SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Image Map
Discussion Forum : General Topics : Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

Print Thread (PDF)

Goto page ( Previous Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 Next Page )
PosterThread
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

May 2005
[b]4. FULFILLING OUR CALLING[/b]

In Colossians 1:23, 25, Paul says, "I am made a minister", and in 1 Timothy 2:7, "I am ordained an apostle". Paul had been ordained by the nail-pierced hands of his Savior, and not by any man. It was God Who had called Paul to be an apostle. This calling, he says in Colossians 1:25, was given to him. It was God's gift - not something that he had achieved or earned. He also says in the same verse that this calling was given to him to serve others. It was a stewardship entrusted to him by God for the work of building up the church.

God has a specific calling for each of us. It is futile asking God to make us into something that He has not called us to be - for the Holy Spirit decides what gift each of us should have. Paul was called to be an apostle. But not everyone has such a calling. What we do need to seek God's face about is for power to do that which He has called us to do. “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it," was Paul's advice to Archippus (Col. 4:17).

God does not put square pegs into round holes. He knows what His church needs at a particular time in a particular place, and He prepares each of us, (if we are submissive) for a specific task - which may be quite different from what we ourselves want to do. “Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a preacher? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? Can everyone heal the sick? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in languages we've never learned (tongues)?...No” (1 Cor. 12:29, 30-LB). But God has placed each of these gifts in the Body of Christ. The important thing is for us to recognize our gift and calling - and to exercise that gift and fulfill that calling. Spirit-filled service is service that fulfils that specific calling which God gives us.

If there is one gift that the New Testament specifically encourages us to seek, it is the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:39). This is perhaps the most needed gift in the church today. A prophetic ministry is one that edifies (strengthens and builds-up), exhorts (rebukes and challenges) and consoles (comforts and encourages) (1 Cor.14:3). We need to pray that God will give us prophets in our churches, who will speak the truth of God, without fear or favor - men of a different caliber from the professional religious scribes, who are more interested in their salary, status and popularity.

May the Lord help each of us to seek His face earnestly to find out what our calling is.


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 5:58Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

May 2005
[b]5. GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER[/b]

There were many under the old covenant who came to an exceptionally God-fearing life. One cannot imagine Elijah behaving in an improper way with the opposite sex or John the Baptist running after money or Moses seeking the honour of the world. So the mere fact that we have been freed from such matters does not mean that we have entered into New Covenant.

If a weekly paper on the Scriptures had been published in old covenant times, many good things would have been found in such a paper. But the underlying note in it would have been, "Thou shalt ..." and "Thou shalt not..."

Under the new covenant it is different. It is not just that the standard is higher. The spirit is also different. Consider the words of Jesus in Mathew 5,6 and 7. The old covenant had commanded "Thou shalt not kill... Thou shalt not commit adultery..." etc. But when Jesus spoke about the spirit behind these commandments in Mathew 5:21,22,27,28, he did not use the words "Thou shalt not..", but merely explained that in the Kingdom of God, anger was equivalent to murder and sexually dirty thoughts were equivalent to adultery. It is important to note this difference in spirit.

Under the old covenant, it was compulsory to give 10% of one’s income to God. But under the new covenant, there is no command indicating what percentage is to be given to God. On the other hand, it says, "Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7). This is to be the spirit of obedience under the new covenant, to all of God's commandments: NOT UNDER COMPULSION BUT CHEERFULLY.

Under the new covenant, the spirit in which we obey is what God values - not just the obedience. There is difference between a slave who does what he is commanded, because he has no choice and a grown- up son who obeys his father cheerfully out of love. Galatians 4:7 states that, that is the difference between the old and the new covenants. Employees will work in an office, for 8 hours a day for a salary. A son however, will work in his father's office, if necessary for 16 hours a day, without any pay. God is looking for SONS now, not for employees (servant). The old covenant has been abolished (Heb 8:13)

It is possible, for people to keep the new covenant commandments in the spirit of the old covenant. Such people usually develop into new covenant Pharisees. They can then hinder the building of the church, for their soulish zeal can come forth with many "Thou shalt"s that they seek to impose on others to conform to the outward form in the church.


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:00Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

June 2005
[b]1. ENCOURAGEMENT IN TRIBULATION[/b]

"I, John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet." (Rev.1:9,10).

