A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

September 19, 2019

The Pain Called Suicide

     It is heartbreaking to read of the deaths by suicide of such young pastors like Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein. Suicide is such a complex issue and it is hard for the Christian community to understand how such vibrant men of God could take their own lives.
     Both suffered from depression and anxiety, and it is too easy to label these spiritual roots as "mental illness" and "a disease". I want to be sure you understand that I do not speak as a medical or psychological expert. I have no degree that gives me secular authority to speak on the subject. I can only share my experience as a follower of Christ who continues my Lord's commission to heal the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release the prisoners from their darkness.
     Yes, I believe that suicide is an attack upon the mind of people, both believers and non-believers. But through the ministry that we've been called to, my husband and I know that the mind is a battlefield and the Father of Lies can cause so much pain with his false whispers. And, yes, we've been instructed to keep our helmet of salvation tight upon our heads to protect our minds, but the Bible tells us that the Enemy is cunning; he is a murderer from the beginning, and that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I lay suicide at the feet of the one who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
     I will tell you that Mark and I have encountered suicide in our ministry and it nearly devastated us. In respect for this individual and his family, I will not mention his name or details, but I will tell you this... just like Jarrid Wilson and Andrew Stoecklein, this young man deeply loved the Lord. And as I sat with him during a session a couple of months before his death, I was overwhelmed with the spiritual sense of how much Jesus loved him! He was one of the most loving and beautiful human beings I've ever met, and I was only in his physical presence once. But he was believing a lie from the pit of hell.  His pain came from the fear that Jesus would be unable to forgive him, and that spirit of fear led to spirits of anxiety and stress, and perhaps even self-hatred. But I knew Jesus loved him! We tortured ourselves with thoughts that if we could only have been better at helping him to believe that Christ's love was for him, too, maybe he would still be here.
    But we quickly understood that the Enemy was lying to us, as well, and if he could get us to stop trying to set the captives free from his lies, then maybe we would stop our ministry. No way, Satan! If anything, we would pursue freedom for others even harder, in honor of our young friend. Because, I believe the Holy Spirit showed me that Jesus was right there with him, as the Enemy roared in his mind, and our Lord told him it was time for the torment to stop and it was okay to come home. I am not saying that Jesus agreed to his suicide. But I believe that Jesus was there with him when he capitulated to the Enemy's continued torment. And yes, I am one who does not believe that suicide leads to hell. Depression is a physical manifestation of spiritual attacks caused by fear, self-hatred and guilt. 
     One of the things that helped Mark and I to heal from the pain of suicide was the information we gleaned from Dr. Henry Wright's book, A More Excellent Way; Be In Health. Dr. Wright is the Senior Pastor of Hope of the Generations Church in Thomaston, Georgia. Dr. Wright has dedicated his life to God and helping others find the spiritual roots to disease so they can live in wholeness. He holds a doctorate of Christian Therapeutic Counseling from Chesapeake Bible College in Ridgely, Maryland. This is what he writes about Depression:

     "You need to know what the medical community is not telling you ... Your homeostasis (equilibrium in the body with respect to various functions and chemical composition of fluids and tissues) is controlled by the release of various hormones. You are very chemical in your creation. You are very nuclear, you are very sexual, you are very spiritual, but you are also very chemical. You have a number of organs and glands, particularly in the endocrine system, which secrete a particular chemical. It goes like this: a squirt here, a squirt there, here a squirt, there a squirt, squirt, squirt, everywhere a squirt, squirt.
     And your Enemy knows he can control the rate of your squirts by your thoughts and by your soul and by your spirit. Your Enemy knows things like bitterness and guilt and fear, if allowed to remain within your consciousness, can be used to control you. When your spiritual dynamics are compromised by the Enemy in a manner in which he can control your body and your chemistry, then he can put depression or any other psychological or biological malfunction on you when he feels like it.
    He can do this because depression, by definition, is no more and no less than a chemical imbalance in the body induced externally or internally. Your Enemy knows that if he can get you "unspiritual" and he can manipulate you in areas of lack of sanctification, then he can control your very thought process.
     And when Satan can control your thought process, he can also control your chemistry. When you have serotonin deficiencies, you do not feel good about yourself because there is a deficiency of the chemical God created in you to make you feel good chemically. For every thought you have, conscious or unconscious, there is a nerve transmission, a secretion of a hormone or neurotransmitter somewhere in your body to react to it.
     When you start listening to fear, you start listening to self-hatred, you start listening to guilt, you start listening to rejection, and then your body secretes chemicals in response to those spiritual attacks that are counterproductive to your peace. Your Enemy knows this very well. But you do not have to be a victim nor do you have to be ignorant nor do you have to die of a disease and go to heaven to find out why you died."

     This is just a portion of Dr. Wright's book and I would recommend that if you desire to know more about the spiritual roots of many physical illnesses, then this book is for you. Of course, I do not claim to know the personal issues that both of these well-loved young pastors faced. But I believe that Dr. Wright's discernment on the spiritual roots that lead to suicide have a lot of credibility. And I know that Jarrid Wilson's wife is absolutely correct when she says she knows her husband is in HIS Presence! Jesus's death on the Cross pays for all of our sins... all of our sins. So, my heart goes out to anyone who has suffered the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. We don't always get all the answers to what drives someone to that decision, but we can know that our Lord, full of compassion and mercy, cancels all our sins as He reconciles us to God, the Father. This is the beauty of Mercy triumphing over Judgment. 

Romans 8:38-39      So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,  fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

