Because God loves you, he will work to cleanse you. But it is a loving chastening upon those who repent and return to him. You may feel God’s arrows in your soul because of your past and present sins, but if you have a repentant heart and want to turn from error, you can call upon his chastening love. You will be corrected—but with his great mercy and compassion. You will not feel his wrath as the heathen do, but rather the rod of his discipline, applied by his loving hand.
Perhaps your suffering comes from making wrong decisions. How many women are suffering because they married men whom God warned them not to marry? How many children are breaking their parents’ hearts, bringing them to the end of their ropes? Yet many times this happens because of the parents’ own past years of sin, neglect and compromise.
When you know you have arrived at your lowest point, it is time to seek the Lord in brokenness, repentance and faith. It is time to receive a new infusion of Holy Ghost strength. It is time to be renewed and refreshed, to have spiritual strength overflow within you.
You see, when you cry out to God, he pours his strength into you: “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul…. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever” (Psalm 138:3, 7–8).
One of the most difficult things for Christians to accept is the suffering of the righteous. Up to the time of Christ, the Jews associated prosperity and good health with godliness. They believed that if you were wealthy, in good health or otherwise blessed, it was because God was showing that he was pleased
with you. This was why Jesus’ disciples had a hard time understanding his statement that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Likewise today, there is an erroneous doctrine that says if you are in agreement with God you will never suffer; just call out to God and he will come running and solve everything immediately. But this is not the gospel! The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11 all walked in close relationship of faith with God and they suffered stonings, mockings, torture and violent deaths (vv. 36–38). Paul himself, who walked closely with God, was shipwrecked, stoned, whipped, left for dead, robbed, jailed and persecuted. He suffered the loss of all things. Why? These were all testings and purgings, the proving of his faith to the glory of God.
God wants to plant something in our hearts through our testings and trials. He wants us to be able to say, “Lord Jesus, you’re my Protector, and I believe you rule over the events of my life. If anything happens to me, it’s only because you allowed it, and I trust your purpose in doing it. Help me understand the lesson you want me to learn from it. If I walk in righteousness and have your joy in my heart, then my living and dying will bring glory to you. I trust that you may have some prepared glory, some eternal purpose that my finite mind doesn’t understand. But either way, I’ll say, ‘Jesus, whether I live or die, I am yours!’”
We can't have New Testament power if we don't walk in New Testament love.
The New Testament church was characterized by exciting miracles and supernatural anointing, but it was not immune to division. The earliest churches suffered splits—not only because of doctrine but
also because of bitter personal disputes.
Even the apostle Paul, who modeled Christian affection and implored his followers to preserve the bond of love, had an unfortunate disagreement with his close colleague, Barnabas, early in their ministry partnership.
The exact nature of their argument is a mystery. We only know that Paul did not want to take John Mark, Barnabas' cousin, on his second missionary journey because the young disciple had deserted the team in Pamphylia. Acts 15:39 says: "And thereoccurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus. (NASB)"
“Many Christians nurse grudges for years; others collect offenses like packrats. Many people are wounded in one church and then move to another—carrying their resentment and bitterness with them.”
We can only speculate about what happened. We know that Mark was Peter's spiritual son (1 Pet. 5:13), and it is possible that Mark took sides with Peter in his awkward controversy with Paul over the practice of Jewish traditions. Whatever the case, Paul went one way from Antioch and Barnabas went another. For at least a season, an effective ministry team was fragmented.
When we piece the entire story together, however, we discover that Paul and Mark eventually reconciled. In the letter to Philemon, Mark is mentioned as part of Paul's team (v. 24). In Colossians 4:10, Paul says of Mark: "If he comes to you, welcome him." And in Paul's last epistle, he tells Timothy: "Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service" (2 Tim. 4:11).
To say that Mark was "useful" was an understatement. After all, it was Mark who, years after he disappointed Paul with his bad behavior, wrote the gospel that bears his name. Most scholars believe Mark based his account on Peter's firsthand experiences with Jesus.
The story of Paul and Mark is a dramatic picture of forgiveness, redemption and second chances. An ugly conflict was resolved. A bitter dispute was reconciled. And a young man's ministry was restored after he made an embarrassing mistake.
This is the way New Testament Christianity is supposed to work. Jesus constantly taught on the primacy of forgiveness, and the early apostles urged their disciples to keep short accounts.
Paul, especially, asked his followers to soak their lives in love. He told the Colossians: "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone... Beyond all these put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Col. 3:12-14).
That is the New Testament's gold standard, but what we practice today falls short. Too often, pastors who parted ways years ago still don't speak to each other. The necessity of forgiveness is rarely preached. Many Christians nurse grudges for years; others collect offenses like packrats. Many people are wounded in one church and then move to another—carrying their resentment and bitterness with them.
What we don't realize is that unresolved conflict can short-circuit the power of God in our lives, and it makes the church weak and irrelevant. Many of us have prayed that the Holy Spirit would unleash a fresh wave of revival in our midst. But perhaps we need to ask these simple questions first:
Am I carrying any personal resentment in my heart toward anyone?
Am I still carrying around baggage from previous conflicts?
