KISS ME

KISS ME

Song 1:2 ¶ “May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.

There is something special about that first kiss. I will never forget the first time I kissed Parris (for those who don’t know, Parris is my wife). From that moment on, I knew she was the one for me. In that brief moment I decided she would be my wife. At that time I was attending school in Michigan. The first thing I did was return to Michigan, pack my bags, and come back to NOLA. I knew my life was somehow meant to be here with my future wife.
In this song,Solomon talks about the power of the kiss. From the first time the bride had kissed Solomon, she was hopelessly in love, all she could think about was being with her lover. In this beautiful song, the Lord has given us an opportunity to look behind the veil and gaze into the life of intimacy the Lord has prepared for His sons and daughters.
I remember back in 1994, when the Lord began to visit our church, he began to bring an incredible new sense of intimacy into our services. This intimacy began to be expressed through the songs that we sang. One of those songs was called True Love by David Ruis. Here are some of the words from that song.

Jesus I need to know true love
Deeper than the love found on earth
Take me into the King’s chamber
Cause my love to mature

Let me know the kisses of Your mouth
Let me feel Your warm embrace
Let me smell the fragrance of Your touch
Let me see Your lovely face
Take me away with You
Even so, Lord, come
I love You Lord
I love You more than life

My heart, my flesh yearn for You, Lord
To love You is all I can do
You have become my sole passion
Cause my love to be true

“Let me know the kisses of your mouth”, I remember how controversial those words were when we first sang that song in our church. I think we even changed the words for awhile, and then went back to singing about kisses. You see kisses are the display of affection you have for another person. Solomon, singing about a divine kiss, communicates intimacy that may terrify some, but it expresses the very cry of our heart. All of us want to be loved, all of us want to be kissed. Until we experience this sense of intimacy with God, all we really have is a form of religion. The Lord is after our heart, He is after your deepest affections, He is after your kisses. All of the other things; the tithing, the singing of songs, teaching, praying, ministering to the poor; all of these things can be a smoke screen. Does He want us to do those things, absolutely. The difference is these things flow out of our affection for Him. One kiss from the Lord and life will be different, one kiss from Him and you will throw yourself into a life of service. you will serve Him gladly because of His great love for you. “Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth”.

STRIVING TO REST

STRIVING TO REST

Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell.
Heb.4:11 Amp.

Striving and resting, how could those commands be compatible? One minute Paul is telling us to rest and the very next minute, he is talking about laboring and striving. What could he possibly mean? How can we labor for God’s gifts?
Resting is the result of spiritual intimacy, striving in the flesh can be credited to spiritual infancy. Spiritual intimacy is the place of renewal and spiritual enjoyment, the results of the gift of God’s grace operating in our lives. Where does the striving and laboring come in? This godly striving is the action brought on in a person’s life when they recognize their spiritual poverty and their great need for more of God in their life. This recognition results in a hunger for God that manifests itself in a lifestyle characterized by a relentless pursuit of God.
A person seeking after God becomes almost “violent” in their spiritual pursuit.
Jesus described this hungry man like this, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force”. The kingdom becomes their reason to live and manifests itself in a restless pursuit.
You will see this individual over taken by an unquenchable hunger for God’s Word, it will be as if they are a miner, mining for gold as they daily dig into their Bible. Next, their taste in music will dramatically change, sometimes they will appear like an addict looking for their fix, as they chase after God in their worship music that seems to fill most of their time. Church becomes the highlight of their week, their greatest pleasure is that time of corporate worship, hearing the preaching of the word, and sharing with their friends their rich spiritual discoveries of their week.
What will be the results of this “striving to enter God’s rest”? Jeremiah said it like this, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”. This is the reward for this laboring after God, the final result is an incredible rest that comes from the spiritual discoveries that always come to those who join this spiritual quest. Remember the words of David, echoed by Paul in the book of Hebrews, “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart”. And what is this voice saying, “Come unto me all you who labor and I will give you rest”.

NEED SOME REST?

DO YOU NEED SOME REST ?

