Content

CONTENT

for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
PHIL. 4:11-13

These words were written by the Apostle Paul from prison. He said he had learned the secret of happiness and was content regardless of his outward circumstances. He had discovered that our life does not consist in our possessions, titles, accomplishments, or our station in life. Paul had learned that life itself was found in Christ and he could be satisfied despite adverse circumstances. Paul had found contentment in Christ alone.
Jonathan Edwards often spoke of the happiness that is only available from the Lord. In his sermon “God Amongst His People” he says, “When so great a holy God dwells among a people, he not only is able to supply them with all good, God is theirs, and therefore they are happy, if they have nothing else. If all other things fail, the enjoyment of God is sufficient to make them completely happy”.
This is one of the greatest, and yet, hardest lessons to learn in our Christian walk. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s our ministry went through some very painful experiences. Our local economy was suffering and it was effecting the church members as well as the church itself. The in suing problems caused anxiety and fear to set into my life. To me, it seemed as if all of the years of work were in vain, and there was a real possibility of losing everything. I had to take a real look at the possibility that ,that could take place. That was not a fun time. During this season, the Lord visited me and our church with an unusual outpouring of His Presence. What a contrast, in the physical world, nothing but trouble. In the spiritual world incredible, unspeakable joy. Then the Lord posed the question, “If you lose everything, am I enough for you?” What a question! I grappled with that thought for weeks, but came to the inevitable conclusion. “Lord, You are more than enough.” That was it. I was dealing with the greatest of all questions, “Could I be satisfied with Christ alone?”
This is the question we answer everyday, “Is Jesus enough?” Maybe you have not yet discovered the secret of total contentment, if that is the case, your greatest discovery and greatest joy in life is just ahead.

THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK

THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

SONG OF SOLOMON 2:14

One of the famous hymns of all time was written in the 1700’s by Augustus Toplady called Rock of Ages. In this song, Toplady describes protection from life’s storms, hidden away in the cleft of the rock. He had obviously found the protection and safety found only in this place of intimacy with God. Listen to these famous, timeless words, as they ring through the centuries.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

This world we live in is an extremely dangerous place. There is trouble, sometimes hidden trouble, facing us on a regular basis. We are threatened with disease, troubled by financial woes, endangered by violent attacks, increasingly worried about terrorists, not to mention the unusual natural calamities that seem to be happening on a much more frequent basis. We need a place of refuge that we can run to in this increasingly, hostile world.

In his song, Rev. Toplady tells us of this place,”Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee”. He had discovered the intimacy, that brings shelter, in the clefts of the Rock. Who is that Rock? Of course, it is our precious Savior. What are the clefts? They are the wounds that Jesus suffered in our place. Jesus suffered and died, to bring us intimacy with Himself. This place of intimacy is the source of all life. Flowing from the wounds of Christ is life itself, all we need for security and satisfaction in this crazy world. As we begin our day today, let’s go in to the place of safety, this is where we will see His face, this is where we will hear His voice, for His voice is sweet and His face is lovely. Just as Toplady discovered in the 1700’s, Christ is our hiding place. We can find a place of refuge, rest, and refreshing in the clefts of the Rock.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

THE FRAGRANCE OF THE BRIDE

THE FRAGRANCE OF THE BRIDE

SONG OF SOLOMON 4:9,10

9 You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
You have ravished my heart
With one look of your eyes,
With one link of your necklace.
10 How fair is your love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better than wine is your love,
And the scent of your perfumes
Than all spices!

Paul said that we are a fragrance of Christ unto God the Father. When we are born again, we are clothed with His wedding garments, the righteousness of God that comes by grace through faith. The Father sees , and smells, Christ when He thinks of us. At the same time there is a smell about Christians that is attractive, or honestly, quite repulsive to the people we are around every day. To those who are being saved, an irresistible fragrance of life, to those who are lost, we have the smell of death upon us.
Practically speaking, how can I have more of this fragrance on me? Have you noticed the aroma of Christ is stronger on some Christians than others? Why is this? The fragrance comes from spending time with Him. The more contact we have with the Lord, the more His aroma becomes part of our lives.
In the scripture verse for today, Solomon is describing the attraction the bride has for the bridegroom. Can you imagine that Jesus is enamored with you, He is effected by the fragrance that comes from you. What a strange thing, the fragrance that attracts Him is actually His own. Our only attraction is the imparted life of Christ Himself. As I feast on Him, drinking in HIs Spirit and feeding on His word, His life becomes intwined in mine. His aroma begins to emanate from our lives. The fragrance not only ascends to the Lord as a sweet smelling sacrifice, it is diffused everywhere we go bringing people into contact with Christ Himself in His bride.
As we go about our daily routine, we are spreading an aroma. We carry the fragrance of the very atmosphere we live in from day to day. As we surrender to His love on a consistent basis, the life of Christ begins to settle in upon us. When that happens, we begin to fulfill the words of the Apostle,
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”.

