IN THIS ISSUE:
Overcoming Life Digest Past Archive Menu
Holy Holidays? — Betty Miller
Covenant – R.S. “Bud” Miller
Letters To The Editor – Our Answers
Spiritual Warfare — Obedience and Holiness
Exposing Satan’s Devices — Overcoming Sin & Selfishness
End Times — Mark of God or Mark of the Beast
Prophetic Voice To The Church – Prophecy for the Church
Little Foxes (Little Compromises) — Lord of the Fork
Prayer Focus Spotlight — Prayer Needed for Persecuted Christians
Special Guest — The Greatest Gift
Music Review — Brother to Brother
Poetry Corner — Christmas Giving
Purpose and Vision — Subscription and Publication Information
By Betty Miller
As Christians we look forward to this time of the year as we celebrate two important holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holidays have their beginnings and roots in Christian celebrations. The word holiday actually means “holy day”; hence these events should be remembered and celebrated in a holy manner. We have strayed from that purpose over the years as we have embraced many unholy practices and worldly customs and added them to our “holy days.”
COMPROMISING AS CHRISTIANS
Thanksgiving is one of our main national holidays here in the USA. A good question to ask is “Are we as Christians celebrating it the way the Lord would have us celebrate, or have we compromised with the world?” Have we lost the emphasis on thanksgiving and prayer and shifted it to a gluttonous feast of food, drink and games like those in the world have done? More and more the media is referring to this holiday as “turkey day” instead of Thanksgiving Day. They also eliminate the object of who we are to offer our thanks. We are just to be “thankful” we are told. Who should our thanks be directed to? The object of our thanks for our many blessings, should be directed to the Lord God. It should not just be a general “thanks.”
The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated less than a year after the Christian Plymouth colonists had settled in the new land of America. The first Thanksgiving Day, set aside for the special purpose of prayer as well as celebration, was decreed by Governor William Bradford in July 30, 1623. There were harvest festivals, or days of thanking God for plentiful crops. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and for being saved from dangers. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanks. Our national day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863 with these words, “a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
Today we still celebrate this national and legal holiday, but are we celebrating in the right manner as Christians? Are we forgetting the main purpose of this day is prayer and thanksgiving as we feast and fellowship? The Lord is not opposed to our feasting and our gathering of friends and family to dine, but if our only prayer is to ask God to bless our food are we not forgetting the real meaning of this day? God delights in blessing us as His children. However, do we, as His children delight in blessing Him with our prayers and thanks? Do our celebrations revolve more around the meal and the football game that follows, than around the discussion of the things we should be thankful for? Many are worshipping the idol of ball games on holidays instead of focusing on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Let us ask God to forgive us and truly celebrate this day in real thanksgiving and prayer?
Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. Psalm 75:1
O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 107:1
UNHOLY CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
Christmas has also been perverted with many secular and traditional additions that take away from this celebration of our Lord’s birth. The materialism that surrounds this season is one of the most obvious; however, there are others. Office parties with the alcohol flowing freely certainly desecrate all that the day stands for. As Christians, we celebrate this day because it is the Lord’s birthday and it gives us pleasure to remember the Christmas story as recorded in the Bible in Luke 2.
Scholars do not know the exact date of Christ’s birth. For more than 300 years, people observed His birthday on various dates. In A.D. 354, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate on December 25. He chose this date because the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the sun. Christmas is not, as some have claimed, historically descended from the celebration of the Roman Saternalia with its fleshly excesses, but was set up by Christians to counter it. Christians honored Christ, instead of Saturn, as the Light of the World.
Due to this and other error, some Christians argue we should not even observe Christmas since December 25 is not the true birth date of our Lord Jesus Christ, as most scholars agree it was in the fall. However, the date is not important but the attitude of our hearts in celebrating it. It is how we celebrate Christmas that pleases or displeases the Lord. Since it is observed around the world, it is a wonderful time to witness to people, and the holiday does cause many to think of Jesus. It is not that to celebrate Christmas is wrong. It is the way we treat it which makes it right or wrong.
For many years, people observed Christmas as a religious festival only. But they gradually adopted more and more customs unrelated to the church. In England, during the Middle Ages, Christmas became the merriest day of the year. Celebrations eventually became so rowdy that the Puritans in England did away with the observance of Christmas by law in 1643. Our present day celebration here in the United States is a combination of several customs and traditions that come from different European countries. (The World Book Encyclopedia gives an in-depth description of these for those interested.)
Since we are looking to the Bible for our standards it would be well to eliminate those things that are not Christ-exalting. We should avoid going to extremes, but on the other hand we should not partake of things that are not honoring Jesus’ birthday. One tradition that we might mention that has been a controversy in Christian ranks is the decorating of the Christmas fir tree. There are several stories about the origin of the Christmas tree. People in Scandinavia once worshiped trees. Other cultures such as the Romans believed the green tree branches brought good luck. The Germans were probably the first to use Christmas tree decorations. Some Christians think this tradition should not be observed because of this. However, we find in the Bible that the same custom existed in that day and we find the Lord’s instructions as to what our stand should be.
Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. Jeremiah 10:1
Here the heathen of that day where cutting down trees and decorating them and worshipping them. But the word of the Lord was for his people not to fear this practice as He pointed out to them that the tree itself had no power to do good or evil. Evil is in the heart of man. So putting up a Christmas tree is not evil or good in itself. If we decorate a tree and celebrate in honor of our Lord Jesus then, to us it is good. To those with improper motives, it is evil. There is a Biblical reference for bringing boughs into the house for celebration. The Lord commanded Israel during the feast of tabernacles to do just that.
