Is That You? No, But That’s …

Is That You? No, But That’s…

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.   1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (ESV)

Spiritual Gifts

It was the morning after a Kari Jobe concert that I had attended in Reading, PA when I found a pew to sit in at one of the local churches in Terre Hill, PA. Nothing like being dead smack in Clippity-Clopland (Lancaster County PA.) for church on a Sunday morning. I got myself a church bulletin, complete with liner notes from the previous Sunday and the present Sunday, and as I was looking at them I noticed that the liner notes were on passages of Scripture that deal with spiritual gifts. Under each gift there was a question…”Is That You?” with a blank by it and under that was the word “That’s” with a blank by it. So I am wondering about the blank.

Basically this church was looking at the gifts of grace we see in Romans 12:6-8 and the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10. As they minister to their community the question was if you feel you have that gift share it with the community and if you know someone with that gift you can volunteer them in the blank that was provided after the word “That’s”. So this solves my question about the blank but there was something that was left out and it is something that always creates a stir in our Christian community. It was speaking in tongues (was that I grunt I just heard or the deafening silence groaning) and the only time it was recognized as being missing was when my wife and I were talking about the sermon on our way back to New Jersey.

Then I got to thinking about what my friend, Pastor Dan McAnney, recently posted about the issue.

Pastor Dan and I got to know each other while serving a community during a tent revival that went on in a town named Egg Harbor City. And although there were many other brothers-in-Christ from other denominations and backgrounds there, we collectively chose to put all that “doctrinal nonsense” aside and got to keepin’ the main thing the main thing and that was…people need Jesus Christ and we need to reach out to this community for that cause. So as the Holy Spirit moved among God’s people who were we to inspect each other to see if each person’s gift fit our mold? If they truly have a spiritual gift it would flow out from the person freely and it would align with Scripture.

So with that in mind, here is a short quote from Pastor Dan’s recent posting…

“Speaking in tongues is a normal response to the baptism in the Holy Spirit and it should be an integral part of the daily life of a believer in Jesus who is filled with the Holy Spirit. However, I don’t conclude that anyone who has never spoken in tongues is definitely not filled with the Holy Spirit. I believe that perhaps there are some exceptions. There are other strong evidences of the power with which we are endued when we receive the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; including prophetic gifts, miracles, signs and wonders.”

Before I close I need to make this clear, I do not speak in tongues! If there is a language being spoken in a church that I am in and I don’t understand it, I need an interpretation. And even then it has to align with The Word of God. One thing that Pastor Dan has stated and that I agree with is that under current denominational systems, true fellowship can be difficult but I don’t see denominational guidelines in Scripture. On the contrary, I see life guidelines given to men to write down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That was the gift given to them to share with us. Had that not happened all would be chaos and that ain’t something I’d call a gift, Amen? – Chris Hughes is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger and a graduate of the Colony of Mercy

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 12-14

Think About This:“Neither the gates of Hell, nor well-meaning Christians will stop what God has begun. We do not see ourselves in competition with any other group of believers, but just one of the many necessary to cooperate with Jesus in building His church. As I understand it, we have a common enemy, the devil, the spirit of anti-Christ, the kingdom of darkness.”—Dan McAnney

Verses to Memorize: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts,  kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

Patience or Pride?

Patience or Pride?

I’ve seen this way too often and I cringe when a new believer tells me, “Gods called me to preach the Gospel.”  Oh, boy.

1 Timothy 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.

Got Patience

Gentlemen, every man who comes through the Colony of Mercy is a “new” believer by virtue of falling away from their faith or having none to start with. And, if you have been bound by life dominating sin to the point of needing time at the Colony, YOUR HOUSE IS NOT IN ORDER! If this is starting to upset you a bit, you really need to keep reading.

Galatians 1: 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[a] and stayed with him fifteen days.

Paul, scholar of the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament), had a face-to-face with Jesus on the Road to Damascus and yet he went away for 3 years of training before he was ready for his mission. Guys, if you think you are called to serve the Lord, that’s between you and Him. But scripture is CLEAR that new believers are NOT qualified, NOT mature enough, NOT experienced enough and NOT educated in The Word enough to be engaged in full time ministry—yet. If you find this offensive, check your pride at the door and read the scriptures—the Word of God is what you are chaffing at—not me.

Paul also had a bad reputation to overcome, just like most of us do/did. That doesn’t happen in a day or a week—it takes time. Paul understood this and was PATIENT enough to go through the process and NOT let his PRIDE push him into a ministry he was not ready for.

If you are feeling called into ministry, your Pastor, Deacons, Elders—all mature believers who you should have a close and consistent relationship with—they should be able to see Gods work and calling in your life.

So, what is moving you in your life today—Patience—or Pride?

