“Portionless World”

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will hope in Him.” Lam 3:24

I would be lying if I told you that I haven’t dealt with fear; a wee bit of depression and anxiety these days. In some ways these days remind me of so many other days that I’ve had. Which is reassuring because if I have passed this way before it means the Lord was not only present but with me each step of the way through all the other days so he will lead me yet again! Praise the Lord with me everyone! I find the world around me becomes vivid, his word becomes loud, and my community draws closer. We live in another kingdom not of this world. We are traveling through a wilderness not meant to be our lasting abode. He becomes our portion in a portionless world. And Oh! What a portion it is! THE LORD IS AN INCOMPARABLE AND UNRIVALED PORTION. THE LORD IS A SUFFICIENT AND SATISFYING PORTION. THE LORD IS AN ETERNAL PORTION.

Octavius Winslow had a great viewpoint by saying;

“And oh, what a Portion is God! All that He is and all that He has is ours! Every attribute of His being is over us, every perfection of His nature encircles us, every pulse of His heart beats for us, every glance of His eye smiles upon us. We dwell in God, and God dwells in us. It is not the world which is our portion, but HE who made, upholds and governs the world. It is not the creature who is our portion, but the Lord of angels and the Creator of men. Infinite portion! Illimitable power! Immeasurable grace! Boundless love! All-satisfying good! All, all is ours! And what a Portion, O my soul, is Christ! A divine Christ, a redeeming Christ, a full Christ, a sympathizing, ever-present, ever-precious, ever-loving Christ. ‘Lord, I bless You for the discipline that brought me to realize what a divine, all-satisfying Portion I have in Yourself. You took from me an earthly portion, only to enrich me with a Heavenly one. You removed from me the human prop upon which I too fondly and idolatrously leaned, that I might learn what Christ was, as my soul’s all-sufficient, all-satisfying, and everlasting Portion. I can now admire the wisdom and adore the love that blasted my gourds and emptied me from vessel to vessel, that, rising superior to the broken staff, the drooping flower, and the failing spring of creature good, I might claim my portion as a true spiritual Levite in Yourself alone.’

“The Lord is my Portion, says my soul; therefore I will HOPE in Him.”

SHEEP WITHOUT SHEPHERDS

Matt.9:36 – When he saw the vast crowds of people, Jesus’ heart was deeply moved with compassion, because they seemed weary and helpless, like wandering sheep without a shepherd.

Lam.3:22,23 –

Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

The mercies and compassions of the Lord are endless and, according to Jeremiah, they never fail. Jesus is the personification of these mercies and compassions. That is why this verse always astounded me. All of these wounded, suffering sheep that were in the meetings of the Lord were apparently still weary and helpless. The compassion of the Lord was crying out for shepherd laborers to minister to His distraught sheep. Nothing has changed today. The Lord is still calling laborers to care for His sheep. You may be thinking that this is talking about calling out more professional ministers. Of course that is part of the equation but the main thrust of His appeal is for all Christians to take on the role of being a shepherd in the sense of being a disciple maker. The Lord does minister to the weary and helpless, He just wants to do it through you.

“A great crowd is a demand upon compassion, for it suggests so much sin and need. In this case, the great want was instruction: “they fainted” for want of comfort; they “were scattered abroad” for lack of guidance. They were eager to learn, but they had no fit teachers. “Sheep having no shepherd” are in an ill plight. Unfed, unfolded, unguarded, what will become of them? Our Lord was stirred with a feeling which agitated his inmost soul. “He was moved with compassion.” What he saw affected not his eye only, but his heart. He was overcome by sympathy. His whole frame was stirred with an emotion which put every faculty into forceful movement. He is even now affected towards our people in the same manner. He is moved with compassion if we are not.”

Maybe you are in a place of distress or maybe just worn out; that’s okay, the Lord is here now to teach and encourage each one of us. Like Jeremiah said, it is because of the Lord’s daily mercies and compassions that we are not consumed. They are new and plentiful every day. Today, His compassions are headed straight toward you.

EVERYTHING THAT CAN SHAKE

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.
Lamentations 3:24
What does the average person value in life? What things do you value?

Have you ever thought about how much of your time and energy is spent working for those things? One of the great tragedies of life is spending all of your ability and wherewithal to amass property and possessions in this world. As they say, you can’t take it with you. As a matter of fact I have never seen a trailer full of stuff hitched to the hearse at a funeral. All of it stays here; we leave everything behind.

That is why today’s verse is so urgent. To the unregenerate mind it seems like just poetic language. To the soul that has been born again and tasted of the kingdom of heaven these are the most precious of all words. Christ is my portion. He is more valuable than all of earth’s possessions; more costly than diamonds and more perfect than gold. As Solomon said, “He is altogether lovely!”. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on the Lord our portion.
“It is not The Lord is partly my portion, nor the Lord is in my portion; but he himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not his grace merely, nor his love, nor his covenant, but Jehovah himself. He has chosen us for his portion, and we have chosen him for ours. It is true that the Lord must first choose our inheritance for us, or else we shall never choose it for ourselves; but if we are really called according to the purpose of electing love…”
When this verse becomes real to us, our whole life radically changes. Of course we still like our nice things, our vacations, and our hobbies. They are just not our life anymore. Our life is more than a vacation, a football game, a boat, career, or a round of golf. Christ Himself has become our life and He is more than you can ever imagine.

