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shibu
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

January 2005
[b]1. Encouraging others[/b]

Paul and Barnabas strengthened the souls of the disciples in the churches they had established, “by encouraging them” - so the record reads (Acts 14:22). We too can strengthen others through a ministry of encouragement - not only through the preaching of the Word, but also by offering appreciation where it is due.

Jesus was always quick to give a word of appreciation where due. He praised a centurion for his faith (Matt. 8:10), a repentant woman for her love (Luke 7:47) and Mary of Bethany for her devotion (Luke 10:42; Mark 4:8,9). To His failing disciples, He said, "You are those who have stood by Me in My trials" (Luke 22:28).

Paul when writing to the churches - even to the most carnal ones - usually found something to appreciate in them. To the church in Corinth, riddled with factions, disputed and immorality, Paul began is letter thus: "I can never stop thanking God for all the wonderful gifts He has given you, now that you are Christ's. He has enriched your whole life. He has helped you speak out for Him and has given you a full understanding of the truth; what I told you Christ could do for you has happened! Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing His will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. And He guarantees right up to the end that you will be counted free from all sin and guilt on that day when He returns. God will surely do this for you, for He always does just what He says, and He is the One Who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, even Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:4-9-TLB). Only then did he go on to say, "But, dear brothers, I beg you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves' (verse 10).

Paul tried to begin with something positive. So must we. This does not come naturally to all of us. Most of us tend to see the negative side of others first. But if we submit to the discipline of the Holy Spirit, we shall find Him showing us something to appreciate in everyone.

A teacher once spread a large white sheet of paper with a small ink-spot in one corner, in front of his class and asked the children to write down what they saw. All of them described the small ink-spot and no-one mentioned the large area of un-spoilt paper. So too, in human relationships: We often tend to concentrate on people's minor defects and do not see the good in them. Altering one's outlook requires determination but it is worth the effort. Gradually the habit of noticing people's good qualities can be acquired. The next step is to tell them how much one appreciates those good qualities.


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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:15Profile
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

January 2005
[b]2. There is Power in the name of Jesus[/b]

The Bible says "Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). The Name of Jesus is the Name at which Satan will always flee. The picture that most Christians have in their minds is one of Satan chasing them and of their running for their lives from him. But that is exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches. What do you think? Was Satan afraid of Jesus or not? We all know that Satan was scared to stand before our Saviour. Jesus is the Light of the world, and the prince of darkness had to disappear from before Him.

Jesus told His disciples about how He had seen the fall of Satan in heaven. And there, Jesus said, that Satan's fall had been "like lightning" (Lk.10:18), when God cast him out. When Jesus told Satan in the wilderness, "Be gone, Satan", he disappeared from Jesus' presence too at the speed of lightning. And when we resist Satan in the Name of Jesus today, he will flee from before us too at the speed of light. The darkness flees before the light. Satan is afraid of the Name of Jesus. He is afraid to be reminded of the fact that Jesus is Lord. Demon-possessed people will not confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, neither will they confess that Satan was defeated on the cross. There is power in the Name of Jesus Christ to cast out any demon and to make any devil flee from you - at the speed of lightning. Never forget that. I want to tell you that anytime in your life if you are in a difficulty, or facing some insurmountable problem, when you are facing something for which there appears to be no human answer, call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus. Say to Him, "Lord Jesus, you are on my side against the devil. Help me now". And then turn to Satan and tell him, "In Jesus Name I resist you, Satan". I want to tell you that Satan will flee from you immediately, because Jesus defeated him on the cross. Satan is powerless against you, when you walk in the light of God and resist him in Jesus' Name. Satan obviously does not want you to know about his defeat and that is why he has prevented you from hearing about it for so long. That is why he has stopped most preachers from preaching about his defeat as well. I want you all to know this clearly that Satan was defeated once and for all by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. You need never again be afraid of Satan. He cannot trouble you. He cannot harm you. He may tempt you. He may attack you. But the grace of God in Christ will always make you victorious over him, if you humble yourself, submit to God and walk in His light at all times. There is tremendous power in the light. Satan, the prince of darkness, can never enter the realm of light. If Satan has power over many believers, it is because they walk in darkness, living in some secret sin, not forgiving others, or being jealous of someone, or pursuing some selfish ambition in their lives etc., Then Satan gets power over them. Otherwise he cannot touch them.

