IN THIS ISSUE:
Covenant (The Last Will and Testament of Jesus) — R.S. “Bud” Miller
Spiritual Warfare — Pressure Reveals What Is In Us
Exposing Satan’s Devices — Unholy Christmas Traditions
End Times — Mark of the Beast Linked With Mammon
Prophecy — Americans Are In Trouble With God — Henry Blackaby
Book Review – She Said Yes, by Misty Bernall
Poetry Corner – The Road To Heaven
Little Foxes (Little Compromises) — Gossip’s Deadly Arrows
Jesus Our Shame Bearer — Special Guest, David Alsobrook
Personal Word From the Millers — Holiday Greeting
Purpose and Vision — Ministry Information
COVENANT: GOD’S GUARANTEE FOR VICTORIOUS LIVING
By Pastor R.S. “Bud” Miller
The “Last Will and Testament” of Jesus
It is a foundational truth in the Word of God that, as we come into a blood relationship with God, we legally have all that God has and all that He is. Everything we need spiritually, mentally, financially, physically, and in every other way has been provided through the covenant.
Few Christians today are walking in the understanding of their rights under the blood covenant. They have been robbed of understanding and receiving the promises of God. On the other hand, there are others trying to claim them, but without a clear understanding of what it takes to walk in those promises.
To walk in these rights and promises requires a clear revelation in one’s spirit that this eternal covenant is not just a document through which we were adopted by God (Romans 8:15) but the “last will and testament” of Jesus, by which we inherited the promises of Abraham from Him.
Hebrews 9:15-18 tells us clearly about this “will” of Jesus:
“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.”
Notice that the writer of Hebrews said that even the old covenant was not ratified without the shedding of blood. Moses took the blood of calves and goats and sprinkled the Book of the Law and the people at Sinai and declared in Hebrews 9:20, “Saying, this is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you” (Exodus 24:5,6; Leviticus 14:4).
Through the blood of Jesus, every covenant promise was put into effect for the children of Abraham by their faith (Galatians 3:29). However, without faith, we will not receive them, although they are ours by adoption. Legally adopted children have the same rights as natural born, which is how we are “joint-heirs” with Jesus.
Sometimes Christians think, “Well, the promises are not for me,” but that is not true. The problem is that they do not know how to receive promises that literally and eternally are for them. The promises are dependent on the blood of Jesus, which already was shed as a one-time and eternal sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12).
Jesus came to earth, lived a life that was sinless, and became the sacrifice that was acceptable to God Almighty. Though the Israelites did not willingly obey God, Jesus did. What we could not do to keep the old covenant, Jesus accomplished in the new covenant.
God told Moses that the “life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11), and that He had given them blood upon the altar to make an atonement for their souls. Blood truly is a living stream of life. Without blood, we do not live. The blood carries food and oxygen to other parts of the body.
In the average person, there are from five to seven quarts of blood, which circulate twice a minute throughout the body. Every cubic millimeter of blood (about the size of a pinhead) has approximately five and a half million living cells, which live from a hundred and ten to a hundred and twenty days. To replenish the blood cells, the body produces almost two million new cells every second.
The blood is not stagnant. It is life itself. The knowledge of this given to Moses by God is why blood was sacred to the Israelites. When an animal was sacrificed, the blood was caught in a basin and sprinkled over the altar. The giving of the blood represented the giving of life, and the receiving of blood represented the receiving of life.
That is why two people were actually saying, “We co-mingle our lives together,” when they mingled their blood in a covenant. The sprinkling of blood on the book of the covenant made the covenant effective and legally binding for Abraham’s descendants.
Jesus, the Perfect Sacrifice
We were in Nepal some years ago, when the Hindu Nepalese were sacrificing goats and pigeons to their gods. In fact, they sacrificed so many goats that some had to be imported from Tibet. If I remember rightly, about 5,000 goats were sacrificed. We left a day or two before the ceremony began, because we really did not want to see that!
We understand that blood ran from curb to curb in the plaza where these animals were sacrificed. The sad thing is that, today, the sacrifice of animals accomplishes nothing. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die at Calvary as an eternal, once-for-all sacrifice.
God’s plan is the perfect plan. It was because Jesus was sinless and obedient to the Father all of His life that His blood counted for something. It was not the death of Jesus, nor even His precious, broken body that sealed the new covenant; it was His sinless, pure blood shed to provide life for all who receive that sacrifice (Hebrews 5:10,11).
Jesus met the requirement for the perfect sacrifice of God. He laid aside all of the privileges that go with Deity to come to earth in the form of human flesh (Philippians 2:6-8). He became the perfect sacrifice of God, and met the requirement that God has for each of us. He lived 100 percent obedient and fulfilled the law. He did not “do away” with the Law of Moses, but accomplished all of it (Matthew 5:17).
That is why there is power in His blood, and that is why those born again through His blood have power to stand against the demonic powers of Satan. We are not under the curses but the blessings. We are “blood brothers” with the Son of God. Jesus became the author of eternal salvation through obedience (Hebrews 5:9), which was all that God ever required on the part of the Israelites in order for them to “keep covenant.”
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8,9).
Some people in the Church today would like to do away with references to blood. They want to remove references about the blood of Jesus from church songs. Some critics call Judaism and Christianity, “bloody religions.” The Word of God contains news for all of those people! Without the blood of Jesus, there is no forgiveness of sins, and there is no eternal life with God.
