Sobering Up in Christ

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?

And

“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

And,

“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.

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Faith in God’s Faithfulness

“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.

 

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Surrounded Servant

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.”

SURROUNDED SERVANT

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.

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Growing in Faith

“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.

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Epiphany Flip

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.

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Flames in the Darkness

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.

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Growing Up from Christmas

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.

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Still Fulfilling God’s Word

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!

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Acting Upon Christ

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!

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Running Again

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!

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The Weapon of Confidence

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.

 

 

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Which Way to Go

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.

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Go and Go

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.

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Waiting is Hard

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.

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Prayer to Please

How do we know if God is pleased with us? Upon whom does his favor rest?  To whom does his affirmation come?   Does it not come upon those who please Him?  Whose hearts are set to serve Him?   To those who do His will?

Will not the pleasers of men be disappointed?  Or will they be satisfied and assured by the praises of men?  Will they seek their affirmation instead?

Help me Lord! Lead me and guide me in your good and perfect will.  Let the meditations of my mind and heart be pleasing in your sight. Receive the prayers of your servant and help me in my time of need.  Show me how to pray and what it is that you desire.  My heart longs to please you.

The ways of man are empty.  Surely they are wasteful like a fruitless branch, vain in appearance and hollow like a dead tree.  But your ways abound with delight.  They are full of secret treasures and are solid like a rock.  May my hands do your work. May my feet follow in your will.  May my soul find pleasure in pleasing you.  Amen.

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Running with the Gospel

In Acts chapter 8, when the Spirit told Deacon Phillip the Evangelist to go and stay near the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch, he did not delay or simply make his way over, but instead “ran up to the chariot” just in time to hear him reading from the book of Isaiah.  How excited, how filled with the Spirit and anticipation Phillip must have been?  And especially when the Ethiopian asked Phillip to explain it!

Unlike two of the rock songs I grew up with, “Running on Empty” and “Running with the Devil”, and like the words spoken to Habakuk the prophet, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so a herald may run with it”, Phillip ran with the gospel, not on empty but filled with the Spirit, and not with the devil but with Christ Himself, and was ready to explain the prophetic revelation so the eunuch might believe and be saved. This led of course to the eunuch being excited about becoming a Christian, and coming upon some water, he asked to be baptized. Then after, the Spirit suddenly took Phillip away and was found preaching in other places.

But how many of us delay, or even run away, from being a herald of the Good News of Jesus Christ?  How many of us would even desire to be so excited by it, that we would be ready to run with it too?  Perhaps it has become too plain to us that we need someone else to re-explain it all over again.  Then perhaps, like Habakuk and Phillip, our feet would become like that of a deer, excited to be on the heights that the Spirit takes us.

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Pursuing those Perishing

God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him shall not perish but have Eternal Life.” – John 3:16.  From this famous Scripture quote, we know God’s heart and the heart of the Gospel.  God demonstrated His love and withheld nothing, not even His most precious Son.  But then He entrusted the Gospel to His Church.  God did His saving part, so to speak, but then invited us, all who have received and believed the Gospel, to participate in the work of bringing others to Christ, in our time and until He comes again.  He is patient and hopeful because He wants none to perish.

Many in the world, as usual and expected, have no fear of “perishing” in the sense that they will be separated from God for all eternity, either because they do not believe in God or they believe that their current belief system is sufficient to avoid that state of eternal separation. The other problem is that many in the Church do not believe that other people will perish without a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ or we just don’t take that biblical truth serious enough.  Therefore, we are usually not compelled to preach the Good News because there is a lack of fear, or love for, those upon whom the Bad News of condemnation remains, as John 3:18 states.  The Church often avoids this and similar Scripture verses because of the weight of consequential responsibility of having read them.

If we the Church truly believe that other people will perish, the love of God in our hearts should move us to action.  But the Word also truly evaluates and states, “It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God proved His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  He spoke from the Cross, after doing His unique saving part which only He could do, “It is finished.” He proved His love for God and man.

