“Prayer without the Holy Spirit is as a bird without wings, or an arrow without a bow” (Charles Spurgeon, 1834-1892)
“In many separate revelations (each of which set forth a portion of the Truth) and in different ways God spoke of old to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets,
[But] in the last of these days He has spoken to us in (the person of His) Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through Whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time [He made, produced, built, operated, and arranged them in order].
He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power…” (Heb 1:1-3, AMP)
For centuries, God Jehovah has spoken to men of old thru His messengers, His prophets, whom He has sent. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos…each one was given a piece of the puzzle. Each one had a page from the Book of God, a note of His song or a picture of His face. No one knew everything. No one had the final word. They spoke about Christ, the Messiah, whom they saw faintly, like thru shadows. They had a glimpse of His suffering and glory. They opened their hearts to the people of God, calling them closer to their Creator. But the prophets were rejected and their messages ignored.
At last, in these last days, God the Father sent God the Son to become a man. In case you do not know, His name is Jesus Christ. He came to earth and took our humanity upon His shoulders. He lived among people, worked and taught. He did miracles and many good deeds to reveal to them the love of the Father. At last, He took their sins upon Himself and died on the Cross on their behalf. He gave them in exchange His own Righteousness so that they may live and dwell in the presence of His Father. On the third day Jesus rose from the dead and then He went back to heaven. From there, according to His promise, He sent the Holy Spirit to them who believed in Him.
This is His story, His testimony and His Gospel. This is the truth:
If you believe it, you are saved.
If you reject it, you are lost!
Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. We believe that Jehovah Elohim created the universe. But now, we come face to face with Jesus Christ who is also the Creator. The eternal Trinity, each One does His Work and together they rule this universe, the visible and the invisible realm. Jesus Christ is the Creator and the Messiah of His people. He came to die so that they can be saved. His Word of power created the world and now the same Word upholds it, sustains it. Each cloud in the sky, each butterfly on the flower, each sparrow and each cricket, they all have their being in Jesus Christ!
In a more special way, the Word of God was sent to save sinful men. The Word of God has the power to produce faith, to give life and salvation to them who believe. After salvation, the same Word has the power to uphold, to fulfill to the end the purpose of His creation.
In Greek, the word ‘made’ means to perform, to provide all that is necessary for life, to purge the foreign elements, to raise up, to secure and to fulfill destiny.
The word ‘power’ in this scripture means God’s violence, a miracle of force and abundance that creates a wonderful, unique work of God. It is like a waterfall down the mountain that floods the valley. Nothing can stop it. It gives water to the thirsty land bellow. Any hindrance is destroyed from its path.
The word ‘uphold’ means to endure to the end, to bear and carry the responsibility of His creation until the purpose is fulfilled. To uphold also means to give strength and support to someone weak who is under attack; it means to promote the interests of the victim against the oppressor; to actively favor the one who is falling or failing and to bring him to an expected, purposeful end.
Let me make it more personal…
The Word of God and the Holy Spirit convicted me of sin. I could fight and oppose the words of men. I could find fault with the words of teachers and journalists. But once the Rhema Word of Christ met with me, I could not defeat its power, beauty and grace. I tried to ignore it, I tried to fight it…but the more I did it, the more I lost any self-confidence I had in myself, any ideas of comfort as an educated and intelligent unbeliever. From the first time I heard the Word of God telling me I am a sinner in need of mercy, until I finally surrendered to Christ, I lost my sleep, my appetite, my happiness and my courage to live. My defeat was total and His victory was more than total. I did not give my life to Christ because I was smart or that ‘I knew better’. I gave my life to Christ because His Word of Power arrested my soul and defeated all my worldly arguments that I stored for a life time in my corrupt memory. My imaginary castle of success, protected by ignorant greed and foolish pride fell with a great crash. The Word of God showed me no mercy until I totally surrendered to the Crucified. The Holy Spirit did not accept any emotional bribe and refused to bargain with me. I tried to offer some money to the church I once mocked. But nothing worked for me…God wanted my soul or nothing. God hunted me, chased me, blocked my path and isolated me.
