OUTBREAK OF JOY

Isa.9:2,3 – Those who walked in darkness have seen a radiant light shining upon them. They once lived in the shadows of death, but now a glorious light has dawned! Lord, you have multiplied the nation and given them overwhelming joy! They are ecstatic in your presence and rejoice like those who bring in a great harvest and those who divide up the spoils of victory!

It seems to have been an incredible time of sorrow in Israel just before Jesus of Nazareth appeared on the scene. Being conquered and forced to live under the rule of a foreign entity apparently had squeezed all the joy out of the hearts of God’s people. Isaiah said it was a time of great spiritual darkness. That’s what made the appearance of Jesus even more profound, He introduced another kind of life permeated with joy that superseded the sorrow of heart that held the nation in bondage. His death, resurrection, and glorification opened the portal into heaven for all of us. Multitudes are being harvested and all mankind have access into a new and living way now. A new kind of life, never before imagined, is now being poured out upon us all over earth. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“A sign of the moving of God among us to fulfill this promise is an outbreak of joy! He fills our mouths with laughter as a sign that the great ingathering of the harvest is here. The phrase “They are ecstatic in your presence” refers to the heart of worship God is releasing today. The gospel will always bring joy, and those who receive good news will rejoice. This is the joy of the Feast of Tabernacles. The two great joys of the human heart come at a time of harvest and a time of victory. Human celebration at these two times knows no bounds. As the increase is brought in, victory is experienced. What greater joy is there in heaven and earth than when souls are saved?”

Maybe this current season of Quarantine is the pressure necessary to release this unprecedented move of the Spirit. His final outpouring is inevitable, the question that has to be answered, “Will you be in the middle of it?”

RIVER FLOWS FROM HIS SIDE

Jn.7:37-39 – Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds—“All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!”

Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive. But the Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out upon them, because Jesus had not yet been unveiled in his full splendor.

There is a river that flows from the throne of God. Seated on this throne is the One John saw in the book of Revelations. He said that this One on the throne was both the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is what Jesus was prophesying about in today’s passage. He was speaking of the day when He would be glorified with His Father on the throne with the River of Life streaming out from Him. We live in that day. There is a River and it flows from the glorified Lord into and out of His church on earth. Here are some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“This splendor included the splendor of the cross, the splendor of his resurrection, and the glory of his ascension into heaven. Just as water poured out of the rock that was struck by Moses, so from the wounded side of Jesus living water poured out to heal, save, and bring life to everyone who believes. The Holy Spirit poured out of Christ and into the church at Pentecost.”

John said Jesus was prophesying about the glory flooding from Christ after He took His place at the Father’s right hand. John saw this living water flow out from Christ when He was pierced on the cross. John19:34 – “But one of the soldiers took a spear and pierced Jesus’ side, and blood and water gushed out”. There is still living water flowing out of the wounds of Jesus on us today. There is a River of life flowing out to the thirsty; whoever drinks from this river will never thirst again. This Living Water will heal our broken heart, restore our devastated lives, and heal our bodies. Look to Him now, there is a River that flows from the throne of God.

FRUITFUL PLACE TO LIVE

Ps.1:3 – He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

What is prosperity or fruitfulness anyway? Jesus said that bearing fruit is the mark of a disciple. He said it like this, John 15:8 – “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples”. David said it came from being planted by the river, Jesus said it came from abiding in the vine. Could it be that this is just two different ways of saying the same thing? Planted by the River would mean living my life in a dependency of the Holy Spirit. Drinking in His presence everyday. Abiding in Christ is the same thing, looking to Jesus and allowing the life of the Spirit to flow from Him into me. Luther talked about this kind of fruitfulness. He said it was spiritual and not carnal. Check this out.

“And with regard to this “prospering,” take heed that thou understands not a carnal prosperity. This prosperity is hidden prosperity, and lies entirely secret in spirit; and therefore if thou hast not this prosperity that is by faith, thou shouldest rather judge thy prosperity to be the greatest adversity. For as the devil bitterly hates this leaf and the word of God, so does he also those who teach and hear it, and he persecutes such, aided by all the powers of the world. Therefore thou hearest of a miracle the greatest of all miracles, when thou hearest that all things prosper which a blessed man doeth.”