Now the proof of the Church’s love is either seen or not seen by our willingness to do our part, or at least something, for those who are still perishing because they have yet to believe in God’s Son.  There has been enough said about this, but there has not been enough done, that is, by the Church, whose part remains unfinished.  We already know that God so loved the world, but I am not so sure about us, the Church.  There remains a call of upon the Church to pursue those who are perishing even as God pursued us.

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False Profits

There are some “in the Church” and perhaps outside, who would like to separate Jesus and the Gospel, because they would like “another”, that is, one more acceptable and likeable that doesn’t require “repentance and forgiveness of sins”, one that doesn’t cause separation between family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, the younger generation and peoples of the world with other beliefs.  They prefer a Jesus and a Gospel that brings peace and not a sword, one that everyone would have to like, one that is all inclusive and welcoming in such a way that doesn’t require anything from anyone accept an irresistible and popular acceptance.

Why?  Because than there would be no rejection, persecution, and cost to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their hope is that the numbers would increase in both people and payments to the more likeable church.  And so who does this profit?

Hence, they want to present a different Jesus and a different Gospel than the one that appeared and was made known and was preached before. They want to change or eliminate the demanding and challenging Words of Christ by their own presumed authority, perhaps out of felt necessity, in the name of a love that is separated from the truth. They are false prophets seeking false profits.  What will they exchange for souls?

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Voicing Out

“Preach the Gospel and sometimes use words” is a famous quote of St. Francis used by Christians to emphasize the command to love. It is a great quote rightly understood and applied, but can also be used to excuse disobedience to the apostolic command and repeated directive of our Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel verbally, which is the intent of the command.  On one occasion, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  In another place, He said, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all nations…”.  Even Paul told Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist!”

Because there is spiritual truth in the words “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ”-  Romans 10:17, the Lord has specifically commanded the “voicing”, that is, the verbalization of the Good News of Christ Jesus.  It is to be proclaimed, heralded, declared, and spoken!  Again, “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the earth.” – Romans 10:18.  Words, by nature, especially God’s, are spoken and with purpose.  They do not return void when they are sent.

If the first apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers submitted to the phrase “sometimes use words”, they would have errantly and disobediently put the word of man over the word of our Lord and God. And where would the Church be?  It might be unheard of itself!  Because it is not in the wisdom of man that the Church finds its existence, but in the wisdom of God, even the foolishness of the preaching of the Gospel!   So, repent and believe the Good News!  Obedience to the Gospel and the command to preach it, using words, may seem unnecessary or secondary to some, but it is the wisdom of God and the primary means by which one is saved, when they believe the message spoken.  And as the apostle Paul affirmed in 2 Cor 4:13, “And in keeping with what is written: “I believed, therefore I have spoken,” we who have the same spirit of faith also believe and therefore speak….”

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Wrestling with Self

As I find myself wrestling with both God and man, I find that the largest struggle is with myself.  But this would make sense given that the key to victory is found in self-denial, whether towards God or my fellow man.  Not that I have Kingdom fellowship with every man, but the virtues of the Kingdom apply even when wrestling with the ungodly.  Since Jesus said, “I have overcome the world”, I have to consider how He accomplished this.  Victory could not have come about through earthly wisdom or power, but reliance upon who and what comes from above in relation to any opponent.

So, I find myself once again yearning for the ability to deny myself: in order to hear, trust, and obey God, bear what burdens God wants me to bear, fear not what God says not to fear, care for who and what God says to care, act and react as God and not man would expect or desire me to, and tear off what earthly soiled clothing remains upon me so as not to be so easily pulled down to the ground by any opposition, especially my self.

I pray Lord, for less of me and more of you, for it is in you that God and man has become One, and through you that the wrestling match is won. I struggle to see your face, to know my place, to receive and believe in your grace, and follow in the way of your Son.

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Departing from the Crowd

It is one thing to be a disciple of Christ in the crowd and another thing to be one who follows Jesus when and where He commands us to go.