But remember, that you will have no power over Satan if you don't walk in purity. Never allow the devil to pollute your minds in any way. If your mind is impure, you won't be able to use the Name of Jesus against Satan effectively. The Name of Jesus is not like some magic mantra that can be repeated to ward off evil. No. You have to submit to God first. Only then will the devil flee from you when you resist him.


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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

January 2005
[b]3. Four reasons for God blessing Jacob[/b]

Alone with God Jacob was blessed in the place where he was alone with God. He sent everyone else away and was alone (Gen. 32:24). 20th century believers find it difficult to spend much time alone with God. The spirit of the jet- age has got into most of us, and we are in a perpetual state of busyness. The trouble is not with our temperament or our culture. We just don't have our priorities right - that's all. Jesus once said that the one thing needful for a believer was to sit at His feet and listen to Him (Luke 10:42). But we don't believe that any longer and so suffer the disastrous consequences of disregarding Jesus' words. If we are always busy with our various activities and do not know what it is to get alone with God in fasting and prayer, we shall certainly not know God's power or blessing - His real power, I mean (not the cheap counterfeits that many are boasting of).

Broken by God Jacob was blessed in the place where he was broken completely. At Peniel, a Man wrestled with Jacob. God had been wrestling with Jacob for twenty years, but Jacob had refused to yield. God had tried to show him how everything he had put his hand to had gone wrong, despite his cleverness and his planning. But Jacob was still stubborn. Finally God struck Jacob's hip-socket so that his thigh was dislocated (Gen 32: 25). The thigh is the strongest part of the body, and that was the part that God struck.

Hungry for God Jacob was blessed in the place where he was earnest and hungry for God. "I will not leave you", he cries out, "until you bless me" (Gen 32: 26). How God had waited for twenty long years to hear those words from Jacob. He, who had spent his life grabbing the birthright, women, money and property, now lets go of them all and grabs hold of God. This was the point towards which God had been working in Jacob's life all along. It must have delighted God's heart when Jacob at last lost sight of the temporal things of earth and longed and thirsted for God Himself and for His blessing. We are told in Hosea 12:4, that Jacob wept and pleaded for a blessing that night at Peniel. What a different man he was that night compared with his earlier years when he desired only the things of this world. God's dealings with him at last bore fruit! Before God blessed Jacob fully, He tested Jacob's earnestness. He said to Jacob, "Let me go," testing whether Jacob would be satisfied with what he had got or whether he would yearn for more. God tests us too. He can never bless a man fully until the man is in dead earnest for God's best. We need to thirst like Jacob, saying, "Lord, there is more to the Christian life than I've experienced thus far. I'm not satisfied. I want all Thy fullness at any cost." When we come to that point, it is but a short step to the fullness of God's blessing. Notice in the incident at Peniel, that it was when Jacob was in a state of weakness (after his thigh had been dislocated), that he said, "I will not let you go, God." God could easily have left him and gone, but He didn't. For it is when a man is most weak in himself that he has greatest power with God.. It is when Jacob is defeated, broken and utterly weak, that God tells him, "You have now prevailed." One would think that God should have said, "You have at last been defeated." But no. The word is, "You have prevailed. You shall henceforth have power with God and with men" (Gen 32: 28). We prevail, when God has shattered us of our own strength and self- sufficiency.

