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Posts tagged ‘David’

Advent IV: God Keeps His Promises.


Justin Holcomb

Advent IV: God Keeps His PromisesIntroduction              On the fourth Sunday of Advent (Advent IV), we celebrate God’s faithfulness in sending Jesus, and we remember that faithfulness as we look forward to Christ’s second coming.

The Scripture and Theology of the Fourth Week of Advent

Scripture readings for Advent IV focus on the coming of the Messiah who fulfills God’s covenant with David, bringing salvation for all people and the eternal reign of God on earth.

Old Testament Readings        

Old Testament passages for the final week of Advent reflect on prophecies, which are fulfilled by Jesus’ birth. Isaiah 7:10 recounts the story of King Ahaz, king of Judah at a time when Judah was facing a foreign invasion. Ahaz hoped for help from the king of Assyria. The prophet Isaiah, however, downplays human-oriented deliverance and instead points to God’s divine intervention to bring about his kingdom—an intervention that would come through a baby born in Bethlehem. Isaiah says, “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

We see something similar happen in 2 Samuel 7:1 when God corrects King David’s human plans by revealing his divine plan. When David starts to make plans to build a temple for God to dwell in, God counters that he himself will build his own “house” through the dynasty of David, ultimately dwelling among his people as God with us—Immanuel—in Jesus Christ. God promises that he will make for David a great name, give his people eternal rest from enemies, and give him an everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 7:9); these promises are fulfilled in the coming of Jesus.

Micah 5:4 looks forward to how God will rule over his people through Jesus: “He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord…And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”

Readings from the Psalms

In Psalms 80:1 we see the psalmist praying for deliverance and restoration. Because of God’s past deliverance, the psalmist calls for God once again to let his face shine upon his people so that they can be saved. The Gospel of John says that those who have seen the face of Jesus Christ have seen the face of God (John 14:9). In Jesus Christ, God fulfills his promise of salvation by making his face shine upon his people.

Psalms 89:1Psalms 89:19 shows God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations’” (Psalms 89:3). God said he would be faithful to David, and through Jesus, God keeps his promise.

New Testament Readings       

New Testament readings for Advent IV continue to reflect on God’s faithfulness to his promises. The gospel was “promised beforehand through [God’s] prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:2). The good news of salvation is that God has been faithful to his promise to David in sending Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.

Hebrews 10:5 reminds us that Christ’s coming obliterates the old system of sacrifice, through the sacrifice Jesus made for us, once for all. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10). Jesus’ birth points us forward to the cross. As Karl Barth put it, “Except we see the Cross at Golgotha we cannot hear the Gospel at the crib of Bethlehem.”

Gospel Readings

Gospel readings for Advent IV tell the story of the angel coming to Mary and Joseph to announce Christ’s birth. In Matthew 1:18 the angel Gabriel tells Joseph that Mary “will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This fulfilled what the Lord had promised to the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22, from Isaiah 7:14).

Luke 1:26 tells another more of the story and connects Jesus’ birth to the lineage of David. The angel tells Mary that her son “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).

The Symbolic Spirituality of the Fourth Week of Advent

The Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath both bring to conclusion the theme of repentance throughout the Advent season. The Jesse Tree tells the story of God bringing his people out of exile through Jesus Christ, and the Advent Wreath expresses the peace that we experience through God’s redemption.

The Jesse Tree            

The Jesse Tree in Advent III felt somber; Israel was in exile, and there was little hope in sight. But the story now takes a positive turn with the arrival of the one who paves the way for Christ. God’s promise has arrived, and by telling the stories of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57Luke 3:1Luke 7:18), Mary (Luke 1:26), Elizabeth (Luke 1:39), Zechariah (Luke 1:57), Joseph (Matthew 1:19), the Magi (Matthew 2:1), Jesus (Luke 2:1), and Christ (John 1:1), the Jesse Tree becomes fully lit. The story that God began with Adam reaches the top of the tree with the arrival of the Second Adam, Jesus, who reverses the curse of sin by crushing the head of the serpent on the cross.

