RED SKY – SAILOR TAKE WARNING

Matt.16:2,3 – He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

Recently I was preparing to play golf with some friends and we were noticing the beautiful red sunrise in the east. One of my friends said, “red sky in the morning, sailor take warning” and then made reference to this scripture. I began to ask some questions (seeing my friend is a fisherman) and he said that red sunrises speak of a rainy day later and a red sunset usually predicts a coming beautiful day. I have been thinking about what the Lord was saying in this passage all day today. Obviously He was rebuking the religious leaders He was speaking to. He said that could recognize signs in nature and miss the prophetic signs of the coming of the Lord all around them. Here are some comments from Spurgeon on this passage.

“They were able to draw nice distinctions on the variable condition of “the face of the sky: ” why could they not “discern the signs of the times? ” They could have seen, if they had chosen to do so, that all the prophecies were one in declaring that the date of Messiah’s appearing had arrived; and they could also have observed that every event was fulfilling those prophecies; but they were false at heart, and would not see, and yet cried out for a sign. Signs were all around them, and yet they repeated the parrot cry “Show us a sign.” Most justly our Lord was indignant with them, and upbraided them, using the justly severe words, “O ye hypocrites! ”… Lord, do not allow any of us to be blind to the heavenly signs, — thy cross, thy resurrection, thy Word, thy Spirit, and thy work of grace, Teach us carefully to discern ” these things as being in very deed the abidingsigns of the times.

Just as there were signs of the first appearance of the Lord (the magi recognized a star proclaiming the Lord’s birth) there are signs all around us proclaiming the end of the age and the Second coming of the Lord. There are spiritual signs; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There are signs in the political and economic world; the alignment of the nations against Israel for one. There are also signs in creation; earthquakes and natural disasters have multiplied in the last century. Look at the signs; red sky – sailor take warning.

TO NURTURE AND BUILD UP HIS BODY

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

Have you ever had the light turned on with a particular scripture and you’re like “wow, where have I been all these years?” This has been the story of my life, scripture forever twisting and winding taking on new meanings. Sometimes when you read different translations the word comes alive! For example “the amplified—becomes amplified”. Hint- read different translations and bible commentaries!

There is a lot attention to the five-fold ministry. This is the verse that took on deeper meaning-

“And he has generously given each one of us supernatural grace, according to the size of the gift of Christ. And he has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists, and some with grace to be pastors, and some with grace to be teachers. And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ.” Eph.4:11 Passion

I love the words to “nuture and prepare believers to do the works of the ministry; to enlarge and build up his body”. It goes on to say that these gifts that have been given to the fivefold ministry will function until “ we become one perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed in the abundance of Christ.”

Rereading this verse makes me wonder how many times I’ve used the supernatural gifts for my own gain rather than for other believers to nurture them for the enlargement of his body? I Cor. 14:10 says, “If the bugle makes a garbled sound, who will recognize the signal to show up for the battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak in a language that’s easily understood, how will anyone know what you’re talking about? You might as well save your breath! And that’s what’s happening among you. You are so passionate about embracing the manifestations of the Holy Spirit! Now become even more passionate about the things that strengthen the entire church.”

In other words do I get so caught up with the manifestations of the Holy Spirit that are going on around me that I forget the main purpose of the Holy Spirit is to actually build up, perfect and refresh the church? Do other believers understand what is happening or understand the grace gift in me and in others? Sometimes my passion/expression isn’t comprehended and the other person is not understanding where I am coming from. Hence we need the supernatural grace gift to supernaturally convey to others so that in turn they will be nurtured and they in turn enlarge the body is built up! So maybe my delivery needs tweaking, my love turned up to exercise patience as I use what he gave me to build up others; “till we all come into the unity of the faith”.

DO YOU REALLY WANT THAT MANTLE ?

2 Kings 2:13 – He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.

Elisha wanted Elijah’s mantle. Who wouldn’t want that kind of power and influence? Before you rush into an answer of that question maybe we should do what Jesus suggested; count the cost. Of course the prophet’s mantle, or coat, was a picture of the real coat that clothed Elijah. There was an incredible heavenly anointing on this man of God, but like anything else, there are always consequences. Every man with an anointing has stirred up their enemies. Moses had his pharaoh, Elijah had his Jezebel, John the Baptist had his Herod, and Jesus had His Pilate. The anointing does two different kinds of things. First it empowers and equips us for the purposes and plans of God. It brings creativity, supernatural power, wisdom plus an unlimited number of supernatural attributes. Unfortunately it also awakens something else; persecution.

