Friday, March 31, 2006

One in Spirit



“My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me.”

(John 10:27)
“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth: for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.”
(John 16:12-15)

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world , but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom , but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

(Isaiah 55:8-9)

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering , without hypocrisy.”
(James 3:17)

The Holy Spirit is united within our spirit. One means of our awareness of the Holy Spirit comes to us through our mind. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the avenue of our own mind, transforming the will and directing our emotions. Over time and by the ongoing spiritual force of blending Spirit to soul, God’s thoughts become our thoughts, God’s desires our own and the fruit of the Spirit become our character. We live out the reality of possessing the mind of Christ. We are as He is in this world, reflecting the life of Christ who is in us. By the Spirit we are being transformed from glory to glory. Our lives become increasingly indistinguishable from that of Christ. The voice of the Spirit is an ever present influence causing us to think, speak and act as Jesus would do.



Reflection...

How have you grown in intimacy and awareness of the Holy Spirit this week?


What role does the Holy Spirit play in changing a person’s life?


What role does the Holy Spirit play in transforming nations?


How can we partner with the Holy Spirit as He hovers over the face of the earth to draw people to Christ?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Names of the Spirit


Meditate on some of the various Names of the Holy Spirit found in Scripture:


Spirit of God
”You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
(Romans 8:9)

Spirit of Truth
”The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him,
for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
(John 14:17)

The Anointing
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you,
and you do not need that anyone teach you;
but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie,
and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
(1John 2:27)

The Promise of the Father & Power from on High
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you;
but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until
you are endued with power from on high.”
(Luke 24:49)


The Gift

“Then Peter said to them, ’Repent, and let every one of you
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of
sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
(Acts 2:38)

Spirit of His Son
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son
into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’”
(Galatians 4:6)

The Helper
“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 things that I said to you.”
(John 14:26)

The Helper
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
that He may abide with you forever”
(John14:16)

The Spirit of your Father
“for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
(Matthew 10:20)

Spirit of Jesus
“When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia,
but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
(Acts 16:7)

Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free
from the law of sin and death.”
(Romans 8:2)

Spirit of the Living God
“Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink
but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is,
of the heart.”
(2 Corinthians 3:3)

Spirit of Grace
“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose,
will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot,
counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing,
and insulted the Spirit of grace?”
(Hebrews 10:29)

Spirit of Glory

“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed,
but on your part He is glorified.”
(1Peter 4:14)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Crammed Full

“be filled with the Spirit.”
(Ephesians 5:18)




Picture a suitcase that has been stuffed and crammed full of garments and accessories ready for the vacation journey. At face value it is unzippable with garments visible through the seams. Will it shut? Furthermore, will it zip? Yet, we apply a little pressure, which usually consists of dad and two kids sitting on top as mom attempts to zip it shut, as she pushes all that remains in with her fingers. It is full.

Picture a gully or a ditch open and bare. My grandfather had many gullies on his farm. Most of them had some sort of trash or junk thrown in them. These gullies, full of tires, angle-iron, branches, jars, car parts etc., wasn’t exactly a safe place for a kid to walk or play. What is needed is for them to be filled in with dirt, filling in the hollow, so that the area may once again become useful for some activity or such. But it must be filled in and full.

Or, perhaps a cup of coffee, nearing the bottom of the mug, growing more and more lukewarm. What it needs is a filling up with freshly brewed, stemming hot coffee. Keep it coming…!

Picture a house open and bare without any fixtures or furniture. Or, perhaps a house abandoned in a rush, old paint and soiled carpet. Yet, take that same house, put fresh paint on the walls, new carpet on the floors and begin to furnish it with furniture and various fixtures. Suddenly this place, previously unfit to live in becomes a haven of rest, peace and enjoyment.

So it is with our beings. Our souls, without His Spirit are an empty suitcase, with no goods for the journey, an exposed gully full of junk, a drained out cup, and a bare and naked house unfit for peace, rest or joy. Yet, the promise of Scripture is that the Spirit is present, ready and available to pack in the garments, cram the gullies within, fill to the full our cup and furnish us with Himself for everything we and those around us need. Paul admonishes us as followers of Christ to be continually filled and made full!

Meditation...

Take a moment, visualize and meditate on the images used above to describe what it means to be “filled” with the Spirit.
Which of the above images would presently best describe you?



Set aside time today to spend with the Holy Spirit…



Moody once illustrated this truth as follows:
“Tell me,” he said to his audience, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After many impossible suggestions, Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to show that victory in the Christian life is not by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but rather by being filled with the Spirit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Holy Spirit Yearns…

“Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain,
"The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"?”
(James 4:5 NKJ)

“Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain,
The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”
(James 4:5 KJV)


Has there ever been anything you wanted so badly that you just couldn’t get it off your mind? Every time you tried to think about something else, your mind just kept drifting back over and over again to that thing you desired. Finally, your urge to possess it became so intense that every fiber of your being wanted to reach out and capture it before anyone else had a chance to snatch it first!


Let me use a different illustration to make this point. If a drug addict or an alcoholic abruptly decides to stop doing drugs or drinking after many years of chemical abuse, what happens? Unless that person has a miraculous deliverance, it probably won’t be too long before his body begins to crave those chemicals. In fact, his appetite for drugs or alcohol might get so forceful that he doubles over in agony. That’s how much his body yearns for a “fix” of what it has habitually received in the past.


In the New Testament, the images above would be depicted by the Greek word epipotheo, which is a compound of the words epi and potheo. The word epi means over, and the word potheo is the word for desire. But when these two words are compounded together, the new word epipotheo portrays an intense desire, a craving, a hunger, an ache, a yearning for something, a longing or pining for something. More specifically, it describes an intense, abnormal, excessive yearning.


Usually this word is used to indicate an intense yearning for something that is morally wrong and sinful. It is the pitiful picture of someone, such as a drug addict or an alcoholic, who needs his “fix” so seriously that he is doubled over, racked with pain, and crying out, “Please, someone, give me what I need!”


Remarkably, this Greek word epipotheo is the same word found in James 4:5 to describe the desire of the Holy Spirit when it says, “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy”


The word “lust” in this verse is from this same Greek word epipotheo. Only this time the word is not used to describe the painful addiction of a drug addict or alcoholic; rather, it depicts the Spirit of God! There is obviously some object that the Spirit of God craves. In fact, this Greek word pictures Him as desiring it so desperately that He is like one who needs some type of “fix” to satisfy an addiction. He is crying out, “I have to have it! I can’t wait any longer! Give me what I crave! Give me what I am aching and yearning to have!”


But what does this mean? What is James 4:5 saying to us? What does the Holy Spirit yearn for so sincerely that the Bible would picture Him in this way?


In James 4:5, the Bible reveals the intense yearning the Holy Spirit possesses to have us entirely for Himself. That should be no surprise to us. He is our Indweller, our Sealer, our Sanctifier, and our Source of power. His attention, His gifts, His power, and His Word are all directed toward us. He is in love with us!


The Holy Spirit is so in love with us that He wants more, more, more, and more of us. Every day He wants our time, our attention, our devotion, and our fellowship. If we deny the Holy Spirit of what He wants from us, He cries out, “I need you! I must have you! I want to fill you, empower you, and flood you with My divine life!”


James 4:5 conveys this compelling idea:

“The Spirit has an all-consuming and passionate desire to have more and more of us. In fact, this desire to possess us is so strong that He literally yearns, craves, and pines after us.”