Have I judged a person because of their mistakes, and determined in my heart that they can never change? If they are willing to repent, am I willing to release them?
Has my love for people—especially other Christians—become cold, artificial and hypocritical, rather than warm and affectionate? If we want New Testament power, we must also pursue New Testament
love. We cannot expect to reconcile sinners to God if we have not practiced reconciliation with each other.
“The simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3
Simplicity is the secret of seeing things clearly. A saint does not think clearly for a long while, but a saint ought to see clearly without any difficulty. You cannot think a spiritual muddle clear, you have to obey it clear. In intellectual matters you can think things out, but in spiritual matters you will think yourself into cotton wool. If there is something upon which God has put His pressure, obey in that matter, bring your imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ with regard to it and everything will become as clear as daylight. The reasoning capacity comes afterwards, but we never see along that line, we see like children; when we try to be wise we see nothing (Matthew 11:25).
The tiniest thing we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is quite sufficient to account for spiritual muddle, and all the thinking we like to spend on it will never make it clear. Spiritual muddle is only made plain by obedience. Immediately we obey, we discern. This is humiliating, because when we are muddled we know the reason is in the temper of our mind. When the natural power of vision is devoted to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the power of perceiving God’s will and the whole life is kept in simplicity.
It is not our business to repay people for what they do to us. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, even as it is indicated in Deuteronomy 32:35.
Since vengeance belongs to the Lord, we would be presuming to take the Father’s business out of His hands if we tried to repay evil with evil. He takes into full account every injustice done to us, and He Himself will settle the account.
We are to keep on loving with the love with which God has loved us. That love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
When we are misunderstood by others, we need to draw on the Word of the Lord for strength and encouragement.
A passage that Mrs. Epp and I have both found extremely helpful over the years is Psalm 37:5,6: “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.”
From this passage we see that our responsibility is to commit the whole situation to the Lord. If we have been falsely accused, we can count on the fact that God will eventually bring the true situation to light.
I have applied these verses to my life many times, and I know from personal experience that they work. God said it; that’s why it works.
Love and forgiveness returned for the evil done to us will often bring a person to his knees and will “destroy” him as an enemy, but it will not destroy his character.
“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord” (Heb. 10:30).
One night during a prayer meeting, God told me something about our church I was not expecting to hear.
The Lord whispered to me, “This church needs shock treatment! Too many have grown satisfied and complacent. You feel safe and secure from all the winds and waves of false doctrines sweeping over the land—but you are not prepared for what is coming!”
Beloved, the message of having the Spirit’s witness functioning in you is not a request—it is a matter of life and death! If you don’t have the witness of the Holy Ghost in these last days, you’re not going to make it! You’ll give in to the coming spirit of the Antichrist!
You need the Holy Spirit witness every day—on your job, at work, at school. You need to rightly judge politicians and leaders so you’ll not suddenly be sucked into the antichrist system.
This is what Jesus was trying to tell us about the foolish virgins who ran out of oil for their lamps. They had a supply of the Holy Ghost—but they didn’t have his witness at the final moment.
Don’t end up a foolish virgin! If you are running out of oil—trusting your church or your pastor to keep your soul—then repent! Humble yourself and search your heart! Cry out to God to rid your soul of all anger and bitterness.
Confess your sins and forsake them. And depend on God once again for everything!
Get the peace of God in your heart, so you can have a Holy Ghost witness. And ask the Father for a greater enduement of the Spirit. Invite him to be your witness and guide in everything!
We face a cost of going all the way with Jesus, but we also will receive a reward: It is simply the blessing of having Christ stand with us. There are many other rewards as well (see Matthew 19:29), but I mention this one because it is all we will ever need.
When Paul was imprisoned in Jerusalem, the whole religious system wanted to kill him. They accused him of polluting the holy place and preaching false doctrines. His life was in danger; even the soldiers were “fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces” (Acts 23:10). So they took him by force
and locked him away in a castle. The next night the Lord himself spoke to Paul, and what a word he brought: “Cheer up! There’s even more trouble to come!”
The cost of following Christ was clear in the lives of these men of God—and if we are going to be like our Master, then we must embrace this cost as well. Enduring it becomes a joy because Jesus promises to stand with us in every situation. And we can face anything or anyone when we know the Lord stands with
So count the cost and know that your reward, in all things, is the precious presence of Jesus Christ.
(James Smith, “Precious Things from the Everlasting Hills” 1853)
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven” Matthew 6:9
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
Beloved, we have a heavenly Father.
He has adopted us into His family.
He not only wears a father’s name–but he has a father’s heart.
He loves every believer with a father’s love.
He watches over each of His children with a father’s care.
Yes, we have a Father–and He is always near us.
His heart is ever disposed to do us good.
He will not withdraw His eye from us!
He bids us . . .
to cast every care upon Him,
to expect every blessing from Him, and
to carry everything that troubles us, to Him.
Does providence frown on us, perplex, and trouble us? Let us not fret, complain, or forebode–but go and tell Father!
Does Satan tempt, suggest evil thoughts, or endeavor to mislead us? Let us not parley with him, be alarmed at him, or yield to him–but go at once and tell Father!
