Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FOR THE SAKE OF CONVENIENCE


Most of us have been to a convenience store. It is so named because the store is within easy reach, and has a variety of items that you might need on a regular basis. You can buy anything from gas to toiletries to newspapers to breakfast sandwiches. It is a one stop shop, not specializing in any one particular item but offering a mixture of many things – for your convenience.

In the world we see mixtures in different arenas of life, and most of the time it is accepted as the norm.  However, even in the world system there is a kind of mixture that can actually get you into trouble. It is called commingling.

Commingling literally means "mixing together". If, for example, a friend puts you in care of his funds, and if you decide to place his funds in your own account then the money is mixed together. This creates a breach of trust, because eventually it would be difficult to determine which funds belong to whom. His funds must be set apart in an account dedicated for him only.

You yourself might own something that is set apart for a specific use. For example, you may have dinnerware that is used only for special occasions and special guests. If someone in your household takes those fine plates and stemware and uses them for a casual backyard barbecue, you would be upset wouldn't you?

God does not tolerate commingling either, even if it seems to be convenient. Anything used in the service of God must be consecrated – set apart for Him only. When Moses was instructed to make the Tabernacle in the wilderness God told him to consecrate everything in it. Thus, these items could not be used for any other purpose.

“And you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it; and you shall hallow it and all its utensils, and it shall be holy. You shall anoint the altar of the burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar. The altar shall be most holy.” – Exodus 40:9, 10

Even the priests were to be set apart – dedicated solely to service of the Lord.
And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests. – Exodus 30:30

God has not changed His mind about His house of worship. It is to be a place set apart - consecrated - for worship and service to Him only. However, today many churches have taken the world’s practice of commingling into their sanctuaries...for the sake of convenience. The sanctuaries themselves are often used for gatherings other than worship. This creates a mixture. God will not share His glory with any other!

Now commingling has come to the pulpit…for the sake of convenience. Several ministers now use laptops or electronic tablets to deliver their messages to the congregation. This seems innocent enough. After all, on the same device you can reference your notes and the Scriptures. But think about it....these are the same devices that are used to read the news, play video games, send and receive emails, visit social media sites and shop online! An electronic Bible has simply been added to the mix! Is God pleased with this? Are these devices - as convenient as they may be - set apart and consecrated to God only?

Your tangible, handheld Bible could not be used for anything else but what it was intended. When you pick it up you can’t play Solitaire or look for bargains in it. It is the written Word of God set apart for one purpose only .

When something is mixed its potency becomes diluted. Is it any wonder that in so many assemblies the power of God is not evident? This is exactly what satan wants.

Jesus warned the Laodicean church of this mixture.
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. – Revelation 3: 15,16

When one’s heart is neither hot nor cold toward the Lord it is easy to fall into a trap of commingling….for convenience sake. The reality is that nothing in the walk of a Christian is convenient or trendy. It is a life of discipline, obedience and sacrifice. 

Now don't get me wrong....technology can be used very effectively in the church to enhance the worship experience.  But for the most part the instruments (sound systems, musical instruments etc) are used in the service of the Lord only.

In these final days satan’s devises are more and more subtle, and therefore more difficult to discern. A laptop or Ipad in and of itself is not a bad thing. However, when it is used, for the sake of convenience, in a position that God has ordained as holy, it becomes a profane thing.

God warned of this mixture through the prophet Ezekiel and we are seeing it today.
“… priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” - Ezekiel 22:26





Wednesday, May 9, 2012

THE MULTIFACETED GOD

Thanks again to 
Allison Sylvester-Conliffe 
for allowing me to post another one of her powerful articles.

God’s aim and purpose is always for restoration of men to Himself.  When he does a miracle or a deliverance for example, it is not solely for the benefit of the person being delivered, but for the greater good of ALL the masses, with the purpose of glorifying Himself and His Kingdom.

The book of Acts records that the apostles were thrown into prison by the high priest of the Sadducees, and God allowed it.   
Miraculously released from prison
Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. - Acts 5:17-20

They came out of the prison, miraculously! The doors remained locked on their exit and they were not seen of the guards.  Surely in the early morning they were seen preaching the gospel to those in the temple.  Their miraculous escape was not only a marvel to the apostles themselves, but to the Sadducees and also the multitude in the temple who heard of the testimony.  This act was done for the greater benefit of all.

Further in the Book of Acts we read that Aeneas was laid up sick of the palsy for eight years.  

Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.  There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.  And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.  So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. - Acts 9:32-35

His sickness prevailed until Peter came to him and healed him of his condition.  Again, the greater miracle was that all the people of Lydda and Saron who saw him healed got saved.  With one deliverance we see the Lord bringing a multitude to Himself.

Peter raises Dorcas from the dead
Another example was when Dorcas was raised from the dead in Acts 9:36-42. 

At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.

The greater miracle was that many in the region of Joppa believed on the Lord after hearing Dorcas’ testimony.

The Lord Jesus came to the earth and ministered for three years.  His death and resurrection was for the benefit of the whole of mankind.  His crucifixion and resurrection was purposed for the salvation of whosoever believed on the name of Jesus. 

