Speaking Heart to Heart: Communication Breakdown

One of the most common things that couples say to me is, “My wife and I just can’t seem to have a normal conversation anymore with each other. Our words seem so superficial and only about the facts of the day. We just never get to those heart-to-heart times of fellowship we used to have before we got married.” Have you ever thought or said these words? If you have, then this article is for you.

Why does conversation seem to turn in this superficial direction within a marriage?  Once you understand why the communication has deteriorated between you, then you will see how to change it.

Why does communication deteriorate over time?

1. Holding resentment from past unresolved conflicts. This is one of the most common and obvious reasons why communication deteriorates in a relationship. If a prior conflict is not fully resolved, the heart becomes closed and the walls will go up and communication will shut down. This is why Solomon told his son, A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Prov. 18:19). If you have been fortifying your heart with bars, you have unresolved issues. If you want the superficiality to be removed then you must identify and deal with these conflicts.

2. Hardening your heart. When you refuse to resolve your conflicts, a hardened heart will always be the natural result. Why is this true? Paul equated hardness of heart with an unwillingness to repent of your sin. He warned the Romans that, “because of your “hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5). If you are hard-hearted today, there will not be any heart-to-heart fellowship between you. It is an impossibility!

3. Allowing pride to control you.When pride controls your heart, you will relate to each other in one of two ways. First, you can be verbally harsh, authoritarian, and speak to your spouse with a superior attitude. Or secondly, pride can also make you indifferent to your mate’s requests to talk, and cause you to be unwilling to confess your own faults. These attitudes will only result in the walls being fortified between you. Remember, By pride comes nothing but strife” (Prov. 13:10). Pride is the death-nail to heart-to-heart fellowship.

4. An unwillingness to talk. When one or both of you stops being willing to talk, your hearts only grow harder, and the walls are strengthened (Acts 7:57). This refusal to talk things through is another sign of the pride and hardness of your hearts. You are, in reality, moving further backwards and not forward in your relationship.

5. Dominating the conversation. If you dominate a conversation by the number of words you use, to attempt to overpower your mate’s point of view, this will only further drive you apart. You should never think that you “will be heard” by the number of words you use (Matt. 6:7). If you say the same thing over and over again but just in different ways, and you don’t allow your spouse to respond, nothing will get accomplished. This again only reveals more pride within your heart.

6. Trying to control and force. When one or both spouses attempt to dominate the conversation, this is a controlling and forcing technique that only assures there will not be a true heart-to-heart conversation. Trying to control a person or a conversation is not love! Controlling behavior is also another form of pride.

7. Not being a good listener.Listening is a vital part of good communication. But, do you want to be heard more than you want to listen? Do you interrupt your spouse and not allow them to complete their thought before you begin your rebuttal? Solomon declared this behavior as folly. He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). The word folly means stupid or to be without wisdom. This unwise practice will guarantee that there will be no heart-to-heart fellowship.

8. Lying and deceitfulness. When there is dishonesty between two people there will be no trust. Lying to one another is a rejection of your marital oneness with each other. Paul said, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). If Paul taught this truth concerning Christians in general, how much more would it hinder your marital oneness (Gen. 2:24)? Lying and deceitfulness calls into question your entire relationship together.

9. Harsh and condemning words. Harsh words are like small knife wounds or razor blade cuts that slowly drain the life out of your love relationship. David said of his enemies who constantly pursued him, “Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully”(Ps. 52:2). When harsh and condemning words are allowed to thrive in a relationship, they will bring destruction to every marriage. Be assured, there will be no heart-to-heart conversation within this marriage!

10. You don’t want to reveal anything that might be used against you in the next conflict. If you are afraid to be honest about what you are thinking, feeling, or what you have done, there can be no real intimacy in your conversations. This kind of fear will shut down any real heart-to-heart discussion, because there is no trust. If you are afraid to open your heart to your spouse, it reveals that there are several basic needs missing in your marriage.

11. Not spending time together. Sometimes the distance grows between a couple not because they have a major communication problem, but simply because they just don’t spend much one-on-one time together. When you don’t take the time to date each other, pray with one another, or recreate together, the closeness and friendship between you will die. Before you were married, as you dated, you spent plenty of one-on-one time together, which is why the communication was so much better. Don’t allow all of the distractions of life to keep you from the one person you are to be one flesh with.

These are just a few of the hindrances to heart-to-heart communication. If you recognize yourself in any of the above issues, you must realize that this is the reason the communication has deteriorated in your marriage. I would suggest asking God to forgive you, and then turning to your spouse and doing the same. Then take the steps in the next few paragraphs.

How to change the way you communicate, and get back to heart-to-heart fellowship.

1. You need to confront the problem. Many times, when couples struggle and they sense the distance growing between them, they beat around the bush with their mate, and don’t specifically address the problem. This is a major mistake. When this happens the problem only gets worse. If your car was running roughly or wouldn’t start, you wouldn’t just hope that the engine trouble would resolve itself. You would take the car into the mechanic to get the problem resolved. If you chose not to do this, one morning you would go out to start your car, and it wouldn’t run. So, don’t let the lack of heart-to-heart fellowship in your marriage get any worse. Resolve to talk to your spouse about it today.

How should you bring up this problem with your mate? Choose a weekend day, when you and your mate are not tired, and there are no distractions. Find a time when you can be alone, with the children playing outside, or at a friend’s house. Ask your spouse to sit down to talk, and express that you believe that you are drifting apart. Express your love and desire to change things between you. Don’t blame your spouse, but express that both of you are at fault, and that both of you need to make some changes. Go through the following steps.

2. Reconcile past issues. If you regularly fight about specific issues with your spouse, or you have past issues that have never been resolved, make a list of these conflicts and begin a discussion about how you can resolve them. Without a truly reconciled relationship with your spouse, your communication will never be heart-to-heart. Unresolved conflicts are what caused you to drift away from each other, and resolving them is the first step back. To help, I have two worksheets that would be very helpful for you to begin the process. Go to www.covenantkeepers.org and click on “Articles” and then “Worksheets” and print “How to Resolve Conflicts” and “How to Solve Conflicts.” Work through these together with your spouse to begin the reconciliation process.

Jesus made it absolutely clear that resolving conflicts with anyone was one of His top priorities. He said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also said, “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). So, if you have resentment toward your mate, or you know your spouse is upset with you, you have the responsibility to go to them and try to reconcile the issue. Keep talking and praying until it is resolved. When you take this step, you are removing one of the greatest impediments to having a heart-to-heart relationship again.

3. Admit your communication failures. Humility concerning your faults and your communicative abilities, is absolutely essential to opening up a new and deeper fellowship with your spouse. God has explained in many places throughout the Scripture that if you want revival and awakening in your souls, you must humble yourself. God spoke through Isaiah the Prophet and said, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isa. 57:15). Jesus spoke heart-to-heart with anyone who would listen to Him, and He was “gentle and lowly at heart” (Matt. 11:29). Humility is a fundamental key to this entire process.

Go back and look at the list of communication failures that I gave at the beginning of this article and consider if any of these are yours. Do you do any of these behaviors? If you do, turn from these today!

4. Be vulnerable. How does vulnerability affect your ability to communicate with your spouse? It reveals your willingness to be honest and open with your mate. Vulnerability allows you to admit your faults, ask forgiveness, and listen to your wife or husband’s thoughts, and speak heart-to-heart. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5). What is Jesus encouraging in this verse? He wanted His disciple’s to be honest with themselves about their own sins before they ever tried to tell others about their faults. Honesty with yourself is an absolute necessity if you want to become vulnerable with your mate.

King David revealed his own vulnerability throughout the Psalms. What an example for all of us to follow. He could talk about his failures and sins, his fears, his personal struggles, and his hopes (Ps. 51:3; Ps. 34:4; Ps. 119:81; Ps. 42:5). But the question is, will you be vulnerable like this with your mate? If you won’t, then don’t expect your spouse to be vulnerable with you. If you want heart-to-heart communication with your mate, then vulnerability is essential!

5. Vulnerability also requires that you walk in humility. The essence of vulnerability is humility. You know your own struggles and faults; therefore, you are not quick to judge your spouse for his or her faults. You can admit your needs before your mate. You can give and receive encouragement and correction from your spouse. Note how open Paul the Apostle was with the elders of the church of Ephesus. He said to them, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews” (Acts 20:18-19). Can you talk about your struggles with your spouse? If your husband or wife has some helpful encouragement or correction, will you listen to it and not get angry?

Humility also enables a mutual submissiveness with your mate that further enables this openness and vulnerability. Peter clearly commanded this kind of fellowship with others when he said, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). Humility is the key to this submissive attitude that can listen to the other. In addition, without this vulnerability and humility, you will forfeit the great grace God wants to bestow upon your marriage relationship.

6. Choose your words carefully. One of the most critical requirements for heart-to-heart fellowship with your spouse will be the words that you choose to use. As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). The word soft in this verse means tender or gentle words. The word harsh means to speak offensive and hurtful words. So, which takes place with your spouse on a regular basis, tender and gentle words, or offensive and hurtful ones?

Only you have the ability to choose how you will speak with your mate. You are the only one who can change the words you speak. Don’t blame-shift and excuse your own responsibility by saying, “I wouldn’t talk the way I do, if he or she didn’t come off so harsh toward me.” Being honest with yourself is vital in changing this part of your communication. You have the choice as to how you will respond! God has made it clear what He wants, He said, “choose what pleases Me” (Is. 56:4). This is your responsibility!

You can say things several different ways if you choose. When your spouse fails to do what you have asked them to do, you can say, “This is the fifth time I’ve told you that this bothers me. What is your problem? Are you deaf, or are you just dumb?” Or, you can say, “Honey did you forget about this or that issue? This is really important to me.” Then explain the reason why this issue is so important to you. Which response would create a conflict, and which would help you get to a solution? The answer is obvious!

7. Become a better listener. In most marriages one person is more verbal that the other. The person who is more verbal usually dominates the conversations which hinders the less verbal person from taking. Consequently, the less verbal spouse begins to believe their mate does not value their thoughts and opinions. This causes the less verbal person to retreat and not share equally, which destroys the ability to have a heart-to-heart fellowship together. This is why James taught the church, “My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”(James 1:19).