It requires the blood of Christ over our lives and at the center of our churches for there to be forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the great High Priest, established forever, and as such, He is the Mediator between us and a just God.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14,15).
The blood of Jesus has been mingled with ours, so that His life flows through us. Any person who has received Him as Savior and Lord has forgiveness and power over sin. God has furnished us with the power to overcome sin. Jesus did not leave us here helpless or hopeless, when He returned to Heaven (Hebrews 6:18,19).
Through His blood, we have been made partakers of His divine nature. We can look like Jesus. We can speak like Jesus. We can act like Jesus. That is what God desires for us to do. Because of His blood, we can appropriate God’s nature and walk in His ways. Through His blood, we have an inheritance that will last forever.
The devil’s lies say that we cannot walk that way, that we do not have the power. He would like Christians to believe that he can put things on them which they cannot get off. The Bible says he is not only a liar, but the father of lies (John 8:44).
God has provided through His covenant all the power, anointing, and equipping that it takes to walk in a life of victory in this world. One of the things Christians have done over the years is simply accept things as “just life” and put up with what amounts to curses the devil has no legal right to put on them. Because of ignorance of covenant rights, Christians have received “curses” and even credited God for them!
All of the time, our Father God is saying to us, “I have given you all the power you need to stand against the wiles of the devil through the blood of My Son, Jesus” (Ephesians 6:11).
(Continued next issue)
Note: This teaching is continued from last month’s Overcoming Life Digest. See Table of Contents for Archives.
(Excerpt from the book entitled: COVENANT God’s Guarantee for Victorious Living by R.S. “Bud” Miller)
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By Betty Miller
Pressure Reveals What Is in Us
What we put within us is what will come out, in our day of trial. Our response under pressure will reveal our maturity as Christians. Anyone can act like a victorious Christian on Sunday morning, praising God and all smiles. But what about at home or on our jobs? How quickly will we be provoked there? What will we find we yet need to be cleansed of? The other day I realized my need for a deeper work. It was one of those little irritating things that reveals big things in us. All I did was trip over my husband’s bootjack that he had left out of place. I felt anger: “Why doesn’t he put this away? Every time it’s left out I trip over it.” At least upon tripping I said, “Thank You, Jesus,” but my heart wasn’t in it. That’s progress, though, from how I would have reacted years ago when I was in the world. God changes us and then brings deeper changes. I had to confess, “Lord, there’s still a work that needs to be done in my heart. Remove any anger and let me always have a gentle spirit.”
The temptation comes to blame another for our reactions. It would have been wonderful to have been able to blame my husband for my anger. We like to do that. Shifting the blame started, of course, with Adam and Eve. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the devil. “The devil made me do it,” some say. Yet the truth is we have authority over the enemy. He can’t make us do anything as Christians, unless we give him consent. We have to agree with him and yield to his suggestions.
So then, our Christian maturity is revealed by how we behave in everyday life, particularly under pressure. How do we act in the car when someone cuts in front of us or at the grocery store when the line is long and the clerk is slow? As businessmen, do we pad the expense account because we are short of money? When people we don’t want to talk to at the time are trying to reach us by phone, do we dodge them by telling the secretary to tell them we are not there? How do we act on our own in the little things and the daily trials of life? Do we become angry and shout or treat those around us in an unchristian manner? Are we honest in all financial matters? When a clerk makes an error and gives us too much money in change for a purchase, do we give it back or pocket it? How do we treat other people, especially those in our own family and our business circles? That’s where the real Christ is evidenced in our lives. What do we do in our homes away from the church. It’s not how we act in the church that counts so much; anyone can act really nice there. We sometimes forget that God is not only at church, He’s everywhere.
(Continued next issue)
Excerpt from the book Personal Spiritual Warfare; Click here to order from the CHAPEL BOOKSTORE
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EXPOSING SATAN’S DEVICES
UNHOLY CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
Christians look forward to the time of the year when we celebrate two important holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holidays have their beginnings and roots in Christian celebrations. The word holiday actually means “holy day;” hence these events should be remembered and celebrated in a holy manner. We have strayed from that purpose over the years as we have embraced many unholy practices and worldly customs and added them to our “holy days.”
Christmas has also been perverted with many secular and traditional additions that take away from this celebration of our Lord’s birth. The materialism that surrounds this season is one of the most obvious; however, there are others. Office parties with the alcohol flowing freely certainly desecrate all that the day stands for. As Christians, we celebrate this day because it is the Lord’s birthday and it gives us pleasure to remember the Christmas story as recorded in the Bible in Luke 2.
Was Christ Born on December 25?
Scholars do not know the exact date of Christ’s birth. For more than 300 years, people observed His birthday on various dates. In A.D. 354, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the sun. Christmas is not, as some have claimed, historically descended from the celebration of the Roman Saternalia with its fleshly excesses, but was set up by Christians to counter it. Christians honored Christ, instead of Saturn, as the Light of the World.