Never forget that the Holy Spirit is a divine Lover who lives on the inside of us. He passionately yearns to fulfill His responsibility to the Father to help, teach, guide, and empower us. The word epipotheo emphatically means that when it comes to you and me, the Holy Spirit can never get enough! The Holy Spirit desires to possess you — all of you. Because of this intense desire, He is focused on changing you, empowering you, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, and helping you fulfill God’s plan for your life.


Learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to have more and more of you each day. Satisfy the yearning of this divine Lover. Let the Holy Spirit love you! Let Him control you! Let Him exercise His authority in your life and flood you with His divine desire!


Reflection...

Have you ever experienced the deep love that the Holy Spirit has for you?


When you had this experience, where were you and what was happening in your life?



Prayer…

Lord, help me to be mindful that the Holy Spirit lives inside me and wants to possess more and more of me every day. Please help me learn how to surrender to the Spirit’s power and to yield to His sanctifying Presence. I want to begin today by opening myself to the Holy Spirit completely. Holy Spirit, I ask You to fill me anew right now.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Quest Begins



”I will pray the Father,
and He will give you another Helper
that He may abide with you forever –
the Spirit of truth,
whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;
but you know Him, for He dwells with you
and will be with you…
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 things that I said to you
.”
(John 14:17,26)

Samuel Morris was only about seventeen years old. He had been following Christ for some two years. Yet, deep within him was a passion to know this God who had miraculously delivered him out of slavery.

Kaboo, (Samuel’s native name) was a young prince of a tribe hidden in the jungles of Western Africa. “In those regions it was the custom for a chief who was defeated in war to give his eldest son as a pawn or hostage to insure the payment of war indemnity. If payment lagged, he was often subjected to torture.”[i]

Kaboo had been sold as a pawn of war several times. When the father of Kaboo failed to pay the victorious chief a sum suitable to his liking, “the infuriated chief ordered Kaboo to be whipped every day. Each beating was more prolonged and severe than the one before. A thorny poison vine was used as a whip. At each stroke it tore the flesh and implanted a fiery virus. The agonized victim felt as if his whole body were afire.

Each time the chieftain’s executioner tormented Kaboo, a Kru slave, who was an eye-witness of the beating, was sent to Kaboo’s father with a harrowing story of the ordeal, and a warning of worse to follow if he did not redouble his efforts to meet the full demands of his conqueror.

Kaboo’s wounds did not have time to heal. The flesh of his back hung in shreds. Soon he became so exhausted from loss of blood and the fever induced by the poison vine that he could no longer stand or even sit up. A cross-tree was then erected and he was carried out and thrown over it while he was again beaten over his raw back.”[ii]

Kaboo had witnessed several other of his tribesmen, who had been taken as ordinary slaves by this brutal chief suffer similar beatings. “Kaboo had seen them literally torn to pieces by drunken and frenzied men. But he was now faced by an even more diabolical fate.

Already they had dug a pit in anticipation of the possible failure of his father to return. If his final beating induced no further payment, he was to be buried up to the neck. His mouth would then be propped open, and smeared with a sweet mixture to attract the ants from a nearby ant-hill. The resulting torment would merely prepare for the final act when another type of insect – the dreaded driver ants – would be permitted to devour his living flesh bit by bit. After the ants had cleansed his bones of every particle of flesh, his white skeleton would then be placed in front of his execution hut as a gentle reminder to all future debtors.

As Kaboo was flung upon the cross-tree for his final beating, all hope as well as physical strength left him. He longed only for the blessing of death.

Then, suddenly, something very strange happened. A great light like a flash of lightning broke over him. The light blinded all about him. An audible voice that seemed to come from above commanded him to rise and flee. All heard the voice and saw the light but saw no man.

At the same time there occurred one of those instantaneous healings which science can neither deny nor explain. In the twinkling of an eye Kaboo found his strength restored. He had had nothing to eat or drink all that day. Yet he felt neither hunger nor thirst nor weakness. Leaping up, he obeyed the mysterious voice and fled from the astonished natives with the speed of a deer.

What was the source of the mysterious light that had brought him new strength and freedom? Kaboo did not know or suspect. He had never heard of the Christian God. He knew nothing of special acts of Divine Providence. He had never heard of a Saviour who had once been put in pawn, a ransom for many. The earthly prince who had just hung over a cross-tree of torture did not dream of a heavenly Prince who had been mocked and beaten as a prisoner and had suffered a degraded death by slow torture upon a tree.

But Kaboo did know that some strange and invisible power had come to his rescue. At one moment he had been too ill to sit erect and now he was running away at top speed.

It was on a Friday that he made his escape. Kaboo never forgot that day. He called it his Deliverance Day, and as long as he lived he always celebrated that day of the week by fasting, taking neither food nor water.”[iii]

Just as God lead the Children of Israel through the wilderness with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, this light lead young Kaboo through the deep jungles of Africa. Kaboo hid inside tree trunks and other obscure places during the days and followed the light through the jungle at night. This light also served as a source of protection from poisonous cobras and vipers that lay in wait along the pathway. The great python hung overhead. “But more than the glaring eyes of leopards and the stings of poisonous serpents he had to fear his own kind. In the forests of this vast region lived some of the most savage cannibals”[iv] in this part of the world. This light lead Kaboo to a plantation where he would soon be taken in my missionaries and discover the Person behind the guiding Light.

Shortly after arriving at the plantation, Kaboo was invited to attend church. “He found a crowd gathered around a woman who was speaking through an interpreter. She was telling them about the conversion of Saul; how a light from heaven suddenly shone upon him and a mysterious voice spoke from above.

Kaboo cried out: ‘That’s just what I saw! I have seen that light! That is the same light that saved me and brought me here!’ Kaboo had been wondering all the time why he had been so marvelously saved from death and guided through the forest. Now, in a flash he began to understand.”[v]

If this seems like an amazing account, the rest of Kaboo’s life is no less interesting. Shortly, after his understanding the God behind this light, Kaboo was baptized in a Methodist church by the name Samuel Morris. From this point on, Samuel Morris became consumed with an unquenchable hunger for his Heavenly Father. Samuel would spend endless nights out in the fields “talking to his Father,” as he referred to praying. His life became consumed with communing with God and singing praises about and to God.

Samuel spent countless hours questioning missionaries about Scripture. One day he and a missionary landed upon John chapter 17, which talks about the Promise of the Holy Spirit. Samuel was fascinated with the subject of the Holy Spirit. “He came so often to visit the missionaries and asked so many hard questions about the Spirit that one was finally compelled to confess: ‘I have told you everything I know about the Holy Spirit.’ But he persisted, ‘Who told you what you know about the Holy Spirit?’ She replied that she owed much of her understanding of this subject to Stephen Merritt, who was then home secretary to Bishop William Taylor.[vi]

Samuel Morris then asked, ‘Where is Stephen Merritt?’

The missionary replied: ‘In New York.’

Samuel Morris promptly declared, ‘I will go to see him!’

This began a long and exciting quest of this young prince across course seas and crude sailors. On this quest young Morris would face prejudice beatings and cruel treatment, yet in the midst he grew closer and closer to the heart of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Neither time, nor space permit us to go into detail here, you’ll have to read the accounts for yourself.

In short, this initial year-and-a-half quest across the windy seas landed him in New York, where he quickly made the acquaintance Stephen Merritt. Within days, God opened the heart of Stephen Merritt to take in this little boy from Africa. Needless to say, this was quite a moving of the Holy Spirit considering the era of the late 1800’s. But these were no ordinary circumstances and this was not ordinary boy, Samuel Morris was a boy, consumed with an unquenchable hunger for God. And it was this hunger for righteousness that would cause him to indeed be filled as Jesus promised in the Beatitudes. Not only would he be taught about the Holy Spirit, but everyone who encountered Samuel would forever be changed by a personal encounter with a person infused with the Spirit Himself.

