Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Good News of Salvation!

The prophet Isaiah clearly knew who the Messiah would be 800 years before He was born! Isaiah’s heart must have leapt for joy when he began writing those words of the coming Savior. Isaiah lived in Jerusalem almost 800 years before Jesus’ birth. He was just an ordinary Jewish man. Isaiah was married, had two sons and worked as an official for King Uzziah during his early years; however, later he was called by God to be a prophet and he obeyed that calling.

On a morning 2000 years ago, the Jewish men assembled at the synagogue in northern Israel, and one of Isaiah’s prophecies was read out loud to everyone by Jesus. Jesus selected Isaiah 61 to launch His public ministry and to announce that He was the Messiah. The Jews knew that God’s long-awaited chosen One would preach good tidings to the poor, heal the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and to those who are oppressed, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’s favor. (Is. 61:1, 2)

While all people would benefit from this ministry, the gospel was, and still is, the good news to the poor. “So he came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Then He closed the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

God used ordinary people like Isaiah 2800 years ago! And today, God wants to use people like you, to proclaim His word and His prophecies about the Messiah to the unsaved.

Why not yield yourselves to the Spirit of the Lord, and let Him use you in the upcoming New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

January Thaw

As Linda and I prepare for our sabbatical month in January, we look forward to the time of relaxation and change of pace from our busy routine. I am so thankful to have a staff who handles all the church affairs so efficiently. Josiah Hodgett is a qualified young minister who will speak next Sunday with the end of the year message.

Pastor Reg Myers will be ministering a series of messages on “The Grace of God” during the first three Sundays of January before we return. He has been praying and preparing these messages diligently and the Holy Spirit’s anointing is upon him.

Power of God’s Presence in 2015

We are asking God for life-changing revival to break upon this church body and upon the churches in America in this New Year. A spiritual awakening to God’s presence in His people is genuinely needed that will bring an authentic harvest of souls.

We cannot generate revival by any efforts of our flesh. We cannot depend on any man or personality to generate a spiritual revival. The prophet Zechariah said that the rebuilding of the temple in the Old Testament couldn’t even be accomplished by the force of an army, nor through the muscular power or physical stamina of the workman; rather it must be accomplished by the empowering of the Spirit of God! The word of the Lord was “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

The only part in revival that we as God’s people have is that of prayer intercession and brokenness before the Lord. God will do the rest. The greatest sacrifice that God delights in is the sacrifice of a broken (humble) spirit. Psalm 51:17  “A broken and contrite heart...these, O God, you will not despise.”

When high-mindedness, pride, intellect, and self-reliance is taken away, than God can release His power and glory and pour out His Spirit upon us in a fresh new way!

What can we do? We can begin to humble ourselves by fasting and prayer and begin to place spiritual things ahead of natural things. Ask God for revival in your own heart. Let His presence come in and give you more passion for His presence so He can increase your expectations and faith for revival.

God’s power is for healing, restoring, and saving impossible situations. And I think you would agree that needs to happen!

Let’s believe in 2015! I’m excited for the New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peace That Passes Understanding!

“and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Christmas time of year can all too often become a time of overwhelming busyness and nagging anxiety for so many of us. It can almost become an undeclared war between what is supposed to be the most joyous season versus the devil trying his best to access our minds and emotions with impatience, anxiety and frustration.

Hey! Christmas is not about the wiles of the devil invading people’s minds and emotions. Christmas is about the peace and joy that Christ brings to our hearts. He brings us a “peace that passes all understanding.”

All of the compound words that form this one verse in Philippians 4:7 implies that God’s peace completely outshines every other attempt to produce peace and that there is absolutely nothing in the world that can compare with the peace of God. It is a peace that “shall keep your hearts and minds…..”

God’s peace, if allowed to work in our lives, will stand at the gates of our hearts and minds, and will act like a “guard” to control and monitor everything that tries to enter our hearts, minds, and emotions.

The peace of God keeps us from being thrown into a frenzy of panic and anxiety. The peace of God operating in us dominates our minds and our life. When God’s peace is active in your life, it surpasses all natural understanding. It protects, guards, keeps, and defends you.

