Wednesday, February 1, 2006

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER 2006

Living Word Christian Fellowship

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

Vol. 15, No. 2 February 2006


Here we are in another year, going along like usual. But in the Spirit realm things are progressing. I am astounded, to say the least, that so many are not finding what is being released from the supernatural. I grieve and grieve over the losses in people’s lives that make them seem to be impoverished. We are to grow stronger and stronger in the Lord, especially in this day of darkness when the Church is supposed to be growing into the image of Christ. Without this transformation, we are just zombies existing.

My God paid the ultimate sacrifice so I could live in the fullness of time and become all I have been called to be in Christ. God is so perfect in His ways, He is literally rejoicing over those who are pressing into Him.

Occasionally, when I find someone in whom the Spirit of Christ is operating, there is such a stirring within me. But it hurts when so many can’t find the Spirit. Why not? Because the enemy is wearing out the saints with the trivial mundane life of rich America.

I recently read that most pastors believe their congregations are doing pretty well. But when the parishioners were asked, their response was quite the opposite. How can we not know the state of our flocks. There are desperate people going through desperate situations. We must have answers if we want to see these overcome and be victorious in Christ and over this darkness.

John the Apostle exhorts us in 3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” I think we are weak today because we are not taking proper care of our souls.

Press into Him.

In Christ,

Pr. Steve

Self-Examination (2 Corinthians 13:5)


In order to continue to walk close to the Lord, we must examine ourselves constantly. Determined self-examination destroys the bad habits of busybodies, judgmentalism, and faultfinding. Pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts (Psm. 139:23). Responding to God’s searching requires frankness, humility and patience, but we will experience more of the Spirit of God.

To be born of the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit are two different things. Walking is progressive. Only those who examine themselves regularly will continue to walk in the Spirit.

Jesus taught us that “evil thoughts defile.” Matt. 15:19-:20 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. These are the things which defile a man…” Evil thoughts are merely wrong thoughts in our hearts that keep us from fellowship with Christ Jesus. The words “heart” and “mind” are often the same in scriptures. If we let sinful thoughts or motives reside in our minds, our hearts are affected and we lose fellowship with Christ. We stop walking in the light of His Spirit (1 Jn. 1:7). The standard is clear = “KEEP YOUR THOUGHTS AND HEART PURE IF YOU WANT TO WALK WITH THE LORD.”

Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:28 “But let a man examine himself…” and in 2 Cor. 10:5 he writes, “Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Don’t get into suppositions, daydreams, and imaginations. These are proud, lofty, rebellious thoughts that cut off the leading of the Spirit. Thoughts that despise other people are also deadly. We must bring every thought into subjection to the written Word, and make our minds obedient to the Living Word. As we do, our minds become renewed and we become transformed. Otherwise, we forfeit our chance to walk with Christ.

God is continually looking at our hearts – the center of our affections and thinking. Pro. 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Everything in our personal lives originates from our hearts. Right thoughts keep the flow of the Spirit. Wrong thoughts quench the flow of the Spirit, cutting us from the Vine and leaving us in confusion. Self-examination eliminates disobedience from our hearts and allows life to flow out.

Disobedience is sickness to our hearts. The Holy Spirit is sent to help us monitor our heart conditions daily so we don’t fall into deception or spiritual darkness.

Jesus promised that signs would follow those who obey Him. (Mk. 16:17 – believe = ones’ spiritual well-being in Christ) Divine powers and signs follow those who regard the issues of their heart and keep it with all diligence.

The Holy Spirit has given us mechanisms to reveal our hearts. I have listed 12 of these mechanisms:

1. LOSS OF PEACE – (Col. 3:15) God’s peace is the judge of our hearts. [AMP – “let it be an umpire continually”] In other words, we are to let the Holy Spirit decide and settle all questions that arise in our minds and hearts. The peace that passes our understanding is to rule us. Then when our hearts do become agitated, the Word of Truth will fill us with an overwhelming peace.

2. A DEAD BIBLE – (John 14:6) The Word inspires us to rise above sin, whereas indulgence in sin causes us to neglect the Word. As long as we are in obedience, the Bible is living in us. But if we sin or self-will rules, the Bible becomes dry and empty vain words. Then we begin to fall away because our hearts have separated us from “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

3. FEAR OF EVIL – (Prov. 14:26) Salvation comes with deep confidence. Every believer who trusts and obeys is protected from fear. Fear torments, but God’s Spirit brings calm and assurance. There is an hour of great fear coming to the earth, but the Bride of Christ will not be moved. (Prov. 1:33).

4. POWERLESS PRAYER – (Mar. 11:24) Because God is Holy, He has no respect for those who do not respect Him. A holy heart is kept free from known sin. [Do the heavens seem as brass to you lately, or do you believe that you will receive because you ask?] Too many people are double-minded, lacking confidence God will give them what they ask for.

5. WEAKNESS – (Psa. 27:1) If the Lord is our strength, then sin is our weakness. Only confession and repentance reunite us with the power of God and life in the Vine to strengthen us to bare fruit.

6. SICKNESS – (1 Cor. 11:30) Sometimes God uses the pressure of sickness to convince us we are disobedient. But the true evidence of sickness as a result of sin follows with sickness spiritually. [3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”] When sickness comes, the first thing we should ask is how is our heart toward the Lord and our obedience in our walk of the Spirit. If we have sinned and sickness takes us on, James tells us what to do (Jam. 5:14-16). If sin causes the affliction to come, then repentance and confession will make it go. Without a truthful confession, our souls and bodies will remain sick.

7. DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS – (Jam. 1:8) A double-minded man cannot make decisions and stick with them. The signs of double-mindedness = hesitation, uncertainty, timidity. The outcome is instability in all ways. [AMP – “unstable in all he thinks, feels and decides.”] Remember what the Spirit of God says, “How long will you halt between two opinions?”

8. A RUNNING MIND – (Matt. 6:34) This kind of mind is obsessed with the future; tormented by anxiety; exhibits an attitude of faithlessness. When faith is strong we will be tested with patience. If we allow our minds to panic over the future, our hearts will be overcharged with surfeiting and debauchery causing us to forsake allegiance (Luk. 21:34). Profuse worrying is a curse – there is never any rest, there is never freedom from pressure because we don’t leave tomorrow in the hands of the Lord.

9. A CONFUSED MIND – (Jam. 3:16) A state of confusion creates a state of emergency. There is something between us and the Lord – something evil. Christian brothers and sisters, take heed. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith; prove what is in you to see what is operating against you. A confused mind might be the result of harboring ill-will, strife, or envy. It might be a sign of fear. Confusion may come from pride because we continue to resist the Spirit of God for our life. Only God produces a sound mind.

10. A CONFOUNDED MIND – (Isa. 41:11) A confounded mind is chaotic thoughts that just grind to a halt. It is mental paralysis – we can’t think at all. It is reserved for the unrighteous, the unjust ones. Sometimes a confounded mind is caused by shame: Psm.40:14 “Let them be ashamed and confounded together who seek after my soul to destroy it…” It is deadly. It leaves you with no feelings of any kind.

11. CARNAL CRAVINGS – (Gal. 5:16) Only the Spirit of God has the power to control our carnal cravings. If we begin to give into carnal cravings again and again, we have become weak-minded spiritually. Only the Spirit of God deadens the appetites of the flesh.

12. LACK OF BROTHERLY LOVE – (Matt. 24:12) When we begin to withdrawal from the body of believers, slowly we are losing our love. It happens because we are losing our desire for God. It is a subtle spiritual disease that can take our lives.

God’s purpose in ordering self-examination is for correction, not punishment or penalty. He seeks to purge us so that we may remain in touch with Him at all times. But for this to occur we must be correctable; willing to see where we have missed it; and to do whatever it takes to make it right. We may confess, quench wrong thinking, put on new thinking, cast off bad attitudes or put on the mind of Christ, making restitution – but whatever we do, we must do it quickly to restore fellowship with God.

-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 2005

Feb. 1: “Be bold and be confident, I will finish this work in you that I have begun. I will be with you.”

Feb. 3: We have the mind of Christ!

Feb. 4: “Captivate My heart. Make it true to you.”

Feb. 5: Jesus is the only purpose one needs to find his destiny.

Feb. 6: “The church is to become a prophetic voice to the community.”

Feb. 8: “I have come with sword drawn to defeat the city of Doubt. Too many doubt My Word and My ways. I want to show you My salvation. It is greater than you have experienced. Continually doubting causes one to live in fear waiting for the day to end, then the night to be over, on and on and nothing is accomplished. Doubt keeps you from receiving from Me. It cancels out faith. I desire a people of faith so I can work in them and through them.”

Feb. 10: “Be gentle, but be bold. Be meek, but be firm. People don’t have to like you, they just need to know that I am ruling your heart and mind. You are steadfast in the faith. You are rooted and grounded in My love. You will prosper in what you are doing for My Kingdom.”

Feb. 11: O the pain today in people’s lives. They don’t know what to believe because the gospel of Jesus Christ has become another gospel. Dear Lord, help us today to walk the straight and narrow. Let us see what You want us to see. Let us walk circumspectly before You. Let us keep ourselves wholly before you until the likeness of Christ comes forth.

Feb. 15: “I want My people to know they are all right. They are in a good place with Me. It is faith that will save them and bring them into a greater understanding that will cause them to go forth unfettered and free. There will be strength unlike what they have experienced. There will be a confidence in Me they have doubted. I am the Lord and Master of all who put their trust in Me. I am the peace that fills your innermost being.”

Feb. 20: “The difference between what is happening now and what has happened is that I am walking this thing through with the people. I have gone back to bring them through the darkness so they may be saved. This is a new experience.”

Feb. 21: Take Jesus with you in every situation, with every person, in every conversation. Become aware of His presence and you will be aware of His voice.

Feb. 22: Thank you for the cross and for strengthening me to preach the cross. There are so few who find this power of the cross. May I never waver although rejected by most.

Feb. 26: “It is good for me that I have been affected that I might learn your statutes.” (Psm. 119:71)

Feb. 27: Do not despise these days of small things.

Understanding Habits – part 2 of 2


At the end of part one of this newsletter we read in Gal. 6:7-9 of how the process of reaping and sowing is not just a concept but rather a God-breathed principle. Today, we can see the same effects to be true in the definitions of; “Cause and Effect,” and “Action – Reaction.” So no matter how we look at it, whether naturally, spiritually, historically, or in future text, our present actions will determine our future results. In considering the future and how it relates to our current habits, we must not ignore the weight of the consequences of our present view on life.

Jer 29:11 (KJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

As Christians we have the word of the Lord concerning the outlook that we should hold about our future, but do we understand how dangerous it is to not believe what God says? Clinical studies have proven that people struggle more with bad habits when their thoughts about their future are grim. A grim outlook can cause over-focus on the present, thereby not allowing clear consideration of the future outcome of one’s present actions. In other words, not everything that makes us feel good now will continue to be enjoyable in the future, and some may even bring us to an untimely death. Two examples that I have seen on a wide scale are smoking and inordinate eating habits. Both of these bad habits have caused more wide scale destruction to human life than every war combined, yet they are continuing to increase. Such destruction should be a definite sign of the potential power that a bad habit can have over a person’s life, and should be an alarm that would cause us to examine our view of our future.

Jer 18:12 (KJV) “And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.”

There is hope in knowing that we do not just add the power of God to our lives when we ask Him to be our Lord, but rather that His power can and will overcome every other power that desires to rule in His place. Therefore, even if we have a habit that is not against the law, it is against the rule of Christ if we are brought into subjection to its power.

1 Cor. 6:12 (KJV) “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

We all have habits, but we must ask ourselves if the habits we have are good ones or bad ones. A good habit is one that results in an increase of life, and leads to the fulfillment of one’s destiny. A bad habit, simply put, is anything else.

-Kurt Thurston

Here, World, Take My Children – part 1 of 3


This is the contemptible proposal Lot made in Gen. 19:8 to a perverted mob in Sodom when he offers to prostitute and sacrifice his daughters to them in order to secure social custom, pragmatic peace, and personal gain. "I have two daughters which have not known a man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof." How could any parent, especially Christian, (II Peter 2:6-8) ever make such a proposition? Let us see how Lot came to his tragic hour, and how he developed such a mean and selfish character causing such a wicked proposal.

The destruction of Sodom and the surrounding cities is a picture of coming final judgment. We may expect conditions then to repeat themselves now in increasing measure until the final judgments begin to fall. Those conditions include Christian parents with hearts and attitudes like Lot.

History

According to Gen. 11, Lot went with his grandfather Terah and uncle Abraham from Ur after his father Haran dies. Enroute to the land of Canaan, they dwelt in a place called Haran where Terah died. From there the Lord called Abraham on to Canaan, promised the land to him, and promised to make of him a nation and a blessing to all nations. Lot went along as one of the family. Perhaps he was already married and had some children by the time they reached Canaan. In Gen. 12:10, Abraham went into Egypt because of a famine, and Gen. 13:1 says when Abraham left Egypt, Lot was with him. Following the sojourn in Egypt, Abraham was very rich (13:2). Lot had accumulated some possessions also (13:5). While the riches did not turn Abraham's heart from the Lord, Lot acquired a taste for money and the fleshpots of Egypt.

As a result of increased possessions there was strife between their herdsmen (13:7,8). Rather than having strife, Abraham suggested they separate and generously offered the first choice of territory to Lot (13:9). Lot could have asked to settle the strife and stay with Abraham, or he could have asked counsel from his godly uncle. At least, he should have gone to Abraham's altar (13:4) and called on the Lord, asking for divine direction. But Egypt (type of the world) was already established in his greedy heart, and he saw the well watered, money-making acreage of the lower Jordan valley with cities, including Sodom, where he could sell his products (13:10). God, who sees not as men, saw a place filled with men who were sinful and wicked (13:13).

Sodom suited Lot even if it did not suit God and, "he pitched his tent toward Sodom" (13:!2). Satan always decorates the road to ruin and makes it attractive, so Lot unwisely moved his family toward Sodom and finally into Sodom (14:12). Lot's children were at that crucial age when they needed spiritual guidance and examples. Had Lot made the right choice, his wife and children could have been led in paths of righteousness with godly standards and goals. Instead, Sodom filled their hearts.

In Gen. 14, Lot did have a special warning from God and an opportunity to leave Sodom. When enemy kings captured and took Sodom captive, Abraham, with 318 of his loyal servants, rescued them. Instead of leaving the city, Lot moved back and even used the incident to further establish himself in the city. Gen. 19:9 indicates Sodom tolerated Lot as a judge and reprover, perhaps because his uncle had delivered Sodom.

Prayer: Help us to keep our children from Sodom-like temptations, lusts and distractions. Help us to remember that our explanations of why we do what we do are not God’s explanations nor His perfect will for our family’s lives. Help us to teach our children not to follow the big, the new, the exciting, the attention, the approval, the affection, the affiliation, the authority, the flattery, the riches, the wealth, the provisions, the promises, etc. of the world.

To be continued…

-Pr. S. Chad Ross

Published with permission from William W. Hall, D.D.

God’s Breath - Part 2 of 3


(Amplified and KJV)

When we speak, we breathe out that which is housed within us. Since “God is light” {I John 1:5}, within Whom is no darkness, that which He breathes out is designed ultimately to produce light. If we are filled with God’s Holy breath, we breathe out that which is of the Holy Spirit. If we lack the fullness of God’s breath, we breathe out a mixture of truth and error, truth from the realm of the Spirit and error from the realm of the carnal (self-ruled nature) and even, at times, from the demonic realms, as was the case in Peter’s self-focused attempt to deter Jesus from the crucifixion. “Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You!” {Mat 16:22}. Even though Peter was destined to become a leader of the early Church, the Lord recognized the voice of the enemy speaking through him, hence Jesus’ response: “But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men” {Mat 16:23}. Like Peter, we must learn to recognize and repent for thoughts which originate either from our own reasoning or from the demonic. Instead, we must receive and breathe out through our confession only that which originates from the heart and breath of God, lest we quench the Holy Spirit.

While Peter’s judgment was momentarily opposed to the will of the Father, as shown by his words, the apostle Paul warns against those whose fruit (words, lives and actions) repeatedly betray an inward heart of rottenness and who remain unreceptive to correction and change. Since such false disciples of the faith will increase during the last days, we must discern their often hidden reality by the effect their presence has upon the Spirit (breath) of Christ within us. Is He free to breathe as He wills, whether in the still small voice of a whisper or in a thunderous warning. Is the trumpet blast (resulting from deliberate and intensely directed breath-flow) of the godly ignored or ridiculed? Or is it received, even at the price of humbling?

“But understand this, that in the last days will come…perilous times of great stress … [hard to deal with and hard to bear]” {2 Tim 3:1}. Here Paul is not referring to times of physical hardship, but rather the difficulty of discerning and dealing with those who seek to breathe out the written word of God with polluted breath, thus issuing forth death instead of life: “For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered…[they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers)…uncontrolled and fierce…[They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit…For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]” {2 Tim 3:1-5}.

When Adam confessed shame of his nakedness, God asked a decisive question which reverberates through every generation to every word we hear and utter: “Who told you that…?” {Gen 3:11}. In other words, from whose breath did you receive the message? Was it from the breath of life or the breath of death? “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]” {Pro 18:21} We must continually ask, Does the message I hear and the message I share reflect the Spirit of Christ or the spirit of that which is opposed to Christ, i.e. an anti-Christ spirit? Is the speaker receptive to or hostile to Truth (Christ)? Is the speaker respectful of and submissive to God-appointed leadership? If the person’s fruit proves antagonistic and insubmissive, “…they will not get very far, for their rash folly will become obvious to everybody” {2 Tim 3:9}. Until the exposing of their duplicity, however, those who are young in the faith must be warned against these ungodly associations, lest they (the immature) be drawn in by their deceitful breathings.

May we receive that which is from the breath of God and shun that which would seek to choke the living word of God.

-Ruth French