I enjoy reading books about pioneers and great men and women of faith. One of my favorite men of faith is Smith Wigglesworth. The following is an excerpt from God-Given Faith, written about Smith Wigglesworth upon a house and encountering a woman who was in extreme need of deliverance.
" 'I knew something had to be done, no matter what it was.' He said, 'then with my faith, I began to penetrate the heavens, and I was soon out of that house. I will tell you, for I never saw a man get anything from God who prayed on the earth. If you get anything from God, you will have to pray into heaven. That is where it all is. If you are living in the earth realm and expect to receive from God, you will never get anything... I saw in the presence of God the limitations of my faith. Then there came another faith, a faith that cannot be denied, a faith that takes the promise, a faith that believes God's Word. And from that presence, I came back again to earth, but not the same man. God gave a faith that could shake heaven. And in that faith there was total deliverance for that young woman.' "
May we all learn how to expand our faith off the earth, into the Heavens, and back again to help others.
I'd like to see a bible where the words that God speaks are all in RED. We have a similar concept for putting the words of Jesus in red in the New Testament, but too often are the spoken words by God in the Old Testament neglected. While every word, be it black or red, was inspired to be written down by the Holy Spirit, seeing how much God spoke in the Old Testament to believers would be a valuable insight. Probably, it would be just as important to believers today as the first coloring of red words were for Jesus' speaking in the New Testament.
Psalm 91 is perhaps my favorite psalm, particularly because of its personal miracle displayed in my life when leaning upon these words. With the thought of Yahweh speaking in red, I've taken Psalm 91 and revised it. What do you think?
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
We cannot live in Christian community without transparency. Yet, too many of us go to Sunday church or meet with other Christians with a mask on. We come smiling, ready to put forth a positive face and attitude. Unfortunately, entering a world of smiling faces may not be an honest reflection of our walk with Christ.
Sinners entering into such an atmosphere may feel rejected, like we cannot understand their pain and struggles. If we fake joy or happiness to appear what we are not, we build barriers between us and those needing Jesus. Saints may also feel insecure about admitting their failures or struggles to other Christians. This insecurity leads many to put on a mask to appear that Jesus has completely fixed their life. Sometimes, all these masks look like everyone else has their act together and you're the only one failing. As a result, you might fear judgement should the truth be known you don't feel much joy right now or you are struggling with a sin. If we create an environment where everyone is allowed to wear masks, we undermine the power of the Gospel.
The Gospel is for our darkest hours, our trials and temptations, and even our complete and utter failures. Christians must be able to safely express the darker side of life with each other without fear and rejection. In order to grow in our walk with God, we must be free to express the not-so-nice things of life without condemnation, in a safe environment where we are protected by love. Fear of not wearing a mask prevents many from experiencing the freedom that comes in true Christian community. Freedom where we can ask and receive help at any time, for any thing.
Every person has faults. We who are spiritual should be in the process of edification and restoration for everyone around us, especially the household of God. And we must be willing to work from a humble place of remembrance that our own sins have been forgiven. Operating from love and humility, we will avoid the temptations of gossip and pride and fulfill the Love of Christ. When we create a culture of love, humility, and acceptance each other's areas of strength and weakness, the family of God will pray for each other and experience unimagined victory together!
Masks may be comfortable, but the rewards of living mask free are SUPERIOR.
A mask free life can:
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
This Sunday I had the pleasure of worshiping together with my friend, Scott. Scott was saved by the Lord a few years ago in a miraculous way. He literally met Jesus after dying on the side of the road in Alaska and was brought back to life by Him. As a result, Scott is so full of the joy of the Lord that he is contagious! You can't help but smile and feel the genuine love of God in Scott's presence. He radiates it.
While at church, we experienced a technical difficulty when the speaker system fell over and became unplugged in the middle of worship. The song, "Ever Be" by Aaron Shust, was playing when the speaker disconnected. Scott caught up in worship never noticed at first and continued to sing. When he did notice the music had stopped, he continued to encourage the congregation to keep praising Jesus. It was an interesting experience to witness. Most of the congregation remained silent, unsure what to do next without the official music playing. Many seemed reserved or perhaps even embarrassed by Scott's continual praise. Me? I was completely jealous. I envied the way Scott was totally unashamed of Jesus, and his joy of the Lord spilled over in uninhibited praise. I asked the Lord right then and there to give me such a love and passion for Him. I want to praise Jesus uninhibited in the middle of a silent congregation. I want to praise Jesus without fear or reservation at any and all times.
This past Sunday was a great lesson for my soul. I finally understand the deeper meaning of Romans 11:11. When God said salvation came to the gentiles to make Israel jealous, I believe Scott's exuberant worship of Yahweh was exactly what Paul had in mind. Let us all live and worship Jesus in such a manner that we make others jealous of our love for God and His love for us.
"...salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke Israel to jealousy."
While it's simple to notice a lack of quality teaching from most pulpits, it's also too easy to place blame on any particular pastor or leader in a local church when the fact is the entire Body must bare the guilt as well. Seriously, we (the people of Christ) are the Church. The Church is not a place or building; it is fluid and living according to the Bible. Every person in the Body of Christ is supposed to study the Scriptures to be able to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2Timothy 2:15). We are also to be able to give a reason for our faith at any time (1Peter 3:15) to anyone. Not only should pastors leading the congregations be able to explain the validity of God's word and the teachings within it, but every mature Christian should be able to do the same... which brings us back to Joe.
Joe has been surrounded by Christians in the church over the past 10 years. Many of those Christians I know personally, and several are considered leaders and mature Christians within that particular local church. I truly wonder why they would feel it was wise to not speak to Joe about God in order to help make him feel comfortable. I understand the concept of "relationship evangelism," but after 10 years, enough opportunity for relationship had been given. What was lacking greatly was the actual sharing of the Gospel message with Joe from those he considered his brothers in the Church.
The Holy Spirit inside a Christian is an enemy of the Spirit of the flesh inside a nonbeliever. The two are at war spiritually, and the conflict is felt in the physical plane. Most people are either repulsed or attracted to the Spirit of God after spending time in the presence of God's people. I'd never met anyone like Joe, who had spent 10 years around the family of God as a nonbeliever and came away believing he was part of the family. Obviously, the Church has failed Joe!
The Truth of Scripture was never been spoken clearly, because Joe had never been told Light has no fellowship with darkness. Joe cannot be in darkness retaining a hostile spirit of anti-Christ and think for a moment he is our brother, an equal heir in Christ. Why we would even allow him to do so is absurd! Unfortunately, Joe was deceived by the Church as a whole in a most grievous way. We allowed Joe to believe the delusion that another commonality in life was a foundation for fellowship with us and God. Each Sunday, we encouraged him to believe he was safe with God, welcomed to be one with us through our ideal social chit-cat and talk of subjects that had nothing to do with God. It was only natural Joe would think he had a "home church," even though Joe never was part of THE Church and never a member of the Body of Christ.
Joe's rational was logical. He should not be blamed for coming to his conclusions about the Church or his position in it. After all, we treated him as a brother, as an equal, and had no real relationship or deep conversation with him to understand his spiritual deprivation and need. We gave Joe the appearance of fellowship and the lingo of Jesus without ever truly knowing Joe or trying to help Joe grow in Christ. We expected if Joe was interested, he would save himself, feed himself milk from the Word, and grow up.... all without a mentor, without a guide to help him.
So the next time you greet someone at the church door, in the foyer, or are directed to greet your neighbor in the pew beside you, don't be satisfied to simply shake their hands or say hello. Ask yourself these questions:
The Church is called for more than silent witnesses to those on the Highway to Hell. We are called to boldly proclaim from every aspect of our lives the Love of God, the Truth of God's Word, and salvation from sin. Never be content to withhold the gospel, because you don't want to make someone uncomfortable. I guarantee you, there is no comfort in Hell!
While ultimately the decision of whether to reject God in Jesus rests squarely upon Joe's shoulders, the Church as a whole plays a big part in how Joe experiences God. The bible is clear... "How then can they call on Him (God) in whom they have not believed, and how can they believe in Him (God) whom they have not heard, and how will they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14) I challenge Believers everywhere to understand that "preaching" is more than a Sunday sermon, falling solely on the shoulders of one man in a congregation. Preaching the Gospel includes your living example. It includes your discipleship of unbelievers into the family of God and mentoring of new Believers. It's your life: your actions as well as the words you speak from the Bible. We are the living love letters of God (2Cor 3:2) for Joe and the world to read as a witness. What's your letter really saying?
Wondering how to improve your witness?
Here's a good book to learning how to witness.
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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