Posts

Three Trees

Once there were three trees on a hill in a wood. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver, and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.”

Then the second tree said “Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”

Finally the third tree said, “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree, he said, “This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,” and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree a woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to a shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, “I don’t need anything special from my tree, so I’ll take this one,” and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenter’s, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn where she gave birth and placed the baby in the hay in the feedbox that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it held the greatest Treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man and He stood and said, “Peace,” and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of all King’s in it’s boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of the hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible.

The moral of this story is that when things don’t seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they had prayed for, just not in the way they had imagined.

———————-

** source unknown / photo Mali Maeder at pexels

Dowry

The Dowry System in India

It is unfortunately, normal among Christians of all denominations in India, for a boy’s father to ask for a dowry from the girl’s father before a marriage is finalised. This has reduced marriage to a business deal. Among unbelievers, such a practice is understandable because, being spiritually blind, they allow covetousness to rule their lives. But what shall we say when most believers also indulge in this practice – even those who claim to be Spirit-filled? Surely the Devil has blinded them too.

Many a marriage arrangement has failed because the parents of the girl could not meet the exorbitant demand for dowry made by the parents of the boy. Many girls in our land have been emotionally disturbed and brought to frustration because of this – and some have even committed suicide. Every day in India, some wife somewhere burns herself to death because of her husband harassing her to get more dowry from her father.

God will severely judge all those who make marriage a matter of striking a financial deal. This judgment will begin at the house of God, among those who claim to be born again. It is because many believers have not spoken out against the evil practice of dowry that it is still so widely prevalent in Christendom in India today. It is a sad thing indeed when those who should be standing upright for God in a warped and crooked world, become warped and crooked themselves. No Christian who wants to please God should ever ask for, or receive a dowry.

Some brothers hide under the excuse that it is their parents who ask for dowry and not they themselves. But if they have any convictions at all, why don’t they speak up and tell their parents that they don’t want any dowry? The reason must be that they too secretly desire the money. If they are convinced that the dowry system is wrong, they should speak up for the truth. It is surprising that many brothers who are strong-willed when it comes to other matters, act like spineless jelly-fish when it comes to expressing their convictions on dowry to their parents!

Some brothers say that it is only reasonable that their parents who have spent so much money on their education should now receive some money as dowry from the girl’s parents. But the girl’s parents have also spent money on educating her! Why doesn’t the boy give money to her father for giving him an educated girl??

Others justify their asking for dowry by saying that their parents will need money to give as dowry for their sisters when the latter get married. But we can be certain that God will not let anyone down, who seeks to honour Him in this matter. If you honour Him, He will honour you and give good husbands to your sisters (or daughters) without your having to pay any dowry (1 Samuel 2:30). If you say you don’t have faith for that, then I have nothing more to say to you, for I am writing now only for wholehearted Christians. The commandments of Jesus are meant only for wholehearted Christians.

Others may ask, “What is wrong in receiving money which the father of a girl gives gladly to her as a gift?” There is certainly nothing wrong with that. But before any brother uses this as an excuse for his covetousness, let him answer these three questions first:

(a) Was money any factor at all (even if the least important) in deciding the marriage?

(b) Did you or your representative (whether father or relatives) ever ask for the money, (or try to find out how much money the girl’s parents had) before or after the marriage had been settled?

(c) Did you secretly hope that money would be given by the girl’s parents (either to the girl or to you)?

If the answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, then you have certainly fallen a prey to covetousness, however well it may have been covered up by different excuses.

It is in such situations that the contradiction between a believer’s preaching and his practice becomes evident to all. No wonder infidels are prompted to say, “Whatever Christians may preach, when it comes to money, they have the same religion as everyone else”.

In some places, I have heard that the dowry system is the reverse of what is found in most parts of India. There the boy has to give a dowry to the girl’s father in order to marry her. But whichever dowry system it be, the practice is an abomination to God.

Many may resent such a strong denunciation of the dowry system. But we must remember that the system is a product of man’s covetousness, which the Bible calls idolatry (Colossians 3:5). One has only to read the severe denunciation of idolatry in the Old Testament to realize how God detests it. The prophets of old were fiery in their preaching against it. They did not mince words when speaking against that which God hated.

We have preached against and stood against dowry consistently in CFC ever since the Lord established our church in 1975.

Personally, I have practised exactly what I have written above, in my own life. I refused to allow any discussion of dowry at the time of my wedding. I took the same stand against dowry when my four sons were getting married. In addition, I never sought to find out whether the parents of the girls (whom my sons were marrying) were rich or whether the girls themselves had good educational qualifications that would enable them to work and earn money. Unfortunately, these are the matters that most believers today are keen on finding out when getting their sons married. I was only keen to find out if the girls themselves loved the Lord and were disciples of the Lord Jesus. And I thank God that He honoured my desire by giving each of my four sons God-fearing wives who would help them in their ministry for the Lord and also help them to raise God-fearing children.

Whenever I conduct a wedding, I always take a signed declaration from both the bride and the bridegroom stating that no dowry has been exchanged between them or their parents. I do this so that both parties see the seriousness of this evil. If any dowry was given or received, then I refuse to conduct the wedding. If they deceive me they are answerable to God.

To expect dowry, or to accept dowry are both just as bad as asking for dowry. Those who accept or expect a dowry are both covetous. Such “Christians” should be honest and call themselves “heathen“. They are certainly NOT followers of Jesus Christ.

Can you picture your asking Jesus to negotiate with a girl’s father about the amount of dowry he should pay you before you agree to give your son in marriage to his daughter? You know very well that Jesus would never be willing to negotiate in such a matter. That itself should show you that expecting or receiving a dowry is wrong.

Receiving dowry or giving dowry or helping someone receive a dowry are all offences according to the law in India. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 states:

“If anyone gives or takes or abets the giving or taking of dowry, he/she shall be punishable with imprisonment for not less than five years and with fine not less than Rs.15,000 or the amount of value of dowry, whichever is more.”

Leaders of churches should be the foremost to obey the country’s laws and to honour God in this matter. Any church-leader who is unwilling to take a stand against this evil dowry system has no right to remain in leadership in any church. Some leaders may secretly take a dowry without anyone knowing it. But God will deal with such hypocrites in His own time.

At a wedding, money may be given for the actual expenses of the wedding and the reception. But even this should ideally be equally shared by both parties. Thus both the boy and the girl are given equal dignity before God. But we cannot make a rule in this matter, because some are able to afford an expensive wedding and reception, while others are not.

It is perfectly in order for a bride’s parents to give money to their daughter. But this is best done by putting the money in a bank account in her name. This is not a rule but only a guideline so that believers can preserve their testimony and not be accused of having received a dowry after the wedding.

There is another equally great evil in India – and that is the way daughters are treated by their parents when it comes to an inheritance. Many parents do not give an equal share of their wealth and assets to their daughters as they do to their sons. If it is evil to give or ask for dowry, it is an equally great evil for a parent not to give their daughters an equal share of their wealth as they give their sons. In God’s eyes, sons and daughters have equal rights to their parents’ assets. Any father who shows partiality to his sons over his daughters is an ungodly father, unfit to be called a Christian. Whether the father writes this in his will to be distributed after his death or whether he gives it to his children earlier is immaterial. But he must treat his daughters exactly like he treats his sons. And a daughter has every right to ask to be treated equally. Jesus taught that it is proper for children to ask their fathers for good gifts (Matthew 7:9-11).

If Jesus were in India today, He would denounce the dowry system ruthlessly. Unfortunately, church-leaders who claim to represent Him, do not denounce this practice – because they love money themselves, or are eager not to offend the rich, or hope to get a commission themselves in the process!

Even a non-Christian film-actor in India has spoken out against dowry recently. Aamir Khan writes:

“I am totally opposed to dowry. It is not only a retrograde practice but also an illegal one. Think about it – can a relationship, built on the foundation of money and greed, be meaningful or beautiful? We should make our daughter so accomplished and independent that she is capable of crafting her own future and becoming the master of her own happiness. Then she won’t need a greedy, useless groom to complete her life. Let her marry a person who respects her. Let her marry a man who she believes is worthy of her; whom she is happy to spend the rest of her life with.” 
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/article3439626.ece]

Such non-Christian film-stars are now putting to shame so-called “Spirit-filled, tongue-speaking” believers, in this matter! Those film-stars will rise up in the day of judgment and condemn all hypocritical believers.

This is one reason why the Lord has placed CFC and related churches (and I hope, some other churches too) as lighthouses in India, to stand for the truth and to proclaim His will in this matter. The Bible commands us to speak up for the rights of the needy (Proverbs 31:8, 9). We must stand totally against this evil dowry system that has destroyed the lives of so many helpless girls in our land. We must also urge all parents to give an equal share of their wealth to their daughters as they give to their sons.

Daniel took a stand for the Lord in Babylon in a very small matter – not eating certain foods that God had forbidden in Leviticus 11. That was a very small commandment – but it was a small commandment given by a great God. Because Daniel honoured God, God honoured him. God is testing us now in little matters, to see whether we qualify to be a voice for Him.

May the Lord preserve us as a prophetic voice for Him in our land.

By Zac Poonen

**Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. cfcindia.com / Picture by pexels

The Habit of Rising To The Occasion

That ye may know what is the hope of His calling…. ~ Ephesians 1:18

Remember what you are saved for — that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.

You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly — “By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says — “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.

May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realise this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.

~ By Oswald Chambers

The Tortoise

In life, some may walk, others may run, but remember the Lord gave the tortoise and the hare the same day to reach Noah’s ark.

The Bible tells the story of Joseph. Jacob looked at Joseph and saw a good son. The ten brothers looked at Joseph and saw a useless dreamer. The travellers looked at Joseph and saw a slave. Potiphar looked at Joseph and saw a fine servant. Potiphar’s wife looked at Joseph and saw a potential boyfriend. The prison officers saw in Joseph a prisoner. How wrong they all were! God looked at Joseph and saw a Prime Minister of Egypt in waiting. Don’t be discouraged by what people see in you, be encouraged by what God sees in you! His is the only opinion that counts. Remember, one plus God is the majority!

Never underrate the person next to you because you never know what the Lord has deposited in that person. Your maid may be a Chief Executive Officer in waiting for a company which shall employ your child. Your gardener may be a president in waiting. (Remember David got the anointing of becoming a King while he was a simple child herding sheep. Esther was a simple orphaned girl yet she was a Queen in waiting).

IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW PEOPLE SEE YOU, IT MATTERS HOW GOD SEES YOU:

  • He doesn’t care about age, no wonder he blessed Abraham.
  • He doesn’t care about experience, no wonder he chose David.
  • He doesn’t care about gender, no wonder he lifted Esther.
  • He doesn’t care about your past, no wonder he called Paul.
  • He doesn’t care about your physical appearance, no wonder he chose Zacchaeus, the shortest one.
  • He doesn’t care about fluency in speech, no wonder he chose Moses.
  • He doesn’t care about your career, no wonder he choose Mary Magdalene; a prostitute.
  • All I know is that my God never changes
  • He never made a promise he wouldn’t keep
  • He never saw a person he wouldn’t help
  • He never heard a prayer he wouldn’t answer
  • He never found a soul he wouldn’t love
  • He never found a sinner he wouldn’t forgive

This is the kind of God I like to commune with every day the moment I wake up. I strongly recommend Him to you!

A King’s Testimony

Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony:

King Nebuchadnezzar’s message to all the peoples, nations, and languages inhabiting the entire earth: “I wish you much peace. I’m delighted to share the signs and miracles that the Most High God has worked in my life.

His signs are superb!
His miracles so powerful!
His kingdom is everlasting.
His rule is for all time.
“While I, Nebuchadnezzar, was safe in my house, content in my palace, I had a terrifying dream. My thoughts while I was lying in bed and the vision in my mind overwhelmed me. I ordered all Babylon’s sages to come before me, so they might tell me the dream’s meaning. So the dream interpreters, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners came. I told them the dream, but they couldn’t interpret it for me. Daniel, who is called Belteshazzar after the name of my god, was the last to come before me. In him is the breath of the holy gods! I told Daniel the dream:

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream
“Belteshazzar, chief of the dream interpreters, I know the breath of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Tell me the meaning of the visions I had in my dream. In my mind, as I lay in bed, I saw a vision:

At the center of the earth was a towering tree.
The tree grew in size and strength;
it was as high as the sky;
it could be seen from every corner of the earth.
Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant;
it had enough food for everyone.
Wild animals took shade under it;
birds nested in its branches.
All living things lived off that tree.
“In my mind, as I lay in bed, I saw another vision: A holy watcher came down from heaven. He proclaimed loudly:

‘Cut down the tree and shear off its branches!
Strip its leaves and scatter its fruit!
The creatures should flee from its shelter;
the birds should take flight from its branches.
But leave its deepest root in the earth,
bound with iron and bronze in the field grass.
Dew from heaven is to wash it,
and it must live with the animals in the earth’s vegetation.
Its human mind is to be changed:
it will be given the mind of an animal.
Seven periods of time will pass over it.
This sentence is by the watchers’ decree;
this decision is the holy ones’ word
so that all who live might know
that the Most High dominates human kingship.
The Most High gives kingship to anyone he wants
and sets over it the lowest of people.’
“This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. So now Belteshazzar, tell me the meaning because all the sages in my kingdom were unable to interpret it for me. But you are able to do it because the breath of the holy gods is in you.”

Daniel interprets the visions
Daniel, who was called Belteshazzar, was shocked for a bit. What he thought about frightened him.

The king declared, “Don’t let the dream and its meaning scare you, Belteshazzar.”

Then Belteshazzar answered, “Sir, I wish the dream to be for those who hate you and its meaning to be for your enemies! The tree you saw that grew in size and strength, that was as high as the sky, that could be seen from every corner of the earth, with its beautiful leaves and its abundant fruit, and that had enough food for everyone, with wild animals living under it and birds nesting in its branches— Your Majesty, that tree is you! You have grown large and become powerful. Your greatness is as high as the sky; your rule extends to the edge of the earth!

“Your Majesty, the holy watcher you saw coming down from heaven, who said, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave its deepest root in the earth, bound with iron and bronze in the field grass, dew from heaven is to wash it, and it must live with the wild animals until seven periods of time pass over it’— Your Majesty, this is the dream’s meaning: It is the sentence of the Most High, delivered to my master the king. You will be driven away from other humans and will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like cattle and will be washed by dew from heaven. Seven periods of time will pass over you, until you acknowledge that the Most High dominates human kingship, giving it to anyone he wants. And when he said to leave the deepest root of the tree—that means your kingship will again be yours, once you acknowledge that heaven rules all. Therefore, Your Majesty, please accept my advice: remove your sins by doing what is right; remove your wrongdoing by showing mercy to the poor. Then your safety will be long lasting.”