Nothing compares to this supernatural, powerful, protective, guarding peace that God has positioned to stand at the entrance of your heart and mind!

So, make sure that Philippians 4:7 is a reality in your life today and every day! Let God’s supernatural peace rise up to dominate your heart and protect your mind and emotions.

A personal prayer: “Lord, I thank you for placing your wonderful, powerful, protective peace in my life. Because what is inside me is what rules me, I choose to let this peace rise up and conquer me. With your peace standing at the gate of my mind, the devil cannot attack my emotions with panic or frenzy. Thank you for loving me enough to put this powerful peace in my life! In Jesus’ Name!”

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

God Is A Good God!

I have often heard people ask the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

There is an interesting verse in Ecclesiastes 7:14 from the New Living Translation. “Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.”  Christians are not immune from facing hardships in life. The Psalmist wrote: “Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God?”

“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” Psalms 71:19-21 (NLT)

Whatever suffering God permits us to experience He will always compensate us with His overwhelming goodness and love and restore us back to life and normalcy again. Whether we experience times of prosperity or times of hardship and adversity, it is so important to remember that God is good at all times and that we walk in humility and thankfulness before Him.

“God’s way is perfect—His word has been proven true—He is a shield to those who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30

“It is God that girds us with strength and makes our way perfect.” Psalm 18:32

Our journey in this life is a walk of faith. We cannot be certain of only good times in life. But we can be certain that God will remain good to us and that He will always be there to help us when we face adversity.  The Psalmist David faced many enemies who tried to destroy his life. But God delivered him from their hand. He described the Lord as “his rock.” (Psalm 18:31) He took his refuge in the Lord and noted that God was his “shield of defense” (18:30)  The entire 18th chapter of Psalms is full of praise and rejoicing for the mercies that God had shown toward David. Sometimes we have to recount some past victories and express gratitude toward God for them just to build up our faith.

Never Speak Foolishly!
We remember that a man named Job in the Bible was tested severely for his integrity and faith. When his wife told him to curse God and die, Job did not grant her wish. Job said to her, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Job expressed his faith in God while in deep adversity. God rewarded him with deliverance and restoration because he did not turn away from God.

Remember: The goodness of God will always provide the strength and grace to endure at all times.

Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

And Be Ye Thankful

Thanksgiving season releases something from within us that too often remains inactive throughout the rest of the year. It’s called a thankful spirit, a thankful heart, an attitude of gratitude. Scripture says to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are called in one body; and be ye thankful”. (Colossians 3:15) We should be reminded that true thanksgiving is an act of being more than it is just an expression of words.

I believe that peace and thankfulness originate in the true peace that Christ alone can give us. When His peace rules in our hearts it will manifest the fruit of thankfulness. The heart that is ruled by God’s peace is not controlled by bitterness, anger, nor un-thankfulness. The peace of God rules the heart with a thankful spirit. 

I remember when Gene Krantz served in this church for several years until he married and moved to another congregation. Gene had an encounter with Christ that brought him a real freedom from the power of sin and the world that had controlled his life. He had found peace with God and gained real love and acceptance with our church family.

Gene was such a grateful man and gave himself to serve wherever he could help in the church. Gene also discovered that he could use his slight raspy voice to sing in the church. The song most remembered by this congregation which Gene sang with such a deep emotion was the song “Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed”. It broke us all up. He sang it with his whole heart. The peace that he had with Jesus shined through his own heart of thankfulness.

When Gene was killed in a car accident I felt an extra loss for a man who had shown to me and to all who knew him that our lives are not measured or remembered by our abilities or giftings. We are remembered for our attitude of gratitude and for the heart of thankfulness.

A thankful heart is the result of having true peace with God. A thankful heart is an expression of how good God is to you. It is a show of appreciation for a blessed life which comes from Gods’ goodness. God is good! His mercies are everlasting! Remembering his goodness will remind you of your own thankfulness. At all times -“be ye thankful”.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let it Snow!

