STAY IN YOUR LANE

2 Cor.6:14-16 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they shall be my people.”

Driving in New Orleans comes with its challenges. One of my favorites is what happens when you turn your blinker on to change lanes. Inevitably, someone will take the turn signal as a sign to speed up and block you or even better, swerve from behind you into the other lane and pass you. Thinking about this phenomenon caused me to fixate on the saying “stay in your lane”. If you wonder what this has to do with today’s verse, hold on, I’m about to tell you. The word we want to focus on out of this verse is yoked. This is a very powerful word with powerful implications about walking in the flow of the Christian community. Here is how Adam Clarke describes it.

“This is a military term: keep in your own ranks; do not leave the Christian community to join in that of the heathens. The verb yoked (heterozygeo) signifies to leave one’s own rank, place, or order, and go into another; and here it must signify not only that they should not associate with the Gentiles in their idolatrous feasts, but that they should not apostatize from Christianity; and the questions which follow show that there was a sort of fellowship that some of the Christians had formed with the heathens which was both wicked and absurd, and if not speedily checked would infallibly lead to final apostasy.”

What Paul and Adam Clarke are warning us about is not to become involved with the secular community. In other words don’t break rank with the body of Christ by becoming yoked or too familiar with worldly people. This admonition includes marriages, partnerships, and many other relationships that are not healthy for us and do not benefit or advance God’s kingdom. In other words, stay in the Lord’s lane for your life, you will be much more productive and much happier in the long run.

HIS CHOICE

Ps.65:4 – How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You

To dwell in Your courts.

We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,

Your holy temple.

Before we came to Christ we had no idea what being close to Him would be like. We didn’t even know that was possible (at least I didn’t). All the unbelievers think about in regard to Christianity is the supposed rules they have to adhere to and the carnal pleasures they no longer can indulge in. This verse of scripture shows the blessedness of being one of His chosen ones. Jesus said it very plainly, “You have not chosen Me but I have chosen you”. Before we come to Christ we are living in a state of slavery. We are enslaved to our sinful passions. That is part of what happened to mankind as a result of the fall. Our wills have been ensnared by sin; as a result we always made the wrong choices. The only way out is to be struck or chosen by His electing love. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes it.

“We are chosen of God, according to the good pleasure of his will, and this alone is blessedness. Then, since we cannot and will not come to God of ourselves, he works graciously in us, and attracts us powerfully; he subdues our unwillingness, and removes our inability by the almighty workings of his transforming grace. This also is no slight blessedness. Furthermore, we, by his divine drawings, are made nigh by the blood of his Son, and brought near by his spirit, into intimate fellowship; so that we have access with boldness, and are no longer as those who are afar off by wicked works: here also is unrivalled blessedness. To crown all, we do not come nigh in peril of dire destruction…, but we approach as chosen and accepted ones, to become dwellers in the divine household: this is heaped up blessedness, vast beyond conception. But dwelling in the house we are treated as sons, for the servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the son abideth ever.”

Once you fall into the grasp of the love of God you find yourself enamored with the presence found in His house. He chose us to be with Him. He loves us and we love to be with Him. I have to agree with David,

“How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You

To dwell in Your courts.

We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,

Your holy temple”.

MY PEOPLE

2 COR.6:16 – Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

We have all been called lots of things; some worse than others. A famous running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Hershel Walker, said he thought his name was “Get Wood” until he was almost grown up. What kind of names have you been called? Student, worker, black man, white man, athlete, husband, wife, chump or looser; you get the drift, we all have been called and labeled all sorts of things. Today’s scripture tells us one of the sweetest things we can be called, my people. The Lord Himself has called us His very own people, what could be better than that? Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this blessing.

“What a sweet title: My people! What a cheering revelation: Their God! How much of meaning is couched in those two words, My people! Here is speciality. The whole world is God’s; the heaven, even the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s, and he reigneth among the children of men; but of those whom he hath chosen, whom he hath purchased to himself, he saith what he saith not of others-My people. In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In a special manner the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. All the nations upon earth are his; the whole world is in his power; yet are his people, his chosen, more especially his possession; for he has done more for them than others; he has bought them with his blood; he has brought them nigh to himself; he has set his great heart upon them; he has loved them with an everlasting love, a love which many waters cannot quench, and which the revolutions of time shall never suffice in the least degree to diminish.”

I am one of God’s people. He has loved me and known me from the days of eternity. He has set me apart for Himself, what could be a higher privilege than that? I am more privileged than a corporate executive, a Senator, judge, or a celebrity doesn’t have the privileges that belong to me. We are more special than Princes, Kings, Prime Ministers, or Presidents. We are the very people of God.