Due to this and other error, some Christians argue we should not even observe Christmas since December 25 is not the true birth date of our Lord Jesus Christ, as most scholars agree it was in the fall. However, the date is not important but the attitude of our hearts in celebrating it. It is how we celebrate Christmas that pleases or displeases the Lord. Since it is observed around the world, it is a wonderful time to witness to people, and the holiday does cause many to think of Jesus. It is not that to celebrate Christmas is wrong. It is the way we treat it which makes it right or wrong.
Unholy Customs and Traditions
For many years, people observed Christmas as a religious festival only. But they gradually adopted more and more customs unrelated to the church. In England, during the Middle Ages, Christmas became the merriest day of the year. Celebrations eventually became so rowdy that the Puritans in England did away with the observance of Christmas by law in 1643.
Our present day celebration here in the United States is a combination of several customs and traditions that come from different European countries. (The World Book Encyclopedia gives an in-depth description of these for those interested.) Since we are looking to the Bible for our standards it would be well to eliminate those things that are not Christ-exalting. We should avoid going to extremes, but on the other hand we should not partake of things that are not honoring Jesus’ birthday.
What About The Christmas Tree?
One tradition that we might mention that has been a controversy in Christian ranks is the decorating of the Christmas fir tree. There are several stories about the origin of the Christmas tree. People in Scandinavia once worshiped trees. Other cultures such as the Romans believed the green tree branches brought good luck. The Germans were probably the first to use Christmas tree decorations. Some Christians think this tradition should not be observed because of this. However, we find in the Bible that the same custom existed in that day and we find the Lord’s instructions as to what our stand should be.
Jeremiah 10:1, “Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”
Here the heathen of that day where cutting down trees and decorating them and worshipping them. But the word of the Lord was for his people not to fear this practice as He pointed out to them that the tree itself had no power to do good or evil. Evil is in the heart of man. So putting up a Christmas tree is not evil or good in itself. If we decorate a tree and celebrate in honor of our Lord Jesus then, to us it is good. To those with improper motives, it is evil. There is a Biblical reference for bringing boughs into the house for celebration. The Lord commanded Israel during the feast of tabernacles to do just that.
Leviticus 23:40, “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.”
What About Santa Claus?
There is one area in our Christmas celebration however, that has no Biblical basis. We realize this is a sensitive issue but we feel Christians should be made aware of this as it is having a tremendous effect on our children. This is the interjection of “Santa” into our Christmas gatherings. Satan has infiltrated and defiled our Christian celebration of Christmas by adding the dimension of emphasizing Santa Claus at the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Satan perverts that date because he hates to see people worshipping the Lord. Instead he diverts adults and children alike to revolve their attention around what Santa will bring that day instead of what the real meaning of the day really is. The name “Santa Claus” was taken from a kindhearted Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas, who lived in the A.D. 300’s. He became the patron saint of many European countries. In the Netherlands and Belgium men in bishops’ robes pose as Saint Nicholas and visit children, examine them on their prayer and urge them to be good, and give them gifts. Hence, the Dutch brought “the visit of Saint Nicholas” to the Americas. The Christmas visit of Santa Claus came from this custom.
You can see how through the years it has changed now and Santa Claus has replaced the celebration of our Lord’s birth. “Old Saint Nicholas” or “Santa Claus” has been interjected into the day to take away from the true meaning of Christmas. Santa Claus is portrayed as a god. He supposedly “knows all” as does God. (“He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good…”) He has supernatural power as he flies through the air making stops throughout the world in one night. He comes down chimneys that would be impossible to enter and has an unlimited supply of toys in one sleigh. He has elves as assistants. (Elves originated in Scandinavian mythology. There were good and evil elves who could disappear at will.) The belief in Santa Claus is also based on a lie. This lie by parents undermines the trust of their children. Later the children may then doubt the reality of God because parents lied about Santa Claus. The emphasis is on receiving gifts in many homes, instead of exchanging gifts. Gifts for the Lord are forgotten.
As Christians, we should ask the Lord how to purge this holiday of Satan’s false god, Santa Claus, and put the emphasis on Christ and His love so that our children know the true meaning of this holy day. Many children only know that it is a day that Santa will come and bring them gifts. They know nothing of the gift of love that was sent to us in the birth of Jesus, our savior. Wouldn’t it be better if we refused to tell our children the lie about Santa? Some may say how terrible to deny children the fun of Santa Claus because he is only a fairy tale like other fairy tales. However, if we ask why Santa Claus is promoted at Christmas instead of another day of the year, I believe we can see the answer clearly. He has become a substitute in the lives of millions of children so that they know nothing of the true gift of life in Christ. I dare say if you ask any child in America who Santa Claus is they would be able to tell you, but many of those same children if asked who Jesus Christ is would not be able to answer that question.
What About Gift Giving?
So much emphasis is put upon getting gifts at Christmas. This has promoted materialism and selfishness in many children as well as the adults. It is the Lord’s birthday. Where are our gifts to Him and His interests? It isn’t wrong to give gifts at Christmas as this is part of the spirit of Christ — giving. What is wrong, is that we have gone to the extreme and forgotten the Lord and the poor in our giving. Biblical celebrations such as the one in Esther 9:22 are approved by God. “As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.”
