Unprecedented Acts of God 2010

Several years ago Dick Mills gave me a word of prophesy in our church. The word was Exodus 34:10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” This is an incredible word about incredible “marvels” and “awesome things” that the Lord has promised to perform. The first word “marvels” comes from the Hebrew word pala, this is the same word Isaiah used to refer to the supernatural birth of Christ. This word can be translated as wonderful or supernatural. It is speaking of the miraculous,  unexplainable work of God! The second phrase, “awesome thing” is just that: something that produces an atmosphere of awe, reverential fear of God. We are expecting God to do things in 2010 that are supernatural and produce and incredible reverential fear of the Lord.

At the beginning of 2009, the Lord impressed on us Isaiah 48:6, 7 “You have heard; See all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them. They are created now and not from the beginning; And before this day you have not heard them, lest you should say, ‘Of course I knew them.’” This passage speaks of God doing things that have never been done before. In the ESV study Bible the notes say that unprecedented acts of God are on the horizon. We believe those acts of God are coming upon us in 2010.

Another verse of scripture that comes to mind as I reflect on the purposes of God in 2010 is Deuteronomy 11:12 “a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year”. This verse describes the eyes of the Lord watching over our year. This verse suggests care, protection, as well as bounty. The Lord has his eye on every moment of every day in 2010. It will be a year of God’s favor upon our lives.

Paul uses a very powerful phrase in Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” The phrase that speaks to me is fullness of time. There is a specific time when God has determined for certain things to happen. There was a perfect time for Christ to be born. There was a perfect time for Paul’s conversion. There was a perfect time for Luther, for Whitefield, for Edwards. There was an appointed time for Wales and Azusa Street. There is a set time for the awesome move of God. In my heart I believe we are approaching another season we could call the “fullness of time”.  Genesis 21:2, “For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him”, speaks of God’s “set time” for Isaac to be born.  Abraham had believed God for 75 years for a son, but Isaac did not appear until the “set time” to fulfill the plans of God. Could it be that 2010 is a special year? It is quite possible that his year is an appointed year for the move of God in our church.

Finally there is a powerful phrase in Ephesians 5: 16-18 “redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit”, Paul speaks of “Redeeming the time” and “being filled with the Spirit” in relation to each other. To stay drunk on this world’s beverage and carnal ways is a waste of time. As we heed Paul’s admonition and stay full of the Spirit we will redeem the time. The Lord has some plans for you in 2010. Let us give our attention to the Lord, stay full of the Spirit, redeeming the time for the days are evil.

TWO GENERATIONS

Augustine was amazed at the two generations of Jesus Christ, how scripture reveals Christ as the eternal Son always in the state of being generated from the Father. He is the radiance of the Father’s Glory. He also was amazed at the miracle of the virgin birth. I wanted to give you an excerpt from one of Augustine’s Christmas sermons. I also included some of my thoughts and some scripture. Enjoy. You and your family have a blessed Christmas.

“Open my lips, O Lord, so that my voice may break out in praise!” So the Psalmist has sung (VUL 50:17; NRSV 51:15). He was saluting his Lord with a chain of seemingly incompatible attributes. And so too I sing this morning.

Augustine is overwhelmed with joy reflecting on the birth of Christ. His message seems to be delivered as a “song”.

Almighty God the Father I want to praise but, to my amazement, He’s the Infant Christ.

I Timothy 3:16 NKJ
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

Augustine is astounded at the beauty and mystery of the incarnation. God Himself as an infant in a manger.

The Lord has made all things, and yet He takes His stand among the very things He’s made.

John 1:1-3
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

The creator God – Jesus Christ – enters into the very creation He has made. He became part of creation when he became a man.

He’s the Revealer of His Father, and at the same time He’s the Creator of His mother.

John 1:3, 18
3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son,[a] who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Augustine explores the mystery of Jesus Christ, He is the radiance of the Father’s Glory and created His mother before He was conceived in her womb.

He’s the Son of God born of the Father without a mother; and He’s the son of man born of a mother without a father.

Micah 5:2
2 “ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Isaiah 7:14
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

The two generations of Christ, begotten of the Father as the eternal Son yet born as a human from a virgin mother. What an incredible God!!!

He’s the Day as the Angels count time; He’s the Clock as human beings tick off the day.