I hated God and His Word for so many years. I did not believe that He is interested in my life. I mocked and joked at His people. Their faith looked like foolishness and their prayer looked like incurable mental disease to me. I was too intelligent for them. I defeated their ‘stupid religious’ arguments. They could only pray for my soul. I laughed and mocked…until one day my laughter got frozen like the lips of a painted corpse. I still remember the feeling, the way my body trembled when the fear of God descended upon me. The Word of God condemned me and nailed me to the Cross. I tried to escape but the nails where too sharp, the hammer too strong. Finally, with my dying breath I surrendered to Him who was crucified by my side…The men bellow still rejoicing at my death…my soul hanging between hell and earth…I finally surrendered…and for the first time in my life, I prayed: ”Lord Jesus, You are right! I am a sinner! I need Your mercy and grace! Please come into my heart and stay…Forgive me all my sins…Be my Lord and my Savior…now and forever…”
Then, from the Cross next to mine, I heard Him say: “It is finished!”
Peace came into my heart as I’ve never known before. I forgot about my death…I forgot about my shame…The only word I could say was: ‘JESUS…JESUS …’
Joy and life came like a river into my soul. I was waiting for death when life invaded my soul. Death lost its sting to me. Death had a stroke and died…
What a story…None could have invented it except my wonderful Prince of Peace who is now settled comfortably and forever in every cell of my body, soul and spirit!
The Word of His power saved me and delivered me. He now upholds me daily by the power of the same Word. The more I study the Bible, the more I feel strong in my weakness and confident in the middle of my fears. This peace, this strength that comes from His Word will carry me to the end, for this is His Promise. Jesus amazes me daily with the sustaining power of His Word.
“I worship You Lord Jesus Christ, for who You are to me: Wonderful Creator, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Burden Carrier to the end and my Lord.
All glory to the Lamb who was slain!
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Mt 13:44)
A treasure means great wealth. It can be money, jewels or gold. Simply said, he that has the treasure is rich and he who fails to find it or loses it, is poor.
In the past, people hid their wealth in the ground because they did not have safes and banks like today. Some of these people forgot the place where they buried their treasure. Others died and did not leave a note for their children to find the buried riches. So buried treasures got lost for generations…
The law is this: he that buys the land will have all things on that land, buried or built on the surface.
Jesus tells us that His Kingdom is like a treasure buried in a field. This parable tells us that the promises of God in Christ are very great and their value is beyond words. These are first of all spiritual blessings. But Jesus tells us that first of all we have to pay the price to find these blessings. Secondly, we need to secure these promises found in Christ before we can claim their possession.
Let’s open now the trunk of this treasure:
In Christ we find a completely new life. It is eternal and fruitful. It is the gift of God, the work of His grace. It is God’s crown for man. The jewels are too many to count them all. We find the forgiveness of sins and peace with God. We find imputed righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. We find the beauty of holiness, salvation, healing and deliverance. We find the reality of a new spiritual home and family: brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. We find the hope of glory and the promise that our future is better than our past. We find strength in weakness, comfort in sorrow and friends in loneliness. We find the gold of faith and pearls of anointing for ministry. We find identity for the confused, vision for the blind and maturity for the young. The trunk is bottomless filled with the fulfillment of dreams and prayers beyond all description.
This treasure is real but it is not left hanging on a tree or abandoned on a dead end alley. It is buried in the ground. God does not reveal Himself to the casual seekers. The desire to seek God and His promises must be given first by the same God. It starts as a hunger for greater things, for a destiny that earth cannot provide. It starts like a ‘crazy’ longing that life needs fulfillment, if not, it is an empty burden.
Slowly, I feel the need to start seeking God, to pay the price for greater things. At the beginning it is not easy, for I may lose the sense of direction and the passion to push forward. But after sometime, I sense that I am not alone in this mysterious journey…That there is a pull coming from a field of hope, a new desire that if I just persist in this holy seeking, I shall find the treasure at last. The enemy may attack telling me that the effort of seeking and the hope of finding shall be disappointed for the lack of treasure. I may stumble here, for no man wants greater pain than he already has…But then I ask myself, what I lose if I just continue the seeking…so I get up and keep moving, keep praying…Then the enemy says that even if I find the treasure its value is less than all my efforts and all my goods…that I will be disappointed by my find, that the treasure is a child’s play, not for adults like me…That is the point when I picked courage, for if God indeed has a treasure for me, it has to be greater than my boredom, my guilt and my the burden of my sins. So I keep moving…now it is too late to draw back…
When I fail, I fear a little, but then I see the wisdom of it all: I learn to lose what I see – to gain the things I cannot see…. so I make up my mind: By faith, I sell my things to buy that piece of land…I want to come to the place where I have nothing to lose anymore…
Now at last…my greed dead… my fears gone…my last tear dried from my face…suddenly I touch the thing I have been looking for…under the ground, beneath the rubbish dumped by the careless, restless world, which was once my home…I touch the jewels…the golden altar…I see the smile of Jesus, no longer a dream…now it is mine…at last…it is mine forever! Hallelujah!
