfully. What he prayed for was grace and strength that he might be kept in a state of mind which would be constant and firm Psa 51:10, and a state in which he would always be found “willing” and “ready” to keep the commandments of God. It is a proper object of prayer by all that they may be always kept in a state of mind in which they will be willing to do all that God requires of them, and to bear all that may be laid on them.”
The human will is an interesting phenomenon, God created us with a free will, that free will has been hopelessly enslaved by sin to the point that we no longer do what we want or know to be right, the shackles of sin lead us in the pursuit of sinful pleasures. Only the power of God found in His forgiveness and in the renewal of the Spirit can bring freedom into our lives. As David, prayed,
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
The restoration of fellowship with God breaks those sinful chains and brings us into the liberty of the Christian life, it’s in that place of freedom from sin that our lives really begin.
And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, commonly called His triumphal entry, Mathew says the whole city was “moved”. The word he used translated moved is the word used for earthquake, the whole city was literally shaken. Everyone is effected one way or another when Jesus comes to town. Matthew Henry makes some interesting comments about the different ways people are moved in his observations on this verse.
“We have here his entertainment in Jerusalem; When he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved; every one took notice of him, some were moved with wonder at the novelty of the thing, others with laughter at the meanness (insignificance) of it; some perhaps were moved with joy, who waited for the Consolation of Israel; others, of the Pharisaical class, were moved with envy and indignation. So various are the motions in the minds of men upon the approach of Christ’s kingdom!”
Today Jesus is still coming into various towns, today He comes in the person of the Holy Spirit. Just as it was in the days of His entry into Jerusalem, today His visitation brings various kinds of responses. Some think He is irrelevant, others think His coming is comical just for the”needy” and uneducated, others see Him as a threat to their way of life. Still others see His visitation as the hope of their life, the fulfillment of all their dreams. His visitation “moves” them in the deepest part of their being, they have discovered the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Has He moved you lately? Does your heart leap for joy at the mention of His Name, or are you clinging to the remnants of your shattered life, trying to hold onto what remains? Today, Jesus is visiting our world again and the whole world is being moved. The question remains, how has he moved you?
REDEEMING THE TIME – AGAIN
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Time is one of our most precious of all commodities. Our time is not unlimited, we have a fixed amount of time on this earth given to us by the Lord. Our wise use of time is one of the things about our lives that will be evaluated at that great day when each of us will stand before the Lord. Our lives are all a series of “times” allotted to us by the Lord, these times are viewed, by the Lord, as treasures, or opportunities given to us for the advancement of His kingdom. There will come a day when time is no more, time will be swallowed up by eternity, and all of us will be instantly standing and living in the fruit of our labors here on earth. Dick Mills has some valuable insight into this phrase “redeeming the time”. Listen carefully to his words.
“This verse contains an illuminating Greek word for time: kairos (kahee-ros’). This is time adapted to circumstances. Kairos can be defined as: 1) A set time for action, 2) the right moment, 3) the opportune point of time when a thing should be done, or 4) the time appointed to accomplish a certain task.
In Ephesians 5:16 we are admonished by Paul to “redeem” the time (kairos) appointed to us by the Lord. Newer translations render this phrase, “buying up the opportunity,” indicating we need a natural acumen (understanding) to help us to interpret our spiritual opportunities.”
All of us live in a world screaming for our time. The Lord is different, He is quietly waiting for us to turn our attention to Him and to see the value of the time He has given to us. Seeing the value of something is the key to wise stewardship, especially of our time. We give ourselves to the things we perceive as important. How can I redeem the time and why would I want to? One glimpse of Him and His greatness will answer all of those questions. When you “see” Christ for yourself, your value system is radically upended, what you deem as important will change. When that happens, you will immediately see the value of one of the Lord’s greatest gifts to you, your time. In light of what Paul said about living in the evil day, we have to redeem the time, frankly, we don’t know how much of it we have.
IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR GOD #2
Mary Monday by Parris Bailey
“Is there anything too hard for God” Part Two
Sarah laughed! No one heard her laugh. But in Gen. 18:12 “ Sarah laughed to herself, saying, after I have become aged shall I have pleasure and delight, my lord being old also? And the Lord asked Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I really bear a child when I am so old? Is anything too hard or too wonderful for the Lord?”
What amazes me about Sarah’s laugh is that she named her son laughter. “And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh: all who hear will laugh with me.” The very laugh she started in unbelief becomes the laugh that brings the child of promise. I think we can all relate to Sarah. When we look back at our lives did we ever think we would actually be a Christ lover- a Christian! Did we ever think we could be as happy as this?
God asked, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” The word hard in Hebrew means “wonderful or impossible”. In the New Testament the same wording is used when the angel visited Mary with the news that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her; and that Holy One who is to be born would be called the Son of God. Then the angel went on to say-For with God nothing will be impossible. (Luke 1:37) This word has a similar meaning- that we are impotent, crippled so to speak, and not able. Only one thing is needed here: that is for us to believe, and when we believe the child of promise will come! Can any thing be too great of a miracle for him to perform? Human wisdom, prudence and energy fail, but God has full sway doesn’t He?
Jeremiah also was amazed by God- “Ah, Lord God behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched-out arm; and there is nothing too hard for Thee.” Look, from faith to the promise and from the promise to the Promiser, and yes, laugh with God as He performs in us His purrpose!
One of the girls at Mary’s Song was one of 15 children, raised in the back woods of Louisiana, she became pregnant at 14 and went on to have 4 more children by the time she was 29. She dropped out of school in her 8th grade and started a downward slide into drugs and alcohol. She is now finishing her 10 months at Mary’s Song and is going 4 days a week to get her GED. She will be the first of her brothers and sisters to graduate. She plans to wear a cap and gown at her GED graduation. She has found that nothing is impossible with God. What others considered a throw away; God laughs and breathes his life into us.
What is your “child of promise” waiting to be birthed through you?
THE SHINING LIGHT OF REVELATION
He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.
Jn 5:35 KJV
Jesus said, in this verse, that the prophet John was a bright and shining light. His heart was burning with the fire of passion for God. There was an anointing upon his life that was drenched in the love for God. Jesus also said that John was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. What did Jesus mean by that? His measurement of greatness was based on revelation. John was a “shining light”, shining with the revelation of Christ. John’s message of Christ was twofold. He said that Jesus was the Lamb of God. He had grasped the purpose of the messiah, He would give His life for a sacrifice for man’s sin. The second part of his message was that He would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. This was a glimpse into the heavenly ministry of Jesus. Today, Jesus is the heavenly high priest, His heavenly ministry to us is the “baptizer in the Holy Spirit”.
What a powerful revelation, John was “shining” like no one before him, he was “shining” with the light of divine revelation. This is what Jesus had said of John, “he was a burning and shining light”. Burning in his heart with love for God and shining in his mind with the revalation of Jesus Christ. Jonathan Edwards spoke about the burning and shining nature of Christians in his sermon THE EXCELLENCY OF A GOSPEL MINISTER. Here is something he said about the shining nature of the christian life.
“That he be pure, clear, and full in his doctrine. A minister ( a christian) is set to be a light to men’s souls, by teaching, or doctrine: and if he be a shining light in this respect, the light of his doctrine must be bright and full; it must be pure without mixtures of darkness, and therefore he must be sound in the faith, not one that is of a reprobate mind; in doctrine he must show uncorruptness; otherwise his light will be darkness.”
This is the balance we need in our lives today. Our hearts on fire, burning, for Jesus and our minds enflamed with the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is normal Christianity, lives impacted by the fire of God. Lord, baptize us again in the fire of God, consume the wood, hay, and stubble, make us burning and shining lights.