Visions come true
All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon. The king declared, “Isn’t this Babylon, the magnificent city that I built as the royal house by my own mighty strength and for my own majestic glory?”

These words hadn’t even left the king’s mouth when a voice came from heaven: “You, King Nebuchadnezzar, are now informed: Kingship is taken away from you. You will be driven away from other humans and will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you acknowledge that the Most High dominates human kingship, giving it to anyone he wants.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s sentence was immediately carried out. He was driven away from other humans and ate grass like cattle. Dew from heaven washed his body until he grew hair like eagles’ feathers and claws like a bird.

Nebuchadnezzar is restored
“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes to heaven. My reason returned to me, and I praised the Most High. I worshipped and glorified the one who lives forever because his rule is everlasting; his kingdom is for all time. All of earth’s inhabitants are nothing in comparison. The Most High does whatever he wants with heaven’s forces and with earth’s inhabitants. No one can contain his power or say to him, ‘What do you think you are doing?’ So at that moment my reason returned to me. My honor and splendor came back to me for the glory of my kingdom. My associates and my princes wanted to be with me again. Not only was I reinstated over my kingdom, I received more power than ever before.

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, worship, magnify, and glorify the king of heaven. All his works are truth, all his paths are justice, and he is able to humble all who walk in pride.”

————————————-

~ Daniel 4 Common English Bible (CEB) / Picture by Magda Ehlers

I Wish I Had Given Him More

By and by when I look on His face,
Beautiful face, thorn-shadowed face;
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more
More, so much more —
More of my love than I e’er gave before.
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

By and by when He holds out His hands,
Welcoming hands, nail riven hands;
By and by when He holds out His hands,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.
More, so much more,
More of my love than I e’er gave before,
By and by when He holds out His hands,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

In the light of that heavenly place,
Light from His face, beautiful face;
In the light of that heavenly place,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.
More, so much more,
Treasures unbounded for Him I adore,
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4

——————————-

~ By Grace Reese Adkins / Photo by Sebastian Voortman at Pexels

Prisoner of His Appetite

During the fourteenth century Raynald III, was a duke in what is now Belgium. As the result of a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward successfully revolted against him. When Edward captured Raynald he built a room around him featuring windows and a door and promised him that the day he left the room his title and property would be returned to him.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size, he was seriously overweight.

In order to regain his freedom, Raynald needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.

Anytime someone accused Duke Edward of treating Raynald cruelly he said: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.”

Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year… He was a prisoner of his own appetite.

Just as Raynald was enslaved by his appetite, sin will enslave all those who yield to it. What enslaves you? The things you are struggling with today could be avoided if you stopped giving in to them. Pray and ask the Lord to help you be an overcomer in areas that you’re struggling with. Fasting is a great way to discipline one self and exercise self control, in buffeting the body.

1 John 2:16 ~ For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

Hebrews 12:1~ Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

——————

** The three Edwards by Thomas B Costain / Picture by Jimmy Chan at Pexels

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. Sowing discord is something done in secret, 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.

——————————————————–

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

What A Mighty God We Serve

pexels-rahul-pandit-2086748

God Confronts Job

And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said:

‘’Why do you confuse the issue?

Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about?

Pull yourself together, Job!

Up on your feet! Stand tall!

I have some questions for you,

and I want some straight answers.

Where were you when I created the earth?

Tell me, since you know so much!

Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!

Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?

How was its foundation poured,

and who set the cornerstone,

While the morning stars sang in chorus

and all the angels shouted praise?

And who took charge of the ocean

when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb?

That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds,

and tucked it in safely at night.

Then I made a playpen for it,

a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose,

And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place.

Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’

“And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’

told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’

So you could seize Earth like a blanket

and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?

As the sun brings everything to light,

brings out all the colours and shapes,

The cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked

they’re caught in the very act!

“Have you ever gotten to the true bottom of things,

explored the labyrinthine caves of deep ocean?

Do you know the first thing about death?

Do you have one clue regarding death’s dark mysteries?

And do you have any idea how large this earth is?

Speak up if you have even the beginning of an answer.

“Do you know where Light comes from

and where Darkness lives

So you can take them by the hand

and lead them home when they get lost?

Why, of course you know that.

You’ve known them all your life,

grown up in the same neighbourhood with them!

“Have you ever travelled to where snow is made,

seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,

The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness

for times of trouble and battle and war?

Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,

or to the place from which the wind blows?

Who do you suppose carves canyons

for the downpours of rain, and charts

the route of thunderstorms

That bring water to unvisited fields,

deserts no one ever lays eyes on,

Drenching the useless wastelands

so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?

And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,

the mother of ice and frost?

You don’t for a minute imagine

these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

“Can you catch the eye of the beautiful Pleiades sisters,

or distract Orion from his hunt?

