“Burn me beautiful”

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“The Kingdom of the Heavens is like treasure buried in the open country, which a man finds, but buries again, and, in his joy about it, goes and sells all he has and buys that piece of ground.” Matt. 13:44

Jesus spoke an amazing parable about how a man sells all he has because he has found the treasure of treasure. He is speaking of the kingdom of God. Have you too sold out to buy that one field? Life changes when Christ walks into the room. Now we leave family parties, rearrange our weekends for church, and say no to late night office parties. To most of us all the above was never really a sacrifice in light of the love, life, peace that we obtained through the love of God. But there is always a deeper sacrifice somewhere along the line.

Edwards speaks of a true strength that overtakes a Christian, “The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.”

When we meet Christ, he burns us beautiful. Along the pilgrim way there will be difficulties, tests, setbacks and disappointments. Christ warned us of these things and told us to fear not. Edwards writes of this sorrow as beauty when he says, “True virtue never appears so lovely as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity is never exhibited with such advantage as when under the greatest trials; then it is that true faith appears much more precious than gold, and upon this account is “found to praise and honour and glory.”

Rom. 8:24 says, “We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” Each step of our journey we are becoming beautified as we are engaged in our joyful anticipation of our union with him. Again Edwards says, “And as grace increases, the field opens more and more to a distant view, until the soul is swallowed up with the vastness of the object, and the person is astonished to think how much it becomes him to love this God and this glorious Redeemer that has so loved man, and how little he does love.”

I’m pretty sure you will have no regrets following the steps of the Master picking up our cross and being made beautiful adorning the robes of righteousness. After all does not our hearts burn within?

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

UGLY TURNS BEAUTIFUL

Is. 60:15 ¶ Whereas you have been forsaken and hated….. I will make you a joy from age to age.

Some of the worst people in the Bible actually become some of the most powerful. Several names immediately come to my mind; Saul of Tarsus, Mary Magadalene, and of course the demon possessed man from Gadara. We all know Saul’s story, he was persecuting and executing Christians until that fateful day he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus. In a moment of time he became a different man. The grace of God not only accepted Paul, it made him into the greatest of all apostles. Mary’s story is also quite well know. Probably a woman of the night possessed by seven demons. God’s love delivered, forgave, and transformed Mary. She actually became the first witness of the resurrection. Also, the demoniac from Gadara. The nameless man was used to change his world. A great revival took place in Gadara shortly after his miracle. Several months after the folks from that region asked Jesus to leave, thousands joyfully received Him in response to the Gadarene’s testimony. Here are some thoughts from A.B. Simpson about the Lord transforming the worst of us.

“God loves to take the worst of lost men and make them the most magnificent memorials of His redeeming love and power. He loves to take the victims of Satan’s hate and the most fearful examples of his power to destroy and use them to illustrate and illuminate the possibilities of divine mercy and the creativity of the Holy Spirit.

He loves to take the things in our own lives that have been the worst, the hardest and the most hostile to God, and to transform them so that we shall be the opposites of our former selves. The sweetest spirits are made from the most stormy and self-willed; the mightiest faith is created out of the wilderness of doubts and fears; the divinest love is transformed out of stony hearts of hate and selfishness.

The grace of God is equal to the most uncongenial temperaments and to the most unfavorable circumstances. Its glory is to transform a curse into blessing and show to men and angels of ages yet to come that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20).”

So what kind of horrible person were you? This shameful past can be turned into a powerful weapon for the glory of God.

EYES OF LOVE

EYES OF LOVE

Matt. 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

This poor lady was afraid, she had been afraid for a long time. That is what rejection will do to you. She could still remember the hurt she felt when she had been banished from the house of worship. The man who banished her probably had a robe like the one Jesus was wearing. This time as she touched the edge of His robe, she felt love and acceptance rather than the rejection and scorn she had felt for twelve years. Jesus was different from that other rabbi. He was different from anyone she had ever known. When Jesus turned and looked at her she felt the love in His gaze. Rather than eyes of condemnation and rejection she was caught by His look of love. When He called her daughter, she knew she was home. She had found that place of rest she had longed for for a very long time. Charles Spurgeon was known as the prince of preachers for a reason, here are his thoughts on this verse.