Everything, whether painful or pleasant–should lead us to our Father in heaven. He loves to listen to our broken prayers. He loves to sympathize with us. He never chides us for coming too often, or refuses to listen to us. Happy child, who has such a Father! And wise is that child–who carries everything to his Father–who tells Him all, keeping nothing from Him. When we carry our cares or our troubles to Him, He says, “Leave them with Me. I will manage them. I will settle them.”
Christian, run to your Father from every foe–and from every danger! Tell your Father everything that vexes, grieves, or troubles you. Trust your Father to manage all your affairs. Honor your Father, by consulting Him on all matters, by confiding to Him all your secrets, and by making His written Word your daily rule on all points.
“The righteous cry, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” With childlike simplicity, filial confidence, and honest hearts–they go and tell their Father!
"I remain strong in faith that God will bring me through," were the only words the Reverend Dr Paul Lewis, the globetrotting Jamaican evangelist embattled by a sex scandal, uttered as he exited the Savanna-la-Mar Resident Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Neatly attired in a three-piece black and grey suit, the pastor seemed calm and composed as he spoke with The Gleaner.
Lewis is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. He is scheduled to return to the Savanna-la-Mar Resident Magistrate's Court on October 19. He is on a $300,000 bail bond.
Prosecutors are alleging that, last June, the evangelist met the 15-year-old at a church convention in Little London, Westmoreland, where he was a guest preacher.
He reportedly exchanged telephone numbers with the girl and, in a subsequent meeting, took her and a 14-year-old female companion with him on a trip to Clarendon.
Questionable hotel stay
On their return to Westmoreland, the girls stayed with him at a Negril hotel. It was during that night that the alleged sexual encounter took place while her companion watched.
Attorney-at-law Keith Bishop said Lewis remains optimistic that he will be absolved of wrongdoing.
"Pastor Lewis is a Christian who believes that his faith will take him through this difficult period and, as his defence counsel, we intend to see this one through and declare his innocence," the lawyer said.
Bishop reiterated the weakness of the case, based on the evidence that was previously presented, and that the matter should have been dismissed long ago.
According to Bishop, it is now in the hands of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Dirk Harrison, who will review the file and make a decision on the future of Lewis' case.
The accused pastor holds a doctorate in divinity and is an ordained minister. He is the founder and president of The Messengers For Christ Ministries World Healing Center, based in New York.
Lewis has authored several books, with his most recent being Walking In The Spirit.
Do you want to go to Heaven? Why wouldn’t you – the Bible says is a beautiful place. Isaiah 65:19 says that in Heaven, the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard no more. It’s a place of love where all Christians will find treasures stored for them.
But everyone sins. There was only one perfect man, and that was Jesus Christ himself. So Christians find themselves fighting a daily battle between succumbing to temptation and sin, which leads to damnation, and living a righteous life, which leads to salvation.
Even the most prominent Christians get it wrong. One example is Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple. His now ex-wife Gizelle accused him of adultery, cruel treatment and "excessively vicious conduct" in her 2008 divorce filling.
Another example is Georgia mega-church pastor Bishop Eddie Long. Four men have recently accused him of forcing them into sexual relationships when they were teenagers.
Christians should avoid vilifying those who sin, no matter who commits the sin, and no matter what the sin is. Jesus’ last act on Earth was to usher a sinner into Heaven while leaving an evil man to his own eternal fate. In Luke 23:39-43, Jesus speaks with two criminals who were crucified with him, one on each side. The first mocked him, challenged his deity and dared him to escape the cross. The second defended him, believing in his divinity and asking to be remembered in Heaven. “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus said to him.
Pastor Bryant and Pastor Long may have sinned. Pastor Long may indeed be homosexual. But their faith in Christ and Christ’s mercy will pave a way for them to enter Heaven. Christians, let’s love these men as Christ loves us.
European Commission to investigate exemption allowing the Vatican to avoid paying £2bn a year levy on 100,000 properties
By Michael Day in Milan
Thursday, 14 October 2010
Eight billion euros worth of tax breaks pocketed by the Catholic Church in Italy could be in breach of European law and may have to be repaid, it has emerged.
The development is the latest blow to an institution that has been rocked by an annus horribilis following the global clerical paedophilia scandal that broke earlier this year, and investigations into money laundering.
The European Commission has said that tax relief on 100,000 Italian properties enjoyed by the Holy See since 2005 was under the spotlight, after announcing an "in-depth" investigation.
A spokesperson for Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the EC suspected the exemption amounted to state aid that was at odds with European Union law.
"These exemptions may distort competition," he said. "Thus far, Italian authorities have not provided sufficient evidence to enable the Commission to conclude that the contested measures are justified by the principles of the Italian tax system".
The crux is whether the EC decides Church-run businesses should really be considered as commercial enterprises and therefore liable to taxation.
The Church was exempted from paying the tax, known as ICI in 2005 by a centre-right government under the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The conservative premier is now back in power after re-election in 2008.
When the 2005 rules were introduced, humanist and secularist organisations claimed it was "unfair help" and breached the principle of division between church and state.
The EU initially questioned the ICI exemption in 2005, which resulted in the measure being modified a year later by the then centre-left government of Romano Prodi. The EC twice shelved the case, first in 2008 and again this year. News agency Ansa reported that its decision to reopen the case now was made after the Radical Party filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice.