September 16, 2019

The New Abortion "Fetish": The Power of Witchcraft

    I really do not want to sensationalize this topic, but it is so abhorrent and so real, that I would be remiss to not bring it to your attention so you can join me in praying against this abomination. I had been hearing rumors of a detestable lifestyle among the godless in our country, but just did not want to believe it was true. But then I began hearing podcasts and reading articles substantiating the rumors, and now the Holy Spirit is telling me it's time to bring this information out of the dark fringes of our culture and into the Light of God's Justice.
     Here is what an article on Summit News reports: "A new sexual fetish has emerged where couples repeatedly get pregnant then have multiple abortions. In a Reddit post entitled ‘Question regarding abortion and breeding fetish’, one user reveals how she has “a female friend who has a really powerful fetish for breeding” and never used birth control. “She is with a male partner currently who is just like her, into breeding and they have been practicing their fetish for quite a few abortions,” the post reads.
     Another male respondent then shared details of his own abortion fetish lifestyle. “I know this fetish. My girlfriend and me have the same fetish. My girlfriend enjoys her pregnancies and she enjoys the abortion. Her preferred date to abort is between 20 and 24 weeks of gestation. I enjoy making her pregnant. And I enjoy the time of her pregnancy. She has no menstrual period and she is sexually very active,” he writes. “In the last ten years in our relationship we have done seven abortions and my girlfriend is pregnant again with a little girl,” he adds.
     Another respondent then praises him for sharing his fetish, writing, “It is good (and rare) to hear of a couple (both man and woman) where both members are into abortion and pregnancy. This is a wonderful and potent example of personal power, where sex meets violence and creation combines with destruction.”
     How much more separated from God's saving Light can we become? This sounds completely unbelievable and exaggerated, yet it is regrettably true.  It has only taken 40 years for abortion to go from a whispered act shrouded in shame and guilt, to a celebrated and glorified demonstration of one's own selfish power. It is a medical fact that by the time you are 24 weeks pregnant, the baby has a chance of survival if he or she is born. Most babies born before this time cannot live because their lungs and other vital organs are not developed enough. The care that can now be given in neonatal (baby) units means that more and more babies born early do survive. But obviously, these people have carefully calculated the 20-24 week timeline to soothe any guilty conscience they might have and to justify terminating an innocent life.
     This is such a sick mindset that I honestly can't identify with these people. The Bible tells us these people have "debased", "depraved" or "reprobate" minds, depending on the various translations. And what exactly does that mean? It means their thoughts which lead to their actions are rejected and unapproved by God, their Creator. They won't stand His test of righteousness and they will be cast out of His Presence.
     But there is another reality to this whole mindset. It is witchcraft! And it has existed ever since man became his own god, refusing to even acknowledge God. Somehow, in the 21st Century we have reduced witchcraft to the actions of people called "witches". But the spiritual root of witchcraft is disobedience, and this spirit is appealing to any person, group or organization that tries to gain supernatural power, abilities, or knowledge apart from the creator God. And it works nicely with fetishes.
     According to the dictionary, a fetish is "a course of action to which one has an excessive and irrational commitment". I would definitely say that getting pregnant just so you can kill your baby would be considered "irrational". But other definitions of fetish include, "a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.", and "an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit".
     I hope you can see how the spirit of disobedience and rebellion can be linked to abnormal and irrational desires to become this repugnant practice. But it is not just this ungodly act of "breeding-in-order-to-kill" that has me so upset. There was another report by Summit News that gave the testimony of Jill Stanek, an eyewitness nurse at an Illinois hospital. At a hearing on the Born Alive Act in Washington, D.C., Ms. Stanek said that doctors at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn perform “live birth abortions” where the baby is allowed to die during or after the abortion procedure.
     “If staff did not have the time or desire to hold the baby, she was taken to Christ Hospital’s Comfort Room, which was complete with a First Photo machine if parents wanted professional pictures of their aborted baby, baptismal supplies, gowns and certificates, foot printing equipment and baby bracelets for mementos, and a rocking chair,” Stanek said. She also revealed how once she witnessed a nurse deliver a live baby but then fail to clamp the severed umbilical cord, causing the baby to begin bleeding. The infant was then placed in a bag and thrown in the trash.
     So, why is the current Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 not enforced? And what is the moral state of mind in Congress that Senate Bill 311, the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,”, is still up for debate? Sponsored by Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, the bill would amend the federal criminal code, instituting penalties and jail time for health care practitioners who don’t provide certain medical care “in the case of an abortion or attempted abortion that results in a child born alive.” Specifically, the bill would require that a “health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive” to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” It also would require that the child be “immediately transported and admitted to a hospital” following that professional “skill, care, and diligence.” Violators could be fined and/or jailed for up to five years. The bill specifies that an “intentional killing” through an “overt act” would be punishable under already existing federal law on murder.  Doesn't "being into abortion and pregnancy ... where sex meets violence and creation combines with destruction" meet those federal guidelines for murder?
     Father God, it is hard for me to fathom such evil, and even harder to find it in my heart to forgive these people. They are so consumed with their own attempts to know and control the world and the future, apart from You, the One True God! And by the way, that last sentence is a direct definition of witchcraft from Strong's Concordance.
     I know that vengeance is Yours, Lord, and I am glad that Your righteousness includes Justice. Because these people are no different than Manasseh, the evil king of Judah. We read in 2 Chronicles, 33:6, "And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger." They are no different than King Saul, the first king of Israel, who received this warning from the prophet Samuel: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
     Can you see it? There is rebellion, witchcraft, familiar spirits, idolatry of one's self.... we are just seeing the 21st Century version, and it is just as abhorrent to our God now as it was then. Please join me in praying that these hearts of stone will be made soft to the voice of God. Please pray for the souls and spirits of these precious children who are being attacked by evil before they even enter the world. Pray that the idolatry of Self is defeated by the Blood of the Lamb. And pray that these degenerate minds will be spared the wrath of Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, and that they will repent for their sinful ways. Lord, save this generation from their wicked and perverse ways!

Romans 1:28-29     And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness.

September 12, 2019

Acts 1:3

To these [men] He also showed Himself alive after His suffering [in Gethsemane and on the cross], by [a series of] many infallible proofs and unquestionable demonstrations, appearing to them over a period of forty days and talking to them about the things concerning the kingdom of God.