As the end of the age draws near, this truth will become ever more important to us. Everything that can be shaken is beginning to tremble as His return draws near. There is only one thing that will not be shaken; those whose lives are hidden away in God’s love.

RECALLING PAST VICTORIES

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lamentations 3:21

God causes even our memories to be renewed under His guidance. I remember when The Lord gave me the example of “heads or tails” on a coin. It’s learning to see our lives through “his looking glass”. I find when difficulties come that I begin to recall the wonders of God over my life these past 41 years. So many victories! CS Lewis in the book of Narnia so elegantly depicted Narnia through the eyes of poor Edmund or precious Lucy. Oh to have the grace that Lucy had when trouble came her way, for she flew to her Aslan. Listen to this quote from Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian and Hopeful found themselves in Doubting Castle; “At midnight on Saturday, despite their wounds, Christian and Hopeful began to pray (like Paul and Silas in Acts 16:25), and they continued this prayer throughout the night. Then we read of the amazing escape: “Now a little before it was Day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out in this passionate speech; ‘What a fool,’ quoth he, ‘am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty? I have a key in my bosom, called Promise, that will I am persuaded open any lock in Doubting-Castle.’ Using the key, Christian and Hopeful escaped.” Wow, what promise have you lying in your bosom? Such a vast treasury of scripture that we can RECALL TO MIND. I pray your memory gives you hope and not discouragement, life and not fear, freedom and not bondage. Psalms 77:6 “I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. vs.11 ” I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. Spurgeon says, “Fly back my soul, away from present turmoil, to the grandeurs of history, the sublime deeds of Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts; for he is the same and is ready even now to defend his servants as in days of yore.” Lets cast our tools of faith and prayer and mine for gold that doesn’t fade away. There in those deep dark caverns lays hidden promises. Spurgeon says, “many a promise lay in invisible ink which we cannot read until the fires comes”. I’m going to get mine—-see you in the caves!

EYES WIDE OPEN

EYES WIDE OPEN

Lam. 3:22-23 Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.

One of the amazing things about conversion is how we suddenly become aware of God. We often think, “How could I have missed Him? His handprint is on everything and I see Him everywhere I look”. That’s when we realize just how lost we were. We had eyes but we couldn’t see Him. We had ears but could never hear His precious voice. We had a heart but it was crusty and cold, they were locked up, closed off from the power of His love. When we were born again all of that changed. It seemed so simple at first. God was everywhere. How could I have missed it? Then we begin to realize the greatness of this gift of salvation by grace through faith. Charles Spurgeon spoke as one with eyes wide open, check this out.

“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. Who can know the number of his benefits, or recount the list of his bounties? Every sand which drops from the glass of time is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The countless stars are but as the standard bearers of a more innumerable host of blessings. Who can count the dust of the benefits which he bestows on Jacob, or tell the number of the fourth part of his mercies towards Israel? How shall my soul extol him who daily loadeth us with benefits, and who crowneth us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as ceaseless as his bounty! O miserable tongue, how canst thou be silent?”

I remember when I first saw the power of today’s scripture verse. It was a Saturday morning in Kerman, California. It was my wife Parris’ and my only day off and I was enjoying my Bible that lazy Saturday morning. That’s when I saw it. Daily benefits!! The Lord had daily mercies, daily gifts pouring down on me. That is true about all His sons and daughters. I guess many times we are clueless. We tend to live below our privileges and act like the deaf and blind people we used to be. So open up your senses to The Lord today, streams of mercies are flowing down. As we open our hearts up to Him we begin to see Him everywhere. He is nearer than you can imagine.

HE IS OUR PRIZE

HE IS OUR PRIZE

Lam. 3:24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

I wonder how much time, energy, and money I expended on pursuing happiness in things other than God before I was converted to Christ in 1973. I spent money on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, and an unlimited list of other sorts of foolishness. Like everyone else, I was just looking to enjoy my life. Inside of all of us is a desire to be happy and to enjoy our lives. Many people spend their whole lives in relentless pursuit and never grasp the prize. This prize called happiness always seems to be just out of our reach. That brings us to one of the most surprising aspects of Christianity. Contrary to what most people think the Christian faith does not consist in the denial of pleasure but Christianity is actually the pursuit of pleasure and satisfaction in God. Real Christians have just discovered the source of joy. God Himself is our joy. Our joy is not in the good things He gives us or provides for us but is in God Himself. This message was the theme of the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. He taught his people to pursue joy in God with all their might. Here is a famous quote of Edwards, pay close attention, there is a lot in these words.