Our modern Christmases have become mostly tinsel, and every true believer is aware of it. Stress from all the shopping and cooking keeps many from even enjoying this time of year. The media at the holiday season will carry advertisements for items to be given as gifts, which are a disgrace to Jesus Christ. The legend of St. Nicholas, the notorious Christmas office party, the giving of drunken entertainment, the materialism and selfishness which have paganized and spoiled Christmas of its true Christian meaning are things we need to resist and have no part in. Our task, if we are true Christians, is to recapture this holiday from the pagans. It really belongs to us as believers! In fact, in our spirits we should celebrate Christmas every day of the year, instead of once a year as the world does. It does not take tinsel and decoration to remind us of Jesus when we truly love and worship Him from our hearts.
This article was reprinted from a previous Digest but due to its timeliness we wanted to include in in this issue.
Excerpt from the book Exposing Satan’s Devices; Click here to order from the CHAPEL BOOKSTORE
For more information on the origin of the traditions at Christmas click here: What Does the Bible Say About Christmas?
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MARK OF GOD OR MARK OF THE BEAST
Much has been said on this subject of the mark of the beast, but little said about the mark of God. Will there be a literal mark tattooed on people’s foreheads and/or their hands in these end times to make it possible to buy and sell in a one-world monetary system that is being set up by an antichrist?
We can certainly see the possibilities of this becoming a literal reality in our day with the technology of laser beam tattoos and our president speaking of a “new world order.” Even now, pets can be tracked by tiny computer chips about the size of a grain of rice which have an identification number programmed into it that can be injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle. A special scanner generates a radio signal that reads the number through the skin of the animal when it is found.
This book is not disputing the possibilities of a literal tattoo, but rather exposing the spiritual implications behind that plan of Satan. How will this come about? Will it be one of the above new technologies or something yet to come? We don’t believe men are going to be tattooed or branded with a literal set of three sixes on their foreheads or hands, any more than we believe the letters J-E-S-U-S will be on the foreheads of God’s servants as spoken of in Revelation 22: 3-4: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
How will the beast mark those who follow him, and what is the mark of God set upon those who follow Christ? Let us begin with the mark of the beast, then look at how we are to receive God’s mark which protects us from destruction in these end times.
Throughout the Scriptures, the word beast refers to a system, and not to a man. The beast is a system that rules the world; it’s an antichrist system. Daniel 7 speaks of beasts and identifies them as earthly kingdoms. So the beast in Revelation is a beastly system that’s ruling the world (it’s a dictator beast). This beast is not just one human being, rather it is a system that has infiltrated every area whether it be politics, medicine, art or science; the beastly system is everywhere. This system is typically overseen by a powerful government with those in power making decisions that perpetrate the worldly system throughout mankind. When Revelation 13:1 speaks of the beast rising up out of the sea, what is meant by the sea? The Scriptures speak of the sea as “masses of humanity.” This beastly system is rising up out of humanity, out of all the people on the earth. When John, the author of Revelation, stood upon the sand of the sea, he was standing upon that which could not be numbered, among all the people of the earth.
The Mark of the Beast Linked With Mammon
“No man might buy or sell save he that had the mark” (Revelation 13:17). What’s the buying and selling system of the world? Isn’t it the money system, the love of money, controlled by the spirit of mammon? The goal of many people is to become a millionaire. Those who love money will not endure. People will be sold out to the greed of this world and the love of money unless they’ve instead been marked by God. Some people are able to make large sums of money because they’ve taken the beast’s mark; they’ll not be able to operate in the world’s system without his mark. His mark insures receiving those things this world has to offer. Those who receive the beast’s mark receive his goods because he will buy and sell with them; even the poor are marked since greed is a heart attitude. Even those with nothing can be greedy since lust is in the heart of man.
Satan’s system is run by buying and selling, whereas God’s kingdom is operated by giving and receiving. Using the money system of the world is not evil in itself since money is an amoral object that the spirit of mammon tries to control. Money is part of the world system with the spirit of mammon being the entity behind that system.
As Christians we should use money only as an exchange or purchase system, not for power as do Satan’s followers. Revelation 13: 16 says the beast system causes all to receive his mark (all but Christians since verse 8 states the whole world worships the beast except those whose names are written in the book of life). Verse 17 says that no man might buy or sell except he had the mark, or the name or the number of the beast. To do business with the devil you must have his mark (be conformed to his image), or have his name (become an heir of Satan by becoming his child), or have his number (that spiritual number of 666 which denotes the whole beast system of mankind). I think we will have a choice to take the mark or refuse it.
I don’t believe men are going to be forced to take a literal number to buy or sell, but rather the world and the beast system will in all probability refuse to sell or do business with Christians. Evil men will try to destroy Christians by denying us the use of the system. They will try to starve us or keep us from prospering. The true end-time church will be walking in God’s power and anointing which brings conviction on evil men who hate Christians; therefore, the wrath of evil men will try to top the church. Christians can choose to take the mark by adhering to the evil world system, but I don’t believe it will be forced on them.
We already see the lines being drawn between good and evil. Those who love God certainly would refuse anything that would cause them to sin against Him. Using credit cards or legal banking systems is not sinful (as long as we repay according to the credit terms). Only dishonest or worldly demands that would cause us to deny Christ or break His commandments would mark us with the beast system. When these worldly systems progress to that point, we must refuse to use them as that would be sin. Perhaps this is why God is speaking to the church to get out of debt and owe no man anything except the debt of love (Romans 13:8 ). Then we are in bondage to no one, but we’re free to serve God as He leads us.
