Devotional

  • Seeing The Invisible

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    George Warnock in his great book “The Feast of Tabernacles” describes believers in Jesus, members of the new creation, sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God as those who:

    “See the invisible, hear the inaudible, hold the intangible, declare the unspeakable, explore the unsearchable and do the impossible.”

    In Isaiah 35, starting at verse 8 the prophet writes:

    “And a highway shall be there and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.”

    The apostle Paul found himself in all sorts of perilous predicaments. He did not have a comfortable life in the natural. Yet, he counted it all joy. How could he do that? Because he saw the invisible. Paul realized that there was a deeper reality that transcended the physical realm. It’s not that the physical realm is not real, it’s just that the spiritual reality is “real-er!”

    How does that relate to you and me today? Jesus Christ didn’t die just to give His life for us, but to give His life to us! Those who have, by faith, received the life that Jesus gives us, live in two realities simultaneously. We live in the natural, physical world and relate to it by our senses- touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. We also live in the spiritual realm, the invisible and we relate to that realm by faith, prayer, worship, delighting in the God Who delights in us, imagination, hearing the voice of God, grounded in the written scripture, led by the Holy Spirit.

    “For all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

    Even as kingdoms and nations and systems are being shaken we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. I want to have my eyes wide open- in the natural and the spiritual. Even in the midst of tough circumstances, we receive the peace that passes understanding, that transcends natural circumstances. There were troubles, conflicts, dangerous and horrific things happening in the days of the early church, yet people were filled with joy because God gave (and gives) grace to see the invisible. There is a God Who loves, full of truth and grace, Who reigns!

    Hebrews 12:28,29: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

     

     

     

     

     

  • Abundance“You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy,”  Psalm 65:11,12a

    Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” So what is abundant life? What is abundance?

    The ways of God, the ways of the kingdom, are counterintuitive to the natural man. Indeed, the scripture says that the things of the Spirit are foolishness to the natural man (folly) because they are spiritually discerned. For example, Jesus said, “When you lose your life for my sake, then you will find it.” Because the world has been turned upside down, the “rightside-up” life of those who have received the abundant life of Jesus looks upside down, even ridiculous, to the people who are only living in one realm, the natural one.

    As followers of Jesus, the children of the kingdom are aware that we live in two realms, the physical and the spiritual, simultaneously. So what does all this have to do with abundance? I am glad you asked! Many times we think of abundance  in terms of finances and possessions. That can be one manifestation of abundance,  but there are so many more evidences of abundant life that have little to do with material things. How about family relationships? Healthy marriages? Health? Abundant life also includes the peace that transcends circumstances (when life gets hard,  money is tight,  when marriage and health concerns try to rob us of joy).  Abundance that merely focuses on the outward is just not real abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

    There is a love, there is a life that is stronger than death itself.

    In Psalms 22, David is in the Spirit of Christ when he writes about those who “pierced his hands and his feet. ” By the way, he wrote this hundreds of years before crucifixion was adopted as a means of execution.  He cried out the words that Jesus would later groan from the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  There are times in life where there are no easy answers,  and the usual cliches, spoken by well-meaning people, ring hollow and false. There are times when people we love and pray earnestly for are not healed and they die. There are times of temptation to hopelessness. Seasons of grief  are part of life. But not even death can kill abundant life. Jesus was not utterly abandoned by His Father;  he only felt that way for a brief time. Then, Death was swallowed up in Life, in Victory, in Resurrection Life. Now that Life, that abundant Life is given to us through Jesus Christ. That Life can never be taken away. Indeed our very lives are like the wagon tracks of the bounty of God. He overflows into us and we overflow into others. By His grace, as we look into the Face of Jesus, we are living the abundant life!

  • Real Joy!

    Real Joy!

    The fear of the Lord … is joy!

    Thinking logically about the fear of the Lord leads me to conclude that to have that fear would make me uptight, conscious of not wanting to make a mistake, living actually with the dread of disapproval.

    The mindset of the Kingdom of God, however, is just the opposite. The fear of the Lord produces delight, yes joy!