     As I sit here ruminating on yesterday's 18th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on our country, I remember what I was thinking that day; that all sense of security was gone. It was as if I had lost a sense of self and a part of my identity. It felt as if my world had come crashing down with the Twin Towers, and I would never be the same. I imagine that's exactly how the Disciples felt after Jesus's crucifixion.
     For three years they had been walking with Him, being schooled in the Good News that the Kingdom of God had intervened in the world, and renewing their minds to think from that kingdom perspective. They had begun thinking of themselves differently, and had witnessed a new and exciting and powerful way to live life. But with the death of Christ, who were they now? How would they go on without His leadership and teaching? 
     But this verse in the first chapter of Acts tells us that Jesus still had some teaching to do, even after death. Upon His resurrection, He spent the next 40 days educating these disciples. But notice that Scripture is very explicit about what Jesus taught them ... things concerning the kingdom of God. How many of us have discerned this important piece of the narrative? The inspired Word of God wants to make it very clear; it's the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth that was Jesus's prime objective in life and in death. So, Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus, by a series of indisputable proofs and unquestionable demonstrations, continued to teach them about the kingdom of God for the 40 days before His ascension into Heaven.
     In addition, it is essential to note the significance of the 40 days. The Acts 1:3 commentary in the Passion Translation says this: The number forty is significant, for it speaks of transformation and completeness through testing. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days; the deluge during Noah's day lasted 40 days and nights; Moses met with God for 40 days on Mt. Sinai; Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness; and Elijah fasted for 40 days in his battle with Jezebel. Jesus spent 40 days appearing to His disciples to teach them that a day of complete testing and transformation had arrived. It took them 40 days to comprehend that Christ's kingdom was spiritual, not political, for they were still confused about His purpose for coming.
     And He taught them with proof and demonstrations for those 40 pivotal days. Does the Bible give us any information about those 40 days? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus appeared to Peter, then the remaining disciples; then to more than 500 men and women who had been His followers. What was that like? Obviously, this is a far few number than had been following Him during the three years of teaching to the crowds. Did they finally understand the concept of the Kingdom? Did they see the big picture?
     Let's look at the significance of some of the things we know happened during those 40 days and see if we can glean more understanding of what the "Kingdom picture" looked like. First of all, let's start at the tomb. I think it is important to note that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first, before Peter or any of the other disciples. That is hugely significant because in the culture of that time, women had no status. Yet Jesus chose to appear to one who was neglected and oppressed.
     Also, Jesus gives us another subtle hint at the tomb. John 20:6-7 tells us that as Peter entered the tomb, "He saw the linen cloth lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded up in a place by itself". At first, this might seem trivial, but according to Belief.net, in the tradition of that day, after a servant set the dinner table, he would wait, just out of sight, until the family had finished eating. If one of them was done, they would rise, wad up the napkin and toss it onto the table -- the signal to clear their setting. However, if they got up from the table, folded their napkin and laid it beside their plate, the message was "I'm not finished yet." The folded cloth served to whisper to those who listened, "I'm coming back".
     I imagine that during those 40 days with His followers, Jesus laid out the Father's plan for them to continue His Kingdom work until He returned. There was plenty to share with them about what the prophets had foretold and the role they were to play in seeing those prophecies fulfilled. I find the account of the two men walking to Emmaus quite compelling. Jesus appears and accompanies them on their journey as they discuss the events surrounding a man called Jesus of Nazareth; a man they both proclaimed to be "a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people". They recounted how the religious leaders had accused him and delivered him up to the Roman authorities to be crucified. They related how the women of this Jesus's company of followers had reported attending the tomb, only to find it empty, and angels announcing that he was alive! They shared their hope that he was going to be the Messiah that redeemed Israel. 
     I can just hear the frustration in Jesus's voice when He says to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. But they still didn't know who He was! I believe it wasn't until Scripture says "they urged Him, Stay with us" that Jesus decided to dine with them, bless them, and break bread with them. He then removed the scales from their eyes and they recognized Him! 
     How often have we heard and read the Truth of God's Word about Jesus, but it isn't until we invite Him to come stay with us as we seek Him, that we receive a new revelation? And I can totally identify with those faithful followers as they proclaim, "Why didn’t we recognize it was Him? Didn’t our hearts burn with the flames of holy passion while we walked beside Him? He unveiled for us such profound revelation from the Scriptures!"
     What I love about this conversation is that Jesus's role as Teacher did not end with His death -- not then, and not now! He continued to teach them about the Kingdom of God and their purpose in re-establishing it on the earth. And if we will let Him, His Word can do the same for us today in the 21st Century. Like with them, Jesus can strengthen our faith and restore our hope in His return and a righteous world. Jesus's final instructions to His followers hold the same importance for us: “go and make disciples of all nations” by sharing with the world the Good News that the Kingdom of God is here! He has left that same authoritative directive to us. And it has survived for 2000 years and its purpose has not changed. The Enemy has tried to destroy our calling by introducing spiritual conflict, and cultural chaos, but our Lord's orders to His faithful followers stands strong and true. It's all about the Kingdom and we are the heirs of the mission and the message. May we fulfill our purpose!

September 9, 2019

Should We Be Charging For Ministry?

     This post is the result of lots of soul searching and seeking an answer in the Spirit. The question of charging for ministry and equipping the saints has long been a topic of discussion between me and my husband. And I believe it is worthy of discussion here.
     It is also the result of listening to a short podcast by a well-known woman who is seen as an apostolic/prophetic voice in today's Body of Christ. I want to say that I greatly admire her spiritual discernment and wisdom, and was most interested in hearing her presentation on the destructive influence of the spirits of Jezebel and her daughter Athalaia. She disclosed her battles with these demonic spirits and that, through spiritual revelation, she had found the key in Scripture to defeating them. But she closed her presentation with an invitation to find out what that key was by enrolling in her online course for a fee of $79.
     Now, I want to say that this is not a unique situation. Many gifted teachers and ministers take advantage of technology to reach millions of people seeking the Lord; people they would otherwise never be able to reach with the Gospel. And it is a revolutionary way to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. But I personally [and seriously] struggle with charging for this [literally] life-saving knowledge.
     Is it unfair of me to ask this question: If you know the key to defeating Jezebel and her daughter, why would you not freely share that information so that other Believers could be delivered from their bondage? How do you justify withholding that counsel for a sum of money? Please, I am not judging or blaming the ministers of God for making a living. We all have to live in this world and it takes money to meet our worldly needs. And I know that Scripture says, "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7); or another way to put it is, "the laborer deserves his wages" or "you are my harvester, and you deserve to be cared for." But does that mean we should be charging for what the Lord has called us to, or the revelation He has freely provided?
     I realize this is a touchy subject, and it is certainly one that Mark and I have wrestled with over time. The foundation of our Inner Healing Ministry has always been Matthew 10:8, which says, "You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others." I remember the first time someone tried to slip me some money after a Healing session, and it literally felt like it burned my hand! I could not conceive taking money for something that Jesus had done [albeit through our obedience and participation]. It just didn't feel right.
     In fact, Matthew 10:9 says [in the Passion Translation], "Don’t heap up silver and gold in your money belts." This Aramaic interpretation is about more than just not taking money, but is about not seeking the accumulation of money by using God’s anointing that He has graciously imparted to you.
     Again, I also understand that people doing the work of the Lord have to make a living. And if the Lord's work is their heart's desire, then how is the financial provision to be made?  I believe there is a difference between offering a service to people that requires materials, a staff, and the rental of a place to conduct the work for the Body of Christ -- these are expenses that must be paid -- and dispensing Biblical instruction to people that costs nothing more than your time with the Lord to receive the revelation. Am I being overly judgmental, or is my thinking wrong on this matter? How did the Early Church Fathers handle this situation? 
     I look to Paul's writings for revelation. Scripture tells us that he continued his vocation of tent-making whenever his ministry allowed. I believe that means that Paul supported himself, instead of charging for his ministry. That seems to be his message in 1 Corinthians 9:16-18, too: "For you see, even though I proclaim the good news, I can’t take the credit for my labors, for I am compelled to fulfill my duty by completing this work. It would be agony to me if I did not constantly preach the gospel! 17 If it were my own idea to preach as a way to make a living, I would expect to be paid. Since it’s not my idea but God’s, who commissioned me, I am entrusted with the stewardship of the gospel whether or not I’m paid. 18 So then, where is my reward? It is found in continually depositing the good news into people’s hearts, without obligation, free of charge, and not insisting on my rights to be financially supported."
     So can you see my dilemma and why this is such a sensitive subject? If the Lord has called us to do the work of the Kingdom, and it is by His gift of anointing that we have been spiritually educated to spread and share what He has revealed, can we in good conscious profit from it? And if your answer is "No", then how are we to support our needs while carrying out our assignments?
     I will share with you a particular situation that my husband and I recently encountered. We were approached by a minister and greatly-respected teacher of the Kingdom of God to assist in managing his growing web-based teaching sessions. We would facilitate the online courses for all those who enrolled in the classes, and he encouraged us to join him in this ministry saying that we could easily earn a sizable amount of money. But that opportunity came at too high a price. It would mean that we would have to give up our own ministry that God had called us to. It didn't take but a few minutes to walk away from that temptation. We knew that God had sanctified us and our property for His purpose and we were on mission for Him. We still see [and approve of] the incredible work this minister is doing for the Lord, and we know it benefits so many Christians, us included. But it is just not the way we want to serve the Lord.
     So, I come back to the question of how do lay ministers who want to freely give what they have received, support the call on their lives? I will tell you that it can be a struggle to balance your desire to pursue your calling and still pay the bills. And if your spirit is not comfortable with charging for ministering to the Body of Christ, then I offer this from Scripture: "Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:13-14). 
     In other words, by being obedient to fulfilling the call and purpose on your life to minister to the Body of Christ, I think that it is acceptable [in my mind at least] to receive what we call "love offerings"; financial support freely given from the heart of those who have benefited from your teaching, or those who wish to sow into God's harvest. But I also feel it is an individual decision, whether to give and whether to receive. And there are those instances in which I see books being sold and that money being poured back into the ministry to help dispense teaching materials to the Believers in the field of harvest. There will just be those times when money is exchanged. And it is definitely clear that there are no black and white rules, and each person must go to the Lord to determine his/her path in this debatable arena of ministry. 
     So, the bottom line is this: we are blessed in this season to have an abundance of exceptional teachers and ministers of the Gospel. Each must decide for themselves how they will make a living and what place profiting from God's calling on their lives will hold. Ultimately, it is between you and the Lord. I just bless all who answer the call and pray that their decisions honor God's purpose and will.

