Humbling Oneself

A spiritual person will always be ready to humble himself. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. If we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, He will exalt us at the proper time (1 Peter 5:5-6). To be exalted does not mean that we become great men in this world or in Christendom and get the honour of men. It refers to spiritual exaltation, where we are given spiritual authority to fulfil all the will of God in our life and ministry. But such exaltation depends on our humbling ourselves. To humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand means to accept joyfully all the circumstances that God sends into our lives. We allow those circumstances to humble us, so that we become smaller and God becomes greater. When we become smaller in people’s eyes, then they won’t live in dependence on us, but on the Lord. Humbling ourselves involves apologizing to all whom we’ve wronged. As servants of the Lord, we are to be servants of all people and must be willing to go under all of them to bless them. When we make mistakes, we must be quick to acknowledge them and to apologize where necessary. The only one who never makes a mistake is God.

Henry Suso was a man of God who lived in Germany, a few hundred years ago. He was a saintly man and a bachelor. He prayed often that the Lord would make him broken and humble like Jesus Himself was. This was how God answered his prayer. One day Suso heard a knock at his door. When he opened the door, he saw a strange woman standing there with a baby in her arms. He had never seen her before. She was an evil woman who was wanting to get rid of her newborn baby and decided that the best man to dump it on was Henry Suso. So she told him, in a voice loud enough for everyone in the street to hear, “Here is the fruit of your sin”, and left the baby in Suso’s arms and walked off. Suso was stunned. His reputation in the town had been shattered in a moment. He took the baby inside, knelt down and told the Lord, “Lord, you know I’m innocent. What must I do now?” The Lord replied, “Do what I did. Suffer for the sins of others”. Suso accepted the word of the Lord and never justified himself before anyone. He brought up that child as his own. He was content that God knew the truth and he was willing for everyone else to misunderstand him. Many years later, the woman was convicted of her sin and came back to Suso’s house and proclaimed to all the neighbours that Suso was innocent and that she had told a lie. But what had happened in the intervening years? Henry Suso’s prayer had been answered. He had become broken and humble like his Master. God had been able to accomplish a work of sanctification in Suso’s life, freeing him from man’s opinion’s so that God’s opinion alone mattered to him thereafter.

Are we willing to pay such a price in order to become like Jesus? Or do we still seek the honour of men? God breaks us by allowing us to be misunderstood, misjudged, falsely accused and publicly humiliated. In all such circumstances, we must refuse to see the men who are harassing us. They may be our brothers or our enemies. It doesn’t matter. Behind the hand of every Judas Iscariot, is our heavenly Father giving us a cup to drink. If we see the Father’s hand in such situations, we’ll drink the cup joyfully, however bitter and painful it may be. But if we see only Judas, then we’ll take out our sword (as Peter did) and cut off people’s ears (or their reputations) or whatever. When we are attacked or falsely accused, God wants us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand. It’s easy to do that once we see that it is God’s hand there, and not man’s.

It is best to leave all matters with God. He knows what He is doing and He’s got everything under His control. He’s chiseling away at the rock to sculpture the likeness of Jesus in us. Some parts of the rock are very hard and He has to use false accusations and persecution to chisel out those parts. If we submit to His chiselling, we’ll come forth in the end as Christlike men with spiritual authority. When Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus could call him, “Friend”, because He saw His Father’s hand clearly. If we see the sovereignty of God in all our circumstances, it’ll be easy to humble ourselves. And it’ll be easy for God to exalt us at the proper time. God knows the right time to lift a pressure from our shoulders and to give us His authority. So let’s wait for Him. No-one who waits for Him will ever be disappointed or put to shame (Isaiah 49:23). Let us follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Let people say whatever evil they want to, about us. If we honour God, He will one day honour us. If we’re serious about following the Lord, we will find that God takes us through many painful experiences. But His purpose in all of them will be to free us from the opinions of men and from the chains that tie us down to earth – so that we can “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 30:31). God will order our circumstances to so humble us before men, that we finally come to the place where we care only for His opinion. Then our spiritual authority will be really powerful. May it be so for all of us.

