I WILL BE THEIR GOD

I WILL BE THEIR GOD

Eph. Amp. 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out],

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, especially in the Amplified Bible. Paul describes in this verse the incalculable riches found in the message of God’s grace. He seems to be almost surprised at God’s choice of him, the chief of sinners, to preach this indescribable message. Some people almost act as if they deserve the grace of God. Paul recognized that his life fell far short of God’s standard of righteousness, his only hope was this boundless message of grace. He felt as if He was the most fortunate man alive. Charles Spurgeon, known as the prince of preachers, tries desperately to explain the un explainable, even he falls woefully short. Check out his words.

” I will be their God. Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe thy spirit in it; swim an age, and thou shalt find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. I will be their God. If this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than present delights-thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfilment of this great promise, I will be their God? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with his love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to thy privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.”

Actually, the Holy Spirit is this boundless ocean that Spurgeon is trying desperately to explain. Throughout the ages men and women of God have experienced the outpouring of His presence. The end result, they become preachers of the grace of God like Paul. Trying to track the untraceable caught up in a search that never ends. For me, it started in a simple conversation one night on the lakefront in New Orleans. Almost 40 years later I am still trying to comprehend what happened that night, still on my quest to proclaim the gospel of His grace to whomsoever will. Who knows the whys and the wherefores of the grace of God. All I know is that I have been captured by something bigger than me, someone with a plan far beyond anything I can begin to understand. Paul never thought in his wildest dreams that he would preach Christ to the gentiles, unthinkable. For me on the lakefront in 1973, I never dreamed in a million lifetimes that I would be a preacher. Now, along with countless others, i am tracking the untrackable and swimming in this bottomless ocean of God’s love.

HAPPIFIED

HAPPIFIED

Zech.12:10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

I will never forget that first taste of grace and of His Spirit. I was caught totally by surprise. I had thought that Christianity was some kind of belief in Jesus, and somehow I had to live a better life by making right decisions and by the power of my own will. When Jesus began to reveal Himself to me, it had a totally different taste than I had expected. First, I became aware of my sinfulness, at the same time I was made aware of His mercy and forgiveness toward me. Somehow in the middle of all that, I became aware of His nearness. His presence was on me and then in me. I was having my first taste of the Spirit of grace. This grace not only introduces us to Christ, He also keeps us, satisfies us, and sustains us. He is more than enough for our thirsty souls. Here is what A.B. Simpson said about the Spirit of Grace.
“Oh, how many are so foolish! They begin as hopeless sinners at the foot of the cross, taking all as the sovereign gift of divine mercy, and then they begin to build up a sort of reputation and condition of self-constituted strength and try to sanctify themselves by their own set of credentials, crucifixions, and ineffectual struggles. It is, indeed, utterly foolish and vain. We need the same grace to keep us as saves us at first. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” Our Christian life is just a succession of the simple acts of faith with which we first began. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” And the Holy Ghost is essential to sustain and maintain all the exercises of spiritual life by His own divine efficiency and spontaneous working to the very close of our Christian life. O, beloved, have you been so foolish? Cease your hard and vain endeavors, and simply abide in Him. Be filled with the Spirit, and the fruit will take care of itself.”
The Apostle John described it like this, “grace upon grace”. He seemed to be saying that our life as a Christian consists of one outpouring to the next. That would seem to say that we are in a place of total dependency on the Holy Spirit. That is exactly right. How could we expect to continue or complete our spiritual life by our own strength or will power when it was started totally by the work of the Spirit? He wants us to live a life of “grace upon grace”. What is the outcome of that? God’ grace is glorified and our hearts are happified.

AVOCADO ECSTASY

AVOCADO ECSTASY

Psa. 34:8 ¶ O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

When I was a child, I lived with my family in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. In our back yard was a very large avocado tree that was always loaded with an abundance of large avocados. My mom and dad loved avocados and served them often. I can remember them going on and on about how delicious these avocados were and when they ate them, seemed to be in some sort of ecstasy. I didn’t get it, no matter how they were prepared, these avocados tasted like soap to me. I couldn’t stand eating those avocados. I can’t remember how it happened, but at some point everything changed. I acquired a taste for avocados, and since that time, they have become one of my favorites. That is how it is with spiritual things. Many people know they need more spiritual input (Bible study, prayer, church attendance) but they just don’t get it. Others seem to be enjoying their spiritual activities (some seem to be experiencing something like avocado ecstasy). What makes the difference? How do you “acquire” the taste? Jonathan Edwards often spoke of “tasting and seeing” spiritual realities. Here is something he said about the power of spiritual taste.