WHAT DOORS ARE OPENING IN YOUR LIFE IN 2018?

Rev.3:8 – I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it…

What kinds of open doors are opening up before you in the next year? The Lord opens doors that no man can shut, we just have to be in a place to see them and be willing to go through them. I was recently looking up today’s verse in several commentaries. Here is a short thought from several of them. John Wesley spoke about a door of joy open to us as we serve the Lord.

“I have given before thee an opened door – To enter into the joy of thy Lord; and, meantime, to go on unhindered in every good work.”

The Lord is the source of all of our joy. The good news is that it multiplies when we are involved in His endeavors. Matthew Henry believed that liberty, freedom itself, comes from the Lord. He believed the Lord has opened doors of liberty for us. Here are Henry’s words.

“I have set it open, and kept it open, though there be many adversaries. Learn here, Christ is to be acknowledged as the author of all the liberty and opportunity his churches enjoy.”

I love that, there is not only freedom but plenty opportunities that come from proceeding through His open doors. John Trappe believed that these open doors would not only advance the kingdom, they would also prove to be beneficial to us. Here is what Trappe said about this verse.

“A fair opportunity of doing thyself good; which those that go about to deprive thee of shall be sure to lose their toil and tallow (blessing).”

Not only are we blessed, those that attack us end up losing their blessing. Finally, William Barclay said that open doors of ministry are all around us. We don’t have to go on a mission trip to find open doors of ministry, they are right here. Here are Barclay’s thought on this verse.

“There is a door of missionary opportunity before every man and he need not go overseas to find it. Within the home, within the circle in which we move, within the parish in which we reside, there are those to be won for Christ. To use that door of opportunity is at once our privilege and our responsibility.”

The truth is that there are many doors of ministry and blessing right in front of us. Embrace the Lord and He will gently lead you through them.

SET APART

Psa. 4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;

The LORD will hear when I call to Him.

The world we live in is not random, it is well planned and orchestrated to accomplish the plans of the designer. He orders all things for His pleasure and glory; the best part of this is that He sets apart His own people to be participants in His great plan. This verse uses a phrase “set apart”. I did not set myself apart, I have been set apart by the Lord and for the Lord. It is not my plans that are at the center of my life anymore, I have been set apart for the Lord to be used in bringing about His plans. The amazing thing about this is that somehow my testimony is critical in all this. Actually it is not my testimony at all but the testimony of Jesus being displayed in me. Like all of us, I was rescued from my own misery brought about by my bad choices. He redeemed me and has set my life on display. That is what being set apart is all about, He displays His sons and daughters as examples of His love and power. Here is a word study by Dick Mills on set apart.

“This phrase set apart is a mind boggling phrase. It includes thinks that are extraordinary, marvelous, full of wonder and awe, supernatural in origin and result. Set apart is the Hebrew word palah. It is defined as, to make wonderful, to be distinguished, to be favored, to be selected, to make a difference. It is a word akin to pala, meaning a wonder, a marvel, a miracle. It’s a name for Jesus the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6, the Wonderful One.

Being set apart does not make us better than anyone else; it just makes us better than we used to be. Before the Second Coming of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is at work in the Lord’s body of believers. Jesus is being magnified, glorified, and exalted in His people. In John 15:16 He tells all of us, “You did not choose Me but I chose you.” You are set apart and destined for great things.”

God’s plans for you are bigger than you can imagine. The only thing that you have to be willing to do, give the glory for your transformation to the Lord. He will give you the joy of belonging to Him, He just wants the glory for all He does.

ARE YOU A SAINT?

Rom. 1:7 ¶ To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: ¶ Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Living in New Orleans we hear the word ‘saint’ used a lot. Everything from our beloved football team ‘The Saints” to the Catholic use of the term in this predominantly Catholic city, to the famous song, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. The funny thing is few people understand what the Bible means when it calls people saints. Paul uses the term saint in today’s verse referring to all the Christians in the church in Rome. We can understand a little about this word if we look at the greek word used by Paul in his letter. It is the word hagios which literally means set apart to be holy. This tells us that a saint is a saint not because of their personal deeds or goodness. A saint becomes a saint totally by the work of God. Here is how Albert Barnes sees it.

