"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
The Keystone of the founding of the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada was the uniting of a group of Pastors who had a common vision for a Worldwide Missions Outreach. Through the past number of decades their Missionary emphasis has been a priority in their Churches across the Dominion of Canada and God has added His blessings to the fulfillment of that vision. Mission giving is necessary to fulfill the mandate to, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)
Missionaries are sent to various parts of the world to preach and teach the gospel. They are people who respond to a very special calling yet they are just like we are and have needs like the rest of us. Some have children who, obviously, require special attention for their education and support. Needless to say, they depend on us working with them by our prayer support and by providing for their daily requirements. Only eternity will reveal what your faithful giving and praying has accomplished. You may not have thought of it in a personal way but what you give together with others is the size of the tool that is used to reach the lost. Without the tools, what could our Missionaries accomplish? We want them to efficiently be able to do the most possible in the shortest time available so that the job of reaching the world will be completed before Jesus comes back again. It will be a tragic moment to find out, when Christ returns, that we could have done the job a lot better and faster if we would only have given in a more committed fashion. Let’s do what we can do with what we’ve got so that we may hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Giving to Missions:
- is a gift of faith. We release our finances but don’t see where it is going or what it is accomplishing; but we give to the Lord.
- is a step of faith. We could use the money ourselves but we invest in the Kingdom of God by surrendering our finances to the Lord.
- is a vote of faith. We may never meet the recipients of our giving but we believe that God has called ‘quality people’ to do His work in Missions and our giving is a vote of confidence in Gods choice.
- is a declaration of faith. I want to be a part of what God is doing in other parts of the world and although I may never see where it is being used, I declare that I trust that God is able to use this gift for His glory.
Remember the words of scripture: “How can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15) Let’s do some sending by our faithfulness.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
Prayer serves as a direct connecting line from your heart to the heart of God and depends more upon your right attitude than your right words.
Jesus gave a clear illustration when He spoke of the pride and the ego of the Pharisee, in Luke 18, contrasted by the humble approach of the Tax-collector. The Pharisee was a religious leader who had all the credentials for doing things right, for fame and fortune but his heart was taken up with himself. It appears that he came to God to proclaim the credits of his accomplishments and his personal worthiness of Gods special consideration. Meanwhile the Tax-collector, standing at a distance beat on his breast and cried, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) Jesus said that it was this man who went home justified that day. God heard his prayer because of his attitude and his humble confession.
Let me remind you of the ACTS approach to prayer. These are four steps that should occupy our regular prayer times.
A - stands for Adoration. We acknowledge God for who He is and we worship Him. Making our hearts approach His throne as humble and contrite people who have audience with the Most High. He is worthy of our praise because He is God.
C - stands for Confession. We open our hearts to tell God the truth about what goes on inside. He already knows, of course, but the fact that we are willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and failures brings us into a right attitude with God. We seek His forgiveness for things that we have done that we know displease Him and receive His pardon.
T - stands for Thanksgiving. Not the ‘let’s eat turkey kind.’ Thankfulness is an acknowledgement for His faithfulness and the kindness of His daily provisions for us. He has done many wonderful things for us and we should be faithful to express our gratitude. We come into His presence with gratitude for the many blessings that we already have received and move on to thank Him for those that will come through His promises.
S - stands for Supplication. Everyone has some needs. This is a time to lay our burdens down. It is time to intercede on the behalf of others and their needs. It is time to call out to God because we depend upon Him for so much in our lives.
It is important to remember that it’s not the wording of our prayers that makes them powerful. It’s the attitude. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray.....” (2 Chronicles 7:14) The step that must be taken before we pray is to humble ourselves. That’s time to check our attitude. Let’s learn to pray and do it Gods way.
The rich man wasn’t in Hell long before he became an ardent believer in Missions: ‘.. I beg you.... send Lazarus to my Fathers house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Luke 16:27, 28
“There are ninety and nine that safely lie,
In the shelter of the fold,
But millions are left outside to die
For the ninety and nine are cold.
Away in sins delusive snare,
Hastening to death and dark despair
Hastening to death and none to care,
For the ninety and nine are cold!”
Livingstone said, “God had only one Son and He was a Missionary.”
Every heart without Christ is a Mission field. Every heart with Christ is a Missionary.
A Missionary does not necessarily go outside of his country, province or his own community. A true Missionary needs only to go outside of himself.
Down beneath the mighty ocean,
Divers (missionaries) plunge for treasures rare,
But men (us) hold the ropes above them
So they breathe the upper air.
Seeking pearls (the lost) of richest value,
Braver hearts have dared to go,
But our hands must every moment
Hold the ropes that go below!
“Many will never reach the Mission Field on their feet, but all of Gods children can reach it on their knees.”
Today we focus a little more closely on Missions and the challenges to share the gospel to our generation. I’m not sure that we grasp the importance of everyone having a heart to see the lost brought to Christ. That is the passion that brought Jesus to this world and made the Apostle Paul declare: “For Christ’s love compels us.”
Let’s continue to commit ourselves to being Missionaries!
The Privileges of Prayer
“He said, When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name…” Luke 11:2
A single word or thought lifted to the Father through the name of Jesus is given access to the throne room of heaven. The freedom of entrance is granted to the pauper and the rich man, to the simple and to the wise. It does not depend upon our material resources nor our good looks. God extends to us the privilege and pleasure of prayer, where we can lay our burdens down and trust Him for the answers. Jesus taught us that He is our Heavenly Father and that He cares for us as His own dear children. He already knows our needs but invites us, just the same, to come before Him and share our hearts desire, as a little child. The number of words that are used in the request does not matter. He is most interested in the attitude of the heart and reads the motives and intents there. His greatest desire is that we learn to come to Him with all our needs and dreams and tell Him about them. There obviously should be many times that we come to Him with Praise and Thanksgiving for the many things that He has done for us, mindful that He has designed us to be people of Worship and Praise.
It is interesting that those who have learned the discipline of prayer find that praying brings great blessing. Those who have not learned to exercise themselves in this way, may find prayer dry and difficult. God does add blessings to those who seek His face. He is a Rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
A wise man so wonderfully stated the truth: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” God answers prayer. He longs to do more for us than we can imagine and He has given us the key to open the door to His presence and His treasure house, through faith. The responsibility of laying our burdens and cares before Him, rests on our shoulders alone, yet Jesus, Himself, is the one who intercedes for us. (Hebrews 7:25)
When we are not sure how to pray, the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us and helps us in our weaknesses to say the right things at the right moment. (Romans 8:26) The sounds of that kind of praying may be unfamiliar to our normal conversation but they are true expressions of the Holy Spirit who knows the need and carries it before the Father in a form that we do not understand.
Then there is the privilege of praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20) where the Holy Spirit uses another language to lift our verbal expressions to God. Besides that, He shares the joy of His presence with the one who prays. What a privilege it is to come to the Lord in Prayer.
Lets learn that any effort invested in prayer is well invested and brings a great increase. We have prayed.
Now lets be aware of what God is going to do in our midst.
“Her children arise and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28
The old adage is still often repeated, “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.” It has become increasingly more obvious that the Mothers role is becoming a very strenuous task. In our day, as moral values are shifting, it is progressively more difficult to raise our children with Christian standards. There are all kinds of messages that are being fed to our families through television, the education system and through the pressure of their peers. Having said all that, let me remind you of the positive side. The Apostle Paul commended Timothy for the faith that he possessed that was first evidenced in the life of his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice. (2 Timothy 1:5) He was a third generation Believer. The faith of his grandmother and his mother eventually became his faith. I never thought of faith as something you could give away, however the example of faithfulness does teach many lessons and that is something we all need to learn to share, freely. It may sound like a ‘call’ into the ministry when I say this, but I believe that Mothers need to exercise their faith in the home scene in a greater way than ever before because of the counteracting influences of the world.