    Let me explain:

    A few nights ago, our church worship team was rehearsing a Christmas Sunday morning service. While we were practicing a soulful, joyful version of “Hallelujah” from Handels’ Messiah, one of the team members’ daughters was watching from the audience and stood up and began dancing- full out, unselfconsciously, blissfully moving to the upbeat music. She waved her hands and swayed back and forth and even mouthed the words totally oblivious to the fact that some of us were watching her with delight.

    That’s the joy I’m talking about that the fear of the Lord produces.

    Many times I am way too self-conscious, uptight, afraid of making a mistake. I don’t like that about myself. I mentioned this to Rita and she replied: “You think?!”

    So, I thought about times when I am not that way, when I am unselfconscious and filled with joy. It happens a lot when I play music. I get totally absorbed in the sound, in the song, in the music and, like Eric Bannister said in Chariots of Fire about his running, I can say that when I play I feel God’s pleasure.

    I think that is why some people get drunk. So that they can have a few moments of freedom from self-consciousness. We can easily forget how much we are loved by God.

    So how can we be reminded? By living in the fear of the Lord, the awareness that God is with us and that His Father heart is for us. The fear of the Lord is having a reverence for His Presence and acknowledging that He is the pre-eminent Source of life, love, justice, righteousness, peace and joy. Being filled with His Spirit and Word.

    Jesus said, “Except you be converted (transformed) and become as a little child you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” So, like the beautiful, joyful daughter at our Christmas rehearsal we can be aware of the incredible love of God. We are free to dance like nobody’s watching and love like we’ve never been hurt. By the grace of God we can be present in the present in His Presence.

  • Dreaming And Flying

    Dreaming And Flying

    When I was a child I used to dream that I was able to fly. It seemed so real; the sensation of the wind in my face, the excitement of looking down at the houses and trees in my neighborhood, the feeling of moving fast through the air without the limitations of being earthbound. Sometimes I actually believed I was close to achieving a certain focus that would enable me to close my eyes, spread out my arms and take flight!

    Alas, those dreams were a long time ago, before adulthood, responsibilities, disappointments, pain, the hard work that living sometimes seems to be. However, there is still a seed of hope in me and lately it’s growing again!

    In “The Lion King,” Simba, the young lion cub, begins to grow up and becomes aware that something primal is missing in his life. You see, he was destined to become the Lion King in place of his father, Mufasa, but because of the deceit of his wicked uncle Skar, Simba believed he had caused the death of his father and he ran away. Simba believed a lie and because of fear and shame gave up on his dream of being the Lion King. He stopped believing he could fly. One night, when his identity crisis had reached its breaking point, Simba heard the voice of his Father from the sky saying “you have forgotten who you are and you’ve forgotten me,” and, my favorite line: “you are more than you’ve become.”

    Our Heavenly Father is saying the same thing to his people. We are more than we’ve become. He is not saying it reproachfully, but in a loving and empowering way. If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new species, a new creation. We were created to fly; not just in the sweet bye and bye, but here… now. By the grace of God we see the invisible, we hear the inaudible, we explore the unsearchable, we declare the unspeakable.  Through the Holy Spirit we live in two realities at the same time: the physical world and the spiritual realm. As a new species in Jesus, we can dream again, His dream for us is much grander and nobler (and at times, harder, but so worth it) than our dreams without Him. Indeed, dream because the God who knows you the best has put dreams in your heart.

    So, spread your wings, live your dreams, catch the sky and fly!

    Youtube video: “Fly” (David Baroni from “The Wild and The Wonder”)

    download “The Wild and The Wonder” from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-wild-and-the-wonder/id918173376

    order physical CD The Wild and The Wonder: http://bit.ly/wildandthewonder

  • Better Than We Thought!

    The gospel is not only good news, it’s much better news than we thought.

    Psalms 67 opens with this prayer:  ”May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.” God’s plan for the nation of Israel was to show His goodness, display His glory, His character, Who He is, through His blessing upon that chosen nation…SO that all the families of the earth would recognize and acknowledge God and come to know Him, and be His people too. (In Abraham all the families of the earth shall be blessed.)