How can you change this imbalance? It is just a choice. The more verbal spouse must learn to use less words, and the less verbal person needs to use more words. For couples that just can’t seem to do it, I recommend using a kitchen timer. Set it for one minute, and say whatever you need to say. Then reset it for your spouse, and allow them to talk without interruption. This ensures equal time. Eventually people learn to discipline themselves to give this equal time to each other. Remember, you can’t have heart-to-heart talks when only one person is allowed to talk.

8. It takes two to tango. The tango is the most intimate dance that two people can enjoy. Each must move and step in a precise manner, or the couple will step all over each other, or fall to the floor. My point is that communication is like the tango. Both partners must participate and work together to enable heart-to-heart fellowship. It can’t be done alone. You need a willing heart, and your spouse also must be willing. You both must deal with your own personal faults, and you both must choose to be vulnerable with one another. Each of you must listen and give equal time to the other to respond.

Therefore, I encourage you to respond to the Lord in your personal life, and allow Him to work within you to change the way you communicate. Focus on getting to the place of heart-to-heart communication with each other. It will take work, but the work will bring the rewarding relationship you desire.

All of the steps I have just outlined in this article must be obeyed by both partners. It can’t be done by just one spouse alone. One of you must choose to start to speak heart-to-heart with the other. Trust that God will soften your spouse to respond. Remember, not even God Himself with all His power and authority, can by Himself fix the relationship with mankind. Ultimately, reconciliation requires men to respond to Him in repentance. This is why Jesus commanded those who heard Him to, “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). So, I am asking you to repent of your side of the problem as it relates to communication, and humble yourself before God and your spouse. You take the step to start the conversation. You won’t regret it!

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** By COVENANT KEEPERS © 2021 / Photo by Ashley Williams

The Spirit of Grace and Power

I want to speak today on grace and power in the Holy Spirit. I want to begin with the first promise in the New Testament. Yesterday I mentioned, that when we come to the Word of God, if we don’t come with an open mind, we may not see new truths. We’ll see the old truths again and again, and perhaps new illustrations to explain the old truths. But if I come to God’s Word thinking that I’ve already understood everything God has to show me, I can miss something new God has for me. And one of the things I decided many years ago was that I’d always let God change my thinking if there was something I had not understood properly, that He would correct it and lead me into that, which was correct; that He’d help me to understand His ways, even if it brought me into conflict with a lot of, what is known as Christianity.

Now you’ve got to be willing to pay that price… if God sees in any of our hearts, the desire to find security in people around us and not in Him alone, He won’t lead us on. If He sees in us a slight desire to please someone……do you know what the Word of God says? “If I seek to please men, I cannot be the servant of Christ.” So I want to invite you, to open your minds, as you hear and say, “Lord, show me, is this your Word or not? Correct my thinking. Lead me, in the path which is right.” And let God convince you. Very often when I speak to people, they say, “Yes, I’m gripped….” And I say, “Hang on. You’re convinced because I said it. And you’ve got some respect for me. Take that before God. You got it second-hand from me. Take it before God and make it first-hand. Let Him convince you from His Word. And then you’ll never shake.”

Okay, the first promise in the New Testament, is found in Matthew 1, in verse 21. The very first promise in the New Testament, where the angel told Joseph that this little baby that is going to be born to Mary, “His name shall be called Jesus,” because, “He will save His people from their sins.” That’s the first promise in the New Testament. “He will save His people from their sins.” And that’s why His name is Jesus. Many people who use the name Jesus don’t know why He is called Jesus. Here the angel explains it. “His name shall be called Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Now we use the word “save” very frequently. And very often, we equate being “saved” with being forgiven. Now that’s not true. And that’s the distinction I want to make here. This is a new covenant. As soon as you come to this, the previous page says, New Testament. It’s a new covenant. This is something new! Which they didn’t have in the Old Testament. They had forgiveness in Old Testament. Psalm 103, a thousand years before Christ was born, David said, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits; One who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who crowns your life with good things….” That’s material blessing. They had forgiveness from sins, healing from sickness, material blessing, in the Old Testament. What they didn’t have, was being Saved from sin. That’s why the New Testament begins, with this as the very first promise. This is the distinctive feature of the New Covenant! David could not say, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, who saves me from sin in my life….” No…He could only say “God forgives me.” What is the difference of me being forgiven and being saved from sin? Now very often when we talk about being saved, we talk about being saved from the wrath of God. That’s in a moment, when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Without any works… “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling…” That’s the only way to be saved from the wrath of God. That is salvation from the penalty of sin.

But now there is another salvation, from the power of sin. And that’s what it’s speaking of here. One day in the future, we’ll be saved from the presence of sin, altogether. That’s future. But right now, in between the time I was born-again, and the time Jesus comes again, I am to be saved from the power of sin. That’s what’s being spoken of here. To use a illustration – If my little five-year old son was going outside the house, and I said, “Son, be careful, they’re digging up the road there, they made a big, huge eight-foot pit there and don’t go anywhere near it.” And like little boys are, they disobey. And he falls into the pit and says, “Daddy!” And I come running and I say, “What’s the matter son?” And he says, “Well Daddy, I’m sorry, I disobeyed you.” He’s there in the pit… And I say, “Okay son, you’re forgiven, goodbye.” I want to ask you a question. Have I forgiven him? Have I saved him? That’s the difference. That’s the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

In the Old Covenant, they were forgiven, but they will still in the pit. They had to keep offering sacrifices everyday. But now with One Sacrifice, it says, it’s all over. We cannot only be forgiven, we can be saved. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because, it’s not He will forgive their sins, but “He will save His people, from their sins.” He will save His people from their dirty thoughts, and lustful thinking, and from their anger and from their bitterness against their wives and from jealousy and strife and every other form of evil. That’s why we call Him, Jesus! That’s the message of the New Covenant! And if you haven’t experienced it, it’s because the god of this world, the devil, has blinded our eyes, to the full gospel.

See, this is an expression that is used a lot in the world today, “Full Gospel”. People say we’re a “Full Gospel” Church. But what’s the full gospel? It’s being saved from our sins. It’s no use saying we’re a “Full Gospel” Church if people living inside there are still defeated by sin. Whatever gift of the Spirit they may have. Jesus came to save us from sin. That is the Full Good News. That I’m not only saved from the wrath of God, but I can be saved from this, wretched, sinful flesh of mine that has kept pulling me down, down, down, for so many years. You know, I have heard of a particular lunatic asylum, where they give a little test to see whether a man has come back to his senses or not. They put him in a room with a tap open, a faucet open, and the water flowing, and they give him a bucket and a mop to dry the floor. And if he tries to dry the floor without first closing the tap, they know he still needs to stay there a little longer. It’ll never end! He’ll be mopping the floor all his life! But you know, that’s what Christians do with the Blood of Jesus Christ. It never ends! We’re mopping, and mopping , and mopping….. well, that’s at least good news that we’ve got a mop and a bucket, but I want to say, the gospel is even better to use than that. God can do something about that “tap”. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be “Good News”! If all that God could say to me was, “Well, you’re going to be forgiven, but you’re going to be defeated by the same old lusts, all your life.” I’d say, “Well, thank you Lord, but I’d hoped it would be better than that.” And it is better than that. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because He shall save His people from their sins.” The very first promise, as soon as you turn, to the pages of the New Testament. But we missed it! We thought it was all genealogy. “Somebody begat so and so, and somebody begat so and so…..” And you didn’t come to this verse. And you turned over, and rushed through. But this is the very first promise in the New Testament. Salvation from sin.

      I want to turn to Hebrews in chapter 4, we read verse 15 and 16; “We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,…” In other words, to put it in a positive way, “We have a High Priest, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Why? “…because He was tempted in all points, as we are, yet without sin.” Now I’m sure that God can sympathize with us, even without having become a man. Because He’s God. But, you know, we’d always feel, “Well you don’t really understand what I’m going through.” You know it’s like a really wealthy man, goes to a slum and says, “Well, I really feel sorry for you folks, and here’s a little money.” They’ll never feel that he understands what they’re going through. “He lives in his palace up there; he’s a multi-millionaire…what does he know about living in the slums?” He may be a sincere person. Very affectionate, very compassionate. But those people in the slums will never feel that he understands them. And that’s why God became a man. He came into this slum. That’s the Good News. He loved us so much. That He came into this filthy slum, and lived here, and….. Wonder of Wonders; “He was tempted in all points,” as you and I are. I remember the first time my eyes were open to this truth. And interestingly enough, it was about fifteen years after I was born again. You know, Jesus once spoke about the ladder that Jacob saw. Jacob once had a dream where he saw a ladder going up to Heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending upon that ladder, and in John chapter 1 when Jesus spoke to Nathaniel, He said that that ladder was Himself. He said, “I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” And I always thought that that ladder, which came all the way from Heaven, stopped a little short, of down at my level. I thought, “Jesus couldn’t possibly have come right down to my level, to be like me…” And the day my eyes were open to that glorious truth, that, like it says in Hebrews 2:17, “He had to be made like His brothers, in all things.” He became like me. I wept tears of joy. I said, “Lord, I never knew you loved me so much. I never knew, that you loved me, to become exactly like me, to lift me from the pit in which I was. That last rung of the ladder came all the way down to earth. It didn’t stop, some ten feet above me. Now many people can’t think of that; that Jesus could become just like me. That He could be tempted just like me. They feel it robs Him of some of His glory. It’s not true. I live in a country that’s had a lot of Godly missionaries that have come from Western countries, including the United States, and I praise God for Godly men and women who’ve come there, and who’ve sacrificed and suffered for people in my country. And I’ve said to people in our land, I said, “Supposing a missionary from the United States where they live in such great comfort, comes to our land and lives in a five-star hotel, and visits the slum everyday, and preaches the gospel…well, that still would be a sacrifice. But think of another missionary who comes from a similar wealthy background and comes and lives in that slum. Whom would you admire more? Would you despise this person because he lived in the slum? No.” The glory of Jesus became greater, when I saw that He became just like me. And that He was tempted like me, on every single point…..I wouldn’t believe it, if it were not written in scripture, and He didn’t sin. Now I don’t want to try and analyze that. I just want to find the comfort I get from that. That when I’m tempted, I could now say, “Lord Jesus, sometime in your walk in Nazareth, in those thirty years you were tempted just like I am being tempted right now. Give me the grace to react and resist this temptation the way you did, when you walked in Nazareth.” You know in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant/New Covenant differences, the many differences, one of them is this: The Old Covenant was full of commandments, “Thou shalt….Thou shalt not….. Thou shalt…. Thou shalt not….” And so on. That was good. But in the New Covenant, God gave us an example, who said, “Follow Me..” Now supposing, none of you knew how to swim. And here I wanted to teach you how to swim, and there are two ways to teach you. One is to draw diagrams on the blackboard – how to move your hands and legs, and then say, “Okay fellows, go jump in the river now and remember what you saw on the blackboard……” That was the Old Covenant. Absolutely accurate – those diagrams were perfect! How to move our hands and how breathe in and out and everything….Wouldn’t it be better, the second method, where I say, “Come along with me to the river,” and I jump in and say, “Follow me”. That’s the New Covenant. That’s why Hebrews says the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Jesus never gave us a lot of commandments like Moses, He said, “Follow Me…I’ve been tempted like you…” There’s not a single temptation any of us can ever face, which He hasn’t faced, and He overcame; He never sinned! Now, we’ve got to read scripture carefully – It doesn’t say He faced all the circumstances we face; no…. He didn’t have a drunken father….He didn’t have a nagging wife….He didn’t have difficult children…. He didn’t face the temptations to impatience we face, with other drivers on the road. It’s the same in India by the way – it’s actually worse. We have cows and dogs and everyone on the road – and we’ve got a lot more patience then you all over here. He didn’t face our circumstances. The Bible doesn’t say; it’s not necessary. But the temptations that come in those circumstances – He faced them. You don’t have to face the same circumstances. The temptation to be irritated, the temptation to be impatient, the temptation to be angry; He faced them all, and He overcame. And He says, “Follow Me…..Look at my example”. And I want to say , in my personal testimony, in the last twenty-five years, since I saw this truth; And I’m sorry that it took me fifteen years after I was born again to see it; is when I am tempted, I say, “Lord, you were tempted like this, exactly like this…..” Maybe a temptation to compromise, maybe a temptation to please some man; it may be a temptation to lust, it may be a temptation to get angry, it may be a temptation to anything…..I go to Hebrews 4, “You were tempted like me and you didn’t sin. I want to do the same thing. I want to see your footsteps. And I want to plant my feet in your footsteps the way you walked in Nazareth.” And I want to tell you, it works. 