We have often said that the Father is the Priest of the home and although I would never stop insisting that that is God’s plan, I think it is important to recognize that it is a shared responsibility as important as changing diapers, doing dishes and vacuuming the house. We need to make room for family prayer, good old gospel singing and reading the Word, to demonstrate to our kids that there is a healthy alternative to the trends of society. Speak well of your spiritual leadership and make it clear by your faithful attendance that Church is more than a community club. Speak often of answers to prayer and the importance of trusting God when things don’t seem to be going the way we want them to. Pray with your children about their school problems and their relationships with their friends. It’s all a part of sowing faith in the tender hearts of our children. I believe that God will honour us as we are faithful to give him room in our homes and then our hearts.
Mothers, don’t let go of the cradle. We need Mothers who will be godly to influence this generation and the next. The things you say and do are an investment that will be passed on to future generations. If things continue as they should, according to this pattern of scripture, you may see the dividends lived out in your own grandchildren who will be people who trust and serve the Lord.
Women In Ministry
“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14
If you thought for a moment, you could probably name most of the disciples who followed Jesus during His earthly travels. But could you name the ladies that supported His ministry? You probably would remember that there were three Mary’s and a Martha who were very good friends of His who seemed to always be nearby. Did you know that one of the first times the Word ‘deacon’ is used to describe a ministry was related to the contributions that a number of ladies did to assist Jesus in His activities and travels?
Luke 8:3 names: Mary, Joanna, Susanna and ‘many others.’ What they did is simply described as, “These women were helping to support (Greek - ‘Diakoneo’ from where we get our word Deacon) them out of their own means.” They were servants to Jesus. Handmaidens who helped supply the needs of the ministry of Jesus as He traveled the dusty roads of Israel. This passage focuses on the liberal commitment of a number of ladies, who obviously worked to support the Master and His disciples. The historical record honours the involvement of these wonderful ladies in their efforts to provide for the day-by-day needs of our Lord. There is no record though of any bills being submitted to the finance committee for review. They served in love. It is interesting that many sermons have been preached on each of the disciples and, in detail, their personalities and endeavours are examined. But I have never heard a sermon about Joanna nor Susanna. Then again, the ladies often do things in the background and don’t get much credit for their efforts and their labours of love. We may have missed that point but the Holy Spirit made sure that a record was made of their actions and it is recorded in this gospel message.
Women have played a very prominent role in the development and progress of the Church. The book of Acts often relates accounts of the women, whose faith was strong, who were committed to the progress of the gospel and the spiritual life of the Primitive Church. There was Dorcas, Priscilla, Lydia as well as Philips four daughters who prophesied. Others are named in the greetings at the conclusion of each of the Apostles letters to the Churches as Paul expressed his gratitude for the faithfulness of those who became a part of his ministry to reach the lost.
We appreciate the fine work our ladies of this generation are doing as they are involved in praying and caring for many of the tasks of the local Church. Stop for a moment, today, and think of those who are involved in your Church and be faithful to express your appreciation for each as they share the burdens of ministry. Many of them are the reason our Churches are successful and growing with influence in our community.
“Deborah arose, arose a mother in Israel.” Judges 5:7
She was obviously a housewife and not out to build a kingdom for herself. She just used the giftings and talents the Lord gave her, to do a job that needed to be done in Israel at that time. Her office was under a palm tree where she met with people who had problems and needed advice and counsel. Deborah learned how to listen to the Lord and was bold to speak whatever the Lord had laid upon her heart. It was through this lady, the wife of Lapidoth, (Judges 4:4) that God gave the direction on how to bring the nation out from under the dominion of their enemies. She had no throne nor crown to demonstrate any worldly authority. It doesn’t appear likely that she lived in any palatial estate to confirm her position to the nation; but people knew that when Deborah speaks, you must stop and listen. She was everybody’s mother. (Judges 5:7) People gave her that kind of respect, from all over the nation. She was a woman who heard from God and who obediently shared His message wherever it was needed. She was ‘A Mother in Israel’ by Divine appointment. Her children were all those who had need of a comforting word at the right time.
There’s probably a lot of them in the world today, like Deborah, who don’t grasp after the power of authority but who wisely, in lady-like fashion, are faithful to be the godly people that God has designed all of us to be. The ministry that God has committed to all of us is, simply, to be available to touch the hearts of those who see our witness and are looking for answers to life’s pressing questions. We don’t need a sceptre and robe to let people know our position. Sometimes those objects can become objectionable. But the simple, committed lifestyle of a Mr. or Mrs./ Miss Average Person can be seen as more accessible than we could imagine. Whoever we are and wherever we serve the Lord, there is a task that needs to be done and it is ours by Gods appointment. It may not be the deliverance of a nation but, definitely, there is a war out there that is directed at destroying the lives of people in our neighbourhood.
This is not going to be deep theology but let me make a few suggestions about being like Deborah:
1. Let’s take time to become people who hear from the Lord
2. Let’s take time to become listeners of the hearts of people.
- Let’s take time to be practical in our witness for the Lord.
- Let’s take time to explore/determine what our special talents and giftings are.
The Faith of Our Mothers
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded now lives in you.” 2 Timothy 1:5
A little girl, in the playground, huddled among her friends, turned to a little boy and loud enough for everyone to hear she shouted, “I love you.” In embarrassment, he ran for the cover of his friends. It was those three words that gripped my thoughts for a few moments. I wondered if she understood anything about what love really is.
There is the saying that, ‘puppy love is real to the puppies.’ How many other boys would be the object of her “love” before she met the one that would be the love of her life? I wouldn’t want to demean the innocent intentions of those words used in the context of her understanding. I’m sure that to her, the matters of commitment and endurance had not quite developed in her mind. Saying ‘I love you’ can be something nice to say to your family and friends. But as you grow up, those words have a very special meaning.
Real love requires patience, persistence and plain hard work. To talk of love is to speak of sweat, sacrifice and surrender. Not very much exciting romance in those thoughts. Who would have ever expected that something so beautiful as love would have such down to earth, practical applications?
Nowhere is the significance of those words more real than in the routine of a Mother, who spends endless waking hours of her day in the concerns of her husband and children. Her day sometimes stretches into the midnight/midmorning feedings, diaper changes, meal planning, house cleaning and laundry chores. All that began when she “fell” in love. You see, love is a choice to be willing to serve others at our own personal cost. I, like you, enjoy the emotions that are sometimes connected with a love relationship. However, if we live only on the emotional level, we have missed the true meaning of love. Let a Mother teach you. Let her example be a lesson to us all. Let her lifestyle direct us to what love is all about. This is not kid stuff!
Mothers, we honour you on a special day, once a year, for the faithful demonstration of your love. We recognize that we could not repay a good Mother for all the time and energy invested in our lives. The very fact that you are in Church on any Sunday is a witness to your commitment to honour the Lord and direct the spiritual life of your children. You are a special treasure to us. Even Jesus recognized the importance of Motherhood and while He hung on the cross, one of His last concerns was for His Mother. John, known as the Apostle of love, was delegated the responsibility for her care. Mothers, we wish to honour you today! !