Honest with God Jacob was blessed in the place where he was honest with God. God asks him, "What is your name?" Twenty years earlier, when his father had asked him the same question, he had lied and said, "I am Esau" (Gen. 27:19). But now he is honest. He says, "Lord, I am Jacob" - or in other words, "Lord, I am a grabber, a deceiver and a bargainer." There was no guile in Jacob now. And so God could bless him. God blessed Jacob there - when he was honest, when he did not want to pretend any more, when he confessed, "Lord I'm a hypocrite. There is shame and pretense in my life." I tell you, it takes real brokenness for a man to acknowledge that from the depths of his heart. Many Christian leaders say words like that with false humility - to gain a reputation for being humble. I am not referring to that type of abomination. What I mean is an honesty that comes out of a truly broken and contrite heart. That is costly. There is so much guile in all of us. May God have mercy on us for pretending to be so sanctified when we are not. Let us covet sincerity and honesty and openness with all of our hearts, and then there will be no limit to God's blessing upon our lives.


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 2005/11/8 5:19Profile
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

January 2005
[b]4. A warning from the examples of 5 messengers and churches[/b]

In Revelation, Chapter 2 and 3, When we look at the five messengers and churches that are rebuked by the Lord, we see in them a definite downward trend.

In Ephesus, we see the loss of first love for the Lord. When we lose our devotion for Christ, we have taken the first step downwards. In a little while, this leads on to our losing our love for our fellow-believers too.

In Pergamum, we see that worldliness has crept in slyly through the teaching of Balaam. The Nicolaitans (who were kept out of the church at Ephesus) have now got power here. When devotion to Christ is lost, worldliness creeps in and the religious hierarchy takes over the church. Once a religious hierarchy has taken over the leadership of a church, Babylon is built easily.

In Thyatira, the church has become thoroughly worldly, and as a result religious harlotry is rampant. A woman now has power to influence the church, and is proclaiming false grace and counterfeiting the gifts of the Spirit too (prophecy in particular).

In Sardis, we see hypocrisy. Sin is covered up and man's opinion is valued more than God's. The messenger of the church is spiritually asleep (unaware of spiritual realities). The form of godliness however hides from the eyes of men the spiritual death that the Lord sees in him.

In Laodicea, things have degenerated to such an extent that the body has not only died, but also begun to decay and stink. Lukewarmness and spiritual pride are the cause of the death. In the above four churches, there was something good that the Lord could still see in each of them. But here in Laodicea He could see nothing.

None of the messengers of the above churches were aware of the true spiritual condition of their own lives or of their churches. All of them were complacent because of the high opinion they had of themselves. They could not hear what the Lord had to say to them personally, because they were all busy preparing sermons to preach to others. They were more interested in preaching than in seeing their own need.

It is very easy, once a person has become the messenger of a church, to imagine that he himself is beyond the need for correction. The Bible speaks of "an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction" (Eccl.4:13). The messengers of these five churches were all like that foolish king. Their word had been law for so long that they could not even imagine the possibility of their now being wrong in any matter!! Such was their deluded state. They imagined that they could never lose the anointing of God from their lives. Their proud attitude was what made them spiritually deaf.

Paul told Timothy, "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1 Tim.4:16). Timothy had to watch over his own life first of all. He would then be able to experience salvation from un-Christlikeness in his own life and thus be enabled to lead others to such a salvation as well. This is the way the Lord has appointed for all His messengers in every church. Paul told the elders of the church in Ephesus also to watch their own lives first of all and then the lives of their flock (Acts 20:28).

This is the responsibility of every messenger of the Lord - to preserve his own life first of all in purity and under the constant anointing of the Spirit. "Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head." (Eccl.9:8).

The Lord had wanted to speak to these messengers directly. But they did not have listening ears. Finally He had to speak to them through an apostle. Thank God that there was at least a John who could hear the Lord's voice clearly. In spite of their failures however, the Lord had hope for all five messengers - for He still held them all in His right hand (Rev.2:1). If they repented, they could become glorious brothers once again. And their churches could radiate the glory of the Lord once more. If however they failed to heed this last warning, then the Lord would cast them off.