In Matthew chapter 18, on seeing the large crowd gather around Him, the Lord decided to depart to the other side of the lake, commanding His disciples to do so.  This action drew out statements from some “disciples” in the crowd.  First a “teacher” proclaimed he would “follow Jesus wherever he would go” to which Jesus responded with a teaching of his own, simultaneously speaking of earthy and spiritual truths related to the cost involved.  Even if he started to follow Jesus, would he remain when he encountered the hardships?  Was Jesus truly the Master of this teacher?  Secondly, another disciple pleaded to “first go and bury his father” before following the one he called Lord, to which Jesus responded with a correction to put His love and command first.  If he went and buried his father, would he have ever returned when he encountered other family demands?   Was Jesus truly the Lord of this disciple?

The truth is, it would be wiser not to make vows to the Lord that we do not know if we will be able or willing to keep them, but instead quietly and prayerfully count the costs, so that any “yes” we do speak might also become a “yes” in action.  But better that we say nothing at all, so our “yes” won’t be a “no” because we don’t really know if we will go until we actually do so.   And then, if we do so, we can speak of the reliable promises of God!

So, don’t just be another one in the crowd!  Yearn and learn to become a true follower of Christ Jesus!  All God’s promises in Christ are “Yes” and “Amen”!

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Do Not Fear the Sword

I have not come to bring peace but a sword, but if you are afraid of the sword, what will you do when My house burns?  Will you fan the flames then?  So, I tell you, be strong and courageous and do not fear the sword.  Otherwise you will have no peace.

 

 

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Electric and Royal

As our house gathering continued to worship and pray to the Lord over and through the topic of Pentecost and being “clothed with power from on high” to publicly bear witness to Christ, a friend of mine had a vision of a sword coming down from Heaven with lightning bolts attached to the handle and a golden tip on the end of the blade.

We knew this sword represented the Word of God, which is also the sword of the Spirit, with the lightning bolts representing the awesome “electrifying” power of Christ, also projected in His future mighty return.  The golden tip on the sword represented the “royal command” to preach the Gospel, even now, in and with the power of the Holy Spirit given to us to do so.   As Peter said, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” -Acts 2:42.  And as Paul spoke, “Woe to me if I do not preach.” -1 Cor 9:16

When those called to bear public witness to Christ refuse to do so, they disobey the royal command and become a “blown fuse” in the Household of God, cutting off the surge of power from God that the Lord designed to flow through the House and out into the world.   While some might say, “we are afraid that the surge of incoming power without a fuse might burn down the house”, what they don’t understand is that God Himself can modulate His own power as needed and that the surge of power He supplies is designed to leave the House in order to advance the Kingdom of God.

When one acts like a “fuse” by refusing the Lord’s royal command and resisting the Holy Spirit, they blow the opportunity to see God’s Kingdom come in electrifying power.

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Earth Wind and Fire Contained

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

There was contact, and the fire spread.

When there is a forest fire, first there needs to be something to burn, before the wind and fire can do its work. Once ignited, a strong wind will cause the fire to spread rapidly, supplying oxygenated breath, fanning and driving the flames in one or more directions, and causing sparks to fly onto new sources of fuel as well.

Many of us Christians want to receive the breath and feel the wind, and even burn within, but we often won’t allow the Spirit to move and spread us out or cause sparks to fly, because we are afraid.  And so we resist the wind and contain the fire, that is the will and desire of God, even the Spirit.  As a result, the earth, wind and fire remain contained, even within the house.

So I pray:

Let the strong wind blow. Let the holy fire fall.
Don’t be afraid, but trust in His call!
Count it pure joy, and rejoice in the shame,
If counted worthy to suffer His name.

Be consumed with His love. Let it burn deep within.
Let the Holy Spirit move you, when to begin
To speak in a language that others have heard,
And tell about Christ, the Lord whom you serve.

Don’t be afraid!

Let the mighty wind blow. Let flames burn ‘n go
Don’t be afraid, to let people know.

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Divisions of Christ’s Army

Divisions occur not just between disciples and non-disciples but among disciples themselves; over pride, power, loyalties, theology, doctrine, practice, possessions, commitment, unforgiveness, and more.  The apostle Paul said these divisions should not be, but he also said that he was not surprised by them. He said, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.”

And of course, there will be differences of opinion over that statement and who it is that has God’s approval, but one thing all disciples should agree on is this; even while we “love one another” and “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace”, ultimately, it is God’s approval that we seek, even the Lord Jesus, who is the Head of the Church and the Master of every disciple. It is to Him that we will have to give an account.

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Pivoting on the Emmaus Easter Break

Emmaus was a turning point. The disciples on that road were heading away from Jerusalem and away from believing that Jesus was the One they were waiting for, because he died on Friday.

They had seen his signs and wonders, and had heard his amazing teachings, but they did not understand. Though their hearts now burned again within them at His spoken words, they were still kept from fully knowing Him until He revealed Himself in the breaking of the bread, the act which still proclaims His death until He comes again.

It was then that their eyes were opened, and they pivoted in their faith. They returned to Jerusalem, believing in Him as the One they were hoping for, because He died and rose again. And this Jesus purposely revealed to them in this breaking of the bread in which He was truly present.

The truth is, without the resurrection, the Lord could not be fully known in this way, because if still dead, he could not be known in any way, and the meal would be a mere memorial with no life and power, which Jesus did not institute it to be.

Sadly, many Christian’s break fellowship on this point. So we pray, “Lord Jesus, be known to all your disciples in the breaking of the bread.”  Let us recognize you whenever and however you choose to be known.

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Modern Men and Total Docility

The over-sensitivity of “modern” politically-correct and softened men has led parts of the Church and society, to prefer submitted men who have “quiet and gentle spirits”- 1 Peter 3:4. The problem with this, is that this Scripture refers to women, who God prefers this way mostly, except for those He raises up like Deborah the Prophetess and Judge, in order to put timid men to shame. – Judges 4:8-9 .

If anyone challenges the “modern” Church and society with this problem, they are often met with an angry response that is neither “quiet or gentle”.  Interesting, how that works.

The Church and society needs servant men who can not only set up tables, but who can overturn them if and whenever needed, as well.  Because of and for this, God Himself has given the Church, men in particular, “not a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” -2: Tim 1:7,  which includes the transitive ability to moderate and admonish.

Is is important to understand that the “total docility” of men can be a dangerous dimension that also needs to be disciplined, as it has been before in God’s House, by men sent by God, and if necessary, a woman.

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Except the Apostles

We usually assume that when Jesus said, after the resurrection, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”, that Jesus was speaking only or primarily to the apostles.  However, when the persecution broke out in Jerusalem, it was everyone “except the apostles”, who were scattered into Judea and Samaria and preached the Word wherever they went.

The apostles remained in Jerusalem at first, as the primary witnesses in the spiritual core of the world, where Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred and the Spirit came down upon the Church, and to serve as an anchor of faith for the rest of the Church, standing firm in His resurrection in the face of death, because Jesus had given them many convincing proofs that He was alive.  The rest of the Church became the first witnesses everywhere else. This should affirm all those who know that they are called to be His witnesses in the power of the resurrection, as well as the apostles, even to the ends of the earth.

Go Church!

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Things Above

Last Friday, as I closely observed the dark stormy breaking waves and heavy rain-filled winds of Long Island Sound heading in towards the land, I was struck by the visual and associated perception of the dark powers and unrelenting earthly forces of evil at work in the world today that are both perplexing and overwhelming, and which is all most people can usually see because it consumes our natural vision.

Meanwhile overhead, when I looked up to the sky, I was surprised by the large movement of wind-blown lighter clouds heading in the exact opposite direction, seemingly revealing something else going on in the heavenly realm  that God was directing, but unbeknownst to the peoples and forces below who would be very surprised when its fulfillment timely appeared in the earth.  A small window-like opening in a wall of distance clouds revealed the presence of the sun and another simultaneous reality.

I was mesmerized, encouraged, thirsty to perceive what God was planning, wanting to know and even be part of it, trusting in His sovereignty and good purpose, even His past given victory. I was grateful for the perception of One greater with a greater plan and power than the one below, and was reminded that I should always seek the things above.

Later on Sunday, when sharing in the Scriptures about the pending Feast of Pentecost, the Lord showed how the people of Jerusalem, even the religious and those who recently murdered the Holy and Righteous One, were overwhelmingly surprised and perplexed by what God had planned all along. They expected just another usual Feast Day as if nothing had happened or would happen. The only ones who were waiting in expectation were the ones who Jesus told.

God is moving! If you not ready for what is coming next and what may have started already, then seek the things above!

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The Spirit’s Call

I don’t want to but I cannot help but want to, like Paul said,  “know Christ in the fellowship of his sufferings,  becoming like him in his death, that I also might somehow attain to the resurrection.”  I somewhat know what he means, as my soul is never satisfied unless I am united to my Lord in both, desiring even to be perfectly. I do not have a natural desire to suffer, but the Spirit of Christ within me beckons me to follow him further that I might also know him better.  Lord, I desire to do your will. My flesh resists but the Spirit calls. He leads me to the cross.

Jesus was made perfect by what he suffered. Glory to Jesus!  Keep calling Lord, that I might answer.  Jesus, I want to know you more.

 

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Let us Die with Him

In John chapter 11, the disciple Thomas’ fatalistic perception of dying with Jesus Christ in Jerusalem was based on his misunderstanding of what Jesus said “must” occur. From Thomas’ perception, it falsely meant the permanent end of life and the loss of everything promised including the new Messianic King and the establishment of the Kingdom of God, from which he concluded there would be no reason to live, so they might as well all die with Him.  He didn’t understand that first the Christ had to suffer death in order for new life and the Kingdom to arise, and that His death would not be the end of life and the loss of the promises, but instead was meant to bring about the end of death and loss of all things that could never fulfill the promises.

As Christians we must understand that dying with Christ, to ourselves and our old life of sin which leads to death, being buried with Christ in His death, is what clears the way for new life in Christ and the Kingdom within us, to arise! The Christian Faith is not fatalistic, but fulfilling of God’s promises through Jesus Christ, who died and rose again.  So let us “die with Him” that we may live again, and again!

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The Audacity of Christ

In the Gospel of John chapter 8, Jesus makes audacious claims about Himself and God His Father, including offending critical statements towards his Jewish brethren who are also claiming God the Father as their own God and Father.  In the heated exchange, Jesus not only declares Himself to be the One the Father sent, but speaks both “politically and religiously in-correct” when declaring that their father is the devil because they wanted to kill Him for His claims.  Wow!  Today, if Jesus was a “Christian” in America publicly witnessing about Christ in such an audacious way and fervor, he would be seriously accused of being an unloving narrow-minded extremist, religious bigot, and people would hate Him, again.

It is one thing for the world to struggle with Jesus’ seemingly audacious claims to be the Light of the World and the only Way to the Father, but unfortunately, there are those in the Church today who also struggle with the narrowness of Jesus’s Words and the boldness of His public proclamations, insisting on a more socially-politically acceptable approach to evangelism, which is hamstringing and in some-cases castrating the zeal of the Lord among His own people, replacing radical evangelism with religious ecumenism, quenching the fire and dulling the sword that was given to the Church, in an attempt to appeal to the more open-minded general public and perhaps the young who have been taught a secular globalist worldview and to seek a socialist or progressive utopia.  Such a witness, I believe is more compatible with universalism or the false notion that the various descendants of Abraham, i.e. Jews and Muslims, share the same faith, whose leaders meanwhile, make primary, distinct, and separate claims to God, denying His Son as the Holy One through whom they must now acceptably come to God, which was Jesus’ audacious claim.   For Jews and Muslims, the denial is expected, but for Christians, such a position is a denial of the Truth and a rationalized attempt to ironically avoid the cross in the name of Christ.

If Jesus Christ had the audacity to truthfully and purposely declare Himself as the Son of God the Father, the only Way Truth and Life, to others who also claimed God as their own,  especially His own Jewish brethren, then why would Christian’s be hesitant and timid to publicly declare Him the same to anybody, unless it is because we are afraid of suffering persecution for His Name or lack the secure identity confidence of Christ as sons and daughters of God His Father?   Jesus said, “My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. You do not know Him, but I know Him. If I said I did not know Him, I would be a liar like you. ” – John 8:54-55.  How audacious!

And yet, our having the same audacity to claim to know God and His Son, and declare Jesus Christ as the Way Truth and Life to those who presently oppose Him, provides those same hearers the same blessed opportunity we had to come to a saving knowledge of God through His Son, in order that they too might not perish but receive Eternal Life. Isn’t this what Jesus did?  Is this not the Gospel? Should we not also have such audacity in our love for our fellow man, if we really believe they need to be saved?  Let us pray!

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Choose Life or Death

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” – Deut 30:19

The nation is at a cross-road, and even the Church to some extent because it is divided, in relation to the intensification of the battle between good and evil, light and darkness, life and death, as it pertains to abortion, which is infanticide, even before the babies are born.  Where the nation sides, and which side prevails, will determine not only the life or death of millions of more babies, but the life and death of this nation as we know it.  The two are inseparable!   We will either choose life or death, as a nation.

The pivotal determinant of the outcome is the Church.  If the Church will not unite and advance on this issue to tear down and overthrow the forces of wickedness supplying, supporting, and sustaining the abortion industry, it will simply not occur. Not only that, but the heinous profitable murdering of the innocent will expand, and as their blood cries out to God, the land will be cursed and the nation, as we know it, destroyed.

There is no turning back.  There can be no let up.  There can be no middle ground. The time is now. Decisions have to be made. The battle can be won and will be won if the Church unites and chooses life.  Indecision will cost the lives of millions more babies and the death of a nation. The blood bleeds, but will the river run dry?

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” – says the Lord.

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Tongues in Time

Being a charismatic-pentecostal Christian (and evangelical and sacramental too) who prays-speaks “in tongues”, which is synonymous with praying “in the Spirit”, I am faulting and finding myself praying less in tongues in private compared to when I am gathered in public with the Church. I love to praise and pray “in the Spirit” even sing “in the Spirit” and go back and forth between my native English and my spiritual language when praying in public as I believe I am suppose to, according to the Scriptures, as Paul suggested in 1st Corinthians 14:13-17, 27-28. But I am being convicted a little that my prayer efforts “in the Spirit” in private have been waning in comparison when they should be growing, for the Scriptures also say that when we pray in tongues, not only do we edify ourselves with God and build up our own faith, but the Spirit intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will. WOW! Why wouldn’t we earnestly desire to pray in such a way when we know for sure that such prayer is in accordance with God’s will vs. praying in the uncertainty that we might be attempting to pray in our own will? Why not use the private time with God more wisely? This gift is God’s wisdom, which is why praying in tongues is such an important time to treasure and pleasure in – one that has us praying in agreement with the heart of God and Christ, who prayed, also in a language we could understand, “not my will but thine be done, so we might be edified too. So let all be edified in both times. In public, praise and pray in tongues but with interpretation too, but in times that are private, let your tongues be set on fire for God alone!

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A Sword of Incision

While meeting at an “interdenominational network” of pastors this morning, with whom I’ve been having fellowship with for the past five years, the Word of the Lord came to me while we were praying and worshiping the Lord, in the lower room of the building, and He said,

When I said “I have not come to bring peace but a sword” I did not just mean a sword the will cut into relationships, such as husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighbors, but a sword that also cuts into a man between his soul and spirit, for discernment and decision making; a sword that convicts a man of my will that he might also do it. And my will, whether I meet with you in an upper room like I did with the apostles, or in a lower room like I am with you now, is not for you to hide behind closed doors, but to go out and make My Salvation known to all peoples and to declare My Glory to all nations, the Glory of the One and Only-Begotten Son of God.