We Honour Mothers
“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.” Matthew 27:55
They may not have been the only ones who sustained Jesus’ ministry but it is clear that the ladies made a tremendous contribution “out of their own means” to cover the expenses involved in carrying on the spread of the good news that a Saviour had come into the world. (Luke 8:3) Their involvement was noted on many occasions throughout the gospels as they humbly ministered to Jesus and His followers.
1. It appears that the home of Mary and Martha had an open door of hospitality for Jesus and the disciples whenever they were in the area. Their home was available as a place where Jesus and His followers could find food and rest. (John 12)
2. It is interesting to note that when Jesus was making His final journey to Calvary that His only recorded conversation, from Pilate’s judgment hall to the cross, was when He paused to speak to a group of ladies who ‘followed Him mourning and wailing for Him.’ (Luke 23:27) Obviously, they were expressing deep concern for the way that matters had turned against Jesus. The guys, who were supposed to be the brave defenders of the faith, were nowhere to be seen. It was the ladies who shamelessly demonstrated their disapproval of the treatment of the Saviour. They did what they could do and Jesus recognized that.
3. It was the women who followed Joseph to see where His body was laid. They were the first visitors to arrive at the tomb on the resurrection day. They were the first to let the world know that He had risen from the grave and an angel had spoken to them. The distraught disciples who were still in mourning thought their story was “nonsense” but the record says that the women “remembered his words.” (Luke 24)
4. It was a lady who opened her home in Philippi to the Apostle Paul that brought the introduction of the gospel to the western world. (Acts 16:11) It all began through the door of a woman named Lydia and has been advancing in that direction from the Middle East to the Far East and back again, since then.
Mothers day is our opportunity to express our appreciation for that kind of leadership in our homes by godly ladies who have been faithful to honour the Lord in various forms of service. They have often given leadership in spiritual matters and we are blessed by them for the wonderful contribution they have made in our lives.
Mothers Day and Our Mothers
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:28, 29
From his raised position he could easily see almost everyone in the audience. They came from many nations to be a part of the celebrations planned for that week-end. There were rich and poor, young and old, all with their eyes focused on him awaiting the words he might say or to see the things he might do at this very important time in his life. As he scanned the crowd, more aware now of their needs than ever before, he paused and looked into the eyes of his own, dear mother. He knew the story of how, as a very young lady, she had been found “with child.” She had survived the terrible stigma laid upon her because she wasn’t married and how do you explain that. Of course all the neighbours had done their share of criticizing and condemning but she had decided that she would bear this infant even under those awful circumstances because she believed that God had given her this child.
The story never went away and from time to time, people would throw that back at Jesus. He was an illegitimate child. (John 8:41) born without a father through some apparently shameful circumstance. But his mother was like most other mothers. She was there for him. She did the buying of the groceries and meal preparation; the cleaning of house and belongings. She personally made many of his clothes with her own hands. She was his counsellor, nurse, chauffeur, protector and very best friend. She taught him to pray before he went to bed and for each of the meals that she so lovingly prepared. Her own spiritual life began to set patterns for his own until he came to understand more clearly the direction that his Father in Heaven had planned for his life. His name was often on her prayerful lips when he did things that she could not understand. She longed for fame and success to follow his endeavours, like every other mother does. As a matter of fact, she was there, many times, as a vote of support and encouragement when he faced the crowds of people who wanted what he possessed.... until the very end.
And now, from his vantage point, on the cross, he remembered the kind, sacrificial, thoughtfulness of his mother. “John,” he said, “Behold, your mother.” He wasn’t going to be there for her in her old age so Jesus would do the best he could for her. He chose the youngest of the disciples, the disciple of love, to take care of his mother; as though sharing the prized family possessions as an inheritance, he gave his most valuable asset to his best friend.
We cannot count the true value of godly mothers, but we thank you today.
In Honour Of Mothers
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Proverbs 31:29
There is no question that by all appearances Timothy’s greatest asset was the input of Faith passed on from his Mother and Grandmother.
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice....” (2 Timothy 1:5)
He was not always aware of the real value that had been left to him because of their faithfulness to their spiritual heritage, by training Timothy to love the Lord. Others could see the tremendous contribution that was invested by them in giving direction to Timothy’s life. Paul was the one who brings this to our attention, with a gentle reminder, to be thankful for Godly parents.
I always think it’s interesting that there was no reference to Timothy’s father nor grandfather and I wonder where they were and what effect did they have upon this young man. We are not told but it makes me think. To be on the positive side, let’s not forget the power of influence that is committed to every Mother on earth. Although times have changed and many Mothers need to work outside of the home in order to meet the family budget, it is still recognized that Mothers influence is imperative for developing a family that understands true spiritual principles. We love you for that, Moms!
Let me just share a few things that are really important for all parents to pass along to all of our kids:
1. Teach them how to pray, when to pray and ‘to pray’. (That is, the method, the reason and the will to pray.) Prayer is one of the most important ingredients in the development of a life toward spiritual maturity.
2. Teach them by having them read Bible portions to show them that the Bible is the Word of God and is important to read and to memorize it. They should see and hear you reading as an example to them. Let them know that you appreciate when they make the effort to read their Bible as well. You’ll be eternally grateful. (Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”)
3. Teach them to be courteous under all circumstances. That is, to respect their elders and those in authority. Though older folk may have a different viewpoint than they do, the wisdom of experience is still one of the best teachers they will ever find.
Your own list probably goes on.....We love you and wish to honour you today. God bless you! Your task is great and God is able to give you His guidance every day for each of your own personal needs and desires.
Being A Loving Mother
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29
Allow me to state the obvious. You know that parents can adopt children but children have no choice in who will be their real parents. There are some situations where the arrival of a child in the home is viewed as a tragedy. They are sometimes called ‘unwanted’ children. The truth should not be related to the babies who had no choice in being born. That kind of situation should be called “unwanted motherhood.” Those children are still very precious in Gods sight as is with every child. Jesus demonstrated that, in a number of sermons, when He would take up or point to a little child and express the teaching of the heart of the Father toward them.
Being a Mother is a choice. Being a loving Mother is also a choice; whether it be by birth or by adoption. We cannot express the seriousness and commitment that such a calling requires. Loving Motherhood doesn’t run on an eight hour shift. It’s a 24 hour a day job that sometimes requires wearisome night shifts and tiresome days. A Mothers involvement and interests vary from the dreary drag of dirty diapers to balancing the finances of home budgets. When you speak of Mothers you better recall the exploits of ‘super woman’ who with boundless energy and wisdom was capable of resolving all issues. To say they can leap over tall buildings with a single bound would be an understandable exaggeration but to enumerate their tasks and routine accomplishments, although true, would also appear to be great exaggerations. It has been said that the energy that a Mother expends each day in the faithful, loving care of a family far exceeds the effort that a Father puts into an eight hour shift of manual labour.
Godly Motherhood is a special gift to future generations. Each child is an important investment in the direction of our future. They will, too soon, become the leaders of businesses, of our communities and perhaps the government of our nation. They will be the ones who have input into the moral fabric of our society.
It was through his Mothers teachings that Timothy became an important man of God to his generation. It was that kind of influence that began with Grandma that was passed on through the ages to make such an impact down to our time. Perhaps it all began over a kitchen table, at some Child's bedside or in a Children’s Bible class at ‘our’ Church.