So as Elisha stood looking at the fallen mantle of Elijah he had to know the implications of picking it up, but pick it up he did. Here are some thoughts from the Expositor’s Commentary on this scene.

“In joy mixed with sorrow, Elisha turned from viewing the heavenly spectacle that had assured him of his request to Elijah and saw yet a further sign–Elijah’s fallen mantle lay at Elisha’s feet. The younger prophet had once had that mantle symbolically laid on his shoulders (1Ki 19:19); now it would rest there permanently. All he need do was pick it up.“

I can remember clearly when the Lord brought a new mantle upon my life while I was sitting in a service in Rockwall, Texas in August of 1994. I felt it fall upon me just as if I was putting on a new coat. From that day new power surged into my ministry. I sensed a new spirit of prophesy surging through my life. My preaching intensified, souls were being converted at an unprecedented rate, and there was a new fire in our church. Along with that mantle came the other side of the so called coin; resistance and betrayal. Many of my long time church members took off and long time ministry friends disappeared. Not everyone really wants the anointing (even if they say they do). Would I have picked up that mantle knowing what I know now? Absolutely. Having His hand upon my life and His presence in our church is the greatest treasure I possess.

FOLLOWING MY ELIJAH

I Kings 19:19 – Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah..

The story of Elisha is my story and your story. We were just living meaningless, average (or less than average) lives when Elijah passed by. When the mantle of Elijah touched Elisha his questions were answered and his life plans were now settled. That’s how it was with me, when Jesus threw His mantle on me in the summer of 1973 my course was set. Nothing could ever compare to the life I was now tasting, my longing for this mantle charted the course of my life. Here is how Sister Aimee describes this calling.

“Ah, how sacred memories stir within our breast as we read of Elisha’s call! How the tears spring to our eyes unbidden, and we feel like a tug at our hearts as we remember the day – O, happy day of days – when our Elijah, Jesus Christ, the King of heaven, passed through the field of life in which we toiled and and cast His dear mantle o’er our lives. And that face! O, brother, do you, say, do you remember how it shone fairer Trahan the morning, brighter than the dawn? O, sister, do you remember how are hearts melted and brake, when He said, “Follow Me!” And how we cried out: Goodbye land of doubts and haunts of pleasure – Farewell, seat of scornful and counsel of ungodly men – Farewell, bright lights and empty tinsel – gaiety of sin’s delusive path! I’ve see the face of Jesus, the heaven lit face of the wondrous Son of Man; I’ve seen His smile, I’ve heard His voice, and my being thrilled as He cast o’er me His mantle of mercy, love and power – henceforth will I follow Him!”

Some think it is a great sacrifice to leave our worldly activities to follow our Elijah. That tells me that one has never felt the power and beauty of the mantle of the Lord. For those that may need a clearer explanation the mantle was the prophet’s coat representing the anointing upon his life. Jesus, the Anointed One, has placed His “coat” upon our lives. Like He promised His disciples, “You will be clothed with power not many days from now”. Have you tasted the power of His mantle? When He throws His mantle over you your true life will finally begin.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR

Acts 1:12-14 – The disciples left the Mount of Olives and returned to Jerusalem, less than a mile away. Arriving there, they went into a large second-floor room to pray. Those present were Peter, John, Jacob, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, Jacob (the son of Alpheus), Simon (the zealot), Judas (the son of Jacob), and a number of women, including Mary, Jesus’ mother. His brothers were there as well. All of them were united in prayer, gripped with one passion, interceding night and day.

This is quite a group of people, you could say this was the main fruit of the ministry of Jesus. Of the five hundred that saw Him on the Mount of Olives, one hundred and twenty remained. What were they doing? They were waiting for what Jesus called “the promise of the Father”. No one could quite figure out what that was but they were all there, fervently seeking the Lord in prayer. After ten days suddenly the atmosphere of the room changed. An unusual, strong wind began to blow inside of the building. Each of these participants began to feel the very presence of God all around them and inside of them. They were all totally submerged, baptized, in the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.

One of the things that I think about when I think of this scene is the individual participants in the room. Of course there was Peter; but how did he make it from denying the Lord three times to being filled with the Holy Spirit. He would have said it something like this, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. Peter qualified because of the forgiveness found in the blood of Christ.

Mary Magdalene had to be there. What would she say? “I saw the empty tomb and then I saw the Lord for myself”. I am waiting for what He promised, He is my only hope in this life.

Then I imagine Nicodemus, the famous Pharisee had to be there. What would Nicodemus say? He would tell you what the Lord had told him not long ago, “For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!”

