AN ODE TO MOTHERS

Sleepy Saturday- An Ode to Mothers!
by Parris Bailey

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1

I feel like a have a good word for Mothers and any Christian who feels like they have spent years of praying, sowing, believing and are still waiting for their harvest. Wise Solomon gives us a word of advice.”Cast (freely and liberally bestow) thy bread (i.e. thy money or provisions, which are oft signified by the name of bread. By saying thy bread, he cautions us that we give away only that which is our own, and not that which is another’s”. It is important to take that bread/seed and cast it into the waters. Water represents multitudes. We have to take that seed and cast it away from us over and over again. Trust not the seed, nor the soil but God himself (I call it the cycle of life).
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. (Galatians 6:9 AMP)
Another version puts it this way, “Send it a voyage, send it as a venture, as merchants that trade by sea. Trust it upon the waters; it shall not sink.” And another, “Cast thy bread upon the waters is an allusion to the sowing of rice; which was sown upon muddy ground, or ground covered with water, and trodden in by the feet of cattle: it thus took root, and grew, and was found after many days in a plentiful harvest.”
John Trappe said our seed is cast into a “basket of justice” to where God is the only one “who sees”. He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him.
So Mama, dry your eyes your effort is not in vain. Like Anna the widow who lived to see the Messiah, remain faithful at your post. Christian run your race and lay hold on eternal life. Don’t cast away your confidence which has great reward. Our test is to realize that our identify really isn’t based on whether our prayers get answered, but our identify is in Christ alone.
After many days; not immediately, but in due time, and when you least expect it. So you must be content to wait for it with patience, as the husbandman doth for the fruits of the earth. I want to you to keep casting your bread of prayer, bread of effort and dreams for
“such is God’s husbandry- do the right deed, go it in faith, and in prayer commend it to the care of God. And though the waves of circumstance may soon waft it beyond your ken, they only carry it to the place prepared by Him. And whether it be on earthy or heavenly shore, the result will be found, and the reaper will rejoice that he once was a sower”. Spurgeon

THE MOTHERHOOD OF GOD

THE MOTHERHOOD OF GOD

Gen. 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Before you take me the wrong way, I don’t think God is a woman. I do believe there are some very beautiful feminine characteristics in our God, if not how could women have been created in His image.

Gen. 1:26-27 ¶ Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ¶ So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
In our first glimpse of God in the opening verses of Genesis, we see the interaction of the trinity. We see God the Father, we also see His word (the Lord Jesus), and their interaction with the Holy Spirit in creation. The Spirit is said to be hovering (râchaph
to brood; by implication to be relaxed: – flutter, move, shake)
This word hovering is the hebrew word for a mother bird incubating her eggs. This is a beautiful picture of the motherly aspects of the Spirit of God. A.B. Simpson spoke powerfully about this beautiful attribute of God.

“There is in the divine Trinity a personality corresponding to human relationships. Human fatherhood expresses a need which is met in God the Father. Human motherhood has its origin in the Holy Ghost. Human brotherhood, and the higher, closer fellowship of the husband and the bridegroom, are met in Christ, the Son of God, our Brother and our Bridegroom. We cannot reason out the divine Trinity, but God can make it real to our spiritual instincts.
There are times when the orphaned spirit feels the need of a mother’s delicate and tender touch, and we think how mother once used to comfort and help us as no other friend could do. Then we need the mother heart of God. The Holy Ghost, the author of the mother’s heart and the child’s dependent love, is able to meet in us the deep need which has outgrown our infant years, and still looks up to God with its orphaned cry for love and sympathy.”

Religion has tried to replace this need for nurturing with various female deities. There have been various claims to being the “mother of heaven”, even some streams of Christianity have tried to deify saints to replace this longing in our souls for nurturing. Only the Holy Spirit can satisfy this craving of our soul. All of us need to be “mothered”, it is a cry in our soul from the instant we are born. When we are introduced to Jesus Christ we are also introduced to the person of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can care for us and mend the scars of being orphaned in this world that so many of us carry. Today, allow the Lord to carry you in His arms, after all, some things only respond to a mother’s touch.

