The American Pilgrims weren’t the first to give thanks with a meal: “The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning” (Leviticus 7:15, NIV 1984). Due to the lack of refrigeration, the “fellowship offering of thanksgiving” had to be offered and eaten on the same day. Today we enjoy leftovers for several days after!
The Israelites did not restrict their expressions of thanksgiving to one day. “Thank offerings” could be offered at any time as a type of “fellowship offering” (Leviticus 3; 7:11-34), one of the five categories of Old Testament sacrifices (the others were burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings). A fellowship offering was a voluntary offering. When offered for the purpose of thanksgiving, it included not only an animal sacrifice but various breads to be consumed as a meal.
Voluntary is the key word. We are free at any time to thank God for His goodness and wonderful works: “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
I believe every child of God is called to absolute surrender—a state in which she is completelyyielded to her heavenly Father in every area of her life. We have heard it before, but we need to hear it very definitely—the condition of God’s blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands. If our hearts are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us and to the blessing He will bestow.
Absolute surrender—let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often. But once, in Scotland, I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of the church and what the great need of believers is. There was in our company a godly Christian worker who trains other workers for Christ, and I asked him what He would say was the greatest need–the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:
“Absolute surrender to God is the one thing.”
The words struck me as never before. And now, I desire by God’s grace to give to you this message—that your God in heaven answers the prayers you have offered for blessing on yourselves and those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands?
God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word for all!
God Expects Your Surrender
Surrender has its foundation in the very nature of God—the Creator of life, the only Source of existence and power and goodness. God has created the sun, the moon, the stars, the flowers, the trees and the grass. Are they not all absolutely surrendered to Him? Do they not allow God to work in them just what He pleases?
And God’s redeemed children, oh, can you think that God can do His work if there is only half or a part of them surrendered? He cannot. God is life, love, blessing, power, and infinite beauty, and God delights in communicating Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him. But ah! This lack of absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. And now He comes, and as God, He claims it.
You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service.
I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing. It must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.
And now, do you expect that in your immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received byregeneration, God can work His work, every day and every hour, unless you are entirely given up to Him? He cannot.
The temple of Solomon was absolutely surrendered to God when it was dedicated to Him. And every one of us is a temple of God, in which God will dwell and work mightily on one condition—absolute surrender to Him. God claims it, God is worthy of it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work in us.
God Accomplishes Your Surrender
I am sure there many hearts that are saying: “Ah, but absolute surrender requires such a price! I have passed through so much trial and suffering already, and there is still so much of the self-life remaining. I dare not face giving it up entirely because I know it will cause even more trouble and agony.”
What a shame that God’s children have such cruel thoughts of Him! I come with a message to those who are fearful and anxious: God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your own strength, or by the power of your will; He is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13)?
And that is what we should seek—to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong. He will conquer what is evil and work what is well-pleasing in His sight. God Himself will work it in you.
Look at the men in the Old Testament, such as Abraham. Do you think it was by accident that God found that man the father of the faithful and the friend of God? Do you think it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had such faith and obedience and devotion? You know it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.
I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire. If there is the fear that says, “Oh, my desire is not strong enough! I am not willing for everything that may come, and I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything,” I implore you, learn to know and trust your God now.
Say, “My God, I am willing for You to make me willing.” If there is anything holding you back or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now and prove how gracious He is. Do not be afraid that He will demand from you what He will not bestow.
God Accepts Your Surrender
God works surrender in the secret of our hearts; He urges us by the hidden power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to bring and yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when you come and bring it to Him, it may, as far as your feelings go, be a thing of great imperfection. You may doubt and hesitate and ask, “Is it absolute?”
But remember, there was once a man to whom Christ said:
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
And his heart was afraid, and he cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (v. 24). That was a faith that triumphed over Satan, and the evil spirit was cast out.
And if you come and say, “Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender,” even though you do so with a trembling heart and with the awareness that you do not feel the power, the determination or the assurance, it will succeed. Do not be afraid, but come just as you are. Even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Spirit will work.
Have you not yet learned the lesson that the Holy Spirit works with mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane.
We read that He, “through the eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14), offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The Almighty Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony and fear and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed!
Externally, you can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but the Spirit of God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and fighting and trembling, have faith in the hidden work of God’s Spirit and do not fear, but yield yourself.
We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God will have the right place and be “all in all.” And if we are to have that throughout life, let us begin now and look away from ourselves and look up to God.
Let each believe when he says, “Oh God, I accept Your terms. I have pleaded for blessing on myself and others. I have accepted Your terms of absolute surrender,” that there is a God present who takes note of it and writes it down in His book.
