Grace and Truth

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God’s Prescription for Persecution

1160_doctors_prescriptionWhen Jesus sent out His disciples two by two He knew he was sending them out as sheep amongst wolves. He knew that they would be met with persecution and rejection along the way.   He knew the hearts of the people had by and large grown callous in their religiosity.

Yet He still sent them out.

Jesus gave them one prescription to be able to withstand the ongoing rejection and persecution He knew they were to encounter :

“…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

He taught them the fear of God.

This is God’s prescription for persecution.  This is the only way ongoing rejection and persecution can be met with strength and courage and be withstood.

Jesus still sends out His disciples today.  He has given all of us the Great Commission.  He knows that we will be rejected and persecuted for the message we bring to the world, yet He still sends us.  And the prescription that was good for the early disciples is still good for us today too.

You see as God’s mouthpiece in a fallen world, above all else we must fear God.

You cannot simultaneously fear both God and man.2014_03_16-PM-The-Fear-of-God-vs-The-Fear-of-Man-580x200

We all fear either one or the other.

The one you fear will be the one who dictates your life. The one you fear will determine where you stand.

Why did Jesus command us to fear God?  Because He knows that:

“The fear of man brings a snare.” Proverbs 29:25

  • The fear of man contaminates pure truth.
  • The fear of man leads to bondage.
  • The fear of man brings fear of rejection.
  • The fear of man shuts your mouth when you should speak.
  • The fear of man changes the truth of God’s Word into something more palatable.
  • The fear of man brings compromise.

And thus the fear of man cannot please God.

God’s prophets are those who will stand in the midst of rejection. These are ones whom will not stop speaking truth even in the face of resistance, hostility and open aggression. They will not bow to the pressure of man. God’s mouthpieces are those who understand the consequences of speaking on His behalf, and may even be afraid to, yet they will still speak it.

God’s ambassadors are those He sends forth in the fear of Him.fear

You cannot simultaneously please both God and man.

Choose which one you are going to fear, because that is the one you are going to serve.  The one whom you try to please is the master to whom you bow.

If you want to get far in this world, to be accepted, promoted, have lots of Facebook friends, to be asked to speak at conferences, if that’s what ultimately motivates you, then you fear man.

But if you are willing to let it go: the popularity, friends, followers of your blog, even family, if you are willing to follow Christ whatever the cost, to please Him, to obey Him, to be faithful to Him. If what motivates you is to one day hear these words:

“Well done my good and faithful servant…”

then you fear God.  And no matter what persecution comes your way, even unto death, you will have the courage and the strength to withstand.

 

Blessings, Belinda

 

Next post….       

  • How to overcome the fear of man
  • How to get the fear of God
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How to Receive a Prophet’s Reward

When Jesus sent out His disciples He told them that there are two possible reactions to them preaching the gospel: either they would be received, or they would be rejected.reward

This is a fact, for God has given humanity freewill, and as such every one of us is free to accept or reject the prophetic Word of God. However whilst we do have this freedom, it must be acknowledged that with every exercise of our freewill, every decision and every action we take there is a consequence in the spiritual realm which alters the material world.  And it is true in this case as well.

God has laid out in His Word the specific consequences for both receiving the prophetic Word and the rejecting of it. In fact, He holds the reception of His Word as so important that He has said :

He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward…” Matthew 10:41

Why is the reception of a prophet so important to Him? And what is the prophet’s reward?

 

The Importance of the Prophetic

shofar-blownThe prophet represents God. He goes forth from the presence of God and speaks what God has given him to speak. The prophet speaks the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not just speaking the Word, it is speaking it forth in the power of an anointing borne out of intimacy with Jesus Himself. The prophet is the ambassador of Christ in this world, and so the prophet and his message are inextricably linked. A true prophet cannot be separated from the message he brings.

We see this with Ezekiel. God had a message for Israel and He had His prophet to act out what he was proclaiming to Israel. He had to lie down for a certain number of days as a sign against rebellious Israel. (Ezekiel 4)

One cannot receive the prophet himself, whilst rejecting the message he brings. And vice versa is true.

Neither can the true prophet be separated from God. When God sends someone to speak forth His Word, then he/she is speaking it on God’s behalf. Rejection of the prophet and his message therefore is rejection of God and His Word.