“The first effect of the power of God in the heart in REGENERATION, is to give the heart a Divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish of the loveliness and sweetness of the supreme excellency of the Divine nature; and indeed this is all the immediate effect of the Divine Power that there is, this is all the Spirit of God needs to do, in order to a production of all good effects in the soul. If God, by an immediate act of His, gives the soul a relish of the excellency of His own nature, other things will follow of themselves without any further act of the Divine power than only what is necessary to uphold the nature of the faculties of the soul. He that is once brought to see, or rather to taste, the superlative loveliness of the Divine Being, will need no more to make him long after the enjoyment of God, to make him rejoice in the happiness of God, and to desire that this supremely excellent Being may be pleased and glorified.”

What Edwards was saying, and what the Bible teaches is this. The Lord will bring divine influence upon our soul. This influence is sometimes called the saving grace of God. This grace gives us a taste of the preciousness of Christ. Once you get this taste, you are on your way. From that time on, no one will need to press you to follow after God. It will be in your heart. You will be looking for opportunities to pursue those spiritual activities you used to avoid. That brings me back to the avocados in Puerto Rico. My mom used to nag me and make me eat my avocados. You know the drill, the gagging would last until one of us gave up. That all changed the day I began to love those avocados. From that time on i joined in on the “avocado ecstasy”. My mom never nagged me about avocados again, I had stepped into the joy.

FILLED TO OVERFLOWING

FILLED TO OVERFLOWING

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16

I love the extravagant nature of God. He displays His infinite qualities in various ways. I love it when He displays His unlimited nature in, what some would say, excessive outpourings of His presence. That is what the day of Pentecost was about. The Lord began to show the overflowing characteristic of His Glory in huge outpourings of His presence. The disciples had experienced the anointing before, they had been with the “Anointed One” for three years. They had seen and felt a lot. They had also received a measure of His anointing that first Easter Sunday evening when Jesus breathed on them and said, “receive the Holy Spirit”, but the day of Pentecost was different. The power of His presence came down in a much greater measure, they were overcome by the Glory of His presence. That is exactly what John was talking about when he described, “grace upon grace”. The Lord was beginning to pour out greater and greater measures of His Spirit.
Recently, I attended an event in Colorado Springs hosted by John Bevere. While attending these meetings I was reminded of something that happened to me and our church in 1994. I was attending another event at the same hotel in Colorado Springs back in August of 1994. I called Parris in NOLA on Wednesday night and she began to tell me what had happened in our church that night. She described the incredible Glory of God coming down in our church to such a degree that many were struck speechless, others were overcome with unspeakable joy, and some, when trying to go home, were stuck on the pavement in the parking lot unable to make it to their cars. We had never experienced anything like this before, God was coming down pouring out his “grace upon grace” in our church. That outpouring began a season of incredible worship, harvesting of souls, (Beyond the Grave), and revival being birthed literally around the world. In a matter of months we were in the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Singapore, Denmark, Norway, El Salvador, Mexico, and Costa Rica. God had come down and lives were being transformed. In our seeker friendly church world, many of us are afraid for “Pentecost” to take place. Without Pentecost, all we have is the form of Christianity, just words. Words without power can never change our world. Lord, visit your church again like the days of old, we want to hear the sound of the mighty rushing wind, we want to feel the heat of the tongues of fire, we want the river of Your Glory to flood our lives again. So don’t be surprised if “grace upon grace” shows up, that is exactly what we need, the power of the upper room.

SALVATION BY GRACE

SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE

knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Gal.2:16

The trend today is to reinvent God in our own 21st century image, making God into a politically correct god who includes everyone in His man centered world. As we throw out the foundations of our Christian faith, we lose our moorings and begin to wander aimlessly through life. I believe it is important for us to return to the foundational truths of our Christian faith. One of these foundational truths is called justification. Justification, being declared righteous before God, comes only by grace through faith. It is the only way into a relationship with the Living God. Here are some of the words of Martin Luther, his teaching on grace and justification radically changed our western world.