There is a God present who at that very moment takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may not realize it, but God takes possession if you will trust Him.
God Maintains Your Surrender
When God has begun the work of absolute surrender in you and has accepted your surrender, then God holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it. Do you believe that? Do you believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?
A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. It is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined and a life that is possible for us. Let us believe that God will maintain it.
Give yourself up absolutely to the will of God. Say to Him: “By Your grace I desire to do Your will in everything, every moment of every day.”
It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender. Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we cannot understand but that God’s Word has revealed. He wants to work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike, unbounded trust.
God Blesses When You Surrender
This surrender to God brings wonderful blessings. But it must be absolute. We must say, even if with a trembling will: “O God, I accept Your demands. I am Yours and all that I have. Absolute surrender is what my soul yields to You by divine grace.”
You may not have as strong, clear feelings of surrender as you would like to have, but humble yourselves in His sight, and acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self-will, self-confidence and self-effort. Bow humbly before Him in the confession of that, and ask Him to break your heart and bring you into the dust before Him.
Then, as you bow before Him, just accept God’s teaching that in your flesh “nothing good dwells” (Rom. 7:18) and that nothing will help you except another life coming in. You must deny self once and for all. Denying self must every moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession of you.
Come and cast this self-life and flesh-life at the feet of Jesus. Then trust Him. Do not worry yourselves with trying to understand all about it, but come in the living faith that Christ will come into you with the power of His death and the power of His life. Then the Holy Spirit will bring the whole Christ–Christ crucified and risen and living in glory into your heart.
Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and the author of numerous devotional works that have become classics, including Abide in Christ, Absolute Surrender and Waiting on God.
In the same way—particularly at Thanksgiving—we need to start seeing all signs of breakthrough with aprophetic eye and learn how to thank God for the small cloud in the same way we would thank Him for the abundance of rain.
Let me explain.
I believe Elijah’s account in 1 Kings 18 is very relevant to us today when it comes to thanksgiving and experiencing the supernatural power of God in our lives. We don’t always make the link, butthanksgiving is a vital key to experiencing the miraculous. So many of us stop short of our complete miracle because we have never learned how to give thanks for the seed like it was the complete harvest.
We reserve thanksgiving for the when miracle comes to full fruition. We wait for the spectacular. We wait for the total healing. We wait for everything to come into perfect alignment and we get exactly what we have been believing God for.
This is not the essence of faith. Faith is not required when we receive everything we have been praying for; it is essential when we are living in the gap between our present situation and what we are believing for. So how do we maintain faith to keep us going while we are waiting for our miracle? The key to sustaining faith is giving thanks for all signs of progress.
This is not wishful thinking. This is not positive confession theology. This is having prophetic vision to see beyond the external shell of circumstance and actually see the harvest that is within the seeds of improvement.
Think about it. A harvest of apples is contained in a seed. An apple does not become an apple when it is fully grown; an apple begins its life in seed form. In the same way, miracles do not come to pass only when you receive the complete breakthrough, restoration or healing. Every step of progress that we experience on the way to wholeness and fullnessshould be celebrated like a seed of the complete miracle.
So, with the holiday season staring us down, here are some important keys that we can learn from Elijah in 1 Kings 18 to release the faith-building power of thanksgiving in our lives:
1. Elijah had ears to hear in the Spirit before others heard in the natural. “Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain’” (1 Kings 18:41, NKJV).
Elijah heard the sound of the abundance of rain—however, I have to believe this was no natural sound. He was listening in the spirit realm. I know this because if King Ahab had also heard the sound of rain, he might have responded differently. He did not. Instead, “Ahab went up to eat and drink” (v. 42).
Prophetic hearing positions you to hear God’s Word amidst the noise of circumstance or the silence of lack. Regardless of what is or is not going on, you have a sure anchor in the eternal, unchanging Word of the Lord. This is your advantage and your key to sustaining faith-preserving thanksgiving.
You become the greatest catalyst of breakthrough when you learn how to hear what God is saying and pray these eternal realities over the present conditions. It does not deny the presence of drought; it simply chooses to focus on and express gratitude for the abundance of rain that is locked up in the small cloud.
In the same way, the promise of breakthrough for you is contained in the seed of Scripture. It is not some mystical, outlandish thing. The Word of the Lord is clearly unveiled in Scripture. Immerse yourself in that book of promise, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you a unique assurance of abundant rain for your need or present situation.
2. Elijah responded to what he heard. “So Ahab went up to eat and drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea’” (vv. 42-43).