The Advent Wreath

On the last Sunday of Advent, a fourth candle on the Advent Wreath is lit. Traditionally, this purple candle has been called the “Angel Candle” and represents the peace that Christ’s birth brings to earth. All four of the candles around the Advent Wreath are now burning, each at a different height. Only one candle remains: the center, white Christ Candle that is lit on Christmas Eve, representing the pure Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.

Conclusion

The Advent season is a journey through the biblical story that shows us how “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 2:20). Advent points us to Jesus, just like all Scripture. At his first coming, which we celebrate at Christmas, Jesus showed us his humility, his love for us, and his heart of grace toward sinners and sufferers. At his second coming, which we look forward to in Advent, he will complete what he started at his birth, bringing a final end to suffering, sin, and death, restoring his creation, and setting up a new kingdom of righteousness and peace. God keeps his promises.

Justin Holcomb is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary. Justin wrote On the Grace of God and co-authored with his wife Lindsey Rid of My Disgrace and Save Me from Violence. He is also the editor of Christian Theologies of Scripture. You can find him on FacebookTwitter, and at JustinHolcomb.com.

How Staying Calm Keeps You Healthy.


Hand of God
Are you able to relax and let the hand of God give you rest?

You’ve probably noticed at least one of the countless “Keep Calm” posters that seem to be popping up all over social media sites bearing imperative phrases that are as cutesy and quaint as “Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake” and as instigative and contradictory as “Keep Calm and Punch People in the Face.”

A Google search will inform you that the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was created in 1939 by the British government just before World War II began with intentions to boost morale. The British public, having just been made aware of a prediction of mass air attacks on major cities, were encouraged to carry on with business as usual. (Easier said—despite the advantage of a delightful British accent—than done!) Keep calm and have a crumpet. Have a spot of tea. Don’t panic; just “carry on.”

More than 2.5 million copies of the poster were printed and set for distribution upon the invasion of Britain by Germany. Fortunately, this never occurred, and so the poster was never seen by the public—at least not until the year 2000, when a bookseller stumbled across a copy buried beneath a pile of books bought from an auction. Since then, the poster has been reissued by a number of companies promoting a wide range of products and also by individuals sharing their own unique brands of humor, motivation and stress management, as you saw in the aforementioned examples.

My favorite “Keep Calm” poster simply reads “Keep Calm and Keep Waiting on God.”  If King David were reigning today, I can imagine he’d have it framed and hanging in his living room (by a window overlooking green pastures and still waters, of course!) beside his book of Psalms, opened to the 130th, which reads:

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning” (vv. 5-6, NKJV).

There may not be much merit in eating a cupcake in an attempt to keep calm. One is certainly not made calm by punching people in the face. (One is usually incarcerated.) But continuing to wait on Godalways generates a sense of peace, an uncanny wave of calm that originates in our spirit and manifests itself in deep breaths of incomprehensible contentment.

This past weekend I heard a story of a few young brothers who were playing tag outside near a freshwater lake in Florida. The boys’ father had to go in the house to take a phone call, but before leaving, he sternly instructed the elder son to make sure the youngest—just 3 years old—didn’t get too near the water’s edge because he didn’t know how to swim.

No sooner did the man go inside than one of his sons cried out that his little brother was in the lake; he’d tried to tag one of his brothers who quickly evaded his touch, sending the younger one over the edge.

The father ran full speed across the pier and dove into the murky water. He spent a full 60 seconds swimming blindly, reaching out desperately for his little boy. He came up gasping for air and asked the others if they’d seen anything, any movement or air bubbles.

Nothing. All was smooth on the surface.

The father dove back down, this time frantically exploring the underside of the pier. Spreading his body out as far and wide as he could, hoping to feel the hand or foot of his drowning son, he crashed again and again against the wooden pillars. At last, after what seemed like an eternity within an airless, mud-colored cave, he felt his son’s tiny body wrapped tightly around one of the columns.

The father climbed his way out of the watery nightmare and carried his son to shore. After spitting up bit of water, the little boy was perfectly all right and eager to resume playtime with his brothers.

What struck me most about this story, more than the boy’s miraculous rescue after upwards of three minutes under water, was his response when his dad asked him why he was clinging to that pillar.

“Because,” the boy said, “I was just waiting for you to come get me.”