And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. Leviticus 23:40
There is one area in our Christmas celebration however, that has no Biblical basis. We realize this is a sensitive issue but we feel Christians should be made aware of this as it is having a tremendous effect on our children that produces no Christian fruit. This is the interjection of “Santa” into our Christmas gatherings. Satan has infiltrated and defiled our Christian celebration of Christmas by adding the dimension of emphasizing Santa Claus at the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Satan perverts that date because he hates to see people worshipping the Lord. Instead he diverts adults and children alike to revolve their attention around what Santa will bring that day instead of what the real meaning of the day really is. The name “Santa Claus” was taken from a kindhearted Christian bishop, Saint Nicholas, who lived in the A.D. 300’s. He became the patron saint of many European countries. In the Netherlands and Belgium men in bishops’ robes pose as Saint Nicholas and visit children, examine them on their prayer and urge them to be good, and give them gifts. Hence, the Dutch brought “the visit of Saint Nicholas” to the Americas. The Christmas visit of Santa Claus came from this custom.
You can see how through the years it has changed now and Santa Claus has replaced the celebration of our Lord’s birth. “Old Saint Nicholas” or “Santa Claus” has been interjected into the day to take away from the true meaning of Christmas. Santa Claus is portrayed as a god. He supposedly “knows all” as does God. (“He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good…”) He has supernatural power as he flies through the air making stops throughout the world in one night. He comes down chimneys that would be impossible to enter and has an unlimited supply of toys in one sleigh. He has elves as assistants. (Elves originated in Scandinavian mythology. There were good and evil elves who could disappear at will.) The belief in Santa Claus is also based on a lie. This lie by parents undermines the trust of their children. Later the children may then doubt the reality of God because parents lied about Santa Claus. The emphasis is on receiving gifts in many homes, instead of exchanging gifts. Gifts for the Lord are forgotten.
As Christians, we should ask the Lord how to purge this holiday of Satan’s false god, Santa Claus, and put the emphasis on Christ and His love so that our children know the true meaning of this holy day. Many children only know that it is a day that Santa will come and bring them gifts. They know nothing of the gift of love that was sent to us in the birth of Jesus, our savior. Wouldn’t it be better if we refused to tell our children the lie about Santa? Some may say how terrible to deny children the fun of Santa Claus because he is only a fairy tale like other fairy tales. However, if we ask why Santa Claus is promoted at Christmas instead of another day of the year, I believe we can see the answer clearly. He has become a substitute in the lives of millions of children so that they know nothing of the true gift of life in Christ. I dare say if you ask any child in America who Santa Claus is they would be able to tell you, but many of those same children if asked who Jesus Christ is would not be able to answer that question.
So much emphasis is put upon getting gifts at Christmas. This has promoted materialism and selfishness in many children as well as the adults. It is the Lord’s birthday. Where are our gifts to Him and His interests? It isn’t wrong to give gifts at Christmas as this is part of the spirit of Christ — giving. What is wrong, is that we have gone to the extreme and forgotten the Lord and the poor in our giving. Biblical celebrations such as the one in Esther 9:22 are approved by God.
As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. Esther 9:22
Our modern Christmases have become mostly tinsel, and every true believer is aware of it. Stress from all the shopping and cooking keeps many from even enjoying this time of year. The media at the holiday season will carry advertisements for items to be given as gifts, which are a disgrace to Jesus Christ. The legend of St. Nicholas, the notorious Christmas office party, the giving of drunken entertainment, the materialism and selfishness which have paganized and spoiled Christmas of its true Christian meaning are things we need to resist and have no part in. Our task, if we are true Christians, is to recapture this holiday from the pagans. It really belongs to us as believers! In fact, in our spirits we should celebrate Christmas every day of the year, instead of once a year as the world does. It does not take tinsel and decoration to remind us of Jesus when we truly love and worship Him from our hearts.
by R.S. “Bud” Miller
Note: This teaching is continued from last month’s Overcoming Life Digest – Volume 5
THE KEY TO COVENANT BLESSINGS IS OBEDIENCE
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. Exodus 19:5-6
All of the things God promised Abraham came true, either during his lifetime or through Jesus. The condition for any of Abraham’s descendants to receive the blessings of the covenant today is the same as it was for Abraham: We must hear God’s voice and obey it . The main way we hear God’s voice is through studying and reading the Bible. Once we hear His voice, we must be faithful to obey it — that’s our part of the covenant. A covenant is a useless thing if it is respected by only one of the parties involved. Abraham had an unshakable faith in God’s faithfulness, which caused him in turn to be faithful to God, no matter what the circumstances said.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Romans 4:18
When all hope, as a human possibility, had failed him, Abraham was still able to put all his hope in the faithfulness of God. How could he afford this hope? How could He persevere in obedience, even when it looked hopeless? Abraham was a man just like you and I; what gave him his extraordinary faith? The answer is simple — Abraham trusted God because of the covenant God made with him, and he kept his faith alive through obedience. In other words, he exercised his faith. He saw the “things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). He knew that God’s word was a stronger reality than any circumstances that were in his path. Was Abraham rewarded for his obedience? Let’s look at some of the specific things God promised Abraham, to see if they really did come to pass. God promised:
- To give him a son by Sarah through whom his line would pass to represent the old covenant. This certainly was fulfilled in Isaac.
- To make him the father of many nations: This has been fulfilled in Israel, Judah, the Arab nations, those descended from Abraham’s sons by Keturah (Gen. 25:1-4), and all of the Christian nations.
(As it is written, I HAVE [past tense] MADE THEE A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Romans 4:17
- To multiply his seed as the stars in the sky and the dust of the earth: This was a figure of speech that was fulfilled even before he died.
The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.Deuteronomy 1:10
The writer of Hebrews also said this had already been accomplished in the natural seed. How much more has that figure of speech been literally fulfilled in Abraham’s children by faith?
Therefore sprang (past tense) there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. Hebrews 11:12
God also promised Abraham:
- To bless him, make his name great, and cause him to be a blessing, and to bless all families of the earth through him, which Paul said was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus (Galations 2:8).