For me, the journey to find the treasure of God, up on the mountain of frankincense, started with a simple prayer…
“God, if You exists…if You really know me…them help me to find You…direct my heart and my vision towards things eternal, towards You…separate me from the bondage to live an ordinary life…deliver me from the duty to please men…pull me towards You with cords that cannot be broken, stronger than any sin of mine…lift me up into Your everlasting arms that I may see Your face, Your smile, Your approval…
I hear Your voice faintly….Even in the midst of many loud voices calling me down to this earth, Help me to respond to Your whisper… For I sense that I am more than I see, more than I can imagine…Help me to find You and myself in You…
Help me Lord to make You happy…I want to work for You, to serve You…I don’t know how but I am willing to submit and follow You, Lord Jesus…
Help me not to waste this precious moment, too good to be true, but true nevertheless…
If You answer this prayer, Lord, I promise to be Your friend all the days of my life on earth, and then enjoy You in heaven forever…
I wait Lord, please come, Here I am…
In Jesus name,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Thank You!
For all You have done, for who You are to me…I say thank You!
The Volucella is an insect that has a strong resemblance to the humble bee. They too eat the nectar of flowers. They abuse this resemblance to introduce themselves fraudulently into the bee nests, and they deposit their eggs there. The bees do not seem to identify the foreign insect. It looks like they trust them, for they meet on top of flowers, eating the same nectar and making friends there. When these eggs have hatched, their larvae, which have two mandibles, devour the larvae of their hosts, the bees.
This is the return they make for the hospitality they have received!
Be careful with false brethren, false prophets and deceivers! They take advantage of your hospitality and come to parasite your home, changing its atmosphere and bringing strange, poisonous ideas.
“Test all spirits for not are from God!” (1Jn 4:1)
“If people are loud in the praise of a physician who has cured them of some deadly malady — recommending others to trust and seek his skill, why should not Christ’s people crown Him with equal honors, commend Him to a dying world and proclaim what He has done for them?”
(Dr. Thomas Guthrie 1808-1873)
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth?
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber…
The Lord is your Keeper…
No harm…both now and forevermore” (Ps 121)
THE DANGERS ON THE MOUNTAIN
Mountaineering is considered to be one of the most dangerous activities in the world. Loss of life is not uncommon. Dangers are divided in two groups:
*Outside dangers come from bad weather, falling of stones, avalanches in the winter, wild animals….
*Dangers that depend on the climber are equipment failure and falls, due to inattention, fatigue or faulty technique.
The most difficult climbs are when the mountain is vertical or covered with ice.
The climbers use a system of ropes and skillfully they tie themselves to the mountain. They use ice axes in both hands to grip the ice. Their shoes are special with spikes on the soles.
Along the paths there are special Shelters. The tired pilgrims can stop for a time to rest. There are people who supply food, blankets and medicines in these isolated cabins. The leader of the group knows where these shelters are located and take advantage of their blessings.
These are some injuries common among mountain climbers: falls (end in bone fractures or death): heart failure (from lack of oxygen and too much effort); frostbites (from ice); blindness (from snow and sunshine); hunger and thirst; depression and mental disturbance from altitude sickness, and others.
The Rock and the climber are intimately close one to the other. The mountain must be his friend. He has to trust the Rock he climbs, if not, he shall fall to his death.
A rock climber needs strength and wisdom. His maturity and experience is shown by his choice of handhold and foothold. He has to be sure that the rock he holds on is secure and strong enough to carry his weight. Many rocks look strong but are loose and not connected with the mountain itself. They can betray the climber and can fall with him to his death.