Jesus said this fruitfulness would glorify the Lord. The reason it brings glory to the Lord is because it points everyone and everything back to the Lord. By ourselves we can do nothing, planted by the river suddenly all things become possible. We are no longer limited by our limitations, we are limited only by the Lord’s limitations. Of course He is all powerful and can do anything, in other words, abiding in Him breaks us into the supernatural arena. This fruitfulness effects every part of us; our work life, our family life, and our ministry life. Suddenly it is Christ working through us. Our part is to stay planted and let the River flow through us.

DOUBLE JOY

Isa.9:2,3 – Those who walked in darkness have seen a radiant light shining upon them. They once lived in the shadows of death, but now a glorious light has dawned! Lord, you have multiplied the nation and given them overwhelming joy! They are ecstatic in your presence and rejoice like those who bring in a great harvest and those who divide up the spoils of victory!

There is something about darkness that makes the light a little brighter, there is also something about lean times that makes harvest more special. That is what today’s passage is talking about. This is a prophesy that Matthew quoted in reference to the appearing of Jesus Christ on the earth the first time. He said in a time and a land of darkness the light of God would come. That was fulfilled at the first coming of Jesus Christ. This passage goes on to describe an unprecedented season of harvest. That too began to be fulfilled at the coming of Christ. Today is another season of darkness; could that be an indication of the coming of the light of God? Just as the death and resurrection of Christ marked the first fruits of God’s harvest, His final and great harvest is upon us. There is a joy of anticipation flooding His creation even now. When the gates burst with light and the unprecedented harvest is unleashed, unbridled joy will fill the earth. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this verse.

“As the light of Jesus shines on the earth, it will bring in a harvest of joy and rejoicing. The people of God are about to arise and spoil the kingdom of darkness, even as Israel spoiled Egypt and went out rejoicing. God will cause our joy to overflow like those distributing loot after a battle. Great will be the conversions, the increase, and our rejoicing. Many sons will be brought into glory as the increasing Light of Dawn appears (Heb. 2:10). With both harvest and victory in battle, people rejoice in what God has done.”

This two fold joy is already making its appearance, prophesying of that great day of the Lord just ahead. The double joy is this; unspeakable joy in His glorious presence, unprecedented joy as we see redemption of the least of these multiply into a multitude of His sons and daughters. Don’t despair at the darkness of the age, it is a guarantee of the blinding light breaking into this generation.

“Material”

A MOTHERS DAY THOUGHT

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS –

Acts 9:40,41 – Peter made them all leave the room. Then he got down on his knees and prayed. He turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes and looked at Peter and sat up. He took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then he called in the faithful followers and the women whose husbands had died. He gave her to them, a living person.

My childhood memories were lived in Texas full of adventures in woods, rushing streams and even walks to my school greeting horses along the way. But my fondest memories were the frequent road trips to Gainesville, Texas to see my grandmother who was a widow. Her house took on the noise of the busy street and the railroad nearby but the home cooked meals and the outside screened porch where we slept all made up for it. My grandmother made her meager living sewing. One of the joys of being there was going through boxes of scrap material or the many quilt squares of varied designs. My mother took up the same gifting and made many of my sister’s and my clothing. To this day I have one of my grandmother’s special quilts that she made.

The book of Acts portrays the same, a woman sewing for the good of others. Her name was Dorcas who was a widow and the scripture isn’t quite clear about how she died only that several widows gathered around her as she lay lifeless and the news eventually got to the Apostle Peter. They showed Peter her material and what she did with it. I am not sure how long she suffered with her illness-did she die quickly or did the dream within her die first? Was she shut down during her illness that made her silent? Whatever the case was, Peter traveled from another town and found her upstairs lifeless with her material laying all around her. There was garments yet to be made, dreams yet to birthed and Peter was there to bring resurrection to all that fell silent within her. She wasn’t a preacher, nor married to one, she performed no miracles that we know of but she used those scraps of material to change lives. Peter prayed for her and told her to get up and she did and that is where the story ends with others giving glory to God. I believe she found more scraps to use for the glory of God! Maybe she started a whole society with widows from all over the region, pulled all the their pieces together and more garments were made for the poor! Something tells me the more she used God’s material, the more her strength came back! Dorcas inspires us to re-frame how we see ourselves and the impact we can have on our city no matter how insufficient we feel or shut down we become. Reach for that box of scraps and you just might feel a fresh wind blow within you!

Oh I forgot to mention my grandmother’s name was Jewel.

BEAUTIFUL BRIDE

Ps.45:13,14 – All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her.

This beautiful Psalm is a glimpse into the greatest of all mysteries. It is a sneak peek into the future glory of the bride of Christ. The presentation of the Lord’s bride is the ultimate display of God’s glory. We see His glory and power in creation, we see His wisdom in His written Word, we see His compassion in the miracles of Jesus but He reserved His greatest display of His glorious grace on the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. The wedding supper of the Lamb will be the celebration culminating at the presentation of His beautiful bride. His church made up of former liars, the immoral, all varieties of addicts, and criminals; will be cleansed, clothed with His beautiful garments, and celebrated at the greatest party of all times. Here is a glimpse of this passage from Spurgeon.

“In the latter-day glory, and in the consummation of all things, the glory of the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall be seen by all the universe with admiration. While she was within doors, and her saints hidden ones, the church was glorious; what will be her splendour when she shall appear in the likeness of her Lord in the day of his manifestation? The finest embroidery is but a faint image of the perfection of the church when sanctified by the Spirit. This verse tells us of the ultimate rest of the church—the King’s own bosom; of the way she comes to it, she is brought by the power of sovereign grace; of the time when this is done—in the future, she shall be, it does not yet appear; of the state in which she shall come—clad in richest array, and attended on. Let none hope to be brought into heaven at last who are not purified now.”

We will be with Him, enjoying His love for us throughout all eternity. He will wipe away all of our tears and lead us to His glorious streams of living water that will satisfy us all of our days. Only then will we begin to see the ramifications of His grace. Not only did He love us when we were unloveable, He has crowned us with His own beauty for eternity.

MAGNIFY

Lk.1:46 – And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord”.

Mary was filled with the Spirit, two things make that very obvious to me. First, she began to prophesy. Prophetic utterance is a sure indication of the work of the Spirit. The second indication is even more convincing, Mary began to magnify the Lord. Once you come into contact with the Holy Spirit magnifying the Lord is somewhat inevitable. The Holy Spirit gives us a clear impression and perception of the greatness and goodness of the Lord. When you see His greatness and His goodness it will take your breath away. Your only recourse is to follow in the steps of Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord!” Here is how Martin Luther describes this verse.

“For God is not magnified by us so far as His nature is concerned — He is unchangeable — but He is magnified in our knowledge and experience, when we greatly esteem Him and highly regard Him, especially as to his grace and goodness. Therefore Mary does not say, “My voice or my mouth, my hand or my thoughts, my reason or my will, doth magnify the Lord.” For there be many who praise God with a loud voice, preach about Him with high sounding words, speak much of Him, dispute and write about Him and paint His image; whose thoughts dwell often upon Him, and who reach out after Him and speculate about Him with their reason; there are also many who exalt Him with false devotion and a false will. But Mary says, “My soul doth magnify Him” — that is, my whole life and being, mind and strength, esteem Him highly. She is caught up, as it were, unto Him, and feels herself lifted up into His good and gracious will….All words and thoughts fail us, and our whole life and soul must needs be set in motion, as though all that lived within us would fain break forth into praise and singing.”

This scene really is a forerunner of what would happen thirty three years later in the upper room in Jerusalem. The followers of Jesus, including His mother Mary had joined together in prayer after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. As they prayed they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and began to magnify the Lord. This blessing was no longer just for Mary or even the disciples gathered in the upper room that day; this blessing was for all people for all time. Come on and magnify the Lord with me.

A NEW SONG FOR A NEW DAY

Ps.40:3 – A new song for a new day rises up in me
every time I think about how he breaks through for me!
Ecstatic praise pours out of my mouth until
everyone hears how God has set me free.
Many will see his miracles;
they’ll stand in awe of God and fall in love with him!

Recently I was reading this Psalm and this verse literally jumped out of the page at me. “A new song for a new day”, that’s it. We are entering one of God’s new days and an old song just won’t do. As I read this passage my mind turned back to the earliest days of the outpouring of the Spirit in our church back in 1994. We stopped singing the songs previous to the outpouring. Those were all good songs mind you, but songs reflect the season that they were written in. We were in a new day and God was putting a new song in our mouth. I feel like we are presently entering into one of God’s new days. We have been in the horrible pit of Corona quarantine, spending plenty time reflecting on where we have been. The Lord is bringing us out into a wide place of delieverance, His new song reflects what He is doing. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this verse.

“He filled him with joy, as well as peace, in believing: “He has put a new song in my mouth; he has given me cause to rejoice and a heart to rejoice.” He was brought, as it were, into a new world, and that filled his mouth with a new song, even praise to our God; for to his praise and glory must all our songs be sung. Fresh mercies, especially such as we never before received, call for new songs. This is applicable to our Lord Jesus in his reception to paradise, his resurrection from the grave, and his exaltation to the joy and glory set before him; he was brought out of the horrible pit, set upon a rock, and had a new song put into his mouth.”

We are receiving fresh mercies, after all they are new every morning. Fresh mercies give us new views of God’s greatness and new perspective on His plans. We will declare this new song and the result will be a season of miracles, signs, and wonders.

UNUSUAL AND UNPRECEDENTED

Lk.1:35 – Gabriel answered, “The Spirit of Holiness will fall upon you and almighty God will spread his shadow of power over you in a cloud of glory! This is why the child born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

For years I passed over the importance of this passage. Mary is seen being anointed by the Holy Spirit and shortly after she begins to prophesy. Why does this stand out in a unique ways from other prophecies? No one had prophesied in four hundred years. There had been no prophets for the first time in Israel’s history. You could say they had passed through their own dark ages without a prophetic voice. The really strange thing about this prophet is that she is a woman. Not only a woman but a pregnant, unmarried teenaged woman. This is scandalous! But there it is right in front of us. Mary, the mother of Jesus prophesied in Luke 1:46-55. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther on this great event.

“In order properly to understand this sacred hymn of praise, we need to bear in mind that the most blessed Virgin Mary is speaking out of her own experience, in which she was enlightened and instructed by the Holy Spirit. For no one can rightly understand God or His Word who has not received such understanding directly from the Holy Spirit. But no one can receive it from the Holy Spirit without experiencing, proving and feeling it. In such experience the Holy Spirit instructs us as in His own school, outside of which naught is learned save empty words and idle fables. When the Holy Virgin, then, experienced what great things God wrought in her, notwithstanding she was so poor, meek, despised, and of low degree, the Holy Spirit taught her this precious knowledge and wisdom, that God is a Lord whose work consists but in this — to exalt them of low degree, to put down the mighty from their seats, in short, to break whatever is whole and make whole whatever is broken.”

The Lord delights in doing the unusual and unprecedented. Think about those who were about to change the world; a pregnant teenager, the “more than strange prophet” John the Baptist, a fisherman from Galilee, a cursing Pharisee who hated Christians, and the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. God’s ways are not our ways; is it possible that unusual and unprecedented is about to fall on us again?

HE SHINES OUT OF ZION

Ps.50:1,2 – The God of gods, the mighty Lord himself, has spoken! He shouts out over all the people of the earth in every brilliant sunrise and every beautiful sunset, saying, “Listen to me!” God’s glory-light shines out of the Zion-realm with the radiance of perfect beauty.

David often sang and prophesied about the glory of the Lord displayed in God’s creation. His most famous creation Psalm may be this passage from Psalm 19:1,2 –

“God’s splendor is a tale that is told;

his testament is written in the stars.

Space itself speaks his story every day

through the marvels of the heavens.

His truth is on tour in the starry vault of the sky,

showing his skill in creation’s craftsmanship.”

In today’s passage David describes an even greater display of God’s glory, he says that God is shining out of Zion. Zion is the Lord’s trophy, His redeemed sons and daughters. God’s glory is shining all over the earth through His church, Zion, made up of those washed in the blood of His only Son. Here is how Spurgeon describes this passage.

“The Lord is represented not only as speaking to the earth, but as coming forth to reveal the glory of his presence to an assembled universe. God of old dwelt in Zion among his chosen people, but here the beams of his splendor are described as shining forth upon all nations. The sun was spoken of in the first verse, but here is a far brighter sun. The majesty of God is most conspicuous among his own elect, but is not confined to them; the church is not a dark lantern, but a candlestick. God shines not only in Zion, but out of her. She is made perfect in beauty by his indwelling, and that beauty is seen by all observers when the Lord shines forth from her. Observe how with trumpet voice and flaming ensign the infinite Jehovah summons the heavens and the earth to hearken to his word.”

This is why redemption is such a powerful blessing. Each one of us are part of this glorious display in these last days. We are His radiant bride, called out of sin and darkness shining as lights in this dark world. As the world gets darker the light shining out of Zion is getting brighter. Let your light shine displaying the glory of the Lord in our hurting world.