Of all the things that a Mother does there is probably nothing that will share such long term impact as committing a true faith and trust in God. Talking Bible thoughts and praying with your children are the keys to a lasting loving Motherhood influence that will give children a right perspective on Gods purpose for their lives. Training Children in godly ways and planting the Word in their hearts are two of the promises of God that will bring eternal dividends.
Your children will rise up and call you ‘Blessed.’
The Gift Of The Father
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’” Acts 1:4
Jesus had spoken about the gift of the Father that the disciples would receive but that they had to wait for the promise, in the city of Jerusalem. I’m sure that they had no idea of what form to expect as this was brand new territory for all of them. I have a feeling that there was an air of anticipation as they tarried together in times of prayer and praise. They had no time schedule that they could establish as the possible moment of the arrival of “the Gift.” They had no idea of what appearance the promise would come. I’m sure that every knock at the door was a lift in expectation as they opened to receive the unknown mystery ‘present.’ Did they believe that another, physical Jesus would come to be their new leader? If so, would He be dressed in regal robes and crown accompanied by a military contingent?
As much as Jesus had often spoken of the coming of the Holy Spirit, it must have been difficult to conceive of this Wonderful Person coming in the sound of a rushing mighty wind and with tongues of fire on top of the heads of the Believers. Then they all burst into praise in languages not known to them. The Gift of the Father moved into the hearts of those who were gathered together in the upper room in the dynamic, unseen form of the Holy Spirit.
Something about His arrival, invisible but accompanied by phenomenal signs, filled the hearts of the 120 with great joy to such an extent that the whole community of Jerusalem heard about it and knew that something strange and wonderful was going on. The streets were filled with sincere but confused spectators as they heard and saw the reaction of the Believers. “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11) They did not understand everything that was going on because they, at first, thought that the Believers were all inebriated; but they did recognize that God was being glorified. There obviously was something about a Divine encounter that was happening with these people. That’s the way the Holy Spirit came as Gods gift from heaven and that is how He works in the hearts of believers today. Peter said, “The promise (of the Father) is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39) That’s an invitation to receive the same experience that the early Believers received and to become witnesses to our community. Whatever happens in our lives, let God be glorified! !
In the Bible record, it wasn’t long before the ‘spectators’ became participants and following repentance, ‘about 3000’ made their decision to accept the Lord and become a part of the new body of believers that became the Church of Jesus Christ. We need that kind of experience again!
“However, as it is written: ‘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
It started out like one of the many side trips that Jesus took with Peter, James and John. Away from the crowds and the regular banter of the rest of the disciples, they climbed up a high mountain. They weren’t used to this kind of strenuous excursion but, as they huffed and puffed, they obediently followed Jesus to ‘who knows where.’ He was always pointing out bits of interesting information and relating things to His Fathers creative and loving hand so, it was not unusual that Jesus would take them aside to give them a private lesson or to show them some new thing. When they finally reached the summit, unexpectedly, everything about their friend Jesus was changed. They had walked with Him for about three years and had seen Him do some fantastic things but never the like of what they saw this day. His flesh was transformed into a radiance brighter than the sun. His clothes became effervescent white.
The whole scene was the kind of thing that one would imagine in heaven and far beyond their expectations. Moses and Elijah joined Him dressed in heavenly robes of the same brilliance. Peter, James and John had suddenly become a part of a Divine council meeting called to order by the Creator of all things. They listened intently to the conversation concerning Jesus ‘Exodus’ that He was going to accomplish at Jerusalem. They didn’t understand that part of the conversation but were overwhelmed with the glory and ecstasy of the moment of heavenly visitation. This was a mountain top view of God that no one had ever seen since the day Moses saw His glory on Mount Sinai.
It may be difficult for us to comprehend the kind of experience that occurred that day on the summit. Our imagination can’t translate the kind of beauty and glory that heaven holds in reserve for those who will arrive there. Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church: “Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep but we will all be changed. In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye; at the last trumpet…. We will all be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52)
We shall be changed into the same likeness of Jesus on the mountain top. It doesn’t seem possible! But that’s one of the promises that the Lord is holding in reserve for the day we leave this old world behind. That is a part of the plan of God that begins at Calvary and ends with us standing in the Fathers presence for the rest of eternity. We’ll be changed; transformed! As much as I love the house I’ve been living in for these many years I know that there still awaits me the promise of my personal change. I trust that you long for the trumpet signal that will lift us out of our world of sorrow and sickness to live in a permanent place of peace and joy in the presence of the King of kings transformed into the beauty of Gods sinless creation. He’s coming soon, for you, to make that change.!
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
Anyone who has spent the major part of their life in the last century knows by experience what changes have done to our society. We have moved from the horse and buggy lifestyles to Rapid Transit and the rocket generation. Those who have been a part of Space exploration are literally flying faster than a speeding bullet. Candle light has been taken over by the incandescent, fluorescent and the halogen bulbs. It is interesting that when we want to get romantic, the candle is still an important item on the dinner table.
The change in moral values is one of the items that has brought a different shade of life to healthy family relationships. Today, things are said publicly that were a shave to speak even in the privacy of the club-house. Paul spoke of this matter with concern and hesitancy: “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:12) Our generation has lost all sense of shame. Please, please, give me back the old fashioned prudence and grace of embarrassment. Times have changed! I wish we could say that things are getting better but I don’t feel comfortable with some of the things that Society accepts as being ‘normal.’
I want to reaffirm my joy in the fact that there is one unchangeable that has made the difference in my life. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) Feelings, the weather and moral standards may change at any moment but the security of the unchanging Word of God has blessed me through the years. I have read sermons by Jonathon Edwards (1704 – 1758), John Wesley (1703 – 1791), Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892), Billy Graham (1918 - ) and the Apostle Paul (0010 – 0064) and I’ve discovered that the message has been the same through the years.
There is a standard of right and wrong that’s not based upon the trends and fashions of society. If anyone cared to look, God has not changed and what He expects from us is still the standard that will bring us peace and lasting enjoyment because of His approval. Let the world blow in the winds of popularity, pleasure and apathy but God will not bend to seek their approval. He will continue to remind us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) The bottom line is still this: We serve a God of love and He seriously cares for each one of us. That is why He has given us a true moral guide in the words of inspired scriptures. Let the debates of human reasoning continue but the fact is that God will have the final word. He has not changed and we should understand that although He allows all of us to make our own choices, there is coming a day when we will all appear before his throne to give account of ourselves according to His standard. Maybe, before we get there, we should prepare for that day!
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool…” Isaiah 1:18
There is no question in my mind that God is worthy of all honour and reverence. I’m acquainted with His deeds and I’ve seen the majesty of His works and there is no doubt whatsoever that we ought to approach Him with absolute respect, trust and confidence. But I am always amazed at the respect that He has for each of us. I’m sure it is an outflow of His loving nature that holds Him back from any forceful intrusion into my life. I appreciate the fact that He does care in many unseen ways and that He has a plan that He seeks to develop in our lives. I appreciate that He makes situations and conditions to work out for my good even though I am oblivious of how that all happens. But when it comes down to the final decision concerning His continued influence in my life, I understand that He wants me to make that choice.
He does not force us to follow Him although to do otherwise does have consequences. He often lets us see the options and then allows us to go the direction that we want to.
Needless to say, many of our lives bear the scars of our own stubbornness and some of the memories of wayward experiences may haunt our nightmares. God has created us as free-will human beings. We can choose what we want to do, where we want to go, what we say and how we say it. We can choose what we think about, what we put on and in our bodies, where we will live and many other important decisions of our lives.