1 Corinthians 9:10     Doesn’t He also give us this principle so that we won’t withhold support from his workers? It was written so that we would understand that the one spiritually “plowing” and spiritually “treading out the grain” also labors with the expectation of enjoying the harvest.

September 6, 2019

What's Keeping God From Using You In His Kingdom?

     I was intrigued by an article I saw on the Charisma Magazine website, entitled "There Are Some Types of Christians God Can't Use", written by J. Lee Grady. Since I know that God loves the Body of Christ, I wanted to see what qualities these Christians are exhibiting; and to make sure that I correct any characteristics I might share with them. Here is the insight I received from this thoughtful article...
     One of the most powerful verses in Scripture [for me] is Matthew 7:21, which quotes Jesus: Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. And Jesus was the perfect example of what that looks like. We must be intentional in interacting with God -- hearing His voice above our own; always seeking His purpose and desire in any situation; and then taking action to accomplish His will.
     We know, from John 3:1-5, that to enter the Kingdom of God [or Heaven] we must be Saved [born again]. But, it sounds to me [according to Matthew 7:21] like Salvation alone is not enough to be used by the Father. And we all want to be used by God, don't we? Don't you want to hear Him say, "You have done well, and proven yourself to be my loyal and trustworthy servant. Because you have been a faithful steward to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, 'Come celebrate with me!' "? So, let's consider what might keep us from being useful to God.
     The first thing the author mentioned was Driver's seat Christians. These are Believers who, without question, are Saved, but find it difficult to yield control of their lives to Christ. We call Jesus our Lord, yet do we understand what that word means? He is our Master, our Ruler, and He has full authority over all things on the earth. Yet, there may be times when we find ourselves unable to surrender to His leadership and mastery of our lives. We want what we want, and often find ourselves justifying our actions according to our own desires, rather than the will of the Father -- which is expressly un-Biblical! If you are someone who finds it difficult to submit to the Lord's authority, then He will be unable to trust you in administering His kingdom here on earth. 
     Then there are the Christians we call Armchair Critics.  I find it interesting as I seek God's kingdom before anything else, that those who can't see it, or refuse to see it, are the ones speaking the loudest against my pursuit of it.  Because I know what it feels like to be unjustly criticized, I fervently try to judge another's walk with Christ by the fruit they bear. Their walk may not look or sound like mine, but if there is observable fruit for the Kingdom, then I know it is honoring God. The Holy Spirit does not counsel me to judge or accuse out of anger or pride or a religious spirit. If I want Him to use me, then I will concentrate on His assignment for me, knowing that He is perfectly capable of giving differing assignments to other Christians.
     We all know Christians who are Glass half-empty pessimists, right? They are always engrossed in the headlines, focused on what the news is forecasting, and aligning it all with End Times prophecies. Or when the blessings of the Lord come, they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. But, I have to ask ... who is God more likely to use in service to His kingdom here on earth? The one who doesn't quite trust Him to secure their good fortune, or the Believer who knows the consequences of following the Lord and is willing to go forth anyway? Who will bear the most fruit for the Kingdom? The Bible tells us that the presence of fruit in your life is evidence that you are a disciple of Christ. He will recognize us by our fruit ... and those whose focus is on a half empty glass will be unable to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and bear a fruitful harvest.
     Perhaps the thing that grieves me the most in the Body of Christ is the Carnally minded Christian. These are the folks who have chosen to compromise with the world and lower [or alter] their standards of moral character and lifestyle. They intentionally blur the lines between what the Bible calls sin and what the world calls acceptable behavior. But God's Word does not change! And His charge to live sanctified lives has not been abolished. The Biblical meaning of Sanctification is still His standard -- to be declared holy and set apart; to be purified and seen as morally acceptable in His eyes. God cannot and will not use us in service to His kingdom if we are approving of the world's sins. We may receive rewards from the world for our compromise, but our works will be unfruitful for the Kingdom.
     There was one description in the article of Christian's that God won't use that I wish to comment on and clarify. The author singled out Church dropouts, and stated that "God does not use people who have turned away from the church." I believe it is important to qualify that statement. I agree with the subsequent statement that it is popular among some to bash the Church out of a bitterness and out of woundedness by the Church. I stand in agreement that God will not be able to use anyone who hangs on to unforgiveness. But there are those of us who have decided to be the Ekklesia, rather than the Church, and we love the Body of Christ. We do not bash "the Church", but rather find that [in its present state] it no longer feeds our spirits and desires to be obedient Kingdom citizens. So we have returned to the spiritual roots of the Early Church and walk together [as an Ekklesia] in a Kingdom model and a Kingdom mindset of service and worship of our Lord. And believe me, I see much fruit in this Godly community!
     Then there are the Christians the author calls Timid Cowards.  God will not be able to use Believers who suffer from a fear to be bold. As the author states, "All those who surrender to the call of God must bravely open their mouths, defend the faith, risk their reputation and suffer rejection—and possible persecution". That can be a huge barrier for a Christian who is afraid of the consequences of such bold action. But Christ calls us to boldness, without fear of the ramifications. Each of the Disciples were willing to suffer martyrdom to expand God's kingdom on earth. We are called by our Lord, Himself, to do nothing less. Just consider the fruit of those obedient lives!
     The last classification is called Lazy Spectators. It's easy in this fast-paced world to get distracted by technology, the demands on our lives, and our busy calendars. Sometimes it seems that we can only give a half-hearted response to the call on our life. But a life that can be used by God makes Him and His righteous Kingdom their priority. It's not easy to be all-in for the Lord. There is much that we give up when we make that commitment. But the rewards are so worth it! When you see that the fruit of your efforts lead to a transformed life in your neighbor, then it makes the sacrifices worthwhile.
     Take it from me. There will be sacrifices made when you answer God's call. God cannot use you if the desire of your heart is for the wealth of this world. So you need to be satisfied and content with just what you need, and what the Lord provides. As you become more obedient in your calling, your time will not be your own. You will find that bearing fruit results in more opportunities to bear fruit -- if that makes sense. But you can't say No to God! You will come to realize that you have a very short time to make a difference in the earth and people's lives. You will want to rest, but find that there is little time to rest. There is always more to do for the Kingdom. You will find that the care of your home suffers, and all the outward appearances of your life no longer matter. You have said, "Yes, Lord! Use me!" and He will take you at your word.
     But I can also tell you this ... once you have surrendered your will to the will of the God of the Universe, and answered His call on your life, there is no way you're going to want to turn back. You will find that the wealth of this world does not compare to the riches in your work for the Kingdom. You will enter into a new Remnant Community of people; people whose commitment and dedication to expanding the Kingdom on earth will unite your spirits and your purposes in this life. You will not get caught up in the distractions of politics, religion, or popular culture -- your mind has been renewed to a higher purpose and you are focused on what God is showing you. 
     But let me also make it clear that there is so much joy in doing the Lord's work. Yes, you will be tired from your efforts, but you will also experience a lightness and elation that transcends your physical senses. You will rejoice in the victories won for the Kingdom; and you will find immeasurable joy in expressing your gratitude for being used by God. There's nothing like experiencing the power of the Lord in His grace on your life. Just say, "YES!"