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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: cfcindia.com / Photo by Gabriela Palai at Pexels

Testimony of Former Iranian Prisoners Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh

Watch this inspiring interview with Maryam and Marziyeh at HTB Church, London. In 2009 in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh were imprisoned and sentenced to death because of their Christian faith. Maryam and Marziyeh were born into Muslim families but converted to Christianity and began to share the Gospel with those around them. They were arrested in March 2009 after being accused of evangelism and apostasy. After 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison they were released.

** Maryam and Marziyeh’s book called, ‘Captive In Iran‘ is available on Amazon Here

God Needs Women

God needs women today, who will faithfully portray through their lives, the glory that He originally intended to manifest through a woman, when He created Eve.

Her Glory As Man’s Helper
When God made Eve, it was in order that she might be a helper suitable for man (Genesis 2:18). The glory of this ministry is seen, when we notice that the title of ‘Helper’ is what Jesus used to refer to the Holy Spirit as well (John 14:16)!

As the Holy Spirit invisibly and silently, yet powerfully helps the believer, even so the woman was created to help the man. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is ‘behind the scenes’. So is the woman’s to be.
The life of Jesus also is an example to woman; for God’s Word states that man is the woman’s head in exactly the same way as God (the Father) is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). Jesus always acted in submission to His Father. A God-fearing sister will act likewise in relation to her husband. Eve’s mistake in the garden of Eden was that she failed to consult her husband before she took a decision. Thus Satan deceived her (1 Timothy 2:14). Where Eve failed, God calls Christian wives today to manifest the glory of submission to their husbands, exactly as Jesus was to the Father and as the church is to Christ (Ephesians 5:24).

Sin entered the universe through the rebellion of Lucifer. Salvation came through the submission of Christ. The spirit of humble submission to God’s authority is the greatest power that there is in the universe – for it is the Spirit of Christ. That Spirit conquered all the spirits of rebellion on the cross. When a wife submits to her husband, she is actually submitting to the authority of God’s Word, which commands her to do so; and she is then being influenced by the greatest power in the universe. Even unconverted husbands can be won over by that power (1 Peter 3:1,2). If she lives in that submissive spirit during her earthly life, she will be an overcomer, and will qualify to reign with Jesus for eternal ages (Revelation 3:21).

Here is where Satan deceives the woman again. As he led the angels astray, he leads the woman astray – through the spirit of rebellion. A rebellious wife converts her home into a barren wasteland, worse than any desert (that is the implication of Proverbs 21:19). On the other hand, a virtuous, submissive wife, crowns her husband as a king and thus converts her home into a palace (Proverbs 12:4). Your home can either be a palace or a desert, spiritually speaking. It all depends on the type of wife that you are. No wonder that what God values most highly is a meek (gentle) and a quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).
Proverbs 31:10-31 describes some of the characteristics of this virtuous wife. Her heart, hands and tongue are described as excellent.

Nothing is mentioned about her physical beauty or her feminine charms, for these are declared to be worthless and deceptive (v. 30). It would be an excellent thing if all women and young girls, and especially young men considering marriage, realised this fact.

The virtuous woman described here, has a heart that fears God (v. 30). This is the foundation for her whole life. She works with her hands, stitching clothes, cooking meals, planting trees and helping the poor (v. 13-22). She uses her tongue at all times with kindness and wisdom (v. 26). She is God-fearing, hard-working and kind – even if she is not beautiful. The glory of God is manifested through her pure heart, rough hands and soft tongue. (Worldly women, in contrast, have an impure heart, soft hands and a rough tongue!). It is in these areas that God looks for women today to manifest His glory.

As a wife, this virtuous woman is a true helper to her husband. She does him good consistently till the end of her life – not in fits and starts (v. 12). In other words, she never loses her first love for him. She also adjusts herself to his profession and calling in life, supplementing his income with her own quiet labours at home, being thrifty and careful in expenditure, so that no money is wasted. She relieves her husband of home responsibilities, so that he can have a ministry in the land for the Lord (v. 23-27). No wonder her husband praises her saying that of all the women in the world (including women prime ministers and women preachers), she is the best of the lot (v. 29). Such a woman certainly deserves to be praised publicly too (v. 31), for she has understood the glory of her calling as a woman.