He inhabits eternity with the angels, outside of time and space. In time he is the sovereign ruler directing every detail of history.

He’s the Word of God before there were timepieces; He’s the Word made flesh who stopped the clock when He was made flesh.

John 1:14
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus is the Father’s Word, idea or expression of Himself. When He became a man all history was permanently impacted.

He made the sun with His own hands, and yet He Himself was made under the light and heat of the sun.

John 1:3-5
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

He formed the stars of the universe including our star, the sun yet as a man he lived under the light and heat of the sun.

He regulates human history from the bosom of His Father; and yet He consecrates this one particular day from the womb of His mother.

John 1:18
18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

Jesus retained His sovereignty ruling in heaven even as he lived amongst us as a man. His supernatural birth made that day supernatural.

He remains with His Father, and yet He goes forth from His mother.

John 3:13
13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.

The mystery of the omnipresence and the humanity of Christ. Great is the mystery of godliness.

He’s the Creator of the heavens and the earth; and yet He takes His own rise under the heavens, that’s to say from the earth.

Psalm 85:11
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven.

Jesus, the truth, springs from the earth like Adam. The amazing diverse excellencies of Christ seen in His deity and His humanity.

As God He has more Wisdom than He can mouth, and yet as a babe he hasn’t enough mouth to utter the Wisdom He knows.

As God He is all knowing unlimited in His knowledge, as an infant unable to vocalize His eternal wisdom.

He fills the world with jots and tittles, and yet He Himself lies a tot in a manger.

He has created a masterful world full of intricate detail, yet he lies helpless and dependent as an infant in the manger.

He sets the stars in motion, and yet he sucks His mother’s breasts.

Genesis 1:3-5
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Augustine continues to explore the amazing contrast of deity and humanity. He reveals Himself in His wisdom and power in creation and His incredible humility as a man.

He’s so great as a god, yet so small as a slave.

Philippians 2:5-9
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,

God’s greatness and Christ’s humility. He is truly the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.

His divinity isn’t underwhelmed by His humanity, nor is His humanity overwhelmed by His divinity.

He is not threatened or decreased by His humanity. His humanity has not depleted His deity, only magnified His glory in our eyes.

He didn’t abandon His divine agenda when He picked up His carpenter’s tools.

Ephesians 1:11
11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

His plan of the ages has never altered. God is never responding to circumstances. All things are ordered and developing according to His plan.

He didn’t stop holding His universe together with His mighty arms while He was trying to catch flies with His baby fingers.

Isaiah 9:6,7
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice 
From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Augustine continues to be amazed at the irony of the power of God and the weakness displayed in the infant Christ.

He put on the clumsiness of the flesh when he entered the Virgin’s womb, and yet His movement throughout the universe wasn’t hampered by the baggy pants. He didn’t take away the food of Wisdom from the Angels while He was supplying us with the sweetness of the Lord.

Micah 5:2
“ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

The bread of heaven, Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem – the house of Bread. The Lord has displayed His beauty in the miracle birth of Christ. He came to make this heavenly bread available for us all.

Glimpses of His Glory – John 11

The story of Lazarus is one of the great stories in the Bible. Actually this was the miracle that sealed our Lord’s death. After Lazarus was raised from the dead, the leaders of the Jews were determined to have Christ executed. His greatest miracle had brought about the end of His life and earthly ministry. There is a ray of the Glory of God that shines out of the miracle of Lazarus. This glorious display of God’s love reaches through the years and reaches all the way to you and all the way to me.

At the beginning of the story Jesus heard of Lazarus sickness. Being Lazarus friend everyone thought Jesus would drop everything and run to his side. That is what the disciples thought, it is what the family thought. But they were all wrong, they were all very wrong. Jesus acted almost unconcerned, He waited two days to begin His journey to Bethany. Everyone was shocked and disappointed. No one could understand His actions.

Jesus said that Lazarus sickness would not end in death but that this sickness was to be used to bring glory to God. How could this be? Actually, many times the Lord does not respond when and how we want Him to. His delays are not denials. He has a time for everything. He had a time for Lazarus. He has a time for you.

When Jesus finally came to Bethany, Lazarus had been in his tomb for four days. The family and friends were devastated. Their brother was dead and their friend had let them down.

Jesus used this moment for a great teaching opportunity. He began to tell them that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He said, ‘If anyone believes in me he shall live even if he dies. I am the resurrection.” The words reminded everyone of Moses and the burning bush. Jesus was publicly calling Himself God.

Lazarus is a picture of all of us. We are all born dead in our own transgressions and in our sins. We are hopelessly lost until Christ comes and cries out our name. “Lazarus, come forth.”

When Jesus calls our name an awakening begins. Death loses its grip from our lives. Liberation flows into us. He begins a new life in us. The old life is gone and His life now begins. We are born again. Jesus has raised us up from the dead.

As I think about Lazarus being raised from the dead, a picture of Christ comes into my mind. It is Jesus standing outside the tomb just before He calls Lazarus. The Bible says in John 11:33 that Jesus groaned in the Spirit. The literal meaning is to snort with anger. Jesus was angry about what sin and death had done to Lazarus. He is angry about what sin has done to you.

I also see Jesus outside the tomb weeping. John 11:35
Jesus was moved with compassion over Lazarus’ dilemma. He is moved with compassion for you. Today, Jesus is standing outside your tomb. Maybe you are a Christian but you keep wandering back to the world and its ways and you keep going back to your old tomb. I think I hear Jesus outside, “Roll away the stone.” He is about to call your name.

Maybe you have experienced disappointment as a Christian. If you will be honest you will recognize you are not disappointed in people or disappointed in circumstances, but disappointed in God. He never responded the way you hoped or the way you thought He should. He seldom does. His ways are not our ways. His delays are not denials. He has an appointed time for your miracle, the time that will bring the greatest glory to God. In the meantime, He is calling out to you. In our darkest times, He becomes our closest friend. Draw near to God. Take the expectations and timetable off of Him. Let your Christianity just be about love, not about performance. I think someone is standing outside the tomb calling out your name.

IS CHURCH IMPORTANT?

Jesus came to build His church. Why is it important?  Why is it valuable to the Christian?  Why is the church valuable to the secular world?  Why is the church valuable to the Lord?

First of all the church is God’s temple or dwelling place on earth.  In the Old Testament the Lord dwelt in the tabernacle of Moses and the temple in Jerusalem.  This was the place where the manifest presence of God was amongst His people.  This is was what made Israel special.  Without the Lord in their midst they would be just like all of the other nations.  In the New Testament the church is His dwelling place.  He has chosen to make His presence known in the midst of His church.  This is one of the blessings of being part of a New Testament Church.  The Lord’s presence is available to us when we gather together.

Ephesians 2:19-22, Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The secular world needs God.  They are searching for Him in all the wrong ways, looking for peace and satisfaction but never finding it.  The Bible clearly teaches that the rest our soul longs for is found only in the Presence of the Lord.  “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.”

Psalms 16:11, This presence is found in the local church.  The church of Jesus Christ is where God tabernacles on earth and this is the place we find rest.

In John 15:5, Jesus refers to us as the vine.  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.”  This relationship describes just how dependent on the Lord we are.  As we stay connected to Him, His Life flows into us. This life flow is directly related to our relationship with Christ and our relationship with His church.  The life of God flows between us and through us through our relationships with God and His people.  The church is vital to this organic and spiritual union.  As we cultivate an intimate life with the Lord, and join together with others walking in this intimate lifestyle, we will experience the life flow of the vine.   If we abide in Him and he in us we will bear much fruit.

The Lord also refers to His church as the body of Christ. This is another beautiful picture of His church and the life that flows amongst us.

1 Corinthians 12:12, For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Each one of us is a dynamic part of the body of Christ. Each one of us share a special role, placed exactly in His church as He desires.  As we fulfill that role and relate to others who are functioning members of His body, there is a powerful result.  First, out needs are met.  When we flow with other members of His church enjoying this relationship the gifts and ministries of the Spirit begin to function.  The dynamics of the body of Christ are not seen only in large corporate gatherings, but in small groups or casual relationships that we nurture and value.  Out of these relationships the body ministers to itself.  We are then placed in a position of giving and receiving ministry as Jesus ministers to us and through us in His body.

Jesus also referred to His people as the City on a Hill.

Matthew 5:14, You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

As we function as a healthy church, the world will begin to recognize the life of God working through His people.  We live in a dark world.  The non-Christian population is longing for something real.  They have heard it all and seen it all.  Our world is waiting to see real Christianity in action.  Jesus told us the world would know the reality of God when they see Christians loving one another.  This picture of a city on a hill is a portrayal of His Church, walking in revival, loving God, and loving one another. When that day comes, harvest is at hand.

Finally, the Lord describes His church as the Bride of Christ.  This is the greatest portrayal of the Glory of God of all.  The Lord made a plan to save fallen man and glorify His name.  He determined to become one of us and redeem fallen man from his sins.  He said that all who would believe on Him and accept His sacrifice would become a son or a daughter of God.  When this happens we are clothed in the righteous garments, the wedding garments of Christ.  Our sins are forgiven, and we become a part of the Bride of Christ.  A great celebration is about to begin.  The singing and celebration has already started in heaven and is spilling over into the streets on earth.  All who hear this sound of rejoicing and join in become part of the great wedding celebration.  Christ is returning for His church.

Revelation 21:1-5, Now I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also there was no more sea.  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;  there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Many times in our daily routine my wife, Parris will say, “Just put on the Lord”. This will often times come about after I make a rude comment after being cut off by an inconsiderate driver on our wonderful streets in New Orleans. “Just put on the Lord,” easy to say, but quite challenging to do in our every day practice.

All of us face challenging opportunities every day which present an opportunity for us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day opportunities to compromise or fall into temptation present themselves to us. We can make excuses for our failures, try to overcome by our own will power, put into practice the latest “Christian” cliché or technique or we can put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the Lust of the Flesh.

Sometimes these challenges come to us in our daily interaction with humans. Lets face it, people can be quite miserable and self centered. Dealing with self centered people can cause frustration which can end up in outbursts of anger or bottled up hostility in our hearts. The solution to dealing with carnal people is supernatural. Only Christ in us can forgive and love unlovely people and help us to stay out of strife. Paul said, “Above all these put on Love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:14, 15). This supernatural response of love, acceptance and forgiveness can become our response when we put on Christ.

Another opportunity to put on Christ comes when we are tempted and enticed by our own lusts. All of us are subject to temptation. It comes to us in many different ways. It could be an opportunity to use alcohol or drugs. It may come in an opportunity to have an improper sexual relationship with someone. Or it may come to you in your lonely moments, a temptation that presents itself on television or the internet. None of us are immune to the lusts of the flesh, but we all have the opportunity to resist and overcome. We can overcome every temptation by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul said in Romans 13:13,14 “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires.”

You may wonder, “How do you put on the Lord Jesus Christ? How does this work in my everyday life?” Let me share with you several ways I have learned to put on Christ in my daily life.

First, I can be clothed with Christ by faith in the precious blood of my savior. All of us are born in a state of alienation from God. Our sinfulness blocks us from the intimacy our hearts long for and from the blessings that are found in a relationship with God. The bible talks about heaven as an incredible wedding reception celebration. Only those who have been clothed with Christ, have put on His wedding garments can come to this celebration, Rev. 7:14.

Each of us face temptation and will commit sin. If we sin we have an advocate with the Father. If we confess our sin, his blood cleanses and makes us holy in His sight. 1 John 1:9 Today you can put on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in His precious blood. You can draw near to Him and experience His love and friendship by faith in the blood of the cross. Today put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Look to Him by faith in His blood and experience His amazing love for yourself.

Secondly, we can put on the Lord Jesus Christ by immersing ourselves in His Holy Book. The word of God is life for our souls, as we read this book, we are putting on Christ.

In the book of John, Jesus is referred to as The Word of God. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” John said, “We have seen His glory, glory as of the only begotten son.” John 1:14.

Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Father. As we eat these words, we are putting on Christ, the Word of the Father.

Recently I enjoyed watching several legs of the Tour de France on television. I was amazed at the endurance of these athletes. This bike race lasts for 20 days with most legs going from 120-140 miles. What a race! One of the facts that amazed me was the caloric intake of the cyclists. They average between 6000-8000 calories a day. What a diet! This amount of fuel is necessary just to maintain their bodies. They need strength for the journey.

Each one of us are on an amazing journey. The demands of our Christian walk cannot be met by human efforts or means. We need the help of God. We need His heavenly fuel. We need to be immersed in His precious Word.

Fall in love again with the word of God. Read the gospels again. Immerse yourself in the epistles of Paul. Drink deeply of the Psalms of David. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the lusts of the flesh.

Finally, there is another practical way to put on Christ. Paul says in 1 Cor. 12:13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and all were make to drink of one Spirit.”

Paul taught us to drink the Holy Spirit. This was also a common theme in the teaching of Jesus. “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink,” Jesus said.

What does it mean to drink the Holy Spirit? Drinking is a means of receiving something. The Holy Spirit is tangible, portrayed as the liquid love of God. As we open our hearts in humility, we can receive His presence. His presence satisfies our thirsty souls and equips us for the journey that we are on.

I know the struggles of daily life. The challenges of family life. The financial challenge we all face daily. The health problems that we are all confronted with. The challenges of ministry, of temptation, of human interaction. The challenges are overwhelming without the help of God. I must drink of His presence.

Personally, I have learned to drink several ways. Praying extended amounts of time in my prayer language. Keeping the atmosphere filled with God listening to worship music. Drawing near to God in corporate worship settings. I have to drink in His presence everyday. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ today, drinking in His precious presence.

Today, let your spiritual appetite increase. Draw near to God. Call upon His name and thank Him for His blood. Feast on the word of God, food for your soul. Drink in the Holy Spirit – put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

CHILDREN, DO YOU HAVE ANY FISH?

“As the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore.” John 21:4

This is the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection. Peter and several other disciples became distracted and maybe confused and decided to go fishing. Jesus took this opportunity to reveal Himself to them and to re-establish His calling upon their lives.

First, we see the resurrected Christ standing on the beach at the dawning of a new day. This brings pictures into our minds as we realize this was the beginning of a brand new day for mankind. The outpouring of the Spirit for all people was about to begin. The glorious age of the church was dawning. The disciples were clueless and Jesus came to bring revelation into their lives.

Maybe you have been clueless, like the disciples? Still concerned only about natural things when the resurrected Christ is standing on the beach between two worlds calling us to recognize the spiritual time clock that is counting down. As the disciples were there at the beginning of the “new day”, we are here at the closing of God’s “prophetic day”. The church age is coming to a close, and the return of Christ is immenent. This age is coming to a close, the creation and society itself are suffering the birth pangs of transition. Embrace this new day and expect unprecedented acts of God to surface in your life.

Jesus began to call to His disciples from the beach “Children, do you have any fish?”

I love the compassion and tenderness in the voice of the Saviour. Children. Just a few days before this Jesus had appeared to His disciples. He showed them His pierced hands and feet. He breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Spirit. They had received the Spirit of Adoption. They were now sons of God. The Lord was tenderly calling them His children. Today, we are sons and daughters of God if Christ is in us. If you have never been born again, now is the time for salvation. Call upon the name of Jesus, open your heart to Him and invite Him in. You can become a child of God.

Jesus asked them, “Do you have any fish?” “No” they replied. “Then cast your nets on the right side of the boat.”

These words were strangely familiar. They suddenly realized who the mysterious stranger on the beach really was. These were the words He had spoken to them when He first called them to follow Him. He was reminding them of their calling and election. He was reminding them of their supernatural life.

Peter remembered this encounter when he was facing his own execution many years later. He wrote in his second letter, “Make your calling and election sure.” Peter had come to know that the supernatural call of God is essential in our lives. When difficult times come, we have to go back to our calling. He called me. He chose me. My calling and election are sure. He will keep me in the hardest of times.

After the disciples followed His instructions, they experienced an incredible harvest of fish. This harvest was beyond human explanation. This was the work of God. This was clearly a picture given to the disciples about the harvest of souls about to come into their ministry. The Lord was preparing to harvest souls, they were about to become fishers of men.

The disciples hurried to the beach, wanting to get close to their Lord. As they arrived at shore they smelled the smell of fresh bread and smoked fish. Jesus had prepared breakfast for them “Come and have breakfast,” He said. The disciples were about to have an incredible meal. The Lord had spread a table for them in the wilderness.

As the disciples sat down for breakfast, they found themselves stealing glances at His hands and His feet. It was still too good to be true. Their prophet, their King, their teacher, and friend had become their Saviour. Their hearts were bursting with thanks and worship as Jesus began to serve the bread and fish. This reminded them of another day when they distributed bread and fish from a little boy’s lunch. Thousands of people on that day, but now it was just Jesus and a handful of men. Their lives were being changed.

