BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

Matt. 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Becoming merciful is the sure sign of Christ working in your life. Where does mercy come from? Obviously it comes from God but how does mercy for others begin to work in me? Seeing the incredible mercy extended to us; to you and to me, this is where mercy comes from. If we remember the life of sin that we lived and the incredible mercy that was extended to us, what else can we do but to extend mercy to others. The Passion Translation Notes bring out how mercy is connected to what is going on in us; check this out.

“The Hebraic and Aramaic concept of mercy is that it comes from our innermost being. The root word for “mercy” is the root word for ‘womb’.”

So mercy is connected to the deepest part of us, the part of us that gives birth to a child. Barclay also brought out the personal nature of mercy; check his comments out.

“The Greek word for merciful is eleemo. But, as we have repeatedly seen, the Greek of the New Testament as we possess it goes back to an original Hebrew and Aramaic. The Hebrew word for mercy is checed; and it is an untranslatable word. It does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for someone ill trouble. Checed, mercy, means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings.”

I learned a powerful lesson about extending mercy several years ago when I felt wronged by the actions of another ministry. I felt the actions were unethical and had done damage to the kingdom. I am ashamed of how I felt now but it seems I was secretly looking for some sort of payback. How did revenge turn into mercy? I saw it one day reading from Palm 73;

“Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.”

The Lord asked me, “is this what you want, judgement?”

That moment effected me powerfully. No one gets away with anything. I don’t want to see judgement on anyone. Mercy, Lord. Mercy triumphs over judgement!

BLESSED

MATT. 5:3 – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest of all sermons, nothing else even comes close. In it we find the summation of the teaching of Jesus to His disciples. He starts off His message with His beatitudes. These short, profound statements introduce us to a different kind of life. It is makarios in Greek and toowayhon in Aramaic. These words could be defined as supernatural or God’s kind of joy. This is the joy that humans were meant to enjoy and Jesus is teaching us the kind of life that enjoys this blessedness. Here is how the Passion Translation Notes describe this blessedness.

“Blessed are they.” The Aramaic word toowayhon means “enriched, happy, fortunate, delighted, blissful, content, blessed.” Our English word blessed can indeed fit here, but toowayhon implies more—great happiness, prosperity, abundant goodness, and delight! The word bliss captures all of this meaning. Toowayhon means to have the capacity to enjoy union and communion with God. Because the meaning of the word goes beyond merely being blessed… The implication of this verse is that the poor in spirit have only one remedy, and that is trusting in God. This total reliance upon God is the doorway into the kingdom realm.”

He starts this teaching with today’s verse, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”. Here are some comments from the passion Notes about this verse.

“humble in spirit,” or, “poor in spirit,” which means to be humble and totally dependent upon God for everything. It is synonymous with “pious” or “saintly,” not just in the sense of those who possess nothing. It could be translated “Delighted are those who have surrendered completely to God and trust only in him.”

This is the beginning of supernatural joy, total God dependency. This describes leaving behind human effort and leaning on God for all things that pertain to life. This is a description of those who have learned to pick up their cross and follow Jesus. Its in dying to self and no longer trusting in our own resources that we can begin to access the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, the supernatural realm of the Spirit, belongs to those who have humbled themselves. This is the beginning of supernatural joy, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”

AMBUSHED BY GOD

Is.30:18 – Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

This is a very precious promise from Isaiah the prophet. In the original language there is a powerful shade of meaning in the word “wait”. This word implies some sort of ambush. Isaiah pictures the Lord waiting at strategic places in our lives to ambush us; He wants to ambush us with His compassion and mercy. It’s easy for us to get restless when we are waiting for some sort of breakthrough, the Lord uses those seasons to teach us why we are seeking Him after all. The breakthrough involves intimacy with Him, His gifts and provisions became secondary. I can imagine Him as the Lion of the tribe of Judah waiting in the bushes of the turns in our lives waiting to pounce on us to devour us with His love. Here is how Dick Mills sees this verse.

“The mercy in store for them is very affectingly expressed. He will wait to be gracious; he will wait till you return to him and seek his face, and then he will be ready to meet you with mercy. He will wait, that he may do it in the best and fittest time, when it will be most for his glory, when it will come to you with the most pleasing surprise. He will continually follow you with his favors, and not let slip any opportunity of being gracious to you. He will stir up himself to deliver you, will be exalted, will be raised up out of his holy habitation, that he may appear for you in more than ordinary instances of power and goodness; and thus he will be exalted, that is, he will glorify his own name. This is what he aims at in having mercy on his people.”