- To be the God of Abraham’s descendants in an everlasting covenant: a promisefulfilled in the blood covenant made between Jesus and God.
- To give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. This was fulfilled twice, once under David and Solomon and again under the Jewish Maccabean kings. The entire world, not just the land called Canaan, has been given to Abraham through his Seed (Jesus), which is how the Apostle Paul understood this promise.
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Romans 4:13
The world has been given to Jesus already; however, we do not as yet see His occupation of it manifested (Hebrews 2:8), and we will not see that until the Second Coming of the Seed of Abraham. (These promises are found in Genesis 12:1-3, 13:14-17, 15:1-6, 17:4-9, and 22:16-18.)
When you understand and begin to believe that God will honor His covenant with you through Jesus just as He honored the Old Covenant with Abraham, your faith will grow by leaps and bounds. This revelation will change your life.
This truth will make a foundation for faith that “can move mountains” to grow in your spirit and will enable you to trust God as you have not been able to heretofore. You will never again doubt that God keeps His Word. He is faithful!
(To be continued next month)
(Excerpt from the book entitled COVENANT: God’s Guarantee for Victorious Living)
This month we are sharing a sampling of some of the mail we receive that we hope will bless you as it did us.
“Our religion class has observed your site and we all think that it is soooo far out, man!!!” Megan (Chevy Chase, MD 20815 USA)
“I’m glad to find a place like this between all the bad pages that only talk about nothing important or interesting and they are full of sex or simply fool things. I’m sure that Satan is present in these sort of pages but God is so modest that he just need a page and those who search God, should find him.” Horacio B. (Mexico City, Mexico 14650)
“I was very glad to find your website. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring unbelievers and lost Christians closer to God, our lord and savior. Going through your site, I was able to find answers to my problems. It was God’s way that I found your website. These letters came automatically in my mind and your site came into my monitor. I truly thank God for this. I am a born again Christian and attend regularly Sunday service in our Christian Fellowship. I am spreading around the information about your website here in the Philippines so that many will know and follow the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I thank you for your great work. I shall continue praying for your ministries and wish you the very best of success in ministering to millions of people all over the world. God bless you. Your servant in Christ.” Ramon G. (Makati City, Philippines)
“IT IS MY FIRST TIME TO SEE YOUR SITE, I AM VERY INTERESTED IN THE BIBLE AND I HAVE FINISHED READING A CHINESE BIBLE STORY PRINTED IN CHINA. BUT I WOULD LIKE VERY MUCH TO HAVE A ORIGINAL ENGLISH BIBLE AND SOME OTHER REFERENCE BOOKS ABOUT THE BIBLE.CAN YOU GIVE ME THESE ABOVE BY SENDING THEM? THANKS VERY MUCH.” Liu Shenzhen/Guangdong/China)
“Very important web for all Christians around the world.” Juan V. (Lima, Peru)
REQUIREMENTS FOR GOOD SOLDIERS
Living By God’s Standards
Note: This teaching is continued from last month’s Overcoming Life Digest – Volume 5
OBEDIENCE AND HOLINESS
Just as watchfulness keeps the enemy from sneaking in, so obedience and holiness keep the enemy from breaking through into our lives. Obedience and holiness are essential parts of a good soldier’s armor. 1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (behavior); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” We’re exhorted to be holy in all of our lifestyle, holy like our Father. God wouldn’t ask us to do something we couldn’t do. As we yield to Christ, we can be holy through His holiness worked within us.
Obedience and holiness seal off the enemy from access to our lives. Many Christians walk around with doors wide open to the enemy. He doesn’t have to find a crack to squeeze through; he can walk right in. Disobedience has opened wide the door. If we’re disobedient to what God speaks, then we’re leaving an open door for Satan. He can then come and go as he pleases. Thus, it’s crucial for us to obey God’s Word.
Disobedience, which is rebellion, gives the enemy the right to enter into our lives. We lose every right. How could a battlefield soldier survive if he disobeyed orders? Or what if he stayed hidden in a foxhole refusing to do his job? He’d never be part of the victory. What if he thought, “There’s the enemy; I’ll handle them all on my own?” Attacking alone, he would be killed. If a Christian soldier is either hiding out or trying to battle in his own strength, he’ll be overcome.
Many Christians, ignoring their commander’s orders, are ministering in their flesh, rather than in the spirit. Thus they’re overwhelmed by Satan as they involve themselves in supposed good works that God has not called them to do. In their misdirected zeal, they say, “I’m going to do this for God, and I’m going to minister here for the Lord.” In the meantime, their own personal lives are in shambles, their families are not being ministered to, and their finances are a mess. Yet they keep declaring, “I’m going to minister for God.” Their first ministry is to get their own homes in order, to straighten out their own lives. Until that is done, they dare not be out on the front lines where the enemy would wipe them out. They cannot yet handle a ministry because that first requires obedience to God and the ability to handle spiritual warfare. Ministering for the Lord takes more than desire and zeal.
At the other extreme are the do-nothing Christians. They’re the ones covering their heads in the foxholes. They’re protecting themselves, but accomplishing nothing. Eventually the enemy runs them over, too. Either extreme ends in disaster. The only way we’ll have victory is through watchfulness, seeking and heeding His commands, and through holiness and obedience.
(Excerpt from the book entitled Personal Spiritual Warfare)
Note: This teaching is continued from last month’s Overcoming Life Digest – Volume 5
OVERCOMING SIN AND SELFISHNESS
PENALTIES FOR SIN
God’s plan for Adam and Eve was a perfect plan, however their disobedience altered God’s original plan for them. They were denied the right to the tree of life while on earth. They were also given penalties for their rebellion.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Genesis 3:16-19
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Genesis 3:23-24
Satan cared nothing for the suffering that would follow after man’s disobedience. All he wished to accomplish was a breakdown in the holy communion between God and His children. This was his objective then, and it is still his basic objective today. He deceives and motivates Christians to step out independently thus destroying their faith in God.