Father, speak clearly into my life so I know where You want me. Then, give me the Grace to make the journey with You patiently and with joy.  Amen – Steve Schmidt is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger, a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full-time member of the Keswick team

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 9-11

Think About This: The Lord Jesus has as great an interest in the weakest saints as the strongest. —Thomas Brooks

Verses to Memorize: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts,  kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

Peace, Man

Peace, Man

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

John 14 27

I can still here my Mom as she would plead with me, “can I just have a little peace please”? When it comes down to it isn’t that what we all want? Having gone thru the “Passion” week and Resurrection Day I can’t help but think about the turmoil that Jesus subjected Himself to. “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men” Philippians 2:6,7.

Jesus is explaining to His disciples in John 14 that He must leave so the Holy Spirit can come. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to be overcomers. As if salvation isn’t enough God gives us His Holy Spirit to “Comfort” and give us what we can’t do on our own.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit is teaching me is there is a formula to having peace and He is able to bring it with my cooperation. I know that there is nothing we can do apart from God but I do believe we can hinder the work that God desires to do in and thru us, we must cooperate.

I’ve been reading a book called The Peace Maker. The author Ken Sande does a good job pointing out the importance of what is said in Romans 12 verse 18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”. Ken goes on to say “There are three dimensions to the peace that God offers to us through Christ; peace with God, peace with others and peace within ourselves.

There are over 100 “one another’s” in the New Testament. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching the importance of unity. The enemy spends a lot of time creating division.  “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me” John 17:20,21.

Peace with God, accepting the atoning sacrifice unto salvation, peace with each other, loving one another as Jesus loves us and peace with ourselves, putting our trust in the finished work of the Cross cannot be separated in order to have true peace. “If it is possible” is what we have to make sure we seek out and pursue with each other.

Will you join me as I pray that God will give us the strength to “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14. I have to believe true peace will come when we “see the Lord” and others see Jesus in us. Amen!

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 5-8

Think About This: Lord Jesus, you embraced your cross to redeem the world. Help me to embrace the crosses in my life — the hardships, struggles, disappointments, pain. Only by recognizing my own weakness, can I discover your strength.Author Unknown

Verses to Memorize: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts,  kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

The Heavens Declare

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19: 1 Amplified Bible)

The Heavens Declare

Here’s a description of the heavens and the glory of God that should blow your mind: A scientist once suggested an interesting analogy. Imagine, he said, a perfectly smooth glass pavement on which the finest speck can be seen. Then shrink our sun from 865,000 miles in diameter to 2 feet, and place this gilt ball on the pavement to represent the sun.

Step off 82 paces of about 2 feet each, and to proportionately represent the first planet, Mercury, put down a mustard seed. Take 60 steps more, each about two feet, and for Venus, put down an ordinary shot the size of a BB. Mark 78 steps more, and for our earth, put down a pea.

Step 108 paces from there, and for Mars, put down a pinhead. Sprinkle some fine dust for the asteroids, take 788 steps more, and for Jupiter, put down an orange. Take 934 steps, and for Saturn, put down a golf ball. Mark 2,086 steps more, and for Uranus, put down a marble.

Step off 2,322 steps from there, and for Neptune, but down a cherry. This will take 2 ½ miles, and we haven’t discussed Pluto. If we swing completely around, we have a smooth glass surface 5 miles in diameter representing our system, just a tiny fraction of the heavens.

On this surface, 5 miles across, we have only one mustard seed, BB, pea, pinhead, dust, orange, golf ball, marble, and cherry. And we should have to go 6,720 miles, not feet, on the same scale before we could put down another two-foot ball to represent the nearest star!!! He created all of this and holds it all together by the word of His power! And He created you and me! What an amazing God we serve. Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Keswick, America’s  (2012-12-13). Real Victory for Real Life Volume 2 (Kindle Locations 4192-4218).  . Kindle Edition.

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 1-4

Think About This: Live in faith and hope, though it be in darkness, for in this darkness God protects the soul. Cast your care upon God for you are His and He will not forget you. Do not think that He is leaving you alone, for that would be to wrong Him.John Of The Cross

Verses to Memorize: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts,  kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13

Good Friday

Good Friday

Contemplate the words of this great hymn on this Good Friday …

Good_Friday

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Kings 15-17

Think About This: Lord Jesus, you embraced your cross to redeem the world. Help me to embrace the crosses in my life — the hardships, struggles, disappointments, pain. Only by recognizing my own weakness, can I discover your strength.Author Unknown

Verses to Memorize: But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 2 Corinthians 2:9-10

Unspeakable Joy

Unspeakable Joy

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
~ from 1 Peter 1

Lone oak in the early morning, summer sun. See this tree in different seasons.

Oh beloved, it is true.  We are exceedingly stronger than we know.  And the reason we don’t know we are strong, is because we don’t know who we are.

Do you know who you are?  You beloved (and me) are the friends of the most joyfully powerful Being who ever was, and is, and is to come.  We have been made one with the One who knows perfectly what it is to be in joyful and powerful communion across eternity.  And His joy spills out in infinite strength in and through a believer who allows Him to do it.