We return to the looming reality that both Elijah and King Ahab were facing. Even though the Word of the Lord assured abundant rain, there was no rain visible in the natural realm … yet! Both men responded to what they heard—Elijah heard in the spirit, while Ahab heard with purely natural ears.
I am amazed at how many believers respond to God’s promises from an Ahab perspective. Basically, they do nothing: “There is no rain now, which means there will no rain … ever.” The miracle doesn’t come with fast-food, “your way right away” speed, so we mistakenly conclude that God is not in the miracle-working business anymore.
Spiritual maturity is developed as we learn how to persevere and persist, anchored on God’s Word even when our natural circumstances show absolutely no signs of improvement. Elijah told his servant to go out and look for signs of rain. The servant returned, telling Elijah that he saw nothing. How did Elijah respond? “Seven times Elijah told him to go and look” (v. 43, NLT). Perseverance.
Elijah positioned himself to be thankful, for not only did he hear the word of the Lord, but he responded to it like it was true. This is what compelled him to not accept no as an answer from his servant.
So many of us abandon breakthrough or step away from our miracle because at the first, second or even third prayer, we appear to see no results. Elijah heard the word of the Lord and responded like it was true. This caused him to keep pressing in until what he heard became what he saw.
3. Elijah celebrated the small cloud like it was the abundance of rain. “Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’” (v. 44, NKJV).
A vital key to walking in the supernatural power of God is to increase our awareness of what God is doing. We must remember that the harvest is in the small seed and the outpouring is in the small cloud. Contemporary leaders who practice this perspective are the ones who are experiencing some of the greatest measures of breakthrough in their ministries.
One notable example is healing evangelist Randy Clark, from Global Awakening. In his gatherings, as people receive prayer for healing, Randy encourages those who experience any kind of improvement in their physical conditions to wave their hands around and celebrate the progress. Why? It reorients their perspective to what God is doing and builds corporate faith through thanksgiving.
Focusing on what God is doing causes us to be thankful. Instead of being disappointed that we did not receive 100 percent restoration of hearing, sight or removal of pain, we celebrate the 30 percent improvement. As a result, our faith is strengthened to keep on believing for the 60 percent and 80 percent and, ultimately, the 100 percent. Thanksgiving builds our faith, and that faith sustains us while we continue to believe for the complete miracle—for ourselves and for others.
I encourage you—this season and always—to be thankful for all of the little signs of blessing and breakthrough. Elijah focused on the small cloud, not the empty sky. All progress, improvement and change is worth thanksgiving and celebration. Sure, it may be a cloud the size of a man’s hand, but Elijah responded to that little thing like it was an abundance of rain.
“Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, “Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”” (v. 44, NLT).
Why the shout and urgency? Elijah knew that contained in that cloud was the massive outpouring he heard about and saw in the spirit.
In the same way, I encourage you to give thanks for every sign of improvement, healing, restoration and progress in your situation. Remember, the seed contains the harvest. And every step forward is a step toward complete breakthrough!
Larry Sparks is author of the books Breakthrough Faith and Breakthrough Healing. He also founded Equip Culture Media—a ministry that empowers believers with the tools and resources they need to live victoriously through the supernatural power of God. Currently, Larry serves as director of curriculum resources for Destiny Image Publishers and hosts Life Supernatural, a weekly radio program that features best-selling authors, emerging filmmakers and key ministry leaders. He lives in Florida with his wife and daughter.
The Daniel Plan details a healthy lifestyle program based on five essential principles of faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. The program was developed and originated at Saddleback Church in 2011 and within the first year more than 15,000 church members lost a collective of more than 250,000 pounds while experiencing decreases in health issues and stress and increases in spiritual growth and energy.
“The Daniel Plan is far more than a diet; it is about living a healthier life based on biblical principles,” explains Warren. “While all five essentials are necessary, it is the components of faith and friends that I believe are the secret sauce that make the plan so effective. When you have God and a group helping you stay on track, you have far more than willpower driving you to make positive changes and you are far more likely to stay consistent.”
Each essential within The Daniel Plan is intended to hold up one’s life, enliven one’s body, enrich one’s mind and fill one’s heart. Warren dives into spiritual health and the importance of building a foundation on God for all other areas of life. Hyman, a family physician and Functional Medicine expert, discusses the power of food as medicine and a source of abundance, noting that eating real, whole food can be a doorway to reverse chronic disease, create resilient health and easy weight loss and a clear mind. And Amen, a physician and double-board certified psychiatrist, helps readers boost their brain’s physical health to turn his or her mind into a powerful tool to fight off cravings, bad decisions and toxic thoughts.