What do “faith” and “snow” have in common? There are many places where “snow” is mentioned in the Bible but one in particular is mentioned in a positive way. It says in Isaiah 55:10, 11, that “as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void (empty, without fruit), but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

“Snow” is used here as a metaphor for the spreading of God’s Word. When I saw this I began to change my attitude toward snow as I realize that God’s purpose for sending us snow is to water the earth so that it will provide both seed and bread. So snow really is beneficial and useful! I can live with that.

Just as snow comes from heaven, so does God’s word come from His mouth. And just as snow does not return back to heaven, neither does God’s word return to Him empty. Just as snow brings forth fruit from the earth, so does God’s word prosper wherever He sends it. So, what does “snow” and “faith” have in common? Snow gives seed to bring bread to the eater. Bread symbolizes the “staff of life.” God’s word produces “faith” to believe for salvation and growth in the believers life. Jesus describes the word as “seed” in Luke 8:11. All increase of life within His love comes by His Word, and when received, God’s Word of promise will never be barren. The power in His Word will always fulfil the promise of His Word. We will realize fruitfulness as our faith develops. Faith comes by “hearing” God’s Word. Romans 10:17

Just as snow becomes water for the earth to produce fruitfulness, God’s word has life-power within itself to bring fruitfulness into our lives. God’s word is never barren or fruitless. “It shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11

Good things do come from the snow. God planned it that way. From the good start we have for amounts this winter we can presume for a fruitful year of growth this next spring! Someone said “faith is an adventure in acceptance!” If we accept God’s plan for a snowy winter, we can be assured that we will prosper both in the land as well as in our lives. “Let it Snow!”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No Dark Pews!

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” Acts 13:47

There is a church in England that has no lights, Many people who visit the church are shocked that the architect left out something as important as overhead lighting. But the architect had a plan. The various families who regularly attend the church are given their own pew, as well as a lamp and a book. When a family comes to church, their lamp is lit. If they are not in church, the pew is dark.

What difference can one darkened pew make? Not much you might think. But what if several pews are lacking lamps? Then the whole church would be affected. It’s obvious. If all are present and in their pews, the church is alive with light. If not, the place becomes dark.

What a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ! If any one of us is not using the gifts God has given, there will be darkness; but as we use our gifts, the whole body will be full of light. This is how intimately we are linked one with another. That’s why the Lord made it a command - “He has made us a light in order to shine for the sake of others.”

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

Help me to know, Lord, what it means to be part of Your body, to function with others for the good of all and the glory of the Son. Help me to understand my place in the body, including my responsibility to brothers and sisters around me. Help me to realize that my role, no matter how small, is significant. Shine through me, Lord, so that the lives of my friends and family will be brightened.

-Taken from Joni & Friends Daily Devotional

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

They Fought For You!!

For God and Country! Today we take a few moments to recognize and honor the millions of men and women from our nation who have served in the military.

Veteran’s Day is this Tuesday which is a day set aside to remember all of our veterans and their families for the sacrifices each one has made to protect and provide for the well being of this great nation!

From my earliest boyhood memories I can remember fantasizing of being a soldier someday serving for my country. I remember my father taking me to an Army surplus store where I would ask him to buy me a camouflage shirt and pants to wear. I was so proud to think and look like I was a soldier.

I felt very unfortunate when I was unable to enter the military because of a physical problem when I was 18 years old. So many of my boyhood friends including two of my brothers enlisted or were drafted into the service. I envied every one of them. A number of them that I personally know were injured or wounded during the
Vietnam War.

I was extremely disappointed and appalled at the response of many Americans when the war in Vietnam was over and our troops returned home. We had lost nearly 60,000 soldiers and twice that many had been wounded with so many of them suffering brain injuries and loss of limbs.

The war had embittered the American people so that the returning soldiers were often met with disrespect, hatred, and belittlement for their heroic deeds. My disappointment was with the lack of respect and honor that should have been given to these returning men and women who had fought for all of us.

I am proud and thankful to be an American and very grateful to all of our military men and women who fought for me. Throughout my life and ministry I have not forgotten those who served, fought, and died for the freedoms we have enjoyed as a Nation under God.

