This week I was shocked by the news that a long list of "progressive" ministers came out in support of the administration's plan. They claim that universal health care is a moral issue. Their belief is based on a very superficial social, moral and economic analysis. Contrary to their assertion, the church has never historically viewed health care as the government's responsibility.
The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that: The modern concept of a hospital dates from A.D. 331 when Constantine, having been converted to Christianity, abolished all pagan hospitals and thus created the opportunity for a new start. Until that time disease had isolated the sufferer from the community. The Christian tradition emphasized the close relationship of the sufferer to his fellow man, upon who rested the obligation for care. Illness thus became a matter for the Christian church.
One of my most poignant memories of my late father is of him seated at his desk with his Bible open, studying. My dad wasn't a highly educated man, but he was devoted to Jesus Christ and had an insatiable hunger for biblical knowledge.
I remember watching him many times as he pored over passages and prayed for understanding. Years later, I had the privilege of getting a seminary education, and one day during a class lecture, I thought of him.
Surrounded by my fellow graduate students in a stately lecture hall, my eyes began to water. I was imagining how much my father would have loved being in this class.
He never made it to seminary, but because he held out before me the example of someone who "trembled" at God's Word, studying it became my own desire. I observed what he did, and I sought to emulate him.
My behavior was not unusual. Children who are nurtured and trained in the safety of their parents' love seek to embrace the parents' qualities throughout their lives.
Not every one of us has the experience of love and protection in an earthly sense. But in a spiritual sense, we can all attest to having that experience with our heavenly parent--God, the Father.
We are commanded to imitate Him: "Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]" (Eph. 5:1, The Amplified Bible). As His beloved children, we should resemble Him and act like Him.
There's a good reason for this. Our nation and the world are longing to see the reality of God in the lives of His people.
The apostle Paul wrote, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8:19, NIV). There are many for whom a demonstration of the reality of the One we worship is long overdue.
If only they could see Him reflected in His church! If only our brokenness didn't cause us to reflect so poorly on our precious Lord!
What is the creation waiting to see? I believe above all things, the unsaved desire to see the reality of Christ's sacrificial love.
Sadly, it seems harder for us to exhibit unconditional love toward those in the family of God than to those on the outside. We hear too many stories about brothers and sisters who are wounded by other members of the body of Christ.
This kind of behavior isn't lost on those who are looking for God. The unbeliever may not have any great knowledge of who (or what) God is, but he or she is quite adept at identifying who (or what) He is not. I believe the biggest beef unbelievers have with us is our lack of real, sacrificial love for one another.
We simply must love one another more. Now is a moment when hearts are being taken captive to fear. Men and women are desperate to know if there is any hope--any security out there.
Let's tell them, "Yes, there is hope, peace, protection!" Better yet, let's show them the evidence of the hope we have: Let's show them how we love one another.
It has been 15 years since Rwanda's darkest tragedy. Here's how one pastor suffered in that holocaust—and now offers healing.
Unless you catch sight of the jagged scars on Emmanuel Kadege's* legs, you wouldn't know he is a survivor of Rwanda's genocide. During a conference last week in Pennsylvania he greeted me with a warm hug, a bright smile and a cheerful "Praise the Lord." But after we got to know each other, and I encouraged him to talk honestly, this 31-year-old pastor let down his guard and shared his horrific story.
A member of Rwanda's minority Tutsi population, Emmanuel was only 16 when leaders of the majority Hutu tribe announced on the radio that it was time to kill the "snakes" and "cockroaches"—their ominous code words for Tutsis. For 100 days—from April 6 to July 14, 1994—Hutu militants and thousands of civilians slaughtered an estimated 1 million people.
Editor's Note: Today's message from Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda was published in the most recent edition of their Prophetic Perspective newsletter as a message to their friends and partners. I believe it is a powerful prophetic word for us all.
