The Breaking of the Glasshouses - The Question That Changed My Life - You Are Loved - Kingdom Pearl - What If? - Conviction That Leads To Repentance - Where Did the Gospel Go?
August 23, 2009
The Breaking of the Glasshouses
On my walk today I saw a vision of a glasshouse. Inside I saw strong healthy tomato plants filled with red fruit soaking up the climate controlled atmosphere. I saw some plants had even grown so large that they had hit the top of the ceiling and had stopped growing. I saw dark red tomatoes rotting on the vine. I saw fruit falling to the ground and being wasted on the ground. Outside the glass house I saw people starving in the cold, staring through it and looking for something to eat.
I began to see that the very environment the tomato plants had grown in had left them to wallow in their own climate control comfort. Although they showed that they had fruit, they rarely gave it out. There were scared of the temperature outside... they were in different states of denial about the outside. There seemed to be an attitude that if the glass house was opened up and it gave out what it had, there would be lack, coldness and exhaustion. The plants had grown tall, but they had not grown out. I saw some plants had tried to push through the ceiling and through the cracks but the glass house had resisted their moves.
I saw the enemy chucking stones at the glass house. When the glass shattered the temperature plummeted. Some weak plants just withered up and died instantly. The stronger plants broke open the bags they were planted in, and their roots started to penetrate the soil below them. Those that relied on the glasshouse died. Those that put their roots into the ground survived. A winter came and many perished. The strong ones survived by putting their roots even deeper into the ground. The dead and dying fuelled the growth of the living, helping them to grow even stronger.
Then the Lord said to me: "Are you a planting of the Lord, or are you a planting of the glasshouse? Will you find yourself planted in Me when the glass house breaks! Will you let your fruit rot on your branches when the glass house resists your growth! When will you realize that I gave you My fruit to share with a dying world? When will you press through your structures, and begin to rely on Me? Am I not the steak on which you are built upon? Am I not your vine, and you My branches? Connect with Me and break out!"
The Question That Changed My Life
by David Ryser
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:
Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, "An enterprise. That's a business." After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha's raised hand, "Yes, Martha." She asked such a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be a body?" I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, "Yes." She continued, "But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"
The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, "Wow, I wish I'd thought of that." I didn't dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.
Martha's question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. "When a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?" There is only one answer to her question. The answer is "Yes." The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don't even know Him; and I mean really know Him.
... I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don't care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that's pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don't even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?
I was pondering Martha's question again one day, and considered the question, "What's the difference between a lover and a prostitute?" I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, "What would happen if God stopped paying me?"
For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.
So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute or unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.
-Dr. David Ryser.
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You Are Loved
God wants to tell you that you are loved, that you are so very special to Him. No matter what you have done or still may be doing, does not affect the way He loves you. He longs for your presence, and intimate relationship with you. He will not harm you, He will not hurt you. He loves you with an everlasting love. He died and rose for you, His arms were spread wide open for you...that is how much He loves you.
You need not run from Him, He knows your thoughts, your every move, He knows how many hairs are upon your head. You do not need to be afraid of Him. Cry out to Him. Pour out your heart to Him. Scream out to Him... He is your friend.
He will not ridicule you, or torment you. He will not beat you, or turn from you. Where ever you are, what ever you have done...seek His forgiveness and He will forgive. His promises that are written in His word are true. He has plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. These promises were written for you.
He wants you to have peace in your life amongst the trials. He does not promise a problem-free life, but He does promise to be there with you through it all...to the end of your days.
Reach up to Him. Stretch out your arms to Him. Seek His face, His embrace. Seek His promises and His will for your life. Keep your head up, my friend, for He is with you until the end.
God´s invitation to join His kingdom challenges other priorities: career, natural ties, possessions and money. Is the ‘kingdom pearl´ still of supreme value to you today? Is it worth more than your career, for example? More important than what you earn?
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’ (Matthew 6:24)
Atheists have a god: Mammon. You either believe in God or Money. Is the spirit of Mammon entering into your heart? Zacchaeus saw the kingdom and so he abandoned his Mammon lifestyle. (Luke 19:1-10) God is able to root out the Mammon heart. Just like salvation came to Zacchaeus, salvation has come to us not only spiritual salvation, but also economic salvation.
Jesus is God made poor entering this world a poor man among the poor. We need to follow Jesus´ example. How can we live any other way when millions live on under $1 a day and tens of thousands of children are dying every day? (Acts 2:37-47.)
God´s call is to save yourselves from this crooked generation a corrupt, unjust and selfish society. We must give that call. Protesters at the G20 summit had banners saying ‘Capitalism is dead´. This capitalist system is shaking: what do we trust in at this time of shaking when all the systems of this world are crumbling? We´ve come out of a lost world and we´re going to experience the kingdom of God on earth.