A veteran is any person who has served in the Armed Forces of this country. Tuesday is a legal holiday in the United States honoring all members of the Armed Forces. They are all worthy of recognition for which this day holds.

Our worship service today includes special mention to those in our congregation who have or are serving in our nation’s armed forces. We salute you!! In every war there are stories of bravery and heroic deeds. My heroes are all of you men and women who served our nation and to those who gave their all. We must never forget what they have done!! They fought for you!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Are We Willing to Live… Or Even Die for Our Faith?

Most Americans have seen the graphic images of bombed-out Syrian cities and citizens killed by chemical weapons. But amid these stories of chaotic civil war and tragedy is another, less publicized story: Christian churches in Syria continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner; but the banner of Jesus Christ—the only path to salvation and peace with God.
           
In the midst of great persecution and threats of death, Christianity is continuing to spread as more Muslims are coming to know Christ and where prayer and Bible studies are growing in fast numbers. But, friendship with Jesus is becoming more costly as the evils of Islam continues to rise up to destroy churches, kill children, rape Christian women, and behead those who oppose the Islamic faith.
           
I have been reviewing some past issues of the Voice of the Martyrs monthly magazines and find in them the many stories and accounts of many of our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Africa who, because of the entrance of Jesus into their lives, suffer the loss of their homes, cars, bank accounts, jobs and even the end of their lives. Friendship with Jesus for them is costly. Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone. It is always accompanied by great sacrifices for Christ’s sake.
           
The Apostle Paul writes “yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8) That was Paul’s attitude toward earthly possessions. Is this our attitude toward earthly possessions?
           
I think that preachers who promise prosperity, good health, and continual joy can and do lead people astray. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple?” (Luke 14:33)

How prepared are you to face such a time when at the end of the day when everything is gone, all you have left is Jesus?

PRAY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH!

I once personally heard Richard Wurmbrand speak of his 14 years of being tortured and imprisoned for preaching Christ in Romania which then was under communistic rule. He said that being tied at his ankles and hung upside down and being beaten with a hard rubber hose on the bottoms of his feet was the most excruciating pain. Every muscle and nerve of his body reacted to the pain.

He stated that those Christians who are being beaten and tortured for Christ around the world are members of the same body as we are. As Wurmbrand felt pain in every member of his body from the beating on his feet, he stated that “we should also feel the pain of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and should feel the love and compassion to remember to always pray for them.”  Today - pray for your persecuted brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Helped Us Write Our Own Story!!

Our guest speaker last Sunday was Kingsley Armstrong from Ireland. His Irish brogue and sense of humor was such a novelty and joy to listen to. However, it was the content in his message that particularly held my attention. He spoke about “writing our own story” instead of allowing others to write our story for us.

His thoughts about the Apostle Peter catching a boatload of fish after catching nothing during the night left us with some powerful implications. In Luke 5 the disciples were washing their nets by the Lake of Gennesaret. After fishing all night and catching nothing, the empty nets revealed only the story of their failure. It was a story of discouragement and defeat.

Jesus came by the disciples and saw their dejection. He asked Peter to launch his boat out and to let his nets down once again to prepare for a catch of fish. Peter told Jesus his story, “Master, he said, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

I like what the scripture says about Peter in verse 9: “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.”

I think you would agree that it is quite astonishing for all of us to see what God does to bless so powerfully the missionaries and this congregation during our world missions conference.

It is through your efforts and obedience to God’s word that the world is touched by your prayers and giving. We have written our own story of what God can do through this congregation from a small community in northwestern Wisconsin.

Our story is a faith story that starts with a belief that we can make a difference in this world through obedience to God. It is a story that is told in regions of the world even unknown to us by pastors and missionaries who have attended conferences here and witnessed the love, compassion, and generosity from this congregation. Our story has been adopted by other pastors and churches in this nation which multiplies our efforts to bless the nations with the gospel of Christ’s love, compassion, and forgiveness.

I am so proud and grateful of everyone in this church family for being part of a story of faith that is now known in many places around the world!! Blessings!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Am Not Ashamed!