    Of course, this was the Old Covenant plan, which God knew all along was just a foreshadowing of His ultimate plan: To reconcile the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. The fantastic news of the Gospel is that now, through Jesus’ incarnation, life as a man dependent on His Heavenly Father, gathering disciples and being with them and demonstrating to them Who the Father is (as Jesus told Philip: “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father… the Father and I are one”) and through His obedience unto death, bodily resurrection, ascension and sending the Holy Spirit, those who believe Him receive not just a new covenant, but a new NATURE! God walked and talked with Adam; through Christ, He walks and talks IN us. He is not only Emmanuel- God with us, He is God IN us!

    The same goal that God had for Israel; to show through them to the nations Who God really is and to be their God, is fulfilled in Christ and those, Jew and Gentile, who have received the new nature through Him. “If anyone is in Christ he is a NEW CREATION, old things are passed away, behold new things have come.” (2nd Cor. 5:7)

    Let’s take a look at this incredible passage in John 17:  (Emphasis mine)Jesus prays: “I do not ask for these only (the disciples with Him) but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father are IN me and I IN you, that they also may be one IN us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. …I  IN them and you IN me that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

    Believers in Jesus are not just people who have trusted Christ for forgiveness of sins and are on their way to heaven when they die, indeed that is part of the gospel, but just a part of this wondrous plan of God. We are actually, by faith through God’s grace, made into a new species! We have received the very life of GOD! We are one with Him by His love to the purpose of showing others who don’t believe yet, how good and loving and wonderful God is.  It’s a whole new world, a whole new life, so much better than the old covenant. It’s like trading an old rusty bicycle for warp speed on the Enterprise. So… let’s quit pedaling that old bike and enter in to the Life of God in the Holy Spirit!

    We were born for such a time as this. Romans 8:19 “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” We were born (again) to work the works of Jesus, to let Him live in and through us. Let God arise in His people and show forth the love of Jesus to a needy and hungry world by letting Him live, speak, give, work, heal, sing, preach, touch, smile, pray, befriend, deliver, teach through us! What a gospel!

     

     

     

  • Grace For Change
         Jesus calls us and graces us to walk in newness of life. We can’t fully express and appreciate His Life in us if we insist on operating from old mindsets. T.D. Jakes says: “Your experience may be a liability because you are used to God operating one way.” 
         God is the God of creativity, of wonder, of adventure, of mystery. One Who doesn’t always work the way we are used to because He knows how easy it is for us to trust in a method instead of Him! Don’t misunderstand, God is consistently good, He is not capricious or arbitrary, but His heart for us, His plan, is SO much grander than we can imagine.
         The good news?
         God gives us grace to change, to be conformed to His image as we behold Jesus Christ by faith. We have been given the mind of Christ, the Life of Christ and the grace to lean not to our own understanding, but acknowledging Him in all things, He will direct our paths. He even gives us the peace that transcends understanding, peace regardless of circumstances. We don’t have to stay locked in old mindsets, ways of reacting, imprisoned by the memories of the unjust treatment we may have received (or given) in the past. He makes all things new! By the way, I am speaking to myself today, if any of this applies to you, you are welcome to it too!
    Let’s receive again this Word:
    “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
    Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
    Ephesians 3: 14-20 ESV
  •      

    The Birth of FIngerPaintings

    The Birth of FingerPaintings

    A few years ago I was sharing some of my songs in a worship gathering in Athens, Greece. There were twenty-two different languages spoken by the people who had gathered. Though we had translators for 3 of the languages, I only speak English and I was growing frustrated at my inability to communicate. Then I received an impression from the Holy Spirit:

    “David, stop talking, and tell the people that you are going to just play (not sing) a new song as I inspire you, and I will use the music to whisper to the deep places in the hearts of these people through this new song from Me.”

         So I obeyed (that’s a BIG part of effectively being creative) and told the folks to close their eyes and listen for the Voice and the Sounds of God.Then I began to play on the keyboard. (I like that we call it “playing.”) In my mind, my spirit, my imagination, I could hear the music that I believe was inspired from Heaven; and, as best I could, reproduced what I heard by moving my fingers on the keyboard. As I finished a musical phrase, I would hear the next one and the music just flowed like that for probably five or six minutes. It was exciting, fresh and, I believe, supernatural!

         After that meeting, several came up to me and told me that they had heard the Voice of the Lord speak to them through the music. Some had visions that they shared. One lady told me she saw herself as a little child in a field with other children, dancing and laughing with Jesus. That encounter with imagination and the Holy Spirit inspired me to record a whole ongoing series of spontaneous musical compositions called  FingerPaintings. Now as I travel and minister I try to facilitate moments like that in most of my concerts; moments of vulnerability and opportunity for God to flow through me in a new song.

  • http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-ark-covenant-image22529602After centuries of searching, the ARK HAS BEEN FOUND! Noah’s Ark? Nope. The long lost Ark of The Covenant? Not that either. What ark then? The Ark of the New Covenant!

    In the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark,” there was a dramatic scene toward the end of the movie when the bad guys found and opened the ark of the covenant. Since they were illicitly handling the ark, they were punished by death (and the special effects depicting their destruction were not for the faint of heart.)

    To the children of Israel in the old covenant, the ark, an elaborate box constructed as directed by God through Moses, was the place that God chose to manifest His Presence. Inside the ark were three items of special significance: Aaron’s rod that budded, the tablets of the law and a pot of manna.

    As wondrous, sacred and precious as the Ark of the Covenant was, it was just a shadow of the heavenly realty that Jesus’s incarnation, life as a man yielded to His Father, death, resurrection and ascension attained for the children of faith. Some are still searching for the missing ark but there is a far greater Ark that exists today: The Ark of the New Covenant, the children of God through faith in Jesus, the Body of Christ! He is the Life of the Body. It’s the great mystery that has been revealed by the Spirit and the Word of God. Christ in us the hope of glory!

    We are the ark of the new covenant
    The Presence of the Mighty God abides in us
    We have been made holy by the Blood of the Lamb
    We are the Living Temple of the Great I Am

    We live, yet not us for it is Jesus Who abides
    And we’re called to show His glory to the nations
    A living temple walking in His Spirit and His Life
    We give ourselves to God in blissful consecration
    We are His Holy Nation

    Jesus is our manna, He’s our daily Bread
    Aaron’s rod bears fruit and blossoms in our praises
    Oh the glory of the law of love now written in our hearts
    Not a temple made with hands, we are a new creation
    Proclaiming His salvation

    We are the ark of the new covenant
    The Presence of the Mighty God abides in us
    We have been made holy by the Blood of the Lamb
    We are the Living Temple of the Great I Am
    (David Baroni, George Searcy)

    click the play button to hear the song

     

     

  • The Brooding

    The Brooding

    “…and darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God brooded over the darkness” (paraphrase Genesis 1:2)

    In the beginning of creation God started with Himself and… nothing. Some translations say darkness was upon the face of the deep. Some say that the earth was without form and void, barren, chaos.

    …and the Spirit of God hovered, moved, brooded over the barrenness…

    nothingness…

    chaos…

    emptiness.

    Then God said, “Let there be light and there was light.”

    In the story of creation in the book of Genesis, the book of beginnings, there is a wonderful picture of God Who is a community in Himself. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit have always existed in a perfect relationship of love, intimacy, harmony and humility. See the wondrous cooperation of the Trinity in the first 3 verses of Genesis:

    The Spirit of God was brooding over the darkness, waiting…

    Waiting for The Father to speak. To send His Word, The Son.

    So the Father sends the Son to the Spirit who applies the Word to the darkness and the darkness gives way to the Light. Chaos gives way to Divine Order. Barrenness gives way to the fruitfulness of the Creator.

    Isaiah 54 says, “Rejoice O barren, you who have not had children. Sing for joy, for more shall be the children of the barren than those of the married wife.” This speaks to our refusal to trust in our own sufficiency and our dependence on God who creates out of nothing.

    He gives beauty for ashes, gets glory from dust
    Makes a garment of praise from the armor of rust
    Turns bondage to dancing, through weakness makes strong
    Turns the wail of the mourner to the victory song

    IMG_2817(from “Glorify the Lord” David Baroni)

    I have good news for you. If there are barren places in your life, if you feel afraid or maybe you feel numb, or there are situations filled with chaos or darkness, the Spirit of God is brooding (like a mother hen over her eggs) over that darkness. God has sent His Word to you and will even give you the grace of faith to respond like Mary did “Lord, Let it be done to me according to Your Word.”

    Light arises in the darkness and the desert will blossom as a rose, for Your Maker is your husband.

    Do you feel The Brooding?

    (This article is from David’s New Book: “Dreams, Kings, and Unseen Things”)

  • Overcome

    When a lot of you read the title of this post, perhaps you thought of the word “overcome” as an exhortation to perform in such as a way as to achieve victory. Work harder, pray enough, trust more, etc. Well, that is the furthest from my mind as I write this. It wearies me to even think in those terms, though I was a prisoner of depending on my own efforts for many years and still fall into that trap if not reminded, yes even  overcome, by the gospel.

    My good friend Dudley Hall compares a legalistic emphasis on performance to what he calls the “do-to-be” tree.  If we will (do this) then God will…  When Adam and Eve sinned, into mankind entered the staggering weight of self-sufficiency. As another preacher friend, Adrian Varlack., puts it: “Before the fall, man had no self preservation instinct.” Indeed, because of the Presence of a loving Heavenly Father Who provided everything that man needed, self-sufficiency wasn’t even thought about. Thanks be to God for the beauty of the gospel! God in His love is the Initiator, and He even gives us the power to respond to Him and to the good news appropriately. Jesus has overcome and when I think about His love, His grace and power and acceptance revealed to me through the Cross, the resurrection and His sometimes tangible Presence in my life… I am overcome!

    Last week Rita and I were in Grand Rapids, MI, ministering and sharing songs and laughs with dear friends John and Donna Chisum. I had some time at the piano and was inspired, and overcome, by the Presence of the Lord as He gave me this song. It’s quickly become very dear to my heart and I hope it will encourage you in the Love of God as well. It’s called “Overcome.” (click the link for a youtube video of an unplugged version of the song.)

    Italy Beach Sunset

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “OVERCOME”

    Gentle Jesus meek and mild
    Heaven’s Lion fierce and wild
    Watching for this wand’ring child
    To welcome me back home
    So strong and yet so tenderly
    You run again to rescue me
    When You reveal Your heart for me
    I am overcome

    Overwhelmed and overflowing
    Overcome by the knowing
    That God the Savior is my friend
    I am overcome

    When youth has long forsaken me
    I hope that those who look still see
    Your light within my eyes
    Where does this kind of love come from?
    I was an orphan now I’m a son
    When I remember all You’ve done
    I am overcome

    Overwhelmed and overflowing
    Overcome by the knowing
    That God the savior is my friend
    I am overcome

    “Overcome” Words and Music by David Baroni/2014  Kingdomsongs Inc./BMI/CCLI

     

          

     

     

     

  • Put Down Those Oars!

    “Put Down Those Oars!”

    oarImagine yourself in a canoe floating down a stream that is flowing in the direction you want to go. All you have to do is sit in the canoe for awhile, admiring the scenery, waving at the fellow boaters, delighting in the sight of a fish leaping gleefully in front of you. You smell the sweetness from the fragrant trees on the shore. Perhaps you are enjoying a cool drink and a bite to eat. The current and the boat cooperate marvelously to facilitate this journey. You are resting, yet still making good progress toward your destination.

    How foolish it would be to suddenly grab a paddle and begin to over-exert yourself with stroking, thinking that it takes your effort to complete the journey.

    Welcome to the world of the Believer who is unwittingly serving God in his (her) own strength.

    As author Major Ian Thomas says in his wonderful book, “The Saving Life of Christ”: “Serving God in our own strength is like someone giving us a fine automobile. We receive the gift thankfully, then proceed to get behind it and push it where we want to go! We are sincere, we are going in the right direction, and we are… exhausted! Why? Because the automobile was never designed to operate properly by being pushed!” (my paraphrase)

    And we were not created to live the Christian life in our own strength. As the Apostle Paul said, “I live, nevertheless not I, but Christ Who lives in me!” Jesus is the Christian Life. Put down those oars!