Be free from the ties of the spiritual powers that rule this world. Be saved socially, not just personally. There are not going to be boxes and labels in heaven there will be one new kingdom society. It will be a banquet that all who have left all to follow Him will taste.
The invitation is there to be part of the marriage feast of the Lamb. (Rev 19: 6-10) It will have no end; there will no longer be any distractions or hindrances that stop us. Let us carry that eternal spirit of the Lamb who created, who is creating, and who will create, the kingdom of God.
26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, twoor at the most three should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret I Cor. 14
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. I Cor. 1
"Who are the ones that you run to in this hour? Is my Father your refuge or have you made it a person? Some people have made some people into a god. Have you made a pastor into this type of a person? Is there someone that you know that you reverence like this? Do you not know that every person is fallible on this earth? I AM the one that you can come to for answers. Where is the debater of this age? Where is the wise man? Who has created the heavens and the earth? Who is it that forgives your sins?
I tell you that your leaders are not without merit. For those who labor among you are worthy of their rewards, but many of my people have honored them too highly. The time is coming when I will strip away the pulpits. The time is coming when those who would want to hear from the Lord must come to me when I was sitting upon the hill. For they listened to the sermon on the mount. They had ears that were longing to hear. They spread out their blankets and broke bread together. But now you have your great assemblies. You flock to hear this man or this one speak. You must learn to seek me only. What would happen if you no longer had anyone to speak? What would happen if each one of you shared what was on their hearts? I tell you that the entire church system would be turned upside down. What if I were your teacher? What if?"
Conviction That Leads To Repentance
By Terry Somerville
John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convince (convict) the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
One of the true signs of the Holy Spirit at work is the conviction of sin. Gifts of the Holy Spirit were taught by Paul, but Holy Spirit conviction of sin is a teaching of Jesus. We need it in much the church! Could it be that we see so little conviction of sin in our ministries because we need this work of God applied to our self?
What is The Conviction of The Holy Spirit?
The conviction of the Holy Spirit is a work of God in the heart. It is not a mere ‘understanding’ that we have sinned. It is the heart wrenching revelation of God concerning our true condition. What is it like?
THE CONVICTION OF SIN, says deep inside " I am guilty of that sin!’ It is personal, specific and inescapable. Unless the Spirit is grieved away, it will press on the mind and heart until something must be done. It will weary us with distress over our guilt.
THE CONVICTION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS is knowing what righteousness is required in my situation and that I am not righteous! For instance, I may be convicted of speaking ill of another. I am absolutely certain of what I have done, I know the cruel words I spoke, and furthermore, I know the loving righteous words I should have said. I see clearly that God demands truth in my innermost being concerning what is righteousness, and my sin.
THE CONVICTION OF JUDGMENT is the Holy Spirit establishing that I should be condemned and I have no means of escape. I see I am plainly guilty and worthy of condemnation. Jesus said the prince of this world is judged’. Mankind will be as well.
CONVICTION + REPENTANCE= RESTORATION
The ultimate outcome is a great breaking down of the ‘fountains of sin’ in the heart. As Charles Finney said "we must ‘break up the fallow ground’ of our heart and agree with God against ourself!" The selfish life must be brought down for the life Christ to reign!
Conviction is not pleasant and the wicked heart of man has many escape plans! Sometimes we want to relieve the distress, but he wise pastor will not coddle those under conviction. He will force the work to go deeper. The only true remedy is repentance and a life of righteousness living by faith! Learn to recognize the signs of avoiding conviction of sin.
SIGNS OF AVOIDING CONVICTION
Expressing sadness, regret, and
Sorry for getting "caught".
Excuses - "You don't understand"
May involve crying and distress and willingness to pray,
It is not repentance.
At Self , the preacher, or with God.
Go from church to church, accusing others, but never resolving the sin.
"I'm sad so you're bad"
View of Christianity is based on selfishness
You will never have peace with God. Need to repent.
Avoiding the Subject
Focus on another subject or distraction, to occupy the mind.
Can Entrenched in it for years to avoid the issues with God.
Need to focus on your heart condition before God.
Arguing against the Holy Spirit with excuses,. "everyone does it",
Denial of sin - it doesn't apply in your case "that doesn't fit me."
Re-interpreting the bible to fit the sin.
Whole churches and denominations are devoted to this today.
You need to agree with God that you love sin more than Him.
Religious Self Righteousness
Throw yourself into religious activity and attitudes.
Says "look, I'm OK’, without dealing with the heart.
Common saying "God knows my heart".
Compare and accuse others, and use bible verses to do it.
Admit your heart is unresponsive to the Holy Spirit.
Try harder, to do it right.
Overcoming sin by will power
The hope is this will make the conviction go away.