THE JEHOVAH WITNESS ELDER

JEHOVAH WITNESS ELDER

Rev. 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

It didn’t take long for the news to spread at the K-mart in Fresno, California. There was a Jesus freak working in the stock department! That Jesus freak just happened to be me. I think I would have had more friends if they heard I had the Bubonic plague. When I came into the lunch room, everyone would run for cover. No one wanted to be seen with the Jesus freak, at least almost everyone. You see there was a Jehovah Witness elder who was the manager of the Ready to Wear department and he wanted to meet me for lunch. I guess he had heard I was a new Christian enrolled in Bible College and felt I would be easy pick-ins. You see, Jehovah Witnesses are especially schooled in refuting Christians. They are very adept had taking various passages and preying on the unschooled Christians. As we sat down for lunch that day, the elder began to share his understanding of John 1. He was intent on destroying my faith in the deity of Christ. (If you didn’t know, that is a dead give away of cultic behavior). As quickly as he started I broke in, “I don’t know about that, I have only been studying the scriptures for a few weeks. Let me tell you what happened to me”, I told him. I then proceeded to tell this Jehovah Witness about my testimony. I told him about my encounter with Christians at Ponchartrain Beach. I shared about my conviction of sin, about my encounter with Christ. Then I began to describe my changed behavior, my deliverance from alcohol and substance abuse. As I continued to share my story, the elder became more and more uncomfortable. Actually, the blood drained from his face, he looked like he had seen a ghost. You know, that was the last time I talked to the elder. He seemed to make a point of staying away from me. Religion doesn’t have a testimony, all religious people have is religious information. Information is good but not good enough, our hearts are longing for reality. Our hearts are longing for an encounter with Christ Himself.
I learned a great lesson about ministry that day at the lunch with the elder. I saw first hand that years of study of the scripture was not enough. The experienced Bible scholar has no answers to refute the power of the testimony of Jesus. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophesy. As we tell the story of what the Lord has done in our lives it carries great power. It carries the power of Christ Himself. So make it your point to tell your story today. When your story is actually His story it carries power to change people’s lives. You never know, maybe there is a soul placed in your path today who needs to hear your story. Your testimony carries the very power of God.

MORPHED

MORPHED

Gal. 4:19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you..

Have you ever been morphed? If you are a real Christian, that is exactly what is happening to you. You are being changed by the power of God into something quite different from what and who you were. He is making all things new as you are being changed. In this verse you can feel Paul’s love for his spiritual sons and daughters in Galatia. They had been misled by false teachers and Paul was gently calling them back into the truth of the gospel. You can feel his compassion as he speaks about travailing in prayer. What is the point of Paul’s appeal? He is praying that Christ would be formed in them. After all, Christ was Paul’s message. Christ in us was the mystery of the riches of the glory that Paul reached every where he went. He knows that the very essence of the Christian life is Christ, having Christ formed in us is essential on many level. Vine’s word study book helps clarify Paul’s meaning as he spoke of Christ being “formed” in us.

“‘formed’ refers, not to the external and transient, but to the inward and real; it is used in Gal.z 4:19, expressing the necessity of a change in character and conduct to correspond with inward spiritual condition, so that there may be moral conformity to Christ.”

What an amazing truth. The change that happens to our very nature is not human and is not generated by human will power. The very essence of our Christian life is spiritual. It is actually the life of God in the soul of man. Christ makes His home in our hearts and actually changes us. Christ is formed in us, He begins to express His very nature in us. We begin to take on the characteristics of our Lord. What would that be like? He is kind, patient, generous, holy, long suffering, loving, joyful, and relentless in the pursuit of God’s kingdom.
Here are various translations of Galatians 4:19 and their different emphasis on Paul’s powerful words.

NEB- till you take the shape of Christ

Message- Christ’s life becomes visible in your life

Expanded- you truly become like Christ

Barclay- until the nature of Christ be brought to birth within you

The Voice- until the Liberating King is formed completely in you

Amp. Until Christ is completely and permanently formed(molded) in you

Living- until the time when you will finally be filled with Christ

TCNT- till a likeness of Christ shall have been formed in you

Good News – until Christ’s nature is formed in you

So let me ask you again, have you been morphed? If you are walking with God you are being changed into another person. He is not making minor adjustments, He is performing a drastic overhaul. You are being drastically transformed into someone different. How different would that be? You are being changed into the very likeness of Christ Himself.

