Thursday, December 1, 2005

DECEMBER NEWSLETTER 2005

Living Word Christian Fellowship

“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving...” Psalm 26:7

Vol. 14, No. 12 December 2005


Yeah - rah, the holidays are upon us once again. I can hardly wait. Hum-bug! The holidays have become so worldly how can anyone enjoy them with all the hustle and expense and trouble that come to families because of bickering and feuding? We can’t wait for the holidays to come, but we can’t wait for them to be over so we can go on with life.

I think it is time to stop and reflect why the Lord instructed that His people observe festivals. HE WANTS US TO REFLECT ON HIM. There won’t be a hum-bug attitude and there won’t be a hurry-up-and-get-here attitude if we stop and reflect on the goodness of the Lord and what He truly means to us. Our lives are too filled to waste another moment. Focus on what the Lord wants for you during these days and you won’t be disappointed or let down. Don’t allow depression because someone didn’t do what you wanted. Let go and let God rule your hearts and mind, giving you the comfort you need during these days. This might just be the best time of your life. Just remember the Lord above all else and enjoy the changes of the season. It is not just a natural change coming into winter. We are in a spiritual change of seasons that might just be the best ever.

Yeah - rah, the season of the Lord is upon us, I can hardly wait.

In Christ,

Pr. Steve

Comfort Through Rest


Isa 53:4-54:1 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

In this time we must learn how to be comforted. For in His comfort we enter into the REST of God.

In Exodus 18:18 Moses’ father-in-law told Moses that taking matters into your own hands would wear you out – for it is too heavy a burden to carry – so seek for some help. We have federal guidelines to tell us what the legal weight is for bridges, elevators and airplanes. The same principle applies to us. We must know what is the limit of weight we can place upon our shoulders.

Jesus paid the price for our burdens, griefs, distresses, pains and sorrows. God is wanting us to lay aside unnecessary weights. Father wants us to live one day at a time: Psm.68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God of our salvation – think about that.” (AMP)

The reason Solomon could say all of life was vanity is that he didn’t know how to let God be God and carry his concerns. We won’t walk in comfort until we let go – and let God. Every work of darkness is trying to overload us with burdens of difficulty. The Lord doesn’t want us to have confidence in ourselves. Self-confidence keeps us from entering into the REST in God.

*The first step in entering into REST is to acknowledge “I can’t do this Lord.” Then let Him take over.

People who experience nervous breakdowns suffer because they carry what they are not supposed to carry. It used to be difficult to understand how people could break under the weight, but now the burdens are severe enough that I can see with a compassionate heart how it happens. This is why we need Holy Spirit living inside of us. Every hour of the day we need His Comfort and strength to solve our problems and difficulties.

Each of us is required to do what we need to do, but when it gets too hard, then we turn it over to Him. The ego says, “I can do this myself.” Psalm 127:1 tells us “Except the Lord builds the house, they that labor do it in vain who build it.”

We do what we can with our limited human abilities, then what we can’t do, we turn to Him. We do this so we will spend time working on and establishing our faith in Him: (1Timothy 6:12) “Fight the good fight of faith.”

If we don’t do this, we won’t enter into His rest, we won’t know when to stop. Draw close to the Lord, dare to let go of situations, stand firm on the faith you have in God: (Ephesians 6:13) “Having done all (the crisis demands), to stand firmly in your place.” But before standing you have to do your part – put on God – the armour of truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, faith, and the Spirit.

**So the first step in coming to His REST is acknowledgement of your limitations. The second step is putting on the life of Christ and standing firm.

We all believe that perfect rest awaits us at death. But we don’t have to wait to die to enter into His rest. What does Isaiah 53 tell us? Christ paid the price for all our burdens and struggles. So if we attend to the Word of Truth and obey this word, instead of struggling with our burdens and problems, we can enter into His rest.

According to Hebrews 4:10-11 if we don’t enter into His rest now, we fall into unbelief, but Jesus tells us how to enter into His rest: (Matthew 11:29-30) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. [The Amplified New Testament]

The yoke is the example of complete surrender to Jesus – do what He says to do, go where He says to go and be what He says to be – EXACLY. But you won’t enter into His rest until you stop bucking the system. If you want true freedom from the law of mankind, you must continue in the yoke of Jesus. That is the way true rest comes. The commands of the Lord are not laborious, complicated, or exaggerated. It is those who have a mind to obey Him that will enter into His rest and comfort. God is the sum of the law. His commands are not difficult because we can draw on the perfect triumph of Christ Jesus.

The coming of Christ in our life makes it possible for us to receive the healing found in Isaiah 53. The more we accept His life over our life, the greater the change and influence that will produce the REST. To accept the YOKE of Jesus is the essence of “belief” found in Hebrews 4:10-11. No yoke – no rest!

What we have today is chaos in the lives of Christian people because they won’t wait on God, or stay yoked to Jesus. Therefore, their belief won’t remain.

It is going to take a spirit of meekness and humility to remain in His yoke. It will take complete trust in Jesus that will reveal how easy our burdens become. And then we will know that Christ has removed the stress and given us true comfort.

We will go through adversity and tribulation in order for us to realize this truth. Proud people can’t rest in God. Only the weak and lowly of heart will find their rest: In Hebrews 4:3 The word “believed” is “adhered to” = means to stick to it. To be bound to Him. If we want His rest, we must get bound to Jesus, becoming, as it were, His Siamese-twin.

Why doesn’t the enemy want you to enter into His rest? Because once you find the reality of it you won’t allow anything to keep you from it.

What exactly must we do to be “zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently” to enter into God’s rest?

*** 1st. Step = Acknowledge you can’t do it any more on your own.

2nd. Step = Put on the life of Christ

3rd. Step = Abide in the Vine [abide = The Word – let the rhema of God come forth & obey it.]

God’s promise is comfort and refreshing when you are weary, but will we believe? We can only enter into His rest by faith. And when faith is operating in your life, you shall find comfort for your soul and rest for your life.

-Pr. Steve

I am going to be sharing with you thoughts from my journal over the past few years. This is to show you how the Lord has brought about His Word in my life to minister to you and to show you how real this walk can be. Please read and understand by the Spirit about ...

. . . My calling as a pastor


Pastor’s Journal 2004

Dec. 4: There is no healing and deliverance that is lasting without discipline.

Dec. 6: I bind myself to the altar and do your will, O God.

Dec. 11: There is a profound peace and joy and comfort of the Holy Spirit that you are speaking to me about this day. Grant it, I pray!

Dec. 16: “It is an hour when My people are making adjustments to how they will get their needs met. Many are looking in all directions to see where they can find answers. But I am calling them up higher. I have the answer. I am the way, the truth and the life. The only true relationships are those that originate and are maintained in Christ. I am the nurturer. I am the one who guides. When the relationship is based this way there is strength and confirmations of the way of life. Every other type of relationship must fall. You know the difference, you have experience the truth. Do not waiver, for this is the life.”

Dec. 22: “Perfect peace have they whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” (Isa. 26:3-4)

Dec. 25: Pursue Love, Pursue Love, Pursue Love

Dec. 27: “I have given them your Word, sanctify them by your truth,. Your Word is truth.” (John 17:14,17)

Dec. 30: My greatest desire in serving you, O Lord, is to see clarity, to hear distinctly and to walk circumspectly with you in all that I am.

Christmas Presents, or Christ’s Power?


Christmas 2005 could be just another holiday celebrated with lighted trees and gifts wrapped in bright colored paper. Or it could be a time of heartfelt reflection upon the fact that God gave us His only begotten Son because He was so concerned about the condition and the fate of the sin-filled people.

(1Jo 3:5 KJV) “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”

Anyone who has experienced the forgiveness for sins through the grace of Jesus Christ would tell you that there is no greater gift, no greater joy, and no greater reason to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is much more cherished when viewed as a holy day instead of a holiday. In fact, many people have become greatly frustrated with the Christmas holiday because of financial difficulties and the pressures of satisfying the expectations of others. Those feelings of frustration can only come when the true joy of Christmas has been stolen from us.

John 10:10 (KJV) “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.”

The real adversary of our Christmas joy is not Mr. Scrooge, nor is it “the Grinch,” it is devil. The devil knows that the greatest way to steal our joy of Christmas is to convince us to fall back into sin.

1John 3:8 (KJV) “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

The word of God is true, and the truth will make us free. Sin is of the devil, but it is destroyed when we follow our Lord Jesus Christ. The power of Christ can flow freely in our lives when we choose to thank God for the deliverance from sin, instead of giving into temptations that lead us back into captivity. Though the thanksgiving turkey may all be gone, there is still plenty of time to start giving thanks to God, as well as preparing our hearts for the real reason for this Christmas season. As always, it is our choice as individuals to believe and apply our lives to what we hear, but those who choose Christmas presents instead of Christ’s power may just find themselves having more fun during Halloween dressing up like devils.

-Kurt Thurston

The Eye of a Needle - part 1 of 3


Luke 12:13 through Luke 12:22 (KJV) “13And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Poverty Spirit vs. Financial Freedom

In the church we have focused on racial and religious reconciliation, but God desires us to add riches. The church needs to reconcile their riches. There is prejudice between those who have and those who have not. The poor are against the rich; the rich against the poor. There is even prejudice between the large churches and small churches.

Wealth and materialism are physical resource that God gives humans to control. The human tendency is to lift those resources to replace God as the center of life.

Matt. 19:23 through Matt. 19:24 (KJV) 23Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Wealth is acknowledged to be a blessing from God. God chose Abram and promised to bless him and make his name great (Gen. 12:1-3). In the process, Abram became rich (Gen. 13:2). Further, we are told that God blessed Isaac; and he became very rich (Gen. 26:12-14). Solomon’s wealth was seen as a sign of God’s favor (1 Kings 3:13; 10:23). Job, too, was blessed by God, and his wealth increased greatly (Job 42:12). These few examples do not allow us to assume that poverty is a sign of God’s disfavor. The Bible does not say that.

Jesus’ references to money in the New Testament consist mainly of stories or parables which show the dangers of wealth.

In the parable of the seed and the sower, Jesus warned that riches and the pursuit of pleasure may keep some from maturing in the faith. Luke 8:14 (KJV) 14And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. This scripture can show us that even though a church is wealthy, faith may not mature, thus producing weak Christians.

A harsh warning against the destructive nature of wealth is sounded in the story of the rich farmer (Luke 12:16-21). In Jesus’ words, the person is a fool who labors to lay up treasures on earth rather than treasures in heaven. Luke 12:15 (KJV) 15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Many would choose to pour their wealth into buildings and not into relationships.

Personal worth and success are not to be measured in terms of material wealth or possessions. This is different from the way that the world views possessions. May we view wealth as God views wealth. God knows what we can handle. He is sovereign over finances. But by our stewardship of how little we have or how much we have will we be judged. There is nothing more valuable than the life of another person.

-Pr. S. Chad Ross

The Church as Spiritual Zion - part 3 of 3


(Amplified and KJV)

Contrary to cultural and “religious” traditions, God extended salvation through faith in Christ to include Gentile believers as well as Jewish believers: “And He made no difference between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith….” God’s purpose for visiting the Gentiles was “to take out of them a people [to bear and honor] His name” {Acts 15:9, 14}. Those who restrict the meaning of scripture to literal interpretation fail to recognize that God works on both the natural and spiritual level. This is not to say the spiritual level eradicates and replaces the natural, but rather, accompanies and completes it. In “…speaking to you who are Gentiles” {Rom 11:13}, Paul warns against their becoming “proud and conceited” {v. 20}: “For if God did not spare the natural branches [because of unbelief], neither will He spare you [if you are guilty of the same offense] {v.21}. Through Zechariah, God declared, “…for behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH” {Zec 3:8} and through John, Jesus declared, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” {John 15:5}. That “the branches” must abide in “the BRANCH” indicates a uniting which results in a Corporate Branch (Christ, the head; His followers, the Body), a Corporate Zion.

To support his claim that the gospel is not limited to the Jews and that the Jewish believers should not be surprised that God did not act as they had supposed, Paul asks, “Did Israel not understand? [Did the Jews have no warning that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth?]{Rom 10:19}. In answer, he quotes from Moses and Isaiah. Writing to the Galatians, Paul again refers to the unity and oneness of those who accept the Lordship of Christ: “There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ [are in Him Who is Abraham’s Seed], then you are Abraham’s offspring and[spiritual] heirs according to promise” {Gal 3: 28-29}.

Through the use of analogy, Paul explains that God cut off the Jews, referred to as “fallen branches,” and that “…you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree (referring to the Gentiles), “and against nature grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much easier will it be to graft those natural [branches] back on [the original parent stock of] their own olive tree” {Rom 11,23-24}. Paul then sets forth God’s purpose for the cutting off and the grafting in: This blindness and hardness of heart “…has [temporarily] befallen a part of Israel [to last] until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in” {Rom 11:25}.

Near the conclusion of his discourse, Paul’s statement that “And so all Israel will be saved…” {Rom 11:26} does not mean that every Jew and only Jews will make up the “Israel” of God. Obviously, not all natural Israel (Jews) will believe on Christ; and as already stated, His body will be made up of both Jews and Gentiles; therefore, the “Israel” of which Paul speaks is composed of the elect believers from both groups, those who have been “called according to his purpose,” i.e. those “whom he did foreknow…did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,” those “whom he called...justified and glorified” {Rom 8:29-30}. Those out of every tribe and tongue who have chosen to be chosen and who have proven themselves, like their Master, to be faithful and true, make up the Overcoming Church, God’s spiritual Zion.

Through the power and blood of Christ Jesus, spiritual Zion has been given both the anointing and the authority to conquer every foe: “Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you” {Luke 10:19}. “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass; and thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth” {Mic 4:13}.

That spiritual Zion will join with the Lord in judgment is clear: “And deliverers shall go up on Mount Zion to rule and judge Mount Esau, and the kingdom and kingship shall be the Lord’s” {Obe 1: 21}. Even now, God’s trumpet, His prophetic word, is going forth and His army being prepared: “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on My holy mountain” {Joel 2:1}. The Lord is uttering His voice through a people so saturated with His Word that the sword they carry and the word they have become blend into one Living Word. “And the Lord utters His voice before His army, for His host is very great, and [they are] strong and powerful who execute [God’] word” {Joel 2:11}. Those who will complete Joel’s army, i.e. spiritual Zion, are even now in the final stages of training, preparation, strengthening and transformation. With Christ, they have been co-crucified and co-buried; and by the same resurrection Spirit that raised Him from the dead, they are being quickened to rule and reign with Him. May each of us hear and respond to the call: “Come forth, O, Zion, Army of the Living God.”

-Ruth French