Heart is unchanged. The sin is in the heart.
WHEN MINISTERING TO SOMEONE UNDER CONVICTION
Realize - Conviction of itself, is no value.
Recognize - they are fighting against the Holy Spirit.
Conviction must produce Godly sorrow and repentance.
Do not minimize the conviction so that they leave it behind.
Don't say "Oh it will pass" or "You'll be alright" Don't let them off.
GODLY SORROW LEADS TO REPENTANCE
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Godly Sorrow Says:
I have sinned.
My sinful self life, is alive in my heart and resists God
I am more concerned for what I want and feel than what God wants.
I have no excuse and deserve condemnation.
True Repentance Says
My HEART is completely broken down. Self is crucified.
I agree with God, against myself (above)
I now trust in Christ alone for my righteousness.
I now turn and begin a life of obedience to the Holy Spirit from the heart
I now trust in Christ alone for my righteousness.
Ask the convicted one what's going on inside, to identify the issue, the sin.
Press them to agree with God against themselves.
Urge them to repent.
Command them begin "works fitting repentance" Acts 26:40
Where Did the Gospel Go?
by Peter Hansen
A Desperate World in Need of the Pure Gospel!
The world is in deep trouble!
Billions of people are living in poverty around the world. About 2.8 billion people are living on less than two dollars a day. Millions are dying from starvation and diseases in the Third World. The global financial crisis has caused millions to lose their home and the world has probably just seen the beginning of a major global crisis that not even the financial experts could have foretold. The threat of nuclear war is hanging in the air and the most powerful nations of the globe are fighting for the last reserves of oil.
While some families can´t even afford a single meal on the table each day, others are addicted to drugs, gambling and alcohol. Millions in the west are so mentally depressed that they try to escape this world of loneliness in alcohol, drugs, perversions and suicide. The world is screaming for help and solutions for a messed up society that has nothing to offer but endless talk shows and online entertainment.
People are seriously desperate for finding a deeper meaning, hope and inner peace. This world seems to have everything to offer, but in reality is more out of control morally and spiritually than ever. I can boldly say that this world needs the full gospel message of Jesus Christ. Not another sermon or conference about self happiness, but the pure full gospel of salvation. That is the one and only thing that can bring peace to the mind and restore the soul.
But how sad it is that the preaching of the full gospel has been downgraded to some cultural light gospel show with fancy stage performance and blinking lights! Where are the full gospel preachers who dare to stand up for the truth, who dare to preach salvation, hope, hell, holiness and grace. Where are those who proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven?
The problem is that millions of people have been deceived and blinded with a feel good gospel, a light lukewarm message that only talks about happiness, prosperity, self-development and me, me and me’ instead of Him, Him and Him!’
Where did the gospel go?
Is today´s modern church really afraid of teaching the full living gospel? Is it afraid of being politically incorrect and offending the masses? Many churches are on a very dangerous path. A path that will only lead to possible destruction. Let me point out, that if there is no gospel message of sin, grace, repentance and salvation there is zero!
And while thousands of churches are playing seeker sensitive churches’ and being politically correct, millions of non-believers are screaming for spiritual truth that can give them real hope and reality based on the word of God. The truth of the gospel will set them free, but if there is no one preaching the truth of the gospel, many will go to hell, believing in a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) (Galatians 1:6-7) . That is the hard facts. A very good place to read and study what Jesus is saying is in Matthew chapter 24. Jesus mentions here in chapter 24 that many will be deceived by false prophets and teachers.
It is so easy for self-proclaimed prophets to make up weird crazy doctrines and get thousands of followers, because in many churches there is a great lack of Christian discipleship based on the word of God. The focus on Jesus and his teaching and discipleship has been replaced with feel-good teachings’ that totally lacks the important teachings about repentance, sin, hell, grace and holiness.
On a five week mission trip to Ethiopia recently I was scheduled to speak in different churches. In my sermon preparation I felt a deep conviction to preach and focus more on the gospel that Jesus taught and His life, more than I had ever done before. And the pastors and local evangelists were amazed and almost shocked by the clear gospel teaching, because they were not used to that!
We have to remember that the gospel is what sets us free. We need to bring the full gospel back in our churches, mission fields and to a desperate seeking world. There is only one hope and that is Jesus Christ. We have to renew our passion for being in the presence of Jesus. We must take up our cross and lay down our lives and follow Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit. We must renew our minds daily in God´s presence. We must study the life of Jesus and the Word of God and let it become part of us, inside out.
The living word of God will change your life and you will see its powerful effects, and not only will you be empowered by his Word, the world around you will experience the saving and healing power of Jesus Christ. Make the gospel the focus of your life and ministry and tell others as well.
-Peter Capili Hansen.
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