“The word saints—hagios—means those who are holy, or those who are devoted or consecrated to God. The radical idea of the word is that which is separated from a common to a sacred use, and answers to the Hebrew word kodesh. It is applied to anything that is set apart to the service of God, to the temple, to the sacrifices, to the utensils about the temple, to the garments, etc., of the priests, and to the priests themselves. It was applied to the Jews as a people separated from other nations, and devoted or consecrated to God; while other nations were devoted to the service of idols. It is also applied to Christians, as being a people devoted or set apart to the service of God. The radical idea, then, as applied to Christians is, that they are separated from other men, and other objects and pursuits, and consecrated to the service of God.”
So maybe its not only football players or ancient men and women of God that are saints, maybe you are a saint. Its not the estimation of your holiness or works but the work of Christ at the cross that makes you a saint. What is our part? Our part is yielding to His voice. He loves us and calls us out of the world to a place of separation from the world, as we yield we become one of His saints.

BABYLON, DRUIDS, AND BACCHUS

Rev. 18:2-3 “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons…. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

It seems like most people don’t give a lot of thought to some of the activities they participate in. Mardi Gras is a great example of this. Today’s title is taken from the names of three of the Mardi Gras Parades that are running through the streets of New Orleans this Mardi Gras season. These are just a few of the pagan names related to the Mardi Gras season, there are plenty of others. I’m sure that many of the folks who join in with the revelry of the season have no idea what is behind it, they are just looking for some fun.
Today’s scripture comes from the book of Revelation and is describing the judgement that comes upon Babylon in the last days. In the Bible, Babylon represents the world system of the antichrist that is in direct opposition to The Lord and His kingdom. It is characterized by adultery, fornication, political corruption, and all forms of worldly behavior. Of course the carnal man has to have his religious practice, Babylon is also connected to the the one world religion in the last days led by the false prophet empowered by the antichrist. Babylon experiences God’s judgement and is overcome at the closing chapters of the Bible.
Druids are actually witches.They are sometimes related to Stonehenge and to the ancient celtic pagan practices that opposed the spread of Christianity. Here is a quote from encyclopedia.com.
“Among the most controversial practices associated with Druids was human sacrifice. In their priestly service among the Celtics in Gaul, it was noted by Julius Caesar and Strabo that they oversaw the sacrifice of humans. Caesar mentioned the immense images which they filled with living victims and burned to death, a practice that was vividly pictured in the 1975 movie The Wicker Man.”
Bacchus is one of the old greek gods. He is known as the god of wine, need I say more. Bacchus is the perfect Mardi Gras parade, the focus is on wine, sex, and a little bit of religion.
Here is a quote from encyclopedia mythica about Bacchus.
The Roman god of wine and intoxication, equated with the Greek Dionysus. His festival was celebrated on March 16 and 17. The Bacchanalia, orgies in honor of Dionysus, were introduced in Rome around 200 BCE. These infamous celebrations, notorious for their sexual and criminal character, got so out of hand that they were forbidden by the Roman Senate in 186 BCE.”

So maybe we should think before we blindly participate in the affairs of this world. The Lord has more than enough to offer, we need not drink from the wells of this world.

SEALED

SEALED

Eph. 1:13-14 ¶ In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Have you ever wished you lived in a different time? As a child, we would often live in a make believe world pretending we lived in a different time or place. Maybe you wished you lived in the pioneer days, traveling across the country in a covered wagon. Or maybe you dreamed about the days of knights and chivalry. For some, they wish they had lived in the New Testament days, you know, when God was really moving in the earth. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. If we could actually see with the eyes of God we would recognize these are the Bible days, days of prophetic fulfillment. It is a great day to be alive and to be a follower of Christ. Bible prophesy is being fulfilled, Christ will soon return for His bride. The days of the move of the Spirit are here. As Christians, we should strive diligently for the supernatural. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is not something that is optional, to live for Christ in this generation we need His hand upon our lives. Here is something R.T. Kendall said about the sealing of the Holy Spirit on His followers.

“All of God’s children have God’s seal on them. In a word: all who have saving faith are sealed with the Holy Spirit. “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Tim. 2:19). First, He authenticates us. We have been given authority to become sons of God (John 1:12). Second, He owns us. We are not our own; we are bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). Indeed, God “set his seal of ownership on us” (2 Cor. 1:22). Third, the seal of God on us guarantees our safety. “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Ps. 91:11). Fourth, there is nothing greater than having the approval of one whose power, authority, and integrity matters. Timothy had Paul’s approval. “I have no one else like him” . . . he “proved himself” (Phil. 2:20, 22). Finally, our eternal destiny is sealed. Paul said, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).”

