"Just A Moment"
A Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
At a demonstration in Ottawa, the sign was clear, to be read by national and international television viewers: “God hates fags.” I took exception to that because that is not true; God doesn’t hate fags. Never, ever does the Bible speak that way about the homosexuals. I confess, that I personally have trouble with that kind of lifestyle. And I am aware that it appears that one of the principle reasons for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra was because of the persistence of the people of those cities to permit homosexuality within their borders. But I am still persuaded that God doesn’t hate fags. Yes, what they do is an offence against God like every other sin that we could list. God does hate sin, but He loves people in spite of their sin. For that reason the Gospel message of His love and forgiveness reaches out to all who have done things that displease Him. He gives us all an invitation and opportunity to turn from our wicked ways and to do the things that please Him. But He doesn’t come to us in hate; never, ever. It is obvious that He cares very much about all of us. Again and again, He extends an invitation for us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us; to seek His face and He would be found; to call upon Him and He would hear.
It is very unfortunate, that we can not grasp the depth of Gods marvellous love. We are very quick to expect Gods judgment to fall on everyone who does things that offend God. I, for one, am very grateful that God is patient and merciful to all who have failed Him or else there would be no one in heaven. Let me show you something.
Manasseh of 2 Chronicles 33 is noted as being the most vile, wicked, perverse, brutal king of Judah. The things that he did in his lifetime are listed as a living indictment against him. His crimes knew no boundary. But, he repented, (33:12, 13) and God forgave him and restored him to his throne as King in Judah, because he humbled himself.
To get back to the beginning, I believe there is hope for every sinner. Our Lord is a God of love and is able to save, “completely those who come to God through him, (Jesus) because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) Jesus is on our side to help us to come to the Father.
Although God loves us, just as we are, He is not prepared to leave us, just as we are. His plan is to change us and to deal with the issues that displease Him whatever the matter might be. But He always does it in LOVE.
When Hurts Really Hurt
“For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His Tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:6
When the news of the death of John the Baptist was brought to Jesus, the story tells us that He, “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13) We all need those quiet times in quiet places occasionally in our lives. I’m sure that the sorrow for the loss of a very powerful voice, for the kingdom of God on earth, was heavy upon His heart. The fact that another terrible injustice had touched the life of a wonderful servant of God, whose sole desire was to be no more than a steady, consistent voice in our world, made that loss so much greater. Hey listen, bad things sometimes happen to good people. I guess you’ve discovered that already. How we handle our hurts and disappointments demonstrates the measure of trust and confidence we have in God. In some cases, it would be so much easier to take things into our own hands and try to do something about it as we judge the situation. That is one way to work towards a solution. Another way is the process that Jesus used: He just stepped back for a season of solitude and then came right back to do what He was sent to do. Things may never change around us, to our satisfaction, but we need to get it clear in our hearts and minds that God wants to use our lives in spite of everything else, and then get back to doing what we know He wants us to do.
The passage we quoted above goes on to say that Jesus saw a great multitude, “and was moved with compassion.” To Him, it was time to get back to work. There were people out there who were looking for someone to care for them. It wasn’t time to bemoan that He also, was hurting; that He, too, could not reconcile the injustices around Him with the final purpose and will of God. His focus turned out, from Himself, to the needs of others.
I think that He established a pattern for the Church. The fact that there will always be problems in the Church is based on the fact that the Church is made up of people, human and ordinary. But it’s when we look at the needs of those around us and get involved in reaching out to those that need the Lord the problems inside the Church fade into insignificance. If we resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be a caring people, we’ll become introverted and possessed by our own problems.
That’s what kept Jesus’ ministry so alive and vibrant; He didn’t let persecution and problems hinder the direction of His life. He was prepared to do the Fathers will and do what He had to do whether He was acclaimed as a wonderful teacher or otherwise. The souls of the multitude are too precious to be sidetracked by feelings and emotions. The lost must be found. The bruised must be bound up. Those in bondage must be set free. That’s our world too.
He’s Coming Again
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3
Jesus is coming back again, just like He said He would. The event will take a lot of people by surprise in spite of the fact that Pastors and Prophets have been sounding out the message for centuries. As the Church, we look forward with eager expectation to His returning and to the clear triumph of the procession of the saints, who will be caught up to meet Him in the air. What a day that will be! There will be family reunions with loved ones who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Together our physical frames will be changed into “spiritual” bodies that will be able to enjoy Gods presence for timeless eternity. Those who struggled with physical difficulties will be set free with new, transformed abilities to see, hear, smell, touch, taste, leap and hold as never before. Pain and sickness will be left behind. Sorrow and discouragement will be history. The struggle against the tempter and the destroyer of our souls will be finished. His sting and his power will have no effect on us any longer. We’ll be caught into the presence of the One who loves us with an everlasting love. He will take us to His Fathers house where we will humbly bow in grateful praise and worship for Who He is and for all He’s done for us. We will be embraced by Boundless Love.
The beauty of that place is beyond our present ability to understand. The Apostle John, in his description of heaven in the book of Revelation struggled for adequate adjectives to paint the heavenly portrait. Suffice to say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) No matter how delightful your imagination can envision, it is still going to be far more beautiful.
Without a doubt, the most wonderful part of the whole transition will be the moment we see our Saviour face to face. He’s the One who loves us, came into the world to set us free from sin; Who died and rose again; Who ascended into His Fathers presence to prepare a place for us. He’s the One who intercedes for us at the Fathers right hand and He’s the One who will welcome us Home. What a joy it will be to be able to express our appreciation without the limitations of our present weaknesses. Jesus is coming back again. Let’s be watchful and doing what He has left us to do. It may be today.
Gods Greatest Work
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
All that you see and all that exists in the whole universe is the result of the spoken word of God. From absolutely nothing, He designed all things. That is hard for the natural mind to comprehend because, we reason, in order to build anything, you need to start with something.
Not so with God. He does the totally impossible. From my vantage point I’d say He has done a masterful job as the beauty of creation so wonderfully displays. Artists often attempt to duplicate the beauty of His handiwork and as marvellous as may be their results, they miss so much.
But, to me, it is what you cannot see with the naked eye that is so overwhelming. The miniature and the microscopic, when viewed under magnification, have such intricate detail and a beauty of their own.
Let me take you a step further. If we could only see what God does in the hearts of men, to change us from natural dependencies to a relationship with Himself, we would have a new appreciation at the detail of what God does in the lives of people who come to Him. There’s a transformation that occurs in the inner man that is deeply profound. It could never be viewed by magnifying glass nor microscope but is sometimes seen in the outward actions of the people. Painful faces are changed to faces of joy. Addicts know the freedom to be themselves and once again be a productive part of society. Bitter hearts shine with forgiveness as old roots are severed and a new love for others begins. It is amazing what God can do.
The biggest part of what He accomplishes in the world today is done in the transformation of lives. So many people struggle through the effects and results of bad choices or bad circumstances but God offers the opportunity for all to know His recreating power and the joy of a new beginning. Jesus came into the world to make a difference in our lives. He demonstrated that the Father in Heaven is gentle, loving and forgiving and longing for us to know a real experience with Himself.
The choice is ours. God will not force Himself upon us but allows us to make the decisions on our own. If we present ourselves to Him, He is prepared to do great things in our lives. The inside pain caused by guilt and condemnation can be erased. He can speak healing to the troubled soul and bring the peace that passes all understanding. Invite Him into your life to do a personal miracle for you. He is an Awesome God.