“The health of the U.S. is going the wrong way. Two-thirds of us are overweight; one-third are obese. It is estimated by 2020 that 50 percent of the U.S. population will be obese,” says Amen. “Until now, many churches have been places of illness rather than health … think spaghetti dinner, pancake breakfasts, ice cream socials, potlucks and donuts on Sunday morning. The Bible Belt has been widening, but not in a way ordained by God.”
The Daniel Plan focuses on practical tips such as eating real, whole food; viewing physical activity as play, rather than exercise; setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals; and finding a group of individuals to provide encouragement for healthy lifestyle choices.
“Today, America has become the United States of Diabesity with 70 percent of Americans and 40 percent of children overweight, and one in two Americans having pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes,” notes Hyman. “By 2050 at current rates, one in two Americans will be obese and one in three will have type two diabetes.
“Diabesity drives our national debt, threatens our national security because kids are too fat or unfit to serve, and our global economic competitiveness because kids who are sick and overweight cannot learn leading to an achievement gap with the rest of the world. We need a clear, doable, scalable program that can become a movement. ‘The Daniel Plan’ is not a book. It’s a movement.”
The book also outlines three simple exercise programs as well as a balanced meal plan, complete with recipes.
For Warren, The Daniel Plan has been three years in the making, ever since the vision for the program was developed in 2011. In the book, Warren honestly addresses the issue of setbacks in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, referencing his own experience following the loss of his youngest son to suicide last April.
Warren, who had lost more than 50 pounds prior to the tragedy, admits to returning to his previous unhealthy choices brought on by physical and emotional exhaustion during his subsequent grieving period, and his recommitment to The Daniel Plan lifestyle.
“As anyone in recovery will tell you, setbacks are part of the process of making any long-term change,” Warren writes. “Rather than beating myself up, I simply asked God and my close friends to help get me back on track.”
The concept for The Daniel Plan, on which the book is based, was developed by Warren after baptizing 827 adults in one day by lowering each under the water and lifting them back up. At that time, Warren literally felt the weight of America’s health problems while being simultaneously convicted by his own unhealthy weight and habits.
He enlisted Hyman and Amen, as well as Dr. Mehmet Oz of The Dr. Oz Show, to develop The Daniel Plan, which was conceptualized from the Old Testament biblical account of Daniel, who refused to eat the rich foods from the king’s table and challenged the ruler to a 10-day health contest.
“I witnessed firsthand the Daniel Plan’s impact on an entire congregation’s health,” says Oz. “The wisdom in this book will protect the temple of your soul.”
Introduction: Faith to be a GreatGiver. A great giver’s heart with a great giver’s faith will result in great giving. The Bible portrays God as a great giver, liberal with His resources, always ready to give abundantly into the needs of His people. We are created in the image of God. We are also capable of being great givers. I believe giving is opposite to our human nature, especially our unredeemed carnal nature. To be a great giver you need a new nature, a Holy Spirit empowered nature with an attitude of faith and expectation. We seek to become a people who have a giving spirit. A great giver’s heart with a great giver’s faith will result in great giving. Our motive for great giving is to advance the kingdom of God. Giving to God is confronting our carnal nature, confronting our culture of greed, selfishness, credit madness and unnecessary accumulation of things.
Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress wrote, “A man there was, and they called him mad; the more he gave, the more he had.” Of course Bunyan was writing of the Christian. To the world, such a principle of giving is nonsense. Only to the Christian, who understands that true worth is also spiritual, does this make sense. Hence, in giving to God, he looks for spiritual returns. Faith believes God desires to bless His people with great provisions, both financially and spiritually.
Tithe is the tenth part of anything. It is the first part of our income, of all we earn, and it already belongs to the Lord. This is our first giving responsibility and our minimum financial commitment.
B. GIVING OF OUR OFFERING
1. An offering is an undesignated, unlimited amount given as a free-will love gift unto the Lord. We are encouraged in Scripture to grow in the grace of giving. Tithe remains always the tithe, 10%, but offerings are unlimited giving. This is where we grow in liberality, generosity, faith and sacrifice.
2. We may call this firstfruits, seed-faith or faith harvest. The point is we see the truth of giving to God seed that He may water, bless, increase and bring a harvest of blessing.
3. Hebrew concept of firstfruits: The chief or principle part, the first-ripened part of the incoming harvest. The firstfruits of a crop yet to be harvested. The Hebrew word appears sixteen times in the Old Testament referring to the first grain or first harvested that was to be offered to God in recognition of God’s ownership of the land and His sovereignty over nature.