And then there is the most important decision of all: Will we serve God as He asks us and receive the reward of an eternal destiny in His presence, or not? You see, going to Hell is a choice we make. That will be the inevitable result of other bad choices we make throughout our lifetime. If that is what you want, God will do everything He possibly can to help change your mind but the final choice is ours. We shouldn’t be surprised then, when we get to the judgment seat when earthly life is through and find out the result of our life choices.
But let me remind you, there are promises that express Gods desire to guide us in the direction that will best profit us eternally. His Word says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) and again “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8) It appears to me that God and His plan are just one step away. Although God has done so much for us we need to make that first step ourselves. That is our decision. No one else can make it for us and He respects us too much to force us to make that choice. To make that choice is to open up an entirely new set of options that will benefit us with His provision, protection and promises. But the Choice is yours.
The Choice: To Go or Stay
“Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” Mark 13:29
It is our hope, although we don’t often think about it; Jesus is coming back again! There are a couple of unfinished tasks that need His attention and only He can accomplish them.
1. Without question His primary reason for returning would be because of His great love for those who believe and trust in Him. There is no thing in all of creation that is more important to Him than those who have committed their lives to Him.
2. Obviously, He cares for the lost as well and is prepared to demonstrate, audibly and visually that He indeed is the Lord of all creation.
The Bible describes that at His return a trumpet call and the voice of the archangel will precede the Lords descent in the clouds where we will be caught up to meet Him in the air to be taken into heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) It will definitely not be a secret. You see, the world may doubt the reason of our hope and so they postpone their decision to accept Jesus into their lives. But God is prepared to give them a dynamic and dramatic demonstration that will cause multitudes, around the world, to believe in Jesus Christ and to be willing to die for their faith. Chapter 7 of the book of Revelation describes a great multitude that comes out of the Great Tribulation.
Now if you had a choice, and you do, wouldn’t you prefer to go with Him when He returns rather than lose your life during the terrible times of the great persecutions through the Tribulation period? One of the main reasons that He hasn’t come back yet is the fact that there are still people that need to make that important commitment of giving themselves to the Lord. He is patiently delaying His return to extend opportunities to them; but there is coming a day when the waiting time will be over. It may be soon.
He is coming again:
1. to show His love to the believers by taking them back to heaven where He will present us to His Father, with great joy.
2. to demonstrate to the unbelievers that our hope for His return was not in vain.
3. to remove the Church from the world and allow a clear demonstration of the wickedness of the devil and the sinfulness of man. (Then His justice will be known to be true and righteous.)
There is a place of beauty and harmony that awaits those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. We call it Heaven. Jesus called it, “my Fathers house.” The God who created the magnificence of this great Universe has reserved the best for the last and we shall be there to enjoy it with Him.
He Knows Those Who Are His
“’Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:24
Most everybody likes to be recognized by those around them, except, for sure, those that are doing something they shouldn’t be doing. It’s always good to be in the company of friends who share the same interests and to feel the warmth of belonging. There is nothing in the world as special as those times.
The strange thing, though, is the fact that even the best of friends can put on a ‘mask’ to hide their true feelings. Some even attend the same Church we do and sing the same songs we do and pray with the same kind of fervour that we do but it’s not from the heart. It’s put on. I’ve been fooled many times through the years. But then I’m not supposed to be the judge of those matters. That’s Gods business. We need to continue to show them the same kind of love whether they’re ‘real’ or not. The truth is, that God knows all the details because He reads the hearts of men and understands all the motives that are a secret to us. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “The Lord knows those who belong to Him.” (2 Timothy 2:19) Do you remember the story of the man who came to the wedding celebration and the King recognized that He was not properly prepared to be a part of the festivities. He was summarily thrown out. (Matthew 22:12, 13) My question would be, “Why didn’t anyone else notice that ‘the stranger’ was different from all the other guests?” I don’t need an answer to the question but it does teach me that I need to know for sure that I’m ready because when I stand before the King on that last day, He will see through my mask to the depth of my heart. There can be no hidden thing that will rob me of the joy of being a part of whatever He has reserved for those who trust in Him. I become ultimately responsible for what I’ve guarded in my heart.
Now, it was not my intention to cast doubt upon whether we are going to be a part of the future rewards that the Lord has prepared but I certainly do want everyone to know that the Holy Spirit will help us, right now, to be ready to be welcomed as part of the family of God. You see, it’s His job to speak into our hearts and let us know if there are things that grieve and disappoint the Lord. He is the One who brings to our attention when things need to be fixed up. He doesn’t do that because He takes pleasure in laying a guilt trip on us. He lets us know that our Lord, who is a loving God, is willing to pardon and heal/restore us so there won’t be any wondering whether we’ve passed the test or not.
Take a moment, every once in a while, and present yourself to the Lord for His review. If there is something that the Lord brings to your attention that needs to be dealt with, don’t put it off. Fix it up. Most often a simple prayer for forgiveness will resolve the matter completely.
Trusting In The Shadows
“He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:8, 9
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the sun is always shining, even though we don’t see it, because of the clouds and the darkness of the night. We know that the sun is continually doing what it’s supposed to do. Sometimes it is clearly seen on the other side of the world while we are covered with darkness. We understand that is the way things are. It is not a question of privilege or right, but rather a constant process, for everyone, that best helps us to develop and grow in a healthy fashion.
It’s funny, though, that in life we think we should always live in the sunshine of joy and happiness and have things the way we want, all the time. It isn’t always that way. The truth is that God has created us to enjoy Himself all the time, even in the dark times, because He never changes and He’s always there. However, when the sun isn’t shining on us, the dark and trying hours that we sometimes encounter do serve us for very important and practical purposes. But God is always there.
“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4)
Heroes of the faith, through the centuries, have believed that the victory is not in our feelings or emotions but in our trust in God. He is the Rewarder of those who confidently rely on Him at all times.
“Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
We will face the dark hours of struggle and disappointment but God will not leave us alone. He has promised to be with us always. The Psalmist says: “He brought me out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.” (Psalm 107:14) We have to lean upon the promise of His Word and believe that our loving heavenly Father is aware of every detail of our lives. He turned His back on Jesus when He bore our sins on the cross. But He will never turn His back on us, ever, because of the forgiveness we receive in Jesus Christ. There is coming a day when the storm clouds will no longer hide the face of the One we have learned to love and trust. It will be a great day of rejoicing as we are caught up to be with Him into His very presence where we will enjoy the light of an eternal day. We are never alone. He is a faithful friend.
God Answers Prayer
“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;” Psalm 77:1, 2
“The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” (James 5:15) We should expect that God will answer prayer. He has invited us to seek Him through prayer and to cast our cares upon Him. It should only be natural, in a supernatural way, that God would respond to those who obey Him and trust Him for solutions to our discomforts and difficulties. Add to that the fact that He is the Creator of our bodies and knows how every molecule and atom fit together to function with every other part of the body, it should be obvious that He is able to return order to a system that is not doing what it was created to do.
There is no question that the enemy of God and our souls would try to disparage the name of the Lord and His healing power. We have all, at some time, entertained some doubts concerning Gods lack of involvement in the healing processes that would ease our distress.
Let me confess. I would be the first to admit that I do not understand everything about healing and why God allows affliction to come upon His sons and daughters. The fact remains that He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and that there are Divine purposes in what God does and what He allows to happen in each of our lives.