…And of course I could not stop shaking for a while. Let him who has ears hear.

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Following to Serve Not Ourselves

In Matthew 20:17 Jesus told his disciples, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for others”, as they argued about who was going to have the greatest position and power in the coming Kingdom. The fight broke out because Momma Zebedee and her two Thunder Boys created a storm when they asked Jesus about sitting on His right and left side, and the other ten became indignant probably because they had not asked first. Good thing the other mothers weren’t around! In response, Jesus instructed them all on the humble attitude they should preserve and the lowly position they should pursue, when following Him. The call to follow Jesus was not a race to see who would be first (that position was taken already), second or third, but who would become the last and the least among them. When we follow Jesus in order to secure for ourselves a high position in His Kingdom, we show that we have miss-learned what it means to be his disciple and we distance ourselves from the heart of the man, the Son of Man, who is the true Servant of the Lord. When we serve for selfish reasons, we lose out, because we are really following the world.

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Jesus the Leper

After Jesus healed the leper in Luke chapter 5, He circumstantially exchanged positions with the leper who was previously forced to dwell in lonely solitary places due to his leprous condition, which classified that person as unclean and not permitted to be near other people, not just because of the possible contagion, but also because of his likely facial appearance, having been covered with leprosy. At first the leper had to hide his face from everyone, but now Jesus did, after the healed leper disobeyed Jesus and told everyone about the healing. The healed man’s disobedience caused Jesus to suffer in lonely place outside of town, like one afflicted and stricken by God, in this case, with leprosy.

For Jesus, this was a preview of the cross he would have to bear. He exchanged places with us on more than one occasion.

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The Battle Within

The battle within is more important than the battle without.  When my heart, mind, and soul are right with God, I know it.  I know his peace, joy, contentment, and all in those moments, but nowadays there is a fire burning within that doesn’t allow me to settle even for all the fruit of the Spirit.  Why?  Because the fire is not quenched and the fruit is not reproductive unless I do His will!  And so because there are so many distractions both within and without, sin that so easily entangles and things that hinder, the battle goes on, and I find myself wanting to draw closer to my Lord and God who is my everything.  I know the answers are found in Him and that as I fight through all that is engaged in my heart, mind, and soul, that I will find what it is that I am looking for, which in the end is really Him, because He is my love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  It is He that I desire more than anyone and I know for sure that “that” is His will.

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Praying for the Pastor’s Protection

When Jesus was troubled, he asked his disciples to pray with him,  even for themselves.  (Matthew 26:38-41)

Yes, because the leaders of the Church have been given the greatest burden of responsibility, much good is dependent on them. Therefore because of their critical role, they require or should be afforded the most prayer, not by any one person, but by the many together out of necessity and understanding.  If “many hands make light work”, then surely many prayers make sense for the one who bears the larger burden.

Yes, the devil prowls about looking for one to devour which is often the weakest one, but often it is the greatly burdened pastor and/or his family, who have become the most vulnerable or the most targeted.  If the enemy of our souls can successfully strike the shepherd, then the many sheep will scatter and much more will be achieved with one blow.  If the shepherd is helped by the prayers of the many people, to remain faithful and able, then the weak ones among the many should find protection as well.

The Church must take seriously the call to pray for the protection and strength of those who have been placed over us, even for our own protection.

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Welcome

Praise the Lord Jesus and Welcome to Kingdom911.

I hope and pray that you will find this site edifying to your mind, encouraging to your heart, and  uplifting to your soul. May the Lord give you insight and revelation and inspire you through faith in Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be a glorifying and profitable servant of the Most High God and His Son Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons for putting up this site was because I felt challenged by the Lord to be more bold in my public witness and not hold anything back, also rejecting a false humility that I believe has prevented me from being who I am more fully called to be.

Another reason was because I was tired of having disjointed and disconnected social media accounts and websites, as well as thoughts on differing topics, so for management reasons of consolidation and streamlining to bring it all together somehow, I completed this task.  I hope that you will find it beneficial to your souls and service of our Lord.

Be Blessed!

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