In Romans 1:16 Paul writes: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Gentiles)

The whole epistle of Romans is the story of God’s plan of redemption in Christ. It is a detailed description of Christ’s work and its implication for all Christians, as well as the Gospel’s application to our everyday life.

The book describes the many blessings we have through Christ: reconciliation to God (5:11); righteousness and eternal life (5:18-21); identification with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection (6:3-5); freedom from condemnation (8:1); eternal inheritance (8:17); suffering with Him (8:17); being glorified with Him (8:17); being made like Him (8:29).

Paul declared that he made it “his aim to preach the Gospel” (15:20) and stated that “in many signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God - I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.” (15:19)

LANDMARK TRUTH: Signs and Wonders!

Jesus sent His church out to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) Jesus ‘ church was not created for self-indulging, but for conquerors that would follow Jesus’ footsteps.

Jesus’ ministry was measured by the fruit it produced, that would be trained for His ministry. “You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain.” (John 15:16)

So every born-again Christian that wants to follow Jesus might want to start to get ready, because Jesus is moving His church to the position of victory! “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance is in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)

It is not the time for the church to be focused on ourselves. Our focus must be on the unsaved. The lost are still looking for what Christ has to offer, but not just by-laws, creeds, statements of faith without actions, Bible lessons on what they do wrong, or condemnation for all their mistakes.

The church must not block the view of those who are looking for a real Jesus! We must “not be ashamed” to love them to Christ and offer them healing, forgiveness, and deliverance. Setting the captive free is still the heart and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Prayer!

While reading John Pipers book entitled Let The Nations Be Glad, I was moved by his chapter entitled “The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Prayer.”

Piper described life as a war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that. Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth. Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world. Prayer gives us the significances of front-line forces, and gives God the glory of the limitless provider. The one who gives the power gets the glory!

The Apostle Paul often used warfare language in his writings. In 1 Timothy 6:12 he tells Timothy “Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life to which you were called.”

Life is war because the maintenance of our faith and the laying hold on eternal life is a constant fight. Paul encouraged Timothy to see his whole ministry as war: “This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, that in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:18)  “No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits.” (2 Timothy 2:4) In other words, missions and ministry are war!

Most people show by their priorities and their casual approach to spiritual things that they believe we are in peacetime, not wartime. In wartime we are on alert. We are armed. We are vigilant. We have an enemy worse than any human foe. Satan and spiritual darkness are the great enemy.

Prayer is for wielding the word!

If we do not feel the force of Satan’s conflict to destroy every soul in a hell of everlasting torment then we will not even know what prayer is. In Ephesians 6:17, 18 Paul makes the connection between the life of war and the work of prayer. (vs. 17) “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (vs. 18) “Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication….” Two things mentioned here are “taking the sword and praying!” This is how we are to wield the word—by prayer!

Prayer is the communication with headquarters by which the weapons of warfare are deployed to the will of God. That’s the connection between the weapons and prayer in Ephesians 6. Prayer is for war!

This year’s Missions Conference engages us in warfare unprecedented in a world full of confusion and death. We must have an awakening to the power of God NOW! Pray!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

God's Family Works Best When Its Members Work Together!

Acts 4:32, 33: “All the believers were of one mind and heart, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the Apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all.”

None of the Christians in the early church felt what they owned was really their own, and so they were able to give and share, which eliminated poverty among them. It is difficult from our cultural mindsets to imagine having to share our possessions and property so that other believers could benefit from God’s gifts and blessings that we have received.

The early church in Acts recognized the other believers as brothers and sisters in the family of God. It is tempting—especially if we have material wealth—to cut ourselves off from one another with concern only for our own interests and enjoyment. But as part of God’s family, it is our responsibility to help one another in every way possible.

To have unity in the body of Christ that will bring God’s power and grace into our lives, we must live in the attitude that everything we have comes from God, and that we are only sharing what is already His.  Acts 4:24 says, “Then all the believers were united as they lifted their voices in prayer.”

We all know how impossible it is for everyone of us to agree on everything or to share the same opinions on everything. That’s why there are so many different religions and denominations and why it is hard for all Christians to get along joyfully with one another. But what happened at the time of the early church with these believers took place because they were united together by the Spirit of God. They came together in spiritual unity. The believers were loyal, committed, and loved God and His Word. The church never could have survived without spiritual unity.