So maybe you feel like you have been forgotten or forsaken. Let this season in your life increase your hunger for Him. Rather than forgotten you are remembered. He is looking for the perfect moment to ravish you with His love and bring restoration to the broken places of your life. Let this verse be a word from the Lord for you, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him”.

FAVOR AND VISITATION

Job 10:12 KJV – Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

Job recognized the source of His prosperity in life. He attributed it to the favor and visitation of the Lord. There are some very important things we can learn from this short verse of scripture that can help us in every arena of our lives. First, recognizing the significance of the favor of God. Favor is closely associated with grace. The favor of God rested mightily upon the sons and daughters of God by faith in Christ Jesus. It is because of the forgiveness we find through His blood that we have access to this favor of God. We also see the importance of looking to the Lord rather than to our own talents and resources for our success in this life. The Lord is the creator, possessor, and distributor of all things. Look to Him and experience his favor. Next, Job acknowledged God’s visitation in His life. Visitations center us. When God comes down in our lives, we see His greatness and our need for Him. Times of visitation are essential in all of our lives. Here are some thoughts from Adam Clarke on today’s verse.

“Thou hast granted me life and favor. Thou hast brought me from my mother’s womb; given me an actual existence among men; by thy favor or mercy thou hast provided me with the means of life; and thy visitation-thy continual providential care, has preserved me in life-has given me the air I breathe, and furnished me with those powers which enable me to respire it as an agent and preserver of life. It is by God’s continued visitation or influence that the life of any man is preserved; in him we live, move, and have our being.”

The favor of God on our lives produces two major things. First, it glorifies the Lord. When we experience unusual favor and blessing on our family, business, and ministry people take notice. As we point them to the Lord His name is exalted. Secondly, we taste His goodness and experience unspeakable joy and satisfaction in our lives. Experiencing the favor and blessing of God is why we are created, discovering this finally brings us to a place of rest and contentment. What a blessing to be able to say with Job, “Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit”.

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.

BLESSED

Matt. 5:3 ¶ “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What a way to start a sermon. Jesus was all about the shock value of His ministry, His words were anything but safe or what would be called today, culturally relevant. He would go right up against the grain. He came right out and said it, the way to be blessed or extremely happy, was not in the pursuit of this present age, it would be found in the pursuit of the kingdom of heaven. Right off the bat, that is a hard sell. Many people aren’t remotely interested in heaven, it’s comfort and pleasure in the here and now that they are after. Man’s wisdom would try to sneak up on people with some cultural cliche or a promise of popularity. Not Jesus, He spoke of meekness, poverty of spirit, repentance (mourning), and even persecution as being linked to happiness, or as He said it; blessedness. The way to be blessed is found by the pure in heart, they are the ones that will see God. Here are some thoughts from Barclay on this word ‘blessed’.
“That is most important, for it means that the beatitudes are not pious hopes of what shall be; they are not glowing, but nebulous prophecies of some future bliss; they are congratulations on what is. The blessedness which belongs to the Christian is not a blessedness which is postponed to some future world of glory; it is a blessedness which exists here and now. It is not something into which the Christian will enter; it is something into which he has entered. True, it will find its fulness and its consummation in the presence of God; but for all that it is a present reality to be enjoyed here and now. The beatitudes in effect say, “O the bliss of being a Christian! O the joy of following Christ! O the sheer happiness of knowing Jesus Christ as Master, Savior and Lord!” The very form of the beatitudes is the statement of the joyous thrill and the radiant gladness of the Christian life. In face of the beatitudes a gloom-encompassed Christianity is unthinkable.”
So that very thing that we are all after but not willing to admit is happiness or joy. Jesus starts His very first sermon with that word that we are after, He called it ‘BLESSED’. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