Don’t despair! God loves us with an everlasting love and will be our guardian in every experience of life; even THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23:4) Let’s examine our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to do something brand new in us when we don’t understand what He is doing. If we discover that there’s nothing wrong let’s allow our faith to be stretched as we seek Gods face and learn to trust Him and His wonderful purposes. We believe He heals because the Bible teaches that, “He is the Lord” who heals us. (Exodus 15:26) Most of us have seen or known someone who has been touched by the Lord and the miraculous has occurred. He is a God of the impossible and there is no thing that is impossible to Him. Believe Him for your own, personal miracle.
The Lord wants everyone to know that He is God of the universe and that all of creation is still under His dominion. His Word bears witness that He wants to reveal Himself to us in the natural world and in the miraculous. Let’s believe that when we pray, God hears in heaven and is moved by the things that move our hearts. Whatever happens, Bless God! He is Faithful to His promise.
“O Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.” (2 Samuel 7:28)
Trust God“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
I guess you’ve discovered that sometimes it seems a lot easier to lean on our own understanding than it is to trust in the Lord. At least that’s what most of us do. Is it that we are not prepared to wait for Him to work out His purposes or is it simply that we would rather exercise our independence and stick to our own ideas? I’ve asked myself this question many times in my ministry, “Why, on earth, do we find it so hard to trust God?” It’s probably true that we don’t have so much trouble trusting God for the BIG STUFF but we wrestle with God over the little stuff. We believe that He pardons our sins when we confess them to Him and that our names are written in the Book of Life. We can trust Him for healing in impossible situations but we find it difficult to trust Him in areas where we can influence the outcome by our own choices.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
1. How many young lives have been led through some very painful situations because they were in a hurry to marry somebody who wasn’t the right person for their lives. Though Parents and Pastors advise, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers,” there’s always somebody with a ‘better idea.’ Listen! We need to trust God for His choice because it’s His best. We’ve all seen that mistake made and though we try to counsel to wait, the ‘love bug’ bites and who can stop the infection. Only as we truly trust God and His word are we able to make the right kind of decisions. It’s those kinds of situations where we need to learn that you can never win if you go against God. Trust Him!
2. When the Word clearly describes the desire of God to, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse... test me in this...” (Malachi 3:10) we should understand that God is inviting us into an opportunity to TRUST HIM and not lean on our own understanding. How many other ideas are out there? I can’t afford to tithe; I will pay my tithes as soon as I pay the mortgage; I need a new TV and God understands. There are so many excuses that I couldn’t count them all. But it boils down to a simple principle; if we don’t obey His Word and tithe, it’s because we don’t trust God, plain and simple. He sets the challenge for us to prove His faithfulness and yet so many are not prepared to obey Him. God offers the test so that we may experience His abundant blessings because we choose to obey and trust Him rather than make up other excuses. Trusting Him will always bring more blessings. You may have other kinds of tests that are pressing on you. The choice will still be yours. You can commit your way and trust in God or otherwise.
We serve an Awesome God and One who is worthy of our utmost confidence. Trust Him! He will not fail you.
To Please God
“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3
We love to worship the Lord and we enjoy coming into His presence to express our gratitude for the many good things that He shares with us so liberally. There is no question that we are blessed as we worship the Lord. We honour Him with our praises and express our adoration because He is worthy of our thanksgiving and our worship. We have often felt that there is nothing that is so sacred to God as the worship that we bring to Him. We are challenged to shut out all the voices of the activities of the week in order to get close to God, unburdened and free, to enter His presence.
I would like to challenge you, today, with another aspect of our coming to God. I am with you in the fact that God is worthy of our praise and that He still, “inhabits the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3 – KJV) However, there is one thing that blesses God more than the words, dances and enthusiastic expressions of our times of worship. I’m sure you’re going to say, ‘tell me what that is and I’ll do it!’ I’ve discovered that when God gets blessed, we do too. Do you know what I mean? I think we ought to re-evaluate what motivates us to come into His presence and for what purpose.
Most of us are happy to get from God whatever we can. We are absolutely confident that God approves of our method of approach to Him as long as we offer ‘the sacrifice of praise’, but I’m not so sure that is always true. Listen to what He told a great King through the voice of a prophet of God. “… to obey is better than sacrifice.” Now that may not be comforting one little bit but I wonder how many times we are blessed because we do praise Him and God is faithful to reward us for that but it becomes a substitute for what we ought to do. What God wants, more than anything else, is obedience to His Word and obedience to His Will. That’s what brings great joy to His heart. We could never calculate the variety of rewards that God will give to that kind of committed effort that is seen as more than lip service. He said to His disciples, just before He was crucified, “If you love me you will obey what I command you.” (John 14:15) Our true love for God is measured in our obedience to Him. True worship can be a result of the benefits we receive when we do what He wants us to do. The two can move, hand in glove, as we serve Him each day; worship and obedience. We’ll have many opportunities, in these days, to prove that His promises are true.
We are blessed! Let’s be obedient to serve Him that the end result would be a focus on His joy. That’s when we become very blessed.
He Brings Joy
“For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the work of your hands.” Psalm 92:4
Jesus performed His very first miracle at a wedding celebration in Cana of Galilee. He was an invited guest amongst many others. It could have been a family connection because Mary was there as well. What part Jesus played in the ceremony is unknown but His concern for the joy of the married couple becomes obvious. He was prepared to get involved in order to avoid a cloud of embarrassment that could have spoiled the festivities. I think it very interesting that He would create ‘stuff’ that would contribute to making people happy. I know that His primary purpose for coming was to make us holy through His precious blood that would, later, be shed at Calvary but I shouldn’t be surprised that He would want to bring us happiness as well.
Peter was one of those close observers of Jesus’ day by day activities. He reported to those gathered in Cornelius’ house how, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38). The end result of all that Jesus did was to relieve pain, guilt, discouragement and bring us into a loving relationship with His Father. When Jesus prayed to His Father, just before the experience of the cross, He made it clear that one of His concerns was that those who trusted in Him would know His joy. “I am coming to you now but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13) On another occasion He said, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24)
I think there’s something there that we should remember. Jesus is not a joy spoiler. He’s the joy giver. Why is it then that there are so many unhappy Christians today? Well, as you know, I don’t have all the answers but let me suggest something that I believe is important. The closer we get to Jesus and knowing Him, the more peace and joy we have. There is no better place to find the joy that is permanent than being where He is. We can do that by being in the house of worship at each opportunity; or being with those who love the Lord. His promise is still true, “Where two or three come together in my name there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) The Psalmist said, “You fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11) Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit and like all the other fruit they continue in us if we keep up our personal maintenance program. That is, we need to come to Him for a regular refreshing and recharging in order to be what He wants us to be.
He Still Loves Sinners
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’” Luke 14:23
When Jonah finally cleaned himself off and got his bearings straight, he headed towards the second to the last place on earth he wanted to visit. He had just returned from the worst and had learned a very hard lesson that has been passed on through generations. God wants “to seek and to save,” those who are lost. Although He doesn’t like the things that sinners do, He still loves the sinner. Like a lot of folks today, the people of Nineveh may not have been aware that God was concerned about them in spite of the wickedness within the city walls. He knew exactly how many little children lived in their city, but God did care for them. He was not prepared to give up on them without an effort to show them His love. Someone needed to let them know that their sins were destroying them. In order to know Gods love they needed to repent and ask for forgiveness.
