WHAT KIND OF SOLDIER ARE YOU?

 

‘And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me… No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer’ (Jdg 7:2; 2Tim 2:4)

 

God raised an ‘ordinary’ man to save the nation. His name was Gideon. Led by God, that man raised an unusually small army to fight an enemy ‘as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude’ (Jdg 7:12).  But this small army was ready to obey God, to fight with very special, unique, God-designed, ‘unheard of’ military weapons (trumpets, jars of clay and fire). Just imagine what was in Gideon’s mind? To go to battle with such a ‘crazy’ mini army you need to be sure that God is with you! At the first testing, from 32000 – 10000 go away. They are the fearful, the cowards. They are disqualified to partake in the labor of success and in the joy of victory. He is now left with 22000. These are few but Gideon thinks that ‘he can manage’ with them. But God says ‘you still have too many… they will gang up together and try to steal My glory…I will not permit that… I will test them for you…’

 

God tested them at the river. The applicants for the posts of national heroes did not know that it was a test: how to drink water when you are very thirsty… The angels, with video cameras in their wings, streamed the sight… Most of the men allowed their flesh to overpower them. For a moment, they forgot that they are still soldiers. They drank like there is no tomorrow. Losing the battle before the battle even began they went home disappointed in a God who cares about our eating and our drinking.  Finally, God made His choice! He approved the 300 men who drank water like the dogs, looking around, careful to see if there is an enemy around, during the times of rest. God approved their drinking style, which was a mirror of their faithful hearts! These men loved God and wanted do His will. Even when thirsty, they were faithful like the dogs to their master. They did not forget that they were working servants. They were disciplined, patient and alert. The 300 men of valor, tested and approved by God became Gideon’s army. These people can never lose any battle! They will never desire to share in God’s glory! They consider it as the highest privilege to be soldiers under the Captain of our salvation.

 

This is the same old story: Man always complains that he has two little resources (money, friends, connections…) to be successful. But God is never worried about the size of the visible. His Holy Spirit and His Word are always sufficient to glorify His name on the earth!  These are the soldiers for Christ, faithful from their heart. As believers in active duty we should strive to be in that number. For as long as we live, when in the battlefield or at home, when praying or praising, when working or relaxing with the family, when eating or drinking, we should be found faithful, passionately desiring  to please the Lord Jesus Christ, our ‘Commanding officer’ who called us to His service. In Christ, God promised us to always walk in triumph! From victory to victory! To the glory of the name of Jesus! Halleluiah!

dog in the water

THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF HELPS (1)

 
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, HELPS, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1Cor 12:28)
 
This is a call to those who desire to be a blessing to many! Join the ministry of helps! The spiritual gift of helps is found in one of the spiritual gifts lists in the Bible. The Greek word translated “helps” is ‘antilepsis’. In the New Testament the word appears only in 1 Corinthians 12:28; therefore, the exact meaning is somewhat obscure. The word ‘helps’ it means “to relieve, to support, to take hold of another (who is down) and to succor; to participate (partake) in another’s burden”; to ‘lend a hand’ in time of need”.
 
Historically, the Christians with the gift of helps are those who can render assistance to others in the church with humility, love, patience, wisdom, compassion and grace. This gift has a broad range of applications, from helping individuals with daily chores to assisting in the administration of the affairs of the church. The people who have this gift are born again Christians who are willing to do difficult, unpleasant tasks helping others in the church. These gifted brethren help those who truly need help (the poor, the widows, the orphans, the lonely, the sick, the prisoners…). This help is done for the sake of their Master Jesus Christ who receives all the glory for this ministry. The result of their ministry is that life becomes easier for many, resulting in thanksgiving to God! “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God” (2Cor 9:12)
 
But there is perhaps a deeper meaning to the spiritual gift of helps. Since it is one of the spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit, all of which are given for the building up of the body of Christ, the spiritual aspect of the gift of helps is perhaps even more important than the practical aspect. Those with the spiritual gift of helps have been given the unique ability to identify those who are struggling with doubt, fears and other spiritual battles. They move toward those in spiritual need, helping them with a kind word, an understanding and a compassionate demeanor. They are not passive. They actively look for people to help with a word or with prayers. They have the unique ability to speak scriptural truth in convicting and loving fashion. Their words are “like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11) to the spiritually weak and weary. Like a doctor who gives an injection, so these brethren inject truth, love and courage in the weak Christians. They help the weak in faith to stand by helping carry their burdens. Their practical work is often done in secret and they receive little encouragement themselves. But God knows them and He rewards them.
 