(Continued next issue)
Excerpt taken from the book The Mark of God or The Mark of the Beast; Click here to order from the CHAPEL BOOKSTORE
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PROPHETIC VOICE TO THE CHURCH
As some may not be familiar with prophecy in the church, we want to share this short explanation of Biblical prophecy before we share an actual prophecy from God.
First, what is godly prophecy? It can be summed up as words that are spoken on behalf of God. A prophet or prophetess is one who is a spokesman for God. It is a divine utterance that comes from the Holy Spirit. (Note: Just as there are prophetic words from God, there are also false prophecies that the Lord warned us about in the Bible. In Matthew 7:15-16 Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits….” We must prove the source of prophecy before accepting it as coming from the Lord).
God is raising up many prophetic voices in the earth today. His gifts of prophecy are basically of two types. One is the “simple gift of prophecy” which every believer can express under the unction or direction of the Holy Spirit after they have been filled with the Holy Ghost.
The other is the “office gift” of the spirit which is given to a prophet or prophetess who is called to the “five-fold” ministry office as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:28 which says “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
Ephesians 4:11-12: “And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The basic difference between these two types is, the simple gift of prophecy is given to all spirit filled believers as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 14:31, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
It is for the purpose of edification, exhortation and comfort as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”
The “office gift” of a prophet or prophetess is given to speak to the body of Christ at large. The ministers who are called to the office of a prophet or prophetess will deliver messages which include edification, exhortation and comfort, but their messages can also be directive in nature and futuristic in content as well (Ephesians 4:11-15).
Presently God is leading His people with prophetic preaching and teaching. A prophetic movement is taking place in the world.
Americans Are “In Trouble” With God
A Word From Henry Blackaby
Blackaby warns that Americans are “in trouble” with God. The United States is in danger of God’s judgment, but Christians don’t really believe it, Henry Blackaby says. “Everyone focuses on 2 Chronicles 7:14,” Blackaby, the Southern Baptist speaker and author, said. The verse says that if God’s people humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, God will forgive their sins and heal their land. But subsequent verses add, in essence, that “If you abandon Him, He will abandon you,” the author of the popular Bible study, Experiencing God (Broadman & Holman), told Religion Today. “We don’t believe that any more. We don’t believe anything can or will go wrong.” “There is a line that, when crossed, …there is no return.”
“In chapter7 of the Book of Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people of Israel. There were godly people present, but the nation had passed the point of God’sblessing. We need to be on our knees today. If you put this country up against Scripture, we are in trouble. Either the United States turns to God in repentance and revival, or there is going to be judgment,” he said.
Blackaby said he is not so much concerned about the way secular society is living, but about how the church is doing. He cited a survey by George Barna indicating that in each of 150 lifestyle areas, including divorce and abortion, “the church is no different than the society around them. All through Scripture the Bible indicates that if the people of God lose their saltiness, there will be nothing else to save the nation. There is a movement of God in some churches, but overall it seems to be small. Of the many claims of revival there doesn’t seem to be much result.”
In addition to writing books, Blackaby speaks at numerous churches and conferences. “The prosperity-preaching in churches today is astounding,” Blackaby said. “I just read a book from a very prominent Christian leader who said we should focus on hope and not preach anything negative. Jeremiah 23 speaks of prophets who preach of ease, when sinfulness and godlessness are all around. This is like it is today. Where are the preachers today leading the people to repentance? When God’s people don’t realize how far they have gone from Him and they don’t turn in humbleness and repentance, they are at risk.”
“In Jesus’ day, people were feeling good and praising their blessings, but He was weeping. How can we not know His heart? We miss it, because we want to feel good. That is our goal and focus.” Blackaby criticized a pragmatism that downplays preaching. “Many are doing surveys to find out what people want in their church experience. We don’t need to do that. In the evangelical community, there is a pragmatism that says that the Word of God is not enough to attract people. There is almost a disdain of Biblical preaching being irrelevant. God will grow the church from His word. God always deals with leaders. The tragedy is so few have earned the right to be heard. So few have an authentic platform. We need strong prayer. We need a spiritual anointing and ordained proclamations. Non-anointed words will fall useless to the ground. Proclaimers must live lives of holiness and humility. It is life and death when they speak. The three things the church needs are “prayer, Holy Spirit anointing, and men living out holy lives. God will draw people to hear them. They must proclaim God’s standard. They need an authentic relationship with Christ. Pastors don’t have a sense of the urgency of our times.”
The outspoken Blackaby says he receives his “share of backlash” from Christian leaders who tell him that he “shouldn’t be putting people down” and that he should give people hope. “I believe hope comes out of repentance,” he said. “At a major evangelistic meeting recently attended by many evangelical leaders, the focus was on reaching non-Christians. To my great surprise there wasn’t a mention about sin and the need for repentance. Hope in Jesus was the focus. When it was my time to speak, I talked about our sin and the need for repentance. Later, many of those there came up to me and said that they sincerely appreciated and needed my comments. We are at a time of God’s judgment and Christian leaders are not bringing the message of the Lord. There is hope. I see a younger generation turning. They feel the older generation has betrayed them, and they want authentic relationship. They sense the urgency.”