Into that picture moves Jonah. From thousands of kilometres away God directed Jonah to go to the most wicked city in the world; to a people who spoke a “foreign” language; to a people of strange, rude customs. His message was simple. Repent or judgment would fall upon Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to go. As a matter of fact it would have made him happy to read the morning newspaper that Nineveh had been destroyed. But God cared! When no one else would give two hoots, God cared. They were a people hopelessly lost but God wanted to change that. He had higher plans as He does for all of lost humanity. As far as God is concerned, “He is not willing that any should perish.” It doesn’t matter where they live, God cares! That’s what Missions is all about. We are modern day Jonahs who are able to know that modern day call to reach the lost.
It’s important that we hear what God wants us to do and that we obey. There are a lot of modern Jonahs surviving in our world today. They won’t release their finances to do Gods work in distant parts of the globe. There are others who have never spent much time in prayerful concern for the lost where the message of Gods love has not been told. And then, there are others who have felt the Spirits tug on their hearts to get involved in reaching out to the lost, some right here at home and others in distant lands. Perhaps some of us need a ‘Whale of an experience’ to get us going in the right direction. God wants us to get involved in doing His will. There is nothing that is more important to Him than reaching those who may be living in the darkness of indifference to Gods love. Whether He asks for our lifes service or prayers or finances, He wants to reach the lost. He cares!
Do you think that the Lord can bear the thought that His redeemed will refuse to tell the story of His love? Watch out! There are ‘great fish’ all around.
Still There Through The Shadows
“So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” Acts 27:25
Most of us struggle from time to time with the matter of walking by faith. We may know the theology of how to describe what faith is and we know many stories of people of faith who have come through deep trials with great success. But there are times when that is of little consolation to those who are going through deep trials.
The problem is that we live in a sensory world and the natural things sometimes become obstacles to believing God in the invisible world. I acknowledge that there are times when I need to wrap my head around some Bible principles and get a hold on Gods Word in order to find the comfort or assurance for some of those tough situations that we all face. Trusting God isn’t always a happy time although I believe that we can experience a deep settled peace and a calm assurance that things will work out just fine in the end.
I’m pretty sure that the walk up Moriahs slopes was more than a difficult climb for Abraham. He knew that he was about to surrender his greatest asset; his greatest desire, upon an altar of sacrifice. The recorded conversation with his son Isaac is very brief Nothing is conveyed in words concerning the emotions that must have been racing through his head and heart. But he held this confidence: “God Himself will provide the lamb.” (Genesis 22:8) Next to walking into a fiery furnace this has got to rate as one of the greatest tests of faith recorded in scripture.
But look at the results!
1. Abraham learned that obedience to God would bring blessing in spite of heartache and duress.
2. He learned that God would be the supplier of his need, just in time.
3. He learned that a God given substitute will satisfy Gods requirements.
4. He learned that the tests of faith deal more with the willingness to obey from the heart than the actual accomplishment of any deed.
5. He learned that God would still give him the desire of his heart
6. He learned what it meant to have God as his friend. (better than any other)
Somehow we need to learn to trust God absolutely. Every situation that comes our way still requires some decisions and choices on our part. However, we need to look for Gods purposes and seek to do His will. He will never ask us to do anything that would be immoral or contrary to His Word. He will ask us to possess our souls in peace and to believe that when the final chapter of the story is written, whatever the experience might be, that there is great blessing in serving such an Awesome God. Doubt, fear and impatience become our enemies when we come to prove the promises of God. Stand fast, therefore and believe God. He cannot fail! !
Be The Church
“Then the Church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened: and encouraged, by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” Acts 9:31
Bill Gaither penned the words to the song that went, “Let the Church, be the Church. Let the People rejoice.” It speaks of the triumph of the fact that we have been placed on the Victory side of the great triumphs of Gods grace. We’re talking about the Church of Jesus Christ today. That’s not the building, it’s the people that love the Lord. That’s the group, trans-denominational that extends beyond the borders of countries and across the seas. They are the ones who know their Redeemer and Lord; those who trust in the name of Jesus and serve Him faithfully. Every congregation that honours Jesus Christ as Lord is a part of the Universal Church. Each group of believers may have different ways of expressing their devotion in both their Worship and Proclamation of the story of Gods love. That’s great! I believe that it is very pleasing to God when we can recognize our differences and that they really don’t make a difference in our fellowship as a part of the Body of Christ.
To each of us the Lord has committed a trust in the form of talents and abilities. They come in such a variety of expressions that one fellowship/denomination would not be able to contain them all. These giftings were not given to us to make us feel proud or better than others but for the purpose of honouring Him in our own unique way. Through the centuries, God has raised up groups of people with a renewed emphasis on some particular truth to call us all back to the basics of the faith that we may have overlooked. Yet it is true that the success or failure of the Church on the local level depends upon the faithfulness of each one in that congregation doing his part.
Here’s a call to everyone. Do what God wants you to do because you are a very important part of His Church. He has promised that His church will be beautiful and triumphant when He returns. He has promised to add His blessings as we serve Him faithfully. The devil trembles when the Church stands upon the promises of God. Therefore, “Let the Church, be the Church.” As we go through the routine of our weekly schedules, let us be sensitive to what God says to us and obedient to follow His promptings. Let us choose to be a part and get involved where we can. Be bold, be strong! These are great days to be a part of what God is doing in the world through His Church. I’m confident that the Lord will pour out His Holy Spirit upon the people that honour Him by responding to His will. We are His Church.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” Psalm 51:10
It’s the clutter of stuff that makes a home look unkempt. When things are not put in their proper place it doesn’t take long before the mess is noticeable. It’s important to remember that it’s not the amount of possessions that one has but whether there is a place where it belongs and whether it is useful or not. Garbage, of course, belongs in the garbage can and good stuff should have a space where it can be stored for future use.
Minds are like that. Peter wrote, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7) With all the things that are going on in our world these days it’s easy to get a cluttered mind with endless amounts of needless stuff. There’s garbage on TV. There’s garbage on videos and CD’s. There’s garbage in magazines and the gossip papers by the check-out counter. There’s garbage pressing to reform our laws to be more tolerant of things that God calls sin. The piles of stuff that clamours for our attention, that are not of God, are becoming a stench in the land.
Integrity and morality in public service are at an all time low. Our youth are caught in a web of pressures to conform to things that we have been opposed to and they are spiritually suffocating, ignorant that there is a place of purity and wholeness in Jesus Christ.
The evidences that we are living close to the end of all things is becoming more obvious as the signs of the times are being fulfilled around us every day. Jesus is coming again. It’s time that we got our minds in focus and cleared out the junk to be able to be released to hear what God is saying to His Church body. We need to free ourselves of the things that would distract us from hearing the voice of the Spirit of God. The importance of that becomes more obvious as we recognize the seriousness of these days.
If you’ll check back to the passage we just read, it will remind you that we need a clear mind in order to be people of prayer. It is easy for us to go with the flow of society and allow the clutter of the world to press us into their mold. If we want to be people who are led by the Spirit of God, we should appreciate the importance of possessing a clean heart and mind. Perhaps it is because we are so preoccupied, during our waking hours, with the junk around us that Gods message in the last days to humanity will come through dreams and visions. We are called to serve God with self-control and orderliness of mind and heart in such a fashion that the worldly ‘stuff’ won’t possess us. We need to be leaders in spiritual discernment but a cluttered carnal life will not be the kind of vessel God can use. We need to make some clear choices to honour the Lord in all our ways and not desire the ways of the world.