ALL IN A WEEK

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Last week the Louisiana District Council of the Assemblies of God gathered in our building. This is where AG pastors come from all over the state to assemble in meetings, voting, fellowship and praying. The newly elected Superintendent decided to reach out to us and meet in our building and we were so excited! We had spent weeks in preparation and in prayer.  It was told to us that the attendance hadn’t been that large in years and so many pastors came up to Frank and I thanking us for the 36 years we have stayed “at the post”.  It was a great Holy Ghost reunion and Victory was a part of it. The week ended with our last showing of Beyond the Grave with a record attendance and a huge altar call.
During the week we were invited to attend a breakfast with pastors of the largest AG churches in the state. Frank and I were shocked and completely humbled as the Superintendent apologized for the way we have been in his words—“knocked down, beat, squashed and so forth” from our denomination and promised that a new day has begun. Then another pastor basically gave us a prophetic word how airline hwy has been a place where ministries have fallen, and Victory was  placed right between addiction (Budweiser) and idolatry (Saints).  It’s funny how one can think about all the wrong doings and unfairness their whole life. Then when  “THE APOLOGY”  comes are we truly ready to move on?  I don’t want all my difficulties, rejection and set backs to define me. The above verse stresses a continual new life in Christ. He turns the bitter into sweet. What devils are you fighting this MONDAY? Listen to Gill as he shares on this scripture.

“Something new is implanted into the soul, which never was there before. It is not a working upon, and improvement of the old principles of nature, but an implantation of new principles of grace and holiness, here is a new heart and a new spirit and in them new light and life, new affections and desires, new delights and joys, here are new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, new feet to walk, and new hands to work and act with. Old things are passed away, the course of living, the old way of serving God, the legal righteousness, old companions and acquaintance are dropped, and all external things as riches, honors, learning, knowledge are relinquished. Because all thing s are new, there is a new course of life both of faith and holiness, a new way of serving God through Christ by the Spirit.” Gill

BEHOLDING HIS BEAUTY

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY- “One thing have I desired of The Lord, that will I seek after” Psalm 27:4

I am sure many of us can relate to traveling for hours on end. I am talking about flying overseas, across the world to those far away places, going through airport security and sitting in endless uncomfortable airplane seats. And I could go on about eating fish eye soup, or some snail, or other nasty food that the culture insists we eat. Bathing out of a trashcan (it was clean) jumping into planes that had flies, trains with animals on board and armed guards pointing rifles at us. Sometimes, a lot of times, I would just close my eyes and pretend I was back in my own bed however far away I was. Despite all the hassle and insanity, God would always show up somewhere somehow. I smile when I think of all the countries that Frank and I have been. It wasn’t the beauty of the place, the artwork or necessarily the edifice. He always showed up! He broke through time, place and people in all the weirdness and exhaustion. David desired that one thing and he was captivated by His beauty. Oh to have the abiding consciousness of the Divine presence! It is what we live for or are you living out of your “soul realm”? Learning how to commune with God is vital to our Christian way of life. Listen to this quote: “Blessed are they who are delivered from the misery of multiplied and transient aims which break life into fragments. But by steadfastly and continually following that one great desire, which binds all the days each to each, and in its single simplicity encloses and hallows and unifies the else distracting things” (Expositor’s)
Sooner or later, you as a Christian, will have to lay aside all your anger that “this didn’t happen or God didn’t come through. Maybe you spend everyday striving and facing unrest over past regrets. Why don’t you just push all that stuff from all the table and begin to just say, “give me one thing LORD, to see your beauty! He will surely come!
“There have been many bereavements in my life. I have been emptied from vessel to vessel. But one thing has never failed — one thing makes me feel that my life has been one; it has calmed my joys, it has soothed my sorrows, it has guided me in difficulty, it has strengthened me in weakness. It is the presence of God — a faithful and loving God. Yes, brethren, the presence of God is not only light, it is unity. It gives unity to the heart that believes it — unity to the life that is conformed to it. It was the presence of God in David’s soul that enabled him to say, “One thing have I desired of the Lord; “and in St, Paul’s that enabled him to say, “This one thing I do.” George Wagner, in the “Wanderings of the Children of Israel,” 1862. (Treasury of David)
Give us such an appetite!

BLESSED

BLESSED

Matt. 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What does it mean to be blessed? I think humans often think of being blessed in terms of physical blessings. That kind of blessed would refer to unexpected financial provision, extra paid vacation days, even the unexpected parking spot. “Boy, did I get blessed today.” The word blessed in the Bible is much more significant than just physical provision (even though it includes that). In the greek New Testament the word is makarios. It means happiness specifically speaking of happiness in the other world. There is a place of extreme, radical happiness that is found in God alone. It’s not in His gifts or provisions; although there are plenty of those. This happiness comes from being satisfied and complete in the enjoyment of God. That is blessedness. Here is how Thomas Watson describes it.