Mountaineering is basically team work. The colleagues have to trust and help one another. They tie themselves with ropes so that if one makes a mistake, the others can prevent his fall. The great principle is that of co-operation. When one moves, the others must know. Each is to know what the one ahead and the one below is doing. The unity of the Spirit is life. All arguments and quarrels are fatal. All climbers must submit and trust their leader and one another, if not they all perish.
These are true facts and information I collected from books of mountain climbing as a sport. All these have a spiritual application. Pray that the Holy Spirit may open your eyes to see the truth as we continue to climb the mountain of spices!
THE ETERNAL CLIMB
Psalm 121 in the next step we shall take to climbing higher on the mountain of God. This is the second Psalm in the series called The Songs of ascent. Each year, the Jews were commanded to go to the Temple in Jerusalem to meet with God. The city is on a hill called Zion. Going to the Temple was never easy for it meant going up the mountain.
Please read this Psalm some few times and pray about it. Let the Holy Spirit give you a picture to inspire you in your Christian pilgrimage. God is revealed as my Strength, my Support, my Shade and as my Savior. It is called ‘the traveler’s psalm’. There is a sense of expectation of greater things and the desire to go to a higher place, trusting God to help in the ascent.
Let’s identify with this pilgrim of hope and glory…
The first thing we see is that the traveller recognizes his need of God, to help him in his journey. He starts from the lower ground. Looking up, He openly acknowledges that he needs help. He knows that God alone is the Helper to the helpless. His perceived needs during the climb, the many dangers along the way, they remind him that God alone is his Keeper to the end.
This is the first important lesson: Help comes from outside (God) not from inside (my wisdom or experience)! The devil attacks trying to convince us that ‘God helps them who help themselves: That is a lie! This deception reveals the loss of true vision!
I read somewhere that the female mountain deer comes down to the lower slopes to have her babies. The weather is more gentle and the grass more fresh. But as soon as her children are strong enough to climb, she hurries them to go higher up the mountain. This is because the danger below is greater; the wild animals are many roaming around in the valley.
The call to go higher spiritually is there because of the need for protection from the enemy’s attacks. The higher we go, the safer we shall be, the greater the peace and hope we shall experience. Monitor your spiritual ‘pulse’ and see…the proof that you are maturing…less anxiety, less confusion coming from the world ‘below’ and more assurance and peace with each step. .
The pilgrim has a vision of God and of his destiny. He lifts his eyes to the top of hills. But he does not stop there. He continues to gaze in faith to the sky above the hills, searching for the face of God. He is Jehovah Elohim, the Maker of heaven and earth. This is a journey on the ladder that Jacob saw. Each step will put a distance between the earth, our temporary home and heaven, our eternal and glorious abode. This is a journey of faith and hope, confident that our future shall be better than our past.
If you lose the vision of the One calling you heavenward, your foot may slip and you shall be in danger of falling ‘back to earth’.
God is the Creator of the Universe but He is also my personal guide and strength in this vertical journey. For some time, you shall still hear the voice of the world calling you back to the valley. The religious unbelievers who were your friends down yonder do not want you to move on. These are jealous on your progress but unwilling to pay the price and follow you.
The answer to this temptation is this: Be not like Lot’s wife! Do not look back! Look up! Keep climbing! Helper is coming soon!
Six times God is described as my keeper in this Psalm. The word in Hebrew means a Person who is personally interested in my protection and success. He is a watchman who never sleeps nor slumbers. God never yawns!!! This is a picture that has helped me many times. God knows my weaknesses and the dangers from outside. He teaches me and surrounds me with care. He totally protects me from anything that will make me fall or fail. He strengthens me and encourages me within. He also defends me from ‘smites’ coming from outside. It is His hand that blocks the hand of the enemy who wants to slap me or to pull me down. The word ‘hand’ means power, sense of direction, resources, fellowship and ministry. Practically, the closer I get to God, the more I get involved in serving Him in any ministry, the more I am covered and protected from the attacks from evil people.
The sun and the moon cannot ‘smite’ me as I climb. What does it mean?