The anointing of the Spirit is essential in this compromising, goofed up world we live in. Temptation and compromise are inevitable without His power at work in us. Being sealed by the Spirit puts His mark on our lives. It says we belong to Him. That’s the place I want to live my life, marked and set apart by the power of His Spirit.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

“IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”

MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS BAILEY-

I was a new believer in the 70’s when the Christian movies “LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT” and “DISTANT THUNDER” came out. Those movies terrified me, I saw myself “taking the mark” when faced with the guillotine. I also read “FOXES BOOK OF MARTYRS” and that too terrified me. Fed to lions, burned at the stake, sawn asunder, and being used as human torches didn’t give me much hope. How could I ever stand up for my faith? But then in 1994 the Holy Spirit filled my heart in such a way that I finally saw how “the great cloud of witnesses” did it. I began to see the ministry of the Holy Spirit as a comforter, teacher and one that fights my battles. (He comes alongside each of us!) The Martyrs crossed over in their spirit into a supernatural realm who like Stephen, they were filled to overflowing. I began to experience this supernatural river in my life and still do, it has taken away my fear of the future and the “what if’s” in life.
JER. 17:7-8 says, “BLESSED IS THE MAN THAT TRUSTETH IN THE LORD, AND WHOSE HOPE THE LORD IS. FOR HE SHALL BE AS A TREE PLANTED BY THE WATERS, AND THAT SPREADETH OUT HER ROOTS BY THE RIVER, AND SHALL NOT SEE WHEN HEAT COMES, BUT HER LEAF SHALL BE GREEN, NEITHER SHALL CEASE FROM YIELDING FRUIT.”
Many of us have heard about this amazing song by Horatio Spafford. He wrote it when he lost four of his daughters in a shipwreck. What I didn’t know was before this tragic incident they had not only lost all their fortune in the “Great Chicago Fire” but had lost two sons as well. As he crossed the Atlantic where the ship sunk, Horatio wrote these words:
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, IT IS WELL, IT IS WELL, WITH MY SOUL.”
His wife Anna was the only one that survived that shipwreck and in her terrible anguish she heard God say to her, “I have a purpose for you!” Soon after, Horatio and Anna left for Jerusalem as missionaries caring for the poor, the sick and the needy until their deaths. His song continues with; “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let his blest assurance control, that Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”
What caused this couple from being another casualty? How does one overcome the death of 6 children and the loss of their fortune? By the grace of God, He comes to us and touches us in such a way that we taste heaven for ourselves.
“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound, and The Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul.” AMEN!

SEVEN STARS

SEVEN STARS

Rev. 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

As every one knows by now, Parris and I are celebrating this entire year our fortieth anniversary. Yep, forty years of marriage, forty years since our conversion, and forty years since we were called into the ministry. The calling of God to preach the gospel is rare and precious. I am humbled to think that The Lord chose me to preach His word, obviously it was not my “people skills” that caused Him to select me for His work, I think He delights in choosing people who may not have the great skills necessary for His work. He chooses the base things of this world to humble the talented, it is just another way for God to be glorified. In today’s Christian culture there is not much talk about the calling of God into the preaching ministry. Actually, preaching is not that popular. Ministers “share” rather than preach, preaching is just so out dated. The funny thing about this whole topic is this, The Lord has chosen the preaching of the gospel as His tool to reach the lost world. It’s not slick presentations or ministers acting as “coaches” that will change our world. It is the preaching of the cross that The Lord uses to touch our world. To the wise of this world, the preaching of the cross is foolishness. To the powerful, preaching is for the weak. To the Lord, preaching is the wisdom of God and the power of God.
So I continue my celebration, I am celebrating God’s calling on my life to glorify Him through preaching Christ to this godless generation. Thomas Watson, a puritan pastor from the 1600’s spoke about the importance of God’s ministers.

“Ministers are called stars. Therefore they must shine by word and doctrine in the firmament of the church. Thus our Lord Christ has set them a pattern in the text: ‘When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain.’ Here was a light set upon a hill, the bright morning star shining to all who were round about. Christ calls his ministers ‘the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14). Therefore they must be always giving forth their luster. Their light must not go out until their last breath—or until violent death as an extinguisher puts it out.”

I believe we are about to see the church come full circle. What do I mean by that? Simply this, the church will return to its moorings, a fresh love and appreciation for the ministry of preaching will be restored to His church. A new love and respect for the calling of God to preach the gospel will return to His church. How will they know without a preacher? How will they hear unless someone is sent? Lord, raise up another generation of men and women called to preach the gospel, unashamed of the message of the cross and unafraid of the mighty power of the Holy Spirit.