THE JOY OF HEAVEN

THE JOY OF HEAVEN

Psa. 16:11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

There is no way for us to fully comprehend what heaven is really going to be like. C.S. Lewis made an incredible attempt at describing heaven in his book “The Great Divorce”. He painted a picture of a place of incredible substance or density with an extreme heightened awareness of our senses. David said it was a place with fullness of joy. What did he mean by fullness? Actually that describes something that is infinite because fullness of joy implies no boundaries. Heaven is a place of intense, extreme, overflowing joy that will increase throughout all eternity. There is no end to a “fullness of joy”. Jonathan Edwards describes the believer receiving the input of God’s joy in heaven. Listen to his wonderful description.

“What joy may we conclude springs up in the hearts of the saints after they have passed their wearisome pilgrimage to be brought to such a paradise? Here is joy unspeakable indeed; here is humble, holy, divine joy in its perfection. It is a spring of sweetness. But here the spring shall become a river, and an ocean. All shall stand about the God of glory, the fountain of love, as it were opening their bosoms to be filled with those effusions of love which are poured forth from thence, as the flowers on the earth in a pleasant spring day open their bosoms to the sun to be filled with his warmth and light, and to flourish in beauty and fragrancy by his rays. Every saint is as a flower in the garden of God, and holy love is the fragrancy and sweet odor which they all send forth, and with which they fill that paradise. Every saint there is as a note in a concert of music which sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together employed wholly in praising God and the Lamb; and so all helping one another to their utmost to express their love of the whole society to the glorious Father and Head of it, and [[to pour back]] love into the fountain of love, whence they are supplied and filled with love and with glory.”

You see, part of being created in the image of God carries an incredible, insatiable desire for pleasure. In our fallen state we try, quite unsuccessfully, to find some satisfaction in all of our natural pursuits. It can never do. We were made for so much greater than anything creation offers. Eternity is in our hearts and we all cry out for fullness, fullness that can only be found in the Lord. When we meet Christ in this life, we taste the edge of this satisfaction. Knowing the reality of His love guarantees us that there is more. This taste of heaven deposits a craving for heaven inside of us. Now we long for the day when we will stand (or lay prostrate) in the glory of His presence drinking in this fullness of joy. I can’t wait!!!

ATMOSPHERE 2

ATMOSPHERE!
Part Two- Merry Tuesday!
by Parris Bailey

The Amplified Bible says, “ever be filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit”.

FE Marsh begins to explain in his book, THE EMBLEMS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT that ,”Being being filled with the Spirit is not just filling to the full but the Spirit becomes an element in which the saints are to move, to live as fish in the sea or birds in the air. The Holy Spirit as we are environed by Him, not only fills the lungs of spiritual being, but He environs to our protection.” Below is more excerpts from his book:
1.The Atmosphere Reflects:The atmosphere reflects light because if it didn’t the sun would appear one in part of the sky brilliant while all around would be dark. Jesus told us that the office of the Holy Spirit would be that he “would tell us of things to come”. The Holy Spirit likes to rehearse to us the things of Christ in detail concerning his glory and his godhead. The Holy Spirit in essence reflects the image of Christ to us in his various attributes.
2.The Atmosphere Reveals: Simeon said ‘mine eyes have seen thy salvation”. (Luke 2:27-29) Stephen saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:55,56) Man cannot understand the things of the Spirit by the lantern of their own reason. But God reveals them to us for it says; “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, but God hath revealed them unto us in the Spirit.” (I Cor. 2:9,10) The Spirit of Revelation gives us the “knowledge of him”. (Gal. 1:16) The thoughts of many hearts are revealed in Luke 2:35.11. Spurgeon quotes: “The atmosphere of heaven is so much clearer, that I do not wonder we can see better there. Here is the smoke of daily care; the constant dust of toil; the mist of trouble perpetually rising. We cannot be expected to see much in such a smoky atmosphere as this; but when we shall pass beyond, we shall find no clouds ever gather round the sun to hide his everlasting brightness. There all is clear. The daylight is serene as the noonday. We shall be in a clearer atmosphere and brighter light.”
3.The Atmosphere Revives: The atmosphere helps create the vapor from the water and the sun to create rain and dew to replenish the earth. On Eph. 5:18 another writer says: “Be filled with a fulness, habitual, normal, always supplies and always received, in the Spirit. Let that Holy One, your Sealer and Sanctifier, so surround and possess you that you shall be vessels immersed in this pure flood.” (Dr. Moule) The reviving of the Spirit shall ever be ours if we continually live in the atmosphere of His presence and His power. We should yearn for the ‘FULL ear of corn” in Mark4:28, or to make FULL proof of our ministry in 2 Tim. 4:5, to have FULL assurance of understanding in divine things as in Col. 2:2, and that our joy should be FULL. I pray we all allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in us. Amen!

