“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.

UNVEILED POETRY

Heb. 10:36-38 – You need the strength of endurance to reveal the poetry of God’s will and then you receive the promise in full. For soon and very soon, “The One who is appearing will come without delay!” And he also says, “My righteous ones will live from my faith.

What an interesting phrase in verse 36 brought out in the Passion Translation. Here is how the Passion Notes describe the phrase “to do God’s will”.

“to do God’s will. The Greek word for “do” is taken from the Greek word poeima (poem or poetry).”

Look at what Paul is actually saying, perseverance reveals the poetry of God’s will. It starts with perseverance, God living victoriously in us in adverse circumstances. As we push through the trials in our path God’s plan is clearly seen. This plan of God is unveiled before us step by step clearly displaying our lives as a poetic masterpiece of the Lord.

Next, take a look at vs. 38, “My righteous ones will live from my faith”.

Wow!!! He calls us His righteous ones. He calls us righteous when we believe in Him. That ability to believe in Him is the effect of grace on our hearts. He calls us by His grace, by grace through faith we are saved. As a result, He sees us as His righteous ones. That’s when it really gets good. Now that we are His righteous ones we begin to live. But this is the kicker, we live from His faith. That’s the missing link in most of our lives. We try desperately to believe Him and fall so miserably short. It is when we are captured by faith, His faith, that we begin to walk with Him.

Now let’s put these two verses together starting with vs.38. We begin to live our lives by faith, His faith. His mighty faith in us perseveres through all life’s drama. As we persevere and walk in supernatural endurance, the poetry of God’s will is revealed. Instead of seeing all our troubles as mess ups or faulting others for our problems, Christ perseveres through us revealing His beautiful plan.

So maybe, just maybe this quarantine is a God season. Maybe He is unveiling His masterpiece called your life by living in and through you as you yield to Him in these unpleasant circumstances. The end result is always the same, God is glorified and you are more than satisfied.

WORSHIP ENDURANCE

Rev.4:9,10 – Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne…

It was one of those Sunday night services that stays etched in your memory. The Lord came down and imprinted the dynamics of that service in the hearts of those who had ears to hear. David Ruis was our special guest and he was determined to go to new places in worship that night. He was speaking about these creatures that John, Isaiah, and Ezekiel had seen and was fixated on their ability to sustain worship. David keep asking the Lord for an ability to sustain worship or to expand his ability to worship for extended periods of time. That sounds strange to some in this present world of short services that never focus too much on intimacy with God and forget about worship endurance. The shorter the better seems to be the order of the day. These beings, these “burning ones” would have none of it. Worship was eternal for them, that is all they knew from the day that they were created. Here are some thoughts from the SPIRIT FILLED LIFE BIBLE on this passage.

“In this scene when John is brought before the visible throne of God, the awe-filled worship that takes place before him is definitive, breathtaking, and revelatory. Winged living creatures unlike anything seen on earth and elders in the divine order of God’s kingdom unceasingly worship God before the throne. Day and night the creatures continually proclaim the holiness of the One on the throne, saying, “Holy, holy, holy,” testifying to the limitless wonder experienced by those who worship in Spirit and truth. The elders declare God’s unparalleled worthiness, throwing down their crowns before Him in vivid prostration. God’s eternal supremacy as Creator is the central, all-consuming “focus, signifying the quality of true worship: “Who was and is and is to come”, and, “by Your will [all things] exist and were created”. Here, biblical worship is universally defined—to encounter and retell the matchless character of the holy, enthroned King of all kings.”

Worship is birthed in God’s presence. Just knowing about the value of worship won’t make you a worshipper. The only thing that can accomplish that noble task is seeing Him for yourself. Once that happens you will enter the point of no return.

UNENDING LOVE

Eph. 3:18,19 – Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

In this passage Paul connects discovering the love of God to being filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. That is exactly what or Who our God is, He is love. There has been an eternal bond and enjoyment of love between the Father and the Son of God. This love is not just a feeling or divine energy, the love of God is a person, the beautiful Holy Spirit. Turn your eyes and your heart toward Jesus, you will be swallowed up in His love. This is just another way to say you will be filled to overflowing with His Spirit. This love will be our portion and our life in heaven, check out this snippet from Jonathan Edwards on this passage.

“Heaven is a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun placed in the midst of the hemisphere in a clear day fills the world with light. The Apostle tells us that God is love. And therefore seeing he is an infinite Being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient Being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing and an inexhaustible fountain of love. Seeing he is an unchangeable and eternal Being, he is an unchangeable and eternal source of love. There even in heaven dwells that God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is or ever was proceeds.”

What a statement, “for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light”.

The sun can’t stop shining, that is impossible. God can’t stop loving, love is Who He is; that too is impossible. The amazing thing to me is this, the eternal nature of this love. If we are overwhelmed here by one taste of His matchless love for us then it may be time for a spiritual tune up. The kingdom of heaven is at hand and I have heard that it is a world of love.

THE CELESTIAL CITY

Rev.22:5 – Night will be no more. They will never need the light of the sun or a lamp, because the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign as kings forever and ever!

The light in this beautiful city is a different kind of light. The light from the sun carries warmth, energy, light to see, and a healing nature but it is created and flows from a created object. The light in the New Jerusalem is similar containing all of the mentioned characteristics but is totally different. This light flows from Christ Himself, there will be no need for the sun in the New Jerusalem. This light in the New Jerusalem is more than light, it is the very life of God, it is the Spirit of God. This heavenly light will not only light up our world, it will light up our beings. This light will flow into us and flow out from us. We will be radiant, corporately a radiant bride. The glory of the Lord will be on full display shining out from this New Jerusalem. Here is how Jonathan Edwards describes the light of the celestial city.

“Everyone and everything there shall conspire to promote love, and promote the enjoyment of each other’s love. Heaven itself, the place of habitation, is a garden of pleasures, a heavenly paradise fitted in all respects for an abode of heavenly lovers, a place where they may have sweet society and perfect enjoyment of each other’s love. All things there, doubtless, remarkably show forth the beauty and loveliness of God and Christ, and have a luster of divine love upon them. The very light which shines in and fills that world is the light of love. It is beams of love; for it is the shining of the glory of the Lamb of God, that most wonderful influence of lamblike meekness and love which fills the heavenly Jerusalem with light. The glory which is about him who reigns in heaven is compared to the beautiful sight of the rainbow for its pleasantness and sweetness,”

Edwards describes this light as the love of God. We will be living in an environment totally immersed in the love of God. This love that attracted us to Christ and sustains us now will be our reward and our treasure in heaven. There will be streets of gold and incredible structures of unparalleled value all around us but it will not even concern us. Our focus and our joy will be the radiant light of love that floods our lives. Heaven is a world of love and this Celestial City is the very heart of all the action.