Within days of Samuel being taken in by Stephen Merritt the following account took place:

“Stephen Merritt was a very busy man. His time was taken up with his church work. That Saturday morning he had to conduct the funeral of a prominent man in Harlem. He took Sammy along with him in the coach. On his way he stopped to pick up two eminent ministers who were to assist him with the funeral services. When the first of these doctors of divinity looked into the coach and saw a black boy sitting there, the minister started to draw back. He waited for a moment, expecting the shabby youth to get out. When they finally got in, they were plainly shocked to be obliged to ride with this humble African. They said nothing but cast glances in his direction that spoke their disapproval.

It was embarrassing to Rev. Stephen Merritt. As a diversion he tried to entertain Sammy by pointing out all the interesting places they were passing such as Central Park, the Grand Opera House, and other notable sights. But Sammy was interested in something even more wondrous than the wonders of this great city. Putting his hand on Merritt’s knee, he said, “Did you ever pray while riding in a coach?” Merritt answered that he had frequently had blessed times while riding about in a coach, but that he had never engaged in formal prayers.

Sammy said, “We will pray.” And they did. It was the first time that Stephen Merritt had ever kneeled down in a coach to pray. Sammy began at once: “Father, I have been months coming to see Stephen Merritt so that I could talk to him about the Holy Spirit. Now that I am here, he shows me the harbor, the churches, the banks and other buildings, but does not say a word about this Spirit I am so anxious to know more about. Fill him with Yourself so that he will not think, or talk, or write, or preach about anything but You and the Holy Spirit.”

What happened in that coach was no ordinary manifestation of divine favor. Stephen Merritt had participated in the consecration of many missionaries, the ordination of many ministers, the installation of bishops, and the laying on of hands by holy people. But he had never experienced the burning presence of the Holy Spirit as he did while he was kneeling in that coach, beside Sammy Morris who was penniless and clad in tattered garments. Merritt’s whole life was changed in that amazing moment.”[vii]

One of the greatest tragedies of the modern church is the tendency to be satisfied with a cognitive understanding of the things of God and Scripture, without that understanding being rendered effectual and experiential through one’s whole being. The Biblical definition of knowing something is always experiential and transformational, if it consists only in one’s cognitive understanding, then it is not true or complete knowledge. The Western world has been greatly deceived by this satisfaction of mental knowledge. Samuel Morris offers a great challenge to us to pursue more than mere mental-understanding and pursue holistic life-transforming-understanding.


Deeper...
Meditate on Samuel’s prayer for Stephen Merritt while in the coach.

“Father, I have been months coming to see Stephen Merritt so that I could talk to him about the Holy Spirit. Now that I am here, he shows me the harbor, the churches, the banks and other buildings, but does not say a word about this Spirit I am so anxious to know more about. Fill him with Yourself so that he will not think, or talk, or write, or preach about anything but You and the Holy Spirit.”

May this prayer, become our prayer! “God, we are so often inclined to talk about this and that, this truth and that truth, without a deep experiential understanding. May we be so filled with Yourself that we will not think, or talk, or write, or preach about anything but You and the Holy Spirit. May we, like the young prince, embark on a life changing journey to deeply and personally know the Spirit of the One who delivered us!”

Intentionally set aside times throughout the day this week to quiet yourself and pursue intimacy with the Holy Spirit.


[i] Lindley Baldwin, Samuel Morris: Men of Faith Series, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1942), 8.
[ii] Ibid., 10.
[iii] Ibid., 11-12.
[iv] Ibid., 14.
[v] Ibid., 16.
[vi] Ibid., 24-25.
[vii] Ibid., 47-49.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Each One Reach One



Frank Laubach (1884-1970), an American missionary to the Philippines, developed a literacy training program that has been used around the world for seventy years now to teach people – including adults – how to read and write. Kennedy states that, “Laubach was a ‘literacy pioneer,’ whose slogan was ‘Each One Teach One’ and who established Laubach Literacy International. It’s estimated that more than 100 million people have been taught to read by the Laubach method in at least 200 nations, including many illiterates in this country.”[i]

Frank Laubach’s theory was simple, each one teach one. Each person teaching another person, who taught another person and so on. What happen if each follower of Christ was intentional about reaching another person with the message of the Gospel? The key is being intentional. Very rarely is something of significance accomplished without intentionality.

Sociologists estimate that even the most introverted person will influence at least 10,000 people during their lifetime. How much more will someone who’s attempting to advance God’s kingdom purposely through building life-on-life relationships with others? Suppose each person, following the Great Commission to go and make disciples, simply discipled twelve people throughout their life. Then, each of these twelve would in return disciple twelve people throughout the course of their lifetime. How many people would be discipled in five short generations?


Consider the following diagram to give you an idea.

You disciple 12, who disciple 12, equals 144!
Who disciple 12, equals 1,728!
Who disciple 12, equals 20,736!
Who disciple 12, equals 248,832!
Who disciple 12, equals 2, 985, 984!


Meditate on the following…


“Many people mistake our work for our vocation.
Our vocation is the love of Jesus.”
(Mother Teresa)



“God wants to have a relationship with all his children in all his nations.
We must introduce them to Him.”

(Dan Ayres)


[i] James Kennedy, What if Jesus had Never Been Born?, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 1994), 56.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The power of One



”The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it.
"Then Philip ran up to the chariot and
heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet.
"Do you understand what you are reading?"
Philip asked. "How can I," he said,
"unless someone explains it to me?"
So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”

(Acts 8:29-31)



Dave Smethurst is minister
who experienced the following accounts.
This all started a number of years ago in a Baptist church in Crystal Palace in South London. The Sunday morning service was closing and a man stood up at the back and raised his hand and said:
“Excuse me pastor can I share a short testimony?”
The pastor looked at his watch and said”
“You have three minutes”
The man proceeded with his story:
“I’ve just moved into this area. I used to live in Sydney Australia. Just a few months back I was visiting some relatives and I was walking down George Street. You know where George Street is in Sydney going from the Business Area out to the Rock – the colonial area.

A strange little white haired man stepped out from a shop doorway, put a pamphlet in my hand and said:
“Excuse me sir, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

“I was astounded by these words. No one had ever asked me that. I thanked him courteously and all the way home to London this puzzled me. I called a friend and thank God he was a Christian and he led me to Christ.”

The Baptists love testimonies like that. Everyone applauded and welcomed him into their fellowship.
The Baptist pastor flew to Adelaide, Australia the next week and 10 days later in the middle of a three day series in a Baptist church in Adelaide, a woman came up to him for some counseling. He wanted to establish where she stood with Christ. She said,

“I used to live in Sydney and just a couple of months back I was visiting some friends in Sydney doing some last minute shopping down George Street. A strange little white haired man stepped out of a shop doorway and offered me a pamphlet and said

“Excuse me madam, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

“I was disturbed by those words. When I got home to Adelaide, I knew this Baptist church was on the next block from me. I sought out the pastor and he led me to Christ. So I am telling you that I am a Christian.”

The London pastor was now very puzzled. Twice in two weeks he had heard the same testimony. He then flew to preach in the Mount Pleasant Church in Perth. When his teaching series was over the senior elder of that Church took him out for a meal and he asked the elder how he got saved.

“I grew up in this church from the age of 15. I never made a commitment to Jesus, just hopped on the bandwagon like everyone else. Because of my business ability grew up to a place of influence. I was on a business trip to Sydney just three years ago. An obnoxious spiteful little man stepped out of a shop doorway, offered me a religious pamphlet – cheap junk – and accosted me with a question:

“Excuse me sir, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

I tried to tell him I was a Baptist elder. He wouldn’t listen to me. I was seething with anger all the way home from Sydney to Perth. I told my pastor, thinking that he would sympathize, but he agreed. He had been disturbed for years knowing that I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, and he was right. My pastor led me to Jesus just three years ago.”
The London preacher flew home and was soon speaking at the Keswick conventions in the Lake District and he threw in these three testimonies. At the close of this teaching series, fours elderly pastors came up and explained that they too had been saved between 25 and 30 years earlier through that same little man on George Street, offering them a pamphlet and asking that same question.

The following week he flew to a similar Keswick convention in the Caribbean to missionaries. He shared the same testimonies. At the close of his teaching three missionaries came forward and said that they had also had been saved between 15 and 25 years earlier by that same little man’s testimony and asked us the same question on George Street in Sydney.

Next he stopped in Atlanta, Georgia to speak at a Naval Chaplain convention. Here for three days he spoke to over 1000 Naval Chaplains. Afterwards the Chaplain General took him out for a meal and he asked the Chaplain how he became a Christian.

“It was miraculous. I was a rating on a Naval battleship and I lived a reprobate life. We were doing exercises in the South Pacific and we docked at Sydney harbor for replenishments. We hit Kings Cross with a vengeance. I was blind drunk, got on the wrong bus and got off in George Street. As I got off the bus, I though I saw a ghost as this man jumped out in front of me, pushed a pamphlet in my hand and said

“Sailor, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

The fear of God hit me immediately. I was shocked sober, ran back to the ship and sought out the Chaplain. He led me to Christ. I soon began to prepare for the ministry under his guidance. I am now in charge of 1000 chaplains who are bent on soul winning today.”
Six months later that London pastor flew to a conference for 5,000 Indian missionaries in a remote part of NE India. At the end the head missionary took him to his humble little home for a simple meal. He asked how he as a Hindu came to Christ.

“I grew up in a very privileged position, I worked the Indian Diplomatic Mission and I traveled the world. I am so glad for the forgiveness of Christ and blood covering my sin. I would be very embarrassed if people found out what I got into. One period of diplomatic service took me to Sydney. I was doing some last minute shopping, laden with toys and clothes for my children. I was walking down George Street when a courteous white haired little man stepped out in front of me and offered me a pamphlet and said

“Excuse me sir, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?”

I thanked him very much but this disturbed me. I got back to my town, sought out our Hindu priest. He couldn’t help me, but he advised me that to satisfy my curious mind, I should go and talk to the missionary in the mission home at the end of road. That was good advice because that day the missionary led me to Christ. I quit Hinduism immediately and began to prepare for ministry. I left the Diplomatic Service and here I am today, by God’s grace in charge of all these missionaries who have together led 100,000 people to Christ.

Eight months later that London Pastor was preaching in Sydney. He asked the local Baptist Minister if he knew of a little elderly white haired man who handed out tracts on George Street. He replied,

“Yes I do, his name is Mr. Genor, although I don’t think he does it any more because he is so frail and elderly.”

Two nights later they went to meet him in his little apartment. They knocked on the door and this tiny frail old man greeted them. He sat them down and made them tea. He was so frail that he was slopping the tea into the saucer as his hands shook. The London preacher sat there and told him of all these accounts from the previous three years. This little man sat with tears running down his cheeks. He told them his story.

“I was a rating on an Australian warship. I was living a reprobate life. In a crisis I really hit the wall. One of my collogues, to whom I gave literal hell, was there to help me. He led me to Jesus and the change in my life was night to day in 24 hours. I was so grateful to God; I promised God that I would share Jesus in a simple witness with at least 10 people a day. As God gave me strength I did that. Sometimes I was ill and couldn’t do it, but I made up for the days I missed it at other times. I wasn’t paranoid about it. I have done this for over 40 years. In my retirement years, the best place was on St. George Street where I saw hundreds of people a day. I got lots of rejections, but a lot of people courteously took the tract. In 40 years of doing this, I have never heard of one single person coming to Jesus until today.”

“God has not called me to be successful,
He’s called me to be faithful.”

(Mother Teresa)

When it comes to sharing the love of Christ with others, many typically feel some sense of failure if it is not readily accepted as truth. Many become offended or discouraged in such circumstances. Before long, they lose heart, diminish in compassion, and simply conclude that the one standing before them wouldn’t want to hear it anyway. We must remember that all of us are in a process of discovering who God is, what it means to love, follow, surrender all to Him, and so forth. When we accept that we often only play a part in the process of those around us, we become free from the tendency to simply close the deal of salvation with a prayer. In return, we enter into authentic and sincere relationships where were begin to share in the journey of others. In doing so, we actually demonstrate the love of God towards others, not merely tell others about it.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak,
but their echoes are truly endless.”

(Mother Teresa)

Think of the life of Mr. Gener. Imagine if you were him, how would you be tempted to feel about yourself, your ministry and its success?



Meditate on the reality of his influence upon others, even without his knowledge. How does that help put things into perspective for you?


Is there one person that God has placed in your life to pray for and to engage in authentic relationship?



How are you intentionally praying for them and developing a relationship?


“Let us always meet each other with smile,
for the smile is the beginning of love.”
(Mother Teresa)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

With Passion


Father Damien

(1) Molokai.
The islands name was pronounced bitterly, with loathing and fear. Between 1866 and 1873, nearly eight hundred lepers were quarantined there on an isolated peninsula. Towering volcanic cliffs hemmed them in on three sides, and crashing surf on the fourth. It was a prison, a netherworld made all the more surreal by its pacific beauty.

(2) Abandoned without law or hope, the lepers gave themselves alternately to despair and to what pleasures they could grasp. Robbery and drunkenness, sexual orgies and anarchy marked their lives. When finally, after a torturous descent, the lepers finally succumbed to their disease, their already-decayed bodies often became food for pigs and wild dogs.

(3) Father Damien first came to Hawaii in 1864. He had been born in Europe, the sturdily built son of a well-to-do Belgian farmer. When his brother fell ill and could not travel to his post at Hawaiis Sacred Heart Mission, Damien asked to take his place.

(4) For a decade, Damien served at the mission. During that time, many of his parishioners were forced away to Molokai. Their memory remained wedged in his mind, slowly building into a fearsome emotion. He yearned to go to the lepers and to convey love to them where they lived. In April of 1873, Father Damien wrote to his superiors, asking for permission. A month later, he stood on the beaches of the dreaded isle.

(5) Damien steeled himself for the worst, but the sights and smells of Molokai left him gasping. One of his first encounters was with a young girl, her body already half eaten by worms. One by one, Damien set out to meet them all. Carefully avoiding physical contact, he confronted their rotting bodies, putrid breath, and the ever-present rasped coughing.

(6) Damiens first desire was to remind the lepers of their inherent dignity as children of God. To demonstrate the value of their lives, he honored their deathsconstructing coffins, digging graves, protecting the cemetery from scavenging animals, and ensuring a ceremony for every passing.

(7) As the days went by, however, Damien began to feel that he could not fully convey all that he wished to share without drawing ever nearer. He began timidly to touch the lepers. He ate with them, and hugged them. Over time, he even began to clean and wrap their oozing sores. Everything Damien did, he did with the lepers. Together, they built coffins and chapels, cottages and roads. He taught them how to farm, raise animals, and even sing despite their mangled vocal chords. One report described him teaching two lepers to play the organ with the ten fingers they still had between them.

(8) Damien sought to draw near to the lepers in his words as well, even speaking of we lepers. Writing to his brother in Europe, he explained, I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ. That is why, in preaching, I say we lepers; not my brethren

(9) It was eleven years after Damiens arrival on Molokai that he spilled boiling water on his leg. He watched in horror as his feet blisteredyet felt no pain. His efforts to draw ever nearer to the lepers were complete. Now he would meet them in their disease as well.

(10) The final five years of his life, Damien served the lepers of Molokai as a leper priest. The days passed with both joy and suffering. Outpourings of international support arrived at the island, and also several helpers. Alongside the blessings, however, came physical pain, and times of loneliness and even depression. Finally, on April 15, 1889, Damien breathed his last. He was laid to rest among the thousands of lepers he had helped to bury in what he called his garden of the dead.

(11) In 1936, at the request of the Belgian government, Father Damiens body was returned to his birthplace. Years later, the people of Molokai pleaded that at least part of their beloved Father be returned to them. What they finally received, with joy, was Damiens right handthe hand that had touched and soothed and embraced them, even when everyone else had done all they could to keep the lepers far away.

Reflection...

What is the first thing that Damien had to do (paragraph 4)?

What drove him to show compassion to the lepers (6)?

How did he change their standard of living (7)?

Reread paragraph (8). What is the significance of this?


Describe how Damiens compassion for the lepers was similar to Jesus compassion for all sinners? How are their life stories the same?
God calls us to show the same compassion. Read Colossians 3:12-14.

And so, as those who have been chosen of God,
holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other,
whoever has a complaint against anyone;
just as the Lord
forgave you, so also should you.
And beyond all these things [put on] love,
which is the perfect bond of unity.
(Colossians 3:12-14 NASB)


Application Questions:

Why are we called to be compassionate?


Who around you can you show compassion to?


What are some practical ways you can show compassion?


What will be the risks that you will face?


What are the rewards?
Application Exercise: (Choose one or both of the following exercises)

1. As a family (small group), come up with a compassion project that you can all do together. Examples: soup kitchen, donating clothes, helping out a family in need, visit someone from church currently living at a nursing home, give out food or clothing (socks) downtown, etc.

2. Have each person in the family (small group) pick one person or group of people that they want to show compassion to, and how they plan to do it. Challenge them to do so for a week, and follow up with them the next week (at small group session).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Moved with Compassion



When Jesus went out He saw a great multitude;
and He was moved with compassion for them,
and healed their sick.

(Matthew 14:14 NKJ)

On a number of occasions
the Gospels record that Jesus was moved with compassion.[1] The word used here for compassion is an interesting word choice. The word splagchnos is the Greek word for bowels or intestines. The bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.)[i] The word could be used to describe tender emotions, or it may picture deeply felt feelings for someone else.[ii] Splagchnos was also used outside of the New Testament context. It was used in pagan worship rituals. One would take an animal to be sacrificed and cut its heart and insides out. They would then lift up the insides with outstretched hands towards their god. They called that which was in their hands the compassions. Thus, this word spoke of a deep emotional and spiritual churning within ones personhood. Jesus was moved with compassion. Rick Renner, author of Sparkling Gems from the Greek, describes this word in the context of Jesus ministry by saying,

In every example
where Jesus felt compassion for someone or for a mass of people, there was such a movement of compassion from within Him that it surged out of Him to meet the needs of people. In some cases, that movement of compassion caused Him to provide food, to raise the dead, to deliver the demon-possessed, to heal the sick, and to provide teaching for those who were like sheep without a shepherd.

Forgive me for being so straightforward, but I want to tell you exactly why the Holy Spirit chose the word splagchnos (bowels) to describe compassion. Let me get a little biological for a moment. What happens when a persons bowels move? The movement of the bowels produces action, doesnt it? Likewise, when the human spirit is deeply touched and moved by the need of another person, it causes a movement or a release of divine power to surge from deep within that person to reach out and meet the needs of the other individual.

This is the reason
that every time Jesus was moved with compassion, it always resulted in a healing, deliverance, resurrection, supernatural provision, or some other action that changed someones life. You see, compassion always produces action. The force of compassion cannot leave a person in the sad condition in which he was found; it moves one to do something to change that other persons situation.[iii]

Interestingly, the Apostle John uses the word splagchnos (bowels) in 1 John 3:17, where he writes, But who ever has the worlds goods, and sees his brother have a need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him? The word shuts up means to lock up or to tightly shut up. It is a picture of a believer who sees someone elses need, but instead of letting that compassion move him to action, they subtly, perhaps deliberately tighten down the valve of their spirit and shut down the flow of compassion.

We live in a time when it is easy to see the needs of others and feel no movement on the inside, no deep emotion, no stirring of the bowels no spagchnos. If we are not attentive, our valves will become rusty, tightened and shut down, thus diminishing the flow of compassion to others in need.

It is easy to love the people far away.
It is not always easy to love those close to us.
It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger
than to relieve the loneliness and
pain of someone unloved in our own home.
Bring love into your home for this is
where our love for each other must start.
(Mother Teresa)

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.
(Mother Teresa)

Reflection...
Have you ever had something happen within a relationship that caused you to shut down the flow of compassion in future relationships?





Have you ever been burnt in trying to reach out to someone in compassion and it has caused you to tighten down on the release of compassion to others in similar situations?


I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts,
there can be no more hurt, only more love.

Mother Teresa


Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

[1] Mathew 14:14, 15:32, 20:34; Mark 1:41, 6:34, 8:2; Luke 7:13-15.
[i] New Testament Greek Lexicon, ref. no. 4698.
[ii] Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems from the Greek, (Tulsa, OK: Teach All Nations, 2003), 771.
[iii] Ibid., 772.

Monday, March 20, 2006

One Drop Missing



“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,
you did not do for me

(Matthew 25:45)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
(Matthew 25:31-45)

Mother Teresa was born in Skopje Macedonia, on August 27, 1910. Her family was of Albanian descent. At the age of twelve, she felt strongly the call of God. She knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ. At the age of eighteen she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months' training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. Although she had no funds, she depended on Divine Providence, and started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work.[i]

One prominent leader,
astonished by Mother Teresa’s devotion to meeting the needs of the desperately poor, asked her if she got discouraged when she saw so few successes in her work.

Mother Teresa answered, “No, I do not become discouraged. You see, God has not called me to a ministry of success. He has called me to a ministry of mercy.”


We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. Mother Teresa

Often we think of global missions and we immediately shrink back inside. The world simply seems too big, too immense and unreachable, especially by one person, most notably us. Yet the perspective that Mother Teresa displayed is encouraging and applicable for any person, most notably us. One of Mother Teresa’s motto’s was, “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one,” and “Jesus said love one another. He didn't say love the whole world.” A global manifestation of love pouring out of our being begins with a single expression of love to the one who stands before us, if only we can start there.


Meditate on the following sayings by Mother Teresa:

– “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

– “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

– “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

– “If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning,
we have to keep putting oil in it.”

– “Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”

– “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we
have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

– “Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how
much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”

[i] http://nobelprize.org/peace/laureates/1979/teresa-bio.html.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Kingdom Within



In my spirit, where the Spirit of Christ has united Himself within me, the Kingdom of God is established. In His Kingdom Within, in the Secret Place of the Most High, there the Spirit glorifies Jesus and reveals Him. The very life of Christ is in the Kingdom within and permeates every recess of my spirit. The Lord Jesus reigns there in total sovereignty. His glory is thick, weighty and rich and is manifested in the Light and Fragrance of Christ. In the Kingdom Within the surpassing greatness of the power of the resurrected Lord is resident. The Spirit of Christ has all the gifts at His disposal for use to build and bless the Church. The perfect love of God has been poured out and saturates every fiber of my spirit. Holiness fills the Kingdom Within where no darkness can dwell in the light of His glory. This Light is the beautiful reflection from the face of Christ and illuminates the knowledge of Christ. I have gained the glory of the Lord Jesus. The essence of all that Jesus is has been added to me by the Spirit. It was for this purpose that He called me to Himself through the gospel. Here in the Kingdom Within I have the mind of Christ because His Spirit within has the mind of Christ. His thoughts, His intentions, His plans and His ways, His very likes and dislikes are known by the Holy Spirit within me. He alone knows the mind of God. The wisdom of God is Christ Himself and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

This Kingdom Within is ever-expanding within my soul and is made known to my awareness from glory to glory by the Spirit. This is part of the ministry of the Spirit to me. The ongoing revelation of who Jesus is within me causes my soul to be transformed into His likeness; for as I see Him, I become like Him in my soul-man. This is an ongoing process of continuous illumination. The domain of the Kingdom Within increases in that portion of my soul-man to the extent that I receive revelation of who He is and yield to His reign. Thus my mind is being transformed, my will is being conformed to His and my emotions are a growing expression of the fruit of the Spirit. This requires a daily death to my own soul-driven life. It is not about me, it is all about Jesus. The light of Christ from the Kingdom Within is ever expanding and driving out the darkness in my soul. The release of the fragrance is most powerful as the vessel is broken.

All of this has caused me to change my focal point, or reference point for determining who I really am. In the past my soul-man ( my mind, will and emotions) has been my focal point to determine who I was. From this view I often focused upon my inconsistencies and shortcomings -some of Christ and a lot of me. I have come to know that who I really am, the truest me, is not who I am in my soul-man. The true me is found where the Kingdom Within has been established. The deepest core within me is my spirit and that spirit has been born again and filled by the Spirit of the Lord. It is there that Christ dwells by the Holy Spirit. It is there, in the Kingdom Within, that Christ has called me to abide with Him. It is there that I no longer live, but it is His life that flows out of me. I am one with Him and He has established Himself there. The Kingdom Within is all about His pleasure and is a place for His glory. I fix my eyes of faith upon Jesus who is the author and perfecter of my faith. His mind is my mind in the Kingdom Within; His heart is my heart in the Kingdom within. I yield to Him and abide in Him in His fullness in the Kingdom Within. There the rivers of living water flow, the bread of life is offered freely and the life of God permeates every fiber. I truly am not of this world even as Christ is not of this world. I have become a new creation. The Spirit calls me to partake and impart what has been freely given in Christ. Therefore ministry becomes a release of the life of Christ within and He is the source of what I give to others. I truly am a fragrance of Christ in this world. The light of Christ within me is the light to the darkened world around me.

This faith declaration is true for each Spirit filled believer as we accept the work of the Spirit in us.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kingdom Christians




In studying yesterday, what the gospel is not, let us turn to what the gospel really is. The good news of the kingdom must be understood from the viewpoint of covenant. Covenant is an agreement between two parties which is an exchange of vows or acceptance by faith of promises made. Jesus said to His disciples, "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. (Mark 14:24) His blood is the sign of the new covenant that God was making with man through His Son Jesus. He would die so that we can live. Through Christ, Gods Kingdom comes to live within us and we become a part of His Kingdom. The Father initiated everything in reaching out to us through Christ Jesus to bring forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and acceptance as His own children. We do not save ourselves for we are unable. But our part of the covenant demands a response to Gods initiative of love and mercy. Our response to Gods work of grace should include the following from Dale Stoles book, Good News That Transforms (page 128).


The Essentials of Salvation

· Hear
· Believe
· Receive

The Evidence of Salvation

· Repent
· Confess
· Turn

The Confirmation of Salvation

· Be Baptized


Kingdom Christians understand that they no longer belong to themselves, but have entered into a covenant with the King of Glory. They are His. The attitudes and qualities of a Kingdom Christian can be found in the qualities of life that Jesus proclaimed in His word. For instance, the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7 are wonderful descriptions of people who have adopted Kingdom of God living.



Meditation...

Try reading Matthew 5-7 from a perspective of being under the loving dominion of the King of Glory.


What one thing can you do this week that is a reflection of the Kingdom of God to this darkened world? Now go do it in Jesus name!!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Other Gospels


“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages,
teaching in their synagogues and
proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”
(Matthew 9:35)

Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom!

My friend Dale Stole wrote in his recent book, Good News that Transforms, that there are several current versions of the gospel that are not authentic. Let me try and summarize the information he shares (pages 48-52).

The “Try Harder” Gospel: This gospel is all about what they do. They spend their lives trying to be religious and please God – to do enough to make him happy, so that when they die God will let them into heaven. This ‘works’ gospel promotes our good works that earn our way into heaven – hopefully we’ve done enough.

The “Just Believe” Gospel: In this gospel it doesn’t matter what we do; only what we believe. The gospel simply gets reduced to “Jesus died for your sins.” All we need to do is believe that. To the Hebrew, to believe in someone is to have faith in them, to entrust your life to them, to follow them. Today to believe in God is to believe abstractly and intellectually that he exists, not to trust him, obey and follow him.

The “Create you Own” Gospel: This gospel doesn’t actually lift up any particular scripture- because scriptures aren’t very important in this gospel. Dale Stole quotes one writer as she described her faith. “Mine was a patchwork God, sewn together from bits of rag and ribbon, Eastern and Western, pagan and Hebrew, everything but the kitchen sink and Jesus thrown in.” Proponents of this gospel may use a lot of the same language that other Christians do, but who knows what they really mean- maybe a little of everything?

The “Role Reversal” Gospel: is the result of the human-centered culture. Because we have become conditioned to seeing ourselves as the center of the universe, we are now the masters and God is the servant. Two sub-types of the Role Reversal Gospel are The “Magic Gospel” in which you think you can use the words that God has spoken to manipulate him into doing what you want. You basically try and hold God hostage with His words. (Mark 11:24) After all, this is the Word of God and God has to honor his word! The “Prosperity Gospel” is the idea that God wants you to be rich. This gospel transforms its followers into “men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means of financial gain” (1 Timothy 6:5). “For the love for money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many grief’s” (1 Timothy 6:10).


Reflect...

These examples of other gospels
from Dale Stole’s book remind us of what we hear in our workplace or on television. We hear it from politicians, sports figures, business people and our neighbors. What we hear are the words of people who have adopted a different gospel with various parts of those identified above. Look them over again carefully, then-


Examine your thinking about these inauthentic gospels; are there strains of these in your own beliefs? Which are you most prone to embrace? Why do you embrace these beliefs and with what consequences in your life? If you find these types of beliefs within yourself, repent of those things before God.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thy Kingdom Come



"Jesus said, Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father who art (is) in heaven, Hallowed (Holy) be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:9-10)


Jesus Prayed, “Thy kingdom come- on earth as it is in heaven.” As we have identified earlier in the week, a kingdom is the royal king ruling over his domain. It is the king having dominion in a place, a territory, and over the lives of those who live there.

The cry of Jesus heart was for the kingdom of God to be among men. Jesus came to proclaim the “gospel of the kingdom” and taught us to “seek first the kingdom” of God. He said, “ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Yet He proclaimed, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." How could one miss seeing the kingdom that was right in their midst? Matthew 13:19 says that it is easy, for we must see the kingdom with our hearts first, before our natural eyes will recognize anything. Jesus taught "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” The condition of our hearts will determine what we see. To know the mysteries of the kingdom we must approach as children with open hearts of trust and surrender rather than minds full of skepticism. Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt 18:3

The rule of the King
of Glory must be extended into our hearts before we are Kingdom Christians. Remember, kingdom is all about who has dominion in your life. As Jesus prayed in the ‘Lord’s prayer’, may heavens reality be manifested into earth’s realm. We partner with the King to see:

the name of the King being honored - on earth as it is in heaven

the kingdom of the King being extended - on earth as it is in heaven


the will of the King being done - on earth as it is in heaven

Motion...


Spend time today praying these three points (the name, the kingdom and the will of the King) into your life, your family, your church and your circle of influence - then take one step of action to see your prayers answered.


Tell the King today how exciting it is to partner with Him in seeing these three prayer points become a reality in our world. That is a real “WOW Project!”

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hallowed be thy Name


“Jesus said, Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father who art (is) in heaven,
Hallowed (Holy) be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”
(Matthew 6:9-10)

As we look closely at the next few words in the prayer of Jesus, He prays for three things. First it is interesting to note that most of us have probably read this first phrase incorrectly for years. At least I can say that I have for years. Most read the first phrase like “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed (Holy) is Thy name. We read it like Jesus is beginning His prayer to our Father with praise saying how holy He is. Yet that is not what Jesus is saying in this prayer. The Greek word here is “hagiazo” which means to make Holy, i.e. ceremonially purify or consecrate, to venerate, to sanctify or be holy. Jesus is not asking the Father to be holy, for He already is holy. Jesus is asking that our Father’s name be recognized as holy in the earth as it is in heaven. The New Living Translation correctly says, “may your name be honored.”

Therefore Jesus is praying, “May your name Father be honored as holy on earth, as it is in heaven.”

The kings of antiquity were very committed to exalting their own name in their kingdom. Archeologists have found hieroglyphics on the walls of pyramids in Egypt or in temples in Assyria that profusely proclaim the name and deeds of their kings. The name of the king must be glorified and must endure through the ages. These ancient kings were flowing in satanic dominion, for it was he who decided that he would exalt himself above God. Is it any wonder that the devil would entice earthly kings to enter into his twisted desire to demote the Living God while making themselves out to be gods? Yet it is true that to exalt the name of the king is to exalt the king himself. The name and the person go together. To dishonor the king’s name is to dishonor the king.
We can not glorify with our mouth
what we dishonor with our life.
Jesus was passionate about glorifying the name of His Father in the earth. In the Gospel of John 12:28 Jesus prays to His Father by saying, "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." This was one of the main things that Jesus came to do. He was committed to living His life to glorify the name of His God and Father.

If we are going to live as Kingdom Christians, we must also devote ourselves “to make holy and to consecrate” the name of the Lord on the earth.

Reflection...

Do you understand that Jesus is praying this prayer so that the Name of our God and Father will be glorified in the earth through you? Think about that fact! Ask the Father today how you can increase the glory of His great name in your world.


Are there any obstacles which the Lord has already spoken to you about which prevent you from glorifying God in and through your life? If so, confess and turn from them now!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Kingdom of God

As we look this week at the Kingdom of God, it is critical to lay a good foundation.

First, let us establish a key definition. A kingdom (basileia in the Greek language) means royalty, rule, a realm. A Kingdom therefore is the royal king ruling over his domain. It is the king having dominion in a place.

Secondly, the Bible clearly portrays that in heaven, the rule and reign of God is complete.

Thirdly, the heavenly kingdom is not of this realm. It is of a spiritual dimension, yet is very real.

Fourthly, it is clear to see that the rule and reign of God is not completely established here on earth. It is expanded one life at a time as a person comes under the Lordship of the King.

Lastly, please know that Jesus came to extend the dominion of God from heaven to earth and does so through the Church that He is building.

As we look this week into some of the foundational truths about the kingdom of God, we will begin with the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. This simple prayer contains wonderful revelation about the kingdom of God. We will look only at the first two verses of this prayer.

“Jesus said, Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father who art (is) in heaven,
Hallowed (Holy) be Thy name. Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:9,10)

When Jesus called God His Father, it was a radical expression not used to address Yahweh. Jesus was establishing that the kingdom is relational. The people in Palestine had never talked to the royalty that ruled over them. These rulers were basically inaccessible to the common man. The elders and religious leaders within their faith had never taught the people to address God as “Father”. This was mind-blowing! Therefore, the people who gathered to hear the Sermon on the Mount that day may have thought: “It is one thing for this holy man from Galilee, a prophet and a miracle worker, to address God as Father, but for us to address God in that way is unthinkable.” Yet this is what Jesus was teaching the people about prayer - come close and call Him Father.



Spend time this week in a prayerful attitude saying these simple words from your heart: “My Father” and at other times, “Our Father”.




Be aware of any obstacles of your mind or heart in coming to Him as “My Father” and “Our Father”. Ask Him to do a work of removing every obstacle and building a strong bond between you His child and the God of Heaven- “Our Father.”

Friday, March 10, 2006

Recommended Reading



How Christianity Changed the World by Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt

Civilization Transformed

"These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.
(Acts 17:6)

Everything that Jesus Christ touched, writes Dr. Kennedy, He utterly transformed. He touched time when He was born into this world; He had a birthday and that birthday utterly altered the way we measure time.[i][ii] Kennedy continues,

Someone has said He has turned aside the river of ages out of its course and lifted the centuries off their hinges. Now, the whole world counts time as Before Christ (B.C.) and A.D. Unfortunately, in most cases, our generation today doesnt even know that A.D. means Anno Domini, In the year of the Lord.

Jesus utterly transformed everything He touched. Not only countless individual lives, writes Paul Maier, professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University but civilization itself was transformed by Jesus Christ.[iii] Professor Maier continues,

In the ancient world, his teachings elevated brutish standards of morality, halted infanticide, enhanced human life, emancipated women, abolished slavery, inspired charities and relief organizations, created hospitals, established orphanages, and founded schools.

In medieval times, Christianity almost single-handedly kept classical culture alive through recopying manuscripts, building libraries, moderating warfare through truce days, and providing dispute arbitration. It was Christians who invented colleges and universities, dignified labor as a divine vocation, and extended the light of civilization to barbarians on the frontiers.

In the modern era, Christian teaching, properly expressed, advanced science, instilled concepts of political and social and economic freedom, fostered justice, and provided the greatest single source of inspiration for magnificent achievements in art, architecture, music, and literature that we treasure to the present day.

Jesus says in Revelations 21:5, Behold, I make all things new. Behold! This is the Greek word idou, which means to note well, look closely, and examine carefully. As we do so, it isnt long before we see that it was the cause of Christ and the mission that He sent His first disciples on that has truly turned the world upside down and made things new. Some of His last words were, Go into all the world And as we look at the world almost 2,000 years later, we see time and time again the imprint of Christ and His followers around the globe.


Take a few moments and brainstorm how we as individuals and as the Church can make a mark in the midst of the world we live and practically fulfill the call of Christ to go into all the world whether that world be another country or in your back yard.



Prayer

God help us to not focus on how big the world is and become overwhelmed but to focus on the one in front of us. Whether that person be our spouse, a parent, teacher, or a stranger; help us to be led by your spirit to See a need, Fill a need.



The Last of the Gladiators

Telemachus was a monk who lived in the 4th century. He felt God saying to him, Go to Rome. He was in a cloistered monastery. He put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting and killing each other in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment? He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar and he thought, this isnt right. He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, held up his hands and said In the name of Christ, forbear.

The crowd protested and began to shout, Run him through, Run him through. A gladiator came over and hit him in the stomach with the back of his sword. It sent him sprawling in the sand. He got up and ran back and again said, In the name of Christ, forbear. The crowd continued to chant, Run him through. One gladiator came over and plunged his sword through the little monks stomach and he fell into the sand, which began to turn crimson with his blood. One last time he gasped out, In the name of Christ forbear.

A hush came over the 80,000 people in the coliseum. Soon a man stood and left, then another and more, and within minutes all 80,000 had emptied out of the arena. It was the last-known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome.




[i] Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk, created the Christian era in A.D. 525. He began time with the birth of Christ at A.D. 1. He was later proven to be off by 4 years, which means that Christ was born four years Before Christ! No matter, for the coming of the Son of God into our world demarcates the history of our world. It has never been the same since.
[ii] Kennedy, What if Jesus had Never Been Born?, 1-2.
[iii] Schmidt, Under the Influence, 8.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Background to The Last Supper

video

Heal the Sick

“And great multitudes followed Him,
and He healed them all.”
(Matthew 12:15)

“Christ was concerned not only with humanity’s spiritual condition,” writes Schmidt “but also with its physical state. The healing acts of Jesus were never divorced from his concern for people’s souls, their spiritual well-being.”[i] “For him no healing was complete which did not affect the soul.”[ii] Christ was a holistic healer! He told his disciples, “I was sick and you looked after me” (Matthew 25:36). Schmidt continues,

“These words did not go unheeded. History shows that early Christians not only opposed abortion, infanticide, and abandoning infants, but they also nurtured and cared for the sick, regardless of who they were. Christian or pagan, it made no difference to them.”

The world the Christians entered during the Greco-Roman era had a colossal void with respect to caring for the sick and dying. Dionysius, a Christian bishop of the third century, described the existing behavior of the pagans toward their fellow sick human beings in an Alexandrian plague in about A.D. 250. The pagans, he said, “thrust aside anyone who began to be sick, and kept aloof even from their dearest friends, and cast the sufferers out upon the public roads half dead, and left them unburied, and treated them with utter contempt when they died.”[iii]

And we thought the after effects and response to Hurricane Katrina was under par!

The response of the early Christians was something different all together. They did not run out of fear or thrust aside the sick and dying. Rather they risked their very lives by tending to the contagiously sick and dying. Many of these faithful followers of Christ not only risked their lives, but lost them in helping others. One name that is known is,

Benignus of Kijon, a second-century Christian who was martyred in Epagny because he “nursed, supported, and protected a number of deformed and crippled children that had been saved from death after failed abortions and exposures.”[iv]

In the first century, there were no hospitals as we know them today. As already stated, those that were sick or diseased were often left to die by themselves. The only exception was those who were a part of the military. It was the Christians who would frequently take into their homes the sick and dying and care for them. It was the Christian church who began to develop centers for people to be taken care of.

The first ecumenical council of the Christian church at Nicaea in 325 directed bishops to establish a hospice in every city that had a cathedral.[v] Although, these early Christian hospitals or hospices were not what people understand by hospitals today. Their most important function was to nurse and heal the sick, they also provided shelter for the poor and lodging for Christian pilgrims.

The first hospital was built by St. Basil in Caesarea in Cappadocia about A.D. 369. It was one of “a large number of buildings, with houses for physicians and nurses, workshops, and industrial schools.”[vi] Some historians believe that this hospital focused exclusively on those with sickness and disease.[vii] The rehabilitation unit and workshops gave those with no occupational skills opportunity to learn a trade while recuperating.[viii]

It is important to note – and the evidence is quite decisive – that these Christian hospitals were the world’s first voluntary charitable institutions. There is “no certain evidence,” says one scholar, “of any medial institution supported by voluntary contributions… till we come to Christian days.”[ix] And it is these Christian hospitals that revolutionized the treatment of the poor, the sick, and the dying.

By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick.[x] Nearly four hundred years after the Christians began erecting hospitals, the practice drew the attention of the Arabs in the eight century. Impressed with the humanitarian work of Christian hospitals, the Arab Muslims began constructing hospitals in Arab countries. Thus, Christ’s influence which moved his followers to build and operate hospitals, spilled over into the Arab-Islamic world, demonstrating once more that Christianity was a major catalyst in changing the world, even beyond the boundaries of the West. In this instance, it changed a world in which the sick were once largely left to fend for themselves, to one in which they were now given humanitarian medial care, a practice not known previously. Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan had become more than merely an interesting story.

In the early church it was the bishops and monks who “took charge of lunatics at a very early period, and gathered them together in houses specially assigned for that purpose.”[xi] During the early Middle Ages, the mentally disturbed were primarily cared for in the monasteries. It was the Association of Friends (Quakers), who in 1709, erected a general hospital in Philadelphia that housed “lunatics.”[xii]

The physician and medial historian Fielding Farrison once remarked, “The chief glory of medieval medicine was undoubtedly in the organization of hospitals and sick nursing, which had its organization in the teachings of Christ.”[xiii] Thus, whether it was establishing hospitals, creating mental institutions, professionalizing medical nursing, or founding the Red Cross, the teachings of Christ lay behind all of these humanitarian achievements.

In the nineteenth century hospitals in the United States became more common, especially after the Civil War. As the growth of hospitals spread across the nation, it was predominantly local churches and Christian denominations that build them. This was evidenced by many of the hospital’s names. Most reflected their affiliation with a given Christian denomination or honored a Christian Saint. The Christian identity and background of many American hospitals is now being erased, however. In recent years, as health maintenance organizations (HMOs) have been purchasing more and more private Christian hospitals, their Christian names are being replaced. Thus, people, at least in America, will soon have no more symbolic reminders that the hospital(s) in their town or city had Christian origins.

The American
church historian Philip Schaff summed it up well when he said, “The old Roman world was a world without charity.”[xiv] It was the teachings of Christ that inspired Christians to demonstrate selfless charity and love, even to the point of risking their own lives, and utilizing their own resources to care for them.



What places in our community (hospitals, collages etc.) were Christian founded establishments?



Read and meditate on Acts 3:1-6.

“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us. "So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." Acts 3:1-6



What are some ways you can “give what you have” to those in our community who are in need?

[i] Schmidt, Under the Influence, 151.
[ii] V. G. Dawe, The Attitude of Ancient Church Toward Sickness and Healing,” (Th.D. theosis, Boston University School of Theology, 1955), 3. Quoted in Under the Influence, 153.
[iii] Works of Dionysius, Epistle 12.5
[iv] George Grant, Third Time Around, 27. Quoted in Under the Influence, 153.
[v] Howard W. Haggard, The Doctor in History, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934), 108. Quoted in Under the Influence, 154.
[vi] Fielding H. Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine, (Philiadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1914), 118. Quoted in Under the Influence, 156.
[vii] Grant, Third Time Around, 19. Quoted in Under the Influence, 156
[viii] George E. Gask and John Todd, “The Origin of Hospitals,” in Science, Medicine, and History, ed. E. Ashworth Underwood, Christian Charity in the Ancient Church, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1883), 323. Quoted in Under the Influence, 156
[ix] Garrison, Introduction to the History of Medicine, 118, Quoted in Under the Influence, 157.
[x] C. F. V. Smout, The Story of the Progress of Medicine, (Bristol: John Wright and Sons, 1964), 36. Quoted in Under the Influence, 157.
[xi] Burdett, Hospitals and Asylums, 1:16. Quoted in Under the Influence, 160.
[xii] Thomas G. Morton, The History of the Pennsylvania Hospital, (New York: Arno Press, 1973), 4-5. Quoted in Under the Influence, 161.
[xiii] Garrison, Introduction to the History of Medicine, 118. Quoted in Under the Influence, 166.
[xiv] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896), 2:373. Quoted in Under the Influence, 167.