MY CUP RUNNETH OVER

MY CUP RUNNETH OVER

Psa. 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

This verse took on new meaning to me and the congregation of Victory Fellowship in the outpouring of 1994. My favorite translation of this verse was the Amplified version.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.”

He was teaching us to live the Christian life with an overflowing cup, or as the Amplified says “my brimming cup runs over”. We no longer had to be burned out or exhausted, we could be filled to overflowing, continuously, with the goodness of God. Augustine spoke of the intoxicating characteristics of this verse.

“My cup runneth over. Or as it is in the Vulgate: And my inebriating chalice, how excellent it is! With this cup were the martyrs inebriated, when, going forth to their passion, they recognized not those that belonged to them; not their weeping wife, not their children, not their relations; while they gave thanks and said, “I will take the cup of salvation!”

Augustine said that the martyrs were strengthened supernaturally by having an overflowing cup of the Spirit. This enabled them to face incredible atrocities by being filled with the Spirit. Spurgeon points out that this blessing is for the poor as well as the rich, he says that true happiness is not related to our current financial condition.

“My cup runneth over. He had not only enough, a cup full, but more than enough, a cup which overflowed. A poor man may say this as well as those in higher circumstances. “What, all this, and Jesus Christ too?” said a poor cottager as she broke a piece of bread and filled a glass with cold water. Whereas a man may be ever so wealthy, but if he be discontented his cup cannot run over; it is cracked and leaks. Content is more than a kingdom, it is another word for happiness.”

Contentment, says Surgeon, is another word for happiness. Spiritual joy is the direct, immediate result of having an overflowing cup. John Trapp points out that this overflowing cup is not just for you, it is the way the Lord works through us to touch the broken and hurting of this world.

“My cup runneth over. He had not only a fulness of abundance, but of redundance. Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.”

That is powerful, this makes ministry to the most desperate of this world a joy for all of us. We draw near to God, lift up our cup until it overflows, then we find someone in need and pour out His love upon their lives. that is the story of Pentecost, that is the story of our Christian lives. Be filled continuously with the Spirit, drink in that overflowing anointing. Ministry is the overflow of that experience.

KNOWING THE UNKNOWABLE

KNOWING THE UNKNOWABLE

Eph. 3:19 Amp. [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

Paul sounds like a man out of his mind, to know something that can’t be known, what is he talking about? For those of you who have tasted, or better yet, are tasting the love of God, you have a good idea of what the Apostle is talking about. There is a knowing or tasting of God’s love that touches the deepest parts of our lives that actually brings revelation and life into our souls. God’s love is the beginning of life. Albert Barnes commented about this love that passes knowledge.

“Which passeth knowledge – There seems to be a slight contradiction here in expressing a wish to know what cannot be known, or in a desire that they should understand that which cannot be understood. But it is the language of a man whose heart was full to overflowing. He had a deep sense of the love of Christ, and he expressed a wish that they should understand it. Suddenly he has such an apprehension of it, that he says it is indeed infinite. No one can attain to a full view of it. It had no limit. It was unlike anything which had ever been evinced before.”

I guess the thing that stunned Paul and still stuns us today is that Christ died to save sinners. He didn’t save His love for the righteous but for the most miserable people on earth. Paul counted himself as the “chief of sinners” because he persecuted God’s people. In our own way, we are all the “chief of sinners”. When we see and accept that, we are on our way to change. Kathryn Kuhlman spoke often of God’s love for us. here is something she had to say.

“Who can fathom the love of God? He loved us while we were yet sinners. You may be a sinner reading these words right now. You may have committed every sin in the book and broken every commandment of God. Yet, the Lord continues to love you. He has not cast you aside. When Jesus hung on the cross, looking upon His enemies as He was being crucified, He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” That is God’s love, the love of heaven paying earth a little visit through the Person of Jesus.”

He loves you now regardless of what you’ve done, all He wants is your heart. When you yield to Him and accept His love, that’s when the healing will start. Maybe you feel like no one loves you, especially the Lord. If that’s you today, I have good news for you, He loves you totally, unconditionally, and permanently. Taste it for yourself, let the healing start. You will be able to say with Paul, “I am tasting a knowledge that can’t be known”.

A WORD FROM ZINZENDORF

ALL IN ALL

which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Eph.1:23

During the 1700’s there was a great move of the Spirit of God in Europe and in North America, one of the leaders in this movement was Count Zinzendorf, bishop of the Moravian Church. The Moravians were known for their powerful missions teams that went all over the world. It was the Moravians that witnessed to John Wesley on his first trip to America. It was a Moravian prayer meeting where Wesley’s heart was strangely warmed and he met Christ. What was the secret of their spiritual power and their love for the lost that sent them to the furthest parts of the known world in their day? Maybe you can catch a hint of their power in these words by Count Zinzendorf.

