Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I can hardly believe that we have arrived at the end of the year 2010. It has been a very fast year it seems, I hope that I am not the only one who feels this way. I have to admit that I often want to shout out to God and ask him to slow things down a bit or let me off.

At this time of year you are probably hearing alot about New Year’s resolutions and what they should be, people are determining to make changes to how they eat, spend, who they are with, bad habits that they want to break and the list goes on, but few of these resolutions are ever kept. I believe that christmas definitely comes for all of the gyms around the countries in January, as everyone signs up with hopes of being a size 10 by the same time next year. It is just sad that these resolutions are never followed through with.

So as christians, how can we make lasting resolutions that will make a great impact not only on our lives but on the lives of the people around us?

I have come up with a few questions that I always use on myself in self evaluation at this time of year to see where my life is really headed and if I am still walking in God’s will or not.

The questions I ask myself are as follows:

  • What have I learnt this past year?
  • Where have I failed or succeeded?
  • How have I grown and how have I inhibited growth in my life?
  • Ddid I truly have a teachable spirit?
  • Was I willing to be taught by God?
  • Was I willing to lay aside my pride and be taught by other people?
  • Do I have unconfessed sin in my life that I need to deal with that is hindering my relationship with God?
  • Are there areas in my life that I have not yet released to him?
  • Am I bearing the right kind of fruit in my life?
  • Are there people whom I have offended in my life over the past year?
  • How can I be reconciled to them?
  • Does my life resemble the world around me, or am I truly setting myself apart from the world and its temptations?
  • Am I givng of my time and resourses to those around me that need it the most?
  • If my family were asked would they say that my life looked alot like Christ’s or a little?
  • What are my priorities? Are they selfish and all about my wants, needs and desires or do they reflect the heart of God?
  • Do I really desire to walk in God’s will for my life or am I building my own kingdom?
  • Am I reflecting God in every aspect of my life?

As I prayerfully consider the answers to these questions I need to be willing to face up to the truth of each questions and of course make the necessary adjustments within my thinking, attitude and heart to grow in these areas.

I realize that this list is huge, but as I seek the Lord on these very important questions and he faithfully shows me the truth about myself, my thoughts, my attitudes and my actions, I am able to make the necessary adjustments to my life that will bring God the most Glory.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,

3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

God, through the prophet Isaiah, told his people that he was going to send his son Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to this earth to reconcile the people who were bound up, in darkness and captive to sin.

Those promises were made for us, his children, we are the ones that through his spirit he comes to set free and release us from the darkness that sin brings to our souls. He give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead a spirit of despair. He said that we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the lord, for the display of His Splendor.

As you can see, we are for the display of God’s splendor, the world will see through us that God loves them and wants to be in a relationship with them. That is why is it is so important for us, to self evaluate as we draw near the end of this year. To see where we are still bound in wrong thinking, and ask ourselves if we are displaying God’s splendor in our lives or are we still building our own kingdom?

I pray that you will take some time over the next couple of weeks to ask yourself these deep self evaluation questions, don’t be afraid of the answers, if they are not to your liking, then set about asking God to help you bring the necessary changes into your life. If there are areas in your life, which are fine, then as I always love to say, Yay God!

Asking yourself these questions will bring about pruning from our Heavenly father in your life, but do not be afraid, willingly surrender to his shears and I guarantee that you will produce much fruit this coming year and you will have a greater joy and peace than you ever have experienced before.

I pray that God our loving father would draw you closer to him this year than you have ever walked with him before. I pray that you will not run and hide from him but allow him to prune you so that you will bear all the wonderful fruit that you are capable of bringing forth from your life.

I pray that you will have a great New Year and that through you many lives will be changed by the love that Jesus has placed within you.

Blessings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Wow, I can hardly believe that it is already Christmas eve, I remember thinking last year at this time that Christmas had literally snuck up on me, well I hate to tell you, but it did it again!

I have had the priviledge of enjoying Christmas in a couple of different locations over my life time and to be honest it is hard to pick a favourite, from beautiful and warm, sunny Cape Town, South Africa to Italy and then Canada. Each hold their own little bit of charm. I love the fact that once a year most people stop and reflect on what Christmas is all about, Jesus Christ, sent by God to be the Saviour of the world.