If Italy is found to have violated EU subsidy laws, it will have to cancel the exemption and seek reimbursement from the church. If that happened, the financial consequences for the Catholic Church would be grave.
Estimates value the Vatican's property tax breaks at €2bn (£1.75bn) a year. No one from the Vatican was available to comment on the EC probe. However, a statement by the Italian foreign ministry said: "The Italian government is convinced that it can demonstrate to the EC in a clear and definitive manner the good reasons that justify the current regulations, which do not violate EU rules on state help in favour of the church."
The church currently avoids paying tax on about 100,000 non-commercial properties including 8,779 schools, 26,300 ecclesiastical structures and 4,714 hospitals and clinics.
According to a Yahoo news report yesterday, City Harvest Church (CHC) will be setting up an independent advisory committee to ensure greater accountability and transparency in its governance.
Senior Pastor Kong Hee made the announcement during four services on 25 and 26 September, said City News Weekly, a Christian publication distributed in CHC.
“If there is anything I’ve learned through the process of this investigation, it is the need for a greater level of accountability and governance in the operations of City Harvest Church,” Pastor Kong said.
The committee will be chaired by a former Wall Street banker A R Bernard.
Pastor Kong, his wife pop singer Sun Ho and other members of CHC was hauled for investigations by the police following complaints made to the Commissioner of Charities on the misuse of church funds.
The investigation is currently ongoing. Pastor Kong has since resumed his usual preaching services at CHC.
Founded in 1987 by Pastor Kong, City Harvest Church has grown over the years to become the biggest mega-church in Singapore with a congregation exceeding 33,000.
Recently, after reading the account of this historic meeting between David and Goliath, I was struck by the significance of it's message concerning the end time period that we are entering into.
Far more than a children's story, this account speaks of the collision of two kingdoms. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
There are a number of times in the Scriptures that we witness such a dramatic encounter between these two kingdoms. We may think of the time of Moses and the exodus from Egypt, the plagues and the Red Sea. We may think of Joshua and Jericho - or Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Then of course there is the Lord Jesus Himself and the many occasions of His demonstrating the kingdom.
We are coming to a time when we shall witness another great collison between God's kingdom and Satan's. No doubt it shall be as great, if not greater than all the others that have preceded it. And it shall be a time when once again, God displays His all-surpassing greatness and dominion over Satan.
To this end our spirit's cry, 'Come Lord Jesus'.
As we read in 1 Sam. 17 of the battle between David and Goliath we can first of all see that there are three principal characters which may represent three different peoples.
Firstly there is Goliath and the Philistines. They represent the world, or more specifically unredeemed,
rebellious man. There is something about them which may be encompassed by the term, 'The spirit of this
There they stand, full of defiance and mockery. Wilfully and arrogantly railing accusations upon God
and His people. They represent man, in the fullness of self power and self glory.
We may notice in the description of Goliath that there is reference to the number six. The number of man. He was six cubits in height, he had six pieces of armour, and his spearhead weighed six hundred shekels.
We could say that he represents everything that the term 'anti-christ' may speak of, as he stands there
mocking all that is of God and calling God's people into battle.
As we look out out upon the world today we can see Goliath readying himself again. We can hear the
challenges ringing out saying, 'Where is your God' and the accusations pouring forth to belittle the church and call her to war. This has always been the very essence of that antichrist spirit.
The second character in this story is King Saul and his army. This group represent the people of God, but
they are the people of God under the dominion of the flesh.
They are a defeated company. They stand there facing Goliath, fearful, intimidated and without anointing or strength from God.
We may ask, 'Why is this?.. How can it be?'
How can the people of God find themselves in this kind of a situation and such a condition? The answer is, that although they are the people of God they are still ruled and controlled by the spirit of this world. They are under the dominion of King Saul - the flesh.
Let us take a look at them.
They stand there in all their wordly armour. They are fitted out with everything that the world counts for
something. They have their horses and chariots and weapons of flesh - and of course they have their king
who stands so tall above the rest. They look just like all the other nations in so many ways.
I cannot help wondering how many of our denominations and church organisations are just like the armies of Saul. They are full of the ways of the world and their strength comes from money, organisation, and the power of the flesh. We see in them the same spirit of this world that promotes itself with gimmicks, sales techniques and all manner of human ability.
There is also another characteristic that is common to the Saul church. That is, disobedience to the word of the Lord.
King Saul cared more for the outward appearances of success and power than for obedience to God's word. He would obey God as long as it suited him and as long as it didn't threaten his own ambitions and desires to be successful in the eyes of the people.
It is the same today in the denominations. Success power and outward appearances are the most important considerations. God's will and His purposes are often compromised for the sake of human interest and human traditions.
For that reason they will stand alone on that day that Goliath confronts them. They will discover that Goliath is far stronger in terms of this world than they are themselves, and they will realise that they are no match for him.
How frightening it will be on that day... although today they are so full of their own strength and hypnotised by their own praises and positive confessions.
Thank God there is a third group in this story. It is the group that is characterised by David.
Yes, David was one of the people of God. But he wasn't a part of Saul's army. In the same way today
there is a third group. Tbey are scattered around. They have no special organisation or place to call their own. Yet they have two distinguishing characteristics that set them apart;
They have a heart after God and... they are not of King Saul.
This David company, like David of old, is small, insignificant, unimpressive and unimportant. Yet God's
hand is upon them.
David was out in the wilderness tending his sheep when the call came to enter into the battle lines. He was doing that which God has placed in his care - even though it was insignificant and outwardly of little
David knew nothing of Saul's ways. He hadn't been in any of Saul's training schools. He didn't know how to even polish his armour let alone wear it into battle...
But this is God's way. He always takes the lowly things, the foolish things, and the things that are not,
to bring to nothing the things that are.
Likewise God is preparing a people today. They are nothing now. Some have left denominations, some are still amongst them wondering why it is that they no longer feel a part of it all any more. They can no
longer get excited by the latest seminar or out-reach. Instead they sigh and groan at the lack of God's
presence in the church, and they are grieved by the way human power has filled the gap.
When David arrived on the scene, he had no organisation backing him. There were no credentials or
any such thing. There was only the anointing. God knew where He wanted David to be. God brought
things together as He always does.... in the fullness of time.
David could stand before Goliath because God was with him. Nothing more and nothing less. His spirit was stirred against this monster. David was not afraid. He knew that there was one far greater who was standing with him.
When David spoke to Goliath to challenge him, it was not so much David speaking as God Himself speaking.
When David took the stone and placed it in his sling, again it was God choosing and preparing.
When David sent his stone flying toward it's mark.. it was God guiding it to just the right place.
Such is the way with all true ministry. It is God in man doing the work and bringing forth the fruit.
God desires a people who are dead to man's ways... He is preparing a people who will wait for Him, and
move as He moves them, and who will work according to His power that works in them mightily.
It may take Him a long time to get a man or woman to that place... yet God has time.
That day is coming when that great conflict will arrive. Which company will we be a part of? Will it be
Goliath's? or King Saul's?... or will it be David's?
It may be hard to say right now, but the day will declare it. Nothing is surer... That day will declare it...
For then we shall find ourselves in the place that our hearts have chosen.
Let us call upon the Lord today, while it is still today... asking Him to change our hearts and take us
into that David company. May we seek to learn to walk with God and be faithful unto all that He may call us to do. May we learn the ways of humility and be satisfied with simply living before Him each day. May we also be careful to remain free from the ways of King Saul.
Praise God for His all-surpassing greatness and glory.
SOURCE - Hadyn Olsen, Private Bag, Lake Rotoma, Rotorua
Region, New Zealand.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore. NIV
Those beautiful words of the psalmist picture two things of which the world today knows very little. They picture stability and security. The world craves those two things and seeks them in various ways but
does not ever find them in a true or abiding form. But there is a place of stability and security. It's described there: "Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion which cannot be shaken but endures forever." That is stability, that is security.
And in the next verse the psalmist gives the beautiful picture of how the Lord provides both stability and security for His people: "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore." If you have ever journeyed to Jerusalem no matter if you go from the north, south, east or west, one thing is very sure, to come to the city of Jerusalem you have to pass through the mountains for they surround Jerusalem on all sides.
The psalmist says, "Just as the mountains surround and protect the city of Jerusalem, so the Lord with His own personal presence surrounds and protects His people." No evil can come to us that does not pass through the Lord, for He surrounds those who trust in Him just as the mountains surround Jerusalem. He gives them true stability and security. - Derek Prince
Last Saturday, when I heard the news that one particular Christian brother took his own life, I was of course saddened and I thought to myself, "The Church is in trouble.". By Church I mean the Body of Christ - believers in the Christian faith; not the denomination you are in, nor the building you go to every Sunday to worship God. So, to avoid confusion, from now on I'm going to refer to the Christian brother/sisterhood as the Body of Christ.
A few days later, I learnt from another Christian brother that there were actually two suicides within a matter of a few days - in less than a week. Now I'm saying, "The Body of Christ is really in trouble!".
That last Saturday, I was at a men's fellowship. You know, those kind of meetings where only men are allowed to attend. To my pleasant surprise, I saw a handful of ladies in our midst. Later, our National President, coincidentally, (but not by chance but by the hand of God), mentioned in his way that the Body of Christ is not well. Many Christian couples he knows are getting divorced. Husbands suing wives and wives suing husbands for divorce. Therefore, in a major move to foster better relationships between the members and their wives, the fellowship is allowing the wives to participate. And I thought, that's a very positive step. Other future positive steps will be taken to improve the members' financial standing, business, health and spiritual life. It can clearly be seen that this new National President has got vision.
Now, let's get back to the Body of Christ. Christ being the Head, leaves the rest of us as members (parts) of the Body. To cut a long story short, we are all equal; we live for the other; we are to use our gifts given by God to edify the other members of the Body. There's only one Shepherd - the Good Shepherd i.e. JESUS CHRIST. The rest of us are sheep - His sheep. There's no such thing as stealing sheep as the sheep don't belong to us. We belong to Him - JESUS CHRIST.
What's my point? Since our Head is JESUS CHRIST and He is God and the Bible tells us that God is Love, we are to be motivated by love because we are the Body of Christ, who is Love. JESUS tells us the following 2 things in the Scriptures. 1 - "If you love Me, keep My commandments." 2 - "A new commandment I give to you that you love one another just as I love you." But the Bible also tells us that in the last days, love will grow cold. Still, God has a remnant that will carry out God's will in these last days.
If believers don't do as JESUS commands (i.e. love one another), the Body of Christ will become weaker as the days go by. But I believe His sheep who hears their Master's voice will repent and do something positive. No need to point fingers, or complain or object. Just love one another. Find a brother or sister who is in need and help him/her in any small way. Become a friend. Forget about the rich ones as they will be taken care of by others. Go for the poor ones who can't repay you. Be his/her friend and let him know that JESUS truly lives in you.
Start loving the way JESUS wants you to and strengthen the Body of Christ. If you agree with me, it would be good if you reply to my email. Maybe in future, we can work together in a bigger way to help the poor (in any way) and unloved brother/sister-in-Christ. And if you really want to do your part but don't know how, let me know. I have a few tips for you.
Lastly, if you agree with me, perhaps you may want to send this email to someone-in-Christ to encourage the person to love.
The strange foods I've eaten on the mission field remind me that Jesus crosses all cultural barriers.
Would you drink a frog smoothie? Would you eat a piping hot bowl of monkey stew with a side of fried ants? I didn't try these popular delicacies when I was in Peru last week. I stuck with the grilled cuy, better known as guinea pig. It is actually quite tasty, as long as you don't think about the fact that you are eating a rodent.
Ever since God showed the Apostle Peter it was OK to eat unclean meats (see Acts 10:9-16), Christian missionaries have faced amazing gastronomical challenges when venturing into new cultures. After a Peruvian friend promised to fix me some sopa de mono (monkey soup) when I return to the jungle city of Tarapoto, I asked friends on Facebook to list the strangest foods they'd eaten on the mission field. Here are some of the dishes mentioned, and where they are served:
"Have you renounced all fear of people who aren't like you? ... Is your distaste for another culture—even its food—blocking the flow of God's compassion in your heart?"
(1) Grilled dog in Honduras; (2) monkey brains, served raw in Indonesia; (3) goat head in Haiti; (4) cockroaches in Thailand; (5) termite larvae in goat's milk, in Central America; (6) field rat in the Philippines; (7) stewed wildcat in Honduras; (8) grasshoppers in Mexico; (9) boiled ant larvae in Thailand; and (10) mice-on-a-stick in Malawi.
And everybody said: "EEEUUUWWW!"
I don't claim to be that adventurous when it comes to food. I passed up the chicken heads, chicken feet and fried snake in Zengcheng, China, a few years ago, as well as the muktuk (whale skin and blubber soaked in fish oil) in Alaska. But I sampled cow udder in Colombia (way too much fat) and giant black snail in Nigeria. (Too rubbery—it tasted like an old tire!)
Whenever I learn about a strange new food in another country, I think about the Apostle Peter's sensitive stomach. He was raised in a kosher Jewish home with a kosher Jewish mother. He had never tasted bacon, pork chops, fried shrimp, lobster or any other Gentile foods.
Then, during his sojourn in Joppa, the Holy Spirit put Peter in a trance and showed him a vision of a giant tablecloth coming down from the sky—a sheet full of "four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air" (v. 12, NASB). It was like Peter's own private screening of Fear Factor.
He must have become especially alarmed when a voice said, not once but three times, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat! What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (v. 13, 15). This directive led him to the house of Cornelius, an Italian guy living in Caesarea who had adopted the Jewish religion but certainly wasn't kosher in his upbringing.
What happened when Peter preached to Cornelius' family is one of my favorite scenes in the Bible. The Holy Spirit fell on a crowd of Italian immigrants—and they began to speak in tongues just like the disciples did on the day of Pentecost! This extravagant display of God's love convinces Peter that the Holy Spirit doesn't care about skin color, foreign accents, clothing styles or what foods we eat.
Ever since Peter bravely crossed that threshold into Cornelius' house and broke the barrier between Jew and Gentile, Christian missionaries have been crossing barriers of race, language and culture to take a globally relevant message of the Savior's love to everybody. Sometimes it costs them their lives. More often, they get lice or dysentery. And usually they have to eat strange foods.
This is the missionary spirit that Jesus wants to pour into each of us.
God may not choose to send you to the other side of the world to preach, and He may not require you to eat monkey soup, frog smoothies or mice-on-a-stick. But He does want to make you a cross-cultural missionary, even if it is in your own backyard.
Are you willing to go to the house of Cornelius? Have you renounced all fear of people who aren't like you? Have you become so safe and comfortable in your own culture that you look down on others? Is your distaste for another culture—even its food—blocking the flow of God's compassion in your heart?
I'm praying that the Holy Ghost will freshly baptize us in the same zeal that compelled a kosher Jewish disciple like Peter to face his cultural prejudices. No matter what our backgrounds, one day we will all sit down to the marriage feast of the Lamb—and the food on that menu will be heavenly.
We have spoken a bit in the past about "false" angels - 'Emma' the glittering female angel and the like. But are there true angels bringing messages from the Lord for His people today like in the Bible? If so, what kind of messages would they be? One thing we see in Scripture is that when true angels came, they were "holy" messengers from the very presence of God. People often fell on their face because of this holy presence of the Lord. And of course the content of the messages was biblical and holy also.
Last week someone posted an account of a real "angelic visitation" on our website. At least it had the ring of authenticity about it. I believe the message it contains is important enough to risk sending it out - despite a possible "backlash". Below are two accounts of this exact same event. I would be interested in your responses, my friends.
(1) THREE ANGELS With THREE MESSAGES by Randy Ailie.
There is a huge crisis coming that is going to purge the system. We as leaders need to recognize and address this. He is promising to visit his church in a way we have never seen before.
A few years back I was in a meeting with other well known leaders to pray about what the Lord wanted us to hear. 3 angels visited us. This was witnessed by everyone there! They spoke to us concerning this coming visitation and what we had to do to prepare for this... it left an indelible mark on almost everyone there for years now. Most of us walked around in stunned silence with bouts of crying for months.
They told us to shun or stay away from the big things that were being promoted by the church. They talked to us directly about spending quiet intimate time with Him, alone!... This intimacy is the foundation of everything, and the hardest! The second Angel talked to us about the Lord bringing his Holiness back to the church. And the third talked to us about the Lord himself bringing the very Terror of God back to the church. This has left an indelible mark on me. The entire church as we know it in every form and manner has departed from these thoughts...
The third angel was (I am fighting tears here) standing as a flame of fire. Just fresh out of the very presence of God. I do not know how to explain or even try to use words here describing this, it
seems outside of my scope of words. He was overwhelming in his appearance. He was the one telling us about the coming of the terror of the Lord in his visitation on His church. I guess the Lord wanted to make a point. I try not to spend much time thinking of this, it kind of freaks me out. It is an unspeakable flashlight into my existence and leaves me in a true state of awe in every sense of the word. My perception of who God is has now and forever been unalterably changed. Especially by this one.
(2) "THE MEETING" - Published May 2nd, 2007 by Maurice Smith.
The following took place at a recent house church gathering... I will only say that I know and trust the people involved, people not given to "pushing the envelope" or "flights of fancy". The meeting lasted
approximately four hours. What I am about to relate began roughly an hour into the gathering. According to half of the people who were present and actually witnessed this, three angels appeared, each
bearing a specific message.
The First Angel
According to those present who witnessed this, the first angel was clothed in crimson and purple and had a regal nature about him. His message, as recorded by one person present, was as follows:
"This is what the spirit has to say to the 1st Church: Listen! The 1st angel of the church first established in the Lord says this. Repent, for my heart is broken, for I have broken the staff of correction over the backs of my sheep who long for different pastures and whose heart is fat on that which is not holy, for I will now let them pursue their own lusts and (I will now) stand out of the way!"
The Second Angel
According to those who witnessed this, the second angel was clothed humbly and "non-descriptly" with simple robes. His message was as follows:
"The 2nd angel has to say in a still small voice, be quiet, for only those who seek to drink from the still small brook and who are not afraid of persecution, who love the Lord more than life and thirst not for the glory and the big things that profit only the flesh, who hunger for intimacy, shall enter in! For in such is true power found - in the quiet clearings where the River of God’s brook quietly murmurs shall peace and purpose be found. Clothe yourselves in humility, for I shall be found there in peace and tranquility!"
The Third Angel.
"When the 3rd angel approached me I trembled in fear (!) for he is an all consuming fire. His eyes are ablaze with God’s glory and his robes are a burning furnace - for he is fresh from the Lord’s Presence, shrouded with His glory and holiness! And his presence is a terrible thing, for he has to say:
‘Go tell my people to Repent, for they have lost their fear of the Lord, they no longer desire to hear what He truly has to say (It will cost you everything!). Holiness - Holiness - Holiness. Be Holy, for I am holy! Tremble in fear for I am coming!’"
The people involved in this meeting/visitation were deeply affected both then and for several days afterwards... One of them called me on the verge of tears, "I’ve been pondering this all day. Maurice,
what does this mean?" Good question. I believe it means several things, and I want to try and summarize what I think is happening...
God is still calling His people to repentance (two of the three angelic messages contained exhortations to repent)... but they have resisted the "staff of correction" and so He is preparing to send them one of the worst forms of judgment; He is going to stand aside and let them have their own way: "I will now let them pursue their own lusts and (I will now) stand out of the way!" It is a terrible day when God gives us over to the lusts and desires of our own heart...
We are entering a season of divine visitation and God is driving a stake in the ground (one of those "Remember this day!" moments). He is calling His Church back to repentance, to intimacy and to holiness. These three messages are not new. We’ve heard them before... repentance, intimacy and holiness.
When the children of Israel were going through testing, were they really supposed to express gratitude and thanksgiving in the midst of it? When they were surrounded and in a hopeless situation, did God really expect them to have that kind of reaction?
Yes—absolutely! That was the secret to getting out of their difficulty. You see, God wants something from all of us in our times of overwhelming troubles and testings. He wants us to offer him a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the midst of it all!