“Our method in proclaiming salvation is this: To point out to every heart the Loving Lamb, who died for us. And although he was the Son of God, offered Himself for our sins, as our God, our Mediator between God and man, our throne of grace, our example, our preacher, our example of the law, our comforter, our confessor, and our Savior. In short, our all in all, by the preaching of His blood, and of His love unto death, even the death of the cross. Never, either in the discourse or in the argument, to digress even for a quarter of an hour from our Loving Lamb; to name no virtue except in Him, and from him, and on His account. To preach no commandment but faith in Him; no other justification but that He atoned for us; no other sanctification but the privilege to sin no more. No other happiness but to be near Him, to think of Him and to do His pleasure; no other self denial but to be deprived of Him and His blessings; no other calamity but ti displease Him; no other life but in Him.”

What an incredibly God centered message. What was the source of their passion for souls and their fervor that won Wesley to Christ? Why of course it was their love of Jesus, their message of the cross, their emphasis in the power in His atoning blood, and their desire to be as close to the Lord as possible. Nothing has changed in these three hundred years. We can still preach no commandment but faith in Him, no justification but that He atoned for us, no other sanctification but the privilege to sin no more, and no other happiness but to be near Him.

AM I ADOPTED?

ADOPTION AS SONS

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Gal.4:4-7

There are special privileges we enjoy because of who our earthly father is. Your inheritance, of course, is determined by the prosperity of your father. Parris recently received her inheritance from her father’s death. He wasn’t a wealthy man, but what he left her was a blessing and was able to do something special for her to remember her father by. Stanley Horton speaks about our adoption as sons and our inheritance from our Heavenly Father. Listen closely, it is quite substantial.
“By “adoption” he means entering into the privileges and responsibilities of sonship. Then, because you are sons, and because all the promised blessings of sonship now belong to you, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father”. The Holy Spirit is probably called the Spirit of His Son here to remind us of the words of Jesus in Luke 24:29. There, Jesus used the same verb, “send,” to say, “I will send the promise of my Father upon you.” This sending of the Spirit is clearly the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as explained in Acts 1:4,5; 2:4. That Paul refers to it as the Spirit coming to their hearts is not strange.”
What exactly did we receive when we became sons. We received the inheritance which is more valuable than any earthly treasure. We received the Promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is the earnest, or foretaste, of our heavenly inheritance. That heavenly inheritance is so vast that it will take all of eternity to explore it. It is impossible for us to begin to comprehend the heavenly treasure we have inherited. It is far beyond our ability to describe with words or comprehend with our minds. The Holy Spirit, who is our inheritance, begins to give us glimpses of it’s wealth as He unfolds His glory to us and in us. As you taste His goodness for yourself, you will become more and more attracted to His love and unsatisfied with the treasures of this present world.

IS GOD ENOUGH?

IS GOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Ps.16:11

I think a lot about the visitation of God in 1994. One of the life changing experiences I had at that time came from a question the Lord repeatedly asked me. “Am I enough for you?” It seemed like an obvious answer to an obvious question until the Lord asked me again and again. “Am I enough for you? Take away the ministry, any perceived level of accomplishment, am I alone enough for you?” That was the foundation of everything I received in 1994. It wasn’t the power, the manifestations, the miracles, the crowds that made the outpouring special. It was Him. I discovered He was more than enough. That reality became the foundation of my life, my marriage, my ministry, Christ Himself became my life.
That is what Pentecost is all about. Today’s scripture verse is one of the texts Peter preached from on the day of Pentecost, “In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever”. Peter and the followers of Christ found the source of life that first Pentecost Sunday, it was the beginning of “Joy Evermore” in this life. It was the beginning of the supernatural church. Bishop Ellicott spoke about this supernatural life in his commentary on Acts.

“The outward portent was but the sign of a greater spiritual wonder. As yet, though they had been taught to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, and, we must believe, had found the answer to their prayer in secret and sacred influences and gradual growth in wisdom, they had never been conscious of its power as “filling” them- pervading the inner depths of personality, stimulating every faculty and feeling to a new intensity of life. Now they felt, in St. Peter’s words, as borne onward” (2 Pet. i. 21), thinking thoughts and speaking words which were not their own, and which they could hardly even control. They had passed into a state which was one of rapturous ecstasy and joy.”

So that leads me to the next question, is God enough for you? No really, not just the correct answer. Think about it for a moment. Without all His gifts and blessings, and there are more of those than we can name, is God Himself the portion of your life? He can be, after all, that is what Pentecost is all about. In His presence is fullness of joy, at His right hand are pleasures evermore.