Can you get Venus to look your way,

or get the Great Bear and her cubs to come out and play?

Do you know the first thing about the sky’s constellations

and how they affect things on Earth?

“Can you get the attention of the clouds,

and commission a shower of rain?

Can you take charge of the lightning bolts

and have them report to you for orders?

What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

“Who do you think gave weather-wisdom to the ibis,

and storm-savvy to the rooster?

Does anyone know enough to number all the clouds

or tip over the rain barrels of heaven

When the earth is cracked and dry,

the ground baked hard as a brick?

“Can you teach the lioness to stalk her prey

and satisfy the appetite of her cubs

As they crouch in their den,

waiting hungrily in their cave?

And who sets out food for the ravens

when their young cry to God,

fluttering about because they have no food?”

“Do you know the month when mountain goats give birth?

Have you ever watched a doe bear her fawn?

Do you know how many months she is pregnant?

Do you know the season of her delivery,

when she crouches down and drops her offspring?

Her young ones flourish and are soon on their own;

they leave and don’t come back.

“Who do you think set the wild donkey free,

opened the corral gates and let him go?

I gave him the whole wilderness to roam in,

the rolling plains and wide-open places.

He laughs at his city cousins, who are harnessed and harried.

He’s oblivious to the cries of teamsters.

He grazes freely through the hills,

nibbling anything that’s green.

“Will the wild buffalo condescend to serve you,

volunteer to spend the night in your barn?

Can you imagine hitching your plow to a buffalo

and getting him to till your fields?

He’s hugely strong, yes, but could you trust him,

would you dare turn the job over to him?

You wouldn’t for a minute depend on him, would you,

to do what you said when you said it?

“The ostrich flaps her wings futilely—

all those beautiful feathers, but useless!

She lays her eggs on the hard ground,

leaves them there in the dirt, exposed to the weather,

Not caring that they might get stepped on and cracked

or trampled by some wild animal.

She’s negligent with her young, as if they weren’t even hers.

She cares nothing about anything.

She wasn’t created very smart, that’s for sure,

wasn’t given her share of good sense.

But when she runs, oh, how she runs,

laughing, leaving horse and rider in the dust.

“Are you the one who gave the horse his prowess

and adorned him with a shimmering mane?

Did you create him to prance proudly

and strike terror with his royal snorts?

He paws the ground fiercely, eager and spirited,

then charges into the fray.

He laughs at danger, fearless,

doesn’t shy away from the sword.

The banging and clanging

of quiver and lance don’t faze him.

He quivers with excitement, and at the trumpet blast

races off at a gallop.

At the sound of the trumpet he neighs mightily,

smelling the excitement of battle from a long way off,

catching the rolling thunder of the war cries.

“Was it through your know-how that the hawk learned to fly,

soaring effortlessly on thermal updrafts?

Did you command the eagle’s flight,

and teach her to build her nest in the heights,

Perfectly at home on the high cliff face,

invulnerable on pinnacle and crag?

From her perch she searches for prey,

spies it at a great distance.

Her young gorge themselves on carrion;

wherever there’s a roadkill, you’ll see her circling.”

God then confronted Job directly:

“Now what do you have to say for yourself?

Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?”

Job answered:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.

I should never have opened my mouth!

I’ve talked too much, way too much.

I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

Job 38-40 (MSG)

He Didn’t Throw Me Away

“A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out…” – Isaiah 42:3

Empty and broken, I came back to Him
A vessel unworthy, so scarred with sin.
But He did not despair…He started over again
And I bless the day, He didn’t throw the clay away.

Over and over, He molds me and makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

He is the Potter…I am the clay
And molded in His image, He wants me to stay.
Oh, but when I stumble…
When I fall…
When my vessel breaks,
He just picks up those pieces,
He does not throw the clay away…

Over and over, He molds me and makes me,
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

A vessel of honor, I am today,
All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

—————————————

Lyrics by Terri Gibbs / Photo by Marina Shatskih from Pexels

Rachel and Steve Saint Testimony

Rachel Saint always wanted to be a missionary when she grew up. Do you know what a missionary is? Somebody who travels to another country and tells people who have never heard of Jesus, all the Jesus stories.  Why do you think they would do a crazy thing like that? Because Jesus commanded us to go to all the people in the world and teach them everything he taught us – but only if they want to hear about it. If you get there and the people aren’t interested, that’s OK, Jesus said just move on to a different place. But everybody in the whole world should at least get a chance to decide for themselves if the teachings of Jesus are true or not.

Natives and problem of violence

steven_saint2

Rachel wanted to tell Jesus stories to the Waorani Indians of Ecuador.  Of all the people in the world, why do you think Rachel wanted to tell the Waorani Indians stories about Jesus?  (1) No missionary had ever been there before. The Waorani had never even heard the word “Jesus.  (2) The Waorani had a big problem, a “cycle of violence.”  Here’s how a cycle of violence works.  Your friend hits you.  So you get your brother and hit him back. Then, he gets his big sister and she hits you back. Then, you get your big brother and he hits her and her brother. And it just goes on and on and on. Except the Waoranis didn’t just hit each other. They killed each other with spears. Even little boys were taught how to kill people with spears if they did something to hurt your family.  Rachel thought, maybe if the Waorani people learn about not taking revenge, they will have a happier life.

Men and Women and child

steven_saint3

Rachel worked for an organization called the Wyclyffe Translators. Her part of the job was to learn the Waorani language and make a dictionary of all their words. Then, after she learned their language she would re-write the whole Bible in their language and give it to them as a gift. The Waorani people could decide for themselves if they believed it or not.  Rachel wasn’t alone. There was a team of 5 missionaries who were working together to make a Bible for the Waoranis. One of them was her brother, Nate. Nate’s job was to fly the airplane into the jungle and drop off food and supplies. Nate was married and had a little 5 year old boy named Steve.

Steve and readiness to die

Steve didn’t like that his Dad was a missionary. Every time he saw his Dad get in a plane, he was afraid it would crash. Or, he was afraid the Indians might spear his Dad to death. Steve had heard about how the Indians were good at killing people with their spears.  But Steve’s Dad said, “Son, I am ready to go to heaven any time God wants me to come. But the Waorani are not ready yet.  So I have to go make friends with them.” He began a gift exchange with them. Jim Elliot, another member of the missionary team put it like this, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Plane airdrop, Heavenly Vision

steven_saint4

One day Steve’s worst fear came true.  His dad and 4 other men landed their plane near the Waorani tribe and all of them were speared to death.  But a funny thing happened to the man who killed Steve’s dad.  His name was Mincaye. After Mincaye killed Steve’s dad, he suddenly knew this was a holy man, and he felt remorse.

Women Move In

After the five men were killed, two of the women made a courageous choice. Steve’s aunt, Rachel, and Jim Elliot’s wife, Elizabeth, continued the gift exchange until the Waorani invited them to come live with their people. Maybe women were less threatening. It also didn’t hurt that Elizabeth Elliot had a two year old daughter.

Translating

steven_saint5

It took years for the women to learn the language, the cultural context, and create an alphabet. Finally, the day came when they assembled a team of volunteers to help them translate the New Testament from Greek, and then the Old Testament from Hebrew. One of the first things the volunteers noticed about following the “trail of Jesus” is that he teaches his followers to never take revenge.

One By One

One day, when the men were organizing a revenge killing, one of the translators refused to participate because he was beginning to have faith in Jesus. The other men ridiculed, ostracized and persecuted him, but the translator held firm. At the next revenge killing, a second man refused to participate. Everybody ganged up on him, too. To make a long story short, the cycle of violence stopped. The Waorani people went from one of the most violent cultures in the world to one of the most peaceful.

Angry Teenager

While all these wonderful things were happening to Rachel, Elizabeth, and the Waoranis, Steve was growing up with his single mom in Florida. Steve wished he had a dad like all the other kids. He grew into an angry teenager. Aunt Rachel had an idea. Why don’t you let him come live in the jungle with me for a while?  Steve’s mom thought that was a great idea.

Mincaye

Do you remember the name of the man who killed Steve’s father? It is pronounced min-kie-yay.  How do you think Mincaye felt when he heard that the son of the man he killed was coming for a visit? Mincaye knew what he had to do. He asked Steve to meet him alone at the very spot where Steve’s dad was murdered. He brought his spear. Steve never forgot that moment when his father’s killer told him exactly what happened that day ten years ago.  Mincaye said, “Your father was a holy man. I have regretted what I did every day since. It is our custom that when I murder an innocent man, the son has the right to kill me.” He handed Steve the spear. Steve said he would not actually spear somebody, but in his heart he truly wanted to.

A Father

steven_saint6

Mincaye asked Aunt Rachel, “What is wrong with Steve? He doesn’t know how to climb a tree or track animals. He doesn’t even know how to use a blow gun!” Aunt Rachel said, “Steve doesn’t have a father to teach him.” Mincaye replied, “I took away his father, so I will be a father to him.”  He taught Steve how to use a blow gun, to track animals, to fish, and to climb trees. Steve forgave Mincaye. What do you think happened to all that anger in Steve’s heart? It melted away.

Visiting

Every year after that, Steve would visit Mincaye. Sometimes Mincaye would visit Steve in Florida. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw an American grocery store! Other than that, he said people are the same underneath. When Steve got married and had children, they called Mincaye “grandfather”. Mincaye loved playing with the children. Guess what he taught them to do? Climb trees and track animals. You can’t use a blow gun in Florida.

Injury

steven_saint7

Steve started I-TEC, a company that invents helicopters and other machines to help jungle missionaries get in and out safely. On June 13, 2012, he was seriously injured by a falling piece of equipment while testing it. He was partially paralyzed from the neck down. Mincaye flew up and cared for him in Florida. To this day, Mincaye has been a father to Steve and Steve has been a son to Mincaye.

steven_saint8

Many people I know think that it is wrong for missionaries to go to a different country and tell people about Jesus. They say missionaries will ruin their culture. And, who are you to think your religion is better than theirs. What do you think?  What do you imagine the Waorani think?

 

———————————————–

Bibliography

Benge, Janet & Geoff, Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, YWAM Publishing, Seattle, WA, 1998.

By Nancy’s Testimonials at Nancy’s Hero Stories

Religious or Spiritual?

Our goal is to become more Christ-like in character “…For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” ~ Romans 8:29

“If you are more interested in going to meetings than in crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), you are religious, not spiritual.

If you are more interested in reading your Bible every morning than in controlling your tongue the whole day, you are religious, not spiritual.

If you are more interested in fasting and prayer than in being free from the love of money, you are religious, not spiritual.

If you are more interested in evangelism than in personal sanctification, you are religious, not spiritual.

All the activities of religious people mentioned in the above examples are good. But it is a question of priorities. It is right priorities that makes a man spiritual.”

———————————

** Quote by Brother Zac Poonen / Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Less of Me

Let me be a little kinder

Let me be a little blinder to the faults of those of around me

Let me praise a little more 

Let me be when I am weary, Just a little bit more cheery

think a little more of others, and a little less of me 

Let me be a little braver, when temptations make me waver

Let me strive a little harder, to be all that I could be

 Let me be a little meeker, with a brother who is weaker

Let me think more of my neighbour, and a little less of me 

Let me be a little nearer, let me speak a little clearer

of the One who came to love me, who died to set me free 

Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery

Let me think more of my neighbour, and a little less of me 

Let me climb a little higher, let me think a little purer

Let me help all those around me, who are so much in need 

Let me be a little closer, to be a brother who’s a loser

Let me climb a little higher, In every word and deed. 

———————————————————-

*Base tune and lyrics by Glen Campbell

5 Sins Jesus Hated Most

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

As we grow spiritually, we will discover that the righteousness of God is not primarily external, and that sin too is not primarily external. When we talk about righteousness, most people think of the standard mentioned in the ten commandments. But righteousness under the new covenant is measured by the life of Jesus and not by any written Law. When we consider the sins that Jesus spoke against the most, we will discover what He hated the most. As we consider five such sins, we will see that none of them are listed in the ten commandments!!

1. Hypocrisy

To be a hypocrite is to give others the impression that we are holier than we actually are. It is the same as being false, or telling a lie. Jesus pronounced a curse on hypocrites seven times in Matthew 23:13-29. It is possible to tell a lie without even opening our mouths. Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit without saying a word – when he pretended to be a wholehearted disciple of Jesus (Acts 5:1-5).

Jesus told the Pharisees that their inner life was “full of self indulgence” (Mt. 23:25) – which meant that they lived only to please themselves. Yet they gave others the impression that because they knew the Scriptures well and fasted and prayed and tithed their income, they were very holy. They appeared very pious externally. They prayed lengthy prayers in public, but they did not pray at length in private – just like many today. It is hypocrisy if we praise God only on Sunday mornings, but do not have a spirit of praise in our hearts at all times. God looks at our hearts. The wise virgins had a hidden reserve of oil in their vessels while the foolish ones had only enough to light their lamps externally and have a good testimony before men (Mt. 25: 1- 4). When we hear of a Christian leader suddenly falling into adultery, we must realise that that was no sudden fall but the final result of a long period of unfaithfulness in his inner life. He was a hypocrite for long!

2. Spiritual Pride

Spiritual pride is the most common sin to be found among those who pursue after holiness. We all know the parable of the self-righteous Pharisee who despised others even in his prayer (Luke 18:9-14)! It is more than likely that 90% of all prayers offered in public by believers are primarily meant to impress others who are listening and not prayed to God at all. The Pharisee in the parable may not have been evil like other sinners in his external life. But Jesus hated the pride with which he thought of his spiritual activities and with which he despised others. It is spiritual pride that makes believers constantly judge other believers.

The tax collector however, who saw himself as THE sinner – worse than all others – was accepted by God. All who have come face to face with God will have seen themselves at some time, as the chief of sinners. Jesus taught that the greatest person in heaven would be the humblest (Matthew 18:4). The greatest virtue found in heaven is humility. We see in the book of Revelation that all those who receive crowns in heaven are quick to cast them down before the Lord acknowledging that He alone deserves every crown (Revelation 4:10,11).

Jesus said that even if we managed to obey EVERY SINGLE commandment of God, we would still be unprofitable servants who had not done anything more than what was expected of us (Luke 17:10). Then what shall we say about our condition when we fall so often!

3. Impurity

Impurity enters into our hearts mainly through our eyes and our ears. This impurity then comes OUT from our hearts and expresses itself through the various members of our bodies – primarily through our tongues and our eyes. Anyone who seeks to be pure must therefore be especially careful about what he sees and what he hears. Jesus hated impurity so much that He told His disciples that they should be willing to pluck out their right eye and cut off their right hand rather than sin with those members (Matthew 5:27-29).

When do doctors recommend the amputation of the right hand or the surgical removal of an eye? Only when things have become so bad that without the removal of these organs, the whole body would die. This is what we need to understand in relation to sin as well. Sin is so serious that it can imperil our very life. Most believers have not realised this and that is why they are careless in the way they use their tongues and their eyes. We must be as blind men and as dumb men when tempted to sin with our eyes and our tongues. This is the implication of Jesus’ words.

4. Indifference To Human Need

Jesus was angry when the leaders of the synagogue did not want Him to heal a man, just because it was the Sabbath day “He was deeply disturbed by their indifference to human need” (Mark 3:5 – Living).

We are commanded to do good to all men, especially to the children of God (Galatians 6: 10). Jesus taught that those who did nothing to help their brothers who were in need of the basic necessities of life, would be cast out of His presence in the final day (Matthew 25:41-46). We may not have the gift of healing to heal sick believers. But we can all certainly visit those who are sick and encourage them. That’s all the Lord asks of us.

The rich man went to hell because he did not care for his brother Lazarus, who was a fellow Jew and a fellow son of Abraham. The priest and the Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan, were exposed as hypocrites by Jesus because they did not show compassion on their fellow- brother- Jew who was lying on the roadside wounded. The Bible says that those who see their brothers in need and who are not moved to help them do not really have saving faith (James 2:15-17). They are only deceiving themselves when they say that they are born again; they are not. Those who do not help their brothers in need cannot possibly have the love of God dwelling in their hearts (1 John 3:17) . Jesus spoke out strongly on such matters because He hated the attitude that many religious people had who were concerned only with religious activities but not with helping their needy brothers.

5. Unbelief

The four sins that we have already mentioned can easily be identified as sins by all believers. But when it comes to unbelief, almost all believers think of it, not as a sin but as a weakness. And therefore they don’t learn to hate unbelief as they hate other sins.

But the Bible speaks of an unbelieving heart as an EVIL heart (Hebrews 3: 12) Jesus rebuked His disciples seven times for unbelief. (See Matthew 6:308:2614:3116:817:17-20Mark 16:14Luke 24:25). It seems that He almost never rebuked His disciples for anything else!!

Unbelief is an insult to God, because it implies that God does not care or provide for His children even as much as evil fathers on earth care and provide for their children.

There is also a counterfeit faith being preached these days, as a means of getting things from God. But that is not the faith that Jesus preached. He wanted us to have faith to live by, in our daily life. Victory over depression, bad moods and discouragement can come only as we have faith in a loving Father in heaven and in the wonderful promises He has given us in His Word.

Twice we read of Jesus being amazed – once when he saw FAITH and once when He saw UNBELIEF!! (Matthew 8:10Mark 6:6). Jesus was excited whenever He saw faith in people. And He was disappointed when He saw people unwilling to trust in a loving Father in heaven.

Now That We Know

Now that we have understood what Jesus hated the most, it should be our aim to hate these five sins too. As we discover these sins in our lives, we must crucify them ruthlessly.

Many preachers read articles like this regularly, only in order to get points for their sermons. Let me warn all such: Satan will tempt you to use this article just to get five points for a sermon! But what you need to do, first of all, is to hate these sins thoroughly in your own life.

Then you will be able to proclaim God’s Word with authority. Otherwise you will only be a Pharisee like many other preachers in the world.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

 

———————————–

**By Zac Poonen © Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author. https://www.cfcindia.com/ 

Picture by Magda Ehlers at pexels

The Hammer, The File and The Furnace

So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
~ 1 Peter 1:7

The hammer is a useful tool, but the nail, if it had feeling and intelligence, could present another side of the story. For the nail knows the hammer only as an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission, to beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place. That is the nail’s view of the hammer, and it is accurate except for one thing: The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are servants of the same workman. Let the nail but remember that the hammer is held by the workman and all resentment toward it will disappear. The carpenter decides whose head will be beaten next and what hammer shall be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his benign plans for its future it will yield to the hammer without complaint.

The file is more painful still, for its business is to bite into the soft metal, scraping and eating away the edges till it has shaped the metal to its will. Yet the file has, in truth, no real will in the matter, but serves another master as the metal also does. It is the master and not the file that decides how much shall be eaten away, what shape the metal shall take, and how long the painful filing shall continue. Let the metal accept the will of the master and it will not try to dictate when or how it shall be filed.

As for the furnace, it is the worst of all. Ruthless and savage, it leaps at every combustible thing that enters it and never relaxes its fury till it has reduced it all to shapeless ashes. All that refuses to burn is melted to a mass of helpless matter, without will or purpose of its own. When everything is melted that will melt and all is burned that will burn, then and not till then the furnace calms down and rests from its destructive fury. 

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

—————————————————-

  *** By A.W. Tozer The root of the Righteous / Photo by Kateryna Babaieva from Pexels