      Now I want to go to the next verse, Hebrews 4, verse 16, because it goes on from there. He says, “Therefore,” And like someone said, whenever you see a therefore in scripture, see what it is there for. What’s a therefore? Why does it say therefore? Because it’s connected to the previous verse. “Therefore, let us, (because we have a high priest, who can sympathize with us,)” who has walked this way, who was tempted like us, who became like us in everything, and who understands the struggle, who understands the need to resist sin unto blood, like it says in Hebrews 12:3, who faced such a great contradiction of sinners against Himself, Hebrews 12:3, 4. Let’s look unto Him and run this race. “Let us therefore draw near with great boldness, to the Throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy, and that we may find grace.” We need two things: Mercy and Grace. 

      Mercy is an Old Covenant word. You don’t find grace in the Old Covenant. Even in the one or two places where it says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” What it means is he found favor. It’s not speaking about that grace which only came through Jesus Christ, according to John 1:17. There was no grace in the Old Testament. There are people who say grace means the “undeserved favor of God”. Now I beg to disagree with that definition, because everyone in the Old Testament got the undeserved favor of God. Nobody gets favor that they deserve. Every human being, right from Abel’s time, got undeserved favor. Grace means more than that. Mercy, that’s an Old Covenant word, it refers to forgiveness. Jesus never needed mercy. We need mercy. Because we’ve all sinned. The best of us have sinned, and we will probably sin until Jesus comes again, in one way or another – we could slip up anytime. We don’t have to, but we might and we often do. We need mercy; that’s the first thing we need when we come to God – mercy – that deals with our past. But we now need something that deals with our future, and that’s grace. Now for many years, I never knew the difference between mercy and grace; I thought these were just interchangeable words. I’ve discovered, they’re not interchangeable words. Mercy is Old Covenant and grace is New Covenant. We have mercy and grace in the New Covenant. And so, mercy, first of all, to blot out my past, so that the guilt of my past doesn’t hang over my head, mercy that justifies me , and justification is another word, which is more than forgiveness! I never understood the meaning of that for a long time. To be forgiven, that was wonderful, but to be justified…..And this is how the Lord showed that to me. It’s like I’m standing in a court, accused of thousands of wrongs, and crimes that I’ve committed, and the judge listens to all that the prosecutor has to say against me – the Law of God is the prosecutor. And I’m guilty of all of them. And the judge has mercy on me and says, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” I walk out, happy. But as I walk out, and as I see the crowd outside the courthouse, I walk out happy, but with my head hanging down, because I’m a criminal. I’m a murderer, an adulterer, a thief. That’s forgiveness, I’m forgiven, I’m free. I don’t have to go to jail. Now, consider another scenario. Here I am, standing before the judge, and he examines carefully, all the charges, he examines all the witnesses, and says, “These are all false charges! There’s nothing wrong with this person, he never did any of these things! He can go free.” This time I walk out of the court hall with my head lifted up. That’s the meaning of justification. It’s unbelievable! That God Almighty, against whom I’ve committed so many sins, could not only forgive me, but declare me righteous. Look upon me as though I’ve never sinned in all my life. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true! And if you believe it, you will say, “My glory and the lifter of my head!” That’s what God is! He lifts up our head. There’s no need for a single sinner forgiven by Jesus to walk with his head hanging down, no. We’re not only forgiven, we’re justified. And never forget that, brother and sister. Today God delights over us with shouts of joy! We’re forgiven, justified. But there’s more….. what about this flesh of mine? That’s always dragging me down, and down, and down. Is there an answer for that? There certainly is. God offers us grace. I want to go back for a moment to Matthew’s gospel again. We looked at the first promise in the New Testament. Do you know what the second promise in the New Testament is? That’s also interesting. The first promise is “He will save His people from their sins.” The second, Matthew 3:11, ” He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Do you know that the New Testament begins with two promises? The very first two promises of the New Covenant – don’t miss either of them. 1. “He will save His people from their sins.” And 2. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” And the devil has made sure he’s got people scared of both. If somebody talks about being saved from sin, “Oh – holiness, this is dangerous teaching, perfection”. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, “Oh – those are those fanatics who go do crazy things”. And what’s the result? He’s killed two birds with one stone. He’s got some people off on a fanatic extreme, and he’s got other people reacting to that, and not wanting this truth at all. I remember what God said to me once concerning different doctrines. What the Lord said to me was, “Don’t let your understanding of a doctrine, ever be a reaction to the extremes you see in certain Christians.” Get your understanding from God’s Word. Forget the extremes and the fanaticism that you see in others. Because I got turned off from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, because I saw a lot of fanaticism. I’m not a Pentecostal, I’m not a Charismatic, I never have been, I’ve never belonged to those churches. I always wanted to be a Christian, experiencing everything the New Testament offers. I remember once, when I was seeking God for this, I said, “Lord, I don’t want what I see around here. I want what Peter, James and John got on the day of Pentecost. I want that.” That’s the second promise of the New Testament. It’s for me. Let a million people go to the fanatic extremes; I’m not bothered! I get what God’s Word promises me, what Peter, James and John got on the Day of Pentecost, which transformed their lives and I said, “I want that. I want power.” And do you know the Holy Spirit is called a Spirit of Grace, in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 29, He’s called a Spirit of Grace. And that is, grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit. What is baptism? Baptism is immersion, to be immersed in the Spirit of Grace. Why should anyone be afraid of that? That’s the very thing we need! I need an immersion! A drenching of the Spirit of Grace! There are two ways we can be immersed: One is, you go into a river, and the other is, a flood of water, falling down from Heaven. If I stand under a river flowing down, I can be drenched. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is….. The River of God, flows down from Heaven and I stand under it, and I get drenched, and it’s grace, all the way. Grace, Grace, Grace. And grace is not “Undeserved favor”. Grace is power . Now I want to show you that from scripture. I don’t want you to ever believe what I say if I cannot show it to you from scripture! 2 Corinthians , chapter 12. Paul says about a time in his life when God allowed him to suffer a thorn in the flesh. And he asked the Lord to take it away from him, and the Lord said to him, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is perfected in weakness.” What is my grace? It’s my power. It’s the same thing. “My grace is enough for you because my grace, or in other words, my power, is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul understood that. He says, “Well, then I’m okay. I’m alright because the power of Christ is going to rest on me.” That’s what grace is. And when God says , “My grace is sufficient for you,” what it means is, “My grace is sufficient to handle anything that you’ll ever face in your life.” If I send my son to the shop to buy something worth five dollars, I give him five dollars. But If I send him to the shop to buy something worth a hundred dollars, he can’t buy it with five dollars, he needs a hundred dollars. So I give him a hundred. That’s what it means when it says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Exactly according to what your need is. Is the pressure very great? Grace is going to be very great. Is it a hundred dollars you need? You’ll get that. My grace is sufficient for you. I praise God for this, that there will never be a situation, I ever face in life, where the Lord won’t give me enough to pay the bill. Praise the Lord for this! This is the Good News! There is no temptation that’s going to be too strong for me. There’s no giant in Canaan’s land, that’s not going to come under my feet. Not one. Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under law, but are under grace! You’re not under the Old Covenant, you’re under the New Covenant. You’re not just one receiving mercy, but you’re receiving grace. I want to show you another verse. It’s not so well known, unfortunately, as , “My grace is sufficient for you.” “My grace is sufficient for you” has been popularized throughout the world. It’s a very famous verse on grace. But I’ve discovered another verse, which is a much fuller statement on grace, and I think it’s the most wonderful statement on grace in the whole Bible. I don’t know how many of you have noticed it, in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says here that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always, having all sufficiency, in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Here are seven times, you get a picture of totality, do you notice that? All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, everything, abundance, every good deed. I’ve never seen a verse like this in the whole Bible. Seven times! All grace, is going to abound to you! Always, not just sufficiency, but all-sufficiency. Not just in most things, in every thing. And, for every good deed, He’s going to give me two-hundred dollars, when I need only a hundred. An abundance! This is the Gospel! That’s why a Christian is to be an over comer, in every situation. 