I have noticed a disturbing trend here in North America where the stores and the people are “Celebrating the Holidays” but not “Celebrating Christmas”. The trend it seems is to focus on the presents, the gatherings and the magic of the season and push the idea of Jesus, sent by God to a lost and dying world as far away as possible.

To be honest, in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the big celebration it is easy to forget why we are even doing this, but if I am honest with myself, I have to sit down and acknowledge that everything that I have, everything that I am today, comes directly from God.

I used to be a person so steeped in my sin that I felt dead, oh I put on a happy face to the people around me, I smiled and sometimes had fun, but inside the very depths of my soul I was dead and missing the ingredient to make me truly alive.

I looked to people to fill that void, but it didn’t work and it sent me into a deeper cycle of destruction, then I looked at things for that deep soul satisfaction, but things didn’t do it either. It was not until I recognised that all of my behaviours were actually pulling me down and tearing me apart and in order for me to live differently I needed to find the true saviour.

I didn’t really know who the true saviour was, I searched and hunted, starting with myself. If I could just be better behaved then I would feel better about myself, but that only worked for about 5 minutes and then I was back to square one doing the same old destructive things again.

If I starved myself and lost weight, then I would feel better about my self, no I was just left hungry.

If I ate a lot and filled in those curves a bit that would make me feel better about myself, no that just left me over weight and feeling worse.

Then one day I believe I had a God interruption moment, where He literally interrupted my life to set me on the proper course, a course that would bring health and healing to my body, soul, mind and spirit.

I was desperately lonely and in need of something or someone, and that is when God stepped in and revealed to me that he was the only one that could fill that huge God sized hole in my spirit.

I said yes to the God of all things and He sent his Holy Spirit to take up residence within my heart. That was many Christmas’s ago and to be honest it has been the hardest, most exhilerating, thrilling ride of my life.

He set about teaching me the truth of his precious word, which is found in the bible. He opened up the scriptures to me in a whole new way. He helped me to renew my thinking about myself, others and God.

He helped me to lay down all of my old habits and destructive behaviours for something new and exciting, a life being filled and led by The Holy Spirit.

He taught me that I could have a heart that was completely healed and set free from the sin that I had so willingly entertained.

Today as I write this, I am so thankful for the deep and complete healing that God has brought to my ravaged soul. I am thankful for his great love for me and his many blessings that he has revealed to me.

I now have a heart that is overflowing with Joy and love that comes only from walking in a relationship with God.

If you have not as of yet found anything to fill that “God sized hole” in your heart and you to find yourself desperate and lonely and just putting in time, let me tell you about how you can change all of that and your eternal future.

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He made man and woman in his image. He set them in the garden of Eden and told them that they could eat from any tree in the garden except from the one in the middle of the garden. The devil came along and decieved them into thinking that they could be “Like God” knowing good from evil if they ate from the tree. He convinced them that they would not die and that it was not that bad to eat from that tree.

The did it, they ate that fruit.

The consequences were not immediate death in the flesh, but a more serious death, the death of their spirits, they were now seperated from God and having uninterupted fellowship with him. God and sin cannot be in the same place.

When God spoke to them about what they had done, and after banishing them from the garden, he set about with a plan that would bring the people back into unbroken fellowship with him again.

He sent his son.

This son, Jesus Christ, came to earth as a baby, born of a virgin mother just over 2000 years ago. He came with the express purpose of leading the people back to God, to making a way of unbroken fellowship once again.

Just before Jesus died, he told his disciples that he would go back to his father in heaven; but would send us his people the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s job was to lead us into the truth , what is that truth, that Jesus is the Son of God, that he came to earth as the final sacrifice for our sins and that in dying he made the way clear and open for us to go to God and have unbroken fellowship with him again.

My friends, when we are born we are all classed as sinners, not one of us are in right standing with God, but through the death of Jesus on the cross as the ultimate sacrifcie we can once again enjoy unbroken fellowship with God.

All we have to do is, believe that God did indeed send his son Jesus to die for us, we then can ask Jesus to forgive us from our sins, turn from them and turn to him. He gladly forgives us as he wants to have fellowship with us even more than what we want it. 

The bible teaches us that when we come to him,  he will never turn anyone away.

He removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. He helps us to had a new mind set and he sets about restoring us into fellowship with him, when we believe and accept him as our Lord and Saviour in our lives.

If you have never made that commitment to Jesus Christ before and want to do it today, why not take a moment and say this short little prayer with me, it will change your life forever, as you will be welcomed by God into his family. He will give you an eternal future with him, and he will come into the deepest places in your heart and bring hope, healing, life and joy. I have experienced all of these things through God and to be honest I would never ever want to go back to my old way of living, without him.

I pray that as the Holy Spirit moves on your heart right now, that you will make that descision to stop running from him and ask him to become Lord and Saviour of your life.

Dear father God,

I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that without you I cannot experience what life is really meant to be here on this earth. I have tried it out on my own for such a long time and I am miserable. I believe that you sent your son Jesus Christ to this earth to be the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. I believe that you are the one and true God. Please forgive me for the sins that hold me captive and come into my heart. I thank you for your great love for me and I thank you for your plan that you have for my life. I give you my heart.

Thank you father,

Amen.

If you have prayed that prayer and would like to know more about the decision you have just made, and how to start your life as a brand new believer in Jesus Christ, please contact me, I will send you a bible and I will be glad to walk alongside of you on your journey of faith.

I pray that the lord will bless you indeed this Christmas and that as you truly discover the real meaning of Christmas you will be filled with joy, peace and love.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I came across this great video, please take a few moments and watch this great video. I was really impressed with this little girl.

http://www.vimeo.com/16404771

Have a great day

Producing good fruit – part 2

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

My intent is to explore what it means for us as Christians to bear good fruit in our lives and what that fruit looks like.

John 15: 3-4

3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

What does Jesus mean when he says that because of the word that He has spoken to his disciples they are clean?

Jesus as God’s son came to the earth to reveal to mankind who God was, Jesus was God in the flesh, and he spoke the words of God to his disciples telling them who he was, revealing the truth of his deity to them. He taught them godly wisdom, showed them miracles, proving that he indeed was who he claimed to be. He always pointed to God and his will for the people. In doing this the disciples were washed clean, purified from their sins and set on a holy course.

As Christians, when we believe that Jesus is the son of God and that he died for our sins and the sins of the world in order to bring us back into a right standing with God; we are made clean by the blood of Jesus.

We are given the right to stand before God, pure, without the stain of our sin that separated us from him before.

We are clean, because we believed the word of God when he revealed to us that Jesus is His son. That He is the only way to heaven and because of his sacrifice our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west.

Oh the knowledge of that makes me want to jump up and down for joy.

Now Jesus tells us in verse 4 that we need to remain in him, and when we remain in Him we will bear much fruit, if we do not stay connected to him, we will bear nothing.

I once had a potted yellow rose in my front hallway; it was beautiful and had about 5 yellow roses in full bloom on them. I loved walking past the flower and enjoying the beauty of that delicate plant. Then I had a party for a friend of mine and one of the toddlers loved the flower as well. I found later that she had picked off every little flower. I was sad as the beautiful plant was ruined. Those roses did not survive without the nourishment of the plant that they were attached to, they quickly shriveled up and died.

Well the same is true for us, if we do not remain (abide, not to depart, to continue to be present, to be held, kept, continually) in Christ Jesus we will never be able to prosper.

Jesus did not just tell the disciples and us to remain in Him, but he promises to remain in us as well.

What does that mean for us as Christians?

As a disciple of Jesus we are told that in order to grow we need to stay close to the source in order to grow spiritually. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, John 14. If we are making it a habit to hear what the Holy Spirit has to teach us, and put into practice what we learn about in the bible and we are allowing God’s word to completely transform our minds and our hearts then we are “Abiding, remaining” in the vine.

Jesus promises that he will never leave us nor will he ever turn his back on us when we believe in him, he will help us to grow and become the people that he has called us to be. He will lead and us and show us the way he wants us to live, because he will always be with us. We will never face anything alone and we will never have to be afraid.

When Jesus says that he will stay with us, he brings with him all of the resources from heaven which he gives to us, in order for us to live victoriously in our lives.

This is a very good place for us as Christians to be in.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus Christ living in us through the Holy Spirit has all of the resources of heaven at his disposal. He tells us in Ephesians 1, that he has given us every spiritual blessing as a believer in Christ Jesus. Why would we want to live apart from him in this world armed with this knowledge?

When we actively seek out Jesus for all things in our lives he promises that we will not only bring Glory to God but we will bear good spiritual fruit with his help.

I want to encourage you today, if you find yourself in a position where you are trying to earn your way into God’s good books, or earn your spot in heaven or if you have erroneously believed that you need Jesus plus other things to get into heaven and have eternal life, or if you are building your own kingdom and you are trying to “Be a Christian on your own strength” then stop, drop to your knees and pray.

In the verses that we have explored today, Jesus clearly says that the only way to truly reflect him in our lives and bear the good fruit that God wants to see is to stay as close to Jesus and the truth as possible.

Take time out today and start making it a habit to spend time with Jesus everyday, in prayer and in reading of the word of God. Learn his word, hide it in your heart, get deeply rooted in the wonders of his word and you will not be disappointed at all. He promises to reveal himself to you and teach you his ways, he promises to stay with you forever.

You see, as a christian we have nothing to fear, as the God who made the universe and all that we see around us, promises to never leave us. He will always be there to help us and hear our prayers, He wants to see us bring forth all of the good that he has placed within each of us. Step out today, take a risk and go deeper with him, He will not dissapoint you at all.

God bless you

Producing good fruit – part 1 – How do we produce Fruit?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I am sure that over time you like me have heard of the term “fruit” in a Christian life. Well what is Christian fruit? How do we produce it? How do we maintain it? And how do we know if the fruit that we are producing is good or bad?

These are a few of the questions that have been rattling around in my mind lately and so I have been searching out scriptures that will help me to understand what it all means. I pray that as you take this journey with me through discovering what “Christian Fruit” really is that you will be encouraged and spurred on to allow God to help you produce even more fruit in your life.

The first place to begin this search I believe is in the book of John, in the 15th chapter Jesus is telling his disciples how to truly grow and develop good fruit as a Christian. Jesus is using the vine as a metaphor here to give us a great word picture of how to stay connected with him.

John 15: 1-17

1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes£ so that it will be even more fruitful.

Jesus begins this chapter by telling his disciple that he is the vine, the true vine, why would he even bother to say that he is the true vine, well I believe it is because he knew that in the future, from the time of his death until present day that false prophets would come and try to convince people that there are other ways to heaven and spiritual fulfillment, here Jesus establishes once again his claim that he really is the only true way to heaven, and that only in him can all things grow and become fruitful.

He tells us that God is the gardener who lovingly takes the pruning shears and removes all that is dead from the vine, all that will stunt its growth. He removes the branches on the vine that do not produce any fruit, these are the people that might look all great and wonderful on the outside and yet their lives do not show that they have even a touch of Christ in them.

For those who are believers in his son Jesus Christ, He lifts them off of the ground, cleans the dirt and mud off of their lives and attaches them to the true vine. As they grow into this vine he needs to start the process of pruning them so that their branches do not get unruly.

This my friends is often our least favorite thing to have happen to us, and I have to admit that many times I dreaded the thought of God coming near me again to reveal what really was in my heart.

I knew how desperately wicked my heart was and I knew most of the time what lurked in there and I hated having to face up to what was bubbling in the cesspool attitudes, thoughts and soul.

But what I found was that God is a gentle pruner, he does not do it maliciously or spitefully to bring you shame and dishonor you, but when he does reveal (prune) something to you that is in your heart, it is because he wants you to learn to walk in freedom in that area of your life.

Like I said for a very long time I used to cringe at what I felt was surgery to my emotions, heart, attitude, mind, and actions, as I did not want it revealed.

The bible speaks a lot about sin being “darkness” and sin loves to hide in the dark and fester there, but God who is all light, will and does expose these dark places in order to set us free, from the death that sin will bring to our lives.

I can honestly say that after many years of God pruning a little here and a little there, I am not the same woman that I was when he first started the process. I am free from most of the things that God has exposed in me.

When I say most; it is because I still find myself sometimes clinging to the old things, even though I know that God has shown me a better way to live in Him.

I now look forward to the pruning so that I can get rid of things in my life that keep me from walking in complete freedom with Christ.

Jesus said that he came to set us free from sin and death, and all of the garbage and old way of life that we cling to is what needs to be pruned. It does not bring about any joy or happiness or peace into our lives, in fact it brings the opposite, depression, self loathing and many other things.

Jesus want to set us free from all of that, to help us to change our minds from the old way of thinking and seeing ourselves to a new way, his way, which brings life and freedom and growth and joy and peace and love and hope.

I don’t know about you, but I spent way to many years clinging to things that were worthless and brought me pain and shame. Over time, with much pruning God has restored me to believe him for who he says I am, for who he has made me to be, and I no longer see myself through the eyes of my sin, but I see myself through his eyes. The true vine.

How does a farmer grow a grape vine successfully, well this is what I found out;

When a farmer decides to cultivate a vineyard he needs to do a few things, firstly he has to have fertile, sloping, rocky ground that will allow for good growth and for the water to run off from the bottom of the vine. He does not want water to pool at the stem of the vine as it will create a breading ground for pests and rot.

When he plants that vine, he usually attaches it to a trellis, which is long as the plant grows very big. This is called, training the vine.

Training the vines to climb the trellis can be tricky. It is sometimes difficult to get the young vines pointed in the right direction. He has to move them often in the first season to get them going where he wants them to grow. Once he have worked with them, and gets them growing in the right direction, they are easier to maintain.

Now that he has the grape vine trained onto the trellis, he needs to begin pruning the plant, he does this because it diverts the energy from the roots and vines into the fruit. If he does not prune, he will have less fruit, and that fruit will be smaller in size. New vines grow from buds on last year’s vines. If left unchecked, the vines will become an unruly mess – which will be a big problem when he wants to harvest the grapes that he grew.

So the next time that God comes to you with those pruning shears, do not run away from him and not let him near your heart but allow him access, because as you read, it is for our good that He prunes us so that we will bring forth an abundant harvest of really good fruit.

If you feel the tug on your heart right now to let God in and remove some things that are hindering your walk with him I ask that you take a moment and say this simple pray with me, make a clean start today and allow God who loves you so much to continue the process of transforming you into the likeness of Christ and bring him Glory.

Dear heavenly father,

Thank you that you love me enough to have grafted me into your perfect vine, Jesus Christ, thank you that you want to prune all of the things out of my life that do not bring life to me, but death. Father forgive me for running away from your pruning in my life, I surrender my heart to you right now, I ask that you will forgive me of the sinful things that I cling to and set me free from the wrong thinking that I need to hide my sin from you. You only reveal it to me so that I can repent and deal with it, not to bring me hardship and pain. Father I thank you, help me to have an undivided heart for you today.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

To read the next part of this series please click on this link

The Reluctant Prophet – Part 2

God then has the big fish spit Jonah up on the shore three days later. He is a changed man, he immediately sets out to Nineveh to warn the people of their impending doom, because of their great sin. The people of the city hear his warning and repent, from the king all the way down to the youngest child. The king issues a decree that everyone needs to fast, animals included and urgently call on God. They were to give up their evil ways and in doing so they hoped that God would relent from sending the calamity that he had planned.

Well because of the people’s response God did relent from sending the calamity and he had mercy on the people. Well you would think that that was the end of the story, but if you read on, there is an interesting twist to this tale.

This twist is this, the prophet Jonah was not at all happy that God relented and gave the people mercy. He actually cited that that was his reason for not wanting to go to the people in the first place. Yes you heard me correctly, he was very angry with God that he would give the people a reprieve.

He told God that he knew that he was a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love, that he was a God who relents from sending calamity on the people.

God reprimanded him for his attitude and told him that he had no right to be angry for the mercy that was extended and that the people’s lives were very important to him and he wanted to show them his great love and compassion.

I have to be honest that as I read this story I did not quite understand why on earth this prophet would be so mad that mercy which was underserved was given to the people of Nineveh. Then God started to show me the deep recesses of my own heart. Yes you guessed it; in that deep place that I like to hide from good people is this need for revenge.

Mercy often seems so foreign to me that I struggle to extend it to others. This is crazy as I love to receive mercy and feel that it is my right to have it, as I sought the lord on what this all meant for me, I discovered a few important truths that I will share with you.

Firstly, God desires that when he asks us to do something, that we obey him, if we refuse to obey immediately or just don’t quite understand all that he has asked us to do he will pursue us until we do get the message loud and clearly. Just like he did with Jonah, and exactly what he has been doing with me.

God has great compassion for the people that he has created, he desires to have a deep and purposeful relationship with us, but due to sin our path to him is often obscured. Therefore he goes to great lengths to show us his great love and mercy toward us.

Mercy is something that is given in spite of our wickedness, it is undeserved but because of God’s great love for the people he gives it to us.

We as God’s people do not have a right to decide who should get mercy and who should not. Jonah tried to act as judge when he ran away from doing what God had asked him to do. He had determined in his heart that the people of Nineveh did not deserve the mercy that he knew God would extend to them.

It was at this point that the light started to dawn in my eyes and I understood what God was trying to teach me, when I refuse to be obedient to what He has set before me to do and I follow after my own desires, I no longer am acting out of love.

God’s love is so full of mercy and compassion and the bible teaches me that it is living within me, but if I choose not to allow my life to be a reflection of God and what he has done for me then I will no longer be walking in love but judgment of the people around me.

When I put my needs and comfort in front of other peoples needs, I am no longer acting in love and mercy. When I presume to tell God who should receive his mercy and why, I put myself in the place of God and I now find myself in sin.

In the book of Galatians Paul tells us that one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit which lives in a believer is love.

Galatians 5: 22 – 25

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23gentleness and self–control. Against such things there is no law.

24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit

I realized by my unwillingness to share the good things that God has so graciously given to me over the years, I had placed myself in the seat of judgment that could and would affect not only my witness for Christ, but peoples walk with Him here on this earth.

I am part of the body of Christ and because of that, I am responsible for pulling my weight and being a part of the solution to man kinds problems, not part of the problem.

Selfishness is deadly to our dreams and to the people that God has called each of us to minister to.

I urge you to take a good look within your heart today, are you still resisting God and doing your own thing, are you looking for the alternative assignment that would be a bit more comfortable.

If you are resisting, I ask you to stop right now and say this prayer with me, set yourself back onto the course that God has designed for you. Do not be afraid, remember he is the God of great mercy and grace, slow to anger, abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity on those who deserve it.

Dear heavenly father,

I come before you today and ask that you search the deep recesses of my heart. I acknowledge that I have selfishness and judgment living there. Please forgive me for any resistance that I have had in doing what you have asked me to do. Help me I pray through the power of your Holy Spirit, to lay down the selfishness and instead embrace your love, not only for me but for those around me. Help me to reflect you in every way.

Amen.

To read part one of this great article please click here

The Reluctant Prophet – Part 1

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

My daughter and I were watching the Veggie Tales rendition of Jonah and the whale. I once again felt the nudge of God within me that I was just like Jonah.

Ouch!

Why the reluctant prophet? Well for months the lord has been giving me a very clear indication of what he wants me to do and for months I have been “seeking him for what He has for me.”

I have not been listening to his call as I felt that I did not want to delve into a part of me that was way too personal and private and full of deep emotions. So I have been diligently seeking him for the alternate assignment. I have discovered that there is not an alternate assignment and no matter how much I look for it, I will not find it.

I decided to delve into the book of Jonah in the Old Testament to find out more about the reluctant prophet.

To begin with, God gave Jonah who was a prophet in the Northern part of Israel an assignment, he was to go to the Town of Nineveh and tell the people that their wickedness had reached God’s attention and he was about to destroy them.

Jonah decided that he did not want to do that, so he hatched a plan, he figured if he ran in the opposite direction of where God had called him to go, he would be safe from having to fulfill this assignment. What he did not figure into the equation was that God who created the heavens and the earth is everywhere, and there is no where that you can run that is far enough away from God’s reach.

Psalm 139: 7-10

7Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

8If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths,£ you are there.

9If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

12even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

The story continues with Jonah boarding a ship to a city called Tarshish and during the night he went downstairs to his bunk and fell into a deep sleep. Meanwhile there is this fierce storm, which is battering the ship that he is on. The sailors are terrified and are calling out to their gods for them to save them. Finally the captain comes downstairs and wakes Jonah up. Tells him to come up and to seek his God on behalf of the sailors, maybe his God will have mercy on them.

Jonah admits that it is because he was running away from the God who creates all things that this storm was threatening to destroy their ship. He tells them that the only way to save themselves is to throw him over board. The sailors do not want to hear anything about throwing an “innocent man” over board. So they decided to try and row to shore, the storm grew worse. They eventually relented and through him over board.

Along comes the large fish, it swallows Jonah and he is in the belly of this fish for 3 days and 3 nights. I cannot even imagine how bad it smelt but that is beside the point.

While he is in the big fish he cries out to God in his distress, admitting that he was wrong to run from him.

To continue reading part two of this great article please click here

Beware of the Stronghold of Cold Love

by Francis Frangipane

(En Español)

Is your love growing and becoming softer, brighter, more daring and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.

Guard Against Unforgiveness!

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). A major area of spiritual warfare that has come against the church is the sphere of church relationships. Satan knows that a church divided against itself cannot stand. We may enjoy temporary blessings and seasonal breakthroughs, but to win a citywide war, Jesus is raising up a united, citywide church. An earmark of this corporate, overcoming church will be its commitment to love. Yet, because of the increasing iniquity in the end of this age, true Christian love will be severely assaulted.

There is no spiritual unity, and hence no lasting victory, without love. Love is a passion for oneness. Bitterness, on the other hand, is characterized by a noticeable lack of love. This cold love is a demonic stronghold. In our generation cold love is becoming increasingly more common. It shuts down the power of prayer and disables the flow of healing and outreach. In fact, where there is persistent and hardened unforgiveness in a person or church, the demonic world (known in Matthew 18:34 as “torturers”) has unhindered access.

The Scriptures warn that even a little root of bitterness springing up in a person’s life can defile many (see Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness is unfulfilled revenge. Another’s thoughtlessness or cruelty may have wounded us deeply. It is inevitable that, in a world of increasing harshness and cruelty, we will at some point be hurt. But if we fail to react with love and forgiveness, if we retain in our spirit the debt the offender owes, that offense will rob our hearts of their capacity to love. Imperceptibly, we will become a member of the majority of end-time Christians whose love is growing cold.

Bitterness is the most visible symptom of the stronghold of cold love. To deal with cold love, we must repent and forgive the one who hurt us. Painful experiences are allowed by God to teach us how to love our enemies. If we still have unforgiveness toward someone, we have failed this test. Fortunately, it was just a test, not a final exam. We actually need to thank God for the opportunity to grow in divine love. Thank Him that your whole life is not being swallowed up in bitterness and resentment. Millions of souls are swept off into eternal judgment every day without any hope of escaping from embitterment, but you have been given God’s answer for your pain. God gives you a way out: love!

As we embrace God’s love and begin to walk in Christlike forgiveness, we are actually pulling down the stronghold of cold love in our lives. Because of this experience, we will soon possess more of the love of Christ than we had previously.

Love Without Commitment Is Not Love

“And at that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matt. 24:10-12).

Allow me to be perfectly clear: there is no such thing as love without commitment. The measure of one’s love is found in the depth of his or her commitment to others. How often we have heard people say, “I loved once, but I was hurt.” Or, “I was committed to Christian service, but they used me.” When someone withdraws his commitment to a relationship, he is withdrawing his love. It is not one’s commitment that grows cold; it is their love. It may not seem like they have become cold—they may still attend church, sing and look “Christian”—but inside they have become hard and separated from others. They have withdrawn from love. Because their commitment is shallow, they will be easily offended.

Jesus said, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come” (Matt. 18:7). In your walk there will be times when even good people have bad days. As long as you live on earth, there will never be a time when “stumbling blocks” cease to be found upon your path. People do not stumble over boulders but over stones—little things. To stumble is to stop walking and fall. Have you stumbled over someone’s weakness or sin lately? Have you gotten back up and continued loving as you did before, or has that fall caused you to withdraw somewhat from walking after love? To preserve the quality of love in your heart, you must forgive those who have caused you to stumble.

Every time you refuse to forgive or fail to overlook a weakness in another, your heart not only hardens toward them, it hardens toward God. You cannot form a negative opinion of someone (even though you think they may deserve it!) and allow that opinion to crystallize into an attitude; for every time you do, an aspect of your heart will cool toward God. You may still think you are open to God, but the Scriptures are clear: “The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). You may not like what someone has done, but you do not have an option to stop loving them. Love is your only choice.

What do I mean by love? First, I do not merely mean “tough love.” I mean gentle, affectionate, sensitive, open, persistent love. God will be tough when He needs to be, and we will be firm when He tells us to be, but beneath our firmness must be an underground river of love waiting to spring into action. By love, I mean a compassion that is empowered by faith and prayer to see God’s best come forth in the people I love. When I have love for someone, I have predetermined that I am going to stand with them, regardless of what they are going through. I am committed.

We each need people who love us, who are committed to us in spite of our imperfections. The fullness of Christ will not come without Christians standing with each other in love. We are not talking about salvation, but growing in salvation until we care for each other, even as Christ has committed Himself to us.

Many people will stumble over little faults and human weaknesses. These minor things are quickly pumped up by the enemy into great big problems. Oh, how frail are the excuses people use to justify withdrawing from others. In reality, these problems, often with a church or pastor, are a smokescreen which masks the person’s lack of love.

We need to overcome our hang-ups about commitment, for no one will attain the fullness of God’s purposes on earth without being committed to imperfect people along the way.

“Well, as soon as I find a church that believes as I do, I will be committed.” This is a dangerous excuse, because as soon as you decide you do not want to forgive, or God begins to deal with the quality of your love, you will blame your withdrawing on some minor doctrinal difference. The kingdom of God is not based on mere doctrines, it is founded upon relationships—relationships with God and, because of God, with one another. Doctrines only help define those relationships. We are not anti-doctrine, but we are against empty doctrines which seem like virtues but are simply excuses that justify cold love.

The Greatest Commandments

An expert in the Law once asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment. His reply was wonderful: ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus said that the second commandment is like the first. When you love God, your love for others will actually be like your love for God. The more you unconditionally love God, the more you will unconditionally love others.

To those whose attitude is, “I am content with just Jesus and me,” I say it is wonderful you found Jesus. But you cannot truly have Jesus and simultaneously not do what He says. The outgrowth of love and faith in Christ is love and faith like Christ’s, which means we are committed, even as He is, to His people.

You see, the kingdom of God is most perfectly revealed in our relationships with one another. We are being perfected into a unit (see John 17). To have the kingdom, we must be committed to one another as individuals and as churches. If Christ accepts us while we are still imperfect, we must also accept one another. The people who possess the kingdom of God in its reality are people who overcome the obstacles of each other’s faults. They help each other become what God has called them to be: the living body of Jesus Christ.

Remember, the goal of pulling down the stronghold of cold love is to see the oneness of Christ’s body revealed. You will be challenged in this, but if you persist, you will discover the height and depth, the length and breadth of Christ’s love. You will become a body filled and flooded with God Himself.

To view other wonderful articles by Francis Frangipane please follow the following link to his website:

http://www.frangipane.org/

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I recently recieved this article in an email and I loved it so much that I had to share it with all of you.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

DIRECTIONS TO OUR FATHER’S HOUSE:

Make a Right onto Believeth Boulevard.

Keep straight and go through the Green Light, which is Jesus Christ .

There, you must turn onto the Bridge of Faith , which is over troubled

water.

When you get off the bridge, make a Right turn and Keep Straight.

You are on the King’s Highway – Heaven-bound.

Keep going for three miles: One for the Father, One for the Son, and One

for the Holy Ghost.

Then exit off onto Grace Boulevard .

From there, make a Right turn on Gospel Lane .

Keep Straight and then make another Right on Prayer Road.

As you go on your way, Yield Not to the traffic on Temptation Avenue.

Also, avoid SIN STREET because it is a DEAD END.

Pass up Envy Drive , and Hate Avenue .

Also, pass Hypocrisy Street , Gossiping Lane , and Backbiting Boulevard.

However, you have to go down Long-suffering Lane , Persecution Boulevard

and Trials and Tribulations Avenue .

But that’s all right, because VICTORY Street is straight ahead!

AMEN !!!