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, we thank You for giving us the spiritual gifts of helps, to encourage and strengthen the weak in the Body of Christ. Help us to be wise, humble and faithful in serving You among the needy. Help us to be Your eyes, Your heart and Your hands, as we help others. We reject any evil spirit of deception, pride and laziness. Holy Spirit please come and strengthen us, as we continue to help others. To Your glory alone! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
(in the picture, a Christian organization feeding the poor in Aleppo, Syria)
helps 1

FILLED WITH SARMALE

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Is 55:1, 2)

The prayer meeting was very good. The presence of God was strong in our midst. It is always humbling and reviving to just come ‘as you are’ and kneel at the feet of the Lord Jesus. We heard the voice of God calling, calling our names from the burning bush… We stood ion holy ground… The Heavens were open over us… God was Calling us to come: the sinners, the poor, the foolish rich, the broken hearted, the disappointed, the sick and the backslider. We were the wretched guests, rejected by the world, coming to the banquet of His majesty. We were invited in. On the table set in the wilderness we found exactly what our souls desired for so long: Water (of life), Milk (to grow) and Wine (to rejoice). We did not need money. Jesus paid it all. We only needed to be thirsty and to have faith that God is good always. The food on the table was good and abundant.

To better understand the generous and abundant invitation to the table of grace, I told the brethren to think about a moment in their lives when they eat to their satisfaction, without any fear at the end of the meal (fear to pay the bill, fear that the food will finish or that the calories are too many…). I told them a story… when I was a teenager, my parents, my sister and I were invited at our cousin’s wedding (This is in Romania about 50 years ago). The food they gave to the children and the youth was so much that it was scary. Myself and the other children we decided to compete, who eats the most. They served us ‘sarmale’ (this is a Romanian dish, my favorite even up till now. It is sour cabbage rolls filled with minced meat, rice and spices). The sarmale were very good and very many. I ate 42 pieces!!! I won the competition but I could not get up from the table. I still remember the feeling of being filled to the brim with the best food ever!!! (These days I cannot do it anymore because of diet etc…). The reason why I told them this story is to understand why God is calling to us to His table. He wants to fill us to the brim, to satisfy our deepest hearts’ desires with His Son Jesus Christ. If you do not understand my ‘sarmale’ story, if you have never experienced a moment of total satisfaction in your life, then you will not understand Isaiah 55. It is true that in this world, even when the best things happen to us (money, promotion, marriage and children…) there is always a limit to the joy we experience. There is some disappointment, some guilt or some anxiety about tomorrow. But in God’s presence there is fullness of joy! God wants you to come and be filled with His Spirit! God wants to satisfy you! May you recognize your thirst for true love found in Christ alone! Come to the table! Come to the water of life and drink! You shall thirst no more! Come to Jesus! Come!

57769123 - stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce. selective focus.

SHY NO MORE

 

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Tim 1:7)

 

The word ‘fear’ it means ‘to be afraid in general’. But in particular, it refers to ‘fear of men’. It means to be timid or to be shy. How do you recognize a shy person? I know it very well because before I gave my life to Christ I was a very shy woman. Shy people fear crowds’ they fear to meet and talk to strangers or to people who are different than them. They fear rejection from men. Shy people feel comfortable only with themselves. They are happy when they are alone. They feel free to talk only to people who are familiar with them. But not with strangers! I remember how in the past, when I meet a stranger, I will panic saying something like this in my heart…’I hope this man does not want to talk to me…How long will this man be here? I hope that time passes quickly before I go my way… If I have to talk, what I will say…I am sure that this man will laugh at me’. These questions will go round and round in my mind, making me restless and anxious. I will breathe fast and sweat more than normal. But once I arrive home and become alone, I relax and become happy. I will play my piano, I will read my book or watch TV…That was ‘my world’… From the outside I looked unfriendly but in my heart I wanted to change. I could have lived my life like this to the end ignorant of any hope to change.

 

Then I gave my life to Christ. Hallelujah!!! My life changed radically, from inside out. Then the Holy Spirit called me to ministry, to be a pastor. I live in Nigeria, so almost everybody is different than me. My shyness incapacitated me. Me a Pastor?  Me a Preacher?  Me? Impossible!  It is like God telling a blind man to paint a rainbow, like telling a deaf man to compose a symphony or like a barren woman to be a mother of children. It was impossible in the natural. Was there any hope for me, to serve God, to obey His call? The truth is that after I made peace with God I became better. But the final victory for me came after I became filled with the Holy Spirit. My mind and my heart became new. I lost this stupid shyness and became strong and bold. ‘Old things passed away and everything became new’. I will surprise myself how I will meet total strangers on the streets and ask them spiritual questions. I did not care about them rejecting me. I was now ‘accepted in the Beloved’. I was confident of my identity in Christ. I lost the fear of men judging me, persecuting me or betraying me. The demon of shyness had lost its grip on my heart. In its place, the Holy Spirit filled me with power, love and sound mind. God’s Spirit took charge of my soul. I wanted everybody to become saved. I became talkative. I became free. My husband was worried at the beginning. I shared my testimony with anyone who wanted to listen. Some received me and my words. Some rejected me. I felt no pain… Only joy and gratitude that I can serve God! The river of life was flowing in my soul, faster and faster, until it got lost into the ocean of grace, the sufficient amazing eternal wonderful grace of God. And that is all that matters! Glory to God!

shy girl

GOD LOVES OLD PEOPLE TOO

PRAISE REPORT AND PRAYER REQUEST

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you” (Is 46:4; LB)

I have a very good friend, a sister in Christ who lives in Houston Tx. She has a ministry among the old people. Each week she goes to the Old People’s Home and prays with the residents there. Recently, the manager of the Home approved her request to have a Sunday service for the people in the home. She is now officially their pastor. She prayed what devotional to use among them. She said that the Holy Spirit directed her to use my book “The Doe of the Morning’ (Praise the Lord!!!). The foolwing are some lines from her letters. Please pray for her (she is almost 70 herself). Pray that God will grant her strength, wisdom, joy and anointing to minister to the old people. Pray also that her ministry will be fruitful. Pray that the people will be saved, healed and delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Pray that the name of Jesus Christ will be glorified even more in that Old people’s home! In Jesus name, amen!

