There are so many things going on in the Spirit and spiritual realm, I do not know where to start and to end, what to put in and what to leave out. God is working in the earth and working in the nations, but the greatest work He is doing is in His Church, to prepare it for the great harvest and what He is doing among the nations. It is so important for the sake of participation and activation, that you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. If you do not have the ability to pray in the Spirit, seek the gift. If you do not know how to pray, ask someone who does to help teach you. If you are not born again of the Spirit of God or do not know what that means, then seek and learn. If you have been, then be renewed and refilled with a fresh anointing for the days ahead.
Do not be afraid because the days ahead are awesome and alarming simultaneously but be prepared to rejoice and run with the Gospel, not worrying about your life. You cannot be luke-warm and you cannot remain reserved. Do not seek to save your life, but lose it so you may find what is the Lord’s. Give yourself fully to the work of the Lord. Pray and get ready.
(Background) Today’s Church is divided by various denominational differences of both theology and practice, but all seek to grow as local bodies, looking for both spiritual and material “success”. All have their beliefs and ways of worship that they hold onto or are held bound by, given their affiliations. They all have worship service outlines and formats that they follow, whether they are liturgical, pentecostal, or evangelical, and they generally follow the same Christian calendar, at least in terms of the major Christian feast days of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, with the seasons of Advent and Lent. Year after year, the Church goes through it cycle of the yearly calendar.
The roots of the Church being Jewish, the early apostolic church would have contended with whether or not the Christian Church should continue observing the yearly Jewish feasts, now that the Messiah had been revealed and fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. First predominantly Jewish, the Church still observed the daily times of Jewish prayer, but preached that Jesus was the Christ who was crucified and raised from the dead, calling people to repentance and baptism in Jesus’s name, but of course encountered resistance and opposition by Jewish leaders. They also began gathering on the Lord’s Day, Sunday, to “break bread”, a tradition that has continued for 2000 years. No longer “under the Jewish Law” as a means to salvation and the requirements of the Law with all its obligatory festal seasonal observations, the Church lived under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the compulsion to preach the Gospel daily and proclaim salvation by faith through the name of Jesus Christ alone.
After three centuries of persecution and the declarative acceptance of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the Church also having grown in Gentile population, began to develop in its organization and structure, including the beginning of yearly observations of special holy days and seasons, creating its own customary layer of religion that has been followed (with denominational differences) for the last 1700 years. However, over the last two centuries, there have also been various revivals of the Holy Spirit which were springboards for today the more recent pentecostal and charismatic movements, bringing more people, churched and unchurched, into personal encounters with the risen Lord Jesus. But still, even these churches end up settling on various levels into the yearly routines of seasonal-calendar Church worship.
Last month, as He has in the past, the Lord began to speak to me about how the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost ever year internally, but on and after that day, no outbreak of the Holy Spirit and fire is seen, no increase of public witness, no exponential increase of new believers being added to the Church happens. With this the Lord pointed out to me that while the historic Church observes 40 days of Lent before Easter, a tradition that did not officially develop until the 4-5th century, Jesus witnessed to his own resurrection 40 days after Easter and then instructed the disciples to wait for 10 days in preparation for Pentecost. In response to the issue of the Church repeatedly observing the Feast of Pentecost every year, but never moving out in the power of the Holy Spirit afterwards, the Lord instructed me to call for 10 days of repentance filled preparation, starting at Ash Wednesday, to move out in obedience to the call to go out in the power of the Holy Spirit after the 10 days and begin witnessing to the risen Lord Jesus with whatever strategy God provides BEFORE Easter Day (I will be using customized door hangers), and then with an intensification, perhaps verbal, between Palm Sunday and Easter (Holy Week).
If anyone or any church, can receive this ‘word’, I pray that God would grant them the bold confidence and courage to go out in the authority of Jesus’ name and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We do not think of ourselves as being guilty or capable of idolatry, but it happens all the time, just not in ways that we associate because we associate idolatry with pagan religions and man-made images of created things. It is why the 1st commandment of the Mosaic Law given to the people of God was “you shall have no other gods before Me”, and then the 2nd being, “you shall not make an idol for yourself, etc.” and then even the 3rd which is related to the first two, “you shall not take the name of the Lord you God in vain”. These were the prioritized commandments because of man’s sinful inclination to worship “other gods”.
However, Jesus’ answer to what the 1st and greatest command was, sounded different in, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.”, but they are actually related, because “idolatry” directly and negatively effects our ability to do so. For example, as Jesus said, “you can not serve two masters, God and money.” The terms “other gods” and “idolatry” have broad application to other things such as homes, clothing, jewels, career, titles, awards, pleasure, sex, drugs, alcohol, cars, parents, marriage, spouses, children, fortunes, possessions, luxury, and food, etc. when our souls look for “God replacements” to provide joy, peace, security, rest, provision, honor, purpose and more.
It is important to understand what the roots of idolatry are in order to identify it in your our heart, mind, and soul, so you can begin tearing down and smashing the altars and idols that exist in your life. Behind each and every one of them is an evil desire or spirit deceiving you and leading you away from loving and worshiping God alone to your fullest capacity.
The first “false god” mankind put “before God” is Satan, the fallen cherub angel, the liar and deceiver, who after failing to make himself equal to the Most High God when he attempted to ascend higher than the stars (which also symbolize other angels) and establish his throne above all, because of pride, vanity, and rebellion – ref Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28., then successfully tempted Eve, and Adam through her, to become “like God” also, knowing good and evil. That idea (the idol) represented by the “shiny apple” was the evil desire that motivated mankind to also unsuccessfully attempt to become “like the Most High God.” In other words, both Satan, Eve and Adam, considered “equality with God, something to be grasped”, which is the exact opposite of the Son of God, who was God, but didn’t consider it that way, and humbly took on the form of a man who would be obedient unto death. Jesus descended first and then later ascended to the throne that had rightfully been prepared for Him above all. He was made for a little while lower than the angels, but later crowned with glory and honor.
A special revelation in this teaching, is that Satan played a dirty trick on mankind, because they were already “like God” in every way they were suppose to be, because God had created them that way. In Psalm 82, God states, “I said, you are gods. You are all sons of the Most High, but you will die like mere men”. Mankind already had everything it needed as children of God but were deceived into trying to grasp equality with God, becoming their own gods and the second false god (self), living but actually dying pridefully and rebelliously independent from God the Father. It was the sin of Satan, whom they had become like, and also fallen.
This is the same sin of idolatry that Christians need to identify and crush; reject the lies and false promises of Satan, breaking the idolatry of worshiping man, whether self or others, especially leaders everywhere including those in the Church, due to the appearance of higher holiness, knowledge, or power; but also in secular government, entertainment, sports, technology, finance, science and more. Nor are we to worship “church” itself, the visual trappings, the rituals, the sacraments, the bible, the healings, the music, or other “experiences” . We are the Church and we cannot worship ourselves. Remember, Satan became enamored with his own beauty that God had clothed him with and then wickedness grew in his heart.
The false gods we put “before God”, and the ones we try to become ourselves, or idols we worship instead, will lead to death and certainly will prevent us from loving and serving God with full hearts, minds, and souls as we were created to do and redeemed for.
We can do this, because the Good News tells us that as we bore the image of the earthy man, the first Adam, so we will bear the image of the man from heaven, the second Adam, and be allowed to even sit with Him on His throne, as He promised in Revelation 3:21. However, we are spiritually seated with Him, even now, so repent of idolatry first and then rise up as sons and daughters of the Most High God and live in your true identity with Jesus, whose image and likeness you are being transformed into day by day. Accept and appropriate for yourself not just the power of the Ressurrection but also the reality of the Ascension, above the stars where we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.
Jesus prepared for Passover much differently than everyone else did, because only he really knew that he himself was the Passover Lamb, Christ the Messiah, who would first be sacrificed for the sins of the world, in agreement with the Holy Scriptures.
There is no one else like Jesus and there can only be one Jesus, but many Christian church men, particularly in the more comfortable western world, do not appropriate the call Jesus challenged His disciples with, outside of the church building away from the Passover table meal. Not all Christian men are called to be “apostles” or “evangelists”, but all are called to pick up their cross and follow Him in the world to bear witness to Him. Paul understood what this meant when he wrote, “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions…” – Colossians 1:24. Are there some things still lacking, even now?
Many of us Christian men profess the desire to “follow Jesus”, in addition to having faith in Him, but many of the many are not willing to get up from the table to serve one another nor leave the building space to follow Him to the cross. Going to pray in the garden with Christ is one thing, although that is even difficult for us men, but appearing with Him at the cross is another. It is understandable, since many of us do not know exactly how that occurs and what it means practically even as the first disciples did not, and we need the grace and power of God for its fulfillment even as they did after the ressurrection, but underlying it also exists and persists within ourselves an unwillingness to publicly suffer with and for Him outside of the building and away from the table, although the internal desire may be there, that is, again as Paul also expressed, “I want know Him in His sufferings that I might somehow obtain to the resurrection”. Paul shared his personal experiential call and inspired words to the Church, also as a means to encourage the Church, especially us men, in the call to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus wherever He leads us go, because we love Him, because He loved us first.
“I know your good deeds, but I have this against you. Repent, or I will remove your lampstand.”
-Revelation chapters 2-3
This is a paraphrase of a collection of “words” given to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation.
Since this is Lent, I thought I would point out how the Church, and certainly the Church of today particularly in western society, seems to have a hard time hearing the second half of Jesus’ statements. I don’t know if it is because I sometimes move in a prophetic confrontational ministry, but I am often sensitive to these types of warnings from the Lord when He speaks them. A problem, I believe though, is that a large part of the Church does not believe that the Lord could or would ever say anything harsh or difficult to hear because, as it has so often been quoted by many contemporary western-hemisphere pleasing pastors, “God is love”, which He is, except that “love” is not all that God is, and even in His love He disciplines those He loves for their own good. Hebrews 12:11 writes, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Where the Church cannot hear God’s disciplinary warnings as well as His encouraging affirmations, it will suffer loss and its light will be dimmed, and those who were unable to receive the Lord’s good corrections will also be unable to comprehend why the darkness was able to overtake their domain.
Where the Church can hear and respond to the seemingly unpleasant aspect of God’s love, it will be rewarded with an increase of fruit and a brighter light that the darkness around it cannot comprehend.
Let us fast and pray that we in the Church might hear both the Lord’s encouraging affirmations and disciplinary warnings, and be open to all His revelation.
Jesus said, “I have testimony weightier than John. For the the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.” -John 5:36
Jesus had His own particular work that was assigned to Him, but it was not just or really Him doing it, but also the Father working in Him, as He said, “Do you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work.” – John 14:10
Hence, the work of God is inseparable from a living relationship with God.
Therefore, for us, the work we do in Christ’ Name should also be based in a real living relationship with God through His Son and with the Holy Spirit.
The Lord works inside of us not only for our sanctification and the completion of our personal salvation, but also so that we might truly participate in His continuing work on earth for the sake of others and His Kingdom.This work can only be accomplished through a “living working relationship” with the living God who is still at work, both in us and in the earth, from which we were formed and made alive by the Spirit, originally and again when we were made into “new creations” in Christ.
It is God who has prepared for us our “good works” in advance and calls us to finish them, even as He will finish His good personal work in us, from the inside out, with which we also cooperate.
As it is written, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose.” -Phillippians 2:12-13
As the events of history and nations play out, the Church’s first call is to pray daily, even morning, noon, and night, maybe even 7 times a day, and perhaps always.
The spiritual warfare is real and although it is somewhat a mystery to us how our prayers to God are used to effect changes in the earth, but because God calls us to pray, we can be sure that they do. Prayer is the first way we participate in the Kingdom of God. We call upon the Name of the Lord, and we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us to pray in accordance with God’s will.
As in any type of warfare, there are some conflicts that are greater than others, and because of this, there can be delays regarding what is released or bound in the earth to match God’s appointed time, which only He knows.
A good example of this is also in Daniel chapter 10, concerning a vision and weeks of prayer for a great conflict (war) when an archangel (Gabriel?) arrived and spoke to Daniel regarding the vision and his prayers, and how he the archangel was delayed because of a battle with a powerful demonic principality, which Michael the archangel came to assist him with.
“Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”
“Now when Jehu arrived in Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. So she painted her eyes, adorned her head, and looked down from a window. And as Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, O Zimri, murderer of your master? ” 2 Kings 9:30-31
Jezebel, the wicked witch murdering idolatrous perverse Queen ruler of Israel ironically tried to.make King Jehu feel guilty and accused him of murder after he, in obedience to the Lords command spoken through God’s prophet, put to death (killed, not murdered) the wicked King Joram and now he had come for her.
God, speaking through a prophet, had this “authorized by God” ruler, righteously put to death these other authorized rulers who misused their authority and did commit murder of innocent people among other atrocities.. God chose to judge and act, at this particular time in this particular way, for His good reasons.
And He (God) and he (King Jehu) also called military troops and eunuchs who were in the service of kingdom government, to participate.
“Let him who has ears, hear.”
I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God and contain all things necessary for life and the salvation of mankind. The Word is the primary resource and final authority governing theological and doctrinal matters for the Church. However, as both Israel’s and Church history demonstrates and what I have personally experienced over my lifetime and while working as a pastor, is that there is much division on how the Holy Scriptures are understood and applied. Even the Scriptures warn against misuse of the Scriptures. Even Jesus told both the Jewish religious leaders and the apostles they misunderstood the Scriptures. And Satan knew and intentionally misused the Scriptures and tried to use them to defeat and kill Jesus with.
Many professed “bible-believing” Christians often quote and apply Scripture out of context, cherry-pick the verses they like or which supposedly prove their point, while disregarding other verses that challenge their view. Because of learned denominational biases and prejudices, they reject things other Christians believe even through there is support in the Bible for believing them, and so divisions are cemented.
Although sad, I believe there are divisions in the Church for good reason also, but the Word of God needs to be rightly handled and applied more so for the purpose and with the intent to unite and edify vs. divide and constrain, allowing Christians to be open to what the Spirit of Truth would teach us beyond our previous misunderstanding and limited acceptance of God’s Word in our minds and hearts.
This can only be accomplished through prayer, repentance, and a humble willingness to learn from God. As it is written in the prophets, “they will all be taught by God.”
I wonder if this also included Judas?
While depending on God’s grace and mercy, I can only and can’t even imagine what it will be like when Jesus returns in power and great glory, when He comes on the clouds with His holy angels to establish His Kingdom on earth, when the kingdom of this world BECOMES the Kingdom of our Lord and Messiah (ref Rev. 11:15), a time when those who would still oppose Him may find themselves on the ground again, or have to worry about Jesus’ words, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But NOW my kingdom is from another place.” WHEN His Kingdom comes and is established on earth, Jesus will not be the One or ones who is/are arrested or slain, at least, in the Spirit and by the Breath of His Words. And let us not forget “…the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:8
Don’t let your hearts grow cold because of the increase of wickedness around you. Do not be overcome by troubling events in the world. But grow in faith, hope, and love through God our Father, our Lord Jesus Christ the Son, and the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Be strong in the Lord and the Power of His Might. Wait upon Him and renew your strength.” Jesus is risen from the dead.
May their hearts be humbled and minds turned to believe in Yeshua Hamashiach (Jesus Christ) in agreement and complete fulfillment of the prophetic words written through Zechariah and Hosea, that they may recognize God’s Son as the “once and for all” atoning sacrifice, and may look to Him by grace through faith and be saved, leading to the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel and the return of Christ to sit upon the throne of his earthly father David and establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.