“The true way of salvation is this. First, a person must realize that he is a sinner, the kind of a sinner who is congenitally unable to do any good thing. “Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.” Those who seek to earn the grace of God by their own efforts are trying to please God with sins. They mock God, and provoke His anger. The first step on the way to salvation is to repent. The second part is this. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we may live through His merit. He was crucified and killed for us. By sacrificing His Son for us God revealed Himself to us as a merciful Father who donates remission of sins, righteousness, and life everlasting for Christ’s sake. God hands out His gifts freely unto all men. That is the praise and glory of His mercy.”

Some would say to believe like this is to narrow minded and not inclusive enough. I would say it is biblical. Many people want to throw out God’s clear plan of salvation which is revealed in His word because of the pressure and rationalism of the secular voices all around them. The question is not which way do you believe, the question is to do you accept the Bible as the inspired, infallible Word of God and what does that mean? The world has always rejected the word of God and His followers. You have to ask yourself the question, do I value the approval of the world’s idea of righteousness or do I value God’s only plan of salvation by grace through faith? You cannot have it both ways.

BLIND MAN’S FAITH

ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened.
Matt.9:27-30

“Son of David,have mercy on us.” It was only by faith these blind men could call Jesus “Son of David”. This was the same as calling Him Messiah. That was a radical declaration made possible by grace, their spiritual eyes had begun to open, but there was more. There is always more! As they drew close to the Lord, their faith began to soar, they were receiving an increased dose of grace or spiritual light. In that atomsphere they received their physical sight. Adam Clarke describes this increasing nature of grace and faith, listen to his explanation.

“Let the mercy thou requestest be equal to the faith thou hast brought to receive it by. According to thy faith be it done unto thee, is a general measure of God’ s dealings with mankind. To get an increase of faith is to get an increase of every grace which constitutes the mind that was in Jesus, and prepares fully for the enjoyment of the kingdom of God. God is the same in the present time which he was in ancient days; and miracles of healing may be wrought on our own bodies and souls, and on those of others, by the instrumentality of our faith. But, alas! where is faith to be found!”

Where is faith to be found, why it is found in the Presence of the Lord. Just as in the Old Testament, Moses would draw near to the Presence of the Lord in the cloud and God would speak from the cloud, today we draw near to His Presence revealed in His Son. In that nearness God begins to speak, our faith begins to come alive, and miracles are the result. Like the blind men, we should never be satisfied with the current “light” that we have but should draw near to the Lord. As we draw near, we break into the brightness of the Sun of Righteousness who has risen with healing in His wings. Then the moment comes, we hear His incredible voice, “Be it done to you as you have believed.”

THANKFUL

It is so good to be back home after dealing with all that goes along with evacuating for Gustav. I was reading my Bible recently and was reminded of some things that Jesus said about the last days pictured in the life of Noah.

Luke 17:26-27

 

26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

 

27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

KJV

Jesus told us to look to the lessons in Noah’s flood for insight in these last days. He told us that man’s heart was wicked and was consumed with evil almost constantly. The Lord really had to do something because of the deterioration of mankind. Today is no different than the days of Noah. The wickedness of man is crying out for judgement.

Noah experienced the grace of God to spare him and His house from the coming judgement. Gen. 6:8

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

The Lord revealed Himself to Noah by the grace of God. Today, He is revealing Himself to a remnant by His grace.

The grace or favor of God brought several things to Noah.

1. It brought protection  through the ark.

2. It brought a great migration of beasts, a type of the great migration of souls to Christ in the last days

3. God remembered Noah and sent His wind.

Gen. 8:1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;

What was Noah’s response? After the water receded Noah brought an offering of thanksgiving to the Lord. Gen. 8:20-9:1

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

All of us can learn a lesson from Noah. We are
kept safe by the grace of God. He is preparing a harvest for us. He has sent the wind of the Spirit in these last days. What can we do? Bring an offering and give thanks to the Lord.

Blessings,

Frank