LOVE BETTER THAN WINE

LOVE BETTER THAN WINE

10 How fair is your love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better than wine is your love,
And the scent of your perfumes
Than all spices!
SONG OF SOLOMON 4:10

In this passage, the bridegroom (Christ), is speaking about the preciousness of the love of his bride (the church). He is obviously delighted with the affections she is pouring out upon her spouse. In the same way, the Lord is delighted with the love of His children. He says that our love is better than wine.
Jonathan Edwards quoted this verse in one of his sermons in 1741. He said that this was true of Mary’s act of worship as she poured out her perfume from her broken, alabaster box. Edwards said that “the sweet ointment poured forth out of Mary’s box on the head of Christ, was a type of true divine grace and divine love flowing forth out of the heart of the true believer towards Jesus Christ.” What he was saying is that all true worship is us pouring back on Christ what we have received from Him. What have we received? All things that pertain to life and godliness. We have received an infusion of His incredible love, we have received Christ Himself. Our hearts have been filled to overflowing with the oil of gladness. Our hearts are bursting with His love. What is the outcome? Worship flowing out of our innermost being, our love being poured out on our Lord.
Actually, this is what Mary was doing, she was only returning a portion of this incredible love that she had received. Even though her actions seemed strange and were misunderstood, later they would all understand. After Pentecost, all of the disciples found themselves pouring out their love back on Christ. They received more than they thought possible as the Holy Spirit begin to pour down upon them from heaven. What was their response to this incredible filling? Why, it was the only possible recourse. They begin to pour out their love in worship to the Lord. They had also tasted the love that is better than wine, now their praise was like the fragrant aroma of Mary’s ointment, being returned to the Lord. What have you received from Him? If your heart is full, it is time to pour out your worship. Like Mary, you can begin to pour back upon the Lord a portion of His goodness that you have received.

DRAW ME AND I WILL RUN

DRAW ME AND I WILL RUN

4 Draw me away!
We will run after you.

SONG OF SOLOMON 1:4

It feels like I have I always been running. Running after childhood dreams, chasing after adolescent lusts, pursuing the ambitious dreams of my youth, running and running but never catching my prize. Man has been running since the beginning of time. Chasing after his prey, running after (or from) his enemies, stalking down his national or personal ambitions, or expending his energy and his fortunes in pursuit of the fame and fortune success brings. All of us have been running, and will continue, until divine interruption stops us in our tracks. Isn’t that the way love is, doesn’t it stop us in the midst of our activities and refocuses the passions and the pursuits of our lives? Have you ever been surprised by love? Suddenly the important becomes insignificant, the urgent becomes meaningless, love captures our heart and changes our course, sometimes in the middle of the race.
This is what Solomon is describing in his song. “Draw me and I will run after you.” He calls us out of one race just to join another, but this race is quite different. Rather than the rat race of life which never satisfies, we are strangely attracted into another pursuit. This is the pursuit of love. The drawing that King Solomon describes in his love song is quite enticing. He uses the picture of two young lovers hopelessly drawn into the pursuit of one another, a pursuit that seems to overpower every other concern in their lives. This, of course, is a picture of the spiritual attraction that Christ has upon His own. When He begins to draw us with His love, we fall hopelessly into His intoxicating love,. Nothing else seems to matter because of the incredible treasure we have discovered in Christ.
I will never forget those early days when I first tasted the Savior’s love. I would go anywhere or do anything to hear about Him or experience His touch. Driving to Metairie or to New Orleans from Slidel for a Bible study, inconvenience was non-existent. Driving to California to go to Bible School, it meant nothing. I was caught in His heavenly embrace, my life of running was just getting started. Today, I am still on the run. I am caught in the heavenly pursuit. I want to run this race to win, to finish my course with joy. Come on, join the race, step out of the rat race of worldly pursuits, come join with me in the race of love.