“That God in seeking his glory, therein seeks the good of his creatures: ( In other words, God is seeking your testimony for His glory)
because the emanation of his glory (which he seeks and delights in, as he delights in himself and his own eternal glory) implies the communicated excellency and happiness of his creature. And that in communicating his fullness for them, he does it for himself: because their good, which he seeks, is so much in union and communion with himself. God is their good. Their excellency and happiness is nothing but the emanation and expression of God’s glory: God in seeking their glory and happiness, seeks himself: and in seeking himself, himself diffused and expressed (which he delights in, as he delights in his own beauty and fullness), he seeks their glory and happiness.”

God is your good, if you didn’t understand anything else Edwards said remember this, our good is God Himself, not the good things He does for us. When God becomes your prize, this becomes your testimony which then brings great glory to God. The commercial world understands this truth and applies it to all their marketing strategies. Whether they are selling tooth paste, a new car, or some sort of medical product, the message is always the same. Use this product and you will be happier and your life more fulfilling. For us as Christians, knowing Christ is by far our greatest joy. Our satisfaction in Christ is far more persuasive than any sermon than can be preached. The joy that resides in our heart is expressed in our smile, our actions and our words. This is how God is glorified. As John Piper constantly preaches, “God is most glorified when I am satisfied in Him”.

MY THANKSGIVING PORTION

MY THANKSGIVING PORTION

Lam. 3:22-24 The LORD’S loving-kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

That’s one of the things we like about Thanksgiving, who cares about portion control? For that one day all of those rules seem to go out the window. Especially guys, they are all about the size of their portion. That is what is so strange about this scripture, it is not talking about the gifts and blessings given by God, it is talking about God Himself, He is my portion. This is the hardest part for the lost, “the Lord is my portion, what is that?” The unsaved mind can never comprehend the goodness of God. Charles Spurgeon spoke often about our portion as a Christian, listen to his thoughts about our spiritual portion.

“It is not The Lord is partly my portion, nor The Lord is in my portion; but he himself makes up the sum total of my soul’s inheritance. Within the circumference of that circle lies all that we possess or desire. The Lord is my portion. Not his grace merely, nor his love, nor his covenant, but Jehovah himself. He has chosen us for his portion, and we have chosen him for ours. It is true that the Lord must first choose our inheritance for us, or else we shall never choose it for ourselves; but if we are really called according to the purpose of electing love…”

The average person in our world will say they believe in God, but what do they mean? How do they view God? The basic idea is this, God is good because He does good things for me. He provides my financial needs, my health, gets me out of tight spots, why He even helps my chosen football team win. God is good to most because of what He does for them. Their portion is what He gives, not God Himself. The trouble with this position comes up when bad stuff happens, most people become confused, disillusioned, and even mad at God. Their world comes crashing down because of a wrong view of who He is.
Now for those who have tasted the goodness of God for themselves, God Himself has become their portion, He is all satisfying and sufficient in all circumstances. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe the Lord gives me all sorts of good things, His gifts can be quite overwhelming! He is constantly loading my life with benefits but they are not my portion. All of these earthly blessings will grow old and fade away, but the Lord Himself never grows old, He is always more than wonderful.
How does our perception of God change? The key is “perception”. We must taste Him for ourselves. Christianity is more than a philosophy or a belief in God. For the true Christian, their belief flows out of their experience. This Thanksgiving remember, no matter how great of a feast you enjoy, their is a far greater portion available in the Lord Himself.

GOD IS MY GOOD

GOD IS MY GOOD

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lam.3:24

We live in an incredibly man centered and self centered world. I thought I had become a God centered Christian, but several years ago I was radically challenged at the core of my beliefs and my teaching as a pastor. Two of the books that effected me were “God’s Passion for His Glory” by John Piper followed up by “The End for Which God Created the Earth” by Jonathan Edwards. As I read these two books, I began to realize how I had let the relevance of the world’s ideas for happiness and success infiltrate my ministry. That was about to change in a dramatic way. For the first time in many years, I was being confronted with a message that was totally God-centered. Here is one of the quotes from Piper’s book which consisted of observations on Edward’s book, “The End for Which God Created the Earth”.

“The love of God for sinners is not his making much of them, but his graciously freeing and empowering them to enjoy making much of him. As Edwards says, “God is their good.” Therefore if God would do us good, he must direct us to his worth, not ours. The truth that God’s glory and our joy in God are one radically undermines modern views of self-centered love. God-centered grace nullifies the gospel of self-esteem. Today, people typically feel loved if you make much of them and help them feel valued. The bottom line in their happiness is that they are made much of.”

That phrase challenged the very foundation of what I had preached for almost twenty years at that time. I had thought that freedom was me being the center of God’s universe when actually, I had it backwards. Only when He became the center of my life, then and then only could I begin to experience the love and joy that He offers me. My satisfaction does not come from the gifts and blessings He brings, my joy flows from God Himself. As Edwards says, “God is my good”. So if you have been listening to the itching ears message of self esteem, you are missing the whole point. God’s love for us, like Piper says, is not Him making much of us but Him freeing us to make much of Him. That is the place of true freedom and the place of pleasures evermore.