You know, how Ephesians 6 describes the Christian? Beautiful! Ephesians 6:13, it says, “Having overcome everything, you’ll be able to resist in the evil day, having overcome everything, to stand firm.” No matter what the situation – sister, are all your six children sick at the same time? “God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that always , having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” for all those six children, and still be able to greet your husband with a happy face when he comes home from work. That’s grace. Is it possible? No? Well, according to your faith, be it unto you. But if you say, “YES!” According to your faith, be it unto you. The answer is the same. I think of that story, where two blind men went to Jesus, and Jesus asked them, you know the story, in Matthew chapter 9, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, and they said, “We want our eyes to be open.” And then he asked them a question, “Do you believe, that I am able to do this for you?” He didn’t ask them, “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could see a little bit?” That’s not what He asked them. “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could overcome that sin?” That’s not what He’s asking! That’s like asking a blind man, “Can you just try, try opening one eye just a little bit, see if you can see a little?” That’s not the gospel. Do you believe that Jesus said that, “I am able to do this for you.” It’s got nothing to do with your ability. It’s got to do with whether you are willing to let Jesus do a work in your life or not. And I’ve thought, one blind man goes first into the room and he says, “Well, Lord, I mean, I’ll be happy if you’ll open just one eye. That will be enough for me, I could see the road and I could walk around and I believe that you can open one eye.” And the Lord says to him, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And he goes out with one eye open, and he’s so happy! Now the other blind man goes in, and the Lord asks him, “Do you believe I can do this for you?” He says, “Sure! I want both eyes open!” And He says, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And He goes out with two eyes open. Now you have these two blind men. And now this first man says, “Hey, this is heresy! Jesus opens only one eye…..how in the world did you get two eyes open?” Does Jesus give forgiveness and victory? No! Only one eye. And he starts the One Eye Denomination. And he gets a whole lot of people who have faith that Jesus can open one eye, in that church. And here’s this other one, it’s usually smaller, of a few people, who’ve got both eyes open, and they are dubbed as heretics and false teachers, because they preach that Jesus opens two eyes. This is what’s happened for two thousand years.

Now I want to say to you, brothers and sisters, you can have your choice – which one you want to join. According to your faith; not according to Jesus’ ability, No….. If it were according to Jesus’ ability, we’d all have both eyes open! But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. For years, I belonged to the One Eye Denomination; after I was born-again, I was on my way to heaven, my sins were all forgiven. But that was about all. I had the mop, I had the bucket, and the tap was always open. Till God had mercy on me.

You know, I’ve discovered one thing; you don’t understand scripture, you don’t get new revelations on scripture by study. You get new revelation of Jesus, when you have a new need in your life! It’s not by sitting and studying Greek, and Hebrew……I don’t know Greek and Hebrew, but I have needs in my life. And I said, “Lord, is there an answer to this need in my life?” And without any knowledge in Greek and Hebrew, He showed me that, “Sin need not have dominion over me.” And I want to say to you, my brothers and sisters, I don’t care what sin it is in your life; Jesus can deliver you from it. It doesn’t matter which it is. I just told you yesterday , how as a young man I struggled with lustful thoughts, and nobody ever told me what I could do about that, and as I told you yesterday, I thought everybody preaching up there had no problems with lustful thoughts, and I thought it was only me. That’s what I thought! I thought, “Oh my, why me? Why am I always struggling with these thoughts? Is it because I’m a maniac?” It’s because I didn’t know the way. I was forgiven. The tap was open, and I was mopping, mopping, mopping, mopping…….’til I found something better. That Jesus could not only forgive me, He could deliver me from the power of sin. When I was too weak to deliver myself. Through the Holy Spirit! And I thought of this, you know, this verse came to me at that time; God delivers only people who seek for victory like this; I want you to read this verse, in Exodus, Chapter 2, in verse 23, in the middle of that verse, it says, “The sons of Israel sighed, because of their , and they cried out. And their cry for help, because of their , rose up to God.” I want to ask you, my brothers and sisters, how many of you have sighed, because you were defeated by sin? Wept at night and said, “Oh Lord……there I lost my temper again. Lord! There I lusted with my eyes again.” Who sighed! There are a lot people who don’t sigh! No wonder they don’t get delivered! The children of Israel sighed. You know sighing is more than crying; it’s crying and saying, “Oh……when will I ever be free from this ?” “And their cry for help, rose up to God”. And it rises up, even today. And it says, “And God heard their groaning,” and He hears the groaning even today. Here and there…..not among many of his people. Most believers are content in their defeated position. But here and there He hears some……crying out for an immersion, a baptism in the Holy Spirit of Grace and Power. Verse 24, “And God remembered His covenant, in that day with Abraham,” and today, through Jesus. Through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant. God remembers that. “And He saw the Sons of Israel, and He took notice of them, and He delivered them.” And He’s the same today. But He waits……for us to sigh, and cry.