LITTLE CHILDREN

LITTLE CHILDREN

And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet.

Mk 7:24,25

When your children are hurting, you are hurting. This gentile mom was at her wits end. Her child was tormented, there was no rest for anyone in their home. Their only hope was a miracle. When Jesus came into her region, she took immediate action, even an apparent denial from the Lord wasn’t going to stop her. She wanted nothing less than a miracle.
We recently met a lady and her son with a similar problem, her little boy had not slept more than three hours in any night for ten years. Her son was tired, she was tired, and their whole world was captive to this dilemma. This mom needed a miracle. Her pastor announced our revival meetings in her church in Bendigo, Australia. She decided to take action. She began three weeks of fasting and prayer in anticipation of these meetings. When the meetings started, night after night they were in the prayer lines. From the very first night he began to sleep. His mom testified that she had to wake him each morning, he was catching up on some much needed rest. For the first time in ten years, this whole family is getting some sleep.
Maybe you are at the end of yourself, or maybe you feel like you need some rest. Just as Jesus met the gentile from Tyre and the little boy and his mom from Bendigo, He will meet you in the midst of your struggle. What will it take? In both cases it required persistence. Many times lifes delays appear like denials from the Lord. That is the time to take action. In Bendigo, it was three weeks of fasting preparing for a meeting, for the Caananite woman it was an intrusion into the Lord’s time of rest. Both acts of persistent faith did not go unrewarded. The little girl was freed in Tyre, and in Bendigo a young boy is sleeping. Today is the day for you to put feet to your faith. Get under the anointing in church, soak yourself in prayer and worship, recruit your friends to fast and pray. As you do, you will enter into the Lord’s rest.

CHANGED INTO ANOTHER MAN

CHANGED INTO ANOTHER MAN

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
Acts 2:14-16

This would be a day no one would soon forget. It began as the last nine days had begun, waiting. The followers of Jesus were waiting for “the Promise of the Father”. They were not quite sure what kind of promise that was, but they waited none the less. That tenth day, suddenly the very atmosphere in that upper chamber seemed to come alive. The room began to swirl with a wind that was more than a wind. It was the breath of God. Next, strange languages began to flow from deep within, these were not ordinary languages, these were the very words of God. As this strange blessing began to spread, the sound of celebration and joy began to attract a crowd in the streets below.
” These people are all drunk!” someone shouted. Before you knew it, Peter was in the street, lifting up his voice, ” These men are not drunk as you suppose, this is the fulfillment of what the prophet Joel said”.
Peter had been turned into another man. Just a few days earlier, Peter had denied ever knowing Christ, but now things were different, now Peter was different. He was speaking like a man from another world.
What had changed? Where had this new courage come from? Peter had received the “Promise of the Father”. Peter had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was a different man. He had been transformed by the touch of God into an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter’s life would never be the same. Is this blessing still available today? Can we experience this same transformation? In this very same message, Peter gives us the answer.

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”.
Acts 2:38,39
Yes, you too can be turned into another man. How will it happen? When you are clothed with power from on high. Ask the Lord today for this change, listen carefully, you just might hear the sound of a rushing, mighty wind.

THE FRAGRANCE OF HIS NAME

THE FRAGRANCE OF HIS NAME

1 The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.

2 The Shulamite*
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth –
For your* love is better than wine.
3 Because of the fragrance of your good ointments,
Your name is ointment poured forth;
Therefore the virgins love you.

SONG OF SOLOMON 1:1-3

This song is about the incredible spiritual attraction of Christ. Just as our physical senses are deeply effected by the things we love in this world,
our spiritual senses pick up the attractiveness of Christ. Solomon is starting this song talking about being drawn to his lover, and the bride talking about the strange attraction of the bridegroom. “Draw me and I will run after you”, she says, “your name is like ointment poured forth”.
There is something about hearing the name of your lover. The bride said her bridegroom’s name was like fragrant anointing oil. She was describing the irresistible attraction seen in the mention of his name.
Of course this is how it is with Jesus for us. When someone mentions His Name, we begin to have a sense of His powerful presence. We are reminded of His love for us displayed on the cross. The mention of His Name reminds us of His love revealed to us in His Presence, after all, Paul said the love of God is poured out upon us by the Holy Spirit. In His Name there is peace, protection, healing, deliverance, guidance, and life itself.
One Thanksgiving, many years ago, Parris and I were away from home and had dinner with a precious, Pentecostal, elderly couple. They invited us into their home for the Thanksgiving meal. The house was filled with the smells of Thanksgiving; the turkey and dressing, pumpkin and pecan pie, potatoes and gravy, the fragrances were irresistible. But the greatest fragrance of all in that house that day, was the fragrance of Christ. This couple loved Him and welcomed Him into their home. He was at the table with us. Our host would say, “Thank you Jesus” all throughout the dinner conversation. His words were not just cliches. How did I know? I smelled the fragrance every time he spoke. “Thank you Jesus”. His name is like ointment poured forth. Breath deeply, maybe you will catch a whiff of His Goodness.

DRINK YOUR FILL

DRINK YOUR FILL

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!
Song of Solomon 5:1

Solomon’s Song is filled with the language of drinking and of love. Now this is not the kind of drinking you might be thinking of, Solomon is talking about another kind of drinking. This Song of Songs is speaking of spiritual drinking. You may not be familiar with this kind of drinking, this is what Jesus described in John 7, “If any one is thirsty, let him come unto Me and drink”. This is the drinking of spiritual intimacy. This spiritual intimacy flows from the throne of our glorified Savior and is available for anyone who is thirsty.
Now in the natural world, there are limitations placed on drinking. There may be cultural limitations, or governmental regulations (such as drinking and driving), or establishment limitations on excessive drinking. Spiritual drinking has no such limitations, because the results of “excessive” spiritual drinking are actually quite beneficial. The KJV version brings out Solomon”s acceptance, actually his encouragement, of drinking large quantities of this heavenly drink.
“I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”
Song of Solomon 5:1 KJV
Drink abundantly, actually this literally means drink until you are intoxicated. This is describing the effects of drinking, coming under the influence of His heavenly affection. When you come under this kind of influence, all sorts of good things can happen. What kinds of things? A strange kind of attraction and love for Jesus is the first and greatest effect of this influence. Also, there is changed behavior; kindness, gentleness, love, joy, peace and all sorts of internal changes to our lives. Healings, physical and emotional, are also connected to spiritual drinking.
So what is the conclusion? Drink your fill of His love. Drink abundantly, don’t hold back. Drink until you are drunk with love. Join into this new life of love, remember, there are no limitations. Drink your fill of the Savior’s cup.

HEAVEN’S KISSES

HEAVEN’S KISSES

His words are kisses, his kisses words.

Everything about him delights me, thrills me

through and through!

That’s my lover, that’s my man,

dear Jerusalem sisters.

THE MESSAGE
SOS 5:16

I love this verse in the MESSAGE BIBLE. “His words are kisses, his kisses words”. The natural man cannot take this intimate language, it is just too personal for him. That is the way the Lord is, personal. His love is more intimate than a kiss. This is the language of Solomon’s Song, Solomon speaks to us in the language of lovers. He talks about midnight meetings, intimate conversations, unusual terms of endearment, walks in the garden; he talks like someone desperately in love, because he is.
In the beginning of Solomon’s Song he says, “draw me, and I will run after you.” This is exactly what Jesus does. The Holy Spirit unveils the beautiful attributes of Christ that become strangely irresistible to His elect.
This is seen in the story of Zacheus. He was a man with everything, everything but happiness. His heart was empty. He heard the strange stories about Jesus; the miracles, the healings, the forgiven sinners. He could not get Jesus out of his head. He was being drawn by that irresistible love. This love drug him up a tree, and gained him a special guest for dinner. When Jesus came to Zacheus’ house it was all over, Zacheus found Jesus ALTOGETHER LOVELY. From that day, he found a new kind of love, he had been won over by heaven’s kiss.
The Bridegroom is looking for His lovers, maybe you are one of them. Don’t be afraid of the personal nature of His love, this is what you have longed for all of your life. As you feel this strange heavenly attraction, the chase begins. Don’t be afraid of the risk involved with such personal language or uncomfortable with the personal nature of this spiritual intimacy. Now you, like Solomon, can enter this heavenly romance.