Jesus was teaching them again about our spiritual food. Man does not live by natural bread alone. We must feast on God. He taught them in John 6:54, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” They were sitting in an incredible atmosphere. They were eating more than bread and fish. They were feasting on God Himself.

This is now how we live our lives. We are in need of spiritual food everyday. We can feast on God in our daily devotions, in our bible studies and in our corporate worship services. Jesus has spread a table for you. Can you hear Him calling your name? “Come and have breakfast with me.”

After breakfast Jesus began to engage conversation with Peter. He asked him three times if Peter loved him. Peter was puzzled, responded that of course he loved Jesus. Jesus began to instruct Peter about displaying that love by pouring out to other people. He was teaching Peter about another kind of spiritual food. In John 4:34, Jesus spoke about this other food. He said His food was to do the will of God.

Christianity is made up of two kinds of food. It is our spiritual diet. Of course the first food is feasting on God, sitting down at the table He has spread for us. Feasting with Him and on Him.

Our second food is distributing the food we receive. This is not only our work, but it is our food It is our joy and our nourishment to find our place of service and distribute this precious bread and fish.

FEED THE MULTITUDES 2009

I am excited about our 20th annual Feed the Multitudes taking place Saturday, July 4. This year the event will take place at the UNO Lakefront Arena and promises to be the best Feed the Multitudes yet. As usual, we will serve barbeque chicken, jambalaya, red beans and rice, hot dogs, watermelons, and an assortment of other dishes, deserts, drinks, snowballs, etc. We will also have our music tent with the Rachel Womble and company, Louis Baldo and friends, plus Amanda Shaw. The music will be the best and the atmosphere will be incredible.

As always there is water events for the kids, spa tent for anyone, medical tent, community needs tent, plus groceries for thousands of people to take home. Come out for a great day of food, fellowship and fun and also come out to serve.

Feed the Multitudes is a very important part of the legacy of Victory Fellowship and was birthed in a time of financial need for our church.

In the Spring of 1990, our church was struggling, we had a financial crisis on our hands. Our people were discouraged, we needed divine intervention! The Lord answered our prayer for help, but not the answer we were looking for. We thought He would provide a financial break through an unexpected monetary gift, that was not His plan. He told us to throw a giant free music and food festival and target the needy people of our city. That was so unusual. At the same time, many friends were encouraging me to reach out to the wealthy and minister to them. That was the way to get out of debt. Instead, the Lord said go to the poor.

So we did. That first year, we served hundreds of poor people at our first Feed the Multitudes. We were surprised at the crowd, surprised at the provision, but most of all we were surprised at what came next. As our congregation began to serve the poor in the midst of their dilemma, God gave us the miracle. It could not be seen with human eyes, but it was very real. The miracle was a heart change. The Lord gave us a new heart of compassion.

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Out of this first Feed the Multitudes, we received a heart transplant in our church. It was the beginning of a spiritual awakening in us. Only a soft heart can give and only a soft heart can receive. The Lord was leading us into both of these spiritual experiences.

There are many spiritual lessons we can learn from Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5000.

The first one that comes to mind is that Jesus was ministering to the crowd in His time of need. John the Baptist, his cousin and forerunner, had just been killed and Jesus wanted to return to the wilderness for some rest. As the crowds followed Him into the wilderness, He began to minister to them. He preached, taught and healed the sick. After three days, He ministered to them in their hunger, multiplying a boy’s lunch to feed the crowd of people.

Out of this miracle we can see several spiritual truths:

1. Man shall not live by bread alone. Jesus is the true food that comes down from heaven.
2. That this bread was a picture of His body which would be broken for us.
3. That God is glorified by man’s dependency. The lunch was horribly insufficient, but Christ was more than enough to meet the incredible need.
4. That man can be satisfied only by eating spiritual food. Man is looking for satisfaction in life and looks for it in natural means. Only Christ can satisfy our hungry hearts. They all ate until they were satisfied.
5. We discover our call in life. After we come and eat our fill, we distribute the “bread and fish” to the hurting people in this world. Only when we find our place of service can we be completely satisfied in life.