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER

Ps.73:17-19
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.

Sometimes it’s seems like living right doesn’t pay. Often you see the worldly, compromising people apparently prospering. It seems like the ungodly get away with murder. That’s exactly what David was dealing with in this Psalm. David said that he was “envious of the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked”. If we look at the way things appear, it looks like it doesn’t pay to live right, the cheaters and compromisers seem to be running ahead in this game called life, but the way things appear is not always accurate. David said that when he went into the sanctuary of God he understood. What happened in David’s sanctuary that changed his opinion? David’s sanctuary was the tent he pitched on Mount Zion that contained the ark of the covenant. In that old tent the Glory of God would come down. In the atmosphere of the eternal God, David finally understood. He saw the end of the ungodly. No one gets away with anything, there is a righteous God watching over everything. There is a day of judgement and justice ahead for all of us. Charles Spurgeon made some interesting observations on this very topic.

“The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with Him all the day long, however long the day may seem. True religion lifts the soul into a higher region, where the judgment becomes more clear and the desires are more elevated. The more of heaven there is in our lives, the less of earth we shall covet. The fear of God casts out envy of men.”

Spurgeon went on to describe the sudden and total overthrow of the ungodly. One moment it seems like their ungodly lifestyle has paid off, in an atomic instant, total devastation.

“How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! This is an exclamation of godly wonder at the suddenness and completeness of the sinners’ overthrow. Headlong is their fall; without warning, without escape, without hope of future restoration! Despite their golden chains, and goodly apparel, death stays not for manners but hurries them away; and stern justice unbribed by their wealth hurls them into destruction.”

Have you ever been envious of the prosperity of the unrighteous? If you are like me you have not only been envious but outright angry. You have been especially angry if their prosperity came at your expense. If that’s the case, you need to take a trip to David’s tabernacle. In the atmosphere of God’s house, David saw everything clearly. Instead of being angry, you find yourself moved with compassion toward your perceived enemies. When you see the end of the wicked you’ll understand. Nobody ever gets away with murder.

BAM! KICKING IT UP A NOTCH

BAM! Kicking it up a notch!
Being sick of Love!

Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

“Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love” SOS 2:5
The Song of Solomon is a progression of our love from one degree to another till we reach the highest degree of spiritual enjoyment possible in this world. The Holy Spirit can so fill our heart with his influences as to make us “lovesick”, so much that we that cannot get enough of His presence. Being a Christian is not just saying a prayer but it starts there. It’s time to kick it up a notch. His love takes our breath away and can be intoxicating. If you haven’t felt these stirrings then this is the message is for you. “The cry of the Shulamite is that she be made capable of bearing the deep agitation of her physical life, which is the consequence, not of her love sickness but her love happiness.”(Keil & Delitzsch)Love is personified as a power and has its own laws and is not to be achieved artificially. Through the earthly love one must view the heavenly, and through the symbolic we understand the spiritual. (Interpreters Bible)It is the task of those who ” love knowledge” to reach this understanding. The Bible is full of symbols and the Song of Solomon has an ocean full of them, but we find Christ fulfills all of them. Augustine said, “do not desert the higher love and bend down toward the lower. Be upright in heart, so that you may have praise, make correct use of things that are below you, and you will rightly enjoy the higher good.” We are forever comforted with “his apples” which is His presence and His word. His love wounds us, quickens us, revives us and causes our whole lives to burn for him! This state of affection wants so to see Jesus in his glory. Rutherford said “there will be a sickness of love at the delay of what I hope for, most of all, when the sun of my blessedness is the thing hoped for, and still deferred.They that never felt their hearts sick with the desire of heaven, and the blessedness of that state, cannot conceive of it a tree beforehand.”
John in Revelations was so overcome that “fell at his feet as dead” and Daniel remarked “straightway there was no strength in him”. Dan.10:8-19. Paul prays that we might be “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” Eph 3:16. O Lord enlarge our capacity to receive more from you! David exclaimed ” O God, thou art my God: I have earnestly contemplated thee, my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee”. Ps. 63:, It is hard to describe such intimacy such secret longings of the soul. I pray He load us down with His fruits while seated under His shadow, so much that we become lovesick! BAM! “For Your arrows pierce me deeply, And Your hand presses me down.” (Psalm 38:2 NKJV)
“Lord withdraw thy hand for a little, for my heart is too weak to receive so great joy!” St. Ephrem