Now I want to turn back to Hebrews, in chapter 4, where we saw, “that we may receive mercy,” That’s what He does for us, first of all, and then, “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need.” And our time of need is, in the context of verse 15, when we are tempted! My need is not for more money, to get a better car, or better house….. These are the stupid things being preached, in Christendom today, unfortunately. My need is to be delivered from this wretched nature I inherited from Adam, from sin. And when I’m delivered from that, all the other things will fall into their proper place. So, “Help in time of need,” is when I’m tempted! Now, imagine, a mountain climber. Someone, who feels he’s an expert at climbing mountains, and at one particular place, he slips, and he’s hanging on by his fingers, over the cliff….but he’s too proud to ask for help, because, “I’m an expert.” And he falls to the bottom. Then he has to ask for help, and the ambulance comes along and picks him up. That’s forgiveness of sins. We fall, we say, “Oh Lord, please forgive me.” And the ambulance is always there, Mercy. Takes me, fixes me up, and I go mountain climbing again. And again, I �m hanging by my fingers one day, I’m still too proud to ask for help, and I fall again. And the ambulance comes. And this is the cycle. That so many Christians live in – always the ambulance. Thank God for the ambulance. Isn’t it good news that there’s an ambulance when you’ve fallen? Mercy is available, forgiveness…… But think, if this person, the next time he’s about to fall, is a little humbler. And says, “I’m not such an expert.” Please, help me now. Then he will find grace, lifting him up in his time of need, and making him stand. Now which is his time of need? I agree, his time of need is there when he’s fallen and broken his bones. But there was another time of need prior to that. Before he fell. Now what I want to ask you, brothers and sisters, is when do you want God to help you, after you’ve fallen, or before? That’s the question. When is our real time of need. When are we going to break out of the cycle of always falling and getting the ambulance and falling and getting the ambulance. Are you sighing? Is there a sigh because, “Lord, I’m sick and tired of this. I want a better life.” There is a better life. You know, not everyone can come to Jesus. Jesus said, “come to me, all those who are weary and heavy laden.” Those who are sick and tired of their defeated lives, “come to me…..” In another place He said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me.” That means, if anyone’s thirsty for a better life than he already has….If anyone acknowledges that there is a dryness in his life, a deadness in his life, and he’s thirsty, let him come to me……and drink! There’s plenty of water there. And not only to satisfy you, it can flow out from you in rivers of living water to bless other people. This He spoke about the Holy Spirit. But you’ve got to thirst….. That means you’ve got to have a longing for something more than you have right now, and it’s got nothing to do with how many years you’ve been a believer. You may have been born again yesterday, and you can have a thirst and God can fill you with His Holy Spirit. But if you don’t have a thirst, even after twenty-five years, you’ll just be in the same old condition. You’ll be going around with the mop and the bucket, �til Jesus comes. But all I’m saying is, there’s a better way. I’m not forcing you, I’m just saying, “Come up higher, brother.” You’re invited, it’s free, but it’s up to you. If you’re satisfied down at those low levels, you can stay there. But Jesus invites you higher. So that’s our time of need. When we are about to slip and fall, and He can keep us. (Editor’s note, see Jude verse 24) Now if you don’t believe this, I can give you a little homework. The next time, you are tempted, think of the area where you are falling most of the time, where the ambulance has had to come and pick you up, and what particular area…. You know how it speaks about in Hebrews 12, about “the sin, that so easily besets us.” And that may be different in different ones. Okay, what’s the one in your case, is it anger? Is it sexually, lustful thoughts? Whatever it is, think of it now. The next time, that could be tonight, it could be tomorrow morning, you won’t have to wait long for that, for “the sin that so easily besets us.” But the next time you find yourself tempted in that area, when you’re about to fall, try this…. Come boldly to the Throne of Grace, humble yourself, you’re not such an expert mountain climber, just humble yourself and say, ” Well, Lord, I’m just a failure. Now Lord, show me that this really works! Give me grace! “Let’s come boldly to the Throne of Grace, to receive mercy for my past failures,” Okay, we’ve got that, but to find grace now, to help me in this particular moment, in my time of need.” And you know what’ll happen? After a few moments you’ll find, “Hey, I didn’t lose my temper! Hey, I could resist that evil though!” This is the Gospel. It’s a message of deliverance. Jesus came to set the captives free! He came to open prison doors. He came that we might walk as free people, no longer as slaves to sin. Never again in our life. And that’s why he gives us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Grace! People ask me this question, “What is the mark of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? What’s the sign, of being filled with the Spirit?” I say the same thing that Jesus said, I can’t say it better than Him; Acts 1:8, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you shall receive power….” Power! What’s the evidence? Nothing else! That is the evidence. If you don’t have that, whatever else you’ve got, you’ve missed it. You need power. Power, to be a witness for me, Jesus said. Not just to bear witness. I hope you know the difference between being a witness and bearing witness. Bearing a witness is included in being a witness, but being a witness is more than bearing witness. “You shall receive power, and you shall be….”Not you shall “do”, “you shall be.” There’s a lot of emphasis in the Christian world today on “doing.” “What are you doing for the Lord, brother?” I’m being; and from being, I’m doing. You can “do” without “being”. But I want to “Be” first and then “do”. “You shall be witnesses, unto me, in every part of the earth.” America, India, everywhere…..God needs people who are witnesses and I need power for that! I need power, I need grace, this grace which is power. This which comes through the immersion in the Holy Spirit. Praise God for such a wonderful Gospel! And that can take care of all my needs. You remember that Old Testament story? I think it’s in 2 Kings, chapter 6, where this widow came to Elisha and said, “The creditor has come. I’m in debt and the creditor has come to take my sons away captive” I don’t have time to turn to it, you can read it sometime. And Elisha asked her a question, “What do you have in your house?” And she says, “Your servant has nothing, except, a vessel of oil.” It’s like saying, “We have nothing, except the Holy Spirit.” And Elisha said, “What do you mean nothing? That’s the answer to all your debt! That’s the answer to all your problems! Go and get as many vessels as you can and keep pouring.” And it says, she got vessels from all around her neighbors, and she kept pouring and it never finished. That’s a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They couldn’t experience it in the Old Covenant. We heard about our debt the other day; our debt of love. Every person we meet, we’ve got to recognize, “I owe this man something. I owe him something.” Even if it’s a stranger. I owe him something. Perhaps, just a smile, okay? But I’ve got to clear a debt. And how do I clear this debt? That was exactly the question this widow asked Elisha! How can I clear this debt, I’m in terrific debt! Do you recognize that you’re in debt? Most of us don’t….most of us don’t recognize that God, because He loved us so much, has permanently placed us in debt, to every single human being we meet on the face of this earth. That was the crime of the Levite and the Priest, when they saw that man laying on the ground and didn’t do anything to help. That’s the answer. And we say, we’ve got nothing. You think you’re going to clear the debt by going to one more meeting? Listening to one more message? Reading another book? No brother, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The answer is there. Ask God to fill your heart with the Holy Spirit. And like it says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” That’s the answer. And God wants to give that to every single one of us. That’s the second promise in the New Testament! “He will save His people from their sins, He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and with Fire.” But, like everything else, we’ve got to acknowledge our need. I couldn’t get forgiveness of sins, �til I confessed I was a sinner. Why is it the Pharisees couldn’t get forgiveness of sins? Because they pretended that they were not sinners. And Jesus said, “Well then I didn’t come for you, you fellows are healthy. I came for these poor, sick people.” I’ll apply the same logic of the same steps, to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus comes offering, what is the first thing? Forgiveness of sins. And here are a bunch of people who say, “We’re okay.” The Lord says, ” Okay, I didn’t come for you.” Here are some people who say, “Lord, we really need this, we’re sinners.” Okay, they get it, forgiveness of sins. And now He comes in the fullness of the Spirit, and here are a whole bunch of Christians who say, “Ah, we got it, we got it when we were saved,” and they were convinced doctrinally about something or the other. The Lord says, “Fine, you’re okay, I’ll leave you alone.” But here are these other, thirsty, hungry Christians, who say, “LORD, I DON’T CARE WHAT DOCTRINE, I’M DRY! I’M DEAD! I DON’T NEED A DOCTRINE, I NEED POWER! They get it! You know why you haven’t got it so far? Because someone convinced you about a doctrine. I know there’s a lot of doctrinal disputing about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t get into this at all. I remember when I was born-again, and I was in a brethren assembly where they didn’t preach about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They told me I got everything when I got converted. But I said, “Lord, I don’t know what it is, but I certainly, to be honest, I can’t say that Rivers of Living Water are flowing out from me.” No! My experience is more like a hand-pump. You know, in India, we have some hand-pumps. You pump and pump and pump and pump and a few trickles of water come out. And then when you’ve recovered a little bit, you pump some more, you pump some more and a few trickles come out. Yeah, a little bit comes out. A little bit was coming out of my life, but it was certainly not a river, certainly not many rivers. And Jesus said, “He who believes from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” I just had to be honest. I said, “Lord that is not true in my life.” And I don’t want anyone to convince me doctrinally about something, which is going to make me miss the most important thing in the Christian life, and discover at the judgment seat of Christ, that I missed something God had for me. I don’t want that tragedy. “So I seek you Lord, I don’t care about terminology, call it what you like, it doesn’t matter to me, I want Rivers of Living Water flowing out of my life.” That’s how I began to seek God. And I want to say, God met with me. He changed my life. He changed my ministry. My ministry was such a strain before that. Oooh, a struggle, struggle, struggle. A few drops would come out. I said, “Lord, that’s not how it’s meant to be, that’s not how Jesus ministered. That’s not how the apostles ministered. I want my ministry to be Rivers of Living Water! Flowing in many directions!” Now if you knew what I was, when I was converted, a shy, fearful, timid, introverted, reserved type of person, who wouldn’t like to stand anywhere, I know God changed me. And I believe that He can change anyone. But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. If you continue to believe that Jesus opens only one eye, that’s all you’ll have til the end of your life. “According to your faith, be it unto you.” I’m not asking you to have faith for better cars and better houses and things God has not promised. I’d like to have hair on my head, but I don’t try to trust God for that. I’ll get it one day when Jesus comes again. But there are other things. You know, all the books on faith you’ll find on Christian bookshelves, are the type of books which tell you how you can get hair on your head, and new teeth, where your teeth have fallen off, better cars and better houses. I tell l you, I’m not interested. What’s the use of getting a better house, or a better car if I’m defeated by anger in my life? What’s the use of that? What’s the use, of even speaking in other tongues, if I lose my temper in my mother tongue. That’s no use. You mean, the Holy Spirit can only control other tongues and He cannot control the mother tongue? Well, that must be another spirit. I say if the Holy Spirit cannot control my mother tongue, I don’t want other tongues! Let me deal with my mother tongue first. And let Him teach me how to have the law of kindness in my mouth, when I speak to my wife. If that isn’t there.. I got sick and tired of these believers who would praise God in other tongues on Sunday morning and shout at their wives in their mother tongue Sunday afternoon. This is not the Holy Spirit! And I said, “Lord, I want that tongue of fire that was on top of those believers, that made the Holy Spirit control my speech, twenty-four hours a day. Control my tongue. That is what we need! Victory over sin! Along with other gifts God wants to give us! I believe that the devil has done a tremendous work in confusing people in this area, because he knows this is a very vital area in the Christian life. He’s made a lot of people go to one extreme, and he’s made a whole lot of other people fall over the cliff on the other side, going to the other extreme. And it doesn’t matter to the devil which side of the cliff you fall over, so long as you reach the bottom.

      Dear brother and sister, let’s shame the devil, and let’s say, “Lord, I’m going to seek you for what you’ve promised; I’m not going to seek you for things which are not promised in the Word, which are not going to help me in eternity, and which are not going to help me to be a more effective witness for you here on earth! But I do want to trust you, for that which I need to make me a more effective witness for you, here on this earth.” I want you to turn to Luke, chapter 11, “The disciples once came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And do you know the answer to that? Now you ask most questions, what answer did Jesus give when they asked Him this question – “teach us to pray…” They only say the Lord’s prayer. Well, they asked Him to teach them to pray, and He said, “When you pray, say verse two, Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, and so on……” But did it stop with that? No! He went on and that’s what I want to show you today. He taught them to pray like that and then He said, He’s still answering the same question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He told them what to pray for, and He says, in verse 5, “Supposing one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight, and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has come, and I’ve got nothing to set before him”, and from inside he answers and said, “Don’t bother me, the door is shut, my children are in bed and I can’t get up.” “I tell you, even though he’ll not get up, and give him anything because he’s a friend, yet because of his persistence, He’s still answering that question, “Teach us how to pray,” “With persistence He will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask like this, and it will be given you. Seek, like this man sought, and you will find. Knock, like this man knocked, and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks like this, receives, and he who seeks like this, finds. And he who knocks like this, it’ll be opened. Because supposing, one of you fathers, your son asks for fish, will he give him a snake? No, never. If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? And now we come to the final point, “How much more, will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” If you don’t ask….. How should we ask? Like this! That’s the point, it’s all the answer to that first question, “Lord, teach us to pray…” What do you need to pray for? This is what we need to pray for. What is the meaning of this man going to his neighbor, saying, “Give me three loaves….” Jesus said, “Ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, for the power of the Holy Spirit, for grace, ask.” And how shall I ask? Supposing I don’t get it immediately? Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. “Lord, I’m not going to give up till you give me power.” There’s one more thing, which is very, very important, which I want to mention here. See here, He’s primarily speaking about our ministry. And He’s talking about somebody whose come to us in need. I told you about clearing the debt. Here is a man who has come to me in need, and I’m surrounded by people with need, in this world. And when I see their need, I can do one of two things. You know when this fellow came, this chap comes to my house at night, just imagine I’m the person here; he comes to my house at night and I ask him, “Well, have you eaten?” He says, “No, I’m hungry.” “Well, I’m sorry brother, refrigerator is empty right now, we already had our meal. Let’s just praise the Lord, and go to bed, and we’ll see how it is in the morning.” That’s not what he did. He felt, “He’s hungry. I must meet his need. I must do something about it!” That’s where it begins, that’s where a real seeking after God for the power of the Holy Spirit begins, when I see the need of another person, and I’m trying to help him, and I don’t have it within me, what it takes to help. Then what do I do? I can ignore and say, well I can’t help everybody in the world, I’m okay myself. I’ve eaten my meal and I’m alright. That’s how most Christians live. That’s why they never experience the genuine power of the Holy Spirit. And a lot of people who are so called, “seeking” for the power of the Holy Spirit today, you know what they’re seeking for? They’re not seeking for power to help others, oh, no! They’re seeking, because someone got up and gave a testimony, that they got tickled down their spine when the Spirit came upon them, or they got thrown into some corner, or they began to mutter something…..They’re seeking for some experience like that other testimony they heard in that meeting. They’re seeking for something for themselves; they’ve not got one single thought about somebody else in need! Whereas, Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you’ll be my witnesses to all those needy people, in the outermost parts of the earth!” And if people had sought God with this parable in mind, for the power of the Holy Spirit, like He said, they’d have gotten the genuine experience, and they’d have gotten the genuine Power. And it would have made the church like an army, terrible with banners; like it says in the Song of Solomon. But it isn’t. Why is the church so weak? You know, when we sing that song, “Hold the fort for I am coming…..” I tell you, I have little bit of a reservation about that. It’s a picture of a beleaguered church, struggling and the devil somehow – “Oh Lord, please come, we’re about to be defeated!” That’s not it. That �s not the church, an army, terrible with banners….. There is no “Hold the Fort, for I am coming,” anywhere in the New Testament. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell,” See, we’re attacking the gates of Hell! They’re the fellows that are going to cry out for help! “The gates of Hell, will not prevail against this church!” Don’t reverse it and say, that “The gates of the church will somehow survive, when the forces of Hell are attacking it!” I am not holding any fort. We go full steam against the devil with the promises, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church! The church is triumphant. Satan will not be able to make inroads into our church and destroy people. He will not be able to get into that family and destroy those children. Because we’re going to stand and deliver that family, from the power of the devil! That’s what we’re here for. That’s what God’s servants are here for. We’re not here just to preach messages. Anybody can preach a message….. Just go read some books, listen to some messages and you’ve got material to preach for next Sunday. That’s not a servant of God. A servant of God is called to do what Jesus did; it says, “He went about doing good and delivering people who were oppressed by the devil.” And we are surrounded by them. There are needy people in our churches whose families are suffering, the devil has got inroads into those families. Are the gates of Hell going to triumph or not? No! The church must go against them! We’ve got to bind the Strongman, and spoil his goods! Deliver people who are under the captivity of Satan. For that, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I give you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall be able to stand before you. Over serpents, scorpions, over all the power of the enemy.” This is how we should be, brothers and sisters! But, here we are, praying, “Heal my backache, and I want a better car, and I want a better house,” and all these stupid things that believers are praying. I say, forget whether my backache is healed or not, I’m going to chase the devil out of that home. 