In recent days the Lord has been bringing back to us a prophetic word He gave us previously. He is saying that we are to "wake up Sleeping Beauty." Originally, it was the seed for a great miracle in the life of dear friends of ours, waking a "sleeping beauty" from a diabetic coma, restoring her back to life after doctors pronounced her brain-dead and advised the family to remove her life support.
One word from the glory—"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty!"—was all it took to release the resurrection power into the intensive care unit (ICU). The young woman walked out of the hospital three days later, pushing her nurse in a wheelchair!
Miracles are tokens that speak of a bigger strategy, and in the last few weeks the Lord has been quickening this word to us again in the context of our nation, the church and our national heritage. He confirms His word with signs and wonders, and in the last month we have received five similar, dramatic miracles of people awakening out of comas.
Spending time last week with a persecuted Christian brother ruined me forever.
I can't reveal my new Pakistani friend's name, even though he gave me permission to use it. I could never live with myself if he died because of something I wrote, but he wants the world to know his amazing story. So I'll just call him Saleem.
I met this young church leader last weekend during a missions conference in a northeastern state. The same day we met, Islamic radicals were burning Christian houses to the ground in Gojra, an area not far from Saleem's city. So far, the body count in Gojra has been estimated to be as high as 20, and 19 others were injured when masked militants associated with the Taliban attacked a peaceful Christian settlement.
I have been ministering in churches, in home fellowship groups, at Aglow meetings and at conferences for more than 25 years. From the very beginning I have prayed for the sick and have always seen healings and miracles. But there has been an increase in the last nine years.
About ten years ago I found an interesting passage in Isaiah 35 while sitting in church waiting for a meeting to start. I felt as if God said to hide verses 3-6 in my heart and let them incubate. Throughout the next year I read them over and over and looked up some of the more significant words.
Last week I shared a very personal story of my struggle with both cancer and the insurance companies. My doctors informed me that I had two near-death experiences along with a mini-stroke that temporarily caused the right side of my body including my face, arm and leg to be paralyzed. Although I am fine now, that was a scary season in my life.
During my health challenges I met scores of foreigners at Johns Hopkins, hoping the American doctors could save them. Middle Easterners, South Americans and Europeans were among those that frequented various Hopkins departments. Surprisingly the day I met with my surgeon to lay out the plan for my 7.5-hour surgery, an aging man all the way from Hong Kong sat with several family members waiting to see my internationally known doctor.
Editor's Note: The following message was released by Matt Sorger in his ministry newsletter on June 15. He received a tremendous response to it, and I wanted to make it available to those who haven't yet read it. Though it is not in the form of "Thus saith the Lord," it is an important word of caution for those of us who love the prophetic and may be tempted to seek the spectacular demonstrations of the Holy Spirit over a genuine encounter with God through His Word.
I am witnessing an alarming trend in some of our charismatic circles and services. I travel full time on the road all across the United States and in other parts of the world. Each week I am ministering in another state or nation to a new group of hungry believers wanting to live in the fullness of God's Spirit. Several times in the last few months I have made a disturbing and grievous observation. Before I share it with you, let me give you some of my personal background.
I was saved at the age of 14. I am thankful to have been raised in a solid Bible-preaching, Spirit-filled church. The Word was always given a priority. The necessity of living a holy, sanctified life was always preached with conviction. I took my first steps of walking, living and ministering in the Spirit there.
As a young pastor I was given some room to begin to spread my wings when the anointing and power of God began to move through my life. I took full flight when I launched out from pastoring six years ago to travel full time in a "prophetic revival" ministry.
We often pray for more of the Holy Spirit's anointing. But if God gives you His power, will you actually use it?
A few years ago the Lord challenged me about my level of spiritual hunger. He showed me that even though I had stood in many prayer lines and repeatedly sung the words, "Lord, I want more of You," I wasn't as passionate for Him as I thought I was.
In 1999 my church sponsored a conference on the Holy Spirit. At the close of one service I was lying on the floor near the altar asking God for another touch of His power. Several other people were kneeling at the communion rail and praying quietly for each other.