COMFORTER, COUNSELOR, REFUGE, DOCTOR

COMFORTER, COUNSELOR, REFUGE, DOCTOR

Psa. 50:14-15 Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

What kind of circumstances do you find yourself in today? Maybe you are in a time of trouble or a time of pain. Possibly you are in a time of confusion or a time of indecision. Or is it possible that you are in a dry time and a season of spiritual apathy? Christ can become all things to you. He can be your refuge from the storms of life or the comforter in your times of depression. He is your doctor when your are sick and your counselor when you need direction. He is the overflowing fountain to those who are dry and the fire of passion when apathy sets in. Charles Spurgeon spoke often of appropriating the resources of God in our lives through prayer. Here are some of his thoughts.

“Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest-there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, he can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of him in prayer. Go to him often, because he is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to him, tell him all thy wants. Use him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a sun; if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a shield, for he is a sun and shield to his people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use him as a guide, for he will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that he can do all thou wantest.”

For some reason we always need to be reminded about the power and importance of prayer. Prayer is where we meet with God. Prayer is where we appropriate His blessings. Prayer is where we find our very present help in times of trouble. Prayer is where we find the guidance we have been groping for in the darkness. In prayer we find His peace, His power, His courage, His power, His healing; actually the power of prayer is as unlimited as our God is. Today is the day to call upon the Lord. When will He answer? As soon as you lift up your voice! What could be easier than that.

SUPER HEROES

SUPER-HEROES

Galatians 2:20
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

When I was a child I remember all of the different heroes I would pretend to be. My three year old birthday party was all about Davy Crockett. My parents bought me all the Davy Crockett gear, after all he was “the king of the wild frontier”. Then I went on to Zorro and Superman. After that there was Robin Hood and of all people, Stan Musial, a famous ball player for the St. Louis Cardinals. As things got more serious I began to play golf and I idolized Arnold Palmer. In the sixties, things deteriorated. There were the Beatles and other unseemly characters that became the identity of a generation. It wasn’t until years later that this identity crisis ended. How did it end? It ended when Christ came into my life.
All of us are trying to find out who we are. The sad thing is that some people spend their whole lives with an identity crisis. In the Christian world this problem is recognized, but many times the right solution is not offered. Empowerment slogans are offered to “build our self esteem”. It seems to me that the Bible does not offer self help improvement plans or even a self esteem message. What does the Bible offer? Crucifixion. We don’t need to improve our concept of ourselves, we need to die. Martin Luther preached about the power of the cross. Check out his words.

“The phrases “Son of God,” “loved me,” and “gave himself for me” are lightning and thunder from heaven against the idea that we are saved by good works. Our will and understanding contained such great wickedness, error, darkness, and ignorance that we could be freed only by an exceedingly high-priced ransom. Why do we think that our human reason is naturally inclined to the best and can correctly lead us? Why do we think each person should do as much as they can? Why do we bring our terrible sins, which are mere straw, to an angry God, whom Moses calls “a raging fire”? Why do we want to haggle with God, trying to exchange our stubble for grace and eternal life? Listen to this passage. It says there’s so much evil in our nature that the world and all creation can’t reconcile us to God. God’s Son had to be offered for our sins.”

That desire to be a super hero inside of every child is actually placed there by God. The strange thing about it is you have to die to become this super hero. Paul said it like this,
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Did you catch that? We have to die, we are part of a fallen race that is irreparable, that old man has to die. Then the beautiful miracle begins. Christ, the only true super hero, begins to live His life in and through us. When I was a child, I dreamed of being someone special. I never dreamed it could come out this good, I never dreamed that Jesus Christ would actually live His life in me.

THE WINE CELLAR

The Wine cellar of his Grace!
Thank God it’s Friday
by Parris Bailey

“He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in me.”
(Song of Solomon 2:4 DRA)

The riches of salvation are His wisdom and knowledge. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of your waterspouts! Sometimes it’s just time to take a dive deeper into the vast ocean of God’s wisdom and knowledge. We can call it going down into the wine cellar. Not everyone is ready to participate in this vast pursuit, it comes by hard work and simplicity of heart. This wine cellar becomes a hiding place where we find refuge and refreshing. Obviously you will find a lot of wine down there which is the joy in the Holy Ghost. What ever is brought into that cellar is wine or becomes wine for the fire of divine love takes it over, every bit of it, and consumes it and like ordinary fire, changes it into its own nature. Where darkness meets the sweet we are nourished in His Love. “In that place by the abundance of wine and the plenty of God’s house, the torrent of love is brought to a boil, it overflows in its elation. In this wine cellar one becomes far removed from the things that normally invade the mind which are empty and pointless merriment, idle amusements, vain delights and strife of man. It is sustained and held together steadily and securely in its uninterrupted course. The only thing that is alive is the mind that has tasted the sweetness of the highest good.” Yes our love begins to be “set in order”. (Augustine) In Jer. 48:11 it says “Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs, And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, And his scent has not changed.” Yes, it is when we go down into this wine cellar and allow the Holy Spirit to empty us that we are changed. Some vessels are not so fun to be inside at the moment but if we just allow ourselves to “be still” and let him perfect that which concerns us, we will come out with our scent changed!
Near our new home is a fountain dedicated to the children of New Orleans. The fountain pours into a ankle deep pool where statues of children are playing and frolicking. If you walk up closer you see a bronze statue of a little boy getting ready to tip toe into the pool, and his toe has been changed into a different color from the rest of his body over the years because of the water level of the pool. He wants all of us to dip into this luscious fountain this overflowing wine cellar! This fountain was purposely built to overflow its banks into ditches that overflow again. It is a perfect picture of God’s overflowing supply in our lives.

NOTHING LIKE SPRING IN NOLA

NOTHING LIKE SPRING IN NOLA

Song 4:16 ¶ Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.

There is nothing like spring in New Orleans. I went outside early this morning and there had just been an early morning shower. My whole back yard was literally filled with the smell of gardenias, the fragrance was not only beautiful it was demanding. It demanded me to stop and take notice. As I paused from my morning activities, I was struck by the spiritual parallels, the morning shower had left a clean, fresh feeling in the air. That smell always reminds me of the refreshing rains of the Holy Spirit that He sends upon us. Psa. 72:6 “He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, like showers that water the earth.” It was as if the rain caused the flowers to release their fragrance. If we are like the trees in His garden, then the flowers are the fruit. There is an amazing aroma of Christ that flows from us when we experience these showers of the Spirit upon our lives. Charles Spurgeon spoke about the fragrance of Christ, listen to his words.

“In Jesus I find not only fragrance, but a bed of spices; not one flower, but all manner of sweet flowers. He is to me my rose and my lily, my heart’s-ease and my cluster of camphire. When he is with me it is May all the year round, and my soul goes forth to wash her happy face in the morning-dew of his grace, and to solace herself with the singing of the birds of his promises. Precious Lord Jesus, let me in very deed know the blessedness which dwells in abiding, unbroken fellowship with thee.”

All of us need to experience these regular outpourings of His Spirit, this is where we receive refreshing and renewal of life. As we learn to linger in these special outpourings of His Spirit, we are refreshed and begin to emit the fragrance of Christ in our world. Paul said this fragrance is perceived in different ways depending on the spiritual condition of the one who is confronted with the aroma of Christ. To some, it is the smell of death. The supernatural nature of Christ’s presence is disturbing and reminds the lost that they have chosen the wrong life. They will do all they can to deny that the fragrance exists. When that doesn’t work (sometimes the aroma can’t be ignored), they will become angry and speak ugly words about those who have chosen the spiritual life.
To the spiritual, the fragrance of Christ is the sweetest smell on earth. It is the fragrance of life itself and serves to remind us of the incredible life that awaits us. So tomorrow morning go outside and breath in deeply. Stop and enjoy the beautiful city we live in. Maybe, just maybe you will catch a whiff of the smell of the other world, if you do, bow and worship. The Lord is passing your way.