This was a RELIGION TODAY feature story (originally sent out by Religion Today on Aug. 6, 1999) by the Editors at ReligionToday.com
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She Said Yes
The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall
by Misty Bernall
This book recounts the life story of Columbine school martyr Cassie Bernall, as told by her mother Misty. Cassie is now famous for her affirmative answer to the High School gunmen who stormed through Columbine High School in killing rampage last spring. When asked if she believed in God, Cassie answered “yes,” knowing that her very life was on the line. Her answer sent her to heaven. In a surprise turn of events, however, Cassie’s testimony became known around the world, drawing many more teens (and adults) into a committed walk with the Lord. In this book, Misty does not try to make her daughter into a super-saint, or introduce her as the most outstanding Christian on campus. Rather, she tells a beautifully true and honest story of a young girl–it could be any one of us–who struggled with her self-image and her place in the world. Cassie is portrayed with all her insecurities as well as strengths–her earlier depression and fascination with the occult before she became a Christian, and her struggles to live a life without compromise on her campus.
Misty also speaks from a mother’s point of view, describing how she and her husband intervened in Cassie’s life, when she was hanging out with negative peer influences, and the struggles they went through to bring her back to the Lord.
Cassie Bernall was a typical teenager in many ways. Through her struggles, we gain an even greater appreciation of her affirmation of faith in Christ. When it counted, Cassie was willing to lay down her life for the Lord who died for her, thus becoming an inspiration to millions around the world. This story will make you laugh and cry–and most of all challenge you to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.
Misty Bernall resides in Littleton Colorado, with her husband and two children where she attends West Bowles Community Church. She is a committed Christian, whose faith in the Lord and belief that He can work anything for good, has strengthened her during the loss of her daughter.
The book, She Said Yes, is available in Hardback priced at $17.00 in our CHAPEL BOOKSTORE (Click here to order)
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THE ROAD TO HEAVEN
It’s been said, “All roads lead to Rome,”
But there’s only one to our heavenly home.
Now life has many roads and ways untold,
There’s the path that’s lonely and cold.
The one that’s dark with much pain,
Another where there is loss – no gain.
If we are not led by the Lord God,
Our path will then be difficult to trod.
Many find themselves on a path that’s dreary,
Burdened with cares and sins, they’re so weary.
They’ve missed the beautiful narrow road,
Where help comes to lighten the load.
That road is marked “Surrender to God,”
But it has the comfort of the Shepherd’s rod.
Hearts there are joined by a higher power,
Their lives begin to blossom as a flower.
Yes, there they are free from doubt and unbelief,
In the Master’s presence, there is sweet relief.
Relieved from the hurts of all the past,
Allowed the desires of their hearts, at last.
Looking around at others who also found the way,
They all were rejoicing in their new day.
Prior days of darkness made them appreciate light,
So thankful were they to escape the night.
Sorrow and suffering had made each a sensitive soul,
To protect each other would now be their goal.
To hold the other in esteem and honor,
When the world would seek to bring dishonor.
They would walk together and always be agreed,
As they went forth to sow the Master’s seed.
If one fell down the other would lift him up,
Where love abounds, there is never an empty cup.
Every threatening foe, they would withstand,
Agreed and united they would stand.
Love is the bond that holds them together,
Not only now, but the eternal forever.
In this life, the narrow road may seem long,
But walking this path is the “overcoming throng.”
So you will hear no murmuring or complaints,
For all are just thankful to be among the saints.
The end of the destination is heaven with God,
He had the map of the steps they had trod.
Now, no thoughts of how long the journey had been,
Just thankful to be home, declaring victory over sin.
The Master now had in His hand rewards for each,
They had been ardent in the earth to teach and preach.
He looked at each overcomer, knowing every trial,
“Well done, faithful servant”, He spoke with a smile.
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(Little Compromises That Cause Big Problems)
By Betty Miller
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Foxes sometimes in search of food would enter into the grape orchards and devour the grapes and spoil the crop. However, the little foxes were too small to reach the grape bunches so they would chew on the vines and it would kill the whole vine. Instead of the farmer just losing his crop, he would lose his vine which was more disastrous. Spiritually some things we do or allow that we might think are little or insignificant can also be disastrous for us.
Gossip’s Deadly Arrows
“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Proverbs 18:8)
The Bible refers to a person who gossips as being a talebearer. The dictionary definition of the word gossip is to repeat idle talk and rumors, especially about the private affairs of others. There have been many people who have been falsely accused and suffered greatly because of a few words that caused an eventual avalanche of unsubstantiuated slander. The temptation comes to all of us to repeat some juicy little morsel of gossip about someone. We may not think that sharing just a little bit of a bad report or rumor about someone is that bad. However, the Bible tells us that this is a sin and can be very damaging to others. These little whispered words about someone are as the “little foxes” that nibble on the vines and eventually destroy them.
The Bible tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue”(Proverbs 18:21). We can speak words of life about people or we can speak words of death over them by the way we talk about them. Even if the rumor is true, it usually is distorted and additional things have been added so that it may not even be the way it sounds. Some may remember or have played the old parlor game of Gossip. Everyone is seated in a circle and the first person to begin writes down and then whispers a sentence about a subject to the one seated next to him. That person then repeats in a whisper the same sentence to the person seated on the right side of him and so on, around the circle, until the sentence comes back to the one who began it who then announces it to all. The sentence never came back the way it began and most of the time it was very laughable at how far off it was from the original sentence. This is true with the repeating of rumors too.