The early church was able to share possessions and property as a result of the unity brought by the Holy Spirit in and through the believers lives. The early Jewish believers in Jesus created great friction with Jews who didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Believing Jews were forced to meet in private homes for communion, prayer, and teaching about Christ. Many were excommunicated from their synagogues and from their families.

But the church grew daily because zealous worship and brotherly love is contagious! The spiritual unity and generosity of the early believers would be vital principles for the church to follow today. This way of living is not the way of communism because (1) sharing their possessions was voluntary; (2) it did not involve all property but only as much as was needed; (3) it was not a membership requirement to become a part of the church. Spiritual unity must be birthed in us by the Holy Spirit which gives us the motivation to love each other just as Christ loves us. Love then will readily serve one another.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Church Family!

“God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” Psalm 68:6

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Ephesians 3:15, 16

The greatest way God affectionately relates to us is through the family; therefore, the greatest blessing is to have a healthy family. But the greatest heartache and disappointment also comes by way of the family. The context of the book of Ephesians reveals three distinct pictures of how we relate to God and to one another. We relate through a body, a Holy Temple, and through family.

The teacher’s commentary says that the “body” is to reveal that we are to do “good works” as unto the Lord. The  “Holy Temple” reminds us to be holy as God is holy; it shows us how we are to “worship” Him. The final picture is that of the family and how we are to “live a life of love” and enjoy the closeness given only in families.  “As the human family is the context for growth and intimacy, so the family of God is a context in  which God’s love is expressed to welcome each other and to help each other grow” states the commentary.

I have always considered that I have been blessed to have two families on earth. First is my natural family for which I am deeply thankful and secondly is the people in this congregation whom I consider to be my second family.

Psalms 68:6 tells us that “God sets the solitary in families.” This is a unique family that is made up of many kinds of people who come from many different backgrounds and from many walks of life. Many come from wounded, hurting, and lonely places in life. God draws out the fatherless, the widows, and the bound and gathers them into His family (the church). Psalms 147:2, 3 “….the Lord gathers together the outcasts of Israel, He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”

Where does God bring all these people to be strengthened and to grow? He plants them in the house of the Lord (the church). He adds them into the church family.

Consider this church family: Where did you come from? How did you get here? How shall others come? Can they find an accepting home? We are not a perfect church. But we are God’s instrument in the earth to reach those who are lost and to include them in the church family.

Paul wrote to Timothy to ask that those in the church relate to each other as fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters. (I Timothy 5:1-3) We are all children of one Heavenly Father. Let’s be committed to serve one another in love!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How God Views the World!

That is a very good question: Just how DOES God view it, with everything going on today? Does He view it any differently than He ever has?

God does not look at the world in terms of political boundaries, governments, or cultures. He sees sinful people who need to be reconciled with Him through Jesus Christ. He sees a whole world that needs to be evangelized. God views the world with a divine purpose in mind. It is a purpose and plan for the world that He established before the beginning of time. (Ephesians 1:9-10, Ephesians 3:11) God’s eternal purpose is to gather all sinful people to Himself through Jesus Christ. Through His written word, He has revealed to us the purpose which for many years was a mystery. In the Bible, there is a natural example illustrating how God views the world.

Jesus said to His disciples: “Don’t you say, there are still four more months, then comes the harvest? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.” John 4:35 CSB

Jesus was not speaking of the natural harvest in the fields stretched before them at the moment He spoke these words. He was speaking of a spiritual harvest. Jesus used the example of the natural harvest to give His followers a spiritual vision of the world. On another occasion, Jesus clearly stated: “The field is the world.” Matthew 13:38

Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, South America, Europe, the islands of the sea—these are all seen by God as a great harvest field. As God views the harvest field of the world, He also sees a great need: “The harvest is abundant but the workers are few.” Matthew 9:37

God sees a great spiritual harvest ready to be gathered. But there are few laborers at work. If your view is that of God’s, then here are our instructions from the Word of God: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Matthew 28:19

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grandparents!

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents for this is pleasing to God.” 1 Timothy 5:4 (NIV)

One of our first responsibilities is to show and live out our Christ-like life at home. This is not only true for parents, but also for the children and grandchildren. This allows them the opportunity to show their appreciation to their grandparents, giving them the opportunity of showing clearly Christian kindness and of repaying them for their love and care! This is what Timothy calls “showing piety” - “Eusebein”, that is obedient piety; piety toward a grandparent and helping with the needs that they have.

The word is commonly used to denote piety toward God, but it is also used to denote proper reverence and respect for a parent or grandparent. And to repay them as far as possible, for all of their kindness. This debt can never be wholly repaid, but still children and grandchildren should feel it a matter or respect and obligation to do as much toward them as possible for that is good and acceptable before God. It is a duty everywhere enjoyed!

So today, Grandparent’s Day, go out of your way to tell your grandparents or someone else’s grandparents, how much you appreciate them and how special they are! After all, without them you wouldn’t even be here!


Thank God for Grandparents!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Perpetual Promise of Pentecost

Brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children, and for all who are afar off, all whom the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:37, 38

Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not meant only for the believers in the first century, as some would believe, but it remains in force throughout the entire church age. This revelation, prophesied by the prophet Joel in the Old Testament and explained by the Apostle Peter on the first Pentecost, still applies to all believers today—men and women, young and old in every nation, and through the perilous last days of human history. God is continuing to pour out His Spirit on “all flesh.”

Matthew 25:1-13 is the parable of the ten virgins, where Jesus exhorts the church to be spiritually wise as the day of His return draws near. The five wise virgins took plenty of oil with them but the five foolish virgins did not. Having a sufficiency of oil was the key to proper preparation. So will it be in the last days.

Old Testament writers spoke of the early and latter rains also called the spring and harvest rains. The early rains caused the seeds to germinate whereas the latter rain was necessary to bring the crops to maturity. The Bible says to “ask for the rain in the time of the latter rain so the Lord shall make bright clouds and give them showers of rain.” (Zech. 10:1) The Bible often uses the words rain and water to symbolize the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

If the first outpouring at Pentecost was like unto the early rain, then the great outpouring of the latter rain, is the harvest rain that will bring the witness of the Gospel to the whole world and will gather in the last of those who have been appointed to receive salvation.

I believe that the promise of Pentecost is for us today. My conviction is that Jesus is saving the best wine (Holy Spirit outpouring) until last, that is, the last generation. As  the church age began, so will it end - in a blaze of supernatural glory and power as we welcome the return of Jesus in the clouds of heaven!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jesus Is Willing and Able to Heal!

Acts 10:38: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went along doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

The days of God manifesting His power and glory to heal is not over! It is only over when we fail to accept and believe that God can heal today. I was reading some of the testimonies from my friend Tom Shanklin who has ministered healing to people for many years. Tom has learned to live in dependence upon the power of God by walking in the sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

He writes of witnessing healings from arthritis, injuries, and cancers. There have been miraculous conceptions, deafness healed, paralysis, and many other miracles. Recently he prayed for a woman diagnosed with an incurable Hepatitis C in her body. After prayer, the doctors cannot find a trace of Hepatitis C in her body!

Jesus would ask people, “Do you believe I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28) When they said “yes” He would then successfully minister healing to them. Some people think that Jesus performed miracles only because of His great power as the Son of God. But the Holy Scriptures illustrate that He worked with people’s faith. In Mark 5:34 Jesus said, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. Go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for people receiving healing is that of not knowing what God’s will is concerning healing. We hear people often pray something like, “Dear Lord, if it be your will, please heal this sick dear one.” This is probably the reason that many people do not receive healing from the Lord. It is very hard to have faith for something that you are unsure of, or do not believe or know to be the will of God.

A leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” The scripture in Matthew 8:2, 3 says “Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him saying “I am willing: be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Jesus said “I am willing!” That settles it for me!

Not only is Jesus able to heal, He is also willing to heal!

POWER IN AGREEMENT!