4. The Hebrew and Greek word meanings of firstfruits have to do with giving an offering to God from the harvest that is reaped or is going to be reaped. Firstfruits can be given before the harvest has actually been taken into the barns and is representative of the whole ha …
Hell in the Bible is a place of future punishment and the final destination for unbelievers. It is described in Scripture using various terms such as eternal fire, outer darkness, a place of weeping and torment, the lake of fire, the second death, unquenchable fire. The most terrifying reality of hell is that it will be a place of complete, unending separation from God.
Biblical Terms for Hell
The Hebrew word Sheoloccurs 65 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “hell,” “the grave,” “death,” “destruction,” and “the pit.” Sheol identifies the general abode of the dead, a place where life no longer exists.Example of Sheol:
This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah. Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)
Hades is the Greek term translated “hell” in the New Testament. Hades is similar to Sheol. It is described as a prison with gates, bars, and locks, and its location is downward.Example of Hades:
‘For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (ESV)
The Greek word Gehenna is translated “hell” or “the fires of hell,” and expresses the place of punishment for sinners. It is usually associated with the final judgment and depicted as being an eternal, unquenchable fire.Examples of Gehenna:
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (NKJV)Matthew 25:41
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels …’ ” (NKJV)
Another Greek term used to indicate hell or the “lower regions” is Tartarus. Like Gehenna, Tartarus also designates the place of eternal punishment.Example of Tartarus:
2 Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment … (ESV)
With so many references to Hell in the Bible, any serious Christian must come to terms with the doctrine. The passages are grouped in sections below to help us understand what the Bible has to say about hell.
Punishment in Hell is Eternal
“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (NIV)
Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (NLT)
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV)
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. (NLT)
And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. (NLT)
“And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (NKJV)
Hell is a Place of Separation from God
2 Thessalonians 1:9
They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. (NLT)
Hell Is a Place of Fire
“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NKJV)
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NLT)
… throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NLT)
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. (NLT)
Hell Is for the Wicked
The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. (ESV)
The Wise Will Avoid Hell
The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below. (NKJV)
We Can Endeavor to Save Others from Hell
Physical discipline may well save them from death. (NLT)
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (NLT)
The Beast, False Prophet, Devil and Demons Will Be Thrown into Hell
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’ ” (NLT)
And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (NLT)
… and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)
Hell Has No Power Over the Church
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will buildmy church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (NLT)
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (NKJV)
The Bible‘s prohibitions against our misusing our sexuality are there to protect us, not to punish us.
As a Christian gynecologist, I have had the privilege of treating thousands of women during the last two decades. Many of them have had the courage to ask questions about one of the most private aspects of their lives: their sexuality. The issues have ranged from the values of virginity to sexually transmitted diseases; from wedding night romance to the challenges of geriatric sexual relations; from birth control to plastic surgery.
The majority of couples struggle with these sensitive and important issues of marriage in a spiritual vacuum. They wonder how their faith in Christ and their human sexuality can peacefully coexist. Sensing that there must be more to their sexual lives than they are experiencing but wondering if God really approves of these secret desires, they ask themselves: Is sex the forbidden fruit?
Sex Is God’s Idea
Of the many hundreds of questions I have been asked, the fundamental theme remains: What does God think about sex? The answer I give is the response I received from my pastor in my youth when I asked the same question: It’s God’s idea!
God created the sexes and sexual intercourse. He instilled the sexual drive into our bodies, knowing it would work its way into our thoughts and minds. He is not ashamed of our sexuality, nor does He regret creating it.
From the second chapter of Genesis throughout the pages of Scripture we can read about God’s plan for our sexuality. And from one passage to the next, the theme is one of pleasure, joy and fulfillment within the boundaries He has created.
Yet many Christians mistakenly perceive that the few hedges of protection God placed around our sexuality indicate that God is against sex. The truth is, our sexuality is God’s gift to us, not just for reproduction, as many in the church seem to believe, but also for intimacy and pleasure in the comfort of marriage. And yes, He knows how much fun it is. He made it that way!
But for so long, the church has looked at the way the fallen world has expressed itself sexually and closed its doors to all discussions of sex, seemingly fearing that the influences of the secular world will corrupt the holiness of the church.
The sometimes irresponsible approach of the church to human sexuality has left many sincere Christians sitting in their church pews each Sunday wondering if God is for or against sex. Is God condemning them as they struggle with questions for which they desperately need answers and for feelings that threaten their very walk with Him? The answer is, absolutely not!
I can tell you on the authority of the Bible that God is definitely interested in your sexual life—and not just so He can say, “Don’t do that!” He longs for you to experience all He has created you for from the beginning. Though we may not achieve what we would have had in the Garden of Eden, we can surely take hold of a lot more than we currently enjoy, and we can do it without the guilt and condemnation that has so often hounded the sincere Christian.
Consider God’s motivation for creating a companion for Adam and His ultimate design for their relationship. During God’s creation process, He said: “‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2:18, NIV). Then, according to Scripture, “The Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (vv. 22-24).
It was God who created a beautiful woman and brought her to Adam as His precious gift to him. When Adam saw how Eve was made, he also learned how his body fit together with hers. The two became one flesh, which is how the rest of us got here!
In fact, God’s first command to them was to “‘be fruitful and increase in number’” (Gen. 1:28). In other words, God told them to have intercourse; it was their first assignment as a couple!
Clearly, God is the one who initiated sex as an activity to be enjoyed between two people who are married to each other. However, He states in His Word that it is not to be engaged in outside this parameter. Whole chapters in the Old Testament are devoted to the regulation of sexual activity (Lev. 18; 20).
In the pagan cultures that surrounded the people of Israel, sexual activity between father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, or men and animals was not uncommon. Homosexuality was also a problem. So God established boundaries for His people and commanded them not to engage in these types of sexual activity.
The few rules He established were designed to distinguish the Israelites from the pagan cultures around them. But they were also a hedge of protection around the sanctity of the family in places where sinful sexual practices had destroyed the foundation of those cultures. God did not want the nation of Israel to fall victim to the same fate.
But some Christians read chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus, in which the punishment for sexual sin is specified as death by stoning, and conclude that God is fierce and vengeful, ready at any moment to strike them down if they sin sexually. They forget that God is also a God of grace and forgiveness. The boundaries still exist to protect us, but forgiveness is ours for the asking because of Calvary.
New Testament heroes reveal little information of their marital lives to us. But Paul teaches us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy unto God (Rom. 12:1). He reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that we must strive to honor God with it (1 Cor. 6:18).
So how does one honor God with his body, be an acceptable temple for the Holy Spirit, live holy before God, and yet experience the joys and delights of sexual union? Many of us have thought that when the Bible says to present our bodies as living sacrifices, it really means sacrificing a fulfilling and exciting sex life.
We find ourselves envying those television and movie “role models” who seem to enjoy sex with guiltless abandon. Some of us escape into the fantasy world of romance novels, soap operas or worse, pornographic videos, to become spectators of a dark and lonely life from which we have been set free. This dilemma seems especially difficult for those of us who carry memories of a pre-conversion sexual life that was fulfilling.
Though the secular world has, admittedly, pushed the envelope of sexual exploration to extremes, we as a church have been robbed of our inheritance in Christ. The lack of proper scriptural interpretation and explanation of God’s true design for marriage hinders a mutually satisfying intimacy with our spouse.
We have had too few champions from the pulpit to encourage us to reclaim what has been stolen from us. Much preaching that touches the topic of sexuality has emphasized the sins of sex with little, if any, reference to the joy of sex that God ordained.
A New Look at Biblical and Medical Truths
Thankfully, a new generation of spiritual leaders is dedicated to reclaiming the sexually broken and to teaching young adults a godly pattern for beginning their marriages. We are living with an epidemic of divorce, adultery, fornication, sexually transmitted diseases and pornography.
Yet God has given wonderful promises in His Word to all who would hear and be set free by its truth. And, perhaps surprisingly, the Bible reveals beautiful examples of the pleasures that proper sexual expression should bring to our lives.
The Song of Solomon is undoubtedly the largest and most detailed biblical example of the beauty of sexual life God intended us to share. But it is by no means the only example. The Book of Proverbs warns against adultery while extolling the pleasures of intimacy in your own house:
“Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. … Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love” (Prov. 5:15, 17-19).
This passage contains a simple instruction about enjoying sexuality in a healthy way. In the New Testament, Jesus quotes from the Book of Genesis regarding God’s intention for marriage:
“But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:6-9).
Jesus reminds us that from the very beginning it was God’s intention that man and woman come together sexually and become one flesh, a condition that occurs only in intercourse. This drive to unite is so strong that a man will leave the comforts of home and all that is familiar to begin a new life with his wife. This bond is so important to God that He commands that no man separate it.
The undeniable truth is that God wants you to have great and satisfying sex; it’s His idea. By following specific and appropriate boundaries, we can have a life and marriage that are not only satisfying to us but also pleasing to the One who made us.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.
Scott Farhart, M.D., the author of Intimate and Unashamed, from which this article is adapted.
“It’s time!” are the two words I recently heard from the Lord that have had an incredible impact on me. These two words have released in me a sense of faith and expectancy beyond anything I have known probably in years. It released a sense in me that things I have prayed about and put off for the future are now here.
I am not to cry out for revival or awakening as I have in the past, but I am to walk, act and speak in the realization that God’s time to act mightily on our behalf is here. Then, just recently, God showed me what I believe is the next step in moving more fully into this new season into which He has brought us.
God’s Call to a New Consecration
It was during our Tuesday night stream, and I spoke in passing about Elisabeth Elliot and how her husband, Jim, was murdered along with four other young missionaries by the Auca Indians of South America, whom they were trying to reach for Christ. Elisabeth and some of the other wives later returned to this same tribe and led to Christ the very men who had murdered their husbands.
As I told this story, I began to weep, and I had this clear realization that God is calling us to a new level of consecration. At the same time, the words of Joshua as he was about to lead Israel into the Promised Land were brought with force to my mind: ”Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Josh. 3:5, ESV). A new consecration is necessary if we are to fully enter the new season to which God has brought us.
What Is Consecration?
Consecration is the giving over of a thing or person completely to God. A friend recently pointed out that there is an element of destruction in many of the Old Testament passages about consecration. Idols must be destroyed, and consecration may involve the destruction of things in our lives that are not pleasing to God.
Consecration may look differently in your life and mine, but as we give ourselves unreservedly to God, He will take—and maybe destroy—the thing that is distracting us and keeping us from fully loving and obeying Him.
I recall as a young man and new believer having to lay my musical abilities and aspirations on the altar and give them completely to God. As a young person, I loved to play and sing country-rock music in parties, bars and other unsavory settings. When I gave my life to Christ, I put it all away for a time—but then I began to slip back into playing the old songs when I would stop by the homes of old friends and they would want to get out the instruments and jam. But even as I would play, there was a struggle going on inside, for I knew this was the one area that had the power to pull me away from the Lord. It was an idol that had to be destroyed!
Then one day I received an invitation to do a gig that was very appealing and attractive to my flesh and ego. I decided I would accept in spite of the struggle that was going on inside of me. The night after receiving the invitation, I went to church and experienced the hand of the Lord upon me in a powerful way, calling me to give myself and my music completely and singularly to Him.
At the end of the sermon, I went to the front of that small church and knelt before the Lord. I laid everything on the altar, giving myself completely to Him. I said, “Lord, if You will help me, from this moment forward, I will only play songs that bring glory and honor to You.”
That was my consecration, and something astonishing happened on the inside of me. There came an incredible joy that seemed to consume me for the next several days.
I recall driving alone in my car and shouting at the top of my voice because I could not contain the happiness and joy that was bursting forth from my heart. The power of that temptation was broken, and from then on it was easy to say no. I have been completely free ever since. But the interesting thing is, even though I have no passion or desire for secular music, if I were to find myself in a situation where it would be appropriate to play a wholesome non-Christian song, I am free to do so.
Consecration Brought a Miracle
Many of you have heard the story of the miraculous healing of my brother, Pete, when three doctors said he would not live more than 10 minutes after he was run over by a farm tractor at the age of 7. It was a new and fresh consecration by my father that led to the miracle. When our dad heard those devastating words from the doctors, the only thing on his mind was that for five years he had ignored the clear call of God to preach the gospel. He had told no one of this call, for it seemed impossible since he only had a fourth-grade education and a family to care for.
But as they wheeled Pete away, my father stepped into a bathroom and made his consecration to God. Outwardly it looked simple, but for Daddy it was a very serious and heartfelt act. He raised his right hand and said, “Lord, I’m ready!” At that moment, the power of God fell, and Pete was instantly and miraculously healed. One of the doctors returned a while later and said, “Mr. Hyatt, there has been a Higher Power here tonight!”
Just before the children of Israel were to cross the Jordan and begin possessing their God-given inheritance, Joshua said to them, ”Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” I believe consecration is a necessary prerequisite for fully possessing our God-given inheritance and entering the new season to which He has brought us. It’s time!
I urge you to go ahead now and offer yourself to God, no strings attached. Consecrate yourself to Him. Put yourself on the altar, and tell God that you and all you have belong to Him. Be assured that He loves you more than you can imagine. And as you give yourself to Him, He will bless you in ways you never thought possible.
Eddie L. Hyattis a seasoned minister of the gospel, having served as a pastor, teacher, missionary and professor of theology in the U.S. and Canada and having ministered in India, Indonesia, England, Ireland, Sweden, Poland and Bulgaria. His ministry is characterized by a unique blend of the anointing of the Holy Spirit with academic excellence and over 40 years of ministerial experience. Visit him online at eddiehyatt.com.
There is an incident in the biblical record that causes abiding consternation for many of God’s people. It is the story of how two of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, were slain suddenly by God.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. (Lev. 10:1–3)
Aaron, of course, was the older brother of Moses and the first high priest of Israel. God had consecrated Aaron and his sons to the holy vocation of the priesthood. It was in the context of their priestly service that two of Aaron’s four sons, Nadab and Abihu, each got a censer—a kind of vessel that was used in antiquity to contain the incense that was burned as an offering before God—put fire in them, put incense on them, and offered what the book of Leviticus calls “unauthorized fire.”
What is “unauthorized fire,” or, as it is rendered in other translations, “profane fire” or “strange fire”? We use the word profane to refer to that which is less than holy, but the word profane comes from the Latin profanus, which literally means “outside the temple.” So, in a literal sense, Moses, as the author of Leviticus, is saying that the fire that Nadab and Abihu introduced to the altar had not been purified or consecrated. For that, God took their lives.
On the surface, it seems that this was cruel and unusual punishment. These young priests clearly violated some prescription that God had set forth for the offering of incense in the holy place, but it may have been no more than a prank or a mischievous innovation. Was it really necessary for God to rebuke their action so decisively?
To understand this incident more fully, we have to go back to the book of Exodus. Just before God gave His Ten Commandments, He told Moses that He soon would come to him in a thick cloud so that the people might hear Him speaking and believe (19:9). To prepare for that stupendous vision, God commanded the people to consecrate themselves (v. 10). He also set strict borders around Mount Sinai, saying that whoever touched the mountain would die (v. 12). When God came, “there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled” (v. 16). God called Moses to ascend the mountain, but before revealing His law, God sent Moses back down the mountain to repeat and expand the warning.
Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them. (vv. 21–22)
So, at the very formation of the nation of Israel, God laid down the fundamental laws of consecration for the priests. He warned them that if they were not consecrated or if they violated their consecration, He would “break out” against them. Nadab and Abihu violated the holy law of the priesthood. When they did so, God killed them, reminding Israel of the sanctity of His presence. That is why Moses reminded Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” When he heard this, Aaron “held his peace.” Even amid his grief, he knew his sons had committed a grave offense against Israel’s holy God.
One aspect of the modern church that most saddens and concerns me is that believers are no longer encouraged to have a healthy fear of God. We seem to assume that the fear of the Lord is something that belonged to the Old Testament period and is not to be a part of the life of the Christian. But fear of God involves not simply a trembling before His wrath, but a sense of reverence and awe because of His glorious holiness.
Even though we are living on the finished side of the cross, the fear of the Lord is still the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10a). God is still a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deut. 4:24). When we come into His presence, we are to come as children, as those who have been reconciled, but there is to be a godly fear inspired by respect for the One with whom we are dealing.
R.C. Sproul Ligonier Ministries
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While reading Deuteronomy 17 today, I came to the passage where God instructs future kings of Israel. In context he’s really telling the people, “If when you get to the Promised Land, you decide you want a king, make sure you get a good one. And here’s how to get a good one.” That’s a loose summary of Deuteronomy 17:14-20. After laying out certain qualifications in Deuteronomy 17:14-17, the Lord explains how the new king is to begin his reign:
When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel(Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
I had never noticed the first part of that passage before. The king has a huge writing assignment. He is to write for himself (his servants can’t do it for him) “a copy of this law.” Most commentators think it means the book of Deuteronomy, but some think it refers to the entire Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy). Either way it’s a lot of writing. Sort of like an Old Testament term paper.
And this was long before the days of personal computers.
Or typewriters (remember those?).
Or ballpoint pens.
Or Number 2 pencils.
Writing out the entire book of Deuteronomy would take days of work. Line by line, word by word, letter by letter, making sure he got it exactly right. And you can be sure the Levites would be double-checking his work.
Not an easy assignment.
Writing it down meant the king was forced to think about the law of God he was sworn to uphold. He would go through every part of it, painstakingly writing it on a scroll, thinking about what it meant. That tedious exercise would tattoo the truth on his soul. We can see a clear progression here:
Maybe we can gain something from this today. Pick a verse and write it down word for word. Or pick a whole chapter and write it down—that will take a lot longer. But the very act is likely to make you think more carefully about what it says. And that’s the whole point. Writing slows us down, and slowing down is the first step in hearing what God is actually saying.