      I believe we need to have our vision lifted. We need to see what the Lord is calling us to in these Last Days. I want to encourage you my brothers and sisters, forget doctrinal differences. Forget terminology – call it what you like – But ask God to set you on fire! And if you don’t like the term, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, okay, drop it. Ask God for Rivers of Living Water, to flow out from you! Ask God to set you on fire! Is there anything wrong with that? Anything doctrinally wrong with that? And if you don’t like tongues, drop it, that’s not the most important thing. Ask God to set you so much on fire, that you’ll be able to deliver people who are oppressed by the devil around you. That’s the most important thing. And if He gives you other gifts, take them, but don’t go seeking after them. Seek for that power which will help you to deliver other people around you who are in need. I know, for thirty-five years, consistently, I have prayed one prayer. I have earnestly coveted to prophesy. Because the Bible says so. Earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit. Why have I coveted to prophesy? There’s hardly a meeting, that I come to, where I don’t see God before, and say , “Oh God, I want to prophesy. I want to give a word, that will go straight to the hearts of people. And I don’t have it within me. I don’t have the loaves. My refrigerator is empty. There are people in need. I come to you, Lord, give me that, which I can give to them.” And then it becomes easy. You remember the way the five thousand were fed? The disciples didn’t have to produce the loaves, Praise the Lord. I always say, I’m only in the distribution business, I’m not in the production business. I can’t produce! I can’t produce a message! But I can distribute if the Lord gives it to me. And when my basket is empty, I just go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, there are a few more people hungry out there, you got some more?” “PLENTY. PLENTY FOR EVERYONE!” It’s distribution we’re called to, not production. Don’t waste your time, cramming your head, trying to produce something. And you fill your head with knowledge, that’s what happens in a lot of pulpits. People are busy preparing on Saturday, for what they’re going to give on Sunday. It’s like getting a lot of things in and vomiting it all out on Sunday. That’s not what people need. They need food. And you cannot produce it. That’s the first thing you’ve got to recognize. In my younger days, I thought I could produce it. Gave out, what I would call vomit. What I had taken in, digested and vomited out. But I found a better way; I began to seek God, like this man here, for prophesy, for words, that would exhort, edify, comfort, build up, God’s people. And I want to encourage you to seek God a little more. I’m not saying intellectual preparation is wrong, but all I’m saying is spiritual preparation is much more important. That’s all I’m saying. You’ve got to walk with a clear conscience before God. You’ve got to walk in humility, and God gives his grace on ly to the humble. Keep your face in the dust before God and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Help me to deliver people who are in need.” I believe our churches are full of such people. They need help. They need to be delivered. And we need to give that which will set them free. I want to encourage you to seek God, to set you on fire. There is no respecter of persons with God. What He’s done for one, He’ll do for another. But He wants us to have faith. Faith, that He will, “Give us grace to help us in our time of need”, so that we don’t fall in to sin; Faith, that He’ll give us that power, those loaves…..to feed that needy person, who has come to us in his need. Let’s pray.

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this, thirsting of my soul. Lord, we want to come to you with open hearts. With hungry hearts; seeking you for that, which only you can give. We don’t want to be satisfied with experiences and thrills. We want Rivers of Living Waters to flow out from us, in these Last Days. To quench the thirst of needy people all around us. Help us Lord we pray. Help us to honor You, that we might be a church, like you want us to be, an army against which the gates of Hell will never prevail, in our local church situations. Give us grace we pray, as we cry out to you, there are needy hungry people here. Thirsty. I pray, Lord, you’ll satisfy the longing of their soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

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** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Felix Mittermeierfrom Pexels

What Hinders Communication in Relationships

Communication is one of the most basic skills needed to establish and maintain any human relationship. In marriage it is especially important that a couple master this ability. Whenever you find a successful marriage, you will always find two people who have become skilled at communication. Likewise, wherever you find a failed marriage, a communication breakdown is always one of the root problems. Therefore, it is essential that you learn how to become a better communicator. Let’s look at some basic issues that hinder good communication.

 1. Check your attitudes. Your attitude is critical to being an effective communicator and is the basis for what you say and do. Without the correct attitude, your words will always come out wrong. You may be totally right in all that you say, but it’s the way you say it that many times turns your mate off. Let’s look at some of the attitudes I am referring to.

Do you have an arrogant or superior attitude when you talk with your mate, communicating that you are always right and that he or she knows nothing? Do you become indignant and refuse to listen when your spouse questions your actions or motives? Have you ever thought, “Who does he think he is to ask me that?” 

The Scriptures teach that this attitude of heart is very destructive to your relationships. Solomon said, “He that is of a proud heart stirs up strife…” (Prov. 28:25). Is this attitude the cause of strife in your marital communication? If so, consider Paul’s counsel, “To speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:2). Humility is the attitude of heart that keeps you from speaking evil of anyone or to anyone, and enables a gentle spirit to communicate effectively. Your home needs this attitude. 

Another sinful attitude that destroys communication is deep-seated resentment or bitterness, which is like poison to your life and marriage. The Apostle Peter noticed this attitude when he spoke to Simon the sorcerer. Simon had become envious and bitter at the success of the disciples’ ministry. When Simon asked for similar abilities, Peter said to him, “…You are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:23). If you have a bitter and resentful attitude, your spouse will pick this up as soon as you begin to speak. Your tone of voice reveals the poison of unforgiveness inside. Jesus said, “If you have anything against anyone, forgive him…” (Mark 11:25). A heart of forgiveness will be your only remedy for this poison.

Indifference or apathy greatly hinder progress as well. Jesus described this attitude in the parable of the marriage feast; He invited many, yet “they made light of it and went their ways…” (Matt. 22:5). This is the same attitude that many experience when their mates try to talk or spend time together. Indifference becomes apparent when you say “not now” or you simply change the subject. When you make light of your mate’s request to talk or spend time together, you are communicating to your spouse that he or she is not really that important to you. Every time you indifferently turn your husband or wife away, it will cause discouragement and a greater distance between you.

Of course, not every time is an opportune time to talk. If you have to postpone a conversation or time together, make sure you communicate your sincere interest and willingness to spend the time it takes to build the relationship. Then, be sure you are the one to initiate the next conversation over that same subject. 

Can you recognize any of these attitudes in your heart? If you do, be assured that they will hinder effective communication. The Bible describes each of these attitudes as sinful and requires you to put them off. 

2. Check your words. Once you have examined your attitudes or the way you talk, now considerwhat you say. What kind of words do you use? 

Do you use harsh words? Do you possess the skill to cut and slash your spouse verbally in the midst of an argument? If so, you may win the argument and be daily destroying your relationship. Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). David also said the tongue can be like “a sharp razor” that can cut and wound a person very deeply (Ps. 52:2). Is this what your tongue is like?

Harsh, condemning words are incredibly destructive. Think how you feel when a person condemns or belittles you. Doesn’t it drive you away from that individual and make you want to retreat? If you speak this way to your spouse you will see the same results. Paul specifically commanded husbands, “… love your wives and do not be harsh with them”(Col. 3:19). Likewise, this command could be equally given to wives. Clearly then, the husband-wife relationship cannot thrive with the use of harsh words.

Another class of words that must be avoided involves lying or deceitfulness, which slowly undermine your entire relationship. If you are deceitful and tell only half the story or a doctored version that makes you look good, sooner or later your spouse will catch on. Trust is fundamental to your entire relationship, but lies and half-truths will eventually undermine your credibility. Any amount of lying to your spouse is like taking an ax to the bottom of your own boat, it will ultimately sink the ship. 

If you struggle with lying or deceitfulness, pray what David did, “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 120:2). Do what Paul commanded; “Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). As a married couple, you are members one of another in every sense of the word; you are one flesh. Don’t lie to one another. 

Similarly, exaggeration works to destroy effective communication. Are you an exaggerator? Do you hear yourself say these words, “you always do this”, or “you never do what I ask?” The words alwaysnever, or every time are like gasoline on the fire of an argument. These words will cause an explosion of anger because your spouse can always think of one time he or she did do what you say never occurs. The only solution to exaggeration is “…speaking the truth in love…”(Eph. 4:15). The truth may be that your spouse many times does this or that, as opposed to always or never

As we strive to speak the truth, let us remember to speak the truth in love, for certain words of truth can also greatly hinder your communication. I am referring to the true statements about your spouse’s past failures which you bring up to use as ammunition during a conflict. These words cut deep, specifically because they are true, but they are words that should never be used to win an argument. If you have forgiven your spouse for a past failure, then it should be off-limits. Why? Because God talks about your sins this way: “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 8:12). The word remember means “to hold in a mental grasp or to recollect so that it may be used at a later time to punish.” God declares here that once He forgives, He chooses not to remember your sins and will never use them to condemn you; we must forgive in the same manner. Therefore, speak the truth about the present issue only.

Finally, foul language also tears down good communication. I have discovered that many couples swear and call one another names in the midst of an argument. If this occurs in your home, understand that these words will not be easily forgotten because they demean your spouse and signify your lack of love and respect. Once you have said these words, you can’t take them back. This is why Paul said, “…you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (Col. 3:8). He also said, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). Don’t tear your loved one down, but build him or her up when you speak. Ask God to put that check in your mind before you open your mouth. Pray as David did, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my mouth” (Ps. 141:3). God will answer this prayer.   

3. Check your actions. The specific actions you take while you interact will either enhance or hinder your ability to effectively communicate. Let’s look at some of these actions.

Are you a good listener, or are you quick to interrupt when your spouse is talking? This disrespectful action will greatly frustrate your mate and tends to stir up anger. James said you must be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). When you interrupt, it means you are thinking of how you want to respond instead of really listening, and this hinders meaningful and enjoyable conversation with your mate. 

A related action to interrupting is sentence-finishing. This occurs when your spouse takes a pause to think about what he or she is about to say, and you help your mate out by finishing the sentence. Such behavior, is again, extremely frustrating and reveals that you are not listening or trying to understand. It indicates that you have already pre-judged his or her thoughts and declares that you think you know what your spouse is about to say.   Solomon said, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). Rather, allow your spouse to fully complete the sentence, then respond. This will demonstrate you care and are truly listening in order to understand.   

Explosive anger is another pitfall and is often only used to control a conversation. Sometimes people use anger to simply manipulate the other party into doing what is desired. This person knows that his or her spouse will cower and retreat in the argument once the rage appears. Yet, this ploy is very foolish because you may seemingly win the argument, but in the end you risk losing relationship and intimacy with your spouse in the process. 

However, there are times when anger is not a ploy used to control another. Sometimes an individual just has no control of the emotions that rage inside, due to a lack of desire or understanding as to how to control them. Such a person is simply out of control. Irrational anger is what drove the religious people of Jesus’ day to attempt to throw Him over the cliff at Nazareth. These religious people were simply out of control. Luke says the people were “filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city…that they might throw Him down over the cliff”(Luke 4:28, 29). If you have explosive anger that is not dealt with, deep and intimate communication will be impossible. No one ever wants to communicate the deepest things of their heart with someone who is raging out of control in an angry fit. Remember, “…the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Your wrath and anger can never produce something good or righteous in your marriage relationship. What you need to do is get some specific counseling from your pastor regarding how to control your anger. The sooner you take this action, the sooner you will learn how to communicate effectively.   

Third, beware of blame shifting. This is usually done when your spouse points out one of your faults and you quickly cover yourself by shifting the blame to your mate or to another. This is what Adam and Eve did when they were first confronted by God for their sin. Adam said that it was, “…the woman You gave to be with me, she gave me to of the tree, and I ate”. Eve also shifted the blame to Satan, “…the serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12, 13). Neither Adam nor Eve would take responsibility for his or her own actions. Adam in one breath blamed God for giving him this woman and blamed his wife for giving him the fruit. Eve in essence replied, “The devil made me do it.” What solves this problem? Simply take responsibility for your own actions. Blame shifting is the result of pride and dishonesty. You know what you have done and your spouse does too, so why not admit it? Without you personally taking responsibility for what you’ve done, all you will do is play the blame game which only delays progress to a solution. This is a game that no one will win.

The last action that hinders good communication is the unwillingness to confess your faults during or after an argument. This is a problem that results from that same attitude of pride, and to resolve it the Apostle James suggests, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…Do not speak evil one of another…Confess your faults one to another…” (James 4:10.11; 5:16). God requires you to humbly and honestly look at your own actions and not shift the blame. When either husband or wife takes this action of first confessing personal faults, it usually softens the other to do the same, and communication is restored.

But, you may ask, “How do I change all these sinful attitudes, words, and actions?” Take heart, there is a way! 

What helps build your ability to communicate?

Let’s look at some of the most important ways to build your ability to communicate.

1. Establish intimacy with God and find His help for change. Here is where you get the power to change in the areas where you have been failing. When God is at work filling you with His love and teaching you His Word, you can’t help but have something to talk about. Establishing this intimacy with God will inspire the most important communication between you, the sharing of spiritual things. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they went everywhere sharing Christ. When they were commanded not to speak anymore in His name their response was, “We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). God was at work in their lives and they had to share it with someone. David experienced the same drive to communicate what God was doing in his life. He said, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Ps. 66:16). What is the Lord doing in your life? Are you sharing that with your mate? The kind of relationship you have with the Lord, will naturally translate into your relationship with others and especially with your spouse. Your relationship and communion with Christ is where real communication with your mate begins.

If you are not walking with Christ at this time and have never made a personal commitment to Him, this is the primary reason why you are struggling in marriage and in your ability to communicate. He can dramatically change your entire life, but you will never experience it without a personal relationship with Him. You can start this relationship by simply acknowledging your sin to Him in prayer, asking Him to forgive you and come into your life. If you really want to change, He can help you do it. Take a moment right now to communicate with Him in prayer, and ask Him to come into your life. You won’t be disappointed! 

If you are a Christian, you can also be greatly hindered in your ability to effectively communicate by simply having sporadic devotions or no devotions at all. This is because when you are spiritually dry, you will have no power or joy to communicate with others. Let me illustrate. Think of the times when you have struggled spiritually and you have seen another Christian in a store, what did you do? Did you run up to this individual with an overwhelming desire to fellowship, or did you turn and walk another way so you wouldn’t have to talk to him? The answer is obvious, you don’t want to talk to another person when you are discouraged or depressed; it’s the last thing you want to do. When you aren’t growing spiritually the same thing will happen at home. You won’t have any desire to communicate with your spouse either. You will naturally retreat from communication with your partner.

Therefore, return to the Lord and ask Him for His help. Renew your relationship with Him, then the desire, power, and love you need to communicate with your spouse will begin to flow again.

2. Acknowledge your faults. This will take some brutal honesty in your own heart. Stop now and look back over your attitudes, words, and actions. Where have you been failing in your communication with your mate? You must first acknowledge your faults if you desire to see anything change.

Next, go and acknowledge these faults to your spouse, asking his or her forgiveness. Tell your mate that you truly want to change in these areas. Your spouse will probably be amazed that you would honestly confess to these things without being forced to do so. When you take this action, your ability to communicate will take a dramatic step forward. Acknowledging and reconciling your faults with your spouse is half the battle.

3. Spend time together. Once you have dealt with your failures in your attitudes, words, and actions, and have sought God for His power and help, you need to take the opportunity to communicate. Do you set specific time aside to communicate? You did this before you were married. You talked on the phone every chance you could. You went out on dates and would talk about everything and anything for hours. Do you remember how romantic and how much fun it was to talk? This is what must happen again. How? 

You need to start dating the one you love on a regular basis. Why not call your spouse and set something up today? Then tomorrow, make a special effort to call your spouse again just to say, “I love you.” Talk to your husband or wife about your upcoming date and your anticipation of being together. You may also try turning the T.V. off and sitting after dinner just to talk over your day. Take a bike ride or a walk together. You need to regularly set time aside to just be together because failure to do so is one of the fundamental reasons why many couples slowly drift apart. Other things soon take priority over being together, then slowly and imperceptibly the distance begins to grow. You can stop this drifting, but it takes constant vigilance to keep time together as a high priority.

Solomon and his wife had the right idea. The Shulamite requested of her husband, “Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away…Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, and your countenance is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:10,14).

Do you want the kind of romantic relationship Solomon and his wife had? Then, take the same action that they did, and you will afford yourself the best opportunity for real communication and romance. Is the voice of your spouse still sweet? It can be, if you will again make the same effort you did before you were married. Your spouse is worth the time and the effort!

4. Encouragement and praise. If you desire to build good communication with your spouse, try this strategy. Each time you are together look for something that he or she has done well, and praise him or her for it. If you encourage the actions which are godly, loving, and responsible, you will build your mate up and build your overall communication. 

This is what the Scripture teaches us to do. Paul says we must, “…Exhort one another daily…”(Heb. 3:13). Speak the words that, “…build others up…” (Eph. 4:29 NIV). Solomon declared that, “…A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Prov. 31:30). This encouragement could again be equally given to women to praise their husbands. But, the question is, do you do this? One day Jesus Christ will say to you, “…Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matt. 25:21). If Jesus considered these words important to say, shouldn’t you do the same? Praise and encouragement is an acknowledgment of your love and appreciation, which naturally builds a person up. 

How often do you say an encouraging word, or a “well done?” Your mate must do something right, responsible, or loving each day. Look for these things and then tell your spouse that you appreciate them. If harsh and critical words destroy your communication, think of what praise and appreciation will do. Take the time to talk and to spend time together. Be gracious with your words, and encourage instead of being harsh and critical; it will build your communication more than you could ever imagine.

Remember, “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious…” (Ecc. 10:12) Therefore be wise. Go and give a word of praise and encouragement to your loved one today!

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**By Covenant Keepers / Photo by Polina Zimmerman at Pexels

Invisible Barriers to Healing

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”
– 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

God provides healing as part of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. But what do you do when you don’t see the healing manifest in the physical realm? Derek Prince discloses six common barriers to healing—and how to overcome them. The notes below are from the sermon here: Invisible Barriers to Healing

Common Barriers To Receiving Healing

A. Ignorance (Isaiah 5:13; Hosea 4:6)

B. Unbelief (Hebrews 3:12–13)

Prayer: “Oh, God, I come to You in Jesus’ Name, and I confess my sin of unbelief. I do not try to excuse it. I am responsible for it. I am sorry for it. I ask You to forgive me and to deliver me from it and impart to me Your faith. I want to declare: I believe in God the Father, I believe in Jesus Christ His Son, I believe in God the Holy Spirit, and I believe in the Bible—the true, authoritative Word of God. I believe, Lord Jesus, what you said, “God’s Word is the truth.” Amen.”

C. Unconfessed sin (Proverbs 28:13) [Ask God to reveal any areas of unconfessed sin]

Prayer: “Oh, God, I acknowledge I am sorry. Forgive me, cleanse me in the blood of Jesus. Thank you for forgiving me, God. I receive your forgiveness. Now, God, because You have forgiven me, I forgive myself.”

D. Resentment and unforgiveness toward others (Mark 11:25)

Prayer: “Holy Spirit, I ask You now in Jesus’ Name to speak to my heart and show me areas of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness and make me willing to forgive. If there has been any resentment in my heart—any unforgiveness, any bitterness— I renounce it now. I lay it down. If anyone has ever harmed me or wronged me, I forgive them now, as I would have God forgive me. Lord, I forgive them in Your Name, and I believe You forgive me. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’ Name.”

E. Occult involvement (Exodus 23:24–26):

1. Fortune-telling

2. Ouija board

3. Horoscopes

4. Superstition

5. Rock music

6. Drugs, etc.

Prayer: “Lord, if I have ever been involved in the occult, even ignorantly, whatever it was, I confess it as a sin and I renounce it. I ask You to forgive me and I commit myself now that never again will I be involved in those things. Forgive me, Lord, and release me from their influence. Right now. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.”

F. Freemasonry (Exodus 23:32):

1. False religious system

2. Royal Arch Degree – The god Jabulon (Ja = Jehovah, bul = Baal, on = Osiris). This is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

3. One example: Woman with baby, six weeks old, that would not take nourishment (girl’s father was a Freemason). Baby took three full bottles after curse broken.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, I want to serve You and love You. If there is in my life (or in my family) a curse of Freemasonry or any other cult, I ask You to release me and forgive me and break its power over me right now. In Jesus’ Name.”

G. Effects of a curse over a family:

1. Mental and emotional breakdown

2. Repeated and chronic sicknesses (especially hereditary)

3. Repeated miscarriages or female problems, barrenness, etc.

4. Breakdown of marriage and family alienation

5. Continuing financial insufficiency

6. Accident prone

7. Suicides or unnatural deaths

Prayer: “Thank you, Lord Jesus, that on the cross You were made a curse that I might be redeemed from the curse and enter into the blessing. And because of what You did, Lord Jesus, in Your precious Name I release myself from every curse over me and my family and I claim the blessing that You purchased for me with Your blood. Thank you, Lord Jesus.”

H. Evil spirits associated with sickness (Luke 4:40–41).

Direct cause of sickness:

1. Spirits of infirmity, crippling, pain

2. Curvature of the spine

3. Spirit of death (Look on dark side of things, morbidity, dressing darkly)

Prayer: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” (Ps. 118:17) I. Ministry to the sick (Mark 16:18) After prayer, keep your plug in.

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**Courtesy of Derek Prince Ministries

** The spiritual warfare prayer

**How to have a relationship with God and be saved: The Path To Salvation, please click: HERE

A Sower of Discord

”Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters…” ~ Matthew 12:30

Satan is called the accuser of the brethren who accuses them to God night and day. Jesus on the other hand, is at the right hand of the Father forever making intercession for them. When we cover the sins of others by praying for them instead of talking ill of them, you’re in fellowship with the Lord, but when you talk ill of others and point out their sins to others, your in fellowship with Satan and do his work for him.

To sow discord is to say and do things which cause distrust, anger, and bitterness, which results in arguments, fights and ill-feeling towards others, which the sower has planted into the ground of people’s hearts.

Usually the ‘sower’ is acting as if he/she is not trying to cause arguments or ill feeling towards someone else. Sowing discord is something done in secret, justified, done by deceit authored by the father of deceit. We have come to think that it is a harmless thing to sow discord in the office, home or church, but the Bible says God not only hates the sowing of discord but God says, that it is an abomination to Him. God hates discord and strongly denounce those who sows strife. Sowers of discord disrupts unity and causes great division which in many cases could be irreparable.

Sowers of discord are usually driven to serve their own interests. Discord Sowers exploit the passion/emotion of others, and, more often than not, derive pleasure from conflict. Sometimes they are aware of what they are doing but sometimes they just play into the hands of spiritual forces that are intent upon destroying the mission of the church.

They regularly nourish these feelings that drive their behavior by brooding on, real or perceived: past injuries, present suspicions and future insecurities. They are often propelled by inner turmoil. The sower of discord probes the vulnerabilities of other’s; seeking for weak points to expose and exploit. Psalm 133:1 reminds us, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”

Zechariah 3:1-5

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

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** By Christ centred church of God / Photo by Skitteroo at pixels

The Sin of a Paralyzed Man

A PARALYZED MAN
In John 5 Jesus met a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. This man often sat by the pool called Bethesda, because the Lord sent an angel there to stir up the waters and heal those who were in it (v4).

I wasn’t surprised that Jesus healed this poor man. But I was a little surprised by what He told the man afterward:
“’Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.'” John 5:14 NASB

The thought entered my mind, what could this man have done who was paralyzed all his life which led Jesus to warn him so sternly “Don’t sin anymore… lest something worse happen to you”? I pictured this man capable of little, except perhaps for begging for money. So I wondered, what was his great sin?

I believe the answer lies not outwardly, but what was within his heart, and we get a glimpse of this in verse John 5:7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

I believe this verse shows an attitude within this man’s heart which was one of “I’m the innocent victim. The reason why I have all my problems is because everyone else is selfish. They all won’t help me into the pool, and they all cut in front of me when I try to get in myself.”

He may have been paralyzed his whole life, but his sin nature and flesh was just as active as anybody else. His body couldn’t harm anyone, but self-pity in his heart must have caused him to murmur and grumble and blame just like anybody else.

THE VICTIM VERSUS THE SINNER
And so, his warning from the Lord is one which convicted me – if I have a view of myself as an innocent victim, and anybody else as “the problem”, then the Lord has the same fearful warning for me – ‘Sin no more (in your heart), lest something worse happen to you.’ The only justified (innocent) ones are those who come to the Lord and say, “I’m the problem.. it’s not my family or friends or children or spouse, or my coworkers – it’s ME. I am the problem” (Luke 18:13-14).

It’s tempting to hold grudges and blame when something bad has happened to us. Maybe it wasn’t someone else’s fault and I’m just looking to blame someone, or maybe it was someone else’s fault – maybe they sinned against me, maybe I have been a victim in that way – but I’m definitely not innocent either! And that means I cannot look down on anybody as if I’m better than them.

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

TRUE FAITH PRODUCES OBEDIENCE
One thing I’ve seen in my own life is that when I don’t take a Scripture seriously, then I have to be honest… it must be because I don’t really believe it. I imagine a man who reads Matthew 7:1-2 for the first time, or Matthew 6:14-15 for the first time and takes it at its Word. If he really believes it, he says to himself, “Wow! If there’s even one person I don’t forgive while on here earth, then God won’t forgive me of my sins?! I have to go forgive my enemy right now!” That person would be absolutely radical to make sure that they’re not holding even one ounce against anybody else. If I continue to blame others or hold grudges it must be because I don’t believe what God says.
Praise God that He is absolute love, and His mercy is never-ending. He loves me as much as Jesus (John 17:23)! And it was out of absolute love that Jesus gave such a fearful word to the paralyzed man. It’s like this paralyzed man was driving a car straight off a cliff, and Jesus told him sternly, “You’d better turn your wheel the other direction right now, you’re heading for a cliff.” Praise God for His Words to us now, so that we can avoid the cliff of judging and blaming others.

Lord, help me to release any grudge, or unforgiveness or judging I have against every single person on earth, and reject every thought that “I’m the innocent one.”

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** By Bobby MacDonald © Copyright – Bobby MacDonald. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://nccf.com/ 

Photo by Alvin Decena at Pexels

Unifying the Body of Christ

Sermon by Zac Poonen “Christlike Freedom from Racism and Partiality”

Unifying the Body of ChristDivided we fall, United we stand

If we say we love God but hate any of our brothers or sisters in His family, we are liars. If we don’t love someone we have seen, how can we love God, whom we have never seen?” 1 John 4:20.

The Bible tells us to bear with one another in love, knitted together as a local body, accepting and respecting each other’s differences; be it colour, nationality, language or gender. We’re to put aside our racial, cultural or societal differences, and to die to ‘self’ in order to maintain unity within the brethren. As the Bible states in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” As Christians we are all called to conform to the likeness of Christ, and not one particular group or culture. We are all equal and loved by the same almighty God who sent His beloved Son Jesus to die for us all. The only thing we’re not to compromise on is God’s Word, His instruction manual on how we’re to live; and the Lord requires the whole gospel to be preached, without exception or apology.

The almighty sovereign God didn’t make a mistake when He placed us in a particular local body; He placed us there so we can serve, build, love and unify as one body in Christ, putting aside all differences in order to build unity and the spirit of faith in the church. Let us not justify why we cannot accept someone who is different than ourselves. Let us search our own hearts and ask the Lord to cleanse us from any partiality, deep rooted behaviours, patterns, prejudices that leave us so slowly. If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful to forgive us. We can ask Him to help change us, with the help and power of the Holy Spirit. How can we learn unconditional love, if we’re around people who meet all our conditions?

Here are some Bible verses that can help build unity in the Church:

  • Ephesians 4:2-3, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
  • John 12:24, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
  • In Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly, Never be wise in your own sight.”
  • 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What is so special about you? What do you have that you were not given? And if it was given to you, how can you brag?”
  • Philippians 2:2-4, “Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.”

So then, let us love one another, for when we love one another all will know we’re His disciples. – John 13:35


Article by Lori McPherson / Picture by Pixabay at Pexels

 

Testimonies to Strengthen Faith: Trials and Tribulation


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

These video testimonies will strengthen your faith. In times of trials and tribulations, many lessons can be learned from these: hope, endurance, patience, forgiveness and much more, as well as how to be over-comers in these last days.

As Christian believers we’re to look unto Jesus and His finished work on the Cross, as He is the author and perfecter of our faith. We’re not to be afraid of those who want to kill the body; they cannot touch our soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. We don’t put our trust in man, but in God alone. Jesus will give us His peace that surpasses all understanding, and help us to rest in Him amidst the storms. Jesus, our Lord and saviour and soon coming King forewarned us that times of tribulation will come as we’re in the last days: And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22 NLT)

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. (Revelation 12:11)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones… See, I have warned you about this ahead of time… Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. (Matthew 24:21-22; 25; 29-31 NLT)

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39).

By Lori McPherson

The Father’s Love Letter

The Father’s Love Letter
An intimate message from God to YOU.

My Child,
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3 

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad. Almighty God

Father’s Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications ©1999 FathersLoveLetter.com


**How to be saved: The Path To Salvation, please click: HERE

A Good Thought For The Day…

Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running?

Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge, and Resentment running right now.

Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and select Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error- Program not run on external components.” What should I do?

Tech Support: Don’t worry. In non technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others. Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive Self, Realise Your Worth, and Acknowledge Your Limitations.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over my Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Yes, that means Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. This Love program is freeware.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)


*Prayer for forgiving others