“Jesus knew all that was going on behind Him. If His back be toward us now, it need not always be; for He ‘turned Him about’. Even when fear would hide from Jesus, He spies out the trembler. His eye found her speedily, for He knew where to look. “He saw her”. His voice cheered her with joyful tones of acceptance. He did not chide the blundering of her ignorance, but He commended the bravery of her faith, and consoled her trembling heart. A piece of fringe and a finger sufficed to form a contact between a believing sufferer and an Almighty Savior. Along that line faith sent its message, and love returned the answer. She ‘was made whole’, and she knew it; but she feared when she was found out lest she should lose the blessing and earn a curse. This fear soon vanished: Jesus called her ‘daughter’. He fathered her because He had created faith in her. He gave her ‘good comfort’ because she had good faith. It was His garment which she touched, but it was her faith that had touched it; therefore our Lord said, ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’; and thus He put the crown upon the head of her faith, because her faith had already set the crown on His head. The moment we touch Jesus we are made whole; yea, ‘from that hour’. May we touch Him now, and may this hour be as memorable to us as that hour was to her!”

So maybe you have had a taste of rejection yourself. Maybe you know that look, you know the look that says you don’t belong here. You will never get that look from Jesus. Maybe it seems like He doesn’t know you exist, believe me, He does. Go ahead, try to steal a touch for yourself. Before you know it you too will be looking into those eyes of love.

BOTTLE FULL OF TEARS

BOTTLE FULL OF TEARS

Psa. 56:8 You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?

Have you had a good cry lately? Tears seem to be intimately connected to the work of God in our souls. I can never forget that night of nights for me, the night the fountain of my tears were released. It happened at the Joy Theater, of all places, in downtown New Orleans in August of 1973. Parris and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar and the crucifixion scene seemed to open up the flood gates of my soul. I saw it in an instant, I was a sinner. I needed a Savior. Christ had suffered in my place. Nothing else needed to be said. The Lord was washing the sin and pain from my soul with those tears. Charles Spurgeon spoke of Peter’s tears. Check this out.

“May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin, lest ere long we have a tongue parched in the flames of hell. Peter also thought upon his Master’s look of love. The Lord followed up the cock’s warning voice with an admonitory look of sorrow, pity, and love. That glance was never out of Peter’s mind so long as he lived. It was far more effectual than ten thousand sermons would have been without the Spirit. The penitent apostle would be sure to weep when he recollected the Saviour’s full forgiveness, which restored him to his former place. To think that we have offended so kind and good a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers. Lord, smite our rocky hearts, and make the waters flow.”

Wow. “May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin”, powerful words from the Prince of Preachers. Spurgeon connected the supernatural work of repentance to the flowing of our tears. Albert Wright spoke about today’s scripture verse and compares our tears to Mary’s ointment. Check out his incredible thoughts on this verse.

“Are they not in thy book? While we remain in this vale of misery, God keeps all our tears in a bottle; so precious is the water that is distilled from penitent eyes; and because he will be sure not to fail, he notes how many drops there be in his register. It was a precious ointment wherewith the woman in the Pharisee’s house (it is thought Mary Magdalene) anointed the feet of Christ; but her tears, wherewith she washed them, were more worth than her spikenard. Abraham Wright, in “A Practical Commentary or Exposition upon the Book of Psalms,” 1661.

The beauty of the spiritual tears is that they don’t leave us in the dumper. As the psalmist said, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
We come to the Lord, convicted of our sins, many times our lives shattered in pieces. It may be hard to tell the difference, are we sorry for our sins or are we only sorry for the consequences. If the repentance is real it will lead to that place of joy. Tears of repentance bring us to the feet of Jesus, in His presence is fullness of joy.

BLACK BUT COMELY

Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
“I am black but comely” Song of Solomon 1:5

This is a very strange verse, one that can only be understood by the Spirit. The Apostle Paul called it the mystery of the Gospel, it is Christ in you the hope of Glory. We can say that where Christ is and goes there is always life and something always changes where He is present. All that came to Him received something good. Reach out and touch His garments and He gives us beauty for ashes, touch Him and He smells of myrrh, aloes and cassia and we are brought into His fellowship. Listen to His voice and He sounds like the voice of many waters and when He speaks He melts away my shame. He takes our sin and transgressions, our filthy rags of unrighteousness and he imputes His righteousness upon us, His holiness where once I was black. Yes, to feel my sin and to know my righteousness, the two must always go together! “For we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is! “I am clothed in rags, He looks upon me and saw me naked, uncared for and told me to “live” and I was made alive and He clothed me in His robes of righteousness! Oh, do not look upon me for I am nothing, look upon Christ in me and I am everything! This is the mystery of the Gospel hidden for ages to be revealed in this age to all that will take Christ as the lover of your soul. His eyes will burn the very lust that has taken you captive for years and set you free from all care. What a glorious confidence we can have in the blood of the Lamb! The sanctifying influences of the Spirit comes to us daily to change us into his image.
Beloved, you are being conformed into his image. The more you see your blackness, the more you will see the image of Christ being formed in you. Thank God, He is the will and the do! My job for the rest of my life is to receive his precious kisses and let them draw me into a steady run all my days. But you must come to Jesus daily, aware of your self righteousness, aware of your own self preservation and say once again, please oh please, I am so very black. Black in myself, but yet so comely, so fair, lovely, inexpressibly glorious through the righteousness of Jesus. Its a win, win my dear! He is our Knight in shiny amour that rescues us from ourselves everyday and in every way possible.

SIGN SPOKEN AGAINST

A Sign spoken against–2012
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey
Luke 2:34 “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.”
2011 was a good year to me and I am reaching out to embrace what God has for me in the new year. I want to learn from my past years and build on it for the year to come. I don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes year after year, nor do I want to live in a box or stay in my cute routine. We can either fall on the rock or unfortunately the rock will fall on us. Let the wind blow upon our gardens O Lord!
The day Jesus was taken into the temple to be dedicated was a big day for Joseph and Mary. They were greeted with prophecy, joy and sorrow all at the same time. In fact Mary begin to “ponder the things that were spoken to her”. Wouldn’t it be great if we too would just stop and ponder what the Lord is saying in 2012?
Spurgeon says it like this; “He is set for the rising again of many in Israel, that is, for the conversion of many to God that are dead and buried in sin, and for the consolation of many in God that are sunk and lost in sorrow and despair. Those whom he is set for the fall of may also be the same with those whom he is set for the rising again of. He is set eis ptosin kai anastasin–for their fall, in order to their rising again; to humble and abase them, and bring them off from all confidence in themselves, that they may be exalted by relying on Christ; he wounds and then heals, Paul falls, and rises again.”
Just because you have a set back, doesn’t mean you won’t rise again. I have been privileged to spend a lot of my time over at Marysong Restoration Center where many, many women have checked themselves into our house to “ponder”, or to put it bluntly, get their lives back from drugs or other addictive lifestyles. Usually something happened to them that they never could get over and instead of dealing with it, they ran from it and medicated themselves. Those girls are either going to love God, or hit the streets again. He becomes to them a ‘sign spoken against”. I love watching people change under the power of the gospel. He humbles us yet brings us up out of the dung hill!
What’s so amazing about my life as a pastor is that I feel many people lead lives just as those girls in Marysong. Sure they may not be on drugs, or even have an addiction, but hatred has become their drug of choice, never dealing with their “issues”, but running from one group to another leaving devastation and broken relationships behind.
Spurgeon goes on to say “that he will be a sanctuary to some, and yet a snare to others.” Isaiah 8:14 calls it a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. He comes to extract our poison, and because he is the balm of Gilead. He splits our souls on the Rock of His salvation. 2 Cor. 2:15, says He is either the savor of life, or He becomes a stench. When Christ comes into the room, it gets really messy. He comes to set the broken part in our lives.
MIsty Edwards sings a song about how “she doesn’t wanna be offended”. What will 2012 hold for you? Are you bringing any baggage into the new year? Still carrying around grudges and anger? Sometimes the very thing that aggravates us in someone else is just what Doctor Jesus orders for us. Yes, he becomes a sign spoken against.
“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house. Wherefore also it is contained in Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion the head-stone of the corner, elect, precious, and he that believeth in him shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious: but unto them who are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,” (1 Peter 2:4-7; Isaiah 28:16.)
Christ will have his way in our lives, one way or the other. We can go easy or we can make it hard, really hard. Let his wind blow into your garden in 2012. It’s easy to keep hanging with the same old friends that all make you feel good, but try stepping out into a hurting world and that’s where the spices will flow. Mary, that day in the temple, got an ear full from Simeon. She had to keep enlarging her world, I can only pray you will do the same.