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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:20Profile
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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

January 2005
[b]5. Importance of fellowship with God & hearing His voice[/b]

After the Lord had given John a revelation of Himself in Chapter 1 of Revelation, He gave John an insight into the actual state of many of the churches in that part of the world - in Chapters 2 and 3 . Many of those churches were in a very backslidden state. Then the Lord said to John in Chapter 4:1: "Come up here!". What a lovely word that is! When we see the state of things around us, and encounter problems for which we do not have a solution, it is good to hear the Lord saying to us, "Come up higher! Come and see things from My standpoint - and not from the low earthly level from which you have been looking at these things". I believe this is a word that we need to hear constantly - "Come up higher!".

Paul said, "One thing I do - forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus". He had heard the call to come up higher and he was never satisfied, no matter how high he had reached.

The danger in Christian leadership is that we stand so much in front of people. We are acclaimed. We even have media coverage now. We have titles before our names and degrees after our names!! What more do we need! I'll tell you what we need : "We need to get closer to the heart of God! We need to go up higher!"

God did not create Adam because He needed a servant. He did not create Adam because He wanted a scholar. And He did not create you and me because He needs servants or scholars. He already has enough servants in the millions of angels. He created Adam first of all that Adam might have fellowship with Him. That's why, for Adam, the law was NOT: "Six days you shall work and the seventh day you shall rest". No. That came through the Law of Moses later. Adam was created on the sixth day. And so his very FIRST day - the seventh day for God but the first for Adam - was a day of rest and fellowship with his Creator. It was from that day of fellowship with God that Adam was to go out into the garden and serve God for the next six days.

And when we forget that order - when we forget that fellowship with God must always take precedence over our going out into His vineyard to serve Him - then we've missed the primary purpose of our creation and of our redemption.

We can be so taken up with the need around us that we have no time for fellowship with God. We may feel that's a waste of time, when there is so much need around us. But what is the result of need-based work? Perhaps plenty of work - but the quality will be poor.

Fellowship with God has now become the most precious thing for me - during the last several years. It has changed my life and taken away discouragement and depression from my life altogether. I have found the secret of walking with God. And that's made my service joyful! It is no longer dry!

All your service depends on your personal walk with God. You remember when Jesus was in the house of Mary and Martha. He said to Martha, "You are worried and bothered about so many things". What was Martha worried about? There was a need there. And she was serving the Lord, unselfishly and sacrificially, sweating away in the kitchen - not cooking food for herself but for the Lord and His disciples. What greater service could she do than that? It was totally unselfish! And she didn't do it for money or for a salary, as many Christian workers serve today. No. It was totally unselfish! And yet the Lord told her, "You are bothered about so many things". She had thought that Mary was selfish, sitting there at the Lord's feet and not doing any work, but just listening. And Jesus said, "That's the important thing. That's the ONE THING needful".

There is a beautiful paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 4:2 in The Living Bible that reads like this: "The most important thing about a servant is that he does just what his master tells him to."


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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

February 2005
[b]1. Listening to God’s Voice[/b]

Large doors swing on small hinges. God tests us in many areas many times, before He commits any important ministry to us. He tests us to see if we are faithful in the little things before He commits greater things to us. As with Adam and Eve, God asks for obedience to His voice first of all.

One of my earliest memories of obeying the voice of the Lord was when I was 15 years old, soon after I had joined the National Defence Academy at Khadakvasla (Pune) for training to be a Naval officer.

The year was 1955 and I was on vacation (from the Academy), with my parents who lived in New Delhi. One Sunday evening, my younger brother and I had gone to attend a church service. After the service, at about 8 pm, both of us were waiting at the bus stand to catch the bus to return home. Suddenly a thought began to grow in my mind that I should witness to someone about Christ. I had heard the good news of the gospel again that evening and felt I must share it with someone, before going to bed that night. But I was not sure whether this was a prompting from the Lord or just my own thought. In any case it was getting late - and I needed to get back home soon.