“Let us so conduct ourselves—that we may express to others that we do believe a blessedness to come—and that is by seeking an interest in God. For the beams of blessedness shine only from his face. It is our union with God, the chief good—which makes us blessed. Oh, let us never rest until we can say, ‘This God is our God forever and ever’ (Psalm 48:14). Most men think because God has blessed them with an estate, therefore they are blessed. Alas, God often gives these worldly things in anger. ‘God grants a thing when he is angry—which he does not will to give when he is tranquil.’ God often loads his enemies with gold and silver—the weight whereof sinks them into hell. Oh, let us pant after heavenly things! Let us get our eyes fixed, and our hearts united to God, the supreme good.”

That is certainly another way to look at things. Just as the children of Israel lusted after the quail and had so much that it was literally coming out of their noses, Watson says that sometimes excessive provision is a form of the judgement of God. The Lord supplies excessively to the greedy that their hearts can be exposed, that is a terrifying thought.

True happiness comes from God alone. The other things that we take pleasure in are only shadows pointing us to the fountain of all goodness. The world is desperately searching for this happiness. Today they are looking for it in the bars, in the arms of some illicit lover, in the casinos or powerball, some are searching for it on the golf course or at the football game, or in some form of substance abuse. As Thomas Watson said, “A man can no more extract blessedness out of sin—than he can suck health out of poison!” No, blessedness only comes from the fountain of all good.
Jesus’ greatest sermon could be titled “The Search For Happiness”. He started it with a list of actions that lead to blessedness. As He said, “Blessed ( makarios – happy) are the pure in heart for they shall see God”.

VICTORY CELEBRATION 2013

 

VICTORY CELEBRATION 2013

This is a very special year for Parris and I. We have declared the whole of 2013 as a year of celebration. Forty years ago our lives were drastically and permanently changed. What happened? First of all we were born again. Christ revealed His amazing love for us to us. We saw it the first time in the strangest way. We were watching the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar” when Jesus walked into our lives for the first time. We saw what calvary was about in a moment of time. As Christ was shown suffering and dying on the screen, our hearts began to break under the conviction of our sins. Christ had died for us. His love won our hearts. Within two weeks of that experience we were baptized in water and called into the ministry. During that same span of time we were married. We have a lot to celebrate. Salvation, calling into the ministry, and marriage. This is quite a forty year anniversary!
Today we are celebrating another anniversary. Thirty four years ago we started Victory Fellowship here in the New Orleans area. We had finished our Bible School in 1977, made our way to NOLA, and the rest is history. The Lord has done amazing things for us. Here is a short list of some of the highlights of the last thirty-four years.

Jan. 28, 1979 Victory Fellowship was born at Kawanee Avenue

March 1983 moved into our facility on Transcontinental Drive

Sept 1984 Victory Academy began

Sept 1985 Bethesda College

January 1989 moved into our Airline Drive campus

July 4 1990 Feed the Multitudes starts

August 1994 Historic revival begins at Victory Fellowship

Oct 31 1999 First performance of Beyond the Grave

August 29 2005 Hurricane Katrina

June 2006 Broad Street Mission

January 2007 Victory North-shore

March 2009 Marysong 2009

The Lord has done exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we can ask or think. You could just look at one of the ministries and be amazed at what God has done. Beyond the Grave has seen thousands of people harvested into the kingdom. There are pastors, worship leaders, businessmen and women, missionaries teachers; the list is almost endless, people who came to Christ through Beyond the Grave. Victory Academy has graduates serving in schools, churches, universities, and businesses all over the planet. Bethesda has graduated pastors, church leaders and missionaries that are serving The Lord in Tanzania, Uganda, China and the USA. Feed the Multitudes has been used to open the hearts of thousands to the message of the gospel. Many struggling with poverty and homelessness have found their way back to The Lord, back to church, and back into the job market as their lives have been transformed by The Lord.
Then there are the many churches that have been planted, ministries that have been birthed, and lay leaders that have impacted their world powerfully. So I say, let’s join in the celebration. The Lord has done above and beyond what we could have imagined, but I don’t think it is finished. How do I know? The joyful anticipation of coming revival is building in our hearts.