Monday, December 22, 2008

New Covenant Prayer Language

Receiving a new prayer language in the New Covenant

When the 120 disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they also experienced a new phenomenon. It was an experienced that is unique to the New Covenant. Nobody had this experience prior to that day. Anything that is unique to the New Covenant is always very important.

When all the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. The Holy Spirit who has now indwelled man, also found expression through this new divine language. It is also called praying in the Spirit or praying with the Spirit.

(Acts 2:1-4)
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and began to SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES, as the SPIRIT GAVE THEM UTTERANCE.

In fact the first use of this new prayer language was for worship. The diverse visitors to Jerusalem said, “We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” They were declaring such wonderful things that were beyond their human comprehension and ability. It was all divinely inspired.

For once, it was no longer about man’s ability to pray to God, or man’s ability to worship God. Under the New Covenant, it is about God working in us and through us. When we do not know how to pray, He prays through us. Rom 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us in the perfect will of God.

When we do not know how to worship or what to say, the Holy Spirit brings forth worship through us – as we sing in spiritual songs. He causes us to worship in a dimension which is beyond our human limitations. When the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius’s household, they began to pray in tongues and MAGNIFY God. The Holy Spirit brings forth worship.

(Acts 10:45-46)
And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and MAGNIFY God.

Today, you are the living temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the temple is called the house of prayer. Today, under the New Covenant, it is no longer a physical temple. You are the living house of prayer. The Holy Spirit makes intercession through you.

Jesus also said that the place of worship is no longer on a mountain, it is in you. You can worship in spirit and in truth, wherever you are. There are many other benefits of this prayer language. We have covered many of them in our earlier series. You can refer to lessons 7.36 to 7.47.

The benefits of praying in the Spirit – worshipping in a new dimension in the Spirit

Just like praying in tongues, worshipping in the spirit is unique to the New Covenant believer. Tongues were used on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 to declare the wonderful works of God. Among all the benefits of tongues, it was used first and foremost for the purpose worship.

(Acts 2:11)
…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the WONDERFUL WORKS OF GOD.

This shows how important this new spiritual dimension of worship is to God.

When the first Gentile received salvation, there was a celebration and all at Cornelius’ household who received, worshipped God in the Spirit – magnifying God (Acts 10:46). It was an expression beyond the ability of their limited minds.

(Acts 10:45-46)
And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them SPEAK WITH TONGUES AND MAGNIFY GOD.

John 4:24 says that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. Jesus had said that the hour was coming when true worshippers would worship God in spirit and in truth. Jesus knew that after His ascension, He would pour out the Holy Spirit into the New Covenant believer. God had eagerly desired for a long time for that moment. Today, we are the living and walking temple of the Holy Spirit.

(John 4:23-24)
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the TRUE WORSHIPPERS will worship the Father in SPIRIT AND TRUTH; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.”

With the Spirit in us and through the prayer language of tongues, we can worship God in a new spiritual location with a new spiritual language. This is the worship that God desires from true worshippers.

Worshipping in a higher dimension – in the spirit

As we sing a new song to the Lord, we may find the words of the known language inadequate to express what is in our hearts and spirits. We find ourselves worshipping in the spirit (in tongues) in a realm of expression beyond the ability of our limited minds.

We are spirit beings and our spirit-man finds expression through worshipping in the spirit as the Holy Spirit gives us utterance (Acts 2:4). John 4:24 says that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit. He has given us this ability through the Holy Spirit.

On the birthday of the Church on the day of Pentecost, there was a great celebration and the disciples worshipped God in the spirit – declaring the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). It was a higher dimension of worship made possible only by the Holy Spirit.

When the first Gentile received salvation, there was a celebration and all at Cornelius’ household who received, worshipped God in the spirit – magnifying God (Acts 10:46). It was an expression beyond the ability of their limited minds.

Today, the prayer language of tongues enables us to worship in a higher dimension with spiritual songs (Eph 5:18-19). We should be worshipping more in the spirit because this is the worship that God desires; which He designed for the New Covenant.

As we worship in a new song in the spirit, we will often receive the interpretations of that expression and we can sing out that new song in our known language.

(1 Cor 14:15)
I will SING with the SPIRIT, and I will also SING with the UNDERSTANDING.

The divine order is always to worship in the spirit followed by interpretation with our understanding. We will be amazed at the wonderful things that we sing in the understanding because it comes from the Spirit.

by Joshua Lye


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Falling Away?

Falling Away? A Study of Hebrews 6

by Jack Kelley

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebr. 6:4-6) has experienced remarkable growth since we inaugurated our “Ask A Bible Teacher” feature 2 ½ years ago . In addition, a number of other sites now include our weekly articles as part of their regular offering to their readers. Many of you originally came to us from these other sites.

As a result, we’re continually getting new readers who have questions similar to those previously asked by those who’ve been with us a longer time. A prime example is the barrage of questions I’ve received lately about Hebrews 6:4-6,a passage we dealt with extensively 2 years ago when the site was much smaller. These new questions are based on a view of this passage that while Jesus will never drive us away, we can “fall away” by failing to live a holy life and once we do, it’s over for us. Since this is a controversial and much misunderstood portion of Scripture, maybe it’s time we look at it again.

Let’s Begin At The Beginning
Let’s start by reviewing the basics of our relationship with the Lord. What does it take to be saved? I think the best answer to that question is the one the Lord gave in John 6:28-29.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Here was a perfect opportunity to list all the things we have to do to meet God’s requirements. Jesus could have rattled off the 10 commandments. He could have repeated the Sermon on the Mount. He could have listed any number of admonitions and restrictions necessary to achieve and maintain God’s expectations of us. But what did He say? “Believe in the one He has sent.” Period. It was a repeat of John 3:16, confirming that belief in the Son is the one and only requirement for salvation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. There’s not much here that can be misunderstood. These are two of the Bible’s clearest statements on salvation.

A few chapters later He said that His Father was in complete agreement. And not only would our belief suffice to provide us with eternal life, it’s God’s will that Jesus would lose none of us who believe. You and I have been known to disobey God’s will, but has Jesus ever done so? And isn’t He the one who’s been charged with the responsibility for keeping us? Let’s read it.

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

Just in case we missed this promise, Jesus made it again even more clearly in John 10:28-30. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Father and the Son have both accepted responsibility for our security. Once we’re in Their hands, no one can get us away.

I have purposely only used words straight from the Lord’s own mouth to make this case because I can already hear the choruses of “Yes Buts” mounting as those who refuse to take them at face value get ready to trot out their favorite verses denying Eternal Security, misinterpreted though they are.

The one characteristic of God’s that gives us the most comfort is knowing that He can’t lie or change His mind or contradict Himself. He can’t say something in one place and then say something entirely different in another. He’s consistent. If He says that we’re saved solely because of our belief in Him, and that He’s accepted responsibility for keeping us so, then we can count on that. As we’ll see, anything in the Bible that seems to contradict these simple, straightforward statements has to be talking about something else.

But first, since He puts so much emphasis on belief, let’s take a closer look at that word. What does He mean when He says “believe”? The Greek word for believe is “pistis.” According the Strong’s Concordance, it’s a “conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it.” In connection with the Lord Jesus, it means “a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God.”

The Apostle Paul gave us valuable insight into the nature of this belief. He wrote, If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

The belief he was talking about isn’t just some intellectual thing, or some passion of the moment emotion. It’s a conviction that’s formed deep in our heart, the realization that Jesus is not just a man. He’s our Lord, and He took upon Himself the penalty due us for our sins, which is death. And to prove that God counted His death as sufficient, He raised Jesus from the dead to be seated beside Him in the Heavenly realms. (Ephes. 1:20) Since God can’t dwell in the presence of sin, and since the wages of sin is death, every one of our sins has to have been paid for. If even one remained unpaid, Jesus would still be in the grave. So we have to believe that Jesus rose from the grave in order to believe that we will, too.

It’s that kind of belief that gets you saved and keeps you that way, because it sets in motion a chain of events that’s irreversible. There are four links in this chain. You supply two and the Lord supplies two. You hear and believe, and the Lord marks and guarantees.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The word translated “deposit” is a legal term. It describes a down payment that constitutes a legal obligation to follow through with the purchase. If you’ve ever bought any Real Estate, you’re familiar with the term Earnest Money deposit. It’s just like that. If you’re not, here’s another example. It’s like we’ve been put on “lay away.” The price has been paid and we’ve been taken off the display shelf until the one who has purchased us returns to claim us. In the mean time we cannot be bought by anyone else, because we legally belong to the one who has paid the deposit. “You are not your own,” we’re told. “You were bought with a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) That means we can’t be “un-bought” even by ourselves.

All of this happened at our first moment of belief, before we could do anything to either earn or lose our position. The man on the cross beside Jesus is the prototype for this transaction. Having done something bad enough to get himself executed, he was promised a place in Paradise solely because he believed in his heart that Jesus was the Lord of a coming Kingdom. (Luke 23:42-43) Since Jesus was being executed too, it meant he believed that Jesus would be raised from the dead.

Paul made it even clearer when he repeated this incredible promise in 2 Cor. 1:21-22. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

This time He removed all doubt as to just Who it is that keeps us saved. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. God has put His mark on us and His Spirit in us, as His personal guarantee. What could be clearer?

Union And Fellowship
If the Doctrine of Eternal Security is so clear then why all the disagreement about it? I’ve found two reasons. The first is the two-sided nature of our relationship with the Lord. One side is called Union and is eternal and unconditional, based only on our belief. Ephesians 1:13-14 describes our Union with God, sealed and guaranteed. Once we’re born again, we can’t become unborn. It’s good forever. The Holy Spirit is sealed within us from our first moment of belief until the day of redemption. Nowhere is there even a hint that He will revoke that guarantee.

The other side is called Fellowship and it’s a bit more complicated. Fellowship is that state of continual closeness to God that enables Him to bless us in our daily lives, by making things happen for us and protecting us from attack. It’s like He’s teamed up with us to give us a supernatural advantage. Fellowship is defined by 1 John 1:8-9 as being both Earthly and conditional upon our behavior. Even as believers, as long as we’re here on Earth we’ll continue to sin. Since God can’t abide in the presence of sin, our unconfessed sins interrupt our Earthly relationship with Him and may deprive us of blessings we might have otherwise received. We’re still saved in the eternal sense, but out of Fellowship here on Earth.

When we’re out of Fellowship, we’re legitimate targets for our enemy’s mischief, just like Job was. His sin was self-righteousness and because he wouldn’t confess it, God had to let Satan afflict him in order to bring him to his senses. When he did, he confessed and was restored. (Job 42) God had never left him. Bringing Job back was His intention all along.

For a New Testament illustration, take the parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32) Here’s a clear example of what it means to “fall away”. The prodigal left his father’s house and struck out on his own, but he never stopped being his father’s son. When he realized his mistake and returned it was like He never left.

Job’s case was real and we know the Lord was managing the entire event, something Job didn’t know. The story of the Prodigal is a parable, but I’m convinced the same principle holds true. Whenever a “prodigal son” takes off on his or her own, God works quietly to undermine the feelings of self-sufficiency, and the attraction of independence, nudging the wayward child back onto the path. This is the way a shepherd keeps the flock, and our Shepherd has pledged never to lose any of us.
Like the younger son, we’ll always belong to our Father’s family. But we won’t receive any of His blessings while we’re out of Fellowship. And like both Job and the Prodigal, when we return to our Father and confess our sins, we’re immediately purified from all unrighteousness and restored to Fellowship.

One reason that many Christians live such defeated lives is that having only learned about the Union part of being a believer, they only know that God has forgiven their sins and that they’ll go to be with Him when they die or are Raptured. They don’t realize that they still need to confess every time they sin to stay in Fellowship. And so, being deprived of God’s providence, they may become discouraged and even stop praying and attending church. Other believers, who don’t understand the dual relationship either, look at the mess they’re in and think they must have lost their salvation. Like Job’s friends, they look in God’s Word to find confirmation of what they already believe, and by taking verses out of context, think they’ve found the proof they were seeking.

Union and Fellowship are not just New Testament ideas. In the Old Testament, even when Israel was being obedient in thought and action, doing their best to please God, the priests still had to sacrifice a lamb on the altar every morning and every evening for the sins of the people. 1 John 1:9 is the New Testament equivalent of those daily sacrifices for sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. It was written for believers who are already saved, but are in danger of being out of Fellowship because of their sins.

The Gift And the Prize
The other reason people get confused is that there are two types of benefits in Eternity. The first is the free Gift called Salvation that’s given to all who ask in faith irrespective of merit and guarantees our admission into the Kingdom. Ephesians 2:8-9 is the model, saying that salvation is a Gift from God.

The second consists of Heavenly rewards we can earn for the things we do as believers here on Earth. Philippians 3:13-14 are good verses for explaining this. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. In addition to the Gift, there’s a Prize.

A gift is something given out of love, irrespective of merit, and is never taken back. A prize, on the other hand, is something we qualify for and earn. And if we’re not careful we can lose it. (Rev. 3:11) Paul had already received the Gift of salvation, it was behind him. Now he was focused on winning the Prize as well.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he explained the difference in greater detail. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

No Olympic athlete was satisfied just to have qualified to participate in the games. Everyone wanted to win the victor’s crown. Likewise, we shouldn’t be satisfied just to have received the Gift of salvation. We must now live our lives as believers in such a way as to win the Prize as well.
The Bible calls some of these prizes crowns, and while the athlete’s crown soon wilted away (it was a wreath of ivy) the crowns believers can win last forever. They’re worth making some sacrifices for. That’s why Paul said, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Cor. 9:27) The crowns are identified as the Everlasting Crown (Victory) in 1 Cor 9:25, Crown of the Soul Winner in Phil 4:1 and 1 Thes 2:19, Crown of Righteousness in 2 Tim 4:8, Crown of Life in Jas 1:12 and Rev 2:10, and the Crown of Glory in 1 Peter 5:4.

The difference between the Gift and the Prize is also seen in 1 Cor. 3:12-15. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

At the judgment of believers, the quality of our work on earth will be tested by fire. Only work that survives the test will bring us a reward. But notice that even if all our work is destroyed in the fire, we’ll still have our salvation. Why? Because it’s a free Gift, given out of love, irrespective of merit.

The Lord mentioned other rewards as well. In Matt. 6:19-21 He advised us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There are things we can do as believers while here on Earth that will cause deposits to be made to our heavenly account. Some believe that this passage refers to the way we use the money we’re given. Do we use it to enrich ourselves, stacking up possessions that far exceed our needs? Or do we use it to further the work of the Kingdom? Here’s a hint. Our tithe is what we owe to God. It’s what we do with the money we have left that really counts. And with the measure we use, it will be measured to us. (Luke 6:38)

To summarize, in the New Testament there are verses like Ephesians 1:13-14 that talk about Union. There are verses like 1 John 1: 8-9 that talk about Fellowship. There are verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 that talk about the Gift and there are verses like 1 Cor 9:24-27 that talk about the Prize.

The verses that stress belief, explain the permanent nature of our bond with God, and are directed toward eternity, are Union verses. Those that involve grace and faith are Gift verses. Those that require work and are directed at the quality of our lives on Earth are Fellowship verses, and those that require work and involve eternal rewards are Prize verses.

When you view Scripture from this perspective, all of the apparent contradictions disappear and you no longer have to wonder why God seems to be saying one thing here and something different there. The issue becomes one of correctly identifying the focal point of the particular passage you’re looking at. Determine the context by reading verses around it, and assign it to one of the four categories.

What About Hebrews 6?
Now we’re ready to look at Hebrews 6:4-6, a passage so often often cited in opposition to Eternal Security. Please remember that the entire letter was written to Jewish believers who were being enticed back into keeping the Law, so the context is New Covenant vs. Old. (The reason this letter is in the Bible is that this is still going on today, only now it concerns both Jews and Gentiles.) In Hebrews 6:1-3 the writer said that he was now going beyond the elementary teachings concerning salvation and in verse 9 he confirmed that he’d been talking about things that accompany salvation. That tells us that verses 4-6 are not related to salvation (Union) but to things that accompany it (Fellowship). We know this because the idea that a believer could do something to irretrievably lose his salvation is in direct contradiction to the clear promise that the Holy Spirit is sealed within us from the very first moment of belief until the day of our redemption.

So what could these believers do that would be considered falling away? Remember, they were Jews who had tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, the Church. They were being admonished to return to the Old Covenant, to find remedies for their ongoing sin in the daily sacrifices.

And what could prevent them from being restored? Continuing to practice those remedies rather than simply confessing. By doing so they’d be relegating the death of the Lord to the same status as that of the twice-daily lamb. The Law was only a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. Once the Reality appeared, the shadow was no longer effective. And what would be their penalty? Loss of Fellowship. Living a defeated life, bearing no fruit, all their works burned in the judgment of 1 Cor. 3. But still saved? Yes.

So, the warning of Hebrews 6 is against interrupting our Fellowship with God, not breaking our Union with Him. The key is the phrase “renew again to repentance.” Those who relied on the daily sacrifice instead of confessing directly to God were in effect crucifying the Lord all over again, since He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The daily sacrifice was a foreshadowing of Him, and when He came the shadow gave way to the reality. The old way was no longer sufficient to restore them to fellowship. The modern application of this is going back to relying on our own works to keep ourselves saved, instead of trusting God to keep us.

Since 1 John 1:9 says that confession brings forgiveness and purification from all unrighteousness (renewal again to repentance), then by implication anything other than confessing our sins prevents forgiveness and purification and causes estrangement from God. It doesn’t revoke our salvation, but because God can’t be in the presence of sin, it does suspend our relationship, depriving us of blessings we could have otherwise had.

There are many clear verses that unequivocally promise eternal security. Since the Bible cannot contradict itself and still be the Word of God, interpreting Hebrews 6 as having anything to do with salvation is a violation of a basic rule of interpretation, which teaches that we’re to use clear verses to interpret obscure ones, not the other way around. The clearest and most easily understood verses on salvation explain that it’s by grace through faith.

When people say that God doesn’t take back the gift of salvation, but that we can walk away from it it, they not only have to disregard the promises and guarantees God has made to us, they also have to put words in His mouth. When He says in John 10:28, “No one can snatch them out of my hand,” they have to insert the phrase “but us” after “no one”.

It’s the same with Romans 8:38-39.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here they have to insert the phrase “but us” after “in all creation”.

None of this is intended to condone sin. As a demonstration of our gratitude for the gift of salvation, believers are continually admonished in Scripture to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. Not to earn or keep it, but to thank the Lord for giving it to us. And to help us do that, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in us to guide and direct us, and to pray for us. Since the Spirit of God lives in us we are no longer controlled by the sin nature and can choose to please God by the way we live. And even though we do this out of gratitude for the Gift He’s already given, which is Union with Him, He blesses us yet again, with Fellowship here on Earth and Prizes in Eternity. Selah 12-20-08

Friday, December 19, 2008

How important is Praying in the Spirit?

Testimony: John G. Lake – Speaking the mysteries of God in tongues

John G. Lake, the leading apostle in modern church history was a man who walked closely with God. His writings reveal his deep understanding of the believer’s position in Christ and the manifestation of God in man. He understood the righteousness of Christ in the believer and he saw them as kings and priests in Christ. He understood the believer’s authority in Christ. He also walked in the reality of the revelations that he received; ministering with tremendous signs and wonders.

Many church leaders throughout the world would study his ministry and listen to him. While in England, He preached to the combined clergy of the Church of England. Following that, they too sent an investigation party to South Africa to see what was going on.

What was the secret to Lake’s deep revelations and the success of his ministry? He said the following:

“I want to talk with the utmost frankness,” he would tell his followers, “And say to you, that TONGUES HAVE BEEN THE MAKING OF MY MINISTRY. It is that peculiar communication with God when God reveals to my soul the truth I utter to you day by day in the ministry…Many times I climb out of bed, take my pencil and pad, and jot down the beautiful things of God, the wonderful things of God that He talks out in my spirit and reveals to my heart.”

(Reference: John G. Lake – A Man Without Compromise by Wilford Reidt, Harrison House)

The benefits of praying in the Spirit – greater sensitivity to being led by the Holy Spirit

We are a spirit being. When we pray in tongues, our spirit prays. We are exercising our spirit-man to be stronger with spiritual muscles. Praying in tongues causes us to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we can receive His transmissions with a strong and powerful antenna.

(1 Cor 14:14)
For if I pray in a TONGUE, my SPIRIT PRAYS…

Praying in tongues also trains us to put let the Spirit take the lead instead of our mind. Sometimes, the leading of the Spirit seems opposed to the natural mind. It does not seem logical. That is why it takes faith to follow the leading. After we had taken the step of faith, then our mind begins to understand the plan of God.

It is the same with praying in tongues. It seems opposed to the natural mind to be saying something you don’t understand. It does not seem logical. It takes faith to say it. When we take that step of faith, we begin to experience the Holy Spirit. It is the training that helps us to be more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Let us consider how believers walked in the realm of faith that seemed to defy logic throughout the Bible. Peter walked on water and defied all logic…until his mind started doubting. Jesus defied logic by multiplying bread for the thousands when His disciples were concerned over their lack of money. Jesus raised the dead and healed multitudes until the people at his hometown started reasoning that he was just a carpenter.

Today, a lot of people are still engaged very much in the realm of the intellect. Just as in the Bible, it is hard to experience the reality of God in that realm. But when we pray in tongues, it brings us to a higher realm – beyond the mind – a realm where we experience God in a very real way through faith.

In addition to being sensitive to God’s voice, praying in tongues also magnifies our discernment in the spiritual realm. John G. Lake said that praying in tongues gave him a new comprehension of God’s will, new discernment of the spirit and new revelation of God. He said:

“My nature became so sensitized that I could lay my hands on any man or woman and tell what organ was diseased, and to what extent, and all about it. I went to the hospitals where physicians could not diagnose a case, touched a patient and instantly knew the organ that was diseased, its extent and condition and location.”

These are testimonies of people who had gone ahead of us to encourage us. Almost every believer whom I have met would like to be more sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. God has made it so easy for us through the prayer language of tongues.

The benefits of praying in the Spirit

We continue on the series “Christ in us” where we talk about the working of the Holy Spirit within the believer. We have shared at length about the importance of the baptism in the Holy Spirit which is accompanied by the new experience of praying in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.

Once we have received this spiritual prayer language, we can use it for the rest of our earthly lives as a powerful tool. It is only as good as when it is used. It is not a status symbol as it is a free gift; and has no benefits when kept in cold storage.

God has given us tongues as a powerful prayer language in the New Covenant. The Old Testament saints did not have this privilege because they did not have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Praying in tongues is New Covenant prayer for the New Covenant believer and is received during the New Covenant experience of baptism in the Spirit. Therefore, praying in tongues is an important principle to our New Covenant living as priests.

Many believers who have received the baptism in the Spirit have not even tapped into a fraction of the full potential of this prayer language. I was one such believer. I received it but did not use it for 10 years. Unintentionally, I had despised this humble prayer language because I was ignorant. When I saw how this prayer language transformed Florence’s spiritual walk, it really stirred my heart. I told God that I wanted to experience what Florence was experiencing. I began to experience the benefits of praying in tongues.

Over the next 2-3 weeks, I will be sharing with you 10 important benefits of praying in tongues – from the Bible. You will be inspired by many of the real life testimonies. You too can experience these benefits.

As this is a New Covenant prayer language with many benefits, we can expect New Covenant believers to be doing a significant part of their praying in tongues. We know that the apostle Paul prayed in tongues more than all the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 14:18). He prayed in tongues all the time, interceding for the churches he had planted. As he prayed in tongues, God also gave him great revelations as revealed in his epistles.

Church history shows that anointed men of God like Smith Wigglesworth and John G. Lake tapped into the potential of praying in tongues and experienced great power and revelation in the Holy Spirit.

posted by Joshua Lye

Virgin Birth

Question: "Why is the Virgin Birth so important?"

Answer: The doctrine of the virgin birth is crucially important (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27,34). First, let’s look at how scripture describes the blessed event. In response to Mary’s query, “how?,” Gabriel says, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35). The angel encourages Joseph to marry Mary with these words: “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20). Matthew states that the virgin “was found with child of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:18). Galatians 4:4 also teaches the Virgin Birth: “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.”

From these passages, it is certainly clear that Jesus’ birth was the result of the Holy Spirit working within Mary’s body. The immaterial (the Spirit) and the material (Mary’s womb) were both involved. Mary, of course, could not impregnate herself, and in that sense she was simply a “vessel.” Only God could perform the miracle of the Incarnation.

Denying a physical connection between Mary and Jesus would imply that Jesus was not truly human. Scripture teaches that Jesus was fully human, with a physical body like ours. This He received from Mary. At the same time, Jesus was fully God, with an eternal, sinless nature. See John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; and Hebrews 2:14-17.

Jesus was not born in sin; that is, He had no sin nature (Hebrews 7:26). It would seem that the sin nature is passed down from generation to generation through the father (Romans 5:12, 17, 19). The Virgin Birth circumvented the transmission of the sin nature and allowed the eternal God to become a perfect man.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Praying Your Family

James W. Goll:

"Praying Your Family into God's Family"

James W. GollAs we approach this Holiday Season in which Christmas and Chanukah are celebrated around the world, I wanted to direct our attention to Praying Your Family into God's Family. For many, the holidays are a time of mixed emotions as relationships with family members are strained. What better time to press into the heart of God for our families, that they may all know His saving grace and forgiveness in their lives.

I trust you will find the following teaching and closing prayer helpful as you lift your family before the Lord. What a privilege to participate in praying that our families are represented eternally before the throne of God!

Praying with You!

James W. Goll

Praying Your Family into God's Family:
God's Desires, His Word and His Ways

A. From the Book of Revelation

1. Revelation 5:9 - "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your Blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'"

2. Revelation 7:9 - "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands."

3. A People of Every Nation

Both of these Scriptures tell us that before God's throne, there will be a people of every:

a. Kindred (i. Tribe, ii. Clan)

b. Tongue

c. People

d. Nation (ethnic group)

Kindred, tribe, and clan all refer to a family. Within every ethnic group, different languages are spoken, and within every nation are different people, but among each of the peoples, are different tribes. Before the throne of God there will be people from every family! God is a family man!

B. From Ephesians 3:14-15

"For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every FAMILY in Heaven and on earth derives its name..." (emphasis mine)

Paul saw that God wanted to populate Heaven with people from every family, every tribe, every clan on the earth. Get God's vision! See what His heart is! God wants there to be a people of every family in Heaven.

C. From Romans 13:8a

"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another..." (KJV)

David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, Author and International Speaker, has stated, "Every man who is won in the street is first won in prayer." One of the ways that we pay our "love debt" is to commit our lives to this principle and pray others into the Kingdom of Heaven.

D. Examples from My Personal Life

I want to encourage every parent - God hears your prayers! There's a mark that goes on your child when you pray. A person cannot escape an entire lifetime from the persevering, loving prayers of a mother! They're like the "hound dog of Heaven" that's after you and won't let you go.

My mother was a Hannah - not in that she was barren, but in that she was a praying woman. She cried out to God (after her first son was stillborn), "Lord, if You will give me another son, I will dedicate him to Christ's service." I was born exactly one year, to the date, later. I have not known a day in my life when I was not consciously aware of who Jesus was - because I was hunted down by the prayers of dedication of my mother!

My wife Michal Ann was a Hannah, as most of you know, as it was impossible for us to bear children in the natural. Yet we persisted in prayer and God supernaturally opened her womb. Though Michal Ann is now before the throne of God, her prayers for our four children ever live before His majesty. God is faithful and He, yet to this day, is answering her prayers for our four fine arrows! Yes, they will fulfill their destinies in God!

Our Priestly Role in Prayer

A. Priesthood of Believers

We are all called into the priesthood of Believers. We have the responsibility, the privilege, and the authority to bring someone else into the presence of Christ. God's desire is to populate Heaven with a people of every family.

Exodus 28:15-21, 29-30 - "The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be like the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes... Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummin, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually."

We will look at the breastpiece that the priest wore. There were four rows of beautiful stones - colorful, precious stones - worn over his chest, which is over his heart. Each one of the stones symbolized one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Who are you carrying on your heart when you go as a priest before the Lord? You have the place as a priest to carry stones upon your heart. Who are you carrying? One of the places of greatest authority is carrying your family members. We may carry, by God, a particular nation. But first and foremost, we represent our family as a priest - each of us as individuals before God.

1. We first of all stand before Him for ourselves, because we are each responsible for our own deeds.

2. In a priestly, intercessory manner, we stand before Him on behalf of our family.

3. We also stand before God as a representative of the nation of which we are a citizen; we have a certain priestly responsibility for the country that we live in... And for the city in which we dwell... And for the neighborhood that we're a part of.

4. We also stand as a priest before God in behalf of the heritage and the people from which we come.

When you go before God, He puts a breastplate on you with stones upon it, and you stand before Him - for your children, for your brothers, for your sisters, for your family, for your spouse. What a wonderful responsibility and privilege He has given to us!

B. Household Salvation

Acts 16:31 - "They said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'"

God's heart is for "household salvations." Some of us, however, because of our hurt and pain, and because of rejection from our parents and of not having a good relationship with them, have hardened our hearts in bitterness and rebellion against our families. Then one of the last things we want to do is to stand before God and pray for our families. God has given you a place to stand before His throne for your family! Stand there! Be an intercessor for your family:

1. To be saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

2. To come forth into the fullness of what He has destined for them to be and to do and to fulfill.

Practical Ways of Praying Your Family into God's Family

(Principles of praying for the lost - not necessarily in a systematic order.)

A. Ask God to Soften Their Hearts

Ezekiel 11:19 - "And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh..."

Pray for the condition of their hearts to change.

B. Spirit of Conviction

Ask for the release of the spirit of conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come.

John 16:8 - "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment..."

C. Spirit of Revelation

Ask for the spirit of wisdom and revelation (dreams, visions, angelic visitations).

Ephesians 1:17-19 - "...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might..."

D. Recall To Remembrance

Ask the Lord to bring to their remembrance any of the good Word of God that they were taught from their childhood to this day.

1. John 14:26 - "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."

2. Isaiah 55:11 - "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."

E. Pray Prayers of Forgiveness

Forgive your mother, your father, your son, your daughter. Forgiveness is the master key that unlocks the prison door to a heart of stone. Through forgiveness comes a place of identification. The model prayer of Jesus is not an individual prayer. It is a corporate prayer.

Matthew 6:9-15 - "Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.)'"

F. Pray for Laborers to Be Released to Your Loved Ones

Matthew 9:38 - "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

G. Pray for a Revelation of Eternity

Ask the Lord to give them an awareness of the realities of both Heaven and Hell. Ask the Lord to reveal that none are righteous and that we each need to receive the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus!

H. Resist the Enemy

Pray to break the powers of darkness that are generationally hindering your loved ones from the saving power of Jesus' Blood.

I. Solicit Other People's Prayers

Enroll others on your team of intercessors to pray for your family.

Ephesians 6:19-20 - "...and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

2 Corinthians 1:11 - " also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many."

J. Revelation of God's Love

Ask for God's love to overwhelm them. (Don't pray for bad things to happen to them.)

1. Romans 2:4 - "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and (forbearance) and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"

2. Romans 12:14, 19 - "Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not...Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."

Release your faith and believe the Lord for more of His presence to come to your family. Stand as a Prophet, Priest and King of your family before the Lord and expect great things! Let revival begin in your own home and family for the glory of God's great name.

Lord, we bring our family members to You right now. We bless them in Jesus' great name. We call forth that You soften their hearts and release the spirit of conviction upon them. We pray that You reveal the goodness of God to them and draw them to repentance. Bring to their remembrance all the good Word of God they have been taught from their childhood even until now. Release laborers across their path that will move in power and kindness. Release demonstrations of Your amazing love to them for Your holy name's sake. We pray our family members into God's eternal family, in Jesus' name!

Amen and Amen!

James W. Goll & the PrayerStorm Team
Encounters Network and PrayerStorm


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Psalm 94

Psalm 94
by Jack Kelley

How long will the wicked, O LORD, how long will the wicked be jubilant? They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, O LORD; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the alien; they murder the fatherless. They say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob pays no heed.”

Take heed, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?

The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Can a corrupt throne be allied with you— one that brings on misery by its decrees? They band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.

But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the LORD our God will destroy them.

Your physical body is a gift from God. He created it, equipped it, set its workings in motion, and then gave it to you. Exercise it and its strength increases. Nurture it and it will heal itself of accident and illness to a remarkable degree. But if you don’t, its strength diminishes, its endurance decreases, its muscles atrophy, until it’s almost useless. Ignore it long enough and it’ll die.

Faith is the same way. God gave you enough to be saved (Ephes. 2:8-9). Then He equipped you with the Holy Spirit and set you in motion anew. Exercise your faith it and its strength increases. Follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and you’ll be carried through even the most trying circumstances. Learn the lessons from your experience and you’ll find your faith strengthened to a remarkable degree. But ignore it and it’ll die. All except that part He gave you in the beginning. The part that got you saved. That can’t die because it was a gift from Him.

The difference between the one with unshakeable faith and the one who cringes in fear at each new attack is a matter of exercise. You see, for many of us it doesn’t take much faith to get through this life. We’re pretty much self reliant, doing what we need to do to get by in our own strength. So we don’t have to exercise our faith regularly. And because of that, it’s not very strong. When the enemy strikes, we find we’re not as prepared as we should be, and wind up cowering instead of standing tall.

But for one reason or another, some decide to abandon their self-made security and “step out in faith.” My friends Vilbert and Shantha, from India, adopted four Moslem orphan children all at once so they could raise them in the ways of the Lord. They already had three of their own, and didn’t have a lot of extra money or room, but went ahead on faith.

Daniel and Heidi brought the concept of Christian daycare to a country that’s never heard of it, in an effort to keep poor families together. They bought a building and began remodeling, learning as they go and depending on the Lord for sustenance.

DJ and Lynette agreed to take over a failing Mexican orphanage. They had no money, didn’t speak Spanish, and had never run an orphanage, but felt the Lord calling them.

Each of these couples decided to exercise their faith. And they all found that as they did, it grew stronger. They now take in stride things that would have flattened them just a short time ago. (How’d you like to wake up one morning with 90 hungry mouths to feed and find the cupboards bare?)

But you don’t have to do something that dramatic to exercise your faith. You can simply decide today to delegate one little part of your life to the Lord to manage for you. Pick a part you’re not doing very well with so there won’t be a big temptation to take it back. For example, if you know you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, try going to some places where the Lord would feel OK going with you, and let Him introduce you to some of His friends. Then watch what He does when you give Him the chance.

If you’ve been looking around you at all, you know that things are going to get a lot worse in this world before they get better. Begin now to exercise your faith more consistently. It’ll prepare you for the time coming soon when you’ll really need it.

Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.


Make Jesus Famous

There is a heart that says "my role is to make Jesus Famous"
This is the heart that has seen heaven and tasted of Gods Glory.
This is the fruit of a ministry set aside for God's glory.

John 7:18 TLB Those who present their own ideas are looking for praise for themselves, but those who seek to honor the one who sent them are good and genuine.

Paul said in: Galatians 6:14 As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world died long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead.

In all you do, Do it for the glory of Jesus Christ!

You may not receive acknowledgement from man but you will receive it from God! (note the woman who poured perfume onto the feet of Jesus, Jesus said this story is to be told forever)

Thomas died on a dusty mountainside in India he didn’t care he wanted to make Jesus famous.

Andrew died tied with rope to a cross and it took four days to die! He didn’t care he wanted to make Jesus famous.

Paul lost his head in Rome, He didn’t care He just wanted to make Jesus famous! This is true worship

Go and make Jesus famous Preach the Gospel of Jesus to bring Him glory! Tell all how Jesus Heals Function in words of Knowledge & wisdom to glorify Jesus Perform signs & wonders to make Jesus famous Call down Glory for Him! Pray for ways to make Jesus famous Seek Ask & Knock to further Jesus kingdom. If we want to see the Glory of God in our meetings and our market place ministries our heart must always be "TO MAKE JESUS FAMOUS"

Ian Johnson

Love Sick Saints

A message inspired by the life of St John of the Cross 1542-1591

Song of Solomon 1:4 The king hath brought me into his chambers; we will be glad and rejoice in thee; We will make mention of thy love more than of wine.

PSALM 36:8-9 You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your rivers of delight. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.

A BETTER TRANSLATION IS They shall be inebriated with the plenty of your house; and will give them to drink of the torrent of your delight, because with you is the fountain of life. Your love is better than wine!

When people drink wine they become influenced by it. Therefore we need the wine of God! Because when we become intoxicated in His love, we become abandoned to its influence! Our cry! Therefore is; Fill me with your love Jesus; Draw me away in your love Jesus! Cause me to be intoxicated in your Love Jesus! Because that sort of abandoned heart is possessed by that which it abandons itself to. (From the Book “Glory to Glory” )

A Love sick individual in Church history, John of the cross 1542-1591 was Imprisoned for nine months in a cell six feet wide & ten feet long, with a window only two inches wide, he composed some beautiful poems and songs. Being so in love with the Lord he didn’t make sense to the religious so they locked him up in the hope he would see some sense. He came out more in love and distracted by the Lord than when he went inside.

In prison St John of the cross wrote. “In the inner wine cellar I drank of my beloved, and when I went abroad through all this valley I no longer knew anything, and lost the herd which I was following.”

He also wrote: “South wind come, you that wakens love, breath through my garden, let its fragrance flow, and the beloved will feed amid the flowers.

His experience proved that no matter where we are, The Lord has gone there before us, and His love will always be found by those who seek it. (See Psalm 139)

There is no depth, No height, no Width to which we can go, that when we get there we find our Lord and master, our beloved Jesus.

There is a place before God, A place of abandoned love, A place that seems irrelevant to a religious heart. Where we can drink deep of the wine of God. The more we drink the more abandoned we become, Then we become separated from the herd, who are blindly following programs and systems. To the herd we seem useless, unable to make sense because of our intoxicated nature.

But out of the prisons come songs of abundant love. A place where we go on from saying “Lord Breath on me” to “Breath through me”.

John of the cross said. “The Garden is our soul, When the Lord breaths into the soul he imparts, but to breathe through the soul (garden) is to put in motion the fragrance.

It touches everything around us, and brings transformation. When I think of this I think of some friends, who when we were ministering in Wellington, were touched by the Holy Spirit, He breathed upon our friends in the lift of the hotel in which we had been staying, they became intoxicated in his love and unable to move just went up and down in the lift. Every time the door opened the same girl was standing there looking in at this unusual sight, the Holy Spirit breathed through the situation and the fragrance of this abandoned action touched the young lady, who by the way was a Muslim, She said, I want what your God gives, and they led her to the Lord.

You see a lot of people would say, just lock them up, After all we have to have a good testimony before the world, we have to be seen to have it all together, I mean the world won’t respond to or understand that intoxicated behaviour Will they?

John of the cross sums it up by say “God blesses his bride by breathing through her flowering garden, opens all these buds and uncovers the aromatic spices of gifts, and riches; and disclosing this interior treasure and wealth, He reveals all her beauty. Then she is something wonderful to behold and pleasant to handle.”

The world is thirsty and dry, the last thing they need is our nearly empty bottles of putrid religion. Rather they need to feel the breath of God. To see the joy of an abandoned life. They will say, What’s going on here? They will smell the fragrance of an inner beauty, that only comes from the Holy Spirit. Something wonderful to behold and pleasant to handle!

David dancing with an abandoned heart before the Lord, offends Michal his wife (the religious mindset) she despised him, but it pleased the Lord!
Matt Redman sums this up in His song “Undignified” The song goes; I will dance I will sing, to be mad for my King and nothing Lord is hindering the passion in my soul. And Ill become even more undignified than this, some would say its foolishness, but ill become even more undignified than this.

When we approach the Lord we need to come as if we ourselves are in a cell with nothing in our hands. All we can do is bow low before his majesty and glory, and drink deep of the wine of His love. Not distracted by our requests or our pleas, simply abandoned to his love, there we become intoxicated and our dance will please the Lord. it is Sure there will be a Michal to remind you of how you really should behave in the courts of the Lord, but just listen for the sound of His voice saying “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into your rest” That’s all that really matters at the end of the day.

May Jesus breath through your garden in 2008.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When Was Jesus Born?

By Dr. David R. Reagan

According to Luke 1:24-26, Mary conceived Jesus in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist. This means that Jesus was born 15 months after the angel Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth's husband, Zacharias, and informed him that his wife would bear a child.

According to Luke 1:5, Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah. Luke 1:8 says that Gabriel appeared to Zacharias while he was serving as a priest in the Temple.

We know from the Talmud and other sources that the division of Abijah served as priests during the second half of the fourth month of the Jewish religious calendar � which would have put it in late June (the Jewish religious calendar begins in March with Passover).

Fifteen months later would place the birth of Jesus in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. That would be in the fall of the year, in either late September or early October. His conception, not His birth, would have occurred in December of the previous year.

The seventh month of the Jewish calendar is the month of the Feast of Tabernacles. John 1:14, speaking of Jesus as the Word, says: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." The word "dwelt" that is used here is the Greek word "skenoo" which literally means "to tabernacle"!

So, when God came to earth to tabernacle among Men it appears that He timed His arrival in the Bethlehem manger to coincide with the Feast of Tabernacles. That was only appropriate, for the Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyous of all the Jewish feasts. It is, in fact, their feast of thanksgiving.

The total meaning of that feast will not be fulfilled until the Lord returns again to tabernacle among Men for a thousand years while He reigns over the earth from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Isn't the Word of God marvelous?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Our Place in the Mission

The Lord Jesus gave us a command at the end of the Gospel of Mark It was "go!"

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go you into the entire world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

There are many ways to go. Mostly it's about using our particular God given talent or God given position to extend the Kingdom of God. Some are called to go where the rubber meets the road and proclaim the Kingdom, others are called to send and support via Finance or prayer or administration.

In my research for my forth coming book on Francis Xavier, "Man on a Mission" it is apparent there was a great team involved. Francis was called to go to the ends of the known world. Ignatius Loyola worked in Europe to influence and inspire others for mission and Peter Fevre was involved in training and getting others ready to fill gaps created by the growing Church in the East. And King Juan 3 of Portugal was called to help finance and send.

Many spend their whole life feeling guilty that they haven't gone to the ends of the earth in response to the call, when in actual fact; they are not called to go in the Physical, but rather they are called to use their God given talents to support the Francis Xavier's of this age.

Perhaps today is a good time to reflect on what your call is. Wait on the Lord to get your orders for the move of God that is beginning to form in the earth right now.

Are you one who will go, blazing trails for the Lord?
Are you one who will uphold and pray battling in the Spirit?
Are you one who will teach the new converts?
Are you one who will work to financially support the mission?
Are you one who holds the home base together?
Are you one who inspires others to become involved in the "Go"?
Are you one who will shepherd and care for the mission?
Or any number of other things unique to the mission.

When we are working in the part of the Kingdom that we are called to work in, we feel totally fulfilled and when you feel totally fulfilled you bear much more fruit. Thus the command of Jesus to go is obeyed.

For me personally, I always feel like a million dollars when I am going, trailblazing for the Lord, and inspiring others to go also. My wife loves to go as well, and as she goes she battles in the Spirit and opens new portals in prayer. Right now we are positioning ourselves to fulfil our part in a move of God, both in New Zealand and in the Nations as God leads.

What about you?

There is a move of God coming, its time to seek the master for orders. You don't have to feel frustrated any longer. Because you don't have to do every thing, you don't have to live up to people's expectations, you just have to do what the Lord asks you to do. And live like a Son. Remember Jesus only did what he heard from the Father. He doesn't expect anything more from you. When you minister in your own strength it's about you working hard to achieve something of note. When you minister in the Glory realm it's about resting in Him and making Jesus famous.

Romans 8:14-15 for all who are led by God's Spirit are God's children. For you have not received a spirit of slavery that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

Ordinary men ~ Extra-ordinary God

Apart from seeing the name on a few Schools or Church buildings, I never really knew who Francis Xavier was. It wasn't until I went to Goa in India in 2004 & again in 2005 that I was confronted with this spiritual giant, who raised the dead, healed the sick saw signs & wonders in every situation and nation he found himself in.Francis Xavier is an inspiration to all who aspire to reach the lost.

The secret to his supernatural ministry was an abandoned heart to the purpose of God. In most of his ministry he emulated his master in that he spent hours in prayer before the Father, and only moved or acted when he had instructions to do so.

Francis was saved at the age of 18 or 19 and from that time was abandoned to Jesus, but the ministry years, a 10 year window between 1541 & 1552. Were, very intense.He was often seen lost in the presence of the Lord , and taken into heavenly visitations, one such visitation happened while he was preaching in Malacca around 1549. He was caught up in a trance like vision and remained so for over 30 minutes while the people in the Church dared not move because the presence of God was so strong. He eventually came out and proclaimed victory and success for the Portuguese fleet which most thought had perished because they were many weeks overdue. Francis said not only have they survived but tonight they will return in victory. That evening the fleet came into sight. The crew shared how Francis had turned up on board and urged them on to victory. It was either Transportation or an Angelic look alike, either way Francis had seen the whole thing in the vision that opened up before him. (Life & Letters of Francis Xavier by HJ Coleridge 1874)

He was known as a man who raised the dead, there are at least 14 recorded instances of this miracle taking place in his ministry, some say there were many more. Raised a man buried and putrefying Francis Xavier was preaching one day at Coulon, a village in Travancore near Cape Comorin, perceiving that few were converted by his discourse; he made a short prayer that God would honour the blood and name of his beloved Son by softening the hearts of the most obdurate. Then he bade some of the people open the grave of a man who was buried the day before, near the place where he preached; and the body was beginning to putrefy with a noisome scent, which he desired the bystanders to observe. Then falling on his knees, after a short prayer, he commanded the dead man in the name of the living God to arise. At these words the dead man arose and appeared not only living but vigorous and in perfect health. Annals of Portuguese Asia by Faria Y Sousa. (1655) (Spelling as recorded in translation)

The mission of Francis Xavier was effective in reaching the un-reached because it came with demonstrations of Gods Glory. Francis would be the first to say that the supernatural gifts he moved in were not from him, but from the Master whom he loved and abandoned his life to. The supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit are the foundation stones upon which the church was established and upon which it stands. The miracles in Francis Xavier's life came out of relationship with Jesus and abandoned obedience to the purpose of God. When I questioned the Lord recently Ï said, "Lord you seemed to do anything Francis asked you to do" the Lord replied, "because Francis did anything I asked him to do."

Francis took Jesus at his word, which was, if he should go away it would be better than ever for his people, for God would walk with them more than in all the ages past. His promise was;

"It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I do not go away the comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him to you." John16:7

"He that believes in me the works that I do shall he do also". John 14:12.

Our Lord Jesus has gone to the Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit has come to take his place; to carry on his uncompleted task, to work in the midst of His church in signs and wonders and gift of the Holy Spirit The trances, visions, revelations, Miracles and supernatural manifestations seen in the Life of Francis Xavier are meant to be the normal experiences of every believer in the supernaturally founded, supernaturally filled, and supernaturally directed church of Jesus Christ.In the letters of Francis Xavier preserved in India & Portugal we have evidence of his own deep conviction that he saw himself of little worth. By nature highly strung and sanguine, he suffered from strong reactions; a man of broad horizons and boundless ambitions, he seemed forever tempted to depression and despair, and was often tempted to surrender every task he undertook. The real greatness of the man must surely lie in this, that he did what he did in spite of every discouragement, from without and from within. If Jesus gave him an instruction he carried it out with passion and zeal despite his circumstances. This zeal and passion led him in an ecstasy of love for his Jesus. It seems at times his heart would burst with the joy of knowing him. As he filled his soul again and again in these times of set apartness, the stage was set for the next season of miracles, preaching to the lost and serving the poor and sick wherever he found himself.

Francis Xavier was an ordinary human being, in a love relationship with an extraordinary God. His life serves as a reminder to us that if we ask Jesus to show us his will for our lives, and then only do what we hear the Holy Spirit tell us to do, We, as ordinary human vessels can turn our world upside down. Don't let the times of discouragement rob you of the whole purpose of God. But set yourselves apart to hear what the Father is saying and do it.

Ian Johnson

A word of encouragement from the life of Francis Xavier 1506-1552, excerpts from my forthcoming book "Man on A mission"His Amazing Glory Ministries PO Box 76-540 Manukau City New Zealand.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is Sin?

What Is Sin?

This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley

Judging from the feedback I’ve received lately, some of us don’t know what sin is. The word comes from an old English archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” Jesus gave us the mark in Matt. 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Anything short of that is missing the mark, and whether by thought, word, or deed, is sin. The main purpose of His three chapter Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) was to change our perception of sin. The Pharisees thought that if they obeyed the commandments they weren’t sinning and therefore didn’t need a Savior. To achieve their position of authority, they had to have lived such an exemplary life as to appear nearly perfect. This focus on perfection in their behavior made them arrogant, unsympathetic toward their weaker brethren. It had made them worse than useless in advancing the Kingdom. They were actually driving people away.

He began by saying that in judging our behavior, God would not overlook even the smallest detail of the Law. He said that even our thoughts would be held against us. Anger is as bad as murder, He said, lust is as bad as adultery, and so on. He said that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees we will certainly not enter the Kingdom. (Matt. 5:20) Later on He said that they were like whitewashed tombs which are beautiful on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. He said in the same way they appeared to people as righteous but were full of hypocrisy. (Matt. 23:27-28) The Pharisees were compulsive about their behavior, applying the Law to the most minute things in their lives, even giving a tithe of the herbs and spices that grew in their gardens. (Matt. 23:23) And our righteousness needs to exceed theirs? In all of their behavior they had achieved perfection.

Where Did That Come From?

Then where does sin originate if not in our behavior? In Mark 7:20-23 Jesus said: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ “

Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) This is what he meant. Satan brings evil thoughts to the threshold of our minds. If we immediately take these thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, there’s no harm done. We’ve fended off an attack. (2 Cor. 10:3-5) But the moment we give them any consideration at all, we’ve sinned. Anger, jealousy, envy, lust, resentment, frustration, self-pity are some of the more obvious ones, but then there’s admiration, pride, self-satisfaction, self-righteousness and a long list of others that give glory to someone or something other than God. Our hearts being incurably wicked we do two things that make us sinners. First, we harbor these thoughts, and second we think that because we don’t act on them we haven’t sinned. But whether acted upon or not, these and many more are all sins punishable by death. No one sees them, and they’re so natural to us that often we ourselves are barely aware of them. To all outward appearances we appear to be fine, upstanding examples of Christian goodness, but inside we’re rotten to the core.

Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, once said, “We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we’re sinners.” It’s our nature. Those who claim to have stopped sinning simply don’t understand this. The best we can say about ourselves is that because of our conversion we’re perhaps a little more aware of our sins, but the research has shown that by and large most of us live lives that aren’t any freer of sin than our unbelieving neighbors. Like them, we’re after bigger and better stuff for ourselves while ignoring the needs of people around us. Like them we’re jealous of the success of others while crediting ourselves with our own success. Like them we get angry about little things. Like them, we wish our lives were different. Like them, we have a secular world view.

But what has been most instructive to me lately is the way so many people actually think they’re no longer sinners, just because they’re saved. I guess the old saying is true. We all want grace for ourselves while demanding justice for everyone else. We want to be judged by our intentions but we want others judged by their actions.

As the Bible clearly shows, there is no hierarchy of sin. All sin brings death. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with being angry or envying the possessions of our neighbors or entertaining a lustful thought now and then, but we demand others stop their sinning or else be condemned. Please don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with being uncomfortable around sinful behavior. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to withdraw from it. And there’s nothing wrong with demanding that the leaders of our churches adhere to Biblical principles about sin. But when we start saying that certain forms of sin disqualify a person for salvation, then we’ve put ourselves in God’s place and risk having the same measure we use in judging others, be used with us.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

According to Biblical standards we all willingly, consciously and deliberately sin. The fact that some sins are more obvious to us than others is irrelevant. It’s what’s in our hearts that counts, and God sees them all. We forget that Jesus said every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 12:31) Every sin. And not just once. Enough to last a lifetime.

Repent And Be Saved

Having talked about sin, we should also take a look at repentance. The Greek word translated repent is metanoeo. Meta means after and noeo means to understand. To repent literally means to understand afterward. As it’s used in the New Testament it means to change one’s mind. The phrase “Repent and be saved” means change your mind about your behavior and realize that you’re a sinner in need of a savior. It was first used with Jews who thought that keeping the Law would save them. When John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2), Jesus (Matt. 4:17), and Peter (Acts 2:38) told the people to repent, they were telling them to change their minds about believing that their own works could save them. Only people who know their behavior is sinful will realize their need for a Savior. Once it becomes clear to us that we’re sinners and can’t save ourselves, we’re ready to ask for salvation. We’ve repented.

But nowhere in the Bible is anyone required to change their behavior before they can ask for salvation. The old hymn “Just as I Am” makes that clear. To say that the word repent implies that behavioral change is a condition of salvation is an incorrect understanding of the word. The notion that Christians stop sinning once we’re saved is similarly incorrect. The fact that God chooses to see us as a new creation is a function of His ability to look ahead to what we’ll be in the resurrection. It’s not due to our suddenly exemplary behavior.

There was a time in ancient history when people looked forward to cloudy days, because they thought the Lord wouldn’t be able to look down and catch them sinning. It was like a free day. Today we understand how absurd that was. When a person is caught in adultery, or theft, or homosexuality it’s obvious to everyone that he or she has been sinning. But the person who secretly envies his neighbor’s possessions, is jealous, harbors resentment, or is self righteous, is every bit as much a sinner. The only difference is that nobody knows. Nobody on Earth, that is.

And then there’s the sin we’re not even aware of. This is what caused David to write, “Who can discern His errors? Lord, forgive my hidden faults.” (Psalm 19:12) We can’t even figure out our own motives and yet are often quick to judge the motives of others. We say they could stop their sinning whenever they want to, and are only doing it by choice, while we remain in our secret sins having convinced ourselves that we’re not sinning, and seeing no need to stop.

Do we think that condemning others and questioning their salvation, as so many in the Church do, is helping them? With the woman caught in adultery, Jesus saved her life by exposing the secret sins of her accusers. Once they understood that He knew the hidden flaws in their behavior, they no longer had the stomach for condemning her. This was a demonstration of his admonition in Matt. 7:1-2 to avoid judging others unless we want to be judged in like manner. He said He would use the same measure on us that we use on others. When He said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7) , He was saying in effect, “If you want to start killing people for their sins, are you willing to face the same judgment for yours?” He can expose our hypocrisy just as easily, you know. If we want other believers kicked out of the rapture for their sins, are we willing to be kicked out for ours? We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It’s true, Jesus said. “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven.” But He can do that. He’s Jesus. We’re not.

After they fled, Jesus asked “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11) My guess is that she stopped committing adultery. Of course she also would have stopped if her accusers had killed her, but would she have been delivered from her sin?

The Pharisees were upset with Jesus because they considered Him “soft” on sin. After all, He palled around with “sinners”, had dinner in their homes, and said He came to save them, not to condemn them. I’ve noticed that the closer people came to Jesus, the more they became aware of their sins. They were often on their knees, weeping, pleading for mercy. The Pharisees stood in the back, scowling, arms folded across their chests, silently condemning. I think Paul was writing about such people when he said they show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Jesus said that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter the Kingdom before the Pharisees did. Why? Because they knew they were sinners in need of a savior. They had repented, whereas the Pharisees had not. (Matt. 21:32)

I think you get the point of this, which is to remind us that we’re all sinners who deserve only judgment. There’s not a single one of us who has earned the right to go in the Rapture. We should be so thrilled to know He’s going to take us anyway that we search high and low trying to find a way to say thanks, instead of looking around for people we want to have excluded. And those of you who think that you only sin occasionally, if at all, and that others are just weak, it’s time you repent. Admit you’re a sinner and ask the Lord to forgive you. He will immediately agree, and perhaps for the first time you’ll experience the full measure of God’s Grace, because he who has been forgiven much, loves much. Selah 12-13-08