YOU ARE A SIGN AND A WONDER

Heb.2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Isa.8:18 – Behold—here I stand, and the children whom the Lord Yahweh has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel…

You ever wonder about what the greatest proof that there is a God and His word is true? Have you ever considered what is the greatest of all signs and wonders? It could be argued that the greatest miracle in the ministry of Jesus was raising Lazarus up from the dead. At the end of the day that miracle was only a sign pointing to the greatest miracles of the ministry of Jesus. What could that be? It is the raising of you and me from the dead. We were dead in our sins until Jesus called our name from outside of our tomb. When we came alive the real work began. He began to unwind our grave clothes, in other words change us. That is what today’s verse is all about. He has taken wicked people like you and me and performed His work of beautification, the Bible calls it sanctification. Here is how Andrew Murray says it.

“For both He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of One. Jesus is the sanctifier, we are the sanctified. The object for which Christ became the Leader of our salvation, the great work He has to do for us, the bond of union between the Son and the sons of God, the proof of their bearing His image and likeness, and the mark of their real oneness, is Holiness….The Triune God is the Thrice-Holy One: Holiness is the deepest mystery of His Being, the wondrous union of His righteousness and His love. To be holy is to be in fellowship with God, possessed of Him. Therefore the Spirit specially bears the name of Holy, because He is the bearer to us of the love of God, and the maintenance of the divine fellowship is His special work. Jesus is the Holy One of God, who makes us holy in filling us with His Holy Spirit.”

So our testimony is the real sign and wonder. We are the children given to Jesus as proof of His ministry. Our changed lives are His signs and wonders.

FIRST MARY’S SONG GIRL

Jn.4:39-42 – So there were many from the Samaritan village who became believers in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony: “He told me everything I ever did!” Then they begged Jesus to stay with them, so he stayed there for two days, resulting in many more coming to faith in him because of his teachings.

Then the Samaritans said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you told us, but now we’ve heard him ourselves and are convinced that he really is the true Savior of the world!”

This story serves as a prophetic glimpse into the future of the church. Jesus is venturing into non-jewish waters, ministering for three days among the hated Samaritans. The open door into this community was the most unlikely candidate of all, the well known immoral woman who had five husbands and a current live in arrangement. This is reminiscent of the revival in Northampton so many years later where Jonathan Edwards spoke of a woman he referred to as the ‘greatest company keeper’ in town. It is as if the Lord takes the least likely candidate and chooses them to display the glory of His grace. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes about the woman at the well in Samaria.

“Although unnamed in the biblical account, church tradition identifies the Samaritan woman to be Photini. An internet search of her name will yield many interesting stories about her post-conversion ministry, including her being named as an “apostle” of Jesus and her eventual martyrdom. Regardless of the validity of the extrabiblical references, she will go down in history as the first New Testament evangelist to win a city to Christ. God is faithful to use anyone to reach others when we are honest to tell others that Jesus knows everything we’ve ever done and still loves us.”

This caused all sorts of problems for the disciples. First, this woman was a Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by the Jews as a half breed race of cursed people. Secondly, she was a woman. How could a woman be used to touch a region for Christ. Third, her story was horrible. How could the Lord work with someone with such a sketchy past? The funny thing, these three problems were the very reason the Lord chose this woman. Today, the Lord is at it again; 1 Cor. 1:28,29 – “He chose the lowly, the laughable in the world’s eyes—nobodies—so that he would shame the somebodies. For he chose what is regarded as insignificant in order to supersede what is regarded as prominent, so that there would be no place for prideful boasting in God’s presence”.

VICTORY CHURCH – THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS

Rev. 1:12,13 ¶ Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands, and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

This verse in the beginning of the book of Revelation is quite incredible, yet terrifying. The glorified Christ is seen walking in the midst of His various local churches, He is still doing that today; that’s the incredible part. The terrifying part is this, He will only stay in the midst of His church when He is welcomed and loved. When He leaves, we are left with nothing.

In Revelation 19:10 the Lord describes the testimony of Jesus, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” When we are walking with Christ as a church the Lord expresses His testimony in us. He speaks His word over us which is His testimony. Here are several words He has spoken over us over the years. As we embrace His word over us His testimony is made real in our lives and in the world itself. Here are several of those words He has spoken over us. Each one was a word in season that is still being fruit.

Jn.4:38 – I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.

Matt.14:16 – But Jesus said to them…“ You give them something to eat.”

Heb.12:2 – looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…

Luke 5:4 – “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Amos.9:13 – Message – Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” GOD’S Decree.

 “Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once—and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. 14 I’ll make everything right again for my people Israel.

From the first day the Lord called Parris and I back to New Orleans with the word from John 4 until the present day with His amazing word of supernatural harvest from Amos the Lord has been walking in the midst of our Victory Church. Today He still walks with us, reaching out to the hungry to establish His testimony in them. Stop and acknowledge Jesus in the midst of His congregation. This is our greatest treasure and joy.

KANYE FACTOR

Lk. 13:20,21 – Jesus taught them another parable: “How can I describe God’s kingdom realm? Let me give you this illustration: It is like something as small as yeast that a woman kneads into a large amount of dough. It works unseen until it permeates the entire batch and rises high.

Since everyone else is throwing in their two cents worth I thought I might as well join in at my own peril. For the old timers I want to remind you of another very public conversion of a very public influential figure by the name of Bob Dylan. All of us Christians were so excited when someone of his influence came to Christ. For those that are too young to remember, Dylan had a huge influence on society through his music. His anti-war message was espoused by an entire generation. His conversion was quite public. He recorded two overtly Christian albums; SLOW TRAIN COMING, and SAVED. Here is where the problem came in, new Christians are often compromised when they are thrown into the public and commercialized. That’s what happened to Dylan. Seeing Christian leaders use and manipulate his celebrity for their own benefit stumbled him. Today I am not sure he still considers himself a Christian. As far as Kanye is concerned just let him be. Let him just be a young Christian. More than that puts his faith in a precarious position. The testimony of Kanye can be very powerful, it can be like the yeast in today’s verse. Here is how the notes in the Passion Bible explain this.

“The meaning of this parable is that something small can impact and penetrate something great. It is the pervading influence of virtue and truth that is highlighted here. A transformation takes place when the hidden yet pervasive kingdom impacts every part of culture and society around us.”

I personally believe Kanye’s testimony is valid. Hopefully Christians will not try to manipulate him or his story. The testimony of conversion from the life he lived can stand on its own. Being delivered from the hedonistic lifestyle and culture Kanye West helped to build is enormous and is sending shock waves through society. Here are some words from Dylan after his conversion, this is for all of us, even Kanye.

Might be a Rock-n-roll addict

Prancing on the stage

Money, Drugs at your command

Women in a cage

You may be a businessman

Or some high degree thief

They may call you doctor

Or they may call you chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Yes you are, you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well it may be the Devil

Or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

HOLD HIM BY HIS FEET

Matthew 28:8-9 And did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

There is something amazingly different about Jesus. There is no angel in heaven nor any creature or human on earth that has the attraction that He has. Now not everyone is attracted to our Savior, only those who belong to Him. To those who are perishing Jesus is actually repelling, but to those who are being saved, He is the most prized possession of our lives. This first Resurrection Sunday these precious women were amazed beyond words. Those three days of darkness and depression had been swallowed up in an instant. “He’s alive, just like the angels said.” The appearance or words of angels had not driven the darkness from their souls, but one word from His lips and they were at His feet worshipping Him, overwhelmed with His love. This is how Spurgeon describes this scene.

“Jesus permits these godly women to hold him by the feet. It was an act of humility, worshipping and holding; and holding not his hands, but his feet. They must have seen the nail-prints before Thomas did, as they held him by the feet, and worshipped him. I do not find that these women ran to the angels, they rather shrank back from them; but they came to Jesus, for we are told that they came, and held him by the feet. I think that there must have been a new attraction about Christ after he had risen from the dead, something more sweet about the tones of his voice, something more charming about the countenance that had been so maimed at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha.”

But what about us today? Do we have to go on someone else’s words? Do I have to live on the testimony of someone who lived two thousand years ago? Hardly! Jesus is in heaven but the Holy Spirit, the very One who raised Jesus from the dead is here with us. He comes to us just like Jesus came to the women on that road to Jerusalem that Sunday morning so long ago. He speaks to us and surrounds us with His love. Before you know it, you too will be at His feet consumed with the testimony of Jesus.

TESTIMONY THAT OVERCOMES

Rev 19:10 – Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

The testimony of Jesus deals with authenticity. Christ working in us and through us is the testimony of Jesus. If you connect this verse to another verse earlier in Revelation, you can begin to see the power of the testimony of Jesus. This is how John said it in Rev. 12:1, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death”. The devil is the father of lies. Everything he does is based on lies and deception. Christ is the absolute truth. Christ in us declares the truth of redemption in our lives.

If the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy, then declaring what Christ is doing in our lives is prophetic and is a powerful tool in tearing down the strongholds of the enemy. Not only does it bring victory into our lives, it goes on to break the yoke of oppression off of those who speak His word. Here is how the Fire Bible describes this verse.

“True prophecy is using one’s voice or communication to deliver a message from God—something that honors him and often reveals something of his plans and purposes. Prophecy can inform, challenge, predict, warn or encourage people regarding those purposes. Ultimately, all true, godly prophecy is related to Jesus and his work of restoring people to a personal and eternal relationship with God. As such, all true prophecy honors Christ and calls us to be in right relationship with him.”

So go ahead and boldly declare what Christ has done. Lift up your voice as a weapon and testify to what the Lord has done and is doing in your life. Tell about His power over past sin and addictions in your life. Proclaim how He has worked in your family and friends. Boast in the testimony of Jesus. Not only will you be strengthened in faith, you will begin to extend His kingdom. Those who you are around and you speak the word to will experience the life changing power of God in their lives delivering them from evil.

THEY OVERCAME THE DEVIL

Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

This passage of scripture is taken from the book of Revelation during the peak of demonic onslaught during the Great Tribulation. John is painting the picture of Satan as being desperate and defeated in his last days before he is locked up in hell at the coming of Jesus Christ. His defeat is certain and he is trying to inflict as much damage as possible upon the followers of Christ during this dark season. John gives the solution to the dilemma that the church was facing. It was the same one he had practiced throughout his life and is God’s word for us as we too face a heightened attack in these last days. He simply said that the devil is overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Here is how the Fire Bible describes this conflict.

“Faithful followers of Christ on earth have access to an effective strategy for overcoming Satan’s schemes and accusations. It is not a matter of their own power, ability or efforts; it has everything to do with what Christ has already done and the victory he has already won for them. Christ’s followers are freed from Satan’s power by the blood of the Lamb—the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave his life to pay the price for sin so that those who entrust their lives to him could be forgiven, restored to a personal relationship with God and have the assurance of eternal life with him. Christ’s death and resurrection are the greatest defeats of Satan and guarantee ultimate victory for those who are faithful to God. By determining to speak for Christ and by showing a willingness to serve him at any cost, Christians disarm the devil from being able to rob them of faith, even during the most difficult times of persecution and tribulation.”

What is the significance of the blood of Jesus in relation to demonic attack? The only basis for successful demonic attack against us is the sin we have committed, it gives access to our lives. As we stand in faith, knowing our sins are purged by the blood of Jesus, the devil has no grounds to defeat us. We enforce this truth by our declaration of victory in the Name of Jesus. So we too can say with John and the believers during the Great Tribulation, “we overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony”.

THEY OVERCAME THE DEVIL

Rev. 12:11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

This passage of scripture is taken from the book of Revelation during the peak of demonic onslaught during the Great Tribulation. John is painting the picture of Satan as being desperate and defeated in his last days before he is locked up in hell at the coming of Jesus Christ. His defeat is certain and he is trying to inflict as much damage as possible upon the followers of Christ during this dark season. John gives the solution to the dilemma that the church was facing. It was the same one he had practiced throughout his life and is God’s word for us as we too face a heightened attack in these last days. He simply said that the devil is overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Here is how the Fire Bible describes this conflict.

“Faithful followers of Christ on earth have access to an effective strategy for overcoming Satan’s schemes and accusations. It is not a matter of their own power, ability or efforts; it has everything to do with what Christ has already done and the victory he has already won for them. Christ’s followers are freed from Satan’s power by the blood of the Lamb—the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave his life to pay the price for sin so that those who entrust their lives to him could be forgiven, restored to a personal relationship with God and have the assurance of eternal life with him. Christ’s death and resurrection are the greatest defeats of Satan and guarantee ultimate victory for those who are faithful to God. By determining to speak for Christ and by showing a willingness to serve him at any cost, Christians disarm the devil from being able to rob them of faith, even during the most difficult times of persecution and tribulation.”

What is the significance of the blood of Jesus in relation to demonic attack? The only basis for successful demonic attack against us is the sin we have committed, it gives access to our lives. As we stand in faith, knowing our sins are purged by the blood of Jesus, the devil has no grounds to defeat us. We enforce this truth by our declaration of victory in the Name of Jesus. So we too can say with John and the believers during the Great Tribulation, “we overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony”.

BAPTIZED IN WHAT?

Matt. 3:11 – As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

I was recently driving down Lakefront Boulevard with my pastor friend Sam Carr. We were passing by the very spot where Parris and I came to Christ and were water baptized the following week. We were baptized in Lake Ponchartrain on a Friday night in August of 1973. Before I was baptized in water the ministers were sharing with me about another baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. You see I was baptized in water that night but not many days later I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit since you believed? I think many Christians don’t understand the magnitude, importance, and value of the Baptism with the Spirit. Actually water baptism is only a type or shadow of the real. Being baptized into God, the Holy Spirit, is a complete game changer. Here is how Watchman Nee described it.

“God only gives good gifts to His children. Unfortunately we are apt to esteem them lightly because of their sheer abundance. The Old Testament saints, who were less favored than we are, could appreciate more readily the preciousness of this gift of the outpoured Spirit. In their day it was a gift given only to the select few, chiefly to priests, judges, kings and prophets, whereas now it is the portion of every child of God. Think! We mere nonentities who trust in Christ can have resting upon us the same Spirit who rested upon Moses the friend of God, upon David the beloved king and upon Elijah the mighty prophet. “Among them that are born of women,” said Jesus, “there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

It wasn’t great men who have been historically used by the Lord. Think about who the Lord has used; Moses was a murderer, Amos was a farmer, Jonah was a deserter, Jeremiah was a child, Joseph was a slave, Peter was a fisherman, and Paul was a persecutor. These were common, flawed men that were empowered by the Holy Spirit to effect their world. How can we have a casual attitude about the Baptism in the Spirit? Pursuing Him and allowing Him to move in our gatherings is a game changer.

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.