SATAN’S WAY IS SELFISHNESS
Man yields to the devil by going his own selfish way. Satan’s nature is characterized by exalting “self” through fleshly will power. This is exactly what “humanism” is — man seeking to be independent of the power of God. Thus the sins of pride, lust, greed, covetousness, and all other “self” interests are part of Satan’s nature. The nature of God is love. Love is characterized by giving all. (John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”)
We are taught in the Scriptures to “deny self”. This means we are to disown, or refuse to acknowledge our “self will power,” which seeks only for “self.” We are to give all of our being to God and love Him with all of our heart, mind, body, strength, and soul. The degree to which we worship or serve “self” reflects the degree to which we are yielding to the spirit of Satan. He is a deceiver and epitomizes self-seeking.
Let us look at another aspect of his work as deceiver. After we have come to the Lord and committed our lives totally to God, we no longer wish to displease Him, so we flee from the obvious works of darkness. The devil then ceases to come to us with the usual temptations because we have learned to resist and not yield to him in those areas. He must now come in another way to get us to believe that what he proposes is God’s will for us; otherwise we would rebuke him. He comes imitating the Holy Spirit, attempting to make us receive his plan instead of God’s plan for our lives.
(Excerpt from the book entitled Exposing Satan’s Devices)
MARK OF GOD OR MARK OF THE BEAST
Note: This teaching is continued from last month’s Overcoming Life Digest – Volume 5
Much has been said on this subject of the mark of the beast, but little said about the mark of God. Will there be a literal mark tattooed on people’s foreheads and/or their hands in these end times to make it possible to buy and sell in a one-world monetary system that is being set up by an antichrist?
We can certainly see the possibilities of this becoming a literal reality in our day with the technology of laser beam tattoos and our president speaking of a “new world order.” Even now, pets can be tracked by tiny computer chips about the size of a grain of rice which have an identification number programmed into it that can be injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle. A special scanner generates a radio signal that reads the number through the skin of the animal when it is found.
This book is not disputing the possibilities of a literal tattoo, but rather exposing the spiritual implications behind that plan of Satan. How will this come about? Will it be one of the above new technologies or something yet to come? We don’t believe men are going to be tattooed or branded with a literal set of three sixes on their foreheads or hands, any more than we believe the letters J-E-S-U-S will be on the foreheads of God’s servants as spoken of in Revelation 22: 3-4: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
How will the beast mark those who follow him, and what is the mark of God set upon those who follow Christ? Let us begin with the mark of the beast, then look at how we are to receive God’s mark which protects us from destruction in these end times.
Throughout the Scriptures, the word beast refers to a system, and not to a man. The beast is a system that rules the world; it’s an antichrist system. Daniel 7 speaks of beasts and identifies them as earthly kingdoms. So the beast in Revelation is a beastly system that’s ruling the world (it’s a dictator beast). This beast is not just one human being, rather it is a system that has infiltrated every area whether it be politics, medicine, art or science; the beastly system is everywhere. This system is typically overseen by a powerful government with those in power making decisions that perpetrate the worldly system throughout mankind. When Revelation 13:1 speaks of the beast rising up out of the sea, what is meant by the sea? The Scriptures speak of the sea as “masses of humanity.” This beastly system is rising up out of humanity, out of all the people on the earth. When John, the author of Revelation, stood upon the sand of the sea, he was standing upon that which could not be numbered, among all the people of the earth.
HUMANISM BEHIND THE BEASTLY SYSTEM
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). Toward understanding this description, remember that Scripture interprets Scripture. In Daniel 7, four different beasts are described, beasts that represented different beastly systems. “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked” (Daniel 7:4a). In other words, that beastly system failed. “And it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:4b). Men were behind this beastly system, men’s ideas, humanism. Humanism is nothing new; it’s been here from the beginning. Man has considered himself smarter than God, which is the essence of humanism.
THE BEAST BEHIND WAR
“And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it” (Daniel 7:5-7a). This breaking of everything into pieces indicates warring and division, everyone crushing one another which is the goal of the dragon, the devil.
These beasts are governments of the world and the devil is within them. “It had great iron teeth” – tools for devouring, for warring. “Dreadful and terrible” – when the devil gets a hold of governments, they are dreadful and terrible. Every government that exists today got its power and position by overcoming and crushing the previous government or people who existed on that land. They are all beastly.
In studying Daniel, most theologians teach that these were four different powers that each ruled for a time and then fell. These were the Babylonian empire, the Media-Persian empire, the Greek empire under Alexander the Great, and the Roman empire. I have no problem with that as many times in Scripture there is a literal application as well as a spiritual one. In fact, the writing of this book is to show the spiritual application to the mark of the beast, while not discarding the fact we can face a literal mark also. But long before we face the literal mark, many may already be marked spiritually. So deceived, they will be unable to refuse the literal mark.
Now let’s consider these beasts from a spiritual perspective. A leopard, an extremely fast animal, represents speed of conquest. He takes his prey quickly. We’re living in an hour when men can take their prey quickly through high tech weapons and nuclear warfare. The powerful bear has a crushing force. A bear can easily crush the life out of a man. This bear symbolizes governmental systems that can easily crush people through military force. The lion symbolizes pride, ruling with pompous power. He looks majestic in his rule, but he’s not, for he also eats his prey. So it is with world governments ruling in pride and pomp, yet within they’re full of evil and devouring. They devour their own. The dragon, of course, represents Satan. He’s behind every one of these beastly powers.
(To be continued next month)
(Excerpt from the book entitled The Mark of God or The Mark of the Beast)
As some may not be familiar with prophecy in the church. We want to share this short explanation of Biblical prophecy before we share an actual prophecy from God.
First, what is Godly prophecy? It can be summed up as words that are spoken on behalf of God. A prophet or prophetess is one who is a spokesman for God. It is a divine utterance that comes from the Holy Spirit. (Note: Just as there are prophetic words from God, there are also false prophecies that the Lord warned us about in the Bible. In Matthew 7:15-16a, Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruit….” We must prove the source of prophecy before accepting it as coming from the Lord.)
God is raising up many prophetic voices in the earth today. His gifts of prophecy are basically of two types. One is the “simple gift of prophecy” which every believer can express under the unction or direction of the Holy Spirit after they have been filled with the Holy Ghost.
The other is the “office gift” of the spirit which is given to a prophet or prophetess who is called to the “five-fold” ministry office as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:28 which says “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” Also Ephesians 4:11-12 which says “And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The basic difference between these two types is, the simple gift of prophecy is given to all spirit filled believers as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 14:31: “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”
It is for the purpose of edification, exhortation and comfort as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 14:3: “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”
The “office gift” of a prophet or prophetess is given to speak to the body of Christ at large. The ministers who are called to the office of a prophet or prophetess will deliver messages also which include edification, exhortation and comfort but their messages can also be directive in nature and futuristic in content as well (Ephesians 4:11-15).
Presently, God is leading His people with prophetic preaching and teaching. A prophetic movement is taking place in the world.
PROPHECY FOR THE 1990’S AND BEYOND
The following prophetic words were given to Betty Miller by the Holy Spirit on December 23, 1989 which was shared with the local church. It was also printed in tract form and has been distributed for a number of years. We want our newsletter to be a ministry to God’s people so we are including this word to help prepare for the remaining days ahead. This message will be printed here in a series form to be continued in future Digests.
OBEDIENCE and ACCOUNTABILITY
In the body of Christ, obedience and accountability will be stressed in the coming years, as the Lord continues to purge His Body. All that is not of God will become apparent to others, as sin will continue to be exposed. Failure to keep the Lord’s commands in our personal lives, homes, finances, etc. will be evidenced by the fruit and work coming forth in that area. The following scripture, 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, will come to pass in the coming years of Christian’s lives, as the 90’s will be the decade of judgement in our land:
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he can build thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ. Now is any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay & stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 1 Corinthians 3:10-17
Along with the deception; there will be other tribulations increasing as spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24:4-8:
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:4-8
These tribulations will produce many plagues, sicknesses and fear. Our faith again must be in Christ as protector and healer. Disease will attack those who have defiled their temples and are committing sins of fornication.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6: 15-20
CLEANSING OF OUR TEMPLES
God is requiring holiness and our temples must be pure. We will be accountable for what we eat, drink and how we treat our bodies. God will deal with gluttony, requiring temperance of His people. Many in the body of Christ will begin fasting for cleansing as well as spiritual purposes. He will judge us for the unclean things we put in our bodies. Some will protest as God brings His body into purity, holiness, and obedience. They will see it as legalism and bondage, only because they themselves do not want to conform themselves to the image of Christ.
The ministers that rise up against this move of God will soon fail themselves unless they repent and yield to God’s dealings in their own personal life. God will not accept our unholy habits any longer. Some of the old-time revivalists’ voices such as Finney who declared coffee and tea drinking as sins because of the caffeine addiction will again be voiced by new prophets of God who seek holiness. They will begin to see the hypocrisy of any kind of addiction in the body of Christ. Revelation and comprehension of God’s true holiness is coming to the body of Christ so that they will desire to please God in the smallest as well as the largest things. This is not a form of legalism but rather will be an outward expression of the overcomers in Christ who will be conformed to the image of Christ.
VIOLENCE IN THE EARTH
Violence will increase in the world and on the streets.
The earth was also corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. Matthew 23:37
But as in the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Genesis 6:11
The only safe place for Christians will be in the will of God. It will be important to hear and heed God’s voice as it could mean life or death for us. Those who follow Christ completely will become wonders, as they will be amazingly protected in all they do. However, many shall be destroyed as they fail to obey God and go their own way.
GOD DESIRES TRUE FREEDOM
What now seems to be a victory in Eastern Europe with communism falling will turn into angry, violent mobs pursuing their own ways, if Christ does not fill the void. This step is partial victory, especially for the Christians in these countries; however, unless the gospel of Christ is preached and received in these nations, a worse thing will come upon them as there is a fine line between peaceful revolution and violent anarchy.
And the nations were angry and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants, the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Revelation 11:18
Democracy alone is not the answer for the world. Only Christ is. Our country (USA) is an evil example of what democracy produces without Christ being exalted. Our internal evils of abortion, greed, murder, drug addiction, pornography, etc. are destroying this so-called “free nation.” Freedom without boundaries or standards is not true freedom. Until the nations of the world line up with the godly standard of the true definition of freedom, there will be no true freedom.
And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
Adhering to the Word of God is the only way true freedom shall come to this earth. Our nation must repent if we are to receive God’s blessing, as must any other nation on this earth.
PREPARE FOR THE LORD’S COMING
The words to the church of the 90’s are repent, obey and pray. Adherence to this will produce the revival and glory the church is believing for. In the former move of God, during the charismatic revival, the Lord used every willing vessel, even though many were immature. In this next revival, He will use only prepared vessels who are completely obedient to His will. Other words to His people are to simplify our lifestyles, get out of debt, streamline, get back to basics, and prepare.
And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray for you , that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, for Jesus Christ is coming as King and Lord!
(Little compromises that cause big problems)
Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Foxes sometime in search of food would enter into the grape orchards and devour the grapes and spoil the crop. However, the little foxes were too small to reach the grape bunches so they would chew on the vines and it would kill the whole vine. Instead of the farmer just losing his crop, he would lose his vine which was more disastrous. Spiritually some things we do or allow that we might think is little or insignificant can also be disastrous for us.
