FOUNDATIONS

FOUNDATIONS

If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?
Ps.11:3

Have you ever seen a house without a good foundation, or better yet, have you seen a house in Southeast Louisiana without pilings under the foundation? It is not a pretty picture. It is often tilted dramatically until, many times, the foundation cracks. Not the kind of problem you want to have. Many times your house is your greatest investment, a faulty foundation can be catastrophic.
The verse for today is describing an even greater problem. David is describing a person, or a people, without a spiritual foundation to support them. David’s implication is that if your foundation is destroyed, all hope is lost.
How does this relate to us today? It is speaking to us about the very essence of our lives, our spiritual foundation. The first piling that supports our foundation is our revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of our life of faith, and the very foundation of all that we know and believe. Second, is our understanding of the word of God. This is the soul food of our existence, without it we are cast adrift in the storms of life. God’s word is our main connection with God Himself, it is our haven of safety against the traps of doctrinal and secular deceptions that can ensnare our souls. Next, is our connection to the local church. This is the place on earth that the Lord has chosen to dwell. Here is where we meet Him and have fellowship with those of like and precious faith. Finally, there is the constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He makes the things of God alive and precious to us. Without Him, we can easily fall into an outward form of religious practise with no substance.
These are some of the pilings that support our spiritual foundation, our application of these realities in our daily lives will prove the verity of our faith. These truths will undergird our marriage and our family, Christ Himself will enhance these special relationships in our lives. They also will bring fruitfulness and reward to our business and ministry life. Because of the spritual realities that undergird our lives, we will be more productive and happier in our work.
David continued his psalm with a bold declaration of faith. “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.” The foundation is sure under His church, God is surely in His holy temple.

WORKS IN US

WORKS IN US

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.
Eph.3:20,21

Christianity is not just a creed that we adhere to, not just a philosophy or code of ethics. No, Christianity is the very life of God displayed in redeemed, fallen humans. God is glorified in this world by displaying His goodness and His power through the weakest of human vessels. It is not about empowering us to be a better me, it is about the display of Christ in human frailty. Paul said He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ask or even think, that is huge. Whatever your idea is about what life could be like, it is far to small. The Lord’s plans are far greater than we have considered. Matthew Henry made some interesting observations on this verse, check it out.

“Take notice how he describes God, and how he ascribes glory to him. He describes him as a God that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. There is an inexhaustible fulness of grace and mercy in God, which the prayers of all the saints can never draw dry. Whatever we may ask, or think to ask, still God is still able to do more, abundantly more, exceedingly abundantly more. Open thy mouth ever so wide, still he hath wherewithal to fill it. Note, In our applications to God we should encourage our faith by a consideration of his all-sufficiency and almighty power. According to the power which worketh in us. As if he had said, We have already had a proof of this power of God, in what he hath wrought in us and done for us, having quickened us by his grace, and converted us to himself. The power that still worketh for the saints is according to that power that hath wrought in them. Wherever God gives of his fulness he gives to experience his power.”

God has given His fullness to you for you to experience His power. One of the great places He reveals this power is in the place of prayer. As you tap into God, praying in the Spirit, don’t be surprised at the demonstration of His power. He loves to display His Glory. That is what the earthly life of Jesus was about and that is what the outpouring of His Spirit is about. Today, He is at work, the beauty of this is that He is at work in us and through us and for us so that we display His Glory.

REDEMPTION

OUR MISERY AND GOD’S GLORY

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
1 Tim.1:15,16

Our testimony, many times, starts in the most painful and embarrassing moments of our lives. Things like substance abuse, broken relationships, betrayals, run-ins with the law, or an endless list of painful circumstances brought on by stupid decisions and even stupider (is that a word?) actions. In our worst moments, Christ has a habit of showing up and bringing change into our lives. He loves finding us at our worst, this is where He is seen at His best. He has been doing this for a very long time, thankfully, His work of redemption continues today. Jonathan Edwards preached often about God’s Glory being put on display in our misery, listen carefully to his powerful words.

“We may here observe the marvellous wisdom of God, in the work of redemption. God hath made man’s emptiness and misery, his low, lost, and ruined state, into which he sunk by the fall, an occasion of the greater advancement of his own glory, as in other ways, so particularly in this, that there is now much more universal and apparent dependence of man on God. Though God be pleased to lift man out of that dismal abyss of sin and woe into which he was fallen, and exceedingly to exalt him in excellency and honour, and to a high pitch of glory and blessedness, yet the creature hath nothing in any respect to glory of; all the glory evidently belongs to God, all is in a mere, and most absolute, and divine dependence on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

No wonder the redeemed are singing in heaven. Like us, Christ found them in their sinful circumstances, forgave them, restored them, and gave them a life of joy in God that only increased throughout their lives and multiplied by infinity as they stepped into eternity. For us, His story becomes our story as our misery gets swallowed up in His love. This is what your life has been about all along, redemption. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not only for our sake, but for all those who will glimpse His grace in our story.

ALIVE AND FULL OF POWER

ALIVE AND FULL OF POWER

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Heb.4:12 Amp.

God is not silent, He is always speaking. He speaks through His creation, He speaks through our circumstances in life, he speaks through our friends, and sometimes He speaks to us from our pastors, those He has appointed to labor in the word of God. The most common, and dare I say most powerful way He speaks to us today, is from His written word. In this passage, Paul gives us a glimpse of the beauty and power of this wonderful phenomenon, the Lord actually talks to us from the scripture.
In this passage he uses two powerful words, zoë and energes, translated alive and full of power in the amplified Bible. In Thayer’s word book he defines zoe like this: to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead)
to enjoy real life, to have true life and worthy of the name, active, blessed…
The word energes, has a beautiful meaning brought out by Zodhiates in his lexicon: to be at work, seems to have been used almost exclusively as a medical term referring to medical treatment and the influence of medicine.

Wow!! The word of God is full of life, it is actually full of God. It is a living thing and effects us, sometimes without us knowing, every time we read it. It also is full of power. As Zodhiates brings out, there is a powerful healing element in the word of God. It has the capacity to heal our soul and our body as we search the scripture.
What is God saying today, more importantly, what is He saying to you? I know one of the things He is saying is, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
God is speaking, He always is. He is looking for those among us who are listening, have you heard His sweet voice lately? If you listen carefully, I think I hear Him now. Can you hear it? I think He is calling your name.

FRAPPED

FRAPPED

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Heb.4:16

Have you ever been FRAPPED? Maybe you are not quite sure what that means. Actually it is a good thing, a very good thing. In today’s scripture verse, Paul talks about help available to us from the Lord. He could have used several different ways to express the word help in the descriptive Greek language of his day, but Paul used a very unusual word with a very specific meaning. The word Paul used was boetheia, a term used in the nautical world. It is the word frap, and means to secure a wooden vessel with cables and ropes. What could Paul possibly have in mind? Paul had been in several ship accidents in his life and the famous one from Acts 27 was probably fresh on his mind. In the account in Acts, the ship Paul was on had encountered a storm and was in jeopardy of going down. It says that they use “helps” to secure the ship to avoid it from breaking up from the pounding of the waves. This measure kept the vessel together long enough for them to reach shore.
What does a boat accident have to do with my life today? Actually, everything. Paul is painting a picture of the storms of life that we all endure. All of us face trials, or storms, on a regular basis. Paul is describing a very powerful kind of real help that is available to us in the middle of our toughest circumstances. Paul said we could come before the throne of grace and find help (or be FRAPPED) in our time of need.
What a powerful picture, the wind and the waves of life are pounding away at us and we have access to the heavenly throne through our faithful heavenly priest, Jesus Christ. As we draw near with confidence, we begin to experience the warmth of His love. The storm man not end immediately, but everything has changed. We are literally rapt in the love of God, or should I say FRAPPED.
Maybe you are going through one of those storms right now, don’t be afraid, you are not alone. Your faithful friend, Jesus Himself is nearer than you know, draw near to the throne with confidence, He loves you deeply. As you open your heart to His love, you will begin yo understand Paul’s illustration. What better way to describe His love, being FRAPPED is better than anyone could ever hope or dream.

MY HEAVENLY PRIEST

MY HEAVENLY PRIEST

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Heb.4:14,15

We all have something inside of us that says, “I need a mediator, my prayers are not good enough.” I will never forget the time a young wife at Bible School came banging on my door one afternoon. She was crying out “Are you a righteous man?” Her husband had fallen from a ladder and was injured, she was looking for someone to pray. This sister was thinking of the passage of scripture in James that says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. Obviously, she thought her cries were not reaching heaven. This is the feeling many of us have, resulting, many times, in looking for a priest or a mediator on earth.
The Bible teaches us that there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. Did you catch that? The man Christ Jesus. We have a priest praying for us, He is a man, and He is God. That is the incredible truth of the incarnation of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Once He took on human nature, He became one of us for all time, He is the representative of the human race before our Father in heaven. He prays for me and represents me to God. He pours out the Father’s love on us, the awesome Holy Spirit, representing the Father to me. This hunger for intimacy and true spirituality are met in our lives through this dynamic relationship with our heavenly high priest. The results of this spiritual union is an intimacy with God. Our sins are forgiven, access to heaven has been granted, and our prayers are presented to the Father by Christ Himself.
Maybe you are in trouble today and you feel like your prayers are ineffective. Like the young, desperate wife at Bible School, you need someone else to do your praying for you. You have that “righteous man” praying for you right now, He has always been praying for you. That is how you got this far. Today, we can rest in His love. Jesus Christ, our heavenly high priest, is able to save us to the uttermost since He lives, making intercession for us before the Father”s throne.

HOW’S IT WORKING FOR YA

How’s it working for ya?

Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

“After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.”
John 21:1-3
I can’t really blame Peter and the other disciples for going back to fishing. After all, it had only been three years and fishing was always something they could fall back on in case things didn’t go the way they thought they would. Jesus being crucified just might fall into the category of things not planned. This statement “I go a fishing” speaks volumes. He used a word in Greek pronounced hupago, which means a final departure into something else. In otherwords this wasn’t a weekend fishing trip. He was done. In his world, Peter couldn’t see God’s provision or God’s plan, in fact he had lost sight of God in his life altogether. All he knew was that he had mouths to feed and bills to pay. The three years were great but you know “ time to get back to reality”. What’s sad is that all of them were thinking the same thing.
But then there’s was Jesus. They didn’t recognize him from the shoreline. They heard a man shouting “children under instruction, you haven’t caught any fish, have you?” (Wuest Translation) Or “HOW IS WORKING FOR YOU”. (My translation) Once again Jesus shows up to deal with the renegade disciples. Peat and repeat, from no fish being caught to a boat sinking load of fish.
The story ends with Jesus serving up a nice warm meal at the beach teaching Peter on love and redirecting his fishing ministry back to men rather than fish, and letting him know that his phileo love wasn’t holding up to well and he needed more of the agape love of the Holy Spirit in his life.
How is it working for you these days? I find that sometimes when things are too hard we just do something really, really stupid. In fact the girls at Marysong talk about this all day long. What started out as smoking a little “joint” at some 7th grade party turns into a nightmare that they never got out of. If we think living the Christian life, tithing (yes I said the “T” word) reading the Bible (oh how boring?) and going to church (even worse with those hypocrites!) is hard, let me ask again- HOW’S THE ALTERNATIVE WORKING FOR YOU? No thanks, I too like Peter, learned the hard way and decided to hang up the fishing business. Peter’s life brought him right smack into joy unspeakable and full of glory.
It will be okay, I promise. Whatever your going through, Jesus will be on the boat, stilling the storm, or on the shoreline directing the school of fish to go your way, He is our provider and our standby.
Wuest goes on to say “The secret of Christian service that glorifies the Lord Jesus is in the love which the Holy Sprit produces in the heart of true Christians. The quality of that service is measured by the intensity of the love in the heart of that Christian. The intensity of that love is determined by the degree of yieldedness of that person to the Holy Spirit.”
SO HOW’S IT WORKING FOR YA?

STRIVING TO REST

STRIVING TO REST

Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell.
Heb.4:11 Amp.

Striving and resting, how could those commands be compatible? One minute Paul is telling us to rest and the very next minute, he is talking about laboring and striving. What could he possibly mean? How can we labor for God’s gifts?
Resting is the result of spiritual intimacy, striving in the flesh can be credited to spiritual infancy. Spiritual intimacy is the place of renewal and spiritual enjoyment, the results of the gift of God’s grace operating in our lives. Where does the striving and laboring come in? This godly striving is the action brought on in a person’s life when they recognize their spiritual poverty and their great need for more of God in their life. This recognition results in a hunger for God that manifests itself in a lifestyle characterized by a relentless pursuit of God.
A person seeking after God becomes almost “violent” in their spiritual pursuit.
Jesus described this hungry man like this, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force”. The kingdom becomes their reason to live and manifests itself in a restless pursuit.
You will see this individual over taken by an unquenchable hunger for God’s Word, it will be as if they are a miner, mining for gold as they daily dig into their Bible. Next, their taste in music will dramatically change, sometimes they will appear like an addict looking for their fix, as they chase after God in their worship music that seems to fill most of their time. Church becomes the highlight of their week, their greatest pleasure is that time of corporate worship, hearing the preaching of the word, and sharing with their friends their rich spiritual discoveries of their week.
What will be the results of this “striving to enter God’s rest”? Jeremiah said it like this, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”. This is the reward for this laboring after God, the final result is an incredible rest that comes from the spiritual discoveries that always come to those who join this spiritual quest. Remember the words of David, echoed by Paul in the book of Hebrews, “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart”. And what is this voice saying, “Come unto me all you who labor and I will give you rest”.

NEED SOME REST?

DO YOU NEED SOME REST ?

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Heb.4:9,10

Do you feel worn out? I am not talking about just being sleepy, or exhausted from a long day, I am talking about something quite different. Something that goes beyond just a physical tiredness, but something that goes to your very core. This emotional and spiritual condition comes from the endless onslaught of stuff that gets slung at us everyday. It comes from bad news about the economy, worries about the future of your job, problems at home, political and governmental chaos and scandal, international incidents, natural disasters, children in trouble (parents in trouble ?). Need I say more?
Our fast paced, sometimes out of control world, can leave us out of breath, just hoping for a break. This kind of pressure can lead us to make bad decisions, decisions we may regret for a long, long time. What kind of decisions? Decisions like immoral relationships, or maybe alcohol and substance abuse. Don’t get me wrong, it is very seldom that this starts suddenly. First, you take a look at stuff you would never look at, or you decide to have a drink (after all you, deserve it after all you’ve been through). Then, before you realize it, your life has deteriorated into something quite different, maybe something you are not very proud of. All you were looking for was a break.
Being “tired” puts us into a vulnerable place. That is what the author of Hebrews is describing in this passage. There is a place of rest in Christ that will keep us safe in this wacky world that we live in. How do we find this place of rest? By drawing near to God. I am not talking about a dry, sterile religious life. I am offering to you the greatest of all adventures. This adventure will not wear you out but will bring you into His promised rest, the place you have been looking for, just maybe looking in all the wrong places. You can enter in to this rest for your soul today. This rest is found at the right hand of the Father’s throne, the place where Christ is seated, the place He is resting from His finished work at the cross. As we bow before Him in worship and adoration, a rest beyond compare begins to flood our soul. This rest is more than a rest for our body, it goes through our whole being. This is the rest of God, filled with an unspeakable joy, this is what our souls were looking for all along.

THE DAY OF HIS POWER

THE DAY OF HIS POWER

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
Ps.110:1-3 KJV

Life changes drastically when the power goes out. We all learned that lesson in New Orleans in August 2005. Those of us who lived in Southeast Louisiana at that time got a taste of the coming world problems when Hurricane Katrina came for an unexpected visit. We were all going about our normal, everyday activities until suddenly, an unprecedented tragedy in North America was knocking on our doors. Within hours, over a million people began the tedious ordeal of evacuation. We were scattered all over the country over the next weeks and months, separated from our families and friends. We became painfully aware of the importance of power during the unfolding drama, as most of the area lost electric power for weeks, if not months. This problem was compounded by the loss of our cellular network, life changed suddenly and dramatically for many thousands of people. As we see an increase in catastrophic events in our groaning creation, these unpleasant events will become quite common.
This current power crisis, brought on my rising oil prices and nuclear mayhem, emphasizes, in my heart, the even greater crisis we face due to a lack of spiritual power in the churches and in the Christians in our miserably weak, relevant, modern christian community. In today’s verse, David was prophesying about “the day of God’s power”. He related that day to the ministry of Melchizedek, a picture of our heavenly high priest. Jesus is our Melchizedek, the resurrected, glorified, heavenly priest; seated at the Father’s right hand. When Jesus took His place with the Father on His throne, He began to pour out His power on His sons and daughters. We first saw this happen on the day of Pentecost, the beginning of David’s “day of power”. As we see the world groaning in anticipation of the end of the age, the “day of power” is intensifying. These are surely the days of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, the final outpouring before the return of our Lord. In light of these realities, there is no reason for a Christian to have a spiritual power outage. As we look to our exalted King, at the Father’s right hand, we are flooded daily with His power, and like David said, we will volunteer freely in the day of His power.