NORTH SHORE FACILITY

We want to announce the purchase of the old “Funland” on the West Approach in Mandeville. This is the latest satellite church plant for Victory Fellowship. We have been conducting services in a rental facility in Convington for 2 ½ years. We are excited about the growth of the church and this great opportunity for expansion.

As I have shared repeatedly, we have no intentions of starting a new church in Mandeville. We view this as part of Victory Fellowship and our vision to have one church in multiple locations.

As the psalmist says in Psalm 133,

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing; life forevermore.

As we continue to flow together in unity with all of our churches we are expecting a great move of the Holy Spirit. We believe unprecedented acts of God are on the horizon.

PROTESTANT AND PENTECOSTAL

Our world is in a constant state of change, and regretfully many of these secular changes gradually but steadily affect the church. Regretfully we are losing our moorings, our connection to the heritage of our Christian faith.

Over the past fifteen years I have been on a spiritual safari, searching for the reality of God in my life and in His church. This journey inevitably leads me to the past, to the men and women who have gone before us. I find myself drinking from the ancient wells of our fathers. The wells of Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry and many others keep attracting me and calling me to drink. The more I drink; I am convinced of two things. First, I am a Protestant Christian. The message that birthed Western civilization penned by the Apostle Paul “The just shall live by faith,” and echoed by Martin Luther 15 centuries later is still the foundation of Western Civilization today, the undergirding of His church and the anchor of my soul.

Martin Luther was lost in the snare of human effort and a system of religious works until one day he read those words from Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith.” Those words brought freedom to his soul and began the revolution that drug Europe from the shadows of the dark ages. The Protestant Reformation had begun.

As a monk, Luther later wrote, he was tormented by the thoughts of damnation for sins, saying that he “hated this God who punched sinners, if not with silent blasphemies at least with huge murmurings. I was indignant against God. As if it were not enough that miserable sinners, eternally ruined by original sin, should be crushed…through the Law of the Ten Commandments…and so I raged with a savaged and confounded conscience.” He therefore turned to the Bible. The Catholic Church had always taught that grace was active, in the sense that it came into force at the Day of Judgment when the righteous would be separated from the damned. As he read Romans 1, Luther became convinced that the grace of which Paul wrote was passive, hence available to everyone. This led to his conclusion that salvation came not through penance and repentance, nor through the intercession of saints and martyrs or the prayers of the church, but by faith alone. It was an entirely new idea. As Luther re-read Romans 1:16-17, he wrote, I felt myself straightaway born afresh and to have entered through the open gates into paradise.” This led to the further belief that the Bible was the sole authority. In 1517, he nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg University.

Luther also taught us a second great lesson, the priesthood of the Christian believer. In I Peter 2:9 we are called a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” This teaching birthed a great revolution in the souls of those experiencing this new faith. No longer did they need an earthly mediator; they had a mediator in heaven, the man Christ Jesus. We all have direct access into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. We are all priests unto God.
Luther also taught us the importance of the Word of God. He proceeded to translate the Bible into German for the people in his churches. As these new believers began to search the scriptures in their own language everything changed. Today we have access to many great translation, commentaries and word study books. Dig into the word of God; it is food for our soul.

Our Protestant fathers also taught us the importance of the local church. The ministries of the ministers flow out of the local church and become the centerpiece of our Christian lives.

In the revival of 1734-1735 in Northampton, Mass, the local church became the hub of everything. This is where our instruction, our relationships, and even our business found its protection. The local church is critical to our way of life in our western culture.

Ephesians 2:17-22 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Secondly, I am a Pentecostal, Protestant Christian. When Jesus left His disciples to return to heaven and told them to wait for the “Promise of the Father” [Acts 1:4]. This is a promise the Father made to Jesus in eternity. Father and Son entered an eternal covenant. If Christ would become a man and sacrifice his life for fallen man all those who believed upon Him would receive the Promise, the awesome baptism in the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Spirit is the purchase possession obtained by Christ on the cross.

Secondly I want to honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus. John prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mark 1:8,9). When Jesus ascended into heaven His heavenly ministry as our heavenly High Priest began. This heavenly ministry is the ministry of immersion in the person of the Holy Spirit. We see the first occurrence of this on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Today His heavenly ministry continues. The modern church, many times, does not recognize or honor Jesus and His heavenly ministry. Many times we want to rewrite the emphasis of church and Christian life. To honor the heavenly ministry of Jesus we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, we need supernatural power. Our world is become more dangerous everyday. It is becoming harder and harder for Christians to live a godly life in this dark, wicked world. We need the power of God, the tangible power that comes upon us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. To live Holy in this perverse world we need His power.