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Heb.4:9,10

Do you feel worn out? I am not talking about just being sleepy, or exhausted from a long day, I am talking about something quite different. Something that goes beyond just a physical tiredness, but something that goes to your very core. This emotional and spiritual condition comes from the endless onslaught of stuff that gets slung at us everyday. It comes from bad news about the economy, worries about the future of your job, problems at home, political and governmental chaos and scandal, international incidents, natural disasters, children in trouble (parents in trouble ?). Need I say more?
Our fast paced, sometimes out of control world, can leave us out of breath, just hoping for a break. This kind of pressure can lead us to make bad decisions, decisions we may regret for a long, long time. What kind of decisions? Decisions like immoral relationships, or maybe alcohol and substance abuse. Don’t get me wrong, it is very seldom that this starts suddenly. First, you take a look at stuff you would never look at, or you decide to have a drink (after all you, deserve it after all you’ve been through). Then, before you realize it, your life has deteriorated into something quite different, maybe something you are not very proud of. All you were looking for was a break.
Being “tired” puts us into a vulnerable place. That is what the author of Hebrews is describing in this passage. There is a place of rest in Christ that will keep us safe in this wacky world that we live in. How do we find this place of rest? By drawing near to God. I am not talking about a dry, sterile religious life. I am offering to you the greatest of all adventures. This adventure will not wear you out but will bring you into His promised rest, the place you have been looking for, just maybe looking in all the wrong places. You can enter in to this rest for your soul today. This rest is found at the right hand of the Father’s throne, the place where Christ is seated, the place He is resting from His finished work at the cross. As we bow before Him in worship and adoration, a rest beyond compare begins to flood our soul. This rest is more than a rest for our body, it goes through our whole being. This is the rest of God, filled with an unspeakable joy, this is what our souls were looking for all along.

SLOW FADE

SLOW FADE-
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away,
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to grey
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day.” (Casting Crowns)

Let’s face it, I don’t think people wake up some morning and out of the blue and decide to take drugs, sleep with a married person, or walk away from your loved ones; like the song says it was a slow fade.
I must admit, some of the girls at Mary’s Song fell into destructive behaviour after a traumatic event happened in their lives. Whatever it was, it wasn’t that easy to get over. Drugs and a destructive lifestyle came way to easy after that. They are now finding that Jesus can totally heal the pain, not just numb it.
For me, it’s the Christian that I find myself struggling to understand. Did they not feel the Lord of Glory come into them, and the cleansing of the blood of Jesus? Were they not taught about the cross and how we have died with him and are raised with him? Paul asks the Corinthians why they were being carnal? (Fleshly or unregenerate)
Watchmen Nee says: “Biblical regeneration is a birth by which the innermost part of man’s being, the deeply hidden spirit, is renewed and indwelt with by the Spirit of God. How can a man be regenerated? By being born of God and by believing on the Son of God and receiving Him.” In other words, your flesh is not to be tinkered with, educated, beautified or trained- all of that does the flesh nothing, only one thing is needed, it has to be put to death.
It always amazes me to see how far Christians will go to be like the world. I am still waking up to the beauty around me that God has given us while others seem to be drawn to everything that is of man and from man. It’s almost like we feel we are missing out on something if we aren’t a part of the world, like we are being deprived. The other day I got to thinking about broccoli, I am actually growing it at the moment, in my back yard. It is so very intricate, made of a million little green buds that bring all sorts of anti-cancerous agents and vitamins to our bodies, but we still grab for the Popeye’s Chicken every time. Why is it that man reaches for the synthetic rather than the real? Don’t you think there is a parallel in our lives- we reach for the spiritually synthetic?
James called that clouds without water, blemishes in our love feasts. Jesus called them the foolish virgins. Whatever the case, I don’t want to have a “slow fade”. Let’s run the race guys, lets get on with it.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, draw me and I will run!”

THAT I MAY KNOW HIM

THAT I MAY KNOW HIM

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.
Phil.3:8-10

The book of Phillipians was written from Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. This was toward the end of Paul’s life, he had been a Christian for about thirty years. Paul’s terminology is quite interesting , he talks about “knowing” Christ. Today we live in a far different time, a time of cheap grace and recited prayers. All a person has to do today is just repeat these words and now you are saved, now that you have prayed, you “know” the Lord. Do you really know the Lord in the way Paul was talking about? Paul seemed to be describing a lifetime of pursuit with increasing degrees of knowing the Lord. Mathew Henry wrote about knowing Christ over three hundred years ago, how did he view knowing Christ?

“Here the apostle explains himself. He tells us what it was that he was ambitious of and reached after: it was the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord, a believing experimental acquaintance with Christ as Lord; not a merely notional and speculative, but a practical and efficacious knowledge of him. So knowledge is sometimes put for faith.”