It was as simple as that. This helpless 3-year-old didn’t know much, but he knew the most important thing: He could count on his father. As long as he just kept calm and kept waiting, his dad would show up, scoop him up and carry him up and into the light.

This story is a beautiful parable demonstrating what it looks like to keep calm and keep waiting on God. How often in life are we that lost and imperiled child with deep waters swirling all around us and no way of escape? And how often do we just keep calm and wait for God to come and get us? Probably not nearly enough.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, soar like eagles and run without growing weary. Science also confirms the importance of staying calm amidst stress and danger with numerous studies that show keeping one’s cool can reduce the risk of acquiring neurological illnesses in old age.

When we allow anxiety to have control over our thoughts, words and actions, the result can be catastrophic. An overload of stress means an overwhelmed nervous system. When your nervous system is stressed, panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, and depression are often the result. Be wary of “mild” stress, too. Headaches, stomach aches, and digestive disorders may not seem like a big deal, but they can lead to conditions that are much more devastating, such as heart attack and stroke due to high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.

Thankfully, there are proven ways to combat stress and wash away worries. Doctors suggest:

  • Exercising
  • Taking a vacation
  • Sleeping more
  • Listening to relaxing, soothing music
  • Reading
  • Do deep breathing and/or muscle relaxation exercises
  • Journal
  • Meditate
  • Pray

Personally, I’d start with the last bullet point: pray. I will honestly confess that I don’t always bow my head when I feel stress coming on. Indeed, the enemy will do everything he can to distract and dissuade you and me from going before the Lord with our problems and fears; he doesn’t want us to wait for God but to toil to find our own solutions. Why? Because after millennia spent observing and afflicting followers of Christ, Satan knows we are most powerful when we’re on our knees, that we’re strongest when we’re staying still, holding fast to our faith in God like the little boy with the pillar.

When we take a moment to pray amid the chaos howling like a wicked wind and the worries filling our minds like a flood, we are given the strength to wait and to sing with David, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” We are given the faith to wait for our Abba Father to find us in life’s darkest moments, wrap His arms around us, and carry us to shore.

“Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7, NLT).

Stay fit and stay faithful.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House’s Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness. Her popular website can be found at fit4faith.com, and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be reached on Twitter. This article was originally posted to her blog.

How to Magnify the Lord in Your Life.


 

(hisks/rgbstock.com)

Growing up, we never had PlayStation, Wii or Xbox. We lived on a small ranch in Colorado and had a lot of work to do. Cleaning stalls, painting fences, irrigating the pasture and picking up rocks (Colorado soil grows rocks) were necessities of the life we lived.

My brother and I are only 17 months apart in age, and we were really each other’s entertainment. We spent a lot of our spare time riding our bikes and creating adventures. Our imaginations worked overtime to invent new games. Cowboys and Indians was a favorite, as well as building forts and hideouts. We even had a secret place in the hayloft of the barn.

Kids today simply have no idea what fun can be had without a remote control in your hand. When we did get a gift, it was usually educational. It was not unusual for us to get boxes of books to read. Every young boy should read the Sugar Creek Gang series.

One Christmas, I received one of my favorite presents ever—a microscope. It was probably my fascination with a magnifying glass that led to the microscope. A magnifying glass is so very cool. If you angle it just right with the sun, you can start a leaf on fire (which is of course not what it was designed for). Better yet, you can inspect something tiny like an ant, and see all of the details: Eyes, antennae, legs, even miniscule hairs.

The microscope takes that exploration to a whole new level. A blade of grass or a drop of pond water has a dimension that you could never see without magnification. Discoveries are unearthed, which give you a totally different perspective from what you have experienced with the naked eye.

Psalm 34:3 says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me” (emphasis added).Many times in the Psalms, David expresses a desire to magnify the Lord. His relationship with God was so meaningful that he wanted to magnify it. David was not satisfied with the God that he could “see” with the naked eye. He wanted to know the intimate details of God—the entity and substance of the Holy One that could only be known through magnification.

His soul thirsted for God. He longed for intimacy. It was not enough to dwell in the shelter of the Most High; David wanted to abide in the very shadow of the Almighty. Hear this: If a person does not have that kind of longing to know God, there is a very good chance he has never met Him. He has never become a child of Jehovah. The longing has been set within us. So, how do we magnifythe Lord?