The New Testament places great emphasis on ‘serving the saints’ in our homes. “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay in the night. … and get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner” (1 Pet. 4:9; Rom. 12:23 – LB). Hospitality is primarily the responsibility of the wife in the home. She can receive a prophet’s reward, without ever being a prophet herself, merely by welcoming a prophet into her home (Matt. 10:41). She will be rewarded for hospitality shown to the least of Jesus’ disciples as well (Matt. 10:41). To receive an apostle into our homes is equivalent to receiving Jesus Himself (Matt. 10:40). Likewise, to receive a child in Jesus’ name is also equivalent to receiving Jesus (Matt. 18:5). What fantastic possibilities are opened up for sisters in the area of hospitality!

The early Christians (to whom Paul and Peter wrote concerning hospitality), were by and large, very poor. Simple food and a place to sleep on the floor however, were all that they were asked to offer the saints. It is when believers seek the honour of men that they feel that they cannot be hospitable, until they are capable of offering rich food and grand accommodation. 1 Tim. 5:10 indicates that even poor widows in the first century, served the saints in their homes! The glory of God is seen in a woman who has seen her calling as a home-maker.

Her Calling As A Mother
Adam called his wife ‘Eve’, because she was a mother. In the pure light of God’s presence, in Eden, he knew clearly what his wife’s ministry was. Eve knew it as well. Sin and human traditions (influenced by Satan) have now, however, clouded women’s understanding, so that she no longer sees her glory as a mother. Children are now called by the Satanic name of ‘accidents’, when God calls them ‘gifts’ (Psa. 127:3). They are also considered to be a ‘nuisance’, when God considers them to be a ‘blessing’ (Psa. 127:5; 128:4). This is but another indication of how far, even so-called Christians have drifted away from God and become Satanic in their thinking!

Timothy’s mother, Eunice, however, was quite different. She had seen her calling clearly. Even though her husband was an unbeliever (Acts 16:1), it did not dampen her faith. She was a woman with a ‘sincere faith’ (2 Tim. 1:5) who knew the word of God. She taught God’s Word to Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14,15); and more than that – she imparted her sincere faith to him as well. Timothy’s home was one where his mother enabled him to breathe the pure air of ‘faith’ in the midst of a world full of the poisonous fumes of unbelief. He probably saw his mother frequently in prayer, frequently praising God, trusting God in difficult situations and never nagging or complaining – for these are but some of the characteristics of a ‘sincere faith’. It is not surprising then that Timothy grew up to be an apostle and a close co-worker of the apostle Paul. His mother’s labours finally bore fruit.

That should be a challenge to all 21st century mothers. Eunice, Timothy’s mother, did more for the Lord and the church, by being a first class mother at home for 16 to 20 years, than she could ever have done if she had travelled the world as a preacher for 100 years! In more recent times, we have heard of Susannah Wesley, who was the mother of 15 children. Poverty stalked her home and some of her children died in childhood. But she brought up the others in the fear of God, personally instructing each one of them. One of her sons, John Wesley, grew up to be a mighty instrument in God’s hands. Millions throughout the world have been blessed during the last two centuries, through his labours and his writings. Susannah Wesley could never have done even a small fraction of what her son did, if she had neglected her home and gone to work to make more money, or even travelled the world as a Bible teacher or evangelist.

In talking about the ministries of men and women, Paul tells Timothy, that although women cannot have either the ministry of teaching or eldership, they can have the ministry of motherhood (1 Tim. 2:12,15). In the context of the letter, it is obvious that Paul considers motherhood to be a ministry in the church. This is the second ministry that God calls women to – to be a God-fearing mother to her children. Timothy had seen the glory of this in his own childhood home. He was now to teach that to others in Ephesus.

Men excel women in all professions in life. In one area alone do women stand out as unique – as ‘mothers’. This, by itself, indicates what God created woman to be. Mothers who have neglected their children either to go to work to earn more money (to live in greater luxury) or even to be preachers, have invariably had the sad experience, later on in life, of seeing their children suffer in one way or another, due to their being neglected in their early years. They can do nothing but regret now. This should be a warning to the younger generation of mothers. If a mother goes to work, for the sake of her family’s financial survival, God will certainly give such a family extra grace. But where the motive is luxury and a higher standard of living, she can only expect to reap corruption, for God cannot be fooled (Gal. 6:7,8). May the eyes of all mothers be opened to see the glory of their calling.

Her Glory As A Witness For Christ
A woman’s primary witness for Christ, as we have seen, is by being a man’s helper and a mother to her children. But God also calls her to be a witness by her mouth. God has never called a woman in the New Testament age, to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd or teacher. There were prophetesses under the old covenant – the last being Anna. But the only prophetess in the New Testament (after the day of Pentecost) is Jezebel, the false prophetess (Revelations 2:20). Every woman who claims to be a prophetess or preacher today, is therefore a follower of Jezebel. Let no one be mistaken about that fact. All ‘Elijahs’ of God must resist and expose such ‘Jezebels’ (1 Kings 21:20-23). In the New Testament, women could prophesy occasionally as Philip’s daughters did. (But it is clear that these sisters were not prophetesses; for when God wanted to give a message to the apostle Paul, while he was in Philip’s house, He did not use any of Philip’s four daughters, but brought a prophet, Agabus, from 50 miles away (Acts 21:8-11). Jesus never called a woman to be one of His apostles, for He never intended a woman to have authority over man (1 Timothy 2:12). But although none of these ministries are open to women, yet they can be witnesses for the Lord in many other ways.

Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the risen Christ. She was not an evangelist, but a faithful witness who testified about what she had seen and experienced. Every woman should be baptised in the Holy Spirit and fire (like Mary and the other women were, on the day of Pentecost) in order to be such a witness for Christ (Acts 1:8,14). The restrictions of Indian culture prevent many of the Indian women from ever hearing the gospel through the mouths of men. Only Spirit filled women can reach them. Every God-fearing sister in Christ, should therefore take this responsibility of giving the gospel to those with whom she is in contact – relatives, friends, neighbours, women-servants, etc.

The New Testament teaches that a woman can pray and prophesy in the church too, provided she has her head covered (1 Corinthians 11:5). Prayer is one of the primary ministries that all sisters can engage in, for the building of the church. God is certainly looking today for women who will engage in secret prayer for the fulfilment of His purposes. Women can prophesy too. Acts 2:17,18 clearly states that when the Spirit is out-poured, both men and women will prophesy. This is part of a woman’s privilege under the new covenant. She can share God’s word in a spirit of submission in the meetings of the church, provided she does not try to teach (1 Timothy 2:12). Older women are however exhorted to teach the younger sisters practical matters related to their conduct at home (Titus 2:4,5). ‘Helps’ is one of the gifts that God has appointed in the church (1 Corinthians 12:28). All sisters – young and old – should seek for this gift so that they can help in the church in various practical ways. There were many such godly sisters in the early church (“Phoebe has been a helper of many” – Romans 16:1,2. See also v. 3,6,12). God desires that there be many in the church today as well.

The covering of a woman’s head (taught in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16) is meant to symbolise:

(a) That the glory of man is to be covered in the church (v. 7).
(b) That the glory of woman should also be covered in the church (v. 15) – for a woman’s long hair is her glory.
(c) That she is submissive to the authority of the man (v. 10) – whether husband, father or elder.

A woman is also to be a faithful witness for Christ through her clothing. The Holy Spirit urges women to dress modestly and discreetly. “Christian women should be noticed for being kind and good, not for the way they fix their hair or because of their jewels or fancy clothes (1 Timothy 2:9,10; 1 Peter.3:3). Clothes are meant to cover a woman’s body, not to expose it. No God-fearing sister will ever permit a tailor to cut and ‘shape’ her clothes according to the fashions of the women of the world. The low-worn sari and the low-cut blouse are marks of worldly women, not of the disciples of Jesus Christ. (Read Isaiah 3:16-24 carefully, to see how God denounces the dress fashions of the worldly daughters of Zion).

Satan is eager to destroy the God-appointed distinction between the sexes. And he has got 21st-century women to act and behave like men in many ways. Domineering wives and women preachers are all part of the drift of Christendom’s women further and further away from God and His Word.

In the midst of all this, God needs women who will stay within the boundaries that He has laid down in His Word, and who will manifest the true glory of womanhood throughout their lives. Determine with all your heart that you will be a woman after God’s own heart, in these last days, in the midst of a sinful and adulterous generation and a compromising Christendom.

God will give you grace for this, if you earnestly desire it yourself.

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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: CFCIndia

Picture by Luis Quintero at Pexels

Saved Out of the New Age

We all have our stories to tell of how we came to know Christ, and I always love to hear them, as they’re never the same. The Lord works in miraculous ways, wooing us and convicting us via His Holy Spirit, as Titus 3:5 states ‘He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit’.

I grew up in a dysfunctional secular household in London, England. I had a warped view of spirituality from a young age and this led me to seek ‘higher truth’ in my own way. I was bit of a magpie grabbing onto whatever fit in with the way I wanted to live my life, till eventually I came across a movement called the New Age which derived from the East. A movement which heavily into improving, ‘the self’ and worshipping ‘the self’ through a wide range of spiritual beliefs and practices. I latched onto it and ran, even qualifying as a life coach in such matters. 

I was into self-help books, astrology, tarot cards, mediums; I believed in reincarnation and studied past life regression. I was into reaching higher states of consciousness through meditation, which I learned through yoga, in turn making me curious about the yogi teachers themselves. I believed there were many paths to God and it didn’t matter what religion you practiced, as it all led to the same place and that it was a personal choice on how you chose to get there. 

I was running wild, partying, clubbing, drinking, shopping, consumed by the image beast. I was careless and reckless in my behaviour, mixing with the wrong crowds. I wore a mask to the world, not wanting to be me, as deep down I was wounded, lacking self-esteem. I was in the miry clay, the pit of sin. I was on fire for the devil and running away from life.

 I got to a point that all the doors closed in on me, and everything that could go wrong, went terribly wrong. I was caught between a rock and a hard place and went through a serious bought of depression. I was broken and wounded, and felt like I had no one to turn too. In my pain suicidal thoughts wrecked havoc on my mind. When I had a realisation of the selfishness of this act, I had a feeling of remorse and that I was ‘not right’ as a person; and that I was a self-pitying evil mess and I just randomly started to repent of my sins. I didn’t realise at the time what I was doing, but I know now. And Jesus in the midst of my pain reached out to me and gave me peace. In Psalm 34:18 it says ‘The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a Christian as the Lord is no respecter of persons. In my pain and torment, I just knew to cry out. That night the Lord took the broken pieces of my life, and mended me together again. What months of therapy couldn’t do, Jesus did overnight, He healed me. The following morning, I looked at the world with fresh eyes, I felt like a new person. 

I knew it was Jesus because of the prayers my grandmother had been giving me to read in the midst of my pain; she was always watching the religious channel and as I was staying with her at the time, something must’ve unconsciously sunk in. Because of this I wanted to know more about Him and started to read the Bible, I always thought that he was some sort of teacher, like one of the gurus from my meditative yoga practices. And as it says in Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” So, I sought Him. I’d heard about Jesus, the great teacher, the Hollywood Jesus with the blonde hair and blue eyes, the baby catholic Jesus, the Muslim Isa the prophet, but it’s not until that night in my room when I was seeking for ways to take my life that I came to know the real Jesus, the Son of God! 

Soon after I found myself working abroad, and was led to a Christian volunteer charity worker, who was a pastor. He showed me some verses in the bible, that really spoke to my heart like, Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ.” and also Deuteronomy 18:9-14, among others. I had to renounce the new age religion and repent properly of my sins. I had to personally invite Jesus into my life. So I did, as Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). It was the goodness of God that brought me to repentance (Romans 2:4). 

 Since becoming a Christian that hole in my heart that I tried to fill with the empty things of this world started to slowly get filled with Jesus, as something in the spirit realm had taken place, the third heaven, God’s Kingdom. I started to build upon this relationship with prayer, just talking to the Lord. And I began reading and looking for guidance via His Word the Bible, His love letter to the world. The Bible is living, it’s breathing, and it’s sharp and active, like a double-edged sword. And when it goes into your soul, it cuts things, it breaks things, and it changes things. It weeds out the garden of your heart so it’s pleasant for the Lord to reside there. 

When I realised how much I’d been deceived it shook me to my core, but my journey didn’t end there, it was only the beginning… The Bible says in John 8:32, ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ 

 Lori McPherson

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**My full testimony is called “BLINDSIDED” and is available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback

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