In the distance, I saw the lights of a bus coming towards us. I told the Lord silently, “If that is NOT the bus to my home, then I will take it as a sign from You that I should witness to someone before going home. If it IS the bus for my home, then I will take the bus and go home.” The bus drew near and I saw that it was NOT the bus I had to take. The sign I had asked for was fulfilled. So I told my younger brother that I had to go somewhere else before coming home and asked him to go home alone. I then walked to a nearby park hoping that I would meet someone there whom it would be easy to witness to – because this was the first time I was venturing out to witness for the Lord in a public place, alone.

I saw an old man sitting on a bench in the park and went and sat next to him. I made casual conversation with him for a few minutes in Hindi and soon became bold enough to talk to him about eternal things. I told him about the love of God for man and how Christ died for our sins and the simple gospel message that I knew. He listened to me patiently. Since it was God Who had put an urge within me to witness that night, I assume that He must have had this man in mind to reach with the gospel. I hope I shall meet this man in heaven one day.

That was my first venture at witnessing openly and all by myself in a public place. God tested me to see if I would obey the inner promptings of His Spirit.

That was “the day of small beginnings” (Zech.4:10). Since then God has given me the opportunity to preach His Word to crowds of many thousands of people in many parts of the world. But it all began with a small act of obedience one Sunday evening in New Delhi.

Be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. You will never know until you stand before the Lord how much you missed whenever you did NOT obey that voice.


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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

February 2005
[b]2. Called by God[/b]

A spiritual leader will first and foremost, have a calling from God. His work will not be his profession, but his calling. No-one can appoint himself as a spiritual leader. "He has to be called by God for this work" (Heb.5:4-Living). This is a principle that cannot be changed. The next verse goes on to say that even Jesus did not appoint Himself as our High Priest. The Father appointed Him. If that be the case, how much more this should be true of us, in our calling. The tragedy today is that the vast majority of "Christian workers" are working to earn their living. It is a profession for them. They have not been called by God.

There is a lot of difference between "a profession" and "a calling". Let me explain what I mean. Suppose there's a sick child in a hospital and a nurse looks after it for 8 hours on her shift-duty. That nurse then goes home and forgets all about that child. Her concern for that child was only for 8 hours. Now she has other things to do, such as going to the movies and watching television. She doesn't have to think about that child again until the next day when she goes back to work. But the mother of that child doesn't work 8-hour shifts! She can't go to the movies when her child is sick. That's the difference between a profession and a calling.

If you apply that illustration to the way you care for the believers in your church, you'll discover whether you're a nurse or a mother! Paul said, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7, "We proved to be gentle among you as a mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart you not only the gospel but also our own lives because you've become very dear to us". Paul not only imparted the gospel of God to those Christians but his life as well. Any ministry that is not done in this way is not really Christian ministry. Paul served God like that because he had a calling to the ministry. He didn't take it up as a profession.

It's wonderful to serve the Lord. It is the greatest thing in the world. Nothing on earth can be compared with it - but only if you're called. It cannot be reduced to a profession. God called me to serve Him (full-time) on May 6, 1964 when I was an officer in the Indian Navy. I handed in my resignation then to the naval authorities. But it was like Moses asking Pharaoh to let the Israelites go! The Indian Navy wouldn't release me. It took two years and repeated applications before they finally released me - miraculously - in God's perfect time. Being called of God has made all the difference in my life.

First of all, it doesn't matter to me now, what people think about me or my ministry, because Someone Else is my Master and I have to answer only to Him. Secondly, I can trust God to stand by me and give me grace whenever I face any trial or opposition in my ministry - and that happens often. Thirdly, it doesn't matter to me whether I receive any money or not, and whether I get any food to eat or not. If I receive food and money, well and good. If I don't get any food or money, that's fine with me too. I cannot stop serving the Lord, just because I didn't get money or food - because God has called me. I can't get rid of my calling. I'm not a salaried employee who can stop working when I'm not paid or fed! It's like the case of the mother and her child. A nurse will stop working if her salary is not paid one month. But a mother can never stop. She doesn't get a salary in any case! And she'll look after her baby even if she doesn't get any food or money! That's how the apostles served the Lord.