LORD OF THE FORK
The “little fox” that I want to address in this article is one that can cause many problems in our lives if indulged in for a long period of time. It is an excess that can cause many maladies. It is over-eating or what the Bible calls gluttony. The over-use of the fork has been the death of many, especially in our country where there is such an abundance of all kinds of food. Also, we are all especially tempted to overeat during the holiday season since partaking of food is a big part of our celebrations. Because we all have to eat every day this little fox can slip in easily.
Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Proverbs 23:19-21
With so much emphasis on proper eating and physical exercise here in America, it has caused many to examine their lifestyles. A lot of people have now become out of balance by putting too much emphasis on the physical man while neglecting the spiritual man. The other extreme is to be so spiritually-minded that we neglect our bodies by overeating or lack of exercise. The Lord desires order in this area, as our physical condition, if it is not properly cared for, affects our spiritual condition. We cannot serve the Lord to the fullest if our bodies are run down and tired and not functioning as God designed them to function. The medical world is now recognizing that gluttony is one of the major causes of many of our modern day illnesses. Moderation should be our guide.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5
As Christians we are to realize the emphasis is to be put upon the spiritual man; however, just because we have an understanding of our spiritual position in Christ does not mean we can break His physical laws of health and not suffer the consequences. The spiritual man should always be given top priority as it needs to be in ascendancy. Its influence over the physical man is greater than the physical man’s influence over it. We need proper balance between neglecting our bodies and giving them too much attention.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
It is easy to recognize that one of the greatest sins in the United States is gluttony. Food has become the god of millions. Jesus has never been made “Lord of the Fork.” The Word of God has much to say about man’s eating habits. Many sicknesses that are plaguing mankind stem directly from unhealthy eating habits. How should Christians eat? Are all the so-called health foods the answer to our diet problem? The Word of God not only addresses what is healthy for us to eat, but also the spiritual problems we have in this life. Since the Lord created the human body, He certainly knows what is best for us to eat.
So many have been eating according to the tradition of men instead of seeing what God’s Word says about this subject. If we do not eat by the Word of God, our eating habits will be dictated by the patterns of what we have been exposed to in our lifetimes. I will not address the kinds of food we should eat here other than to say that natural foods that are “living foods” (fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, certain meats, and dairy products) are the best for us. The “dead foods” or “junk food” are those that are highly refined and processed and have little nourishment in them.
Daniel and his companions proved the wisdom of eating properly when they refused to eat the King’s meat and instead ask for pulse (vegetables and grains) and water to drink for ten days. After that period of time they appeared more healthy than the other servants of the King.
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days. And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Daniel 1:12-17
If we are overweight it came about not suddenly, but rather “little by little”. This “little fox” begins adding the pounds before we realize it. Each day we over indulge until we become fat. (I realize some people do have overweight problems that stem from hereditary problems; however, these can be overcome too, with help from the Lord.) We can tackle this problem with the Lord’s help and He will give us the power to trim down. As we seek the Lord and ask for His help in this area, He will not fail us. He will give us the strength to overcome gluttony or other bad eating habits.
Here are some helps to overcoming weight problems which usually come about through lack of knowledge or lack of discipline or lust for food:
- First, repent for yielding to the temptation of lust for food. Philippians 3:19: “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.”
- Then, submit to God and ask Him for the power to overcome gluttony through His Holy Spirit and resist the devil through prayer and obedience to God. James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
- Next, ask for God’s plan for your weight loss. Allow Him to lead you as to what He wants you to do. He knows your body and He will direct you as to how you are to eat. Ask for a desire for healthy foods and ask Him to remove your cravings for unhealthy foods. 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
- Daily, thank God for setting you free and do not allow the devil to discourage you by his condemning whispers to your mind. Sometimes the Lord does a quick work at other times it may be slower. Don’t be discouraged even if at times it seems slow or you fail occasionally.. Remember, this came “little by little” and it is sometimes more healthy to lose it “little by little” (Losing as little as 2 lbs. a month amounts to 24 lbs. in a year). In the process you will be developing new habits and disciplines that will eventually become established eating patterns. Romans 8:1-4: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
- Add fasting periodically as the Lord leads. Even fasting one meal or one day a week will help in disciplining your body to be subject to your spirit man. Matthew 6:17-18: “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
May the Lord bless you as you seek Him in this area and make Him the “Lord of the Fork” and overcome this little fox!
URGENT! PRAYER NEEDED FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
The prayer focus spotlight this issue is dedicated entirely to the 200,000,000 Christians in over 60 countries worldwide who live in daily fear of secret police, vigilantes, or state repression and discrimination. More Christians have been martyred in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined! Pastors are being arrested and sometimes shot in China and Cuba. Believers are forbidden to buy goods or own property in Somalia. Christians who testify to their faith in Iran or Saudi Arabia may be put to death for blasphemy. Mobs have wiped out whole villages of Christians in Pakistan. And it goes on.
For all this, the western Church is mostly silent. “I am in prison,” says the Lord, “and you are not visiting me.” It is time to shatter the silence.
When terrorist groups or oppressive government authorities interrogate a believer they do not ask questions about their particular denomination or their doctrinal views. No, they ask one thing, and one thing only: “Will you bow down to another god, or will you remain faithful to Jesus?” If the answer is “Jesus,” you are under arrest. It’s that simple. Please pray for your brothers and sisters under persecution around the world. Pray every day, for that matter, but especially pray that day. Fast if you can.
**Pray also for kidnapped missionaries Dave Mankins, Rick Tenenoff, and Mark Rich who have been held hostage in Colombia for almost five years by a guerilla group known as F.A.R.C. The group has recently reported to Latin American governments that it continues to hold the three missionaries captive, and has confirmed that the hostages are alive and well. These admissions have been made even as F.A.R.C. is actively seeking international recognition and presenting its own rights and grievances against the Colombia government.
This November, in a summit meeting on Margarita Island in Venezuela, Latin American heads of state will be discussing the issue of human rights in Latin America. Each of the wives of the hostages and all 7 of their children will be going to this summit meeting to seek the assistance of these assembled heads of state in gaining freedom for the three hostages. The wives and children do not know if they will be allowed to address the summit about the plight of these hostages, but they are determined to find a way to bring this terrible violation of basic human rights to the attention of these influential leaders. We think that F.A.R.C. is counting on these hostages being forgotten.
Please pray that these women will receive favor at the conference, and that their husbands will be released SOON, by the power of the Almighty God!
**UPDATE: The New Tribes Mission and wives of Dave Mankins, Mark Rich and Rick Tenenoff declared in September of 2001 that after extensive investigations the missionaries were killed by their captors in mid-1996.
Inform your pastor, your church’s prayer ministry, and your friends about the International Day of Prayer on November 16, and about the persecution that believers in Christ are suffering!
For more information concerning the worldwide persecuted church, please contact:
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
P.O. Box WEF, Wheaton, IL 60189-8003
For more information about the missionaries held hostage in Panama, contact:
Macon Hare Jr. or Scott Ross
New Tribes Mission
1000 East First St. Sanford, FL 32771-1487
The Greatest Gift
God is a giver, not a taker. Throughout Scripture, we find evidence of His great generosity towards His creation. From the beginning of time as we know it, when He called forth Creation — when He gave existence to things that had never before existed — we can see the true heart of God. He literally gave of Himself to make each one of us. “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The very nature of God is to give, to create, and to bless His creation. Unfortunately, many of us are so self-absorbed and greedy for gain that we do not even have the eyes to see the countless gifts that God has already worked into our lives. Yet, God wants us to be givers too. He created us to be like Him — to pour of ourselves into other people, and to reciprocate His love for us. God created us with the power to be able to give back to Him!
When I really stop and think about this, it truly amazes me — that God — the sum of ALL good things, who holds ALL power and authority, would humble Himself in this way. He didn’t make himself entirely independent of His creation, or set Himself up as a mere casual observer of humankind, though He certainly had the power to do so. Instead, He allowed Himself to love us to the point where our returned love would be a blessing to Him. Each one of us, little and insignificant as we are, has been given the profound gift of the ability to bring joy to the heart of God. It is extremely humbling to me, when I stop and consider that God has thus set the laws of His creation into motion. That the One who is Love personified, would actually be blessed by the love that I could offer Him. This is the greatest gift of all, and it is given to every human being who has ever lived or will live — the ability to give of ourselves to God and to each other. Without this gift, life would be very empty indeed.
In the mad rush of the holiday season, the true meaning of giving is often forgotten. What is meant to be a time of blessing and joy becomes instead, a time of stress and depression. Recently, as I was praying for the church and the nations of the world, a great sorrow began to rise up inside of me. God has placed so many gifts within His church. Each member of the Body of Christ has been given strategic giftings and a unique place that none other can fulfill in quite the same way. Yet, so many are not moving into their rightful place. They are afraid to use their gifts, or they think their gifts are insignificant. Many are secretly hurt and angry at God because they feel they haven’t been given anything remarkable. They mistake God’s anointing and talent in certain individuals as a sign of God’s approval of those people, and they assume their “lack” is a sign that God doesn’t love them as much as He loves others…that God is somehow “prouder” of other people than He is of them. Because of this fear and resentment, they are crippled in taking their proper place in God’s kingdom, falling short of the gift they were created to be.
Others are busily using their gifts, and by their own efforts are successful in the eyes of the world. Maybe they have a thriving ministry. Maybe they are making good money. Maybe they have the respect and admiration of those around them. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that their actions are a blessing to the heart of God, or that they are even obeying what God has told them to do. Ecclesiastes 4:4 says “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Many are so busy creating their own kingdoms, that the kingdom of God suffers a great lack. Their pride and busy occupations have blocked the measure of their true worth in God’s kingdom.
Who will fill these missing places in the body of Christ? Even now as we go about our daily lives, all creation groans in frustration, waiting for the sons of God to be revealed (Romans 8:19-22). There is so much work to be done, and so few who are willing to do it. John 4:35-36 says “…. I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” God intends both the sower and the reaper to share the same joy of the harvest. There should be no competition among God’s faithful servants, no jostling each other for the “prime” positions, no envy or personal ambition. If we truly love the Lord, our only goal should be to bless Him, to serve Him, and to advance His kingdom.
As I was praying, I saw a vision of the Lord, manifested in the person of someone I love very much. In the vision, I saw this person laying in bed, exhausted after a hard day’s work. The Lord said to me “What do you think she would like right now? How could you bless her?” I could instantly see that a cup of hot tea and a home-cooked meal would be just as much, if not more of a blessing to her than whatever big, distant work I could conjure up to show her my love. Immediately, I could see what God was trying to show me. We are created like Him. If we appreciate a “small” gift given in love more than the fanfare of a “big” gift given in insincerity, how much more does God?
As the vision continued, I could see Jesus sitting alone by a road with people running up and down it. They were all very busy. Some were stopping and chatting with Him for a moment here and there, but as I overheard their conversations, they were mostly to inform Jesus of what they wanted from Him, or what they were going to do for Him. One man in particular ran up to him. “Oh, Jesus, I’m so excited,” he cried. “I’m off to tell the world all about you!” Quickly he ran off before Jesus could say anything at all. My heart broke, as I saw Him there, sitting by Himself. Yes, He wanted to bless those people with things beyond their wildest imagination. Yes, He wanted them to find fulfillment in serving Him. But what He really wanted most of all was for those people to come and sit with Him and talk awhile…to hold His hand and look deep into His eyes…to share their dreams and sorrows, and to hear His joys and sorrows…to let Him simply give His love to them. In all their mad rush to give and get, they missed the greatest treasure of all, sitting right in front of them.
So much of what we do for God is with mixed motives for our own personal fulfillment. We all want to have a purpose and reason for living. We all hope that if we were to die tomorrow, we would leave a legacy of some kind behind us. Yet for most of us, this becomes the end to which we live. Sadly, when we make anything other than God our reason for living, that thing will become an idol in our lives. Even if it is a good thing, like a ministry or a mate, it can still never fulfill us because it wasn’t designed to. It simply can’t! It doesn’t even have the ability to fulfill. In fact, those idols will begin to work against us, and cause us suffer spiritual barrenness. They will put us on a treadmill until we become broken-hearted and exhausted trying to keep it all alive. On the other hand, if we receive them simply as the gifts they are and continue to love God first in our lives, we will be given the ability to enjoy them, for this too is a gift. Ecclesiastes. 3:13 says “That everyone may…find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of God.” The key is simply to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these other things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
When all is said and done, only those things which were done “as unto the Lord” will count for anything. In God’s eyes, there are no “big” or “small” things done for His Kingdom. All He asks of us is to obey Him in what He tells us to do. Let us follow through and obey Him, whether His commands seem great or small. After all, it is Jesus we are talking about here! The One who left His home in glory to bleed and die a humiliating, painful death for each one of us. The One who made himself vulnerable to us, by giving us the ability to bless him or hurt him. As we obey Him, we bring such joy to His heart! Then His joy, which is a strength to the spirit of man, becomes our joy as well. God is not impressed, nor is He blessed by the best of our works done in self. He is only impressed by the attitude of our hearts.
As we look around the world this holiday season, let us stop and consider Who’s birthday we are celebrating. Let us not forget to offer sincere thanks to our precious, precious Lord for His many blessings in our lives. And let us show our thankfulness by our actions! Let us offer the same mercy that God has given us to those around us. Let us press deeper into the heart of God, that we may have something to offer this world besides the same old cycle of greed, pride and rebellion. Let us not be ashamed to become the servant of all, showing our love for God by laying down our rights, our plans, our time and money for the sake of others. Let us demonstrate our love to God by giving Him the very things we are afraid to lay down, trusting that He has the best plan for our lives and would never use or abuse us. Let us truly fulfill the greatest commandment, which is to “Love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourself” (Luke 10:27). Each of us is destined to make a profound difference in the world. Let us not fall short of our destinies! Let us give the greatest Christmas gift that we have been afforded to give; one that we can give year-round–to bless the heart of God!
If you do not know God the way you want to, you can receive the gift of knowing Him right now. Simply pray to Him from your heart and ask him to forgive you for your sins and turning your back on Him. Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you shall be saved.” Ask Him to come into your life and make you a new person, born of His spirit. You can give to Him a gift He considers more dear than anything else in the world — yourself. In return, you will receive eternal life with Him, which begins the moment you are born again. May God bless each of you richly as you seek to give unto Him your all.
If you just prayed to ask God into your heart, or you would like to know more about becoming a Christian, please visit the link on becoming born again. http://bibleresources.org/know-jesus/
BROTHER TO BROTHER
A recording by John Michael Talbot and Michael Card
Rather than review our usual book, this issue of the digest we decided to review instead a music selection — a uniquely beautiful recording by Michael Card and John Michael Talbot called Brother to Brother. Many may already be familiar with the individual work of these richly talented and anointed men of God, but if not, it is our pleasure to introduce them to you in tandem. John Michael Talbot is a Catholic monk who, along with his brother Terry Talbot has been on the Christian singer/songwriter scene for approximately two decades now. His rich voice, intricate guitar work and masterful songwriting have made him a favorite (albeit under-appreciated) Christian singer. Michael Card carries the same sort of musical torch, writing powerful songs from the simplicity of Scripture and playing a variety of instruments including the guitar and harp.
This collaboration is an intricate weaving together of their songs and musical styles, leaving a seamless tapestry rich in color and originality. Those who are a fan of serious acoustic guitar playing, and instruments such as the Uillean Pipes, hammer dulcimer, and cello will find this work especially pleasing. Throughout the entire recording, one is reminded of the majesty and glory of God, while feeling at the same time His tenderness and humility. This seamless tapestry of worship is worth being pulled over frail shoulders on a cold night, worth waking up to in the morning as it washes the world around us clean, worth dwelling in throughout the busy hours of the day. A common theme throughout is the simplicity of Christ and a celebration of the mystery of our faith. As Michael Card says, “The question that repeats itself throughout this lyric, ‘can you believe…’ is all that is required of us. It is not demanded that we understand or even interpret the incomprehensible mystery of the Incarnation. Only to believe and allow Jesus, through the Incarnation, to be born again in each of us.”
If you are looking for a special Christmas present for someone, or a new recording for the holidays ahead, we highly recommend this album to you. As many of the songs focus on Jesus and the miracle of His birth, life and resurrection, there is simply no better or truer theme for the holiday season.
The recording can be ordered directly from us (C.D.’s are $15.00 and cassette tapes are $11.00) or found in your local Christian Bookstore.
by Walter. E Isenhour
As you think of giving presents
To your friends on Christmas day,
Don’t forget the poor and needy
That you meet along life’s way.
Give them something that is helpful
That will tell them of your love,
For such giving pleases Jesus
As He watches from above.
If you cannot give abundance,
Give a little in His name;
For a little given rightly,
With His blessings on the same,
May be bread upon the waters
You will find again some time
Multiplied to loaves of blessing
That are wondrous and sublime.
Give and help to spread the Gospel
On the mission fields of Earth
Where the natives by the millions
Have not heard of Jesus’ birth.
Give to causes that are worthy
Of your money with a prayer;
Give and help to share the burdens
That so many people bear.
Let the Christmas thought of giving
Go with you throughout the year,
Then your life will be a blessing
And you’ll have a thrill of cheer;
For in making others happy,
You will get a great supply,
As our Lord who reigns in heaven
Will then bless you from on high.
Reprinted by permission from Christ For the Nations Magazine (December 1976 Issue)
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