He who receives you receives me, and He who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” Matthew 10:40

 

The Way of the Flesh

The rejection of the Word of God is normal. What I mean by that is that it is the way of human flesh.   The flesh always resists the Spirit. It always has and it always will. The flesh has its eyes blinded and its heart hardened.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

I don’t know about you, but since I was born again I left behind “normal”. I don’t want the way of the flesh anymore, I am desperate for the way of the Spirit. As followers of Christ, we who are now living by the Spirit should be able to receive and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church regardless of whether it is a message of encouragement/edification or whether it is a message of correction/reproof. You see, the Holy Spirit wants to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ and sometimes the old needs to be torn down first before the new can be built.

 

Rejection of the Prophetic Word

The consequence of the rejection of the prophetic Word is judgment and death.

This may sound harsh, but there is a spiritual principle at work here.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” Galations 6:8

Because the Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12) when it is received it takes root in order to bring forth life, just like a little seed.

However when the Word of God is rejected, that place where life was meant to dwell becomes a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum and something has to take that place.   What enters in is corruption.  When Christ is actively rejected after the Word has been preached, a new level of corruption enters into that individual/church/city.

Jesus told the disciples what action to take with those who reject them and their words:

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorra in the day of judgment than for that city!” Matthew 10:14, 15

The action of the shaking of dust from one’s feet is an act of judgment against that place.

“The Jews thought the land of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any heathen country, they stopped at the borders and shook or wiped off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be polluted with it. Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the Gospel were holy no longer, but were on a level with heathens and idolaters.” John Wesley

Jesus brings Sodom and Gomorra into the picture as a picture of God’s judgment.  It was an awful judgment of fire and brimstone against awful sin. Yet they were judged apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ – it had not been preached to them. How much more severely will God judge the place to which the gospel has been sent and rejected?

It is the same with us. Now that we are followers of Christ, partakers of the grace of God, born again from death into life, how much more should we be able to hear from God?

As the Parable of the Sower demonstrates, the result of that seed of the Word not being able to penetrate and take root is

nothing. Fruitlessness, barrenness, lifelessness.

You see if God wants to speak something to you and me, then He wants us to have ears to hear it. There is always a purpose to God speaking – and that is to bring forth life.  To close our hearts and our ears to Him is actually an act of disobedience. Remember Saul – he shut his ears to God’s instructions and because of his disobedience was rejected as king.  Remember Lot’s wife. She was specifically told not to look back at Sodom. She did, and became a pillar of salt. Death entered in.  Remember Adam and Eve. Specifically instructed not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned them of the consequence of disobedience : death.

“You shall not eat it….lest you die” Genesis 3:3

They ate it and death entered in.

Jesus Himself exhorts us to be able to hear. Over and again He says “He who has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

Why? Because He knows that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. He says that seeing and hearing leads to understanding in the heart, conversion and healing. (see Matthew 13:14-15).

 

It Is Not Too Late

I want to encourage you that God is merciful  It is not too late to hear Him.

I feel that there are some in the Body of Christ who have rejected a Word from the Lord because it didn’t sit well with their flesh. Perhaps it seemed too big, perhaps you felt inadequate to receive it. Perhaps it was a reproof against a specific sin you didn’t want to give up or didn’t know how to give up. This rejection of God’s Word has brought about a measure of death in your spiritual life and you are now stagnating.

Let me tell you that until this has been dealt with you will not move forward. If you have any controversy with God then it needs to be sorted today. Get in His presence and be honest with Him. Let go of pride, let go of inadequacy. Let go of Self altogether and just allow Him to minister to you. Confess your sin of disobedience and ask Him to open your ears.  And then do what He tells you to do.

This is the way Life will flow again.

 

Reception of the Prophetic Word

jesus feetHe who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward….” Matthew 10:41

Wow – this is almost too amazing to believe! God cares so much about the reception of His Word and His messenger that whoever receives a prophet, because he is a prophet, shall receive the same reward a prophet receives.

Whilst this is amazing it is also quite logical.  Considering that the rejection of God’s word is the norm of human flesh, then the one whom can receive it the Spirit of Life must already be working on in some measure.  The one who can receive from God has not a hardened heart nor deafened ears. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet of God, is receiving the prophet as an ambassador of Christ. Therefore whoever is receiving a prophet ultimately receives God Himself.

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent Me”

Once again from the Parable of the Sower: “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces, some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23

When the seed of the Word is received in fertile soil, God is able to move and new life springs up as a consequence.

 

So What is the Prophet’s Reward?

Jesus said to His disciples “He who finds His life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39

This the reward of a prophet. One who goes forth and speaks the Word of God, not fearing man but fearing God. One who stands up against the forces of evil and declare God’s truth. One who loses his reputation for the sake of Christ. One who confesses Christ in the face of persecution and rejection. One who does not bow to the pressure of man. One who puts Christ before himself. This is a true prophet and this one will find eternal life because, for the sake of the gospel, he has laid down his temporary life in this world.