What a glorious thing it is to be called of God! You can never do the Lord's work, the way God wants you to do it, if you do it as a profession. It has to be a calling or nothing. Every other job in the world can be done as a profession. But not a mother's, or a father's, or that of a servant of the Lord! All these are the result of a calling. Paul told the Corinthian Christians that even if they had 10,000 teachers, they still had only one father (1 Cor.4:15). Paul was both a spiritual father and a mother to his flock. His was not a profession but a calling.

"Take this child and nurse him for me and I shall give you your wages" is what the Lord has said to me (Exod.2:9). He said that to me first of all concerning my own physical children. And then He said that to me concerning my spiritual children too. When we take care of God's children He's the One Who is responsible to give us our wages, not man. If we serve men, then let us look to men to pay us. But if we serve the Lord, then let us look to Him alone to provide us our needs, in whatever way He sees fit. And let Him also decide how much we should receive each month. There is a dignity about a true servant of the Lord.

But it is possible that an elder feels no such sense of responsibility for the people in His church. He may content himself with teaching the Bible every Sunday. But He may get a surprise when Jesus comes again and evaluates his ministry and he may discover that his entire earthly ministry was only wood, hay and straw, fit only for being burnt (1 Cor.3:12,13). Think of the tragedy that will be! If you take this warning seriously now, it could reduce your regret at the judgment seat of Christ.


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 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

February 2005
[b]3. Contrast between 'A True Spiritual Father' and 'A Teacher'[/b]

Paul said that even if there were countless teachers, there were not many fathers, in his time (1 Cor.4:15). This is true even today. Every servant of God must strive to have the spirit of a father towards the brothers and sisters in the church. It is easy to BECOME a father, but it is difficult to BE a father. A man can produce ten children without any difficulty. But to bring up those children to mature manhood is quite another matter. It is the same in the church. To bring people to the new birth is relatively easy. But to present them perfect in Christ to the Father is far more difficult. Our ambition should not be to have a large church but a pure one. It is no use having many people in our church, if they are not growing up to maturity and perfection.

Paul told the Corinthians, as a spiritual father, "I do not write these things to shame you" (1 Cor.4:14). Teachers seek to humiliate their failing students and put them to shame publicly. But fathers are different. They cover every sin that their stumbling children commit, and continuously encourage them to a higher life. It is far easier to be a teacher in an assembly than a father, for it costs a great deal of self-denial to carry the burdens of others on our hearts. Teachers can never build a family. They can only build classes. And many churches are schools, and not homes. Only a father can build a home and a family. If our church is not like a family, what is the reason? It must be that we are teachers and not fathers. Do we look at the brothers and sisters in the church as students who need to be taught? Then we have the wrong spirit. If we are fathers, we will look at them as those who have to be borne with, and supported in a loving, caring and understanding way. It is good for us to judge ourselves and see what we really are - fathers or teachers. It is no use blaming the brothers and sisters in the church saying that they are all carnal. Let us judge ourselves first. A true spiritual father will not seek his own gain in anything, but always the welfare and the good of his spiritual children. Paul says in 2 Cor 12:14,15 , "I will not be a burden to you. I do not seek what is yours but you. Children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls". Those are the words of a true father. It cost Paul everything to be a father. He considered all that he had gained in life as rubbish compared to gaining Christ. He also considered it worth sacrificing everything in order to be a father to those whom he had brought to Christ. A teacher works for pay. He does not seek the good of the students primarily, but his own gain. The gain we expect may not be money, but honour. Do we want to be respected and recognised as servants of God by others? Then we are seeking a salary - of honour - from them. Then we are teachers, not fathers. Fathers expect nothing in return for all that they do for their children. Paul did not expect respect or even submission from others. He only sought their spiritual growth.