I Will Not Doubt
Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” Mark 11:22 He is the Master of the Impossible. The Creator of all things from nothing.
I Will Not Doubt
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered;
I trust in You.
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn.
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain.
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses,
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.
I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
I do not doubt, so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.
He will always remain as a faithful Friend through all circumstances of life. Trust Him and talk to Him! He loves you more than words could ever say.
The Fountain That Satisfies
“The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:2, 3
He wasn’t about to die of thirst or anything like that, but he was in desert places. Memories of his childhood days in Bethlehem so contrasted with the frustrations of his nerve wracking, wilderness experiences that David cried out, “Oh that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem.” (2 Samuel 23:15) There was something comforting and refreshing about that old well. His childhood days in his hometown were days free of responsibility and filled with childish pleasures. Most of the activities were somewhere near the well, like the focal point of everyday life, because everyone came there at least once a day.
The experiences of the good old days often hold that kind of grip upon our minds. They make up many of the cherished treasures of memories of the growing up years. We like to come back to them from time to time and experience, in our imagination, what we no longer have in practice today. And we all like to dream a little bit.
Let me remind you today, that there is an experience that happened almost 2000 years ago that changed the course of our lives. It was at the foot of the old, rugged cross that we laid our sins and burdens down, to find the supply of Gods grace sufficient for all our needs. He granted us His pardon and welcomed us into His heavenly family. The joy of sins forgiven and the gift of a loving relationship with an Awesome God are the cherished treasures that hold us committed to Him. Like the old well, there remains a place where many wonderful experiences were lived and times of refreshing received.
The truth is, though, that we get so caught up in all of the hustle and bustle of daily living that we become exhausted with all the pressures and trials of life. As someone said, “We’re caught in the rat race of life and the rats are winning.”
Moments like those remind us of how important it is to get back to the well that brings us refreshing. That was one of the reasons that Jesus instituted the Lords supper. It is urgent that we remind ourselves that the mercy of God is a wonderful refreshing experience. By faith, not imagination, we return to the fountain of the kindness and love of God. The fact that we can pause to bathe ourselves in His presence and set aside the frustrations of our world and be cleansed anew by His precious blood and Gentle Spirit is a blessing beyond anything in this world. We need to ‘come back’ from time to time and drink again of the wonderful provisions of our Heavenly Father.
Making Our Move to God
“I will call on you, Oh God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer” Psalm 17:6
“Who ever heard of winning a war by weeping and crying and brokenness..” Those are the words of a song that is sung to challenge the Church to serious prayerful intercession. The scriptures remind us that, “..the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) There are issues in the world today, in our homes and in our lives that need to be addressed. If we know that Jesus is coming soon, it behooves us to get serious about these concerns and do something about them. Perhaps we’re waiting for some special revelation from God on how to handle these matters that will bring us instant relief. Let me tell you that He has already spoken clearly about what has to be done and our lack of involvement is only delaying the solution.
There is no question that the kingdom of darkness is seriously pressing the battle to depress and defeat the work of the Lord. Let an army arise from the valley of lethargy to new life in God. It begins in our own hearts where we become aware that the Lord fights the battles for those who seek His face and are prepared to be earnest in prayer and service. It is time that the world saw a living, vibrant faithful band of Christians who believe in the love and power of God and who are willing to risk making an open declaration of our faith. God is still on His throne. He will always be Lord of all and beside Him there is no other.
There is absolutely no reason why we should believe that waiting for God to make the first move is an intelligent decision. He has so often held back the solution to serious problems until we get a sense of urgency in our soul to invite Him to become involved in the matters of our world and of our personal lives. His promise is, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Not getting involved is not the answer. Those who understand the power of prayer need to begin to exercise their faith this way. Somehow we need to shake ourselves to believe that nothing is going to happen unless we do something as workers together with God. How long can we wait while the enemy beats up our kids, causes dissension in our homes and destroys the morals of our nation? “Who ever heard of winning a war by weeping and crying and brokenness.” Do you really want to see what God can do? Let’s set aside time to seek the Lord to appeal for His intervention and let God be God.
“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.” Hebrews 6:17
Contrary to what some may believe, ‘not everything that is old is worn out.’ We hope that in the maturing process Grandpas and Grandmas (Opahs and Ohmas) will have learned some very valuable lessons and have the patience and the wisdom to apply them in the right places. Getting old is not always ‘pain free’ as many of you, of all ages, have discovered. But growing old will be as exciting as your attitude to accepting the changes that are going on around us; on the outside as well as on the inside. Trying to fight those changes is like trying to hold back the tide. It’s going to happen as sure as a new generation is born. Technology has done a lot to effect great changes in our generation, already and there are more changes to come.
Think back with me for a few moments: there’s no more chopping wood to prepare the dinner; if you remember what a wringer-washer is, you date yourself. Do you remember when the crank on the phone was on one side and the receiver was on the other? The refrigerator was literally ‘the ice box.’ Television was only in ‘Buck Rogers’ comic books and two-way radios were in the dreams that made ‘Dick Tracy’ so famous. Times have changed and will continue to change.
The Grandmas and Grandpas of today will remember a lot of that older stuff. The truth is, they had a lot of advantages in their day that the kids of now do not know. They had Sunday School, morning Bible reading and prayer in school, a different respect for the Lords day and a clearer understanding that the family that prays and plays together stays together. Work was to be desired not shirked and respect for your elders and those in authority was expected. Churches were left open for anyone to come in for prayer at any time; night or day and the House of God was respected.
It’s then that I remember that not everything that is old is worn out and worthless. Jeremiah struggled to express that when he was told to call the nation of Israel to repentance. He said, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
I know that it is a mistake to plan your life through your memories but I wonder if there is a way that we can move into the changing times of today and bring with us the good of the old times without appearing irrelevant.
May the Lord help all the Grandmas and Grandpas to be examples of godliness with patience and love and to continue to be the faith-builders they were designed to be. May the Lord guard all from bitterness and resistance to change so that we all can still be useful to a new generation that needs to know God like they do. May each be an example of prayer and of loyalty to His Word. Times may change but God is still God!
Learn Your Lessons Well
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29
If you would have seen him walking the hills of the countryside or shooting rocks at twigs that were his imaginary enemies you could never have recognized the potential within him. He was the youngest in the family and probably should have been considered the baby, with all the special treatment that goes along with that special position. He was given some of the menial tasks of the household as a part of his responsibility which included tending sheep. It was there, with the sheep, that David learned how to use his slingshot. On one occasion he took on a bear and another time he killed a lion. Pretty fair accomplishments for any young man. Those were experiences that would serve to be lessons well learned when it came to facing giant obstacles in the future. It was obvious that he took his job seriously and anyone or anything that came to disturb the peace of his little flock would know the wrath of this little boy. It sounds funny, but God gave him success.
No doubt, it was out in the pastures that he learned the value of music, in calming the animal instincts, which became very important to him in latter life. It was there that he learned how to communicate with his Creator. He sang his praises to the Most High in poetry that became a part of the hymnal of the nation of Israel remembered and sung to this day.
But the greatest lesson he learned and passed on to future generations was the example of the tenderness of his heart toward God. In his deepest trials, he sought the Lord with all his heart. In his greatest accomplishments, he sought to give the glory to his Lord, who won the victories for him. Even in his deepest moral defeat he sought the Lord in sincere, humble repentance. His lonely times, when he sometimes despaired for his life, were comforted by his lovingly, devoted relationship with his God.
David learned many of the most valuable lessons of his life while he was still a youth. They were the formative years that made a young man into a General and the King of the nation of Israel. The lessons could be placed in two categories:
1. Learn how to deal with the difficult in your life, to be a winner. (Trusting God when it seems impossible to overcome the obstacles.)
2. Learn what it means to have a living, vital relationship with God.
( Absolutely nothing can take the place of knowing and serving God. )
It all has to begin somewhere. For David it began many years before anyone recognized what was going on in his life. Perhaps that is where you are today. God knows you and has a very special plan for your life. Be encouraged! He loves you.
Your Very Best Friend
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
I am sure that you have heard about Him but I know that you have never seen Him. He’s been around for eons and you’ve had many dealings with Him through the years of your life-time but I’m sure that you have never shaken His hand. You may not always recognize His voice but I know that He has often spoken to you and that He constantly has your best interests at heart. He’s very humble and rarely speaks about Himself because He has a very close relationship with Jesus and that, most often, fills His conversation. The Holy Spirit is a person who possesses all the characteristics of personality and individuality as well as being totally equal with God. He is Gods gift to us. His ministry is to reach out to people who are broken, hurting and living wasted lives. His purpose is to rebuild, restore, recreate and give real value to living. He is not impressed with our earthly accomplishments because He has higher goals. He wants to make us look and act more like Jesus, by His influence and His enabling power.
He is the One who makes us aware that we need God because we are sinners and there’s nothing we can do to change that on our own. He is the One who leads us to Jesus, who alone can forgive us of our sin. He makes His home in our lives so that He can work from within, with all understanding of our emotions, intelligence and our will. He is the One who begins the lifestyle change by His presence and His counsel. He is the One whom we receive when we are filled with the Spirit. He adds blessings to our lives through speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit. He is present to prompt us for the correct responses when temptation and trials come against us because He leads and guides. He is the One who gives us Peace and Comfort in the midst of sorrow, loneliness and trying circumstances. He is Faithful. He is the One who makes the Word come to life and who reminds us of Jesus. He is present to lead us into Praise and Worship by His precious anointing. He inspires our hearts as we seek the Lord Jesus and press in to know Him better.
He was present when the world was created. (Genesis 1:1& 2) He was present on the Day of Pentecost when the Church was begun and approximately 120 were filled with the Spirit in a dramatic experience that drew more than 3000 souls to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Saviour. He is still calling people around the world today into a personal relationship with Jesus.
The End Time Miracle Man
“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28
The Prophecies of Daniel tell of a man who speaks boastfully who will arise in the latter days as a person of great influence. (Daniel 7) The book of Revelation introduces us to one who is called the Anti-christ. In both of these prophetic messages, God is giving us a preview of coming events. Jesus spoke of the signs of the end of the age in Matthew 24. The last book of the Bible deals specifically with the tragic end time events that will bring all worldly kingdoms to an end.
I believe we are living in the last days. It has nothing to do with the fears that accompanied the scare of Y2K, nor September 11, 2001. The fact that the Bible indicates, in great detail, that we are living in days that appear to be the fulfillment of the prophetic pronouncements should be enough to make us aware that the end is near. To some people, that’s bad news. To those who love the Lord, that is an exciting announcement because Jesus is coming back again to catch us to our reward and to our heavenly dwelling.
But let me share with you one sobering thought. It is very possible that somewhere in the world today, there is a person who has been born to have a great influence on world-wide affairs. He will be a person who will speak with great wisdom and authority and will persuade world leaders to bring peace to the world and especially to the troubled area of Israel and surrounding countries. It is possible that he will develop a monetary plan that will be recognized around the world that will bypass money and credit/debit cards for buying and selling. Perhaps it will be some form of invisible tattoo that will contain all your personal information, your financial access codes and a number that will entitle you to use this “new universal system.” His demeanour in public will command respect and many will pledge their allegiance to him for the imaginative solutions to the world’s troubled situations. He will be the apparent fulfillment of all the characteristics that the world would want in a universal leader. You might even be impressed with his abilities and vote for him to be the world-wide leader. But he’s the “anti-christ.” He’s coming soon to your neighbourhood through television and video. Watch for him. You won’t be disappointed. He will, deceitfully, be exciting and command your attention.
The bottom line is this. It is not what a person does that is so important in Gods sight. It is who a person is and his relationship with Jesus Christ that is absolutely important. Teach this to your children. They need to know this and be prepared for the greatest scam of deception that the world will ever see.
You’re Called To Preach
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2
I think that everyone is a preacher at some time in their life. I know my Mother was. She wasn’t in the ‘ministry’ but she had a clear story to tell and we heard it almost every day. The truth is, anyone who has had a message to give and needed to do it persuasively and clearly has been a preacher. It is true, though, that we confer a special honour to the preaching of the Gospel message as an exceptional commission from the Lord. Preaching is God’s method of teaching, exhorting, challenging and revealing His purposes to the world. It is His idea. It is very possible, that some may wish for other ways to get the message across than by preaching but that is the way He has selected that it be done. The Apostle Paul reminds us that God has chosen, “the foolishness of preaching” to save those that believe. As a matter of fact, he considered his own ministry as a special privilege that he was responsible to perform. He said, “I have been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel.” (Galatians 2:7)
On the other side of the pulpit, on many occasions, we can not measure the amount of effort that is needed to pay attention to the preacher. Paul had to tell one of his congregations, “... listen to me patiently.” (Acts 26:3) I’m sure that is the plea of most ministers as we struggle with the message that we need to share. Sometimes the words don’t come easily but the message is heavily resting on our hearts. There is another perplexing side to the preaching process. Every message is a mixture of what God wants to say and the personality of the speaker. That has always been a strange but accepted combination since the days of the early prophets when God’s message was obviously touched by the messenger in his/her delivery.
The bottom line of every message that we hear that comes to us in the name of the Lord, whether it’s from Mother or the Pastor, is that it should be heard, examined and absorbed with the understanding that God wishes to speak to us, today; and preaching happens to be His method of delivery in the majority of cases. I advise the ‘examining’ process because sometimes we throw out the message because of the messenger. But remember, if God can use a mule to get His purposes across, He can use any of us. (Numbers 22:28) Maybe it has crossed your mind that some Churches have a mule for a preacher. ( I better not go there!) But the message still needs to be heard.
Paul exhorts us to, “devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13) It is all for our personal benefit in the long run.
Home Sweet Home
“…. I have taught you publicly and from house to house.” Acts 20:20
The song writer wrote, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” And it has been said that, “a mans home is his palace.” Without a doubt, many of the fondest memories we treasure are the memories of home and our childhood.
Jesus did a lot of His ministry in the homes of His friends, the curious and the interested. A home setting is a more relaxed and congenial atmosphere for having heart to heart conversations. That was Jesus’ specialty. You can’t feel threatened if you’re settled into the comfort and security of your own home.