John refers to himself as a "fellow-partaker in the tribulation which is in Jesus". Every wholehearted disciple of Jesus should be prepared to partake in the "tribulation which is in Jesus", as long as he is in this world. John did not get this unveiling while living in comfort. He received it, while experiencing tribulation at Patmos, because he had been faithful to "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (v.9). He had to experience tribulation himself in order to be able to write about the saints experiencing the great tribulation from the Antichrist in the last days. God takes us through trials and tribulations first before giving us a ministry to others who are facing tribulation.

Paul said, "God encourages us in all our affliction so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the (same) encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God" (2 Cor.1:4 - Amplified). It is not surprising therefore that the doctrine that Jesus would come secretly and take (rapture) His church out of the world, before the great tribulation, arose for the first time in a country (England) where Christians were living in comfort, and at a time (mid-19th century) when they were not facing any persecution for their faith at all. Today this doctrine continues to be proclaimed and believed by Christians who live in ease and comfort, in countries where there is no persecution against Christians at all.

Since the prayers of most Christians are basically of this order : "Lord make my life more comfortable on earth", it is not surprising that they have gladly accepted this teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. Thus Satan has succeeded in lulling multitudes of Christians with a false comfort, so that they will be unprepared for the great tribulation when it does come upon them.

The words of Jesus are clear: "In the world YOU HAVE TRIBULATION. But take courage; I have overcome the world" (Jn.16:33). He never promised that we would escape tribulation - whether small tribulations or the great one. But He did say that we could overcome even as He overcame. He is far more interested in making us overcomers than in saving us out of tribulation, because He is far more interested in our character than in our comfort. Neither did Jesus ever say that escaping the great tribulation was a reward for faithfulness, as some teach. On the contrary, He said that those who forsook everything to follow Him would have even more tribulations than others who didn't follow Him (Mk.10:30).

When He prayed to His Father for His disciples, He said, "I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil." (Jn.17:15). He did NOT want His disciples to be raptured out of the world at that time, just because they were going to face tribulation. In the 3rd-century when Christians were being thrown to the lions in the Roman amphitheatres and being burnt at the stake in different parts of the Roman empire, the Lord did not rescue them from such tribulations. The God Who shut the lions' mouths and took away the power of the fiery furnace in Daniel's day, did NOT do such miracles for these disciples of Jesus - for these were new-covenant Christians who were going to glorify God through death. Like Jesus their Master, they neither asked for, nor expected twelve legions of angels to come and protect them from their enemies.

From heaven, God watched the Bride of His Son being torn to pieces by lions and being burnt to ashes; and He was glorified in their testimony - for they had "followed the Lamb, wherever He went", even unto a violent physical death (Rev.14:4). The only word that the Lord spoke to them was, "Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life." (Rev.2:10). Even today, when the disciples of Jesus are being tortured and persecuted for His Name in many lands, the Lord does not take them away from the earth. And He will not rapture us to heaven before the great tribulation either. He will do something far better. He will make us overcomers in the midst of the great tribulation. Jesus is far more interested in saving us from evil than in saving us from tribulation. He permits us to go through tribulation because He knows that that is the only way that we can become spiritually strong.

Such a message is strange teaching indeed to a comfort-loving Christendom that has been coddled in their pews every Sunday for years by ear-tickling preachers. But this is the message that the apostles preached to the early churches. "They (the apostles Paul and Barnabas) strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, saying, `Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.'" (Acts 14:22).

The little trials that we face at home and at work now, are but a preparation for the greater ones that will come in the days to come. That is why it is essential that we are faithful now. For God says, "If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses?" (Jer.12:5).

John speaks here about being a "fellow-partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus" (v.9). We have to enter into fellowship with Jesus in tribulation first, before we can share His throne with Him in His kingdom. Perseverance is a great virtue that is emphasised throughout the New Testament. Jesus Himself said "They will deliver you to tribulation.....but the one who endures to the end shall be saved" (Mt.24:13).


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:01Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

June 2005
[b]2. GOD CHOOSES THE WEAK AND THOSE WHO REALIZE THAT THEY ARE 'ZEROES'[/b]

In 1 Corinthians 3:5, Paul asks the question “What then is Apollos and what is Paul?”. We would reply that Paul was a mighty apostle of the Lord, who had raised the dead, established many churches, and even written Scripture. But he says of himself, “What is Paul? A SERVANT”. That was his opinion of himself until the end of his life. No wonder Paul never fell by the wayside.

The moment we begin to think of ourselves as anything other than servants of others, we have begun to backslide.