Listen carefully again to how Henry described knowing the Lord, he said it was an “experimental acquaintance”, we would call it, in our words, experiential. Do you have an experiential knowledge of Christ? Is that relationship increasing as time goes on? If so, you are on the journey Paul was describing, a journey that will last the rest of your life. The first time you called out to the Lord, this relationship began, today it continues as you press on to know the Lord. When will this process end, actually never. In eternity it will change as we step into the fullness of His Presence, but heaven is the eternal unfolding of this infinite God. We will be growing in the knowledge of God throughout the ages.

DON’T TOUCH MY JUNK

DON’T TOUCH MY JUNK

And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
MK 10:20-22

“Don’t touch my junk”, everyone knows exactly what the man going through security at the airport meant. He had gone as far as he could go. You can look through my belongings, take off my belt, pull off my hat, put my coat through the conveyor belt, and have me walk in my socks all over the filthy building. Ask me irrational questions, make me go through multiple lines and screenings, but don’t touch my junk. You can pat me down, x-ray my camera and computer, and look repeatedly at my i.d. but don’t touch my junk. We have all given up freedoms and convenience for safety in the last few years, but we are willing to go only so far. Part of our life is ours and we don’t want any intruders in those areas.
That is what the rich young ruler felt like when Jesus asked him to sell his belongings and give everything to the poor. He had followed the commandments from his childhood, missed out on all of the dalliances of youth, had spent way too much time in religious meetings, but now Jesus was going too far. “Don’t touch my junk!” He may not have said it but that is exactly what he was thinking. How do I know that? Because all of us have thought it. We are willing to follow the Lord only so far and then He goes too far. He asks us to use our house for a Bible study or maybe our car to bring the poor to church. Or maybe He will ask you to go to the prison for ministry or to help with follow up or even street evangelism. “Don’t touch my junk. Did I say that out loud?” Then the Lord really goes over the line, “Support your church with the first tenth of your income.” Then we hear the voice going off inside of us “don’t touch my junk”. Most people will followup as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”
When all denied it, Peter and those with him* said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ “*
But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.”the Lord when they are making the rules, then it is okay. But the Lord is not after our actions or our “junk”, He is after our heart. He knows the only way to our heart is to ask us for our precious things, yes He wants to touch your junk, it is the sure way to get to your heart.

FRAPPED

FRAPPED

FRAPPED

Heb. 4:14  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
Heb. 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Heb. 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

All of us need help, we need different kinds of help on a regular basis. Many times we need help that another person can never give us, we need the kind of help described by Paul in today’s verse.
The greek word Paul used in this verse is very descriptive, the word is boethia and is not one we would use in our modern language. Actually this word is an ancient nautical term translated as frap in English. Frap, have you ever been frapped? Paul is describing help he had received from the Lord when he was facing shipwreck in a storm on the sea. You see, frap is a powerful and descriptive term. It means to secure a vessel with ropes or chains by wrapping the bow. Sometimes, wooden ships were in danger of breaking up in the raging sea, and when that happened, frapping the vessel was the only recourse. Paul had frapped a few vessels in his time, sometimes his very life needed this frapping constantly facing the relentless storms of life.
Maybe you are going through one of these storms of life, all of us do. When the wind begins to blow and the waves are pounding on our bow, frapping becomes a necessity. What am I talking about? You see, when your life seems to be bursting at the seams, we need the kind of help Paul is describing. It is the help of God found only in the place of intimacy. We call out to Him in our troubles and He begins to hold us in His arms of love. There has never been a better place of comfort and rest than found in the embrace of the Lord. But you might say, ”I need more than a hug, I am in real trouble”. That brings us to the best part, when we are in the embrace of the Lord, His love makes us forget our problems. At the same time, He begins to handle the storm itself, somehow we find ourselves safely transported to His harbor, not really knowing how we arrived. That is the greatness of His kind of help, we came to Him, just looking for a way out of our mess, and suddenly we got more than we ever imagined. He met us in the midst of our storm, maybe that’s why we were there all along.

THE HAND OF GOD

THE HAND OF GOD

… as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell upon me. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God.