OCEAN OF HIS LOVE

The Ocean of His Love
Merry Monday
by Parris Bailey

When revival hit us in 1994, I heard the Lord speaking to me about His Love. He showed me that I didn’t understand nor did I comprehend the love of God.
Eph.1:18 in The Message says “you will be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
It was time for me to go on a great adventure, an adventure of learning how to swim in the ocean of His love. It’s funny, because many times since then, this ocean of love has become a very strong anchor in my life. Another comparison I like to make is the analogy in the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. There was a wardrobe that Lucy ventured into and in which she pushed past the coats, into the Land of Narnia where there were talking animals and a horrible witch and wonderful Aslan. I had to learn how to push the back out of my wardrobe. I had been living in the land of the earthlings far too long.
Edwards, when he speaks of heaven, says it like this: “Heaven is the place appointed for the most perfect expressions of complacence and endearment, and full enjoyment of mutual love. And accordingly the souls of departed saints with Christ in heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that have been there from eternity; and they shall be enabled to express their love to him, in an infinitely better manner than ever they could while in the body. Thus they shall eat and drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love; eternally receiving that light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and everlastingly reflecting it back again to the fountain of it.”
Of course this speaks to us about love in the afterlife, but I knew that I could begin to experience His love here and now. It takes an effort on our part of course, a choosing so to speak or a pushing away from the shore. People, families, friendships, and yes even our spouses are but shadows, He is the sun. When Christ becomes unbosomed within us we learn not to place such a high emphasis on our earthly relationships. While they give us pleasure, they will not sustain nor satisfy.
Have you dived into this ocean? Have you plunged its depths, reached forth to the highest heights? Or are you still bound to the elementary emotions and setbacks on planet Earth? The angels told Mary at the tomb of Jesus, “why seek ye the living among the dead”? Go ahead, I dare you. Kick out the back of your wardrobe and experience the unthinkable, unspeakable joy and love everlasting.

THE ONLY BEGOTTEN

THE ONLY BEGOTTEN

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jn.1:14

It almost seems trite to say there is nobody like Jesus. Who can compare to Him in all of His infinite attributes? Who can describe His greatness or explain the wonders of His love? Who can unfold the depths of His wisdom, or who can unlock the unsearchable mysteries of His infinite nature? How about the magnitude of His power or the stunning beauty of His holy nature? Can anyone paint a picture that describes His character or can someone sing a song that reveals the wonder of His grace? Words fall short and can never describe the indescribable. Charles Spurgeon speaks of the only begotten Son in “Evening by Evening”, check this out.

“In life he is my life, and in death he shall be the death of death; in poverty Christ is my riches; in sickness he makes my bed; in darkness he is my star, and in brightness he is my sun; he is the manna of the camp in the wilderness, and he shall be the new corn of the host when they come to Canaan. Jesus is to me all grace and no wrath, all truth and no falsehood: and of truth and grace he is full, infinitely full. My soul, this night, bless with all thy might `the only Begotten.”

Have you caught a glimpse of the glory of the only Begotten? If so, then you can understand what Spurgeon was saying. Christ becomes your sufficiency in the midst of all things. He is stronger than death, He is your provision in times of lack, He is light in the time of darkness, He is the very revelation of God to our souls, in times of hunger he is your daily bread, in time of compromise and sin we discover the greatness of His amazing grace. You can never fall into a pit so deep that His love can not lift you out. You can never wander so far off of His path that the Shepherd can not find you and bring you back into His fold. There is no sickness, no demon, no tragedy, that can separate you from the love that flows freely from the only begotten Son. In the midst of your greatest tragedy, He will reveal Himself. Maybe that is what your dilemma is all about after all. In the midst of your wilderness of confusion, stop and look around, He is nearer than you imagined. Call upon Him today, as soon as you call He will answer, His help is only a breath away.

SCATTERED BEAMS

SCATTERED BEAMS

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Ps.16:11

I was re-introduced to the writings of Jonathan Edwards in 1995, shortly after the Spirit of revival began to visit our church. I say re-introduced because, like many others, I first read Edwards in high school when “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was required reading. I began to read his biography that year, needless to say, my life has never quite been the same. There was one quote in that book from Edwards preaching that effected everything I have believed and preached from that day forward. Listen carefully as you read that quote for yourself.

“The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.”

The “enjoyment of God”, that is something I had been unfamiliar with for many years. Revival had restored that part of my life and Edwards was expressing this truth in words and in his relentless, God centered theology. I had been preaching about a good God who would give us our best life now with His blessings and gifts. Revival had brought me face to face with another kind of happiness, happiness spilling over from the other world, happiness that comes from God Himself. To enjoy God is infinitely better that all the earthly joys that this world offers, they are but streams pointing to the ocean of His love.
Maybe you have been unsatisfied in life, you can never quite get to that level of blessing and success that you think will finally bring you happiness. Today, I am asking you to reconsider, maybe you have looked to the gifts rather than the “Giver of all gifts” for your happiness. Like I did several years ago, look again to the God of our forefathers, maybe you will discover this heavenly ocean for yourself.