Look at the woman at the well, when she met with Jesus in John chapter 4.  Her deliverance was not for her benefit only.  

She left her waterpot and told the whole city about Jesus
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” - John 4:39-42

As a result of this singular event God managed to bring almost the entire city of Samaria to Jesus. Again, the occurrence of one event, tailor made for the greater benefit of the multitude.

We can even see this in the Old Testament when God was dealing with the rebellious Jews in the Book of Numbers 16.  Even though the Israelites did not get it, the death of Korah and all those who died with him, served as a testimony to those who were witnesses, so as to bring the fear of God to them and to propel their obedience to God’s Word.  We may view the incident as tragic, but it was an event to bring the greater good.
Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream and is promoted
Joseph's brothers ill treated him, and he spent time in prison for a crime he didn't commit. However, the Book of Genesis records that he eventually was promoted to second in command to Pharaoh so that his family, the twelve tribes, could be fed in the time of the grievous famine.  This also served to bring restoration of himself and his family.

Your test will bring about your testimony
Similarly, you may be imprisoned at this present time by sin, sickness, poverty, low self esteem, addictions, trouble with children etc. This does not mark the end for you.  The Lord has a greater purpose for you even in your condition.  

If, when you go through your wildernesses, you would persevere with the Lord, you will see the greater good of the testimony when you overcome the very situations.  God does not allow bad events in your life because He wants to punish you or because He is evil.  He has a greater purpose for your testimony.  

 During your trying state keep your focus on the Lord, knowing that His thoughts toward you are always good so as to bring you to an expected end - Jeremiah 29:11.  Remember that God’s intent is always to draw men to Himself.  That is why He sent His Son Jesus.

God’s purpose for your life goes beyond what you can see at present.  When He delivers you, your testimony is designed to deliver others, but you must first be an overcomer. You cannot free anyone if you are bound yourself, and to be an overcomer you must have some things to overcome.  This is God’s method and He will not change.  The key is to stay in love with Jesus and keep your focus on Him in worship with the knowledge that He is always right.  In that place you will keep your peace and your joy, and thus gain the strength to go the distance while the problems exist.  In this way you will ultimately bring glory to the God of the heavens and the earth as He continues to work in and through you.  


 Glory to His Holy Name!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

ARE YOU READY?

 Thanks to Allison Sylvester-Conliffe
for another powerful article

Many of us who have been born again can testify of the excitement at the onset.  We go through what we term the “mountain top” experience.  Everything looks new and fresh to us.  We are happy beings at that time, and nothing and no-one can interfere with that joy that we feel.  We are excited to go to the House of God to worship Him, to learn of Him and of His Kingdom, and come into true relationship with God.  Is all this learning and experience to be kept to ourselves?  Are we to bask in this knowledge of God and in the relationship that stems from it all by ourselves?

The great call on our lives after Salvation and as we follow Christ, is to share the Good News of the Gospel with others in our sphere of influence.  We are disciples as we follow Christ and we are called to make disciples.  Jesus told that to His first disciples.

But...I'm not ready!
And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. Mark 1:17

However, there is something in us, which causes us to believe that we are not ready!  We get convinced that this call is for the elders of the church and for the Pastors themselves to pursue – that’s not for me!  What qualifies a believer as being “ready” to share the Gospel with another?  When Jesus sent out the first Twelve, were they “ready”?  As I examine the Word of God, I see those disciples as “green”, afraid and faithless men, but interestingly Jesus called them to go out.  Even in their apparent disabilities, Jesus used them to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed. 

Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Luke 9:1-6

When we look at Luke 9:12-17 we see Jesus teaching his first disciples, and us by extension, a great lesson.
 
And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.

He taught that the very thing that we possess, when shared, has the ability to multiply itself to reach great proportions more than our minds have the capacity to understand.  If we look at the five loaves and the two fishes that were available, against the multitude who were waiting to be fed, it would seem impossible in the natural scheme of things to feed so many with so little.  Jesus, however, did it and had twelve basketsful in excess. 

Similarly, as our spirits connect with the Holy Spirit of God as He downloads into us, truths and revelation of His Word even as shared from the pulpit, we are expected to share, one on one with others in our sphere of influence.  The sharing of that Word may be to a small audience, but with the Spirit of God in it, if each one tells one, that Word has the capacity to feed many by just our one sharing!

In Luke chapter nine, we see the disciples admonishing Jesus to send the multitude away so that they could get some food since they were all in a desert place.  No food!  Yet Jesus told the disciples to feed them.  But Jesus, there is no food here!  Jesus was obviously talking to the disciples from a spiritual standpoint, but the disciples were listening to Him with the natural ear so they sought out the loaves and the fish.  “Feed them” in this instance may have meant – “teach them”! 

Let us not look at the things of God with the natural eye – nor listen to Him with the natural ear.  We are called to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are lost.  We are also called to love them into the Kingdom of God. Let us therefore go forth in the boldness of the Holy Ghost and make disciples with the resources that we have already attained.  The Word is in you!


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