Paul says further, “I planted, Apollos watered”. Which of the two is greater? The one who plants - who goes as a pioneer to an unreached area and does a work for God where nothing existed before? Or the one who comes along later and waters the plant through the teaching of God’s Word and encouragement, and builds the believers into a Body? The answer is “Neither”. Both are “nothing” - says Paul (v.7). Both are zeroes. Only God - Who caused the plant to grow - is everything.

Paul considered himself a zero until the end of his life. And so God could use him till the end of his life. God was everything to Paul.

The Lord needed a donkey once to speak to Balaam. He needed a donkey at another time to ride into Jerusalem. And He has need of donkeys even today for His purposes. Who are we then? Just donkeys whom the Lord has picked up, to speak through, or to ride on.

Wherever brothers are willing to be nothing so that God might be everything there will never be any competition among them as to who is considered to be the most spiritual or the greatest etc.

Whenever a person tries to project himself as the leader of a group, God will put him on the shelf. It is true that every church must have leaders. But the leader is someone whom God selects.

And if God gives another brother the grace to be recognised by the others as their leader, we should be quick to humble ourselves and accept that fact. If however, we become jealous of his ministry, or covet his position, we will become agents of Satan who hinder the building of the Body of Christ in our locality.

God in His sovereignty knows who is the best person to lead any church. And He doesn’t look for the clever and the intelligent. He chooses those who are weak and broken and those who realize that they are zeroes. Have we realized that?


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:02Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

June 2005
[b]3. A CHURCH BECOMES LIKE ITS LEADER[/b]

If there is shallowness in the lives of most believers today, it is because the lives of their leaders are shallow. The people’s lives are carnal, because the leader’s life - his thought-life, his relationship with his wife, and children and fellow-workers - is carnal.

A church invariably becomes like its leader. In Revelation 2 and 3, we see that in each of the seven cases, the Lord spoke the same message to the church as He did to its messenger. Each message concluded with the statement that the Spirit was saying the same thing to that church. Where five messengers (elders) were carnal, their churches were carnal. And where two messengers were spiritual, their churches were spiritual too. The messenger in Laodicea was lukewarm and so was his church. The messenger in Philadelphia was faithful and so was his church.

In Genesis 1, a phrase that occurs frequently is ‘after their kind’. We read there of fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, plants yielding seed after their kind, the fish and the birds after their kind, and beasts, creeping things and cattle after their kind (verses 11,12,21,25). In creation, everything produces after its own kind.

God created Adam "in the likeness of God" (Gen.5:1). But Adam produced a son "according to his own image" (v.3). He could not produce a son in the likeness of God. He could produce one only after his own kind.

Spiritually too, we will all produce children according to our own likeness and after our own kind. If we are the intellectual type, we will produce intellectually-minded people through our ministry. If we are misers, we will produce misers. And if we’re haughty and proud, we will produce haughty people through our ministry. On the other hand, if we have the spirit of a servant, our spiritual children will have a servant-spirit too

It is possible however, that a rare brother may break out of his leader’s mould and seek God for himself and become spiritual, in spite of his leader’s carnality. But such a case is rare. Generally speaking, most believers are like sheep who blindly follow their leader, wherever he goes. Like preacher, like people! And when both sheep and leader are blind, they both fall into the ditch.

In every church - in the best and in the worst - those sitting in the outer court will be of the same type - half- hearted, worldly, seeking their own, lovers of money and lovers of ease and pleasure.

But a good church will have a strong inner core of leaders who are godly. This core determines which way the church is going to go.The central core will usually begin with two men who have become one with each other. God will be with them and the core will begin to grow in size and unity.


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:03Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

June 2005
[b]4. GOD IS IMPRESSED ONLY BY OUR CHARACTER[/b]

In the New Testament, we read of One with Whom the Father was well-pleased, and also of a group of people with whom God was not well-pleased. A study of this contrast is most interesting.

God Was Not Well-Pleased With Them

Of the 600,000 Israelites who perished in the wilderness in their unbelief, it is written that "God was not well-pleased with them" (1Cor. 10:5).

Those Israelites had been redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb (symbolic of our redemption through Christ), they had been baptised in the Red Sea and in the cloud (symbolic of baptism in water and baptism in the Holy Spirit) (1 Cor.10:2). Yet God was not happy with them.

God was nevertheless very good to them, in that He provided all their physical and material needs supernaturally. "Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years", Moses told them at the end of their forty years of wanderings (Deut. 8:4).

God healed all their sicknesses too. The Bible says, that "there were no sick and feeble folk among them." (Psa.105:37 - Living).

God did many miracles for them. In fact, no single group of people in the world's history has ever seen as many miracles as those unbelieving Israelites did, with whom "God was angry for forty years" (Heb. 3:17).

This teaches us that God answers the prayers of carnal believers too - and that He provides them with their earthly needs, even supernaturally if necessary. The fact that God does a miracle for us proves nothing about our spirituality. It only proves that God is a good God Who makes His sun shine on the righteous and the unrighteous alike!

Jesus also warned us that in the final day of judgment, many who had done miracles in His Name would be rejected and disqualified because they had lived in sin. He said, "Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness.'"(Mt. 7:22,23).

He was obviously referring to Christian preachers and healers who did genuine miracles in His Name. From the words of Jesus, it becomes clear that MANY of these men (not just a few and not all, but many) who have these miraculous ministries are not free from sin in their private lives and in their thoughts and attitudes. This will be exposed at the judgment- seat of Christ.

This teaches us very clearly that the working of miracles, by itself, is no indication that a man is approved by God. Have we understood this thoroughly? If not, we will be deceived.

God Was Well-Pleased With Him

In contrast to the Israelites in the Old Testament with whom God was not well-pleased, we read of Jesus in the New Testament that the Father was well-pleased with Him.

When Jesus was thirty, the Father spoke these words about Him publicly from heaven, "This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well-pleased." (Mt. 3:17). And that was at a time when Jesus had not done a single miracle or even preached a single sermon!

What then was the secret of His being approved by God? It was obviously not because of His ministry, for He had not even commenced His public ministry. It was because of the type of life that He had lived for thirty years.

We are approved by God not on the basis of the success of our ministry but rather on the basis of our faithfulness in the temptations that we face in daily life.

The only two things that we are told about the hidden thirty years of Jesus' life (apart from the incident in the temple) are - that "He was tempted in all points as we are and yet did not sin"(Heb. 4:15), and that "He never pleased Himself" (Rom. 15:3).

He had faithfully resisted temptation at every point and He had never sought His own in any matter. This was what delighted the Father.

Our external accomplishments may impress worldly people and carnal believers. But God is impressed only by our character. It is our character alone that can bring us God's approval. And so if we want to know what God's opinion of us is, we must deliberately erase from our minds what we have accomplished in our ministry, and evaluate ourselves purely by our attitude towards sin and self-centredness in our thought-life. That and that alone is the infallible gauge of our spiritual condition.

Thus, the world-traveling healer/preacher and the busy mother who is never able to leave the confines of her home, have exactly the same opportunities to acquire God's approval.

This is why we shall find at the judgment-seat of Christ that many who are first here in the Christian world will be last there and many who were considered last here on earth (because they did not have a well-recognised ministry) will be first there!


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:04Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

July 2005
[b]1. INSTANT OBEDIENCE TO GOD WHENEVER HE SPEAKS TO US IS ONE OF THE SECRETS OF GUIDANCE[/b]

"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Prov. 3:6).

We are sometimes eager to know God's guidance in one area of our lives, but not so keen on having His direction in other areas. For example, we may earnestly seek God's will in marriage, but may not do so when looking for a job. Or it could be vice-versa. Or perhaps we may seek God's guidance how and where to spend our month's annual leave, but may never ask Him how to spend our money.

This is because we are inclined to want God's guidance only when it is convenient for us. Selfish motives often lurk, unknown to us, in our hearts. We seek God's will in some matters because we don't want to make mistakes that might cause us suffering or loss. The motive is not that we might please God but that we might be comfortable and prosperous. Hence we fail to receive God's guidance, for He has promised to guide only those who acknowledge Him in all their ways, those who gladly accept His direction in every area of their lives.

There are many areas in which God's will is already revealed to us in the Scriptures. For instance, the Bible says that God wants us to be holy and thankful:

"This is the will of God that you should be consecrated - separated and set apart for pure and holy living....

"Thank God in everything - no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks; for this is the will of God for you (who are) in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18).

Similarly, we are told that God expects us to love our neighbours as ourselves (Rom. 13:9). If we have received God's forgiveness and salvation, we should desire the same for our neighbours. God's will is clearly revealed in the New Testament: we are to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).

Loving our neighbours implies a concern primarily for their spiritual needs, but does not exclude their other needs. God has said, "I want you to share your food with the hungry…………………..clothe those who are cold………….If you do these things, God will shed His own glorious light upon you.....Then when you call, the Lord will answer. `Yes, I am here.' He will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak, and to stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumours! Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually" (Isa. 58:7-11-TLB). God delights to reveal His mind to those who are unselfish and concerned about the needs of others.

If we fail to obey the Lord in these areas where He has already revealed His will, then we cannot expect Him to guide us in other matters. It is a principle of Divine guidance that God never grants further light to one who ignores the light he already has. God will not show us the second step before we take the first. "As you go, step by step, I will open up the way before you", is His promise (Prov. 4:12 - Paraphrase). He is interested in our every step. "The steps of a (good) man are directed and established of the Lord. He delights in his way and He busies Himself with his every step" (Psa. 37:23).

Here is another promise of guidance for the obedient: "I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress, (but) don't be like a senseless horse or mule." (Psa. 32:8,9-TLB). The horse is characterized by impatience always wanting to rush ahead whereas the mule is characterized by stubbornness often refusing to move forward. We must avoid both these attitudes.

God speaks to us through our conscience when we are disobedient. We should therefore be careful to heed the voice of conscience always. Jesus said, "Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound and fulfilling its office, your whole body is full of light" (Luke 11:34). What did Jesus mean by the eye? In Matthew 5:8, He connected spiritual vision with purity of heart. So the eye must refer to the conscience which when obeyed constantly, leads us to purity of heart.

By itself, conscience is not the voice of God, for it is educated and shaped by the principles on which a person bases his life. But if it is obeyed constantly and brought in line with the teaching of the Bible, it will reflect God's standard increasingly. The promise in Luke 11:34, then is, that if we keep our conscience clean we shall have God's light flooding our lives - and thus we shall know His will. If we fail to listen to the voice of conscience in our daily lives, we shall fail to hear the voice of the Spirit when seeking God's guidance. Instant obedience to God whenever He speaks to us is one of the secrets of guidance.

Recently, I read of a fifteen-year-old boy, blind from birth, who flew and landed an aircraft safely. This remarkable feat was accomplished by his instantly obeying every order given by his instructor pilot. When facing life's manifold problems, we may feel like blind men trying to land a plane on an unknown and invisible runway. But if we develop the habit of instant obedience to God's commands, we shall find that we land safely.


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:05Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

July 2005
[b]2. RECOGNIZING THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT[/b]

The Holy Spirit speaks to us through an inner pressure in our spirits rather than through an audible voice. He urges us inwardly either to take or not to take a certain course of action. Normally, this is the result of much time spent in prayer, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed course of action. However the Holy Spirit may also give us a sudden urge at times to go somewhere or to do something. But sudden impulses to do something ridiculous can come from the Devil or from ourselves. So we must be careful. The Holy Spirit will in any case never lead us contrary to the teaching of the Bible.

We can distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit by the increasing pressure He produces in our spirits and the growing peace He gives to our minds, as we pray over the matter. "The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" (Rom.8:6-NASB). The Devil's voice is usually harassing and often accompanied by threats of judgment, if we do not obey instantly. God invariably gives us sufficient time to consider and be sure of His will.

On some occasions the Spirit may lead us to do something our minds cannot fully understand. Stephen Grellet, an American preacher, was once led by the Spirit to a certain logging camp which he found deserted. But he was so sure of his guidance, that he went into the empty dining hall and preached his sermon. Many years later, a man approached Grellet in London. Reminding him of the incident, he said he had been the cook at that camp and had been the only man there that day. He had hidden outside a window and listened to Grellet's sermon. He was converted and had gone on to work for the Lord. Such guidance however is extremely rare.

It is often not easy for us to distinguish between our own heart's voice and the voice of the Spirit, for our hearts are so deceitful. For instance, when considering a possible life-partner, we can easily mistake the emotional pressure and the "growing feeling of peace and joy at every contemplation of the proposed step", for the witness of the Holy Spirit. The chances of being deceived are, however, considerably lessened, if we examine our motives and make sure we desire the glory of God alone and are prepared to accept whatever He chooses for us. It is usually where such yieldedness is lacking or where motives are selfish that we go astray.