How does a father care for his children? In a poor home, the father and mother will not even eat, if there is not enough food for the children. They will gladly deny themselves, and they will not even let their children know that they have not eaten, lest the children feel bad about it. A father hides his self denial from his children. Do we have such a spirit - that denies itself for the good of the brothers and sisters, and will not even let them know about it. Another characteristic of a father is that he is eager to see his children advance beyond him in life - in education and in every other way. There are many fathers who have never studied beyond high school, who sacrifice so much to give a college-education to their children. They are happy to deny themselves the comforts of life for this purpose and they are delighted when their children graduate. No father is ever jealous to see his son advance beyond his status or his educational level in life. That is how a true servant of God will be too. He will be delighted when younger brothers are wholehearted and get revelation from the Scriptures and are used by the Lord to be a blessing to others. He will sincerely long that they should advance beyond him spiritually, and be more useful in the Lord's hands than he has ever been. When we see younger brothers growing up in the church, without any folly being manifested in their lives, because of good leadership that protects them, we should rejoice that they can have such a blessing as we never had when we were young. There will not be even a shade of jealousy in us, if we are fathers. On the contrary, we will be delighted. We will rejoice that it is going well with them. Only fathers can build the true church - the New Jerusalem. We may understand and proclaim all the truths of the new covenant, and yet if we do this with the spirit of a teacher we will still build Babylon. A teacher is very conscious of all the labour that he has invested in his students. He thinks of the honour he will receive if his students do well. He is always thinking of what he will gain, even when his students do well. A father however is quite different. He desires only the welfare of his children. He desires nothing for himself. A teacher will criticise his students. A father however will encourage his children. If we keep on criticizing the brothers and sisters, we will accomplish little, even if everything we say is true. A father will accomplish much more by encouraging his children. Only a father can continue to be kind to ungrateful and evil children. A teacher will give up on ungrateful students very quickly.


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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:26Profile
shibu
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Joined: 2003/9/13
Posts: 230
Goa, India

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

February 2005
[b]4. Balanced by the body of Christ[/b]

The Body of Christ can be compared to a hospital. When a man is sick and goes to a hospital, the hospital has various departments to help him. Perhaps he needs an injection, or physiotherapy, or surgery. He may need to visit the eye doctor or the ear doctor. So the hospital has various departments. The eye doctor spends all his time just looking at people’s eyes and nothing else. That’s not because he feels that other parts of the human body are unimportant, but because his specialty is the eye. In the Body of Christ too, each believer has a different gift and calling. And each one is imbalanced by himself. The only perfectly balanced person Who ever walked on this earth was the Lord Jesus Christ. All the rest of us – even the best among us - are imbalanced. We can find our balance only as we work together with other brothers and sisters – with the other departments in the Lord’s hospital. So there’s no place for individualism in this hospital! A good hospital will have many departments to cater to the various needs of people. In the same way, the Body of Christ too has a variety of ministries and many spiritual gifts to help people. No church or group has all the gifts of the Spirit. But in the total body of Christ, they are all there. We must know what our own specific calling in the Body is.The world is full of spiritually sick people. And nobody’s case is hopeless. Everyone can be fully healed by the Lord. This is the good news of the gospel that we proclaim. The worst sinner and the most perverted person can find healing in the Lord’s hospital. A good hospital will never turn away a seriously sick person. Inferior hospitals do that because they are not equipped to handle serious cases. In the same way, a good church will never tell even the greatest sinner in the world that his case is hopeless! A good church will be able to change the worst of sinners into the greatest of saints - if the sinner is willing to take the treatment given. We can compare the church to a human body too. In the human body, each part has a function; and that part concentrates on fulfilling its own function alone. But it appreciates, values and cooperates with the other parts that have different functions. That’s how it must be when we work together with other ministries in the Body of Christ too.In 1 Corinthians 12, the Holy Spirit uses the example of eyes, ears, hands and feet to picture the way the gifts of the Spirit are exercised in the body of Christ.

I emphasise certain things from the Bible over and over again. That’s because that is the burden the Lord has given me. I’ve stuck to the ministry the Lord has called me to, because I know that is the only ministry in which I can be useful to the Lord. I’ll frustrate the Lord’s plan for me if I try to do something else. But I’m not against other ministries. I value them highly. The stomach values the hand highly, but it never tries to do what the hand does. For example, it never tries to pick up food from a plate. It allows the hand to do that and then does its own job of digesting the food that the hand picks up and sends down to it! That’s a picture of how we complement each other in Christ’s Body.Most believers haven’t seen this truth of the variety of ministries in the Body. But if you don’t see this truth, you’ll never be able to fulfil all that God wants to accomplish. It’s good for all of us to be clear in our own minds as to what God has called us to. The burden the Lord gives us in our hearts is usually an indication of the ministry He has for us in His Body.You have a distinct and unique ministry in Christ’s Body that no- one else can fulfil. And that ministry will never be a balanced one. It will be imbalanced. You’ll have to find your balance by working in fellowship with others who have different ministries in the Body. That’s the way God keeps us humble – by making us dependent on others. Praise the Lord! All of us are strong in some areas of our life, but weak in other areas - just like a student may be good in English and weak in Maths. But we must know where we are weak and strengthen those areas. Your church may be strong in its emphasis on evangelism but weak in its emphasis on holiness. If so, then you know what type of ministry your church needs to expose itself to.


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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:27Profile
shibu
Member



Joined: 2003/9/13
Posts: 230
Goa, India

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

March 2005
[b]1. The danger of being shortsighted[/b]

Peter warned other Christians saying, "Don't ever forget how you yourself were once cleansed from your sins"(2 Peter 1:9). He warns them there that if they do forget that, they will become blind and short-sighted. I don't ever want to be blind or short-sighted. I want to have a long-range vision - of heavenly values and eternal values - at all times.

Who are the short-sighted ones? Those who value earthly things - the pleasures of sin, material wealth and man's honour and approval. All such people are short-sighted. We need to feel sorry for such believers. If you see a man whose physical vision is so poor that he can't see anything more than 10 feet ahead of him, you don't get angry with him. You feel sorry for him. If you see a man who needs to keep a book 2 inches from his eyes in order to read it, you don't get angry with him. You feel sorry for him, don't you? If an eye- doctor asks a man wearing thick lenses whether he can read the "eye-chart" and the man replies that he can just about see the top letter but is not sure whether it is an "E or an "S", what does the doctor do? Does he get angry with him? No. He feels sorry for him. And when we see believers who are so short-sighted as to live for money and the pleasure of sin and the approval of man, it's no use rebuking them. We must feel sorry for them, because they are so terribly shortsighted. They are going to have tons of regret when they stand before the Lord one day.There are lots and lots of believers like that.

And do you know how they became blind? They forgot "their purification from their former sins" (2 Pet.1:9). They forgot the pit from which God pulled them out. They became proud of the fact that God blessed them subsequently.

I never want to forget the pit from which God pulled me out. I know that all my sins have been blotted out and that God does not remember even a single sin that I have ever committed. I stand before God today, just as if I had never sinned even once in my life - because I have "been justified by Christ's blood" (Rom.5:9). That's how God sees me. But I will never forget what I once was. God says to me "I will not remember your sins any more" (Heb.8:12). But I will always remember what I once was.

Now, I don't remember my past in such a way as to allow Satan to condemn me or depress me with the thought of my sins. No. Never. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom.8:1). When the devil accuses me I tell him straight to his face that "the blood of Jesus has cleansed me from ALL my sins". overcome Satan "by the blood of the Lamb" (Rev.12:11). But I'll never forget the pit in which I once was, when God met with me and filled me with His Holy Spirit.
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Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:29Profile





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