STEPPING INTO GOD’S BLESSING

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Just because you are a Christian you don’t automatically experience all of the promises and blessings of the Lord that are available to you. As a matter of fact, we have to learn to walk with the Lord. He wants to be in the center of our world and wants to reveal His goodness to each of us. Recently, I have been redigging one of the ancient wells that the Lord brought me to in the first days of my ministry. As a novice pastor I had lots to learn. I had been given a book written by Oral Roberts called ‘A DAILY GUIDE TO MIRACLES’. I believe this book came into my life at the perfect time in my life. I was ready to learn and I was in need of supernatural provision. Let’s face it, I had no trade or means to provide for my family. I had no congregation or financial support from another ministry. I was put in a place of total dependence on the Lord. The good news is that He met me big time. I want to share with you three truths that I learned from Brother Roberts that changed my life. I hope they are also a blessing to you.

First, God is the Source of my supply. This is the beginning of a supernatural life. Like today’s verse says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father”. Learning to look to the Lord as my source no matter what my circumstances were changed everything.

Second, God wants to be first in my life and my giving. Putting the Lord first is exactly what Jesus taught. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be provided for you”. Seeking His kingdom, building His church was the key. Get involved in what He is involved in will change everything.

Third, whatever I give, I give it as Seed-Faith. I expect a miracle. That was the shocking thing for me. When we first started our church we saw the Lord get involved immediately. I remember Parris and I counting the offering after our first Sunday service and laughing and crying at the Lord’s blessing. He is bigger than you think and wants to be involved in your world.

THE LIGHT PENETRATES EVERY CRACK AND CREVICE

James 1:17 – Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

I love the way the Lord constantly goes out of His way to show Himself to the world. You ever wonder how long the sun has been shining. It is constant, consistent, and unrelenting. It is a great picture of the radiant light that shines continually from the Lord. The Message Bible states this verse like this, “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle”. But just like any picture of the Lord it is imperfect at best. The sun is limited in its radiance, as James says, there are shadows of turning with the sun that are non-existent with the Lord. His rays are more uniform and encompassing than the rays of the sun. Here is how Albert Barnes describes this characteristic of the Lord.

“(The sun) rises and sets; it crosses the line, and seems to go far to the south, and sends its rays obliquely on the earth; then it ascends to the north, recrosses the line, and sends its rays obliquely on southern regions. By its revolutions it produces the changes of the seasons, and makes a constant variety on the earth in the productions of different climates. In this respect God is not indeed like the sun. With him there is no variableness, not even the appearance of turning. He is always the same, at all seasons of the year, and in all ages; there is no change in his character, his mode of being, his purposes and plans. What he was millions of ages before the worlds were made, he is now; what he is now, he will be countless millions of ages hence. We may be sure that whatever changes there may be in human affairs; whatever reverses we may undergo; whatever oceans we may cross, or whatever mountains we may climb, or in whatever worlds we may hereafter take up our abode, God is the same.”

There is a constancy with God that is called in the scripture, light. He is the light of the world. It’s in His light we see light or revelation that is the source of all our life. In Him there are no shadows or changes, He brings light and awakening to every part of our lives.

NO SHADOWS

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

The sun is one of the great pictures of God that the Creator has placed in His creation. Everything in our world is totally dependent on the sun. There is a constant flow of light that rains down on the earth. It gives us light, and heat, and the energy that is the source of all plant and animal life. This is a great picture of the constant stream of life that flows to us from the Father of lights. James spoke about this continual giving nature of our Father pictured by the sun. James pointed out one major difference; with the Lord there is no shadow of turning. No nighttime, no winter seasons and no eclipsing of His nature. He is our constant source of life and provision. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on this incredible Father of Lights.

“The sun, the fountain of light to the whole of our system, may be obscured by clouds; or the different bodies which revolve round him, and particularly the earth, may from time to time suffer a diminution of his light by the intervention of other bodies eclipsing his splendor; and his apparent tropical variation, shadow of turning; when, for instance, in our winter, he has declined to the southern tropic, the tropic of Capricorn, so that our days are greatly shortened, and we suffer in consequence a great diminution both of light and heat. But there is nothing of this kind with God; he is never affected by the changes and chances to which mortal things are exposed. He occupies no one place in the universe; he fills the heavens and the earth, is everywhere present, sees all, pervades all, and shines upon all; dispenses his blessings equally to the universe; hates nothing that he has made; is loving to every man; and his tender mercies are over all his works: therefore he is not affected with evil, nor does he tempt, or influence to sin, any man.”
Why does it seem like the Lord is hidden from us and His blessings are blocked from us? All of God and His blessings are revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. Look to Him, bow before Him in worship, seek Him in His word. You too will soon find yourself swallowed up in His beams of light and life.

FATHER OF LIGHT

kristine-weilert-88989.jpg

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

There is a river of cascading light flowing down from the Father above. He is the fountainhead and giver of all life. This river of light effects us powerfully once our eyes have been opened. Before Christ opened our eyes we were blind; blind to His goodness and to all His gracious work all around us. We were blind to the glory of the Lord; our lives were flooded with the darkness of this generation. This darkness effected the way we talked, the way we thought, the way we viewed the world, and was the source of all of our actions. When Christ came the darkness disappeared suddenly from our lives. First, we saw the beauty of Christ from this light. We began to be overwhelmed with the beauty of His nature; His kindness, His holiness, His wisdom and His love. Next, we begin to see our lives from this light. We saw our sinfulness and His offer of salvation. Then, as we embraced this light, our whole being was flooded with light. We are different people now, the glory of God has changed us into different people. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s verse.

“What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; aye, and infinitely more. For every good gift is from him. As the Father of lights, he gives the light of reason. The inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding. He gives also the light of learning: Solomon’s wisdom in the knowledge of nature, in the arts of government, and in all his improvements, is ascribed to God. The light of divine revelation is more immediately from above. The light of faith, purity, and all manner of consolation is from him. So that we receive from God, as there is no evil or sin in us, or done by us, but what is owing to ourselves.”
Now, we see everything differently, the Lord appears beautiful to us, we also see ourselves in a different manner, and we see our purpose in life very differently. We are awakened by Him, transformed by Him, inspired by this light, empowered by it, and consoled and strengthened as we embrace His light. The world lies in darkness, unable to see the goodness of God. We are no longer part of this darkness, we have become children of light.

TRUE MINISTRY

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Have you ever really thought about James’ words in this verse? Pure and undefined religion, that’s what we are all really looking for. Notice he didn’t say you have to do these things to be spiritual or religious (in a good sense). He was saying that these are the characteristics of spiritual people. Jesus said it like this, “You will know them by their fruit”. Our actions declare our inner spirituality. Ministering to hurting people in a practical way (orphans and widows) is the outflow of the life of God in our soul. If you are saved and spiritually healthy God’s love will compel you to reach out to the broken. That was what the ministry of Jesus was all about, that’s what true ministry is about today. Find someone hurting worse than you are and love them in a practical way. Here are some thoughts from Billy Graham on what he calls Christian service.
“In our world today Christian service is often mistaken for humanitarian service. The important thing to remember is that Christ called His followers to proclaim His message, and this is done in various ways. Ministering to people’s souls is far greater than providing only physical needs. Often, however, we earn the opportunity to share Christ when a helpful hand has been extended to someone in need. Then you can say with Paul, ‘I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience’ (v. 3). The Lord demonstrated the truest service when He willingly left the glories of Heaven to live among men, then die for them. Jesus entered into the arena of human troubles. He wept with people and rejoiced with them in their victories. We must do no less. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”

Our church has become a tapestry of ministry to hurting people. There is Mary’s Song for troubled women, and 180 for guys who have lost their way. There is the healing room where the sick are ministered to as well as outreaches to assisted living homes, the homeless, and to youth at the high schools. There are these more official ministries as well as the hurting people the Lord brings our way everyday. Again, find someone who is hurting even if you also are going through difficult times. Many times it is in pouring out the oil on others that we experience the restoring power of God.

PURE RELIGION

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Our Thanksgiving Outreach has become one of our church’s favorite ministries that we do every year. It is simple and involves everyone’s personal involvement. I think the combination of pouring out to needy people, fellowshipping with friends and family, and the benefit of good food is a no lose situation. It is more blessed to give than to receive. If you pay close attention you may discover an important spiritual truth; there is great joy involved in ministering to others. Just as many of us have discovered the unspeakable joy in receiving from the Lord. There is a similar joy involved in pouring out love on others. Flowing into us and flowing out of us, the River is a place of incredible joy. Here is how Adam Clarke describes today’s scripture verse.
“Works of charity and mercy are the proper fruits of religion; and none are more especially the objects of charity and mercy than the orphans and widows. False religion may perform acts of mercy and charity; but its motives not being pure, and its principle being defiled, the flesh, self, and hypocrisy, spot the man, and spot his acts. True religion does not merely give something for the relief of the distressed, but it visits them, it takes the oversight of them, it takes them under its care. It goes to their houses, and speaks to their hearts; it relieves their wants, sympathizes with them in their distresses, instructs them in Divine things and recommends them to God. And all this it does for the Lord’s sake. This is the religion of Christ. The religion that does not prove itself by works of charity and mercy is not of God. Reader, what religion hast thou? Has thine ever led thee to cellars, garrets, cottages, and houses, to find out the distressed? Hast thou ever fed, clothed, and visited a destitute representative of Christ?”
So as we finish another Thanksgiving season I want to offer all of us a challenge. Could it be possible that we would make our lives more enjoyable if we made ministry to the poor part of our lifestyle? If there is a joy in giving let’s not wait for Feed the Multitudes or Thanksgiving Outreach; let’s start right now. There is a place of joy in serving set aside just for you.

RIVER OF CASCADING LIGHT

James 1:17 THE MESSAGE Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

Every time I read this verse I remember a service somewhere around 1990 with Rinhart Bunkie. It was in our newly, partially finished building on Airline Drive. I was quite depressed facing bankruptcy or foreclosure or both. Brother Bunkie kept crying out, “The Lord is at high noon. There is no shadow of turning with Him. He is always ready to move on behalf of God’s people”. There is no way to explain what happened to me that day except for this, suddenly things that seemed impossible to me before no longer seemed impossible. As a matter of fact it felt like they were already done. Nothing changed in my circumstances but I knew the Lord had me and things were going to happen, I knew provision was inevitable. God is at high noon and He is always ready. He is looking for vessels to flow through. He is like a river of cascading light pouring down blessing on whosoever will. Here is an awesome thought on this verse from Adam Clarke.
“The sun, the fountain of light to the whole of our system, may be obscured by clouds; or the different bodies which revolve round him, and particularly the earth, may from time to time suffer a diminution of his light by the intervention of other bodies eclipsing his splendor; and his apparent tropical variation, shadow of turning; when, for instance, in our winter, he has declined to the southern tropic, the tropic of Capricorn, so that our days are greatly shortened, and we suffer in consequence a great diminution both of light and heat. But there is nothing of this kind with God; he is never affected by the changes and chances to which mortal things are exposed. He occupies no one place in the universe; he fills the heavens and the earth, is everywhere present, sees all, pervades all, and shines upon all; dispenses his blessings equally to the universe; hates nothing that he has made; is loving to every man; and his tender mercies are over all his works: therefore he is not affected with evil, nor does he tempt, or influence to sin, any man.”
The sun is relentless, it never stops pouring out its blessing. So is our God. He is pouring out His gifts today. Open up your life wide and begin to receive.

EVER GIVING

EVER GIVING

James 1:17 The Message – Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

One of the shocking things I learned in the outpouring in 1994 was the nature of God in regards to giving. He is always giving. He is a river at flood time, He is a fountain overflowing, He is a bottomless ocean of blessing and resources, all of which are lavishly poured upon us in Christ. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. We are seated together with Him in His house of abundance. We are receivers, He is the giver. We humble ourselves and drink deeply of this overflowing fountain, as we do we are filled with His joy. Through God’s giving and our receiving, he is glorified and we are happified. Charles Spurgeon wrote a powerful devotion on the giving nature of our God. Enjoy this excerpt.

“Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw his hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; he is manna always falling round the camp; he is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing. As the King can never die, so his grace can never fail. Daily we pluck his fruit, and daily his branches bend down to our hand with a fresh store of mercy. Who has ever returned from his door unblessed? Who has ever risen from his table unsatisfied, or from his bosom un-emparadised? His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening.”

It is easy to get empty as a Christian, all it takes is for us to gradually shift over to a works mentality and forget how to receive from our gracious Father. That was my story in 1994. I was so busy with “God’s work” that I had stopped receiving from Him. There are so many distractions that can block our ability to receive. For me, it was working rather than receiving. What is it for you? For some its the distractions of worldly pleasures. For others it could be a strange form of pride cloaked in the so called gospel of self esteem. Maybe it’s worry or unforgiveness, the list is endless. At the end of the day only one conclusion can bring us back to a place of enjoying His boundless mercy. We have to come to the place where we see clearly, I am needy, He is filled with abundance. From that place we begin to drink again. The overflowing fountain is bubbling up in us, the river at flood stage is pouring over our heads. Suddenly we find ourselves immersed in His bottomless ocean of love.

REFLECTED GLORY

REFLECTED GLORY

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Most of the commentaries I have read about this verse say that this passage is poetic, like the words to a song. Several suggestions were made about how James came up with this verse. One commentator said that James may have had an ear for rhythm. Another said that these were probably the words of an ancient greek poem. Still another commentator said that these were the words of an early Christian hymn. Regardless where these words came from, they are very descriptive capturing the beauty of the Father of all creation. Bishop Wordsworth spoke powerfully about this passage from James.

“GOD is the Father of all lights- the light of the natural world, the sun, the moon, and stars, shining in the heavens; the light of reason and conscience; the light of His law; the light of prophecy, shining in a dark place; the light of the gospel shining in a dark world; the light of the apostles, confessors, martyrs, bishops, and priests, preaching the gospel to all nations; the light of the Holy Ghost shining in our hearts; the light of the heavenly city; God is the Father of them all. He is the everlasting Father of the everlasting Son, who is the light of the world.”

Jonathan Edwards also spoke about this verse in a sermon in the 1730’s. He said that the Lord is, first of all, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 1:18 He is called the only begotten Son. This phrase is the word monogenes in the greek New Testament. It means one of a kind or uniquely generated. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. The reason His generation is unique is because it is eternal, without beginning. He has always been the only begotten of the Father. Edwards went on to say that we have become sons of the Heavenly Father by the Spirit of adoption. We were children of darkness and have become His children by the infusion of His Spirit into our lives. We are no longer orphans, we have become sons and daughters of the Father of lights.
Paul also called the Lord the Father of Glory in Ephesians 1:17.This is the Glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ and is now the reflected Glory that is shining in the life of His church.
If you are born again, the reflected Glory of the Father of lights is shining out from you into your world, your life is impacting people more than you know. There is a difference about you that may be subtle but it is full of power. Christ, the hope of Glory, shines out of your heart. He is shining in your home, in your place of business, and when you gather with friends. The Father of lights is penetrating the darkness of this world. Where is this light shining from? It is shining from your face.

SHADOW OF TURNING

SHADOW OF TURNING

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17

I can remember being in one of those difficult seasons that we all experience in this crazy world. It was about the same time we started Feed the Multitudes, around 1990. Reinhard Bonnke came to speak at our church and spoke on this passage, with God there is no shadow of turning. Brother Bonnke said that the Lord is always at high noon. Like a sun dial in the ancient world, at high noon there are no shadows. Bonnke went on to say that the Lord is always at high noon, always ready to work on behalf of His children. The simplicity of that message carried great power and was saturated with faith. I can remember how easy it was for me to believe God for the miracle that we desperately needed in our ministry. The miracle wasn’t one of those instant miracles of provision, it was much greater than that. The Lord began a long term change in me and in our congregation that preceded us being swept up into revival. Rienecker has a powerful thought concerning this same passage.

“God’s benevolence is like a light which cannot be extinguished, eclipsed, or shadowed out in any way at all. Nothing can block God’s light, interrupt the flow of His goodness, or put us in shadow so that we are out of the reach of His radiance.”

Nothing can block or hinder the intense, relentless, radiating power of the light of the Glory of the Lord. His Glory is shining down on you today, full of life, light, and supernatural provision. Gill also has some powerful insight on this passage.

“as there is in that great luminary, the sun in the firmament, which has its parallaxes, eclipses, and turnings, and casts its shadow; it rises and sets, appears and disappears every day; and it comes out of one tropic, and enters into another at certain seasons of the year: but with God, who is light itself, and in him is no darkness at all, there is no change, nor anything like it; he is unchangeable in his nature, perfections, purposes, promises, and gifts; wherefore he being holy, cannot turn to that which is evil; nor can he, who is the fountain of light, be the cause of darkness, or admit of any in him; and since every good and perfect gift comes from him, evil cannot proceed from him, nor can he tempt any to it.”

I love the constancy of the Lord, He is always there, always providing, always loving His people. His radiance is not only constant, it is penetrating. It pierces our very hearts, revealing the secrets we think are hidden away. This penetrating love is able to divide between the thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. As we allow Him to expose and purify our hearts with the Light of His Glory, we become prepared for His visitations. These visitations are sure and are unavoidable. Just as we cannot avoid the light of the sun, it is impossible to hide from the glorious light of His presence.