God's will may sometimes be just what we like ourselves, but it can also be what we do not instinctively like. We should not think God's will is always the most difficult course of action that lies before us. Neither need it be the easiest course of action. When we are in a difficult situation or a tough job, we may be tempted to run away from the place. This can easily be mistaken for the leading of the Spirit. On such occasions, if we are in doubt, it is better to stay where we are and to trust God to give us grace to manifest Christ's victory in our situation

One practical step, when you have to decide on a course of action, could be to draw up a 'balance sheet'. Draw a line across a sheet of paper and write down all the reasons for doing a particular thing on one side, and all the reasons against it on the other. Pray over these reasons daily and revise the list as necessary. Be sincerely willing to accept either course of action. As you continue to pray, the Holy Spirit will give you a witness in your spirit as to what you are to do. If you experience a growing peace in your spirit about a particular course of action, this will usually be a clear indication of what God wants you to do. The Bible says, "Let the peace (which comes) from Christ (through the Holy Spirit), rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts - deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds" (Col. 3:15-Amplified). As in a football game, where all play stops when the referee blows his whistle (to indicate a foul), so we should check ourselves when we lose our peace. We should proceed ahead only when we have perfect peace in our spirits.


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:06Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

July 2005
[b]3. THE PATHWAY OF DISCIPLESHIP[/b]

Matthew 28:20 says that the disciples must be taught to obey and practise every single command given by our Lord. This is the pathway of discipleship. One has only to read Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 to see some of the commands that Jesus gave - that most believers do not even bother to obey. A disciple is a learner and a follower.

The need is for people who have been gripped by the calling to proclaim the whole counsel of God, who are themselves obedient themselves to all that Jesus commanded, and who eagerly desire to teach others too to obey all of Jesus’ commands - and thus build the body of Christ.

Jesus said that all His disciples would be identified by one mark - their love for one another (Jn.13:35). Mark that! The disciples of Jesus Christ are identified, not by the quality of their preaching or their music, nor by their "speaking in tongues" nor by their carrying Bibles to the meetings, nor by the amount of noise they make in their meetings!! They are identified by their fervent love for one another.

The evangelistic meeting that brings people to Christ must lead on to the establishment of a church in that locality, where the disciples love one another. Yet the sad thing is that in many places where repeated evangelistic meetings are held year after year, it is difficult to find even one church about which it can be said that the members therein do not fight with one another or backbite against one another, etc, but love one another.

One can understand it, if new converts are unable to live such a victorious life immediately. But what shall we say if strife and immaturity characterise even the elders and Christian leaders in the churches of our land?

This is the clearest proof that the second and most important part of the great commission (mentioned in Matt. 28:19,20) - discipleship and total obedience to the commandments of Jesus - has been totally ignored.

The first part of the great commission (Mk. 16:15) alone is usually emphasised everywhere. There, the emphasis is on evangelism, the message being confirmed by signs and wonders done by the Lord.

In Matthew 28:19,20, however, the emphasis is on discipleship - the disciple’s life being manifested by total obedience to Jesus’ commandments. Multitudes of Christians are taken up with the former, but very, very few with the latter. Yet the former without the latter is as incomplete and worthless as half a human body. But how many have seen this?

In Jesus’ ministry, we read that great multitudes followed Him, because of His evangelistic, healing ministry. He always turned around and taught them about discipleship (See Luke 14:25,26). Would that today’s evangelists would do the same - either themselves, or in cooperation with apostles, prophets, teachers and shepherds who can complete the work that the evangelists have begun.

Why are preachers hesitant to proclaim the message of discipleship? Because it will reduce the numbers in their congregations. But what they don’t realise is that the quality of their churches will become far better!!

When Jesus preached discipleship to the multitudes, it soon dwindled down to a handful of only eleven disciples (Compare Jn. 6:2 with 6:70). The others found the message too hard, and left Him (See Jn. 6:60,66). But it was with those eleven disciples who stayed on with Him, that God accomplished His purposes in the world finally.

As Christ’s Body on earth today, we are to carry on the same ministry that those eleven apostles commenced in the first century. After people are brought to Christ, they must be led to discipleship and obedience. Thus alone will the body of Christ be built.

The way to life is narrow and few are those who find it.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:07Profile
shibu
Member



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

 Word For The Week - by Zac Poonen

July 2005
[b]4. A VIRTUOUS WOMAN[/b]

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes some of the characteristics of a virtuous woman.

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!


_________________
Shibu Clement

 2005/11/8 6:09Profile





©2002-2020 SermonIndex.net
Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy