OIL SHORTAGE

OIL SHORTAGE

And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.
2 Kings 4:2

The tension in the middle east in recent days, has caused us all to think about the possible pending oil crisis which will resort in an out of control economy with global ramifications. The truth is that we have an even greater “oil crisis” in the church, a shortage of the oil of the Spirit. In today’s passage, the poor widow had nothing, at least she thought she had nothing, until Elisha started focusing on the jar of oil. She had no idea how valuable that oil was to her, she saw her need but could not see or recognize the supernatural nature of the oil. That is how it is with us many times. We see our problems alright, but remain unaware of the powerful anointing that is ever present with us. Elisha instructed her to “gather vessels, not a few”. That is when the miracle began to happen, that is when the miracles always happen. It was in the pouring out of the oil that she began to discover the oil’s powerful nature. The oil lasted as long as there were empty vessels to pour into, and then it stopped just as quickly as it started.
This story was a very real historic event that met the need of the prophet’s widow. But there was more to the story than that, this was also a parable about the anointing of the Spirit. What do you have in your house? Maybe you think you have nothing of value left in this world, and then you remember the jar of oil. That oil is the most valuable treasure imaginable, and many people treat it as insignificant. Of course this oil is a picture of the anointing of the Spirit. Do you value the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you look past Him for human remedies to your overwhelming problems in life? Like the widow, many times, we are focused on our own needs. Elijah told her to gather up some vessels and then, begin to pour the oil. Of course this is a picture of ministry. We are to take our eyes off of our lack and gather together “empty vessels”, and begin to pour out the oil. As we pour out the oil, the empty vessels are filled, the anointing begins to bring life to the empty vessels all around us. There are hurting people, empty vessels all around you, start pouring out the oil, and as you do, miracles will begin to flow.
What about your lack? Oh yeah, go sell the rest of the oil and pay off your debt. As we pour out the oil our needs seem to be met as well.

PAUL LOOKS BEYOND THE GRAVE

WARNINGS FROM THE EDGE OF ETERNITY

As for me, the hour has come for me to be sacrificed; the time is here for me to leave this life. I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith. And now there is waiting for me the victory prize of being put right with God, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day—and not only to me, but to all those who wait with love for him to appear.
2Tim.4:6-8 TEV

Sometimes, things appear differently to us when we are facing the end of our lives. That is how it was for Paul as he wrote his last letter, his second letter to his spiritual son Timothy. Paul was about to be executed in Rome. As he thought about his death, it seemed like he was gazing out into eternity. Some of the things he said to Timothy in this letter speak loud and clear to us as we face the end of the age.
What kinds of things did Paul warn Timothy about in this critical time? First, he warned him of people that had an outward form of religion, you might call it a veneer, but they reject the real power of God. He also warned Timothy of people who would be treacherous, treasonous people even within the church that Timothy pastored in Ephesus. He also cautioned Timothy to be aware of false teachers that would use Christianity for their own selfish purposes rather than advancing God’s kingdom. These characteristics have come full bloom in the modern church world.
How was Timothy to stay true to the Lord in those difficult times? Paul reminded Timothy of the first time he had prayed for him and how the Spirit had fallen upon him. “Stir up the gift”, Paul admonishd Timothy. Paul also encouraged Timothy to soak in the scriptures he had been taught from his childhood. These were the “God breathed words of life”, Timothy was to live in them and he was to preach them.
Today, we are all standing on the edge of eternity. These are the “difficult times” Paul spoke of that would come at the end of the age. We must pay close attention to what Paul told Timothy. Beware of “ministries” that have a form of godliness without His power, stir up the gift of the Holy Spirit in your life, and immerse yourself daily in God’s Word. As we see the great day of the Lord drawing near, we must not allow ourselves to fall under pressure to live like everyone else. The Lord is returning and there is a crown reserved for those who love His appearing. As we see the end of the age approaching, if you take another look, you might find yourself gazing into eternity like Paul.

POWER FAILURE

POWER FAILURE

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8

Power, or energy, is part of everything we do, electric power to power our computers, televisions, and air conditioners. Then there is fuel for our cars and natural gas for stoves and heaters, without power we would be living back in the stone age overnight. Recently, we have been stunned by the crisis in Japan and the unfolding drama in the middle east. Both of these situations are deeply effected by “power”. The middle east is where most of our oil comes from. Problems there always end up with higher fuel prices here, which always leads to higher prices in almost everything. In Japan, we have been shocked by the horrific, unfolding, nuclear crisis. What an ironic dilemma. The nuclear plant that provides power for millions of people has lost power itself. Not only has its power failed, its backup generators failed, leaving them dependent on a long cable (an extention cord?) to try to power up their pumps to cool off their reactors, talk about a power crisis.
That brings us to our spiritual power failure. Our churches seem to be operating in a brown out, if not total black out, in our modern “relevant church” age. Our lives are designed to operate on the power of God, not catchy slogans, or trendy success tactics. We were designed for much more than that. Jesus told his disciples they would be filled with power, dunamis, to fulfill His plans on the earth. Without this dunamis, we are reduced to living off of human ingenuity and and natural abilities. That pretty much describes what most churches are working with today. This power that Jesus described is the God given ability to live the Christian life, the power to bring healing to the sick, the power to bring freedom to the alcoholics and deliverance to those bound by substance abuse. This power can free a man’s soul from sex addictions, depression, and fear. This power from on high is what separates Christianity from all of the other religions and philosophies of the world. Without God’s power, we are like the darkened nuclear plant in Japan trying desperately to deal with damage control with no tools to work with.
The good news is that this supernatural power is available for us today. Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand, He is pouring out His glory upon all who are thirsty. Why wait another day, why try to live a supernatural life with only natural resources? Look to Jesus, He is the “Baptizer in the Holy Spirit”. He is pouring out His Spirit on all who look to Him today.

AGAPE-WORD OF WONDER

Agape- the word of wonder…

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

Sometimes, in my life, I find myself stressing over stuff, so this Sunday, I decided to preach on the love of God at the Broad St. Mission. I knew that it would “stay my soul”, so to speak, and hopefully bless others. While studying, I came across this passage from Wuest Word Studies in the New Testament.

“The pagan Greeks knew nothing of the love of self-sacrifice for one’s enemy which was exhibited at Calvary, therefore they had no word for that kind of love. In the New Testament, the writers seized upon the word “agape” as one that would express these exalted conceptions, therefore, the word agape, became the word to express this wonder and amazement of this action. In fact the word itself means- astonishment, wonder admiration, whereas the word phileo in Greek didn’t express the meaning they felt, for it is a love that is called out of one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object. It is based upon an inner community between the person loving and the person or object loved. That is, both have things in common with another. The one loving finds a reflection of his own nature in the person or thing loved. It is a love of liking.
Here is the contrast of the two words:
Agape is the love of prizing.
Phileo is the love of liking.
Agape is the love of preciousness.
Phileo is the love of delight.
Agape is the love of esteem.
Phileo is a love called out of the heart by the apprehension of pleasurable qualities in the object loved.
Agape is a love called out of the heart by the apprehension of valuable qualities in the object loved.”

This is the quote that really stood out to me, please keep reading!

“The love exhibited at Calvary was called out of the heart of God because of the preciousness of each lost soul, precious to God because he sees in lost humanity His own image even though that image be marred by sin, precious to God because it is made of material which, through redemption, can be transformed into the very image of His dear Son. While it is a love based upon the estimation of the preciousness of the object loved, this is a love of self-sacrifice, complete self-sacrifice to the point of death to self.”

The question I had to ask myself was how many times I mix my Phileo with my Agape? I love ice cream and I love Jesus, or in Facebook world I am a Christian and I love drinking booze (I’m being obnoxious!). But the Lord saw fit to make sure we are made of material through which redemption can transform us into the very image of His dear Son. Redemption material, now I like the sound of that as well as the fact that God sees in lost humanity His image of Himself. I found myself bursting into song this morning while I was preaching: “He is the savior of my soul- My Jesus”. Oh let us prize this Jesus, the Savior of our souls!

LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

AN AFRICAN TALE

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thes.5:1,2

Things can change quite suddenly, our world, as we know it, can be dramatically changed in a day. A number of years ago, I went on a ministry trip to a beautiful town in Tanzania called Mtwara. It was in quite a remote region just north of Mozambique, located on the Indian Ocean. There was a beach located near the house where I was staying that I would go to between the morning and evening meetings. On this beach, I observed a phenomenon that illustrated how quickly everything could change. Just below the beach was a tidal flat that separated the beach area from the water, it was about a quarter of a mile from the beach to where the water actually began. I would relax on this beach thinking it was impractical to go to the water for a swim. One afternoon this suddenly changed. There was a strange tidal phenomenon that happened when the tide began to come in, the area that was a dry tidal flat would be filled with several feet of water in a matter of just a few minutes, it was quite a dramatic change. Suddenly the water was right at my feet, going for a swim was now a whole different proposition.
From time to time I think of this beach and the spiritual lesson it teaches. Our world can change in a moment of time. I can think of several times in the Bible, where everything was changed in a day. There was the day Jesus was baptized, the upper room experience, the crucifixion, the resurrection, Paul’s encounter on the Damascus Road, these events, and many others, remind us how the landscape of our lives can be rearranged in a day.
In our world, our lives can be altered instantly. I think of events like, 911, Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, the Indonesian tsunami, the threefold disaster in Japan ( 9.0 eartquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe), unexpected historical events can alter our lives suddenly and permanently.
Spiritual encounters can also change your world. I think of the day I was born again, the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, the day God came down in our church, each of these moments altered everything in my life. We live in a time of changing seasons. I think the tide is coming in, don’t be surprised when your dry tidal flat is suddenly filled with water.

THE GREAT AND FINAL EARTHQUAKE

THE GREAT AND FINAL EARTHQUAKE

And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so sever.
Rev.16;18,20,21

It seems like the disasters are getting bigger and more destructive as time goes on. Students of history tell us that there have been some major events, like nothing we have seen in our lifetimes, throughout history. According to John’s prophesy in the book of Revelation, the biggest of all earthquakes, “such as never been since man was on earth”, is being reserved for the last chapter of this age. What will that climatic event look like? How devastating will it be? If we take this passage as it reads, it seems there may be a tsunami that is so enormous, that every island will be overwhelmed. This prophesy also states that all the mountains will be brought down, that will be quite an earthquake!!
Some may say, “that is to far fetched, that sounds like a bad science fiction movie”. The truth of the matter is that this creation is coming to the end of its purpose, the Lord is preparing to create a new heaven and a new earth, that is the clear teaching of scripture. So there probably will be bigger earthquakes and bigger tsunamis as we get closer to the very end. These events are not happening by accident, they are all part of God’s plan for these last days. We should not be shaken, but strengthened in our faith as we see God’s prophetic time clock wind down. These are the days of preparation, the greatest moments of His church are about to unfold. We can tell a lot about ourselves and our spiritual condition by the way we respond in days like these. Do you find yourself searching the scriptures more, or just distracted by the cares of this world? Are you being drawn closer to your christian friends and your church, or are you wandering aimlessly with the lost people all around you? The time of putting off spiritual things and personal involvement is far past. If today is not the day for repentance and dedication, tell me, what will it take for you? Hopefully you are not waiting for the hundred pound hailstones to fall before you get serious (look at today’s scripture verse). Today is the day, now is the time for all of us to press on to know the Lord.

WHO IS IN CONTROL ?

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
Ps.103:19

Sometimes our world seems out of control. From national revolutions to terrorist attacks, from earthquakes to tsunamis, from oil spills to political chaos; to the natural man, these things are quite unnerving. Our personal lives can experience the same kind of upheaval; from money problems to domestic contention, from medical problems to unexpected loss, from family problems to heartbreak; how can we deal with the endless cycle of “stuff” that happens? Charles Spurgeon had some great insight in dealing with these issues, here is what he had to say.

“He (the Lord) now reigns universally, he always has done so, and he always will. To us the world may seem rent with anarchy, but he brings order out of confusion. The warring elements are marching beneath his banner when they most wildly rush onward in furious tempest. Great and small, intelligent and material, willing and unwilling, fierce or gentle, — all, all are under his sway. His is the only universal monarchy, he is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords. A clear view of his ever active, and everywhere supreme providence, is one of the most delightful of spiritual gifts; he who has it cannot do otherwise than bless the Lord with all his soul.”

In today’s scripture verse, David is declaring some of the things that cause him to worship the Lord. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name”, David’s heart is literally bursting out in worship, this is the overflow of spiritual revelation. In the midst of all of his troubles; attacks from the Philistines, betrayal from his family, traitors within his personal staff, in the midst of it all, David had gotten a glimpse of the sovereign sway of the Almighty. This is why David was worshipping.
Maybe you are in personal crisis today, or maybe the relentless stream of international calamity is weighing on your heart. If this is the case, take a worship break. Join in with David and sing his timeless song, “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom REIGNS OVER ALL”.

THE END OF ALL THINGS

DESTRUCTION OF ALL THINGS

Then, as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations, He said, “These things which you see – the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” Lk.21:5,6

As Christians, we all know these words are true, but when the things Jesus spoke of begin to happen we are caught by surprise as if we never really thought His prophesies would come true. What kinds of things? Things like revolutions, terrorist attacks, nuclear disasters, earthquakes, sunamis; you get the picture. Let’s face it, we live in a fragile, dangerous, and yes, fallen world. The effects of mankind’s rebellion against God have effected everything, even creation itself, and now the “chickens are coming home to roost”.
The tragedy that these events begin to expose is quite alarming, many of us have lived our whole lives only investing in, and thinking about the natural world, the very things that will pass away in the days ahead. The tragedies we have all witnessed recently are meant to turn our attention to the things that really matter, the things that have an eternal value.
This is what the Lord meant when He said, “look up, your redemption is drawing near”. This is what Jesus was saying; when you begin to see these prophetic events beginning to increase, the end of all things, as we know them, are at hand. So, in light of all of this, what exactly should we be doing?
I am so glad you asked. We should be setting our mind, our affections, and our actions on spiritual matters. Our time should be invested in God’s word, times of prayer, local church involvement, and pouring out our love on the lost and the hurting.
Many of us wish we could run over to the latest tragedy and do our best to fix it. Don’t get me wrong, that is a good thing to do. I would love to go and help the people in Japan with the recovery from the latest earthquake in their nation. The truth is that there are thousands of hurting people dying right under our noses right here in our area. There are abandoned children at the orphanages, the homeless are everywhere, there are thousands struggling with substance abuse and various addictions. There are the hungry along with the sick and dying, the list is endless. In light of the obvious uptick in our prophetic calendar, look up, the Lord will soon return.

MELTDOWN

NUCLEAR MELTDOWN

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.
2 Peter 3:10,11

We all know the world is temporary, but still, when we hear of nuclear disaster, like the recent one in Japan, we are brought face to face with the destruction of all things. Of course we all “believe” these things will someday happen, but when the events unfold right before our eyes, well, that is different. Somehow, we are never quite ready for the kind of destruction implied by the word “meltdown”. In Peter’s prophesy, he was describing something beyond his ability to comprehend, he was describing the “meltdown” of this present creation. When we realize that Christ Himself is the “X factor” that holds all things together, it is not surprising that the old creation will dissolve like a nuclear meltdown, making way for the coming new creation. This new creation will be incredible, the beauty and majesty of God displayed unaffected by the fall that has dimmed the beauty of the world we live in. That day is drawing near.
How should these things effect us? What are we to think and feel when we see this creation beginning to fail before our very eyes? Peter said that the fact that these things are coming should effect the way we live. He said we should allow these things to bring us into godliness and holy behavior. How has your behavior been lately? Have the recent upturn in prophetic events caused you to draw near to the Lord? As surely as the sun rises each morning, the Lord will return to this earth, He will come for his sons and daughters and the destruction of this present world will come suddenly.
2 Thes.1:7-10
“when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe”

CATASTROPHE AND THE EXPECTATION OF THINGS TO COME

CATASTROPHE AND THE EXPECTATION OF THINGS TO COME

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom.8:19

When tragedy begins to strike the earth, the expectation of the Christian soars. We don’t know exactly what is coming, we only know it will be beyond all our hopes and dreams. Paul said that the birth pains of the groaning creation awakens an “earnest expectation” in His children. That phrase, earnest expectation, is one word in the greek new testament. It’s meaning is quite descriptive, it means literally to stretch out your neck in anticipation of what is coming. The picture Paul paints is that of a spectator at a race, stretching his neck to look over the crowd to catch a glimpse of the finish.
When we hear of the increasing number of prophetic events being fulfilled, something inside of us begins to pulse with excitement, we know that something special is about to happen.
In today’s verse, the apostle Paul gives us a hint at what that might look like. He says what is coming next is the manifestation, or the unveiling of the sons of God. That is our great hope, that is what life is all about. We were made for eternity, nothing else can possibly satisfy our hearts. After all, deep inside our hearts we know that there is more, a whole lot more.
These present calamities are speaking to the world, creation itself is calling out for God’s glory to be revealed. Creation is all about the revealing of God’s glory. That is what this vast creation does, it declares His glory.
So why is creation groaning? It is longing for the greatest display of God’s glory reserved for these last days. And what could that be, it is the unveiling of His glory in this fallen race. Millions of sinners; the drug dealers, the prostitutes, the pimps, the crooked politicians, and the average guy, all of those who have been born of His Spirit, will be changed in a moment of time. We will be clothed with His glory, we will be like Him. That is why creation is groaning. The King is returning and the great display of His redeemed sons and daughters will begin. At that instant the groaning will end and the singing will begin,
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”