Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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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.

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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

 


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The Beauty (and Significance) of Jewish Marriage Customs

jewish-wedding-gift

In my last post (Marriage, yep marriage) I wrote briefly how marriage was specifically designed by God for a purpose.  The purpose of marriage between a man and a woman is that it is to be a testimony and a prophetic signpost in order to point the way to Christ and His Bride – the Church.

In this post we will look at Jewish marriage customs.  Why?  Because I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ in this post-modern age it is easy to miss the beauty and significance of the eternal truths displayed in Jewish marriage.  Jesus Christ’s words and actions take on greater meaning when we understand the culture of Christ’s day.  I believe it will be beneficial to us, as His  Bride, to understand the nature of our covenant relationship with Him, the importance of His promises made to us and to understand the true beauty of marriage.. It is my hope that through this we will get a glimpse of the eternal significance of marriage and the hope that we have in Christ, as His Church….

jewish girlSo, I will start by asking you to picture a young woman living at home with her father, mother, brothers and sisters.

One day a young man comes to her home.  He has travelled all the way from his father’s house in order to ask for her hand in marriage.  The young man brings three important things with him:

  •  a large amount of money,
  • a skin of wine and
  • a betrothal contract, called a Shitre Erusin.

The young woman’s father goes with the young man into a private room and they discuss the price that must be paid by the young man in order to purchase his prospective bride (the mohar).  Once the bride-price is agreed upon, the young man must pay the price in full to the father for the marriage covenant to be established.

A glass of wine is poured.

It is at this point that the young woman is invited into the room.  She sees the young man who has come all this way for her.  Perhaps it may be the first time she has met him, perhaps they have known each other for a long time.  In any case, the terms of the marriage covenant are explained to her and her father asks for her consent to the marriage.  If she approves and consents to the marriage she drinks from the glass of wine that has been poured.  As a symbol of the covenant relationship that has been instituted, the young man also drinks from the same cup of wine, over which a betrothal benediction has been spoken.

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The young couple are now considered husband and wife, although their status is betrothed, rather than that of fully married.  By her partaking of the wine, the young lady is now wholly set apart, sanctified or consecrated, for her husband and exclusively committed to this young man.  She has willingly entered into a legal contract with him and now it’s only a divorce that can dissolve the union.

The young man now prepares to depart from her home.  He is going away, back to his father’s house, to prepare a place for her, his bride.  As he gets ready to leave he notices the sadness of his young bride at his departure and he thus makes her this promise:

In my father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Comforted by the promise of her betrothed, she watches him depart, knowing that he will return for her, just as he said he would.  She keeps herself busy preparing for his return, even though she does not know exactly when that will be.  The fact that she has been bought with a price and that she is now no longer her own, brings her great comfort for it gives her the assurance, along with his promise, that he will return for her.

And so, day by day she watches for his return.  She knows that she must be ready to go at any given moment.  As she waits for her wedding day, it brings her great joy to learn how to live as a wife and mother in Israel and to put together her wedding clothes and linens.

Her betrothed, meanwhile, has not forgotten his bride and is busy preparing for her a place.  He wants his bride to be happy and so sets about building and organizing her living arrangements in his home.  He also does not know when the day of the wedding will take place.  In fact, no one knows the day except his father.  His father will only give permission for him to go and collect his bride when he is fully satisfied with the living arrangements made by his son.

When the time comes, the father gives permission to his son, and the betrothed takes three days to prepare before he begins his journey to go and collect his bride.  He brings with him two of his closest friends and other male escorts.  This would usually take place at night and a torch light procession is made to the young lady’s home.

shofarThe groom’s arrival is preceded by a loud shout and the blowing of a trumpet (shofar) in order to alert his bride that he is on his way.  Her heart leaps for joy at the sound.  She knows that her faithful waiting and watching for him has not been in vain.  He is returning for her as he had promised.

She is taken, along with her female attendants, back with him to his father’s house.  There the wedding guests are already assembled in expectation of the wedding ceremony.  At the ceremony another contract, the Ketubah, which contains the promises made to the bride by the groom, is witnessed by the two friends of the bridegroom and then given to her parents.  During this whole process she remains veiled.

jewish bride

Next, the bride and groom are escorted to the bridal chamber, (huppah), where her groom gives her some gifts.   The following seven days are spent together in the huppah as the friend of the groom stands outside the door.  He waits for the groom to relate to him the news of the consummation of the marriage.  At the announcement of the consummation to the wedding guests, there takes place feasting and joy for seven days. At the completion of the “seven days of the huppah”, the groom brings out his bride, finally with veil removed.  Now all can see his bride as they join in the wedding feast.

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32)

Next time, the explanation of this analogy in Marriage and the Church


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A Fresh Start – Rosh HaShanah

One year ago I saw with my own eyes that God still moves by His prophetic calendar.  I will relate that experience to you in just a moment.

First I would like to briefly explain that tonight at sundown begins the Feast of Rosh HaShanah, also known as the Feast of Trumpets.  This feast continues until sundown on Friday.

The Feast of Trumpets is believed in Jewish tradition to be the time when God created the heavens and the earth.  It is for this reason that the Jewish Civil year begins on this day.

As Christians I believe it is important to know the Jewish roots of our faith, because they bring life, depth and meaning to our faith.  It is also important to know that God has not finished with national Israel.  Bible prophecy apart from national Israel is meaningless.  The fulfillment of His Feasts affect Israel as well as the Church and God certainly has not done away with His prophetic calendar.

A brief outline of the feasts show that the ministry of Jesus Christ (Yeshua) has fulfilled some  of these at His first coming and will fulfill the remainder at His second coming.

1.  The Feast of Passover – fulfilled

By the death of the Messiah

2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread – fulfilled

By the perfect, sinless life of Yeshua and His blood-offering at His death.

3. The Feast of the First- fruits – fulfilled

By the Resurrection of the Messiah

4. The Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost)  – fulfilled

By the birth of the Church at Pentecost

Following the spring cycle of feasts above, there was a four month period separating the spring from the Autumn feasts.  This interval is the Church Age, which is right now.  This temporarily interrupts God’s program for Israel, as revealed in the Feasts.

5.  The Feast of Trumpets

Yet to be fulfilled by the rapture of the Church.  (1 Corinthians 15:52)

6. The Day of Atonement

Yet to be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation with Israel’s national salvation at the culmination of that period. (Romans 11:26)

7.  The Feast of Tabernacles

Yet to be fulfilled by the setting up of the millennial Messianic Kingdom. (Revelation 21:3)

Now I would like to share a brief testimony of how God still moves by His prophetic calendar.  One year ago exactly, on the first day of the Feast of Trumpets, the first day of the Jewish civil New Year, we had Sunday lunch at our house.  A young man to whom we had been ministering for some years came in that morning.  To my amazement and joy as he approached the table the very first thing he said to us was “I am ready to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.”  After we had spent some time talking, he ended up on his knees, repented of his sins and gave His life to Christ.

God is good and His mercy endures forever.  It’s the beginning of a New Year.  Take this opportunity to turn to Christ, the Passover lamb slain from the foundation of the world and have your sins washed away by His spotless blood.  He will give you new life in Him.

If you know Christ already, take this opportunity to re-consecrate your life to Him in total obedience and trust.  He will never let you down.

God bless you this Feast of Trumpets season.


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Wow

“The best training for a soldier of Christ is not merely a theological college. They always seem to turn out sausages of varying lengths, tied at each end, without the glorious freedom a Christian ought to abound and rejoice in. You see, when in hand-to-hand conflict with the world and the devil, neat little biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter: one needs a man who will let himself go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, trusting in the Holy Ghost. The training is not that of the schools but of the market: it’s the hot, free heart and not the balanced head that knocks the devil out. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count. A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ’s service. It is not so much the degree of arts that is needed, but that of hearts, loyal and true, that love not their lives to the death: large and loving hearts which seek to save the lost multitudes, rather than guard the ninety-nine well-fed sheep in the British pen”. CT Studd


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Address on Revival

By Duncan Campbell

The Attitude Of The Church

I am disturbed by the attitude of the Church in general toward aggressive evangelism or revival.

By evangelism I do not mean just an effort to get people back into the Church; this effort, while commendable, does not get us very far. What I mean is something much more: it is the getting of men and women into vital, saving and covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, and so supernaturally altered that holiness will characterize their whole being: body, soul and spirit.

It seems to me that the time has surely come when we must, with open mind and true heart, face ourselves with unqualified honesty and ask the question: “Am I alive to my responsibility as a laborer in God’s vineyard?” I, personally, have constantly to remind myself that I can be a very busy man, yet a very idle minister. How easy it is to live more or less in the enjoyment of God’s free grace, and yet not realize that we are called to fulfill a divinely appointed purpose. Our commission is to declare the whole counsel of God in the midst of men: “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” — that, brethren, is our privilege and our task.

And yet we must confess that too often the great things of God have not been the predominating things: the lesser things of life have been allowed to absorb our interest, and the lure of the lesser loyalty has blurred our vision and robbed us of our passion to win souls for Jesus Christ.

What, then, is the essential to recovery and revival?

Surely a whole-hearted desire to be right with God, to stand before Him in an adjusted relationship. I am convinced that if we are to see the hand of God at work, we must give to our lives the propulsion of a sacred vow, and with Hezekiah of old say: “Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel.” Brethren, the new truths that grip us this morning must find expression and embodiment in a new dedication — that is, if we are to be men whom God can trust with revival.


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Day-time Street Preaching

Misc 051

Yesterday morning I went into the city to street preach with two other women.

Every kind of opposition was thrown against us beforehand to try to stop us from going, including the fact that my five year old son came down with a severe case of croup on Monday night and was still sick yesterday.  Praise God for mothers though, mine looked after Tom while I went into the city.  I was reminded of CT Studd’s words: ” ‘Preach the Word’ is the rod the Devil fears and hates”….

 

But we got there.  It was a completely different ballgame to open air preach during the daylight hours.  At night time there are a lot of homeless people, youth hanging out, as well as people going home from work and others out for the night.  During the day there were older people, there were high school students on excursions with their teachers, there were tourists and group outings.  I felt conspicuous setting up the PA on the little raised area at the front of the station.  During the day, there is nowhere to hide, no cover of darkness at all.  You are very much out there.

 

It was my friend W’s first time out on the streets.  She was a complete natural.  After the three of us prayed together she immediately started going over to the people sitting on the steps and handing out tracts.  I began to preach after a moment of panic wondering in my new PA was loud enough.  It was, as long as I held the mike pressed against my chin.

 

After a while I thought that it is easier preaching during the day because nobody screamed at me to “Shut up” or anything worse.  What a breeze. I saw people laughing and mocking of course but people were quite polite.  That is until I went over to a nicely dressed couple after I had preached, to talk to them and saw that the opposition was in fact there, bubbling away just as fierce, but hidden under a well-dressed facade.

 

“Your literalism is wrong,” he sneered at me, “everything you say is wrong.”

 

We talked for a little while.  it was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had.  I can honestly say I have rarely spoken to anyone who has been so bitter and angry.  And he used to be a pastor for 20 years.  Scary. As we parted, he still spitting venom at me, Holy Spirit gave me the words to say to him: “And yet, Jesus, knowing that you were going to reject Him, still died for you…”  He shook his head and walked away.

 

That was just one experience though.  We had a good time. The Word went out and seeds were sown through the preaching, conversations and hundreds of tracts that were handed out.  At one point as I was preaching, some high school students out on an excursion, gathered in front of me and listened, much to their teacher’s consternation.

 

I’d like to thank those who were praying for us.  I thank God for the Body of Christ.

 

As we left the city and were driving home, W said to me, “I feel my whole life was building up to this point.  I am a different person.”

 

The preaching of the Word not only changes others, it changes us.

Hallelujah.

 

 

 

 

 


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Hmmm..considering the black box

I am now the proud (also excited and a little scared) owner of this black beauty….

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I am excited because it means more autonomy as a street-preacher.  Also it means not having to rely on others’ and their equipment which will allow me more freedom.  It means that I can now go out during the day time as well as the night. But mainly it’s because owning this little baby is the consolidation and the establishment of a vision God gave me for my life years and years ago….

I remember the first time I ever saw an open-air street preacher.  I was walking through the city with my boyfriend (now husband) Matt.  We were out for a lovely day, strolling in the sunshine, holding  hands.  I saw this young guy with black hair standing on a little ledge at the bottom of an Anglican cathedral. He was holding a black Bible and reading from it.  There were three gothic youths standing around him listening respectfully.  Something about him, about what he was doing, laid hold of me.  It made no sense to me whatsoever, that he would stand there and do that, I mean to read from the Bible in public and not care what anyone thought of him was a foreign concept to meYet I was drawn to him. I really wanted to stop and listen, but I couldn’t.  I don’t know why.  My legs just wouldn’t stop.  I couldn’t do it.  I kept on walking, but I kept looking back.  I remember the primary feeling I had for him was respect, because my primary thought  “That is something I could never do“.

After many experiences and years had gone by, there was one day when God gave me a vision of myself standing on a busy city street during the day and preaching.  Yes, preaching. No one was more astonished at the vision than I was, believe me.  It seemed so random that I actually dismissed it from my mind as an impossibility.  However I couldn’t dismiss it from my heart, because God had put it there.  It kept popping up, and popping up, and popping up until God must have decided that I was especially thick, and He had to make it very clear to me by calling me to go out to the road, (as I’ve detailed in “The Call” post).

So whilst I have been preaching in the city on Friday nights for two and a half years now, to be able to preach during the day is new to me.  This Friday, in fact, is when I will be starting this new adventure with a small group of ladies.  So it is very exciting that a vision which God gave to me years ago, as of Friday, will be brought into existence.

(I just want to take a moment here to encourage you to hold on to the dream or vision God has given you for your life.  And the more of an impossibility it seems to you, the more God will get the glory for it.)

However, it is also very scary to be the owner of this black box.  Why?  Um, because street preaching is scary.  Yes, I still find it scary.  I still get the shakes from nerves.  I still wonder why I am doing this to myself every time I drive into the city.    (That is, until the fire of God begins to burn so deeply within my soul that I just HAVE to preach, have to warn, have to share Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  And the fire burns up the fear of man. It drives away the shakes and the fear…oh my friend – God is good, He will never leave you stranded – just try Him.)

It’s also scary to be entrusted with this responsibility.  The black box seems to stare at me from its solid position at my feet as if to say “You do realize that with me also comes more accountability, don’t you?  Don’t  you take me lightly now….”

I don’t ever want to take it lightly.  I want to appreciate more and more every day what my Jesus has done for me and is still doing for me and will continue to do for me.  He is my Lord and Saviour, He is my life, He is the reason for my being.  He is the love of my life.

Jesus, all for Jesus, all I am and have, and ever want to be…

God bless you

 


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Ha! Love it….

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us – so everyone was happy.”

Richard Wurmbrand