Jesus is coming back again. Have you heard from Him lately?
Our Mission Field
“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalm 2:8
The work of Missions and Evangelism has got to be revived in our hearts. Reaching the lost was the passion of the heart of Jesus and the early Church. It has always been the passion of God from the beginning of time. He was the One who came to seek out Adam when he had sinned. He took the initiative and came to speak to Cain to warn him of the path of sin he was taking. The Bible teaches that He even loved those who were not thinking about Him. He sent Jonah to Nineveh and used Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah because he cared for those who were lost and wanted them to turn from their evil ways.
Let me tell you a very important, up-to-date fact. He cares for your neighbours and the people you work with. He cares for the down and out as much as the up and out. His desire is to see all mankind come to the experience of His salvation. The method He uses? You and me! We are the bait on the hook that will capture people for Jesus. We are called to be witnesses to the lost. Like it or not, God is counting on us to live our lives, speak when opportunity presents itself and be examples of godliness in our world. Where do we start? Let me give you a few suggestions:
We need to begin at home. How we live behind the closed front door and curtained windows is what we really are; and then, what we really are is what the world will perceive when we get out where the action is. So let’s start there.
1. Let’s be people of prayer; the private kind. We need to learn the value of a personal encounter each day with Jesus in a quiet time. He is our very best Friend. Telling Him that we love Him and want to serve Him brings our lives into proper focus. Things may not go the way we expect them, all the time, but He is there as a Comfort and Strength for all our experiences.
2. Let’s teach our families that uniting together in prayer is the glue that will hold us through the crises of life. Tell each other how God has answered prayer and encourage one another to believe for Gods blessings when we pray together.
3. Organize a family time to read and discuss passages of the Bible or one of the many Bible stories that have been a blessing through the ages.
4. Watch your conversation that it be positive, uplifting, encouraging, free of criticism, loving and patient. We are responsible for the attitude of our hearts. No one else can govern what we are on the inside. Not even enemies.
With the help of the Lord, we are in control of the way we behave. Our family and friends will recognize that.
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:4
The first time that Moses went up the mountain to meet with God, the Lord spoke to him softly as a friend to a friend. He promised Moses that if the people of Israel would be obedient that they would be Gods ‘treasured possession, ... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Moses came down and told the elders of his conversation with God and the people responded, “We will do everything that God has said.” When Moses returned to the mountain top God told him that He would again meet with him but this time it would be in a way that people would never forget. They would hear God speaking with Moses and put their trust in him.
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning and the appearance that the mountain had turned into a Volcano. Smoke billowed out as from a blast furnace, the mountain trembled violently and the sound of a trumpet grew louder and louder. Exodus 19. That was the day that the Ten Commandments were given to the people. It happened 50 days after the Passover experience in Egypt, when the children of Israel left captivity. This was the first Day of Pentecost sometimes called the Feast of Weeks. God spoke in an audible voice accompanied by some tremendous demonstrations never seen before.
On another day of Pentecost, two thousand years later, the silence of the place where the disciples were gathered was shattered by the sound of a blowing violent wind; tongues of fire sat upon the heads of each of the 120 and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. God was speaking again through a group of believers. One of the interesting aspects was that the experience of speaking in tongues was repeated as a continuing blessing upon the Early Church. It is Gods gift, described as the Promise of the Father and given as fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers to “be filled with the Spirit.” He taught the early believers that a part of his prayer life was speaking in tongues. He said, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” It appears that the people who committed themselves to Jesus were encouraged to seek this added dimension in their lives in receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
God was once again meeting with His people. He does it in a way that makes us recognize that it is a Divine visitation as He did in the days of Moses.
I believe that He wants everyone who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour to share the same experience. As you pray, invite the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence in this spiritual refreshing.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The whole place was filled with the roar of a rushing wind. Flames of fire, like candle light, settled over the heads of each of the believers and they all spoke an unlearned language of praise to God. This was Pentecost. Nothing like this had ever happened in any religious revival in the history of Israel. The Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus who had waited with prayer and expectation for the arrival of this heavenly gift. The Holy Spirit was not just an influence at work in the universe. He was now present in each life and had begun to demonstrate that He was there, not just as a Visitor but as an indwelling Partner, to work the works of God through the faithful. No one could have adequately described these happenings to Jesus followers before they actually came to pass. The joy and ecstasy of the experience was a visible witness to the unbelievers that God was confirming His presence in the lives of “the Church.” There were many others in the city of Jerusalem that day who were spectators of this move of God. They heard and saw visible manifestations of a Dynamic influence working through this small group of people that they could not understand. When Peter stood up to explain what was going on, this great congregation of onlookers were touched by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Two things were involved. It was the combination of:
1. the move of the Spirit in the believers and
2. the witness of the preaching of Gods word on the hearts of the spectators. Three thousand were added to the Church that day. The key was that the Holy Spirit had come upon Jesus’ followers and believers lived their lives in that Pentecostal experience.
Revivals of this kind have come like waves across Christendom throughout the history of the Church. There have been many dark years in that history as well, but when Gods people became concerned about the spiritual coldness of their generation and began to seek the Lord, God has answered their hungering prayers and has satisfied their hearts.
This last century has witnessed many special visitations of the presence of God. Various congregations and groups of believers have been wonderfully blessed by what God has been doing in their lives. At a time when there are such large numbers of Christians in a world of 6 Billion people, we should be expecting that God would, once again, do dramatic and dynamic things today.
Pentecost Sunday is a date that follows 50 days after Easter. Both dates, remind us that we have been saved because of the work of the cross and we may be empowered by the Spirit for service until Jesus comes back again.
At The End
”In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men well see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17
There are two events that are clearly on Gods Agenda for these times. Both are related to the promises that He has made for those who will trust Him and both express the love that He has for His Church.
1. He has promised an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the whole world. The promise goes way back to the Old Testament with references to the latter rain which was recognized in Israel as being essential to prepare the fields just before the harvest. That term is interpreted as referring to the rain of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh just prior to the end. We have experienced that already in refreshing showers but we long for the deluge that will bless the discouraged and challenge the hearts of the Church to repentance and commitment to His service. The harvest of souls awaits the outpouring that will prepare the lost to receive the gospel message. At the same time the outpouring will bring an enduement that will equip the Church to do the job that must me done. There is no question in anyone’s mind today that our world needs a Mighty visitation of the power of God. We can’t be sitting on our hands to await that kind of experience. There is a price to pay. That price is to get serious about wanting the Lord to do something special in our world. We need to seek Him with all our heart and be prepared to surrender our wills and plans to His purpose.
2. He has promised that He is coming back again. He has not forgotten the Apple of His eye. The plan of Eternity has always been that we be in His presence, without the limitations of the body. We will be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. We are the Bride of Christ but if I think that my love for Him is stronger than His love for me, then I don’t fully understand the heart of God. The point is, that He has the power to change all things and to call us into His presence whenever He wills.
The responsibility on my part is to be serious about my relationship with Him; to demonstrate, by my devotion and lifestyle, that I am looking forward to His return. That involves my obedience to one of His last commands: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” The last days of the Church on earth should be days of triumph and victory as we do our part to bring the lost to know the Lord as Saviour. The signs of the times sound an alarm to the world amid tragedies and catastrophes that we all need to look for supernatural intervention in the matters of our world. At the same time, the book of Revelation describes the triumph that awaits us as we are caught up to be with the Lord forever. What a wonderful day that will be! It may be today.
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