If a disciple filled with compromise, a former prostitute, and a staunch religious man could be baptized with the Spirit, maybe there is hope for us. What are you waiting for, maybe a fresh wind is about to blow?

RECEIVING

As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord.” —Colossians 2:6

I often talk about what happened to me in the summer of 1994. I had been a Christian for twenty one years and had pastored for sixteen. As a matter of fact I considered myself a committed, spirit filled, Pentecostal/charismatic pastor. In retrospect something was wrong and I was out of touch with what was missing . What had changed over the years of ministry was a subtle change. I guess my ministry success had effected me more than I realized. At some point on my journey I had forgotten how to receive from the Lord. The scary thing about that, I didn’t realize I needed to receive, I thought I was doing quite well. What changed all of that? It was seeing Christians in the midst of an outpouring of the Spirit. It was intimidating, infuriating, and convicting at the same time. I needed another touch, I needed to receive again from the Lord. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this.

“The life of faith is represented as receiving— an act which implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift. As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God. The saints are not, by nature, wells, or streams, they are but cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours His salvation. The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: so is it in the life of faith, Christ becomes real to us. While we are without faith, Jesus is a mere name to us—a person who lived a long while ago, so long ago that His life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing which I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given.”

It was a big thing but something that changed quickly and dramatically. It was like turning on a light switch. Suddenly I found myself in the receiving mode and was experiencing huge downloads of the Spirit from heaven. Revival was right under my nose but I couldn’t step in until that adjustment was made. Humble yourself, get in a receiving mode and you too will swept up in God.

LIVING IN SHALOM

Ps.34:12-14 – Do you want to live a long, good life,

enjoying the beauty that fills each day?

Then never speak a lie or allow wicked words

to come from your mouth.

Keep turning your back on every sin,

and make “peace” your life motto.

Practice being at peace with everyone.

Shalom is an important word in the Hebrew language. It can be used as a greeting and contains a proclamation of blessing over the recipient. The KM Dictionary describes shalom like this – “peace, safety, prosperity, well-being; intactness, wholeness; peace can have a focus of security, safety which can bring feelings of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment. → completeness; health; peace; prosperity; safety; well-being”. That is a mouthful. This verse gives us a glimpse into the life that we enjoy as this shalom. It says to turn your back on sin and speak peace not cursing on everyone. This would even include your enemies. I am convinced there is a life of wholeness available to us as we focus on the beauty of God and walk in peace with those in our lives. Here are comments from the notes in the Passion Bible.

“Twice the Hebrew uses the word shalom (in this verse). This word means much more than peace. It means wholeness, wellness, well-being, safe, happy, friendly, favor, completeness, to make peace, peace offering, secure, to prosper, to be victorious, to be content, tranquil, quiet, and restful….The noun shalom is derived from the verbal root shalam, which means “to restore,” in the sense of replacing or providing what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. So shalom is used to describe those of us who have been provided all that is needed to be whole and complete and break off all authority that would attempt to bind us to chaos.”

Obviously there is strife in the world. We are confronted and even surrounded by it every day. This passage teaches us how to live above the chaos. Jesus said it like this, “you are in the world but not of the world”. He also said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. So how can I walk in peace amidst all the strife all around me? Actually I can’t, but Christ in me can. I yield to Him, He lives His life in me, I get the SHALOM!!!

GOODNESS, GOODNESS, GOODNESS

Ps119:68 – Everything you do is beautiful, flowing from your goodness;

teach me the power of your wonderful words!

This verse is obviously written by someone who has tasted the goodness of the Lord for themselves. As this verse indicates, God’s goodness is more than what He does. The things He does flows out of who He is. The very essence of His being is good. As a result, everything act and word that flows out from Him is characterized by His goodness. The first glimpse of God that we have is His creative acts in the book of Genesis. After each part of creation was completed the scripture declares that God saw it and it was good. His work of redemption declares His goodness, His incarnation as the man Jesus of Nazareth displays His goodness. The healing ministry and teaching of Jesus portrayed His goodness and His work of redemption is an overwhelming masterpiece of art putting His goodness on display for all eternity. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this verse.

“God is essential goodness in himself, and in every attribute of his nature he is good in the fullest sense of the term; indeed, he has a monopoly of goodness, for there is none good but one, that is God. His acts are according to his nature: from a pure source flow pure streams. God is not latent and ill active goodness; he displays himself by his doings, he is actively beneficent, he does good. How much good he does no tongue can tell! How good he is no heart can conceive! It is well to worship the Lord as the poet here does by describing him…..We believe in his goodness, and so honour him by our faith; we admire that goodness, and so glorify him by our love; we declare that goodness, and so magnify him by our testimony.”

It is the very goodness of the Lord that attracts us to Him. I remember all of my preconceived ideas about the Lord before my conversion. I felt like I was never going to be a good enough person to be a Christian, my life was too ensnared by my sinful pleasures. It was a taste of His goodness that won me over. I saw His acceptance and love of me in my sinful condition. His goodness drew me in but didn’t leave me the way I was. As I got closer it was the same goodness that won me that began to change me. It was the goodness and kindness of the Lord that led me to repentance.

SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

Jn.4:42 – Then the Samaritans said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you told us, but now we’ve heard him ourselves and are convinced that he really is the true Savior of the world!”

This passage is one of the first indications that Christ was coming for the whole world, not just the jews. The conversation by Jesus with the Samaritan woman was borderline scandalous and was not at all what His disciples had expected. The Lord was expanding their vision to embrace Him as the Savior of the world. The picture is a Leonardo da Vinci painting entitled Savior of the World. It was sold recently as the most expensive painting of all time to a prince in Saudi Arabia. He truly is the Savior of the world. In this particular story the Samaritan village had begun to believe on Christ. At first it was just the testimony of the woman at the well; after hearing Christ for themselves they believed on Him because of His words. Just as Jesus had given the woman at the well life, the rest of the village were also tasting of Christ’s life giving water as they drank from His words themselves. The Aramaic word for Savior in this passage literally means life giver. He gives life to all who receive His word. Here is how Matthew Henry describes the power of meeting Christ for yourself.

“Faith comes to its growth, strength, and maturity, by hearing the testimony of Christ himself; and this goes further, and recommends his doctrine to our acceptance, and obliges us to believe it as undoubtedly certain. We were induced to look into the scriptures by the saying of those who told us that in them they had found eternal life; but when we ourselves have found it in them too, have experienced the enlightening, convincing, regenerating, sanctifying, comforting, power of the word, now we believe, not for their saying, but because we have searched them ourselves: and our faith stands not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

All of us have developed preconceived ideas about the Lord and spirituality from our past influences. The woman at the well, as the rest of this Samaritan village, was trapped in a religious world without life until they heard for themselves. If we are honest with ourselves maybe much of what we believe comes from what others say. Listen to His word for yourself and you too will say, “he really is the true Savior of the world!”

THE ANOINTING AND THE SPIRIT OF PROPHESY

Acts 19:6 – And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

I think many Christians have a narrow understanding of the gift of prophesy. Many think that prophesy is always predictive, declaring the future plans of the Lord. Certainly prophecy can be that but the gift of prophesy in the New Testament includes other things, specifically it includes magnifying or worshipping the Lord supernaturally. One example is in today’s verse. The disciples in Ephesus who were baptized in the Holy Spirit responded the same way those in Cornelius’s house did in Acts 10. When they were filled with the Spirit they prophesied, most likely worshipping the Lord by the Spirit. Similarly, at Cornelius’s house, the new believers spoke in tongues and magnified the Lord. This is exactly what the Spirit has always done, specifically in the life of David. David wrote his Psalms by the Spirit of prophesy. David’s Psalms were supernatural, a great display of the Spirit of prophesy. Here is a description from the Life in the Spirit Commentary.

“The immediate consequences of this Spirit-baptism are charismatic manifestations of tongues and prophecy The phrase “and prophesied” must not be assumed to indicate an additional sign. It stands parallel to the phrase “praising God” in Acts 10:46. Prophetic activity is realized in the last days (cf. the events of Pentecost, which shows a close relationship between speaking in tongues and prophesying via Joel 2). Similar to the disciples at Pentecost and Caesarea, these people at Ephesus speak in tongues and give inspired praise to God after receiving the Pentecostal power of the Spirit. Like earlier outpourings of the Spirit, the initial evidence of the charismatic experience of the Ephesian believers is speaking in tongues. Paul instructs, baptizes, and lays hands on them, but through the sovereign action of the prophetic Spirit they are endowed with power for ministry.”

This gift helps us understand supernatural worship. I think that when the Holy Spirit falls on us and we experience the power of His presence, as we yield to His presence we then experience worshipping the Lord in our heavenly language and also worshipping spontaneously in our own language. That supernatural worship is one example of the Spirit of prophesy. Understanding and yielding to this gift in private and public worship changes everything.