EZEK 8:1-3

The Hand of the Lord came upon Ezekiel. What was that like? Have you ever felt the hand of the Lord upon you? In Acts 11 the Bible says that the “hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number were added to the church”. This was describing the move of the Spirit in Antiock. The phrase, “hand of the Lord” is a beautiful description of the intimate touch of the Spirit upon our lives.
In Ezekiel’s case, when the hand of the Lord would come upon him, he would be caught up into the prophetic visions of God. One of these visions speaks of the River of the Holy Spirit in graphic detail. Ezekiel describes a progressive influence of the Spirit in Ezekiel 47. He talks about wading out into the water, ankle deep, knee deep, up to his waist, and finally, waters over his head, so deep, he needed to swim. What a graphic picture of the effect of the Spirit upon our lives today!
Are you familiar with the working of the Spirit? Have you experienced the effect of the Spirit upon your life? In Ezekiel’s vision, he went on to explain the effect of the river as we begin to wade out into it’s depths. He said that everwhere the river goes, there is healing. This healing comes to every part of our lives. Maybe you are experiencing emotional pain from trials and disappointments in your life. Step out into the River, there is healing for your soul. Maybe you are suffering from physical ailments, step into the River. Move out a little deeper than before, the waters of His Spirit are filled with healing and life for your body. Like Ezekiel, you can wade deeper and deeper into the Presence of the Lord. As you do, you will have a greater sense of the Lord in your life, and He will have a greater impact upon you and your circumstances. Before you know it, you will be saying with Ezekiel, “as I sat in my house, the Hand of the Lord came upon me”.

THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK

THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret places of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely.”

SONG OF SOLOMON 2:14

One of the famous hymns of all time was written in the 1700’s by Augustus Toplady called Rock of Ages. In this song, Toplady describes protection from life’s storms, hidden away in the cleft of the rock. He had obviously found the protection and safety found only in this place of intimacy with God. Listen to these famous, timeless words, as they ring through the centuries.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

This world we live in is an extremely dangerous place. There is trouble, sometimes hidden trouble, facing us on a regular basis. We are threatened with disease, troubled by financial woes, endangered by violent attacks, increasingly worried about terrorists, not to mention the unusual natural calamities that seem to be happening on a much more frequent basis. We need a place of refuge that we can run to in this increasingly, hostile world.

In his song, Rev. Toplady tells us of this place,”Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee”. He had discovered the intimacy, that brings shelter, in the clefts of the Rock. Who is that Rock? Of course, it is our precious Savior. What are the clefts? They are the wounds that Jesus suffered in our place. Jesus suffered and died, to bring us intimacy with Himself. This place of intimacy is the source of all life. Flowing from the wounds of Christ is life itself, all we need for security and satisfaction in this crazy world. As we begin our day today, let’s go in to the place of safety, this is where we will see His face, this is where we will hear His voice, for His voice is sweet and His face is lovely. Just as Toplady discovered in the 1700’s, Christ is our hiding place. We can find a place of refuge, rest, and refreshing in the clefts of the Rock.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

DRINK YOUR FILL

DRINK YOUR FILL

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!
Song of Solomon 5:1

Solomon’s Song is filled with the language of drinking and of love. Now this is not the kind of drinking you might be thinking of, Solomon is talking about another kind of drinking. This Song of Songs is speaking of spiritual drinking. You may not be familiar with this kind of drinking, this is what Jesus described in John 7, “If any one is thirsty, let him come unto Me and drink”. This is the drinking of spiritual intimacy. This spiritual intimacy flows from the throne of our glorified Savior and is available for anyone who is thirsty.
Now in the natural world, there are limitations placed on drinking. There may be cultural limitations, or governmental regulations (such as drinking and driving), or establishment limitations on excessive drinking. Spiritual drinking has no such limitations, because the results of “excessive” spiritual drinking are actually quite beneficial. The KJV version brings out Solomon”s acceptance, actually his encouragement, of drinking large quantities of this heavenly drink.
“I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”
Song of Solomon 5:1 KJV
Drink abundantly, actually this literally means drink until you are intoxicated. This is describing the effects of drinking, coming under the influence of His heavenly affection. When you come under this kind of influence, all sorts of good things can happen. What kinds of things? A strange kind of attraction and love for Jesus is the first and greatest effect of this influence. Also, there is changed behavior; kindness, gentleness, love, joy, peace and all sorts of internal changes to our lives. Healings, physical and emotional, are also connected to spiritual drinking.
So what is the conclusion? Drink your fill of His love. Drink abundantly, don’t hold back. Drink until you are drunk with love. Join into this new life of love, remember, there are no limitations. Drink your fill of the Savior’s cup.