I believe James had discovered this secret when he admonished, “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations…” (James 1:2). He was saying, “Don’t give up! Make an altar in your heart, and offer up joyous
thanksgiving in the midst of your trials.”
Of course the children of Israel did offer the Lord praise and thanksgiving—but they did it on the wrong side of the Red Sea! Yes, the people rejoiced all night—but God had no pleasure in it. Anybody can shout in
gratitude after the victory comes. But the question God was putting to Israel was, “Will you praise me before I send help—while you’re still in the midst of the battle?”
I believe if Israel had rejoiced on the “trial side” of the Red Sea, they wouldn’t have had to be tested again at the waters of Marah. Had they passed the Red Sea test, the waters at Marah wouldn’t have tasted bitter, but sweet. And Israel would have seen water springing up everywhere in the desert, rather than having to go thirsty.
God help us to sing the right song on the testing side of trials. This brings the highest delight to our heavenly Father.
Are you right now going through a most difficult time? Then sing! Praise! Say to the Lord, “You can do it—you delivered me before, you can deliver me now. I rest in joy.”
Jerusalem is built as a city that is closely compacted together; to which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord a testimony for Israel to give thanks to the name of the LORD. For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. NIV, NAS, KJV
We see that God's people are ordained by Him to come to a place where thrones are set, thrones for judgment, because God's people are ordained to be His rulers in the world today, to sit with Him on the throne of judgment and to rule the nations on His behalf. But the only place where God's people can take their rightful place on those thrones is the place in which they come together in unity to worship the same Lord.
So the exercise of authority by God's people depends upon our coming together. As long as we remain separate, as long as we hold ourselves apart, keeping to ourselves each in our little tribe, our little gathering, our little sect, without meeting together, we cannot exercise the authority that God has appointed for us. The authority depends on coming together. As we come together, we testify collectively that we worship the same God, the same Lord Jesus Christ, and as we make that testimony we have the right to take our place with God and with Jesus Christ upon the thrones of judgment, to stretch forth the rod of authority which has upon it the name of Jesus and to exercise divine authority and divine judgment on God's behalf.
But only as we come together in unity. - Derek Prince
The following vision is probably one of the most well-known that has ever come out of my home nation of New Zealand. It is a key vision that has been acknowledged and read around the world. This vision was given to Wayne Thomas late in 1993. He told me that it was probably the most powerful he had ever seen.
VISION of THE BRIDE LEAVING CHRISTENDOM
Basically, it was a traditional wedding scene. The radiantly beautiful Bride had just stepped out of the Cathedral and was standing on the top step, just outside. Wayne was told that the Bride was LEAVING 'CHRISTENDOM' (AND ALL THAT GOES WITH IT) FOREVER, leaving the 'church' system behind. The Groom (who was Jesus) took her arm, so that He could lead her down and proudly display His beautiful Bride to all the world.
Still inside the Cathedral were all the relatives (-the various 'streams' and denominations of the church as we know it?) Suddenly, while the Bride was still on the top step, an invisible hand gave her a beautiful lily (which had been plucked out by the roots). This was her bridal 'bouquet' (an "end-time" enduement?) and for some reason it seemed to be given to her rather late. She threw this bouquet backwards, and some of her relatives in the church, who had been watching her with great jealousy and awe, made a grab for the bouquet. Two of them seemed to snatch it up, but there was a lot of squabbling and pushing amongst them - fighting to be somehow near the Bride or to grab the bouquet. The Groom then led His Bride down the steps and through the huge crowd of cheering people below, who had been unable to get into the Cathedral.
In a later vision, Wayne was shown that after they had made their way through this huge throng, the happy couple were then taken away on their honeymoon, which was to last for a thousand years.
Wayne later made the following comments about this vision:
"The Lord emphasized these things to me:- That the Bride is so in love with the Groom - and the fact that she is pure and holy, and the problems of life are far behind her in this time frame. The crowds outside see this intimate love between the two, and that no burden in life stops her from expressing this love. She leaves the guests behind to squabble over the bouquet, and her desire to share this love with the crowd outside is very evident.
"The fighting wedding guests are those within the church who in their hearts are ambitious for titles to impress the body and are caught up seeking the gifts (bouquet anointings) and not the giver. They are involved in grand schemes and politics within the church - and they love 'comfort'. They are those who get close to the Truth but do not want to live the truth.
"The Bride - leaving the guests behind - is made up of Christians seeking truth in Jesus alone, no matter the cost, leaving compromise behind and seeking Jesus first before the praises of men."
ANDREW AGAIN: There are some quite shocking implications to this vision, but it lines up with so much that God has spoken along similar lines in recent years - ie. GREAT REFORMATION - not just Revival. What are we to make of this - that the BRIDE Will LEAVE the "CHURCH SYSTEM" FOREVER??
Does it line up with Scripture? Does it make sense? Is it possible?
The Book of Acts Revival, the Wesley and Whitefield Revivals, the Cane Ridge Revival, the Early Salvation Army Revivals, and of course Jesus' own ministry in the first place - these were all massive "outdoor" moves of God. Could it be that they are pointing the way to what we are about to witness in our own generation?