“Dear Lia,
As I told you, they just approved that we can have a Sunday service in the facility. We are using your devotional, The Doe of the Morning, Would you ever believe that your devotional would be used to lead a sharing of the word of God. The residents love the scripture, and the declarations. I am always inspired and the Spirit gives me revelation to share. We have a short widow, of 45 minutes, but we always sing a worship song or chorus, we pray,and read the scripture, then we share how we can apply the scripture to our lives, We take prayer points, and always end in the Lord’s prayer, The lady who comes to help wants a copy of the devotional, so i have to get her a copy. she is very helpful to me and i thank God for sending her.

Having fellowship with elderly residents is different and comes with lots of challenges. Yesterday, a new lady came to the fellowship, I did not know her, so when i wanted to know her name and room number. She could not remember her room number, so she told me to take off one of her shoes. Her name and room number was written in her shoe. Would you believe that when i wheeled her back to her room, she started to sing a hymn, she has a beautiful voice, she told me that she use to sing solos in her church choir, and that she would be happy to sing at the fellowship. I can’t wait until next week… Oh yeah, this lady has had two strokes. Then I met another resident in the hallway who was in tears, she told me that she wanted to come to the fellowship but no one to bring her there (this is a big problem, caregivers are just not available on Sundays…).
Please extend my sincere greetings to the brethren. May God pour out a fresh anointing on Father’s House Bible Church, In Jesus name, AMEN
Love in Him,
V…..”

 

 

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

‘God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end’ (Ecc 3:11)

Yesterday we visited a village called ‘Saint Paul de Vance’. The village is more than five hundred years old and it is said to be the most beautiful village in France. The streets are narrow and the houses are built in the mountain stone. The painters and sculptors love this place because the day light is purer than in other places making the colors look brighter (so they say…). Over the centuries Picasso and many other famous artists lived and died there. Even now, most of the houses are occupied by them displaying their works for all to see.

The inhabitants do not want their village to become a town. It is still a small place with a feel of a real village. Each house is beautified with flowers and pretty things on the doors. The name of the streets is written on stones hung on the walls… The village is like a picture from a story book for children. It is very very nice…

As we were moving on the narrow streets I was asking myself what can I learn from such a beautiful place? What can be the secret behind such an old but well preserved, happy, clean, inspiring, peaceful, romantic and lovely place? Suddenly I saw the name of a street written on the stone: ‘Rue du Saint Esprit’ (meaning the Street of the Holy Spirit). ‘That was it!’ (I told myself). This is the lesson I was longing to remember. It is only the Holy Spirit who is able to make all things bright and beautiful. It is only the Holy Spirit who makes old things look fresh. It is only the Holy Spirit who is able to attract musicians, poets and artists to sing praises to our God.

To the tourists that go there to see the village, they may not know the secret of its magnetic spiritual beauty. But for me, it is clear. I am not a tourist. I am a worshipper of the Lord Jesus Christ who needs fresh drops of oil of gladness daily, wherever I go. Even the name says it all. They did not name the village for any great artist but they call it Saint Paul!!! This can’t be a coincidence! To me, today, this little French village hidden in the rock is a reminder of how wonderful and powerful our God is. Jesus, You are beautiful to me! This holy reminder comforted, strengthen and encouraged me! Hallelujah!!!

St Paul 1

 

‘All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well!’
(C F Alexander)

St Paul 2

 

HOLY DAY

“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10)

We recently celebrated the birthday of a 80 years old lady who was still mourning the death of a close relative. It was not easy to bring a smile on a sad face but with God all things are possible. How do you encourage somebody who is deeply depressed? Man cannot do it! It has to be the work of the Holy Spirit who alone is able to comfort the broken hearted.

This is the advice Nehemiah gave to the people who because they have suffered much in the past, were now sad and very disappointed in the present. He said that for the sake of the holiness of God who is never sad, who never regrets His words and His actions, we too should be holy! The word ‘holy’ means ‘to be like God’: to be different than the world (which is angry, frustrated, jealous and greedy). To be holy it means to be pure in heart and motives. This holiness is expected from God’s children especially during Sundays, our holy day of worshipping God. Practically, this holiness manifests by prayer for spiritual strength to do things impossible before; by joy replacing the past sorrow and by supernatural generosity.

Dear children, this Sunday please go to church and praise God! Trust God to do new things in your life! Share your heart, your time and your money with others who have less than you. Do not be sad! Do not be weak! Do not be greedy! As you obey the Word of God, the blessings of obedience shall follow and overtake you! This is the promise of God! May you taste and see that God is good! God bless you! Have a blessed Sunday!!! In Jesus name, amen!