Many ministries have been almost destroyed by gossip. When we were pastoring, we discovered when negative things were told about the church or about us personally, they were so far from the truth, that it would have been funny if it wasn’t so destructive and designed to hurt the cause of Christ. We had to learn early on that when others spoke about us in the wrong way we simply had to take the matter to prayer and keep a forgiving heart toward those who sought to hurt us and allow the Lord to defend us. We cannot allow the devil to get us into bitterness or take a personal offence.
As Christians, we need to learn that if we hear things that are classified as gossip, we must have a faithful spirit and not listen when we can stop the person who is doing the talebearing. If we listen to the gossip, we are just as guilty, as if we are spreading it. Proverbs 11:14 says, “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth a matter.”
We are especially warned not to listen to accusations made against an elder or minister in the church. The only time we can listen to accusations against them, is when unrighteous behavior is discovered and brought forth in the right spirit, in the mouth of two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. One of the devil’s favorite tricks is to get those in the church to come against the leadership so as to stop the work of the ministry. One of his favorite tools is to use gossip against the pastor to do it. Many times it is the women in the church who fall into this trap.
1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
The men deacons and elders in a church are also admonished not partake in gossip either.
1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let us all ask the Lord to guard our tongues and speak those things that are good and not be found to displease the Lord with taking part in gossiping. In our society, people are writing books that expose the sins of former employers, mates, acquaintances, etc. This has become epidemic in our day. The Bible tells us to cover one another’s, sins not expose them. (Of course there is a Biblical way to deal with sin when it is discovered and is affecting a whole family or organization adversely. That is not what we are addressing here). We are addressing rumors and gossip which have no foundation to them and the other party is not there to defend themselves. Let us not yield to this evil “little fox.”
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SPECIAL GUEST ARTICLE
JESUS, OUR SHAME BEARER
by David Alsobrook
“For your shame you shall have double…” (Isaiah 61:7)
This study is about how Christ identified with us in our shame and bore it away so our personal dignity could be restored. If you have ever been shamed, embarrassed, made to feel worthless, or otherwise degraded then you need to read and study this special message.
WHAT IS SHAME?
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary ¹ gives this definition: SHAME — A negative emotion caused by an awareness of wrongdoing, hurt ego, or guilt. In the Bible, the feeling of shame is normally caused by public exposure of one’s guilt (Genesis 2:25; 3:10). Shame may also be caused by a hurt reputation or embarrassment, whether or not this feeling is due to sin (Psalm 25:2-3; Proverbs 19:26; Romans 1:16).
Joseph, not wishing to shame Mary, desired to divorce her secretly (Matthew 1:19). Ultimately, God will expose the guilt of the ungodly, putting them to shame (Daniel 12:2). God also puts to shame the wise of the world by exposing their guilt before Him and by choosing to save the foolish of this world by a “foolish” message (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Finally, our Lord Jesus suffered the shame of the Cross because He was put on public display as the recipient of God’s wrath (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 12:2).
According to this Bible dictionary, shame is caused by one of two ways: either the awareness or exposure of guilt, or a hurt reputation or embarrassment, whether or not this feeling is due to sin. I would only add that shame is also caused by being wronged, abused, or mistreated when one’s personal rights are violated. This could occur a number of ways, but the most vivid example I know of is when a child is verbally, physically or sexually abused by an adult. The shame received by such abuse can be lifelong and far reaching.
HOW DOES SHAME AFFECT US?
Think back over your life to a time when you were shamed. Perhaps a parent disciplined you publicly and other children teased you about it. Maybe you were falsely accused of cheating in school and unjustly punished. Perhaps your reputation was marred in some way and you had to live it down. Maybe you did something wrong but were improperly corrected and have carried the embarrassment of your actions ever since. Here are some important facts about shame which have been verified through many fields of study:
1. Shame always results in a loss of dignity.
Each individual is born with a sense of personhood which, if properly nurtured, will instinctively help him or her make the right life choices. There are many unbelievers who are basically moral people due to the fact they have chosen to keep their dignity and were fortunate enough to avoid abuse during their formative years. Some, however, were needlessly shamed in early life and grew up with a sense of loss about their personhood. There are too many ways this can happen to list here, but a few are:
If a father really wanted a son but got a girl he can unknowingly damage her sense of personhood by treating her like a boy and shaming her when she acts like a little girl. There are many masculine women in our society whose personhood was not properly nurtured during childhood. “Daddy’s tomboy” for a girl is not anymore healthy than “Mommy’s little girl” for a boy!
Another way children are shamed is when they are told they are stupid, dumb, etc. When adolescents go through a clumsy stage it is easy during those tender, vulnerable years, to degrade their sense of personal value through family members calling them names, even in times of humor. The gangly teen may laugh along with the rest of the family, but is often crying inside.
Teenagers who engage in sexual sin enter adulthood with guilt and shame dogging their steps.
Adopted children are sometimes stigmatized by our society. They grow up with a spirit of rejection, feeling unwanted or illegitimate. Even as adults they often feel loss because they do not know their biological parents and go to great lengths to find them.