Of course, God’s Word, fasting and prayer are critical to an understanding of the minutia of God. However, David adds another facet in Psalm 69:30. He says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and shallmagnify Him withthanksgiving” (emphasis added). He added worship—worship that is a lifestyle.

My dear friend Charles Billingsley is an anointed vessel, gifted to move believers into a Holy realm—a realm of worship where you are ushered into the presence of God and the worship is so powerful and fervent that God almighty becomes very vivid. God’s character and virtues are literally magnified in your mind, soul and spirit.

This week in your Christ walk, magnify the Lord. Go to the deep places with Him. Don’t be satisfied with a Sunday morning snack. Dig into His Word. Spend time in His presence. Look at Him through the magnification of scripture and prayer. You might even try fasting. Put the flesh aside.

Allow your mind and spirit to discover things about God that are intimate, personal. Don’t be satisfied with the outer courts. Worship Him in the Holy of Holies. It is there that you will see God magnified.It is there that you will sense a nearness that will leave your soul longing for more. And remember, God wants to know you as well. He is the Great Pursuer. Seek Him, as He is seeking you. Magnify Him. You will discover things that you never knew—new things, profound things and life-changing things. I promise.

PRAYER POWER FOR 12/02/2013

This week spend time in His presence by starting your prayers with praise and adoration. Use scripture to help you express what’s in your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you verbalize your worship in deep ways. Continue to pray that God will give you opportunities to share His love and provision with those in great need around you. Thank Him for His constant protection and companionship. Remember our military and their families as well as Israel and our allies.

Pray that President Obama and those working with him would rely on God for wisdom and guidance in making decisions affecting the nation and the world. Continue to pray for revival. Psalm 34:3; Psalm 69:30.

Worshipping Toward God.


I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth.
Psalm 138:2

Recommended Reading
2 Chronicles 6:36-39 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Chronicles%206:36-39&version=NKJV)

In Babylon, David prayed three times daily (Psalm 55:17) “toward Jerusalem” (Daniel 6:10). Solomon made reference to praying toward Jerusalem in his prayer of dedication for the temple. If God‘s people were taken captive to another land and they prayed toward Jerusalem in repentance, he asked God to hear their prayers (2 Chronicles 6:38-39). Solomon may have learned about praying toward Jerusalem from his father, David. In Psalm 138:2, David wrote, “I will worship toward Your holy temple.” Though the temple had not been built when David wrote this psalm, he was probably referring to the tent he constructed to house the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:17).

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

The idea is this: Wherever God is, that is where we turn our face in worship. So David worshipped toward the ark of the covenant, where God dwelt. Besides worshipping obediently, David worshipped gratefully: He worshipped God because of His “lovingkindness” and “truth” (Psalm 138:2).

We should worship the same way today — directing our worship and praise toward the God whose loyal and unconditional love draws us to Himself.

The heart of prayer is gratitude. The voice of prayer is obedience.
William A. Ward

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Romans 8-10

By David Jeremiah.

How to Cast Your Care for Good.


praying hands on Bible
Use this arsenal of Scriptures when you feel plagued by worry. (David Hensen/Stockvault.net)

Are you worried about a specific relationship or circumstance? This index, derived from Rx for Worryby James P. Gills, M.D., lists some key Bible verses you can use to battle worry and fear. These verses are God‘s promises that He is with us and will be our support and strength. Read them. Believe them. Let His Word become the foundation in your struggles!

Are you worried, anxious, afraid, or troubled?
God will give you peace.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. … He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. —Psalm 18:6, 19

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.—Psalm 46:1-2

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? —Psalm 56:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. —Isaiah 26:3

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.—John 14:1, 27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.—John 16:33

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7


Are you worried about the future?
God will guide you.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.—Psalm 25:9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. —Psalm 32:8

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.—Psalm 37:23-24

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. —Proverbs 16:3

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.—James 1:5


Are you afraid of feeling alone?
God will never leave you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. —saiah 58:9

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.—Zephaniah 3:17

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.—John 14:18


Are you worried no one loves you?
God loves you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. —1 John 3:16

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. —1 John 4:10


Are you worried that God could never forgive your sins?
God’s salvation overcomes all sins and guilt.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9


Do you feel depressed?
God will comfort you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:11


Are you worried because you face opposition?
God is with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31


Are you worried about physical needs?
God will provide.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:25-34

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!—Matthew 7:11

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Luke 12:6-7

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.—2 Corinthians 9:8

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:19


Do you worry about your safety?
God will protect you.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8

The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.—Psalm 121:7-8


Do you worry so much that you can’t sleep?
God will ease your fears.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. —Psalm 3:5

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -Psalm 4:8

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. —Proverbs 3:24


Are you worried about your appearance?
God looks at your heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11


Are you worried about your health?
God will give you strength.
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.—Isaiah 58:11

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”—Jeremiah 30:17

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. —James 5:14-15


Are you worried about getting old?
God will stay with you.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.—Psalm 92:12-14
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. —Isaiah 46:4


Are you worried about dying?
God offers eternal life.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.—Psalm 23:4

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. —John 10:28

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” . . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:55, 57

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. —Hebrews 2:14-15

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE.

FELICIA ABRAHAM

Even ‘God’s Anointed’ Leaders Can Abuse the Flock.


Ron Cantor
Ron Cantor

“It doesn’t really matter what you say I have done. God has called me here, and you can’t stand in His way.”

According to a friend of mine, these were the words a leader of a congregation used as he responded to a congregant, who sought to challenge him on issues of deep concern—issues of sin.

It reminded me of something that happened while I was in Bible school. I had been attending a church on Long Island led by a dynamic preacher. Everyone loved his fiery teachings. He was truly anointed. However, I became concerned when, during a service, he physically attacked an usher. The usher had laid his hand on someone, and the wife of the pastorremoved his hand, as he was there to usher, not to pray. The usher reacted angrily to the pastor’s wife, and both he and the pastor had to be physically restrained.

I stopped going to this congregation. A few weeks later, some of my college buddies came back to the campus with glowing reports of Pastor Phil’s (not his real name) latest message. “You’ve got to hear it, Ron!” they crowed.

I popped the cassette into my Walkman (it was 1986!) and listened as Pastor Phil screamed at the people and blamed them for this and that. I did not sense anointing but human anger.

A few weeks later, I was told that Pastor Phil prophesied over a young lady in the church, just after he returned from a four-day prayer retreat, in which it was discovered he brought the very same young lady with him. Someone saw them return together, and Pastor Phil was confronted regarding his adulterous affair.

When the elders sat down with Phil and his wife for this confrontation, the very first words out of his wife’s mouth were, “He is still anointed.”

Most women would have hit him, yelled at him and called him a cheating #$%^—yes, even believing women. But this wife’s greater concern was for her husband’s authority in the congregation—that it would not be forfeited. While this was an elder-led team, she had much freedom as the senior pastor’s wife and loved being in that position.

In her mind, Phil was God’s anointed, even if that anointing did not help him with his zipper! It was like she was saying, “David committed adultery, and he was still king. Who are these elders to remove us from power? We are God’s anointed!”

The theory that leaders can only be removed by God comes from 1 Samuel 26:9-11, where David warns his trusted friend Abishai not to kill King Saul:

“‘Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord‘s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,’ he said, ‘the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed’” (NIV).

A Dangerous Doctrine

From this text, some leaders have derived a very dangerous doctrine regarding a senior leader andaccountability. According to this doctrine, the senior leader is understood as having a position like the ancient kings of Israel. He is “God’s anointed”; therefore, he is not to be removed by any process of men—no matter what he does. He is beyond congregational discipline. While he may have elders or a board, they are advisers only, and all decisions are his to make. Within his sphere, he is the final authority (or, as I call it, dictator).

If he abuses people or they do not like his decisions, they have two choices. They can either submit to his leadership and entrust the situation to God, or they can quietly leave the community. In any case, they are to make no waves or protest in their leaving. Those who do are labeled rebellious troublemakers and often become the target of malicious rumors and gossip.

In these circles, the authority of the senior leader is taught in very absolute terms. We are told, “Touch not God’s anointed.” I believe it is a destructive and devilish doctrine, and people should separate from those who teach it.

To be clear, we should honor and respect those who have embraced the yoke of leadership, but leaders should be held to an even higher standard than those in their congregations:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

The Leader Is Not a King

In the New Testament, congregations are not led by kings. Yes, I know in many circles the pastor and his wife are treated like royalty. Some even refer to the pastor’s wife as first lady. 

Just this morning, a pastor friend was telling me of a young elder who said, “Now that I am an elder, people will respect me.”

My friend told him that it was quite the opposite: “Now that you are an elder, you give up your rights in order to serve.”

In Hebrew, the word for minister (mesharet) is the same word for servant. A leader is called to serve, not to be crowned. Yeshua said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

New Testament congregations should be governed by teams of elders under the direction of a senior leader who is accountable to the team. Both Titus and Timothy, who were senior leaders, were encouraged to appoint elders (Titus 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). And elders govern the congregation:

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17, emphasis added).

David Had a Conflict of Interest

One of the reasons why David did not take Saul’s life is because he knew with Saul out of the way, he would be the new king. Therefore, in killing Saul, he would have been taking his destiny into his own hands. He wanted God to make him king—not to take the kingdom by the strength of his sword.

Saul did not declare himself God’s anointed.

It most cases today, it is the senior leader who declares himself to be God’s anointed and therefore untouchable by man. In the case of David and Saul, it is Saul’s enemy, David, who calls Saul God’s anointed. It is a dangerous thing for a man to declare himself God’s anointed.

In Bible school, I had the opportunity to meet the great English Bible teacher David Pawson. After one of his messages (he was teaching all week), I was deeply moved. I felt like I had heard from a prophet. I walked up to Mr. Pawson and asked, “Are you a prophet?”

He wisely said with his beautiful British accent, “That is not for me to say, but you.” And he walked away.

I was blown away. He was right. You don’t become a prophet or God’s anointed because you post it on your Facebook page or business card. You can’t declare yourself an apostle, as did the drunk and abusive character that Robert Duvall played in The Apostle. No, others affirm the gift of God in your life.

So let us be done with this wicked doctrine. It is inspired from below. May God raise up strong leaders who are secure enough to be accountable to their elders. If you find yourself in a situation where a senior leader refuses to be accountable because he is “God’s anointed,” my advice is to run! Find a congregation that has clear standards of morality for its leaders.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

RON CANTOR

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

Many Egyptians Turning to Christ Despite Violence, Persecution.


Egypt damaged church
A Coptic Orthodox leader prays with residents at the burned and damaged Evangelical Church in Minya governorate, about 152 miles south of Cairo. (Reuters/Louafi Larbi )

Pro-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi supporters took to the streets over the weekend. Thousands took part in the protests in Alexandria, Suez and other cities calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside.

According to an I.N. Network worker we’ll call David, these protests put his family at risk. David says protesters surrounded his home for 50 days a few months ago.

“They consider the area as a holy place, and they try to come back to the area again and again,” he says. “So the police and the army surround the area. Every Friday there is a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood. They try to come back, and they fight with the army and police.”

While David and his family have had to leave their home for a time, they are safe.

Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the government was sacked, Christians had hoped that would change. But, David says, it hasn’t.

“They are still creating troubles and problems,” he says. “The last two months, they’ve gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed.”

David says that’s why the I.N. Network has established an emergency fund to help survivors of the violence.

“Winter is approaching in Egypt,” he says. “And many families—especially in the south—don’t have enough clothes. They need blankets, so we’re doing a project to distribute blankets.”

While the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news.

“Churches are united together. And the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time,” he says.

The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned-out churches that read, “You burned our church, but we love you.”

David says ,”It’s a great message of forgiveness. This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus.”

While Muslims are turning, that’s creating another problem.

“Until now, they find difficulty for security reasons to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way,” David says. “They worship the Lord together, and they’re growing.”

As Muslims come to Christ, they’re uniquely qualified to share the gospel. “The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims,” David says.

While David isn’t praying for more persecution, he’s excited about the Holy Spirit working.

“It’s always like this,” he says. “When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working, and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior.”

This article originally appeared on mnnonline.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

MISSION NETWORK NEWS

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