During the forty years of wandering in the desert, the ‘shekinah’ pillar of glory directed the people of God towards the Promised Land. It also protected them from the deadly heat during the day. In the night, the cloud of fire provided enough light so that the journey towards the Promised Land can continue. They did not directly depend on the sun and the moon. But the same cloud of glory that protected and guided the people of God, the same was deadly against their enemies. In this Psalm, God assures me of His total protection and blessings coming from His Glorious presence. I have no excuse wasting time. I should pay the price for sanctification unto spiritual maturity! But just like with the Egyptians who pursued the people of God, my enemies shall be smitten, fall and die if they try to pull me down the slopes, to backslide to the world.
The mountain of God is safe only for the true climbers, for the children of God in pilgrimage to a higher ground of maturity! The same is a deadly trap for the religious unbelievers, for false brethren and magicians.
“On the third day God will come down on Mount Sinai and make His presence known to all the people. Post boundaries for the people all around, telling them: ‘Warning! Don’t climb the mountain. Don’t even touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain dies—a certain death. And no one is to touch that person, he’s to be stoned. That’s right—stoned. Or shot with arrows, shot to death… Animal or man, whichever—put to death!’
A long blast from the horn will signal that it’s safe to climb the mountain” (Ex 19:11-13, TM)
The sun and the moon were created by God and given as a gift to the earth for two basic reasons: for light (heat) and to mark the seasons (Gen 1:14). In the valley, I depended on the natural created things, for guidance, encouragement and strength during the transitions in life. But as I climb the mountain, I shall depend less on visible or natural things. My strength and vision shall change and become more spiritual. From now on, I shall depend on God who is my Shepherd and my Eternal Keeper.
‘Going out’ of my home, far from my comfort zone, to work or to war, when taking risk with strange encounters, all these shall be under the loving faithful, watching eye of my God. I shall not fear ‘going out’, travelling to see new things, far from my home.
The ‘coming in’ to my home, back to my routine, quietly abiding in His presence, this shall also be with joy, for God is here.
This is my testimony: In the different seasons of life, in all my transitions, in all my travels and in the long season of home dwelling… God is my peace, strength and joy! Inside and outside, God is my Keeper! I am safe and confident, sure of His salvation and hope!
God is my strength, my support, my shade and my salvation!
Who shall I fear? None!
Looking above the hills, I keep climbing!
This evening we had our women’s fellowship. Most of the women were absent because of heavy traffic, sicknesses and other things. The ones who could come look weak, strangely distracted and anxious. It is a very long time that we have experienced such mysterious weakness in our fellowship. The remnant of them who could find God’s strength perfected even in weakness tried to revive their sisters, but to no avail. Like the foolish Galatians, the women look ‘bewitched’ for lack of spiritual vision. It was a clear attack coming from the evil spirit of religion who blinds the eyes of the believers to the power of the Gospel, which is Christ crucified for our sins! Jesus Christ died that we may live!
This went on for more than an hour…Then we remembered the CROSS…we reminded ourselves of the price Jesus paid and the powerful promises proceeding from there. We directed our gaze to the Crucified!
Suddenly, the Spirit of Grace and Supplication fell on us. In a second, the tired feet started dancing, the weak bodies stood up to pray. The prayer was with faith, in unity of the Spirit, passionate and in earnest. The atmosphere changed! One by one, we called the names of the lies and the sicknesses that have influenced our bodies and minds in the past: malaria, sickle cell, depression, un-forgiveness…Each time a name was called, we shouted even louder: ‘Go out, in the name of Jesus!’
This went on and on for a time…then the place got quiet…there was no more sin to call, no more sickness that clamored for recognition…all the women jumped and sang for joy, like prisoners set free…the only option left was to praise God for His mercy and grace, healing and deliverance granted in time of need. I saw such a difference on these women’s faces and body language…so much change between their coming in to service and their going out to their homes…
The devil lost another battle! God is strong on our behalf! What can I say…
It was so wonderful!
How can I be a pastor without the Holy Spirit?
How can I mother all these women without the Holy Spirit?
It is truly impossible, for Jesus said: ‘Without Me you can do nothing!’
Yes, Lord, thank You for the loving reminder!
Only God knows the hearts of all people!
Only The Holy Spirit can truly empower for ministry!
To God be all the glory!
In Jesus name, amen!
(Gal 3:1-5; Zech 12:10; 2Cor 12:9; Jn 15:5)