When children are punished in anger or punished in the wrong way (slapping in the face, etc.) their personal dignity is demolished by the authority figure in their lives which can cause them to incorrectly surmise that God thinks they have little value, too. A damaged person is often tempted to doubt God’s ability to restore from guilt and shame. God encourages all who were shamed in their childhood, however, that “Thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth” (Isaiah 54:4).
Adults can be shamed, too, through divorce, failure, rape, bankruptcy or other traumas.
There are a host of ways a person can be shamed. Ask our Father to show you how you have been degraded by your life experiences. However your dignity may have suffered, or your personhood destroyed, you need to realize that part of the work of God in your life is to restore you to wholeness in your concepts about yourself.
2. Shame produces emotional pain.
When a person is shamed his or her emotions are damaged. This causes a sense of loss, hurt, and devaluation.
The macho mentality refuses to acknowledge the reality of emotional pain boasting, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” God’s Word, however, teaches that words can injure the innermost part of a person (Proverbs 18:8). Unlike broken skin, though, a broken spirit does not automatically heal.
Emotional pain can be so real it can actually cause physical pain–heaviness in the chest, upset of the digestive process, headaches, sleep disturbances, etc. Sometimes there is a physical pain which is based solely in the emotions.
3. Shamed people medicate their pain.
We humans lick our emotional wounds by medicating our pain through a multitude of means: sports, food, money, sex, television, personal achievements, immoral relationships, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, rage and various other things. Some of them, in themselves, are not wrong (take food for instance) but we abuse them by over indulgence in an attempt to medicate our pain. In the thorough book, Love Hunger, the doctors of the Minirth-Meier clinic spell out reasons why we overeat and show how, in most cases, a person is actually attempting to fill a hole inside.
Many hurting people turn to the church in an effort to alleviate the pain they feel. After being involved for awhile they often drop out, still hurting. Some people use religion to evade their pain and deny their true feelings. Church is an escape to them like theater is to someone else.
Pain calls for alleviation. If the alleviation itself is sinful then the individual feels guilt which produces more shame-pain which, in turn, calls for more of the addictive substance or practice and so the cycle goes. This is how a person, or a society, becomes compulsive and addicted.
JESUS CHRIST, OUR SUBSTITUTE
I believe Jesus Christ is alive today and able to meet our deepest needs and that these next years will witness a revolutionary healing in the deep cores of hurting people. They will no longer need to medicate pain because their gut feelings will be healed and their compulsions will be forgotten in the light of His grace! Jesus is not only our Guilt Offering, but our Shame Bearer as we shall see this month and next.
HOW DID JESUS BEAR OUR SHAME?
All His sufferings on our behalf, in a general sense, were for our shame when the Messiah was publicly beaten, mocked, whipped, and nailed to the Cross. In a specific sense, however, Jesus bore our shame in two distinct ways: when He was spit upon., and when He was exposed.
SHAME BY SPITTING
In the Old Testament spitting in the face was a gesture of contempt, a deliberate insult. Job, during his trial, was such an object of disgrace that people spat upon him in disgust (Job 30:10). He not only lost his children, his wealth, and his health–he lost his honor, too, and the people expressed it by spitting on the poor fellow as they walked by.
Miriam, after criticizing Moses for his choice of a wife, was smitten with leprosy. Moses prayed for God to miraculously heal her rather than having her wait throughout a seclusion period demanded for curing leprosy in the Levitical laws (Leviticus 13, 14). The Lord answered him, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again” (Numbers 12:14).
In this scripture we see reference to the accepted custom of a father spitting on his daughter if she had behaved foolishly. The daughter would be publicly disgraced, though not disowned, by her father’s public spittle. After a period of humiliation and isolation she would be welcomed back to her family. If this seems harsh, and it was, just remember that a son who behaved foolishly could be brought to the city’s gate and stoned! (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
The key thought is that many ancient peoples, not only Hebrews, expressed shame by spitting.
THEY SHALL SPIT UPON HIM
Jesus Christ was spat upon during the course of His vicarious sufferings (Matthew 27:30; Mark 15:19). He foretold this would happen two different times: when He was on earth (Mark 10:34; Luke 18:32) and centuries before He became flesh. The Word spoke through Isaiah, “I gave My back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from SHAME AND SPITTING” (Isaiah 50:6).
Notice how the phrase “shame and spitting” go together in Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus actually bore our shame when He was spit upon so we could be emotionally healed of shame and disgrace! Christ was mocked and devalued, jeered and mistreated on our behalf.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DESPISED?
Think back over the course of your life. Can you remember times when your sense of value was cheapened by the behavior of others? If they were your authority figures did you accept the unkind remarks they made about you as true of yourself? Have you ever said about yourself the same type of things others said long ago? If you answer yes to any of these questions then you may be living in a very real sense of shame.
Jesus Christ made those He contacted feel better about themselves. Even an adulteress walked away with her sense of worth restored (John 8). Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would be “…despised and rejected of men” as Spurgeon commented “so the reader need not bear it” (Isaiah 53:3). Christ bore the emotional ills of His people so we would not have to medicate our pain. Instead we can believe that He “…carried our sorrows” for us (Isaiah 53:4).
Go to Him now and ask Him to minister this vital provision in your life.
¹Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)</