And the one who receives the prophet and his words will share in his reward of eternal life because he has received him.  Because rather than resisting the prophetic Word in the flesh, he has heard by the Spirit.

Because in his humility he has identified with the prophet, God will identify him with the prophet’s reward.

 

This is a wonderful topic with much depth. I cannot cover it all in this one post but God willing I am going to write more on this. It needs to be stated that not all “prophets” are true prophets of God.   There are many false prophets in the world whom we should not receive, nor receive their words.

Next post…. false prophets and testing the spirits


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Responding to the Voice of God

One of the very first things the Lord taught me when I started street-preaching was that I am not responsible for how people respond. My work was to simply speak forth the Word

Sorry....I just had to...

Sorry….I just had to…

of God.  He showed me that I am not to consider how or even if the message will be received, I am simply to speak it forth in obedience.

If people respond well, praise God. If they don’t, praise God anyway.

I have seen many different responses to the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes there is conviction by the Spirit and sometimes reception to the Word of God. But most often it is this:

  • Demonic manifestations, including cursing Jesus, foul/sexual language and personal abuse
  • Shaking heads sadly
  • Turning off the PA or trying to steal my microphone from my hand
  • Laughing and mocking
  • Hardness of heart, those who are completely unreceptive/unresponsive to the gospel

The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) demonstrates that there is a variety of different grounds of reception to the word of God. Whilst many different responses are possible, the one I dislike encountering the most is the last one. I would much rather encounter demonic manifestations or outright aggression to the Word of God than the completely unresponsive, hard-hearted receptions I get from some. Why? Because with the aggressive/demonic I know something of the Word has penetrated somewhere and it is bringing about a response.

But the proud, unreceptive person is just that – unreceptive. Unable and unwilling to receive of God. They are able to stand right in front of me while I am preaching about hell or about the amazing love of God and send a text message. Nothing penetrates.

Whilst I must keep going and not let that deter me from my mission, there is One who cares deeply how His Word and how His prophetic voice are received. That is, of course, God.

Standing right between the parable of the Sower and Christ’s explanation of that parable is this passage:

listening“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused;  they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,   hear with their ears,  understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” Matthew 13:13-16

And so I have to ask: Do our eyes see? Do our ears hear?

You see, each of those responses listed above from unregenerate sinners, I have also encountered in the church (excluding the cursing of Christ).

Beloved, this should not be so.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”

Are we able to receive of God? Am I able to?

Oh yes I know we are Christians. I know we know lots about the Bible and about God. But are we able to actually receive from Him?

Have we learnt so much over the years, and been to church for so long that we now know it all? Has the earth of our heart become stony again?

Can the seed of the word of God still penetrate? Or is it only possible when we hear a “positive” word that is complimentary or affirming to our flesh in some way?

Can we be reproved? Or are we immediately on the defense? What if God wanted to correct us and what if He sent an “unlikely” prophet to do it? Would we be able to receive from Him?

Or would we reject the prophet and his words?

God takes very seriously the reception or rejection of His prophetic Word and there are consequences to both responses.

 

Next post….

  • the consequences of the reception and the rejection of the prophetic word
  • Testing the spirits


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Prophets and Revival : Leonard Ravenhill Quotation

“Ahhh the prophets were men who walked with God, they felt like God, they saw like God, they wept like God, they yearned like God…..leonard r

….And in the richest most comfortable country in the whole world….we stink in the nostrils of Almighty God tonight….

….But ohhh what a difference when a man gets a heart that craves for revival, that longs that God will make bare His arm that all nations will have to acknowledge…”

 

This man has to be the most anointed man I have ever heard preach.  Oh for more like him ! Holy Ghost anguish descends upon grown men as he preaches.  What does it sound like when Holy Ghost anguish comes upon grown men? “To some of you I am sure this is chaos but its music in the ears of Jesus…” (LR)

Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKLlcwd_nqE

leonardravenhill

 

 

 

 


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The Prayer of a Minor Prophet

 thThe Covenant and prayer of a preacher:

(From AW Tozer)

This is the prayer of a man called to be a witness to the nations. This is what he said to his Lord on the day of his ordination. After the elders and ministers had prayed and laid their hands on him he withdrew to meet his Savior in the secret place and in the silence, farther in than his well-meaning brethren could take him.

And he said: O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou has called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou has stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou has said, “I knew thee – I ordained thee – I sanctified thee,” and Thou hast also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

cross-on-hill

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen