Wednesday, April 1, 2009

APRIL NEWSLETTER 2009

Living Word

Christian Fellowship

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

Vol. 18, No. 4 April 2009

“Make it stop, make it stop.” I just keep going around and around. There is too much to contend with. When will it ever stop? While God is waiting for us to come into the image of Christ, the enemy is trying to bring about too many changes that are destructive. We have to know this battle is between good and evil. The good in us through Christ is what must lead us. Anything else will only hinder and even hurt the process.

So stop and think about all the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Don’t take on more than you can handle. The Lord does not hurry us through this change. Our frail bodies can’t handle that much. And whatever you do, don’t allow the world to control your change or you will just go nuts.

Php 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.”

Yes, there are plenty of good reports. You may have to search for them or even get around someone who has a good report, but encouraging testimonies lighten the load and enables us to come through the change without harm.

Psa 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

In Christ,

Pr. Steve

Are We Close Enough Yet?


Act 5:1-5 (KJV) “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, (2) And kept back [part] of the price, his wife also being privy [to it], and brought a certain part, and laid [it] at the apostles' feet. (3) But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land? (4) Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. (5) And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.”

This is a picture of the unusual sudden violence with which the Holy Spirit judges conduct. Peter could have dealt with their lie in a different way. He could have barred them from the fellowship. He could have demanded the rest of the money. He could have given back what they offered and told them God was not interested in anything less than total consecration. But why the violent judgment?

Maybe it was because of the presence of the Lord. If we really want in increase of the Presence of God, then we must be ready! Ananias had not lied to the Apostles but to God. His heart was not right toward God, but he pretended it was. There was no evidence that Ananias and Sapphira were anything but members in good-standing otherwise, why give anything?

The believers had decided to share their material goods. God had not commanded them to do so. The money belonged to Ananias. No-one was pressuring him to give away any of it. So the issue was not that Ananias gave part and held back part, it was that he and his wife pretended to be fully consecrated.

Judas did the same thing. No one forced Judas to follow Christ. Judas wanted to be a disciple and the Lord even said he was chosen. But He also said that Judas was a devil (Jn.6:70) So we know that devils follow the Lord and fellowship with true believers.

You see, this is the point: the closer we are to God the more our conduct matters to Him. In the same way, those who are closest to us affect us differently than those who are not. But many, like Ananias, keep part of the proceeds for their own pleasure; and when the Lord comes, He will drive them away from his Presence.

Why did such wrath fall on these types of people? They were religious. They wanted to be known as God’s people. (If you would have known them, you probably would have liked them.) We have people today who act good and look good and so we enjoy being with them. But in their heart they are lying to the Spirit of God-they are pretenders; they are hypocrites; they are lying to the Holy Ghost.

Since this sin is possible today, we ought to look at our own hearts. Are we giving to God what He deserves and what He asks of us? Do we worship with the Saints while our hearts tend to be somewhere else? God may permit such hypocrisy for a while, but when His Presence increases, the pretenders will have no part of the Kingdom of God.
Just how close are we to the Kingdom? Or how far away might we be? What drove Ananias and Sapphira to want to be a part of the Kingdom and yet not truly believe Jesus is who He says He is and does what He says He will do?

I think the answer is this: There must have been a part of their heart that was still in the world. There must have been a desire for security and happiness in the world. They just weren’t ready to completely trust in God. This flaw in their hearts brought down the Divine Judgment of God.

I believe God wants us to know today how important it is to be counted as a true member of the Body of Christ. We must be utterly sincere and faithful.

There is no evidence that Ananias and Sapphira were not genuine Christians. Peter did not say, “Ananias, you never were a very good Christian.” Peter dealt with the sinful act itself.

Judas had been stealing all the time from the other disciples, yet the Lord included him among the chosen, even though He knew there was sin in his heart. Judas was not thoroughly evil because once Satan had him in control Judas still repented, but it was too late. Judas could have shared in Holy Ghost power after Christ’s death and resurrection, but money was more important than the cross.

We tend to think people are either totally wicked or totally righteous. They are not. No, these people were not devils with pitchforks either. They were just like you and me who desire to be close to the things of God.

There were Pharisees more wicked than Judas (Matt. 27:3-5). “What is that to us?” Judas did their dirty work but was tortured in his mind until he killed himself because he had not fully consecrated himself.

There were people worse than Ananias and Sapphira; they went about trying to kill Paul and stop the Word of God from going forth. But God did not kill them.

We have people like this today; we are even close to some. They seem like pretty good people, but God used Ananias and Sapphira as an examples for us.

How close are we to the Presence of God and yet how far away? How can we tell? Do we really know how dangerous His presence can be when our hearts are not right? Fire can destroy anything that is not fireproof. So how can we really tell if we are acceptable to God and in good standing with Him?

Rev 17:14 (KJV) “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him [are] called, and chosen, and faithful.”

One of the most prominent characteristics of the Lord Jesus is faithfulness. He is God’s faithful and true witness. Those who appear with Christ will have been proven faithful.
Integrity is still lacking today. It is made up of faithfulness and sincerity. Judas was called and chosen by the Lord but he was not faithful. Ananias and Sapphira were called of God and chosen to be part of the early church, but they apparently were not faithful.
We are at the crossroads of our Christian walk. God is wanting to bring to us His unlimited Presence so that we might be made end-time witnesses. We can be called and chosen, but we must be proven faithful. God permits Satan to sift us. God does not immediately deliver us. He allows the testing to continue to see if we will remain faithful. (Rev. 2:10)

We all know people who have revealed their lack of faithfulness. You and I have Judas in us. We have Ananias and Sapphira in us. We are so close to the glory of God, but what are we when we are called upon to pay the price of faithfulness? What happens to us when we don’t get our way any longer? What happens when we don’t experience what we once thought was God?

We don’t know God today. We have him confused with Santa Claus.

Those who have given their all to the Lord are learning to live one minute at a time, trusting in the Lord. We are not to split our allegiance between the world and with the things of God. We are giving our best to the Kingdom of God without reservation.

What we will receive on that day is exactly in proportion to what we have given in this day. Some will reap thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred. People today are losing part or all of their inheritance because of their unwillingness to be totally sincere with God. Lack of diligent consecration exists because American Christians have learned to “play church” and then go out and live their own way. Do we not want the fullness of the Kingdom of God?

What has happened to previous generations can happen to us unless we search our hearts diligently and see if we are holding back part of the proceeds. For those who will not search their hearts, the Lord will send strong delusion that they will believe a lie and they will be filled with confusion. We must come to the truth of the Knowledge of the Son of God. We cannot save ourselves; instead, we must absolutely depend and utterly trust in the Lord with all our hearts. God will not come to us where sin is operating. We must utterly return to the Lord, humble ourselves, confess our sins, and serve the Lord with a whole heart.

We are being tested. If we guard the word of Christ’s patience and not flee from the cross assigned to us, we will be guarded from the hour of temptation. Sin is going to become so abundant that only those who are truly consecrated in holiness and godliness will be able to witness of the power and glory of God.

This is an excellent opportunity for those in the Kingdom. Many of the last in time are going to be the first in the Kingdom. We can profit from our past mistakes by allowing the Holy Spirit to bring us to new heights of glory. But we must not forget, to whom much is given much is required. There is no safer place to be than with those who are totally sold out to God. Are we truly, utterly, sincerely faithful, or are we holding back our money and goods to save ourselves from calamity?

What is the Lord telling you when you seek His face and listen? Are you really faithful to Jesus Christ to the point that your life is as nothing as long as He is glorified? We are near to the fullness of the Glory of God; but if we are not completely faithful, we are farther away than we think from what God has prepared for those who truly love Him.

-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 Prophecies 2008
Apr. 1:
At the cross we are forgiven. At the cross we are healed. At the cross new life is given. At the cross God’s love is revealed.
Apr. 3: “You don’t have to be like anyone else. Just be like Me.”
Apr. 4: “People are being worn out because they are not doing their work in Me. The enemy cannot touch what is done in Me. I give strength to those who do all things in Me. People are worn out because they do not maintain joy in their work. My joy is your strength.”
Apr. 7: “The thoughts of the righteous are just.” (Pro. 12:5 HCSB) “No disaster will overcome the righteous.” (Pro. 12:21 HCSB)
Apr. 14: The thoughts of the righteous are just. With every decision and desire for righteous behavior I know my thoughts are pure, desiring the will of God above all else.
Apr. 15: “Trust in the Lord and do good and you shall dwell in the land and be safe. Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of you heart.” (Psm 37: 3-4)
Apr. 17: Holiness is the beauty of Your house. We are that house, O Lord. Let us be filled with holiness which is Your character.
Apr. 22: “His banner over me was love.” (Son. 2:4)
Apr. 23: “I am going to make things plainer in the days and years ahead. My people will know and understand what has been happening and how they are part of the bigger picture.”
Apr. 25: “The angels are about you in this battle because you keep yourself in the truth you are protected from all harm. The battle may rage but you reign with Me.”
Apr. 28: “Do not hang on like you are about to fall, but walk upright with confident assurance that I am leading you.”
Apr. 29: The humble will have joy after joy after joy in the Lord. Happy are all those who wait patiently for the Lord.

Crucified with Christ


The Christian who knows he is crucified with Christ has no ambitions and so nothing to be jealous about; has no reputation and so has nothing to fight about; has no business and therefore nothing to worry about; has no rights so he cannot suffer wrong and is already dead so no one can kill him.

The Fear of Losing


Many people are developing an inner unrest as things continue to change drastically for the worst in the global and national economies. Perhaps anxiety would be a better diagnosis, but nevertheless, we must keep in mind that with every fruit that a person bears there is a root; as well as a seed from which that root began. The devil is still planting seeds of fear and doubt in the minds of Christians in an attempt to sway them from the narrow path, much like he did in the Garden of Eden. That is his way of getting in the way or our abiding in “The Truth, the life, and the Way.” The devil plays on the natural human fear of losing. No one likes to lose, so it is hard to really grab hold of the concept of, losing your life to find it, or decreasing so that Christ may increase. Perhaps we should start with the root and find out why we are so reluctant to lose anything.

Luk 12:29-34 (AMP) “And you, do not seek [by meditating and reasoning to inquire into] what you are to eat and what you are to drink; nor be of anxious (troubled) mind [unsettled, excited, worried, and in suspense]; (30) For all the pagan world is [greedily] seeking these things, and your Father knows that you need them. (31) Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also. (32) Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom! (33) Sell what you possess and give donations to the poor; provide yourselves with purses and handbags that do not grow old, an unfailing and inexhaustible treasure in the heavens, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (34) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

What is the basis for the fear of losing? The answer is: A lack of trust in the fact that God knows what is best and will make the “necessary” supply for our lives. Another part of the root, one which finds its origin in a stronghold of covetousness, is often accompanied by forms of idolatry. The hard truth is that operating in fear opens the door for the enemy to steal from us and shipwrecks the little faith that we had; and shipwrecked faith leaves us totally subject to the world around us.

2Ti 1:7 (AMP) “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

God does not want His people to be subject to the world along with its failures and temporary successes, but desires that we live our lives subject to Him so that our souls would prosper and be saved. So let us cast away everything that distracts us from His purpose and provisions, and let us turn our focus to the Lord during these ever changing and desperate times. Stay filled with His Spirit and His word, and let the world watch on as God displays His love and constant care in our lives while He moves us to lead them to Him.

-Kurt A. Thurston

Quotes


“With complete consecration comes perfect peace.” Watchmen Nee

“Tell me what you do with your time and money and I will tell you where your heart is.” Xavier

“There’s only one proof of the Holy Ghost in your life and that’s a holy life.” Leonard Ravinhill

“God take away the world, that the heart may cleave more to you in sincerity.” Thomas Watson

The question isn’t were you challenged. The question is were you changed?” Leonard Ravinhill

The neglected heart is soon overrun with worldly thoughts; the neglected life is soon in moral chaos; the church that is not jealousy protected with intercession and sacrificial labors of love is soon the abode of every evil spirit that corrupts the work of God. A.W. Tozer( paraphrased)

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