Faith is made whole by what is does; and so when those who claim faith, never do, their faith remains weak and less complete.
We must believe that God will reward our earnest seeking of Him, but also seek Him where He wills to be found, which can take time and effort of the soul. It is not always where we want to find Him, like in our comfy chair inside our house. It may be in the homeless shelter, or in front of an abortion clinic, or at a bus station, in our neighbor’s backyard, the streets of Pakistan, or whatever battle field He wills for you.
God is pleased by faith and works with us, even going ahead of us to wait and fulfill actions prompted by our faith. His Word says, “Where I am, there my servant will be.”
One of my most recent favorite verses in Scripture is in Samuel 14, where Jonathan moves out in faith, with courage, putting himself and his armour-bearer at risk of death., saying, “Perhaps, the Lord will act upon our behalf…nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few”.
The armour-bearer responds, “Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
Hear the Word of the Lord,
The Lord is your armour-bearer. He encourages you in your faith, that it might be made whole.
The flag is torn. There are holes in the red and white stripes. The sacrifices of the past are not known by this generation. They have no respect. Their parents have not taught them well nor would they listen. They have become a foreign nation.
Listen now and I will tell you a story.
A man walking down a road went into a field and stopped by an apple tree to pick from it. He looked at the tree and although its fruit was good to eat, he chose to despise it and stay hungry and unrefreshed.
And the Lord spoke from the tree and said, “Why have you despised the good fruit I have provided for you?
And the man responded, “I do not want to eat from the tree you have provided . I would rather go hungry. Besides there are so many other choices.”
Hear the Word of the Lord,
The nation that was blessed by Me has been filled with foolish people. I will uproot them, says the Lord, and you will see a difference between those who desire my blessings and those who despise them.
While both men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, and both can be capable of similar things, and both have strengths and weaknesses, and both are called to be interdependent upon one another, as it is written, “For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God” – 1 Cor 11:12 – – God has still designed and called men and women to particular roles in the earth and in His Kingdom according to His purposes and for His glory. This not based upon the reason and opinions of men or women, but upon the Word of God unchanged to suit modern appeasement.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”
God the Father has particularly called men to carry the burden of leadership, in the advancement of and suffering for, His Kingdom, by His order, and will hold them more responsible as a result.
This is not chauvinistic but particularly glorifying of God’s Son by design, who was also born of a woman, because men are the glory of God and women are the glory of men – 1 Cor 11:7, but the Church is called His Bride in total, because God has made the greater Christ’s total glorification and the advancement of His Kingdom interdependent upon all of us, His Church, both men and women alike and in unity together.
Let “him” who has ears hear what the Spirit is saying.
In Hebrews chapter 2, the Word of God tells us that Jesus became human to “break the power of him (Satan) who holds the power of death, and set free those who all their lives were enslaved by their fear of death..”
Again, Jesus himself, in John 14:30, stated that although Satan was coming to kill him, he (Satan) had “no hold”, “no power” “nothing in him”. That is, Jesus would not submit to the fear associated with what was coming, be it real pain and death, because His Father was with Him and in Him and he would never be separated from that perfect love which casts out all fear!
So today, if you are like most of us, struggling with fear, whether that be of death, sickness, poverty, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, abandonment, loneliness, or something else, let us overcome together through faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ!
All fears are a subset of the fear of death! If you can overcome that fear and him (Satan) who holds you in slavery by that threat and desire to kill you, then you can overcome every fear in this life!
Focus on the perfect love of God that is with you and in you and yours to hold on to, and break the power of the enemy who has already been defeated by the Son of Man, who died and rose again on our behalf so that we can live for Him who lives forever. Live in love. Live in the resurrected life. Live by Him, with Him, and in Him! Crush Satan under your feet and do not let him into your minds, hearts, emotions and souls, to have hold over you as a slave to fear anymore. Be free in the Lord and live in the abundant fruit of the Holy Spirit who has been given to you as a son or daughter of the living God.
Satan is a thief, a liar, and a murderer, but Jesus came to give you life, and life to the full!
Let Christ be glorified in you!
Great time today, in God’s will, venturing back into the subways for first time since pandemic broke out….
Preached to many…Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists and some believers. Many heard the Gospel and about 30 people took NT bibles. I saw them thinking searching wondering…and reading
Praise God and glory to Jesus. Thank you Holy Spirit!
The fields are ripe for harvest and it is an opportune time to evangelize. The ground has been softened by the virus.
People need to hear that they don’t need to live in fear, but Jesus who came to give them an abundant life, offers them eternal life as well.
“Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech.” – Proverbs 1:20-21
The time is coming, says the Lord, and now is, when the right hand will be hooked to the left ear and the left hand will be hooked to the right ear, and the right eye will be fixed upon the left foot and the left eye will be fixed upon the right foot. Many stumble and trip over themselves and have become altogether useless to Me, saying, “Nobody knows the right from the left and the Church cannot agree what to do. Which way should we turn and whose lead should we follow, for there are so many prophets among us!”
Does the world not have prophets? Does the world not have teachers? Does the world not have kings and rulers? Which way should you go and who should you follow if there are so many anointed among you? But where are My prophets and where are My teachers and who are your kings and rulers?
But listen now and I will tell you a parable. A man without an ear met a man without an eye who met a man without a hand who met a man without a foot, and they said to one another, “Do I really need you if I already have one? Do I really want you if you do not have at least two?
How foolish you are to follow another and hearken to other voices, when you have the Words and the Spirit of your God to direct you, through whom you live and move and have your being, and who sets you apart and gives you work to do despite your deficiencies and handicaps, and who asks each person the question, “who is my mother, my brother, my sister, or my friend?”
Where is the Body of Christ and to Whom does is parts belong? What is the sum of its parts if it has no head? Can the Body function without a head to lead it? Can the Spirit move it if the eyes do not see and the ears do not hear and the feet do not follow and the hands do not work in unity with Him? Your God is not a puppet master. He is your Lord and King.
Let him who has ears hear, let him who has eyes see, let him who has feet follow, let him who has hands work, for God is not waiting upon our deficiencies and handicaps, but upon those who will do His will, who will not look to the right or to the left or hearken to confusing voices.
Sometimes a house has to be gutted. Sometimes a family must move. Sometimes a body must become depleted in order to become renewed.
Where are you going and who will you hear and for whom will your feet move to follow, for God is the Author of Life and the Lord is the Instrument of Salvation, and all parts belong to Him. When all of you is hooked and fixed upon Me, then you will know which way you should go and what it is you should do, in Spirit and in Truth, for I will not mislead or confuse you, says the Lord, but all I ask of you is this, “I want all of you!” “I want every part!”
There is a growing deception that I have warned about in the past, and that is – that the message of reconciliation – the heart of the Gospel – that God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself – and so that the forgiveness of sins eternal life could be preached in Jesus’ Name, with the call to repent and believe in Him (that is JESUS) – is being replaced with a “social justice” movement .
Not that social justice isn’t important because it is, and is a very big part of what is means to be a Christian – to love all, even your enemies, to right wrongs, to end oppression, feed the poor, take care of the widow and orphan, end racism, end abortion, end war, to be a good samaritan, etc. BUT it cannot replace or eliminate the cross and the act of the One who justified all sinners and provides forgiveness – even to the the police officer who killed George Floyd. If the mobs want justice – then they all must hear that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – and that Jesus died for all including the murderer and the rapist, the abortionist and the child molester, the slanderer and the gossip, the vain and the perverse, the adulterer and the pimp, the liar and the thief, the proud and the lazy, the idolater and the greedy, the violent and destructive,.etc. The Word of God and the Church declares all these things yo be sin and those who commit them to be sinners in need of God’s grace from Jesus Christ, who died for all, and therefore all died – because all have sinned – and the wages of sin is death.
YES- the Church should lead in the correcting of injustice – but its primary task is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ – who redeems and justifies the sinner by faith, offering the forgiveness of sins, salvation and sanctification, for and leading to Eternal Life, in Jesus Name. It is the Love of God that we preach, and not mankind’s limited version of it.
We have been given the message of reconciliation!
Not every Word from the Lord is “uplifting”. Sometimes it is edifying or perhaps corrective, which is still good and necessary when God our Father. brings it.
In my zeal, one of the issues I have been struggling with recently is what I erroneously judged as a poor witness of the universal Church during this pandemic crisis. Actually, I was more disappointed with God then the Church, which only affirmed the proverb, “Zeal without knowledge is not good”, which I applied to myself.
My struggle was around wanting to see Christ glorified through His people, by seeing the Church gather together to worship Him as He protected us from viral infections, thinking what a great opportunity of witness and wonderful miraculous “sign” this could be that would prove our faith and draw many others to Christ. However, what actually happened was the opposite. The churches stopped gathering and some supposed reports came in that people became sick because church goers did gather. Whether accurate or not, either way I struggled with reconciling this in my mind.
When I finally got down in focused prayer time over this specific issue, asking the Lord for understanding why the Church was NOT EXEMPT from the pandemic effects, the Scripture verse I believe He brought to mind was 1 Peter 4:17
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; And if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
“if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?
What I believe God impressed upon me, was that God was using this time as a sanctifying and sobering time for the universal Church; to humble the Church, to help it see that although those in the Church are in a better position regarding salvation, that the Church too will be subject to judgement, and that it is NOT EXEMPT, just like from the virus. And more so, that the Church will be judged first.
This was a sobering thought, but sobriety is good. Sober thinking is good and biblical, and God uses His Word to bring us to sober thinking. I am not saying that the virus is a judgment from God, but that God is working in His Church through this crisis time to sanctify and soberize it, for something greater ahead.
Then were a few other sobering NT Scripture verses that came to mind, such as,
“Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord”, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”, – Mt. 7:21
“For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment on himself…” – 1 Corinthians 11:29
And then, I was reading Job chapter 40-42 , where Job, who was a righteous man, but was “drunk” in his thinking effected with and from suffering, contending with God and complaining that if he was righteous then why was he not exempt from the sick suffering. Though his friends, who lacked knowledge were unable to reprove Job, God was not unable. Job was sobered up by God’s questioning of him and for his contentions against God, to which Job shut up and repented in dust and ashes, saying that he had spoken without knowledge also and that God could do whatever God wanted without explanation.
So, in similar fashion, God did not agree with my contentions as I was hoping for, but instead sobered up my thinking, humbling me with with His answer. Instead of working miraculously THROUGH the Church at this time, I believe that God is allowing the Church to suffer just like everyone else, because He wants to work something out IN the Church, which involves some humbling towards sober thinking. Certainly, God can still draw people to Himself through this time anyways, as I believe He is, but right now it seems to me that God is more interested in the Church’s virtue and right thinking, than performing a miraculous sign to prove His own worth.
Like Job who said, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand…” this just shows me how little I understand about God and that is very sobering too.
What I do know and understand a little better is that Gods ways are way much higher than mine and that I still have so much more to learn about and from Him, as I grow up in Christ.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself..” – 2 Timothy 2:13
When we find ourselves in times of trouble, as we are in these pandemic days, the faith of those who supposedly have it is challenged. It is challenged by loss of health, job, security, trust in people and systems thought to be unshakable or unbreakable. Although we might find some temporary help through a rich relative, a health or other professional, the government, or some other means which God can use, God always desires us to look and depend upon Him. “Without faith”, as it is written, “is impossible to please God.” God wants us to call upon Him in the day of trouble and not to look to men and governments to be saved, as the nation of Israel often did in their history. God always instructed His people not to trust in anyone or anything but Him.
Jesus was also aware and understanding of faith struggles in times of trial, and even expects them. Jesus instructed Peter, the rock, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
As I struggled myself in recent past days, overwhelmed by current events effecting us all, I decided to take a ride and walk into the countryside in search of renewal, and finding a rushing stream pouring over rocks, I was reminded of God’s eternal nature and His faithfulness, thinking about how the rain and the flow of water, the sunshine and the grass nearby, are completely unaffected by the pandemic. I stood on a rock in the middle of the stream and repented of my lack of faith, and was then reminded of the Words of Christ, “not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear” and applied that to employment, mortgage payments, groceries, healing from sickness, etc. because God knows we need all these things. In spite of current events and conditions, I am called to still “seekfirst the kingdom of God and its righteousness”, trusting in God for provision. I was also reminded of God’s words through the prophet Habakkuk, to be joyful in God, despite all discouraging circumstances.
So I pray for others I know, even as I pray for myself and my own strength of heart, mind, and soul during these trying times. The truth is, God is faithful, even when we lose our faith. Like a never ending flowing stream of water, faithfulness is part of God’s very nature. He is faithful. He cannot deny Himself. We need to be reminded of this and remind and encourage others to put our trust in God our Rock.
This poem is inspired by a similar struggle I had with the struggle that the servant to Elisha the prophet had when they were surrounded by an enemy army in 2 Kings 6. May the bible event and poem encourage you when you are discouraged or afraid by the combination of overwhelming circumstances and a lack of faith. As Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.”
Help my eyes Lord, for I am surrounded by what I see and what I cannot,
Not believing, not perceiving your eyes and arms around me hot.
One greater in faith must remind me that You are not One to abandon.
I am a servant and yet I am still learning to trust my Master’s plan,
Trusting disaster will not overcome me because of where You stand.
Discovering that there is nothing and no one else to fear as I imagined.
How can I see when I am blinded by my lack of faith and what is stacked against me?
How can I grow when I am weakened by the dark clouds’ thunder sounding around me?
How can I rise when I agonize under the enemy armies that ground me?
How can I fight when my might is so small to the giants that threaten to pound me?
How can I die when there is so much more time designed for me?
Heed me, Lord.
Teach me, Lord.
Be for me, Lord.
See for me, Lord.
My Master prays and my blindness is taken away.
I can see the Lord’s armies that now astound me around me!
I can see the horses and chariot sources of fire that empower me!
I am no longer just a servant, but a friend, because My Lord had shown me everything.
I now know that I will live!
I can see how You surround me.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” – Hebrews 11:1
I have faith, but not enough sometimes or for some things easier than others, and so I have found that it is usually in my weak areas of struggle where my faith is tested most. Why? Because our God is very interested in our maturity and perfection. Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” and to “consider Him” who was tried for God’s purposes.
For this reasons, and because “without faith it is impossible to please God”, I also believe that God tests our faith to prove its genuineness and increase its measure in proportion to the good works He has called us to, and so for our growth and His good purposes that He wants to accomplish! For example, Jesus’s greatest tests were at the beginning and the end of His public ministry: first in the desert for 40 days just before the big launch into ministry, and then secondly and most severely, starting in the Garden of Gethsemane before the finished work on the cross. Jesus was made perfect through what He suffered!
Having been reminded of what is written in James, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”, I have had to fight to exercise my mind and heart to do so through the Spirit.
As I have prayed to overcome, I have pondered, “Will my Lord respond to my request, “I believe Lord, but help my unbelief!”, with a quick shot in the arm, or is it is more likely that I will have to wait upon Him patiently, even with a call to do so joyfully, which is counter to the desires of my flesh, until He shows me His faithfulness in the challenging time I am in. I know that my faith must rest in Him, even if painfully, and if so, it will be made stronger in the end.
Again, the Scriptures remind me of how many and in what times did Jesus have to instruct His disciples, “Do not be afraid” or express “Oh you of little faith”? These were challenging times in which God’s faithfulness, demonstrated in and through a man, would be proven and preached. Jesus made it real as well as possible for all of us.
And so, even now, I am learning that it is a faithful and loving God who allows and orchestrates such circumstances when we are given the opportunity to trust in Him, for our own growth as well as for His glory. He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
I know in my spirit that it is only after I have passed through this trying time that my faith will be strengthened in those areas of weakness and I will come to truly know that God is faithful and trustworthy of all the praise I have and will give to Him even more as a result.
I have revealed myself to the nations.
I have revealed myself to you.
I have done so because I AM.
But what I am about to do is going to shock many, because they do not know the depths of my love and grace, and they do not know the heights of my ways and thinking.
I am going to flip the nations, says the Lord.
Those that were not mine will become mine, and some that were mine, will become lost, but for a while.
For I am the God who hides and well as reveals.
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will refrain from who I refrain.
Do not ask me, “but why?”, but be glad that I have mercy, says the Lord.
I had what I believe was a New Years Eve Service vision of what started out as a view of a background of the blackest darkness into which tongues/flames of fire appeared and then lined up in a row side by side like in a piece of wallpaper border going around the tops of the walls of the church. I believe the Lord was saying it’s time the Church caught fire again because of the increasing darkness all around us, that the light we are to be is more than just a reflection of the Son but we need the fire of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in love to those who hate the truth and who are also destined for blackest darkness reserved for fallen angels. The border of flames around the wall also protects the Church from the extreme darkness trying to penetrate the walls of the Church. Saints cannot remain lukewarm in such a dark time as this.
Jesus is not a baby anymore! This word is not to downplay Christmas and the eternal salvific importance of the incarnation, God becoming flesh and dwelling among us, but to highlight the fact that Jesus is not just a historical figure of the past who remained in a perpetual state of infancy to be statically celebrated over and over again, but instead grew up as also human into a mature adult man and who became the source of eternal life through His death and resurrection, who ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father forever and ever, Amen.
Jesus is alive today, not as a baby in a manger, although we need to recognize Him in the least and most vulnerable such as the pre-born babies in the womb, but as a reigning King who commands His people in the Church to proclaim salvation through His Holy Name so that men and women everywhere might respond to Him in real time today because He is alive and waiting, and watching, and calling all people to Himself and obedience to the Gospel, and not the mere observance of Christmas, not matter who wonderful it is, and I do as well.
The secular participation in the Feast of the Nativity of course hopefully draws people to the truth of Christ and the historical event of His miraculous birth on earth through the Virgin Mary, but it is the Risen Lord that they will have an encounter with if they have one, whether today or tomorrow.
The historic liturgy of the seasonal Church calendar of events serves as an important reminder and declaration of His Holy Incarnation, but it is not the Christ child that the Apostolic Church is called to proclaim to the world today, but the Christ man who endured the crucifixion and was raised to life on the third day, and Who commanded that forgiveness of sins be preached and disciples be made and initiated into the new life of Christ in His Body through baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit.
It is very easy for the Church to become complacent and nostalgic through its liturgies and services, deceived into thinking that by celebrating them annually, year after year, that they are fulfilling the Great Commission through them alone, instead of and like Jesus, growing up and living out His public ministry every day and getting out from behind the table of remembrance to fulfill what He was called to accomplish when He was lifted up in glory for all to witness.
Jesus was born to die and be risen again, so that people everywhere might be born again and raised to new and eternal life. This cannot be accomplished unless the Church once again is renewed in its baptismal and Pentecostal call to follow Jesus and proclaim His death until He comes again, not as an infant child, but as a fully grown Jesus Christ who reigns over all the whole universal creation, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is the Jesus that calls all peoples to Himself today, no matter what the holiday is!
There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. – 1 Tim 2:5.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel. – Mt.1:23
What’s “all this”? That is, all the specific details that occurred to fulfill the Word of God spoken and written thousands of years prior. That past Word was fulfilled even as new Words were spoken and recorded in the New Testament time through the angel, Mary, Joseph, the servant of God who did the writing, and more, who were participants in God’s work. The new Words of God were given birth in real time through people like me and you.
And still there are Words that were said in both Old and New Testaments that are still yet to be fulfilled concerning Christ’s second appearance and return for judgement and the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which we can be assured that they will because God, who cannot lie, has spoken them. It is only a matter of time. As we await, as the season of Advent and the Word teaches us, “You (we) ought to conduct yourselves (ourselves) in holiness and godliness as you (we) anticipate and hasten the coming of the day.
We also, even now in the present time, still participate and are used by God to have His Word spoken and fulfilled in the earth. In Christ, the Word of God becomes incarnate through us, in our lives, by things said and done, when we are in His will, because the Eternal Word and Life lives in us now.
Do we realize the incredible nature of this calling? Do we anticipate participating each day, remaining attentive to and united with God’s workings within us?
Behold what it is that God has planned for you and through you this and each day, because God the Father Son, and Holy Spirit, is with you and is in you! He is still Emmanuel!
In Matthew chapter 2, during the time of King Herod, a declaration is made by the Magi from the east, that a child who is to be king of the Jews has been born. Although the child born was not an immediate threat to Herod himself, he immediately schemed and acted upon the threat to his dynasty.
Are we Christians, born of God and expectant of Christ’s return, which will come like lightning from the east (ref. Mt.24:27), not wise enough to zealously plan now and act upon the Kingdom to come, heeding the warning of Christ Himself, even from the parables of the five wise virgins, the good and faithful servant, and the sheep vs. the goats, in order to preserve our future rich Kingdom blessings and rewards when He comes again.
Jesus tells us that the children of this world are shrewder than the children of light, but this should not be, and He commends those who wake up to and act upon the reality of His judgement in the present time. The term “coming soon” is meant to awaken our anticipation and serves as an exhortation to action over laziness and vigilance over complacency! Watch, for we do not know the Day!
This is what Advent is about! It’s not preparation for Christmas, but for Christ!
In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul asks the Church to pray for them, that the Gospel might spread rapidly, literally that it would “run”. Paul makes the equation between the dependency of the rapid spreading of the Gospel with our willingness and ability to run with it, since it doesn’t spread by itself. But what does it mean to “run” with the Gospel?
In John 20, we see Mary Magdalene, and then apostles Peter and John, running to and from the tomb because of the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. I can envision them all panting, breathing deeply, exhaustingly from the labor of running, in and out, with both joy and fear, as if Jesus’s life and death were in their lungs and breath. That’s the point! It was and is suppose to be!.
We are to run with the Gospel in similar fashion, as if we just heard and experienced the news for the first time. We should be filled with amazement and excitement, with the message of his death and resurrection with great haste and anticipation, with the knowledge of the both the potential for salvations and the peril of damnation for the souls we meet. We should be laboring with every breath! In this way, the Gospel just might spread more rapidly!
When David came down to visit his brothers on the front lines facing the Philistine army, he found the army of Israel cowering because of the Philistine giant, but he himself defied and mocked the giant’s threat, saying “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he defies the armies of the living God?”
When David was brought to Saul and the king expressed no faith in David’s stature or ability to defeat the giant, David retorted with testimonies of previous victories over bear and lion. When it came time for David to face Goliath, he rejected the weaponry that King Saul placed upon him, relying upon how he had been trained and weaponized by God. When the giant calling upon his gods, and mockingly labelled David a “boy with a stick”, David follied the giant’s words with his own label of “minced meat”, calling upon the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.
David knew his victory would not come by sword or javelin, not even by his familiar sling and stone, but in the Name of the Lord. This was his confidence, that God himself was with him to give him victory over death and the enemies of God.
There are the weapons of our spiritual warfare that we as Christians are armed with, but it is not even prayer or the sword of the Spirit through which we gain our victories, but by the Lord Himself. Our greatest weapon is our confidence in Him.
Sometimes it takes time to resolve what exactly and where exactly God wants you to go and do His will. In can be like trying to find a water leak in your house, but in this case the opposite direction. The question isn’t where the water is coming from, but where is it running to.
In the case of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20, there is a process of testing and discerning what the truth is concerning Saul’s intent to kill David, already known by David, which Jonathan doesn’t want to believe yet; but Jonathan instructs David to wait for his confirmation, and that the communication of what is discerned will tell David whether to stay or go. In this case, Jonathan shot the arrow beyond the rock in order to tell David that David was correct in his discernment. David didn’t want to go, but he, and now Jonathan knew, that he must. David’s appointed time would come later, when he would be crowned after much trial and endurance. For Jonathan, it was a hard reality to face because he was losing his best friend, at least for a while supposedly until David’s return, although Jonathan ended up dying before. This is not unlike and points Jesus’ necessary departure beyond, after suffering death and resurrection, before He returns as the anointed and appointed King. Some if not most of us will die before His return.
But if you are “a David”, what is God telling you? What does He have planned for you? When, where, how, do you discern His will to be for you? Take the time to test and approve His good and perfect will. If you really want to know, He will tell you one way or another.
When the Lord commands us to “Go” he gives us both a general command and specific commands. For example, Matthew’s great commission command to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” is a general command to the Church and to the apostles in particular because of their callings and roles in the Church. But the Lord gives specific commands to “Go” that are more detailed and answers the questions, “When and where and why and who specifically, should go!” For example, in Acts chapter 5, the apostles are told to “Go and stand in the temple courts and tell the people all about this new life”. In Acts chapter 8, Deacon Philip the Evangelist is told to go and stay near the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch, who he witnessed to. In Acts 9, Ananias is told to “arise and go to the street called Straight” in order to find, pray for, and baptize Saul of Tarsus.
When our ears are open and obedient to the Lord’s specific commands to “Go”, the general command becomes specifically fulfilled. As Isaiah prophesied through the Spirit of Christ, “The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn back. – Isaiah 50:5.
So “Go” and “Go” in the Name of the Lord.
Waiting is hard. It strikes at my pride and impatience, the desire to have what I want and when I want it, even if it’s not God’s desire or timing.
As I spend the next 40 days struggling to wait upon the Lord for answers, even as I work, rest, and maybe even play, I pray that I would grow in selfless humility and patience, in order to graciously and wholeheartedly embrace God’s good and perfect will. But isn’t that what I am always suppose to do?
That is what I hope for and that is why I am still waiting; really, to be more conformed to the image and likeness of God’s Son, which doesn’t happen so easily. Pray for me that I may wait very well.