Matthew 7:16    You can spot them by their actions, for the fruits of their character will be obvious. You won’t find sweet grapes hanging on a thorn bush, and you’ll never pick good fruit from a tumbleweed.

September 3, 2019

Can Wall Street Become A House of Prayer?

     I was really interested when I got an email suggesting that I check into a website promoting a Wall Street Prayer Alliance. At first that seemed like an oxymoron. After all, to average Americans like me, Wall Street isn't exactly thought of as a bastion of moral credibility. To most of us who reside outside of the realms of high finance and investment-for-wealth structures, Wall Street has sort of a tainted reputation... unprecedented greed, immunity from regulation, and exemption from prosecution come to mind.
     And with all the talk of "another recession", the trade war with China, and the dooms-day economic forecasts that the mainstream media are predicting, I thought, "If there is any institution that needs prayer, it is Wall Street. Maybe this is worth checking out."
     Of course, we all remember the economic crisis of 2008, right? According to my limited understanding, banks made risky home loans to buyers with questionable credit. The Big Banks then began trading and selling mortgage-backed securities to try to offset these toxic assets. When investors found out that investment bank Bear Stearns owned too many of these adverse assets, they began selling off their shares, which caused a panic among the major financial institutions on Wall Street, resulting in a Congressional bailout after global stock markets nearly collapsed. And in the course of this financial disaster, Wall Street was forced to get into bed with the Federal Reserve, which even to this financially uneducated citizen, is enough to cause skepticism.
     But, as He so often does, God loves working with a remnant who are called to represent Him. So, I decided to check out this Prayer Alliance, and was greatly encouraged. This story is a reminder that no matter how dark something looks, if we seek the Father, He is more than willing to show up.
     So, what exactly is the Wall Street Prayer Alliance, and why should we, as Believers, take note of it? According to their website, after the 2008 financial crisis, and following a pattern of prayer and repentance, the Lord moved in the heart of a few believers working in the financial sector to establish prayer on Wall Street. Their purpose was to facilitate and meet the spiritual needs of folks involved with Wall Street. Their current intent is to pray for revival by influencing the Economic Sphere of nations starting with Wall Street. They want to encourage and mobilize the Remnant in the sphere of Finance to be good stewards of God's resources. Furthermore, they want to nurture intentional disciple-makers in the marketplace by raising kingdom-minded entrepreneurs to affect communities holistically, birthed in prayer. One of their mottos is Loving and Fearing God first helps loving and serving people better.
     It sure sounds like the Ekklesia that Jesus said He would build in Matthew 16, doesn't it? If you will remember, Jesus used that very specific word (instead of Church) to declare that He was going to build a coalition of a summoned people, assembling together to [not only] receive God's heavenly kingdom government on the earth, but to act upon it; to become agents of change and transformation. And that's exactly the mission of the Wall Street Prayer Alliance: To make an impact in the Economic sphere first and foremost through prayer, by inviting the presence of God into those areas. They want to make an impact by taking action, and instituting change by spreading the Good News. They want to become a strategic Center to foster prayer, evangelism, and entrepreneurship as an extension of the HOP (House of Prayer) movement.
     They plan to collaborate with existing kingdom-minded folks and ministries to mobilize a 5-Fold Ministry which would promote the following Biblical principles:  Repentance: Bringing awareness of repentance and awakening to Wall Street and the Church; Revival: Restoring the Body back to God’s ways, and away from man-made and ritualistic religion; Reconciliation: Reconcile the areas of setbacks and compromise that the Ekklesia experienced with other spheres of influence in existing communities; Rebuilding: Reinstating the basics of Biblical Economy and Kingdom to build thriving communities again like Ezra and Nehemiah; and Release: Empower the remnant for the work of the ministry and liberation of the world through the Good News [of the Gospel of the Kingdom].
     While Revival is a term that is familiar in our nation's spiritual history, the goal of Wall Street Prayer Alliance is not to imitate a revival of the past but to see His glory for this time and generation, as God purposes. And they are not afraid to challenge the Body of Christ and the Church to rise up in their calling, as evidenced by this statement on their website: Wall Street Prayer identifies, connects, empowers and mobilizes individuals who desire to see God’s work revived in their generation, and to  become the change-agents in all spheres of society. It is done by individuals and groups applying Kingdom of God principles into all spheres of life, one person at a time, and to societies at large. The purpose of Wall Street Prayer Alliance is to empower a movement of the remnant across all denominations to bring awareness, awakening and revival, and thus influence the current spheres or mountains of society. The conversions within the status-quo church today produces status-quo converts or half-hearted Christians. As the saying goes, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
     They go on to say, The Christianity [that is] prevalent today is confined to living out a religion in private. [The Wall Street Prayer Alliance wants to see] believers who are empowered to live a kingdom life, publicly impacting others without overexerting on others. The remnant is about coming out of status-quo church to be a counter-culture in the present generation, to be one nation under the King of kings. The purpose of the kingdom movement is to reorganize individually and collectively to preserve the original blueprint of the kingdom of God in the creativity and power of the Holy Spirit. 
     They believe that in the last days, the Kingdom of God shall be established at the forefront of all the spheres that define our generation’s worldview. There shall arise a remnant from the Ekklesia that shall fully be consecrated to the Lord and infiltrate these spheres. As a result people from these spheres shall recognize the kingdom of God and flow towards it. This is the vision of the kingdom of God that He is initiating, and the Wall Street Prayer Alliance partners with, according to Micah chapter 4. 
     So, I ask you -- did you ever think you would hear such spiritual concepts and Biblical truth coming from the heart of Wall Street? Where the temple of Mammon resides in New York City? God never ceases to amaze me! These people are truly living out 2 Chronicles 7:14; humbling themselves and seeking the face of God in the midst of gross corruption and avarice.  And He hears them!
     God longs to revive this nation for His glory! He wants us to return to Him, so He can give us a fresh start! And when I see such a faithful Ekklesia rising up in the most unlikely of places, it gives me great hope. Let's pray that from the heart of our nation's financial district, there will be a spirit and fire of revival that sweeps this land. Let us join them in prayer, contending for our nation and each other.
     I know of so many people who are struggling in today's economy, so Father, we break all assignments from the Enemy that are coming against our finances, in the Name of Jesus. We break all curses of poverty, lack, debt, and financial failure, in the Name of Jesus. Lord, teach each of us, and our nation's leaders, how to profit, and lead us in the way we should go. Thank you, Father, for the Wall Street Prayer Alliance. May their prayer efforts usher in a great harvest for Your Kingdom! Amen!

Please visit the Wall Street Prayer Alliance website for more information.

Psalm 85:6       Will You not revive us and bring us to life again, that Your people may rejoice in You?

August 31, 2019

Fulfillment of the Law, Inner Healing, and The Kingdom of God

     We are all familiar with the Beatitudes of Matthew, Chapter Five. We have heard countless sermons quote these familiar verses. But I will tell you that I never heard a message that linked them to the Kingdom of God, even though Jesus begins by associating them with the Kingdom.
     He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of God". When my spirit first recognized this connection, all of the Beatitudes took on new meaning! And while it is not the purpose of this post to examine Matthew 5:1-12, I invite you to read the post I wrote, I Finally Understand the Beatitudes!  Suffice it to say that this amazing Scripture illuminates the blessings of belonging to the Kingdom of God and the spiritual implications of Jesus's rule in our lives. These twelve verses highlight what our spiritual attitudes, goals, and character traits should be as Christians.
     And interestingly, each of the twelve verses simulate the progression of what it looks like when we take this journey with Jesus towards our complete and whole sanctification. First, we are poor in spirit, without a relationship with our Creator; then we mourn for our fallen state; we become meek and teachable; then hunger and thirst after righteousness; becoming merciful and pure in heart; seeking the peace of Heaven; which goes against the world's nature and we are persecuted for our righteousness; ending with us receiving great rewards in heaven for our allegiance to our Lord. That's what it's like to be transformed from a lost soul into a Kingdom citizen!
     But it's what Jesus has to say about fulfilling the Law that I want to examine today. How many times have we read His teachings on Murder, Lust, Divorce, Oaths, Revenge, and Love in the Book of Matthew? We've all seen the simple moral lessons on each of these important topics, and Jesus makes it clear that they are important commandments to follow. He even warns that entering the Kingdom of Heaven depends on us understanding them. But I want to take you a little deeper, if I may.
     Remember, Jesus wants us to understand that He has not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but rather to fulfill them. And have you noticed that He begins each of the five topics He covers with this statement: "You have heard it said [to those of old]"... quoting from the Old Testament and the Law.  But He follows it up with, "But I say to you"... bringing a new perspective to the Law, now that the Kingdom of God has arrived with Him.
     I want you to see and understand two things: 1) He is showing us what a renewed mind, one that perceives things from a Kingdom perspective looks like; and 2) He is showing what the root cause is of these spiritual sins. Let me show you how that works. Let's start with the topic of Murder. Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder'... But I say, whoever is angry with his brother ... whoever insults his brother ... whoever calls his brother a fool will all be held to judgement. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison."
     He is showing us how to renew our minds and not give in to sinful actions. He gives us a heavenly solution to a sinful problem. There is no murder or anger in Heaven. But even more importantly, He is showing us that the root cause of murder is the spirit of anger! If you give in to the spirit of anger, and do not change your perspective to a kingdom one, that anger can lead to bitterness, then to resentment, on to hatred, and eventually can wind up at murder!
     Now let's look at Adultery. Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  Here, we see that the root cause of adultery is lust. If we give in to a lustful spirit, it can lead to fantasizing, perhaps pornography, and even eventually, adultery. But Jesus gives us a solution. Change the way we've looked at, and bind it as it is bound in Heaven. Put a stop to anything in your life that enables or encourages you to go down that road.
     Divorce is a difficult one. Jesus doesn't have much to say about it:  “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Jesus quotes the Law and then re-defines it according to the Father's spiritual rules. It's as if He's saying, "You've heard me say that lust is the spiritual root of adultery, and lust is what leads to sexual immorality. So, that is the only grounds on which you can serve a bill of divorce to your wife. No longer can you just decide you want to end the marriage. Any grounds other than the one I have established is not recognized, and is a sin. Divorce does not exist in Heaven. It should not exist here on earth.
     Oaths are another area that He is adamant about.  "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all....". Here, Jesus is reformatting the Law again. Taking an oath was okay under the Law, as long as it was not false. But in a renewed Kingdom mindset, one doesn't want to take an oath at all. We recognize who we are, and our word as sons and daughters of the King carry all the weight we need. Oaths can lead to destruction, such as the oaths taken by Freemasons against their bodies and the health of their family members. I have seen those oaths destroy families and lives. The consequences of seemingly meaningless pledges and vows have unleashed havoc on innocent lives for generations. Follow Jesus's advice: Let your "yes" mean "yes", and your "no" mean "no".  
     Revenge or retaliation is another topic Jesus addresses:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."  There is no revenge in Heaven, except for that exacted by YHWH. Remember: Vengeance is His alone! So a Kingdom mindset turns the other cheek to keep the Enemy from inciting evil; always giving more than what was taken. A Kingdom mindset does not let a root sin of anger develop into bitterness, followed by hatred, which could end up with murder,
     Finally, Jesus ends up with the most surprising advice:  "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."  That is so counter-intuitive to the human mind. But a spiritually renewed mind can recognize that that is exactly what Jesus did! True love is a sacrificial love, and it is perfect love.
     So I hope you were able to see the elements of Inner Healing, and see the root causes of spiritual issues in Jesus's teaching. And I hope you were able to peel another layer of revelation off Scripture today. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to bring it to the fullness of its purpose: to help us transform this earth into Heaven. Our Lord has so much to reveal to us about the mind of the Father, and is trying to teach us to renew our minds to see from the Father's Heavenly perspective. These verses offer so much more than "Don't Murder, don't cheat on your spouse, don't get divorced, don't seek revenge, and just love everyone". Jesus is trying to teach us how to live a Kingdom lifestyle and not yield spiritual territory to our Enemy. May we grow each day toward that perfect life and discern His righteousness in all its ways!

Luke 6:40      A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.


August 28, 2019

The Joy Of Seeing Satan Topple And Our Names Written In Heaven

     As I was working on a presentation of the importance of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom [and the authority that comes with entering the Kingdom], my path through Scripture ended at one of my favorite passages.
     It is Luke 10:1-21, and begins with the 70 [or 72, depending on the version of your Bible] disciples being sent out to do "kingdom work". Remember, there were more than just the Twelve Disciples who followed Jesus and received His teachings and witnessed His demonstrations of the power of God. These 70 were sent out ahead of Jesus to every town He was about to enter. He gives them a crash course on how to walk in the authority He is lending them in order to see the Kingdom of God appear on the earth. [No one has yet received the Holy Spirit, so Jesus lends them His power and authority to teach them how to become laborers in God's harvest of souls].
     When they return, the Bible says they were ecstatic with joy, telling Him,  “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we commanded them in Your Name!” And here's the part of this passage that makes my spirit shout in victory ... Jesus responds by saying, While you were ministering, I watched Satan topple until he fell suddenly from heaven like lightning to the ground. Now you understand that I have imparted to you all My authority to trample over his kingdom. You will trample upon every demon before you and overcome every power Satan possesses. Absolutely nothing will be able to harm you as you walk in this authority."
     Here's what the Holy Spirit is sharing with me: After Satan and his rebellious hordes were kicked out of the third heaven [where God dwells on His throne], they are conducting their spiritual war with God's heavenly army from the second heaven. [They are also attacking the children of God here on earth]. But every time a Believer follows Jesus's command in Luke 10:9 to "heal the sick, and tell them all, ‘God’s kingdom realm has arrived and is now within your reach!’", it causes Satan to topple from his throne of darkness. A victory over a physical, emotional, or spiritual sickness has been won! That's the spiritual mechanics that were taking place then, and the same thing happens today! We have His authority to trample on every demon and overcome every satanic power. Nothing can defeat us.  Satan loses a battle, and Jesus watches it and rejoices!
     But here's another interesting consequence of our obedience: in Luke 10:21, Jesus says,  "However, your real source of joy isn’t merely that these spirits submit to your authority, but that your names are written in the journals of heaven and that you belong to God’s kingdom. This is the true source of your authority.”
     I am aware that there is more than one book in Heaven in which the stories of our lives are written, but I was curious as to how many there are and what they are. I would like to reference a 2012 blog post on the HorizonWatcher website for this important information. We know that God is omnipotent and knows all, but we are also told in the Bible that there are books that keep track of what is going on down here on Earth. 
     To begin, there is the Book of the Living. The Book of the Living records the destinies of all humans on Earth. Psalm 139:16 tells us "You saw who You created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days You planned for me were already recorded in Your book." The Book of the Living also contains the details of each infant before it was formed in the womb. I imagine this includes height, color of eyes, boy or girl. And Revelation 3:12 says that when we return home to the Heavenly Kingdom, God will write upon us our new name. Perhaps that name is also included among the details listed in the Book of the Living.
     The Book of Life contains the names of those who repent of their sins and trust God for their salvation. When Christ became the High Priest in the heavenly temple and was positioned as the mediator between God and man, this heavenly book was named the Lamb's Book of Life after Christ, who was called the Lamb of God. To enter the eternal kingdom of heaven, a person's name must be in this book. And we know that Jesus told us in order to enter the kingdom, we must be "Born Again", or Saved. The controversy comes with whether one believes a name can be removed from the Book of Life. In response to persecution by proud and arrogant leaders [perhaps both secular and religious], the psalmist in Psalms 69:28 cries out for justice: "Leave them out of your list of the living! Blot them out of your book of life! Never name them as your own!" We know that Jesus proclaims, "no one has the power to snatch believers from My hands", but the question remains: Can they remove themselves by unrighteous and evil acts? For that answer, we will have to wait for Eternity to come.
     Did you know there is a Book of Tears? In the time of Christ, it was a Roman custom to have small tear bottles used to collect the tears of men and women at a funeral. Tears were collected and placed in these small bottles, sealed, and placed in tombs as a sign of respect for the deceased.  Psalm 56:8 says, "You have taken account of my wanderings; [You have] put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not recorded in Your book?" This is such a lovely reminder that God watches over our every step and is mindful of each tear we shed.
     Now let's consider the Book of Remembrance. For a person's name to be recorded in the Book of Remembrance, that person must be a giver [tithe], must fear God, and must be a witness of His name. In the Book of Acts, Chapter 10, verse 4, we see an example of how one man was remembered by God. Cornelius was giving charity for the needy. He feared God and was in prayer at the time of an angelic visitation. His prayers and giving record came up before God and the Lord honored this man with a special family blessing as a result of his faithfulness! If you have ever wondered how God keeps up with your tithes, offerings, and charity to the poor, they are recorded in this Book of Remembrance in heaven. "Cornelius clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had come to him and said, “Cornelius!”  Cornelius was frightened and stared intently at him and said, “What is it, lord (sir)?” And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and gifts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God [an offering made in remembrance of His past blessings]."
     Finally, there is the Book of Rewards. This book is probably the least recognized by religious Christians, yet it will be the most important when they stand before the Lord. There are records in heaven of our deeds and works that are done [for God and His Kingdom] while we live on Earth. And perhaps even more sobering is the fact that there are records of the words we have spoken. We will be judged whether we are worthy to receive rewards, based on our actions and motives and hearts. For those who do good deeds, but their motives and heart conditions are self-serving, they will have to be content with the rewards they received while on earth. 
     Taking all this into account, I love reading Jesus's praise for the Father after the 70 Disciples have returned. He has seen Satan topple and his rule over a person's life defeated. He rejoices with the Disciples that their names are being recorded in Heaven. But the Bible says in Luke 10:21 that He is "overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s anointing of joy, exclaiming, “Father, thank You, for You are Lord Supreme over heaven and earth! You have hidden the great revelation of this authority from those who are proud, those wise in their own eyes, and You have shared it with these who humbled themselves. Yes, Father. This is what pleases Your heart and the very way You’ve chosen to extend Your kingdom: to give to those who become like trusting children."
     As we step into our Kingdom identities, may we all see Satan topple; may our service be worthy to have our names be written in the Books in Heaven; and may we always remain humble like a trusting child. We, too, thank You, Father, for You have given Your authority to those who Seek, first, the Kingdom of God and Your Righteousness. We thank you for this powerful revelation and Your favor in receiving it. We take our responsibilities seriously.

Revelation 20:12    "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. "

August 25, 2019

What The Prophets Had To Say About The Kingdom Of God

     Recently, my husband and I spoke before a group of people about the Gospel of the Kingdom. It was such a spiritual high to see people recognizing (some for the first time) the importance of understanding Jesus's primary message, and to see the implications of entering the Kingdom of God for this generation.
     It amazes me how the Enemy has been able to successfully hide this truth in these latter days of the Church Age. Of course, I understand why -- when Jesus came over 2000 years ago, He declared that Satan's kingdom was coming to an end. In John 4:31, the Lord said, From this moment on, everything in this world is about to change, for the ruler of this dark world will be overthrown.
     The Good News that Jesus was re-establishing the Kingdom of God on earth was a sentence of judgment on the fallen world and meant that Satan's kingdom of darkness would soon be toppled. What's more, mankind [from whom Satan received his dominion of the earth through deception] would be redeemed, and death would be conquered by Jesus, Himself. Man would again be given dominion over the earth; to occupy it and hold it until Christ returned for His final judgment of Evil.
     So, Satan had much to lose if men, who came to salvation through faith in the Risen Christ, ever learned of their restored power and authority and took back their dominion of the earth. So, it should not be a surprise that, slowly over the last two millennia, this truth of the Kingdom of God and our role as citizens of Heaven on earth, has been concealed and shrouded by false doctrines and flawed teachings within the Church. Satan has done a good job of infiltrating our seminaries and leading Church leadership down a path that has succeeded in birthing a powerless Body of Christ.
     But equally amazing to me is that the truth was there all the time ... all we had to do was be diligent in reading and studying the Word. But again, the mantra in far too many 21st Century churches is that the Old Testament has been surpassed by a New Covenant and is no longer relevant. But Jesus says in Luke 16:16, The law of Moses and the revelation of the prophets have prepared you for the arrival of the kingdom realm announced by John. And now, when this wonderful news of God’s kingdom realm is preached, people’s hearts burn with extreme passion to press in and receive it.
     The prophets of the Old Testament revealed that there was a new kingdom coming; they prepared men to be on the lookout for it. And it came with Jesus. And Jesus said that when men hear the good news of this kingdom preached, they will burn with extreme passion to enter into it. 
     We need not doubt the words of the prophets in the Old Testament. They heard directly from God as men called to deliver God's promises of judgment and restoration. They were called to both warn of disaster coming from violation of the covenant with God, and to announce the blessings of a future messianic kingdom [preserving a descendant of David to sit on its throne]. And Jesus confirms this truth when He says, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
     I don't know about you, but I find great hope in those words, and it makes the prophecies in the Old Testament so dear to my heart. Jesus says He came to fulfill them! He came to bring to perfection all that was written! So, let's rejoice in these hope-filled prophetic words of long ago:

Jeremiah 23:3-4.  YHWH will return to Zion to deliver His sinful [and wayward] people and equip them to extend His saving reign to the furthest points of the earth. Jeremiah expresses this prophecy with an image of God placing shepherds (a symbol of kingship) over His people in the context of bringing them (in a new exodus) out from the nations to which they have been driven ... Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord. 

Daniel 2:44. Daniel shares this vision of permanent restoration and sovereignty in a different way ... And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever …  

Daniel 7:13-14.  The image of an exalted and majestic king is firmly established; one that is approved and authorized by the Father ... I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Zechariah 14:9. There will be an end-time kingdom that will dominate the earth and only one Lord and King ... And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and His name one. 

Psalm 89:3-4, 29.  YHWH is faithful to fulfill His promises to His chosen ones ... I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations ... I will establish his offspring forever and his throne as the days of the heavens.

Habakkuk 2:14.  Adam’s dominion mandate will be fulfilled and restored through the dramatic saving work of God. Death is conquered at the Cross, and the Kingdom of God once more reigns on the earth  ...  In that day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
     As you can see, the Old Testament's prophets provided the context within which Jesus could declare that the "Kingdom of Heaven was at hand [had arrived]". Jesus said that He came to the lost sheep of Israel. They knew that YHWH was king, and had always been king of the earth. What they didn't know, or recognize, was that God, Himself, had broken into the world, through the appearance of His Son, in order to reclaim dominion and rule of the earth. What we have not known -- until those with "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" have re-discovered it -- is that through our faith in Jesus, we are to assume the roles of ambassadors, royal citizens, and sons and daughters of the King. We are to continue what Jesus started, putting the Enemy on alert that his time is ending; his kingdom no longer holds power over this earth, and we are rising up in a wave of believers walking in new identities!
     I, for one, am grateful to the prophets of old for overcoming scorn, derision, captivity, and death to bring us the profound blessings of their written words. What crowns and inheritance they will reap on that glorious day when they stand before the Lord! May we honor their faithfulness with our own strength and courage, by declaring and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the whole world as a testimony to the nations. For Jesus says, "then the end will come". And all the obedient faithful proclaim, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Thanks to Ligonier Ministries for referencing the Old Testament prophecies.
Hosea 12:10    I spoke to the prophets; it was I who multiplied visions, and through the prophets gave parables.