Why don’t we get it?  You beloved (and often this fool of a writer) think that the joy of the L_rd is something we must grab ahold of or rustle up.  However, just as any human attempt generally ends in failure, our attempts to try and be happy in our Christianity fall completely short.  We manifest only our failure, and we get distracted by all the other things flying out of control all around us.

Can we get one thing straight?  The joy of the L_rd is not about us, and neither is just about any other part of the gospel.  In fact, one of the first things Jesus points out is that we are blessed if we are poor in spirit.  We are blessed if we finally get that we could not, can not, and will not be able to do life on our own.  And it is only in this place of confessing the truth of our weakness that we finally get it.

It is all about Jesus.

We then begin to read the Word as it is intended to be read.  And we find the Word is not a rule book. We find that the Word is not a text wherein we can validate our viewpoint or behavior. We find that it is actually an infinitely Loving and powerful and joyful G_d reaching across the gulf created by our sinful state – and this same G_d putting us into a right relationship with Himself through Jesus.  And finally, it is the Spirit of this same infinitely Loving and Joyful and Powerful Jesus that is at work in our lives.

And when we get it.  The joy we experience…  Yeah, unspeakable.  – Makala Doulos is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a regular Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Kings 12-14

Think About This: Don’t pray that He would teach you to have joy; pray that the living God full of joy would enter into you. Don’t pray that He would teach you how to be peaceful; ask for the God of peace, the Prince of peace to infill you. Because if you try to imitate in your own strength, you will be a miserable replica. But if you allow the impartation of Jesus Christ to overtake you, suddenly it all works because it is Him imitating Himself, and He is very good at being God. Eric Ludy

Verses to Memorize: But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 2 Corinthians 2:9-10

What Did I Do Wrong to You?

What Did I Do Wrong To You?

“Thus says the LORD: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters?  Jeremiah 2:5 (NKJV)

Sometimes things just go too far and they reach that point of no return. Sadly, there are those of us in this world who will ask how far that point is and how long will it take to get there. In my case there was a time in my life where that point was on the horizon and I was at full sail to get there, “hold her steady as she goes, matey!!” But God wasn’t having any of it and just as fast as I set sail and got under way was just as fast as God brought that journey to an end. And when that journey, on the seas of destruction, came to its end, I was left standing on the deck, in front of God, faced with a question. What did I do wrong to you? To this day I am devoid of an answer…yep…pretty much!

What Did I Do Wrong

When we look at chapter two of The Book of Jeremiah we see the same question being asked to the people of Israel. King Josiah was doing his best to turn the nation around but it went too far. My guess is that the sacrifice of its children to a graven image was the final straw. Surely this time period in Israel is in the forefront of The Savior’s mind as He rebukes His disciples, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) In any case, too far is too far and if you know the history surrounding Jeremiah during his ministry you’ll understand why it wasn’t easy for him to be preaching anything to anyone. This brings me to where we are today, as a people.

Not too sure if any of you reading this are picking up on it but those “Award” shows do everything they can to elevate man above man. As I was looking at the “Oscar” statue, I couldn’t help to notice that not only is it faceless but it has, what looks to be, a sword. I commented to my wife, “Doesn’t that look likeNebuchadnezzar’s idol?” It was also funny that, recently, while this idol was in an actor’s hand, he wanted to thank God, who he looks up to, “God is all about gratitude”…then he said his hero is who he ten years from now. WHAT!? That just gives me a headache and has made me wonder what kind of people will we be in ten years?

In my own little way of contrast I have to look at myself and notice my times of ingratitude. Before Jesus, I was all about elevating me above you, sometimes even by way of beat down. And you know something…they never gave me an award for doing it. HMPH!! But when God had enough of it and stopped me the question was: “What have I done wrong to you to make you rebel against Me?” As humbling as it has gotten, I am becoming increasing aware that it is about being content with rather than being awarded for. Unfortunately society today doesn’t see it like that, on the contrary, it only acknowledges God if it has a “graven image” in its hand first. Sad but true!!

I believe that we have our Jeremiah’s in this world saying to us, “Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law that I have set before you, and to listen to the words of My servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not listened, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.” (Jeremiah 26:4-6) But, as a people, we ain’t listening. Instead some of us are holding our “award” and listening to ourselves sing “How Great I Art”. Once again…sad but true. As Christian brethren, may we not reach that point of no return but instead turn to find our contentment in what He was CHOSEN to give us and then in a grand chorus sing, “How Great Thou Art” Amen? – Chris Hughes is a regular Freedom Fighter blogger and a graduate of the Colony of Mercy

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Kings 10-11

Think About This:“Grace will save a man but it will not save him from his idol. The blood of Christ will shield the penitent sinner alone, but never the sinner and his idol.”—A.W. Tozer

Verses to Memorize: But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 2 Corinthians 2:9-10