Matthew 18:19 says “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” There is a point of agreement we must come to when we pray for healing. To the extent of that agreement is where we pray for God to answer, whether believing for a doctor’s right diagnosis and treatment to be successful or for a complete miraculous healing. God answers prayer! You are anointed for healing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Holy Spirit Power!

Acts 1:8 says “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

In acts 2 there were 120 of Jesus’ followers who waited for the “promise of the Father” which would come to them in the city of Jerusalem. This promise came from Jesus in Luke 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of my Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”  The word for power is “dunamis” which is a divine enablement or ability that is not natural, but supernatural. The plural of this word is “dunameis” which means powers, miracles coming out of that mighty power of God inherent in Christ and which power is lent to His witnesses and ambassadors.

After the Acts 2:4 empowerment of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles received a supernatural enablement that turned their fear into faith and opened a new boldness that put them out onto the streets preaching Jesus in the face of arrest, imprisonment and even martyrdom. “And as they spoke unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, and they put them in jail until the next day….and they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus.”  Acts 4:1, 3, 18

What did the Apostles do? They preached! “And with great power the Apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 4:33 “And many signs and wonders were done through the Apostles.” Acts 2:43

Pentecost is for those who hunger and thirst for God’s presence and power, those willing to be made bold so they can proclaim Christ - even if it means prison or death.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is described as The Gift promised by the Father. (Acts 1:4; 2:38) A gift is defined as “an offer and an acceptance (act of receiving) without consideration.” A gift is not completed until someone receives that which is freely offered.

The Holy Spirit has already been offered. It is incumbent upon each of us to receive His Spirit.
             Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” - John 20:22
             “And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” - Acts 2:38
             “The Holy Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.” - John 7:39
             “He said unto them, ‘Have ye received the Holy Spirit since you believed?’” - Acts 19:2

Being baptized in the Spirit means to be “thoroughly immersed” or “submerged” into. It’s like a garment being submerged into a dye which radically transforms the garment. Baptism in the Spirit is to be immersed, submerged, and completely surrounded by, and enveloped wholly by the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Baptized With The Holy Spirit

One of my favorite topics of discussion from the Bible is the subject of the “baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

One of the doctrines of baptisms in Hebrews 6 and another “tenet” of faith for Full Gospel Church is the teaching of Holy Spirit baptism. This should be in the doctrines and practice of all New Testament Churches in the 21st century.  Just the mention of the term “Holy Spirit” stirs the spiritual desires of the human heart because we know that the Holy Spirit is really almighty God who comes upon us and is in us doing His work through us.

There are many who teach that we can only know about the Holy Spirit through studying the Bible but shy away from encountering the Holy Spirit in an experiential supernatural way. But the Bible also teaches that the Holy Spirit is a baptizer with supernatural power coming upon believers who ask to be filled!

Jesus’ instructions to His followers in Luke 11:13 was to “ask” for the Holy Spirit and to wait until they receive power. He promised His followers power when the Holy Spirit has come upon them in Acts 1:8.

Then in Acts 2:4 on the day of Pentecost while waiting in the upper room, the Holy Spirit came into the room and “filled all who were there, and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance.” These people had a definite experience in baptism with the Holy Spirit.

There are 3 things we must understand about the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit is God. Peter said to Ananias in Acts 5:3, 4: “How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit? You have not lied to men, but to God.”

2. The Gift of the Holy Spirit - When a person believes in Jesus and receives the salvation He offers, the Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer, imparting spiritual life. Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

3. The Work of the Holy Spirit - He testifies of our relationship with God that we are God’s children - Romans 8:16

*He teaches us - John 14:26
*He guides us - Romans 8:14
*He helps us to live pleasing to God - Galatians 5:16 and 17-25
*He helps us in prayer - Romans 8:26
*He gives life to our bodies - Romans 8:11
*He gives us power and boldness to witness - Acts 1:8
*He gives ability to speak a supernatural language - Acts 19:6/2 Cor. 14:5, 18
*He introduces the supernatural realm - 1 Corinthians 12:4, 8-10
*He fills our spirit with true worship to God - Ephesians 5:18, 19
*He brings fresh understanding of the Word - 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10