The early church used the principle of home meetings to advance the gospel into the communities of the first century. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42) It was the home meeting places that became the heart beat of the Church. So much so, that when Saul, the persecutor, tried to stop the spread of the gospel of Jesus he focused on the home meetings as the source of his aggravation. “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3) He discovered that the real strength of the church and it’s growth was in the homes of the believers who would worship and pray together and encourage each other in their faith. The real life of the church was not in a large building but in the many smaller groupings of people who practiced their faith in their neighbourhood.
Wherever the Apostles went in those early years of the beginning of the Church, they chose to meet in the market places and public arenas and then in the homes of the new believers. God blessed that pattern in extending His Kingdom here on earth. Although times have changed it is still important to continue with the small group sharing and fellowship times.
There are a number of challenges in our very busy lifestyles that we must confront in order to bring this to pass:
1. It is important to make time to meet with others during the week for the building up and encouragement that each can bring to the other.
2. It is important to realize that we need advice, counsel and direction from the Word of God more than once a week.
3. It is easier to ask questions and discuss difficult situations in a small group than in a larger group.
4. It is important that we work on getting to know each other on a more personal level. This is possible in a smaller group.
5. God has promised to meet where “two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
“For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7
The Prophecies of Daniel speak of a man who talks boastfully, who will arise in the latter days as a person of great influence. (Daniel 7) The book of Revelation introduces us to the one who is called the Anti-christ. In both of these prophetic messages, God is giving us a preview of coming events. Jesus spoke of the signs of the end of the age in Matthew 24. The last book of the Bible deals specifically with the tragic, end time, events that will bring all worldly kingdoms to an end.
I believe we are living in the last days. It has nothing to do with the fears of Y2K, nor the end of the past millennium. The fact that the Bible indicates, in great detail, that we are living in days that are the fulfillment of the prophetic pronouncements should be enough to make us aware that the end is near. To some people, that’s bad news. To those who love the Lord that is an exciting announcement because Jesus is coming back again to catch us to our reward and our heavenly dwelling.
But let me share with you one sobering thought. It is very possible that somewhere in the world today, there is a person who has been born to have a great influence on worldwide affairs. He will be a person who will speak with great wisdom and authority and will persuade world leaders to bring peace to the world and especially to the troubled area of Israel and surrounding countries. It is possible that he will develop a monetary plan that will be recognized around the world that will bypass money and credit/debit cards for buying and selling. Perhaps it will be some form of invisible tattoo that will contain all your personal information, your financial access codes and a number that will entitle you to use this “new universal system.” His demeanour in public will command respect and many will pledge their allegiance to him for the imaginative solutions to the world’s troubled situations. He will be the apparent fulfillment of all the characteristics that the world would want in a universal leader. You might even be impressed with his abilities and vote for him to be the worldwide leader. But he’s the “anti-christ.” He’s coming soon to your neighbourhood through television and video. Watch for him. You won’t be disappointed. He will be exciting and command your attention. At the same time, look up for your Redemption draws near!
The bottom line is this. It is not what a person does that is so important in Gods sight. It is who a person is and his relationship with Jesus Christ that is absolutely imperative. Teach this to your children. They need to know this and be prepared for the greatest scam of deception that the world has ever seen.
Working Together With God
“… so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Listen, the message is in the cows, Pardner. If they ain’t gettin fat, there’s gotta be a problem. (Genesis 41:1-27) Ah nose, ‘cause cows kin tich good lessuns to aller us to. It’s a clear sign. God gives us lessons through some very obvious signals like thet, thet we don’t always unerstand . Some folks just cain’t read signs thet well, so someone has to interprit for them. Joseph had to tell Faeroah the kink of Egypt exactly what his dream meant. Maybe thet’s a lesson on real life. Sometimes we need to trust other folks to tell us what’s goin’ on in our own lives, to. Ah’ve learned thet many times thar viewpoint is different then mine but thet others sometimes have a clearer picture than ah do. We could belabour the point thet we are intelgent criters and quite able to handel our problems all by are selves, however, God has made us interdependent. Thets a big word thet means, I needs you and you needs me so thet we kin be better prepared fer the future.
Yo’all remember thet verse thet goes, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 16:25) Some may think it’s wrong to ask fer someone elses ‘pinion but ah think thet’s bein’ vury wise. Could you ‘magine what would have heppened to Faeroah an Egypt if’n Faeroah would have jest considerated his dream a bad nightmare and not consultated with Joseph.
God spiks to us in strange ways a time or two. We think thet He only talks to us through the Bible or through the Pastor or sum Prophet. Yo’all probably already no this, but God also spiks through circumstances, feelin’s and ‘motions; through our frens and spouses and who knows how many other ways. The impertent thang to aks is, are we listenin’? Ah thank it’s possible fer all of us to become akquainted with the Holy Spirit in His messages to us through the speriences of our daily livin’. But we need to larn to be opin with our lives so thet we become transparent to our friends. We used to be proud of areselves in a past generation when we could hide our feelin’s and our troubled thoughts behind the mask of our pride. But this secular generation has been teachin’, fer some time now, thet yo’all just need to be yoself and yo’all’ll feel a lot better fer it. The trouble is thet Christians feel they need to proteck their spirichal image so we’ll jus’ hide the signs of Gods dealin’s in our lives an no one will never know the diff. Don’t fool yerself, you hear. From the outside, we read the signs, but we don’t always unerstand the meanin. We need to git together on this so thet we can interpretate the signals and then my and your struggles will be resolved and our future’ll be so much brighter. Will you all REACH OUT and TRUST someun this week? God cares more then words kin say.
You Have a Fine Way
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Psalm 84:11
There are some passages of scripture that jar me into the reality of practical counsel, both by the frankness of the truth as well as the expressions that are used. Here’s one that caught my eye and made me chuckle at the directness and clarity of the colloquial English. The N.I.V. challenges us to the process of self-examination. “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions.” (Mark 7:9) Isn’t that the TRUTH?
A conference speaker who was challenged by someone in his congregation complaining that he was not deep enough in his preaching is reported to have said, “We already know more about the Word of God than we are prepared to obey.” Does that hit home or what? Someone else would remind us that we need to return to basics. We are not here to scratch comfort into an itching intellect, but rather to challenge ourselves with the claims of the Gospel message and to follow up with obedience to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus didn’t save us to make us happy, He died to make us holy. So don’t get confused. We need to examine ourselves and find out, WHO ARE WE PLEASING, ANYWAY? Do we actually choose the parts of the Bible that make us feel good and neglect our duties and responsibilities because it sounds like ‘work’ and that might lead us out of our comfort zones.
There are many statements in scripture that clearly state what Jesus wants in His servants. They should be a people, committed to Him, dying to self, serving in love and, if necessary, suffering in peace and joy. After all, we should have our eyes fixed on a higher prize than anything this world could offer us. Whether it be in people, pleasure, possessions, position or pension, God wants us to place everything in any of those categories, after HIMSELF. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
We need to re-define our principles and our goals in the light of His claims on our lives and put them in line with what pleases the Lord. After all He has done for us, and after all the promises of what He will do for us, and after all He is to us each day, we ought to be concerned with expressing our gratitude to Him through more than words. He’s calling us to live for Him in a lifestyle that honours HIM, which means that we will respect and obey His direction in spite of our own personal feelings. He should be the King of our lives with absolute dictatorial authority to command as He pleases.
Let’s learn to do things that bring Joy to His heart.
The Pledge of Blood
“In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:25
One of the strongest teachings about “Covenants” is found in the experiences of David and Jonathan. They had built up a friendship of mutual confidence and trust to the point that each was willing to lay down his life for the other. In spite of the fact that Jonathan’s father, Saul, hated the young Shepherd boy from Bethlehem, Jonathan pledged his loyalty to his friend through some very difficult circumstances. They often met to confirm their commitment to each other through the blood sacrifice that sealed a Covenant.
It may be hard for us to understand the kind of relationship that they developed, but let’s give it a try. When we read passages like 1 Samuel 18:3, 1 Samuel 20:16 and again 1 Samuel 23:18, you begin to understand a little more about the depth of their dedication and devotion to each other. The pledge they mutually made entailed the sacrifice of a lamb. It involved the shedding of the blood and the sharing of a pledge of loyalty and God was their witness. It was as though the blood of the Covenant ceremony had become the glue to bind them together as one. Each time they repeated the act of dedication, they were reminded of the, ‘till death do us part.” This was intended to demonstrate the seriousness of the words that they had spoken. Death was in their message of commitment to be faithful and loving to each other. That pledge drew them both into a confession of devotion and allegiance to protect each other and preserve their families through future generations.
Jonathan had to bridge a gap between the hatred of his father and his own love for his fathers enemy, David. He walked a tight rope but faithfully maintained his commitment to his dear friend.
Jesus came into the world to fulfill the pledge of eternity. Not only does His precious blood speak of our future inheritance but of our present protection. We are bound to Him through His sacrifice on the cross. His precious blood shed, serves as a binding element that holds us securely to Himself. The fact that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords puts us in the place of absolute provision because, nothing “shall be able to separate us from the Love of Christ” (Romans 8:35)
When the enemy comes against us, the pledge of the Covenant of Calvary forms a barrier of defence that protects us from his accusations and his condemnation. Jesus is our Defender. We are “in Christ” and free to serve Him. Each Holy Communion service becomes a reminder of the pledge of His loyalty to be our Loving Friend.
Jesus, the Centre
“But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:7, 8
Jesus is the Centre. He was the Centre of many a crowd, the Centre of attention in many home visits, the Central figure in meetings at the Temple or Synagogue, the Centre of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and the One who hung on the Cross in the Centre.
He was meant to be the Centre of our worship, the focus of our lifestyle and the goal of our eternal hope and reward. Jesus, the altogether lovely One (Song of Solomon 5:16) the desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7) the author and finisher of our faith; (Hebrews 12:2) the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) should be granted nothing less than the throne at the centre of our hearts.
The attentions of the angelic hosts are focused upon Him. The Apostles preached about Him, re-taught His teachings and verbally pointed to His return to earth again. Multitudes through the years have surrendered themselves to Him and committed their lives to serving Him; even to the point of death. No other person in all of history has consistently been the centre of the interests of poets, artists, authors, philosophers, Kings and rulers as Jesus.
Centuries of believers have honoured Him in the liturgy of worship services, in the retelling of the details of His life and ministry among the multitudes of witnesses of His earthly activities. Heavenly worshippers victoriously proclaim, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Revelation 5:12)
When all is said and done, in the Palace of the King of kings sometime in the future, we will acknowledge that Jesus is truly the One and Only who could bring Salvation to this world to transform our lives from what we are to make us what we will be in heaven. He deserves to be acknowledged and worshipped as the Lord over all of creation.
With excitement, the Apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus will be recognized in a public fashion: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9 – 11) Every eye will be focused upon Him as all other things that we value so highly fade from our view as He becomes the Centre of our attention. That day is not too far away.
Where Is God?
“If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Psalm 139:8
Where is God when you need Him? You’ve probably never asked that question but I have a few times in my life. If it hasn't been for my personal pain it’s been for what I’ve seen others go through in some of the tragedies that visit folk that I know and love. I know that many of the prophets and the writers of the Psalms had that kind of question multiple times in their experiences as they tried their best to serve God and keep on the victory side. If you’d like to try them out, I’ve got a few pat answers that I’ve used to temporarily resolve that query but let me confess they aren’t always satisfying. Here’s one: “We’ll understand it better, by and by.” Or perhaps you’ll like the one that needs to stretch your faith a little. “God has his reasons.”
Of course those answers are true but they sound too evasive to be of any help during trying times because when you’re hurting, words just don’t satisfy. Let me tell you something that you probably already know. When it appears that God is silent we need to apply two basic principles that I call the backward look and the forward look.
1. The backward look – is reviewing your experiences with God from the past. The history of how God has blessed and invested His love in your life until now is based on the fact that He came to seek us out, to save us and fill us with His Holy Spirit. That is such a tremendous expression of love. The Psalmist said, “And forget not all His benefits.” (Psalm 103:2) God has been good to us in the past and we need to remind ourselves of that. Anyone who has been serving the Lord will recollect the wonderful times in His presence and the blessings that He shares with us, deep within. He has been there before.
2. The forward look – is to review His promises. Whatever our situation, right now, He is still God and He has declared that He would never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that we will be more than ‘overcomers’ and rise above the problems that surround us. He is committed to giving us the strength or the grace to come through every situation and to be better for each trial. Beyond today and maybe tomorrow He has pledged that He will come again to receive us to Himself where we will retire, for eternity, to His mansions.
Don’t think it a strange thing when your faith is tested and don’t be embarrassed to confess that you need the Lords help. It’s when we ‘feel’ like the heavens are made of brass and God isn’t hearing us that we need to grip on to the anchor that, “His compassion’s fail not. Great is His faithfulness.”
(Lamentations 3:22, 23) He always considers us as the most valuable of all of His creation and His affection for us is beyond measure. He will not fail you, even in His silence He is there and He is listening.
The Call To Work The Harvest
“Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow… so great is their wickedness!” Joel 3:13
Every day is harvest time. Jesus said, "Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." I know that Jesus is seeing more than we do. We are humanly trained to be seasonal but He saw the souls of men perishing every day. As far as He is concerned, the only thing that was missing from His plan to reach out to the lost was the willingness of the labourers to enter the harvest fields. That has been the problem throughout the ages. It's not the lack of things to do but the lack of a sincere desire, on our part, to do the things that God wants the church to do that has been the obstacle to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Basically, it's the lack of labourers.
Let's look at a few things concerning the task of reaching the lost:
1. God has given clear instructions: "… go and make disciples of all nations…" (Matthew 28:19)
2. He set a clear example: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)
3. He gave us a simple message to share: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
4. He has given us a new authority: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
5. He is willing to give us special giftings to get the job done: " … eagerly desire the greater gifts."
(1 Corinthians 12:31)
6. He has promised that He would go with us at all times: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)
7. He has promised that if we lack wisdom that we only need to ask Him: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
The harvest field is the world. That area that we see every day is where we ought to begin. It touches our families, our neighbours, the people we work and do business with, the people we like and the ones we don't like so much. Jesus saw the need and was willing to leave heaven to bring the message to our world.
What should we do?
- Let's pray for the lost of our world.
- Let's pray that the One in charge of the harvest would ensure that there are Labourers to do the task.
- Let's be prepared to go. (Wherever He leads us.)
- Let's be prepared to give to Missions that will support others who are presently involved in reaching the Lost.
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
There is only one door. It could be called a ‘Fire Escape’ door but it does serve higher purposes than that. It is the entranceway to the presence of our Heavenly Father and the fullness of the riches of His Wisdom and Love. Some have said that we are very narrow minded when we announce that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven.
Like it or not that is the reality of the matter and like it or not, we can not compromise that truth. If there had been other ways to get to Heaven to enjoy Gods blessings Jesus would not have needed to come into the world. There is no other way! He even made a last minute check with His Father when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Then He went through the whole terrible, suffering process that led Him to die on a rugged cross, outside the city of Jerusalem. He did it because there was no other way.
You better believe that if there were a better way to bring Freedom and forgiveness to men, the Father would have done it the other way. There was no other way. Calvary was no picnic. Jesus knew that. It was expensive but the price was paid to open the way to the Father and the rewards of heaven through Jesus’ death on the cross. The only way to settle the account was very costly in both pain and energy; emotionally and physically.
The plan was that Jesus, and not any other, would die on the cross in our place because He alone could atone for the transgressions of all of us. He was willing to pay the ultimate price for our waywardness giving us the Liberty to come before the Father forgiven and cleansed from all the things that could keep us out of His presence. No one else in all of creation could do such a thing. Jesus alone could open the door for us to be able to enjoy the blessings of God who, then, receives us as His own sons and daughters.
When we celebrate the communion service it reminds us that Jesus gave Himself in sacrifice as our One and Only Saviour. His body was beaten, bruised and pierced for our transgressions. His blood was shed to wash away all our sins. His brow was pierced with thorns that we might have peace of heart and mind. He took upon Himself the terrible consequences of my sinful ways and in exchange He offers me His righteousness. The moment I asked Jesus to come into my life and to forgive me, a decree was sounded out in the realms of Heaven. “A sinner has been redeemed!”
There is an outstanding invitation to all, to come to the Father through Jesus Christ His Son. You can do that right now! God loves you!
The Days of Harvest
“You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.” Isaiah 9:3
Most of us are not familiar with the autumn harvest fields, except those who’ve come from the prairies. If you have never seen a field of standing grain moving with a warm, gentle breeze, you have missed a thing of beauty. An experienced farmer’s eye can calculate, very closely, the quantity of bushels per hectare for the harvest as well as the quality of the grain for its real worth. But more than picture value, it’s the evidence of the sowing of good seed, rain, sunshine and the waiting for an extended period of time that finally shows results. That can mean either poverty or wealth to the farmer.
That’s what Jesus expressed when He challenged His followers, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35) Jesus saw the magnificence of the crowds about Him as would a good farmer who evaluates his crops at the end of his seasons of labour. He knew the worth of every wandering soul and considered it imperative that He get involved personally in the ingathering process to bring each one into the Fathers presence. As far as Jesus was concerned, there was nothing of more importance that anyone should do than to assure that the grain in the fields was brought in …NOW! “Open your eyes,” he said. (my interpretation is “Don’t miss this!”) Everything else that we do in the world should be geared toward equipping us to obey the directions that Jesus gave to His disciples. “Go! Preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15 There is nothing more important to the Lord than the ingathering of men and women into His Church for the day when the final trumpet will sound. It’s harvest time right now.
That’s our Mission. We are all called to be labourers in the Master’s fields of harvest. The work must begin at home, where we live, work and do business. It should saturate our hearts so that we do not miss opportunities to express the wonder of Gods love to our generation. It extends over the kilometres where, in cooperation with Missionaries, we become a part of the team working on the ingathering of lost souls who live far away from us. Someone needs to do the job! We assure that the tasks will be done as we prayerfully share our personal harvest income from the financial benefits we have received with others who depend upon our support. Jesus emphasized the fact that the time is short and that labourers are few. Yet, it is a matter of urgency. What are you doing in these days of Harvest? What should we be doing? That’s a matter that we need to discuss with the Lord of the harvest. He has a plan. If we are prepared to listen and then obey, He will share that plan with us.
Be a Missions supporter at Home and to other countries. It pays greater dividends than any other investment this world can offer.
Are Rules For Fools?
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey…?” Romans 6:16
Someone has said that ‘Rules are for fools.’ We say that with tongue in cheek when obedience to the rules is inconvenient. Then someone else has said that, ‘Laws are made for those who want to obey.’ 'The lawless don't care about laws because it's not a part of their chosen lifestyle. Then some Christians say that, ‘We are not under the law, anymore, we are under grace.’ Watch out! You're on pretty dangerous ground on all of these. You see, God is a God of law and order. That is a part of His perfect nature and infinite wisdom. Everything we see in all of creation has got to abide by His rules of authority. All things are subject to His Word. His controls keep planets, stars, moons and tides all under a very strict schedule. We become fools when we argue about that.
It follows as well that He has established certain guidelines and rules that are important for us to follow if we ever hope to live a life that pleases God and has no regret. There are some who think that they can play God and set their own rules for their actions and lifestyles. There always are consequences that bring us back to reality. Then, sometimes we act like God is a spoil sport who doesn't understand what a modern society is like and that He has arbitrarily laid down rules that ruin our pleasure.
Hear me clearly; He has given guidelines that are intended to protect us from experiences that would be harmful to us or that would injure our relationship with Himself. His rules establish boundaries that are intended to keep us in secure territory. They are designed as good advice that will protect us from the dangers that are round about us. It’s plain and simple. Let’s never forget that when we recognize that we are about to do something that we know displeases the Lord, He will provide a way to escape the wrong decision so that we can still be open to the blessings of obedience. That kind of surrender is an expression of our trust and love in a God who has proven faithful through all generations. His protection over us is one of the reasons He has given us the 10 commandments.
We are not saved by obeying the rules, rather we show the world that we are different by obeying the rules. Of course, there is one who will cast doubt upon God’s directives. Break the rules and you prove that you have another master who is not the Lord. His goal is to lead us to paths and places where we lose our joy and stumble into pits of despond and despair. Whose rules do you want to choose to obey? Those of the enemy of our souls? Those of the world? Those of your own pleasure? Those of our peers? Let's re-examine our lifestyle and test whether what we do meets with the Lords approval or not. It really does matter.
“The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:10
They say that heroes are those who make an extraordinary effort to save lives under difficult or dangerous circumstances. Generally a hero is one who responds to a situation spontaneously, without thinking of the consequences or in spite of the consequences. They usually don't see themselves as being exceptional people but just your average 'Joe' who happened to be available at the right time.
There are a lot of heroes in the Bible. Bible stories often tell of the lives and exploits of individuals who victoriously contributed to the peace and prosperity of the people of God. Some accomplished extraordinary things during tremendous times of need. These are the true heroes of the faith. But there is a recurring key to their success. Most of them were absolutely sold out to God and were plugged into the power of prayer. For example, there's Daniel who prayed 3 times a day. His three friends knew the value of fasting and prayer. Jonah called out to God from the belly of the fish. Abraham walked and talked with God. David's psalms speak of an intimate relationship with God through all kinds of life experiences. The Prophets messages, recorded throughout the Word of God, describe encounters with the Lord followed by empowered pronouncements that sometimes caused the hearers to tremble. Their key is prayer.
James writes, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
(James 5:16) But he quickly reminds us in the next verse that, "Elijah was a man just like us." But when he prayed, things happened. I said, things happened! You see, God has a resource of rewards that He freely gives to those who serve Him and who call upon Him and who continue to believe that God will intervene in the activities of men. We look back at this kind of hero and admire the results that happened because of that individual getting involved. What we often fail to see is the fact that before they prayed they were just ordinary people doing very ordinary things. They were just like us. But then they prayed and they became our heroes today.
I've often wondered, "How many dormant, potential heroes sit in our churches across this great land who have not discovered the power of prayer available to all believers?" You and I know that our generation is living at a time that requires ordinary people to get involved in prayer in order to make a difference in our families and in society. God has promised that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Be a hero!
The Hidden Things
“A man ought to examine himself…” 1 Corinthians 11:28
It is said that the strength of a tree is in the roots rather than in the branches. It’s what we don’t see that gives real stability and strength to the tree. Unfortunately we cannot gauge the steadfastness of a tree by looking at it or measuring the circumference of the trunk or the length of the branches. However, when the storms come and the high winds blow the evidence of the permanence of the tree will be seen. It’s the test of the tough times that prove the strength of the tree.
God told Moses that he led the children of Israel through the wilderness, “to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 8:2) The nation needed to learn that the strength of their nation was not in the numbers of people they had in their army, nor in the number of friends they could count on in time of need. Their strength was determined by their heart attitudes. They could never demonstrate their true strength by flexing their muscles. Both their courage and their strength could only be demonstrated through their faith and confidence in God.
I think it’s interesting that God allowed the tests of the desert journey to show themselves what they had inside. As you know, if you’ve read the book of Exodus, they needed a lot of work to put them into the kind of shape that would give them permanence in their service for God. The doubting, the mumbling, the resistance to Gods chosen leadership and their lusts were some of the issues that needed correction. It took them forty years to get that out of their system and in line with Gods purposes in order to prepare them to receive the promises of God. All the time, they were still an amazing group of people. But it was the stuff on the inside that made them weak.
Now I know that I’m not off the track when I look at our world today and wonder, ‘How strong is the body of Christ today?’ I mean, that we all need to look at the inside of our lives in the areas that no one else sees and do some personal examinations and testing in order to prove our hearts. That’s where we will discover the real strength of the Church.
This is not intended to point the finger at anyone. I extend an invitation to be honest with God and ourselves by working on the stuff that is not pleasing to God. Remember that, “it’s the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.”. (Song of Solomon 2:15) It is said that these little animals would use the vineyards as their place of security and dig holes for their dens thus exposing the roots and destroying the plants that were their camouflage. It’s the little things that get into our heart that impose limitations on our spiritual growth and can destroy us. It’s those things that most people don’t know anything about but, deep down inside, we know that we need to deal with them through the grace of God.
The Great Celebration
“The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all the faces: He will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.” Isaiah 25:8
There’s a great feast being prepared for the family of God. The place of the dinner is known but the exact date of when it will be served is yet to be announced. The Lord has given us ample signs to indicate that the day of that celebration is very close.
Just before He died on the cross Jesus said, “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” That statement comes to us from the shadow of the cross. But it was what was beyond the cross that brought joy to His heart. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross..” (Hebrews 12:2) He understood that there was coming a day when, because of the cross, a multitude of people called ‘Overcomers’ would be a part of a triumphant exodus from this world with His Fathers house as their destination. It will be a parade of valiant men and women whose lives have been redeemed through Calvary who will be marching to their reward. The awaiting banquet called the Marriage supper of the Lamb will feature Jesus and His Church in a time of great celebration that will include the faithful of all the ages. It’s impossible to describe the excitement of that moment as together we will stand in the Presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords. What an experience that will be to leave this place and all we know of the physical world and enter into the realm of the Spirit in the Glory of God! I imagine that the scenes of beauty will be amazing beyond words. I envision that the sounds will be overwhelming as the praises of Gods people rise, without hindrance, as we worship the Lord together. The heavenly host will join us at the Throne of God as we meet our Heavenly Father face to face for the first time.
Somewhere in these moments of delight, Jesus will welcome us to His table and fulfill His promise, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine… until… I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” We will share together in a ‘Holy Communion Service’ of grateful remembrance as we rejoice in the fulfillment of the work of the cross. We will take another backward look to review the price that was paid to bring us into the Presence of our heavenly Father. Perhaps it will be then that the Lord will wipe away all tears; some of shame, others of humble gratitude for the understanding of the magnitude of His wonderful love.
We await that moment as we remember Him in Holy Communion services. Look up! Our redemption is near!
A Wonderful Friend
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever.” John 14:16
We have often dreamed of what it must have been like to live in the times of Jesus and actually be a member of His itinerant congregation. Besides the many miracles that Jesus did, there was His ministry of the Word that was done in such a refreshing and fulfilling fashion. He could take a piece of heaven and apply it to the earthly situations of the needy. Yet He was very down to earth and seemed to understand the pressures that were imposed on the people of His day.
He used illustrations from a Mothers kitchen and from a Fathers construction site. He spoke of sheep, gardening and fish like He knew what He was talking about. He freely mixed with all kinds of people. He ate meals in the palaces of the wealthy and in the homes of common people. His mode of transportation was walking; the same as the average person in Israel. Wherever He went, He left a great impression on the people. Crowds thronged Him. He was so practical in all He did yet He spoke with loving wisdom and simplicity. He had a way of making people feel like God was reaching out to them and that He truly, was a heavenly Father.
Religion became a relationship rather than a set of rituals and ceremonies. He made knowing God a real pleasure instead of rigorous servitude. What a change!
But He left the world. Needless to say, things didn’t look that good after He was gone. But before He left He had promised that He would send another Comforter Who would take His place. This person would be a constant faithful companion, encouraging and strengthening those who continued to put their trust in the Lord. He would come into the believer’s lives as an indwelling Guest to help their thought lives and to be the Prompter of their hearts to know the will and purposes of God.
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. He comes into our lives the moment we invite Jesus to forgive us of our sin. That is a true and wonderful experience for every believer.
But there is another experience that is important for everyone. We refer to that as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. There is an enriching relationship that occurs when He confirms His presence in a supernatural way that we know as ‘speaking in tongues.’ (Acts 2:4, 1 Corinthians 14:4) He comes into our lives to make the scriptures come to life; (John 16:3) to bring us a greater understanding of Who Jesus is; to give us power to witness (Acts 1:8) and to help us live a clean and pure life. (John 16:8)He makes our worship alive and enjoyable. He comes to us just like the Jesus of past days. What a rich blessing He is to us!
Going In The Wrong Direction
“I have other sheep that are not of this pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16
Before He left the Ivory palaces of Heaven and the adoration of the throngs of Angelic hosts, Jesus was prepared to lay down His life for the sins of mankind. There was a purpose for His coming to this world and it was no accident of timing. Nor was He taken by surprise that the very people He had created would turn against Him. That was the main issue of His coming.
The scriptures are faithful to tell us how sin came into the world concerning the deliberate choices that Adam and Eve made in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered Gods creation by the rebellious act of our first Fathers. As a result, that same influence of indwelling sin, like a hidden gene in all humankind, was passed down to successive generations and compounded by the wrong choices of each of us. That is a part of every person, without exception.
Sin, like a plague, was loosed into the lives of every man woman and child. Ultimately, we may not be blamed for the entrance of Sin into the world but we must be to blame for doing nothing about it. It’s the wrong choices that we make that send us in the wrong direction from God and no one else is to blame but ourselves.
Jesus came to set things right. He came to deal with the destructive influences of sin in the heart of men and to take care of the consequences that hang over the heads of all who have ever done things to offend God.
Jesus came into the world as a little baby but, to the surprise of all of creation on earth and in hell, He never stopped being God. He lived like us and among us but He always possessed the purity, power and authority of the eternal God of creation. Because of that wonderful combination, He could take our place as a universal, representative man and deal with the eternal and universal issue of Sin. Because He was a man He could die for our sins. Because He was God He could die for all men of all time. No other created being could accomplish that. He became an ‘exchange’ person for our sin so that we could have His righteousness.
Because He is LOVE, He was willing to step out of the realm of eternity into the time limits of creation and pay the absolute price to set everyone free from our sins. His goal was, “..to seek and to save that which was lost.” That is still His purpose. That is the reason we have a Missions outreach program. Our praying, giving and going to those who are lost are continuing expressions of the purposes of God for the Church. If He was willing to lay down His life for sinners, we who represent Him and His love in our world today, ought to be willing to make an investment in His plan to be the Saviour of all men.
The Kingdom of Heaven Is Near
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
2 Corinthians 5:20
I wonder how long God will wait before He sends judgment upon our generation. I know that He is very patient “...not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 2:9) That doesn’t mean that He approves of the lifestyle and actions of so many in the world today. He still hates sin; it still grieves His heart when people do not trust Him and I expect He will not be silent forever. History proves that. It is said that a people who do not learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat the same. That’s scary when you remember the flood, Sodom and Gomorra, the judgments upon the early nations in Canaan and the succession of kings that ruled in Israel.
There is a principle of sowing and reaping. It has been true since the beginning of time. God’s warnings about avoiding sin are intended to protect us from the consequences that sin brings. Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked..” (Galatians 6:7, 8) We can’t be hearing Gods admonitions and continue to do whatever we want as though we didn’t care about His opinion. There will surely come a day of consequence. Yet, it is His greatest desire to set us free from the wages of sin and His patience, holding back the consequences of sin, gives us opportunity to repent and to return to Him.
Let me remind you that no one will ever love you as much as God does. That doesn’t mean that we should continue the way we are.
Let me send out a prophetic call that you’ve read many times before, but is more real today than ever before. “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2)
I sincerely believe that God wants to pour His Spirit out upon the World as never before. He’s about to return to take us home and I don’t believe, for one moment, that we are leaving here with a whine and a whimper. We will rise as a triumphant army to report to our Commander in Chief, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.
God is already stirring the embers of revival around the world. He is calling the Church to be alive in our worship, hungering for His presence in our meetings and serving Him in practical ways in the world, today. We should all understand that our regular occupations and income resources are means to help us fulfill His call upon our lives. The main purpose of our living is to honour Him with all our hearts; not as unholy hermits but rather serving God each day of our lives, ‘where the rubber hits the road.’ God still loves the lost. Somehow we need to be sensitive to the things that happen around us that grieve His heart and, at the same time, be loving and patient to those who need to see His love in us. We have not been appointed to be Judges but rather Ambassadors representing His Kingdom.
Working With Missionaries
“Finally, Brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
The Lord spoke to Paul, one night, in a vision and told him, “ I have many people in this city.” (1 Corinthians 18:10) Those were the very words that Paul needed to hear to encourage him to continue serving the Lord when things didn’t appear to be going the right way. He had heard the call to minister specifically to the people of that region but he wasn’t seeing the expected results. But God saw the whole process. It was a sowing time that would eventually bring a great harvest. He saw what Paul could not see. God saw many people in the city who, eventually, would respond to the ministry of the Word. Paul needed to believe that although he did not see the results that he expected to see God was doing some very good things behind the scenes. At the same time, the success of the Missions project still depended upon someone preaching and teaching the good news even though they didn’t see immediate results.
That is still one of those difficult situations that missionaries face today. We all want to see dynamic things happening all the time as our Missions representatives labour on the front lines. But sowing the seed of the Word in beginnings can be discouraging unless we understand that God can work in the lives of people who are given the Word. The results may take time but God will not let His Word go to waste. It will accomplish its purpose.
To this, we raise the challenge; just as Jonathan strengthened the hand of David in God, (KJV 1 Samuel 23:16) so we must be the encouragers of those who are a very important part of our Missions Outreach team. It is a blessing to Missionaries when they know:
1. there are people who care and are praying for their ministry. These people may never see the results of their intercession until they arrive into Gods company but their investment of time on the behalf of others does not go unnoticed in the presence of the Lord.
2. that concerned Saints in our Church back up their words with a financial expression of their commitment to reaching the lost. We’re prepared to back the project that is so close to the heart of God.
3. that if the Lord lays His hand upon our Children, Youth or Young Adults, that we will be behind them to encourage them to move out in God and be obedient to do whatever He wants them to do. We give our Children to the Lord.
4. that we will be faithful to seek every opportunity to speak to someone each day about the Lord. Not all the lost are overseas. There may be some in your home, or in your neighbourhood that should be reached.
Let’s share our blessings for Missions outreach the next time we’re asked to give to Missions.
Strong to Serve
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’” 1 Peter 3:14
“Finally, be strong in the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:10) That’s Paul’s exhortation to one of the best Churches he ever pioneered. He was speaking as a caring Pastor, who was aware that the world can be pretty intimidating from time to time. He could speak out of experience, though, because he confessed, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3) That’s probably a pretty accurate picture of those in the Church who try to witness to the unsaved today. Can you see it? Telling others about Jesus sometimes has that kind of effect on some of us in the beginning.
But Paul comes back to challenge us with the need to be bold in spite of the “threat” of being made the brunt of some kind of criticism or persecution. It’s a challenge that calls us to dig down deep, into the resources we have in the Lord and not be wavering in our commitment to serving Him. As a matter of fact, that same passage carries us on to an understanding that we are in a war and that we need to be clothed with the “full armour of God.” This is war! But it’s a war to share love to those in need. We fight against an enemy who doesn’t want that kind of message to get out.
Unfortunately, more souls have been lost in this conflict because of what we did not do than because of what the enemy could do. The truth is, we have a more powerful resource available to us than he has. The Lord is on our side and there is absolutely no foe that can be successful against Him. “The Lord is a Warrior. The Lord is His name.” (Exodus 15:3) God has also given us the Holy Spirit who gives us strength, wisdom and the right words to speak at the opportune time. He still answers prayer and does for us, far above anything that we could ask or think. Believe that and test it out.
You know that the common picture that the world has of the Church is of some foolish, little, mentally challenged, weakling who can’t adapt to a modern society. That’s not the picture of the Jesus I know nor those who were a part of the early Church; nor is it anywhere like some Christians we know who are bold to stand for what they believe because they’re made of better stuff than the world.
Paul’s exhortation ‘to be strong’ is a challenge to do something brave and positive in your area of the world. I believe with all my heart that in spite of the lack of integrity and morality in our world today that there are many people who are looking for those qualities and would be willing to follow a leader who would demonstrate those characteristics. So, ‘be strong’! Don’t back down! Stand up and be counted! We’re part of the winning team. Keep up the good work and believe for His blessings upon you.
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©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.