We also need this power for effective ministry. Jesus told us this in Acts 1:8. He said we would receive power (dunamis-supernatural power) when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. We are dealing with addictions, illnesses, and all kinds of bondages when ministering to this generation. Christian slogans are not good enough, we must have power.

Finally, I am a Pentecostal because of the blessing given to me by the supernatural language of prayer. Speaking in tongues is the doorway to the world of the supernatural.

Paul said we are edified, built up spiritually (1 Corinthians 14:2,4) when we pray in tongues. He said the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses when we pray in the Spirit (Romans 8:26). He taught about our intercessory anointing that sometimes comes when we pray in tongues (Romans 8:27). He also taught about the prophetic nature of praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15).

The prayer language is not an after thought, or an unimportant extra. The prayer language is foundational to the supernatural Christian life.

We live in perilous times (II Timothy 3:1). We need to return to the faith of our fathers. We have drifted toward a seeker sensitive, Christian light faith for far to long. We must return to our Protestant and our Pentecostal roots. The future of our families our cities and our nation are on the line. Join with me on my spiritual safari, we are sojourning to the city, the city that has a foundation whose builder and maker is God.

REJOICE WITH TREMBLING

“This fear is a gracious habit or principle planted by God in the soul, whereby the soul is kept under an holy awe of the eye of God, and from thence is inclined to perform and do what pleaseth him, and to shun and avoid whatsoever he forbids and hates.”

John Flavel – puritan Pastor who lived from 1628-1691 who died in jail, imprisoned for his faith.

In Romans 3:18 Paul quotes Psalm 36:1 saying “There is no fear of God before his eyes.”  We live in a generation that takes the things of God for granted and has no fear of God anywhere to be found.  Obviously, the lost people have no knowledge of God and cannot respect the Lord.  However, the church is in a different situation all together.  The fear of God is also absent from our congregations today.  I think often about the sorry spiritual condition the supposed Body of Christ is in and I have come to some conclusions.  Apparently, we have been willed to sleep with a message about the blessings of God in this life and we have lost our moorings.  Christianity is about more than careers, houses, ministries and everything else than has been the focus of “church” for too long.  The normal message is about success, vision, purpose, church growth, marriage and other topics that pertain to this life.  Where is the preaching about Christ and His Kingdom.  I thought Jesus taught His kingdom is not of this world.

As we reflect on the words of John Flavel, we are reminded of the difference of the church in 1600 to the church of 2000.  Flavel said that the fear of God is planted supernaturally in our soul.  Natural man is afraid of a lot of things, but the fear of God is nowhere to be found.  As we call upon the Lord, and hunger after Him our heart is filled with the fear and majesty of Almighty God.

Flavel also said that the fear of God causes an inclination in us to do the things that are pleasing to God.  In Hebrews 11:7 the Bible says that Noah was moved with fear to prepare an ark.  Noah was inclined to obey the Lord because of a Godly fear that came upon Him.  This fear produces not only obedience but like David said a delight.  “I delight to do your will oh God.”  Psalm 40:8

Finally, Flavel said that this fear causes us to avoid behavior that is displeasing to the Lord.  Job was described as one who feared God and turned away from evil.  When we come to Christ, and experience the reality of God in our souls, we have this tendency to flee from evil.  Our heart is changed, we are not attracted to the disgusting practices of the world, and we are strangely attracted to Christ.

David spoke of this strange joy in Psalm 2:11.  He said serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.  When the incredible, holy majesty of God comes upon us we are stricken with two things.  We are overwhelmed by His attributes.  We are struck by His holiness, kindness, grace, power, love, justice, sovereignty, and power.  We tremble before this awesome God.  Secondly, we are strangely affected by the joy of heaven.  This supernatural joy fills our souls and overwhelms us.  We begin to rejoice, every part of our being begins to rejoice.  The joy of the Lord becomes ours, our joy is made full.  If you long for happiness, it is available to you.  It is available not in the pleasures of this world, but at the Father’s right hand, pleasures forevermore