Editor's Note: The following word is part 35 from a series of messages by prophetic minister Rick Joyner about discerning the times we are living in. You can view the preceding and subsequent messages on his Web site at morningstarministries.org.
Newsweek magazine recently boasted that Christianity in America is dead. This slap in the face to the American church served only to wake it up. Believers took the comment and held it up before the Lord as Hezekiah did with the boasts of the Assyrian general against the Lord (see 2 Kings 19:15-19).
It is encouraging to see Christians responding to the continuous assault from those who hate or reject God. Many of them are arising to proclaim that this is not a post-Christian America but a pre-Christian America because we are going to have a revival in our nation that eclipses all others.
True Christianity does thrive under persecution, but it was hard to imagine just a few months ago how fast Christians in America would unite and mobilize. And that was only in preparation for persecution. When real persecution comes, we can expect an even greater awakening. It is encouraging to see evidence that the body of Christ in America is responding in the right way to the actions against it—resolving to stand with courage and boldness against the rising darkness of the times. In the past, we have had visions of a coming great awakening in America, and now we are seeing proof that there are strong foundations for it to be built on.
On August 20, 2005 my wife and I sat in the office of a world famous surgeon from Johns Hopkins hospital. The Saturday appointment struck us as an unusual time to meet with such a prestigious doctor. The hospital was like a ghost town - darkened hallways, empty offices and a skeletal staff poised at the main entrances for security. To our surprise, there were several families going in and out of the doctor's office. He appeared without the traditional entourage of receptionists and assistants. Chipper and buoyant, the doctor greeted us with a glow and a smile.
In order to gain God's greatest blessings, we must embrace His highest purpose. My sincere conviction is that if this happens in our cities, God's blessing will spread to entire regions, and healing to our land will occur. Without the abiding fullness of Christ in the church, we will have no more impact in the world than a political party, whose strength rests in numbers and finances and not in God.
Consequently, every serious Christian must recognize two priorities. We need to return to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ, and we desperately need divine intervention—or our nation will perish.
In Psalm 90 Moses utters a prayer that everyone who has had enough of his own feeble efforts should pray. In somber and earnest supplication he implores, "Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your majesty to their children. And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands" (vv. 16-17, NASB).
This is a heartfelt prayer, one that is full of deep thought and candid reflection. Moses was not willing to "try something" and ask the Lord to bless it. He prayed, "Let Your work appear." He appealed to God to confirm the works of His hands. What is divine confirmation? It is when the Lord works with you and fulfills your words with His power (see Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:4). God identifies Himself so completely with what you are doing that He backs you up with power. It is endorsement of the Almighty upon an individual's life.
I want to underscore that we have peace with God through Christ's sacrifice. We are not looking for divine acceptance but divine endorsement. The question is not one of salvation but of power in this life to change our world. How, then, can we truly know that we have found God's highest purpose for us? How can we, like Moses, obtain the endorsement of Almighty God?
If we want our works to have permanence, then they must be the eternal works of God and not more of man's ideas. Jesus said, "'For the works which the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me'" (John 5:36). Ultimately, we only glorify God when we, like Jesus, accomplish the work that He has given us to do (John 17:4).
You may ask, "Does God have eternal, enduring assignments for me?" Yes, but the first "work of God" that is accomplished in us is not our work but His, that we "'believe in Him whom He has sent'" (John 6:29). We must abandon all hope of finding true spiritual success apart from dependent, steadfast faith in the person and power of Christ.
This forsaking of our ideas to embrace simple obedience to Christ is the "work of God." We must see that we cannot attain to the works of God unless we first become the workmanship of God, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). At this very moment there are eternal, powerful works prepared for each of us. Yet, until we see that the Father's highest purpose is to reveal in us the nature of Christ, we will not qualify for the power of Christ, which is God's full endorsement on our lives.
If we will find the eternal works of God, we must know His eternal plan. He desires to bring the living Christ into each of us as individuals; then as Christ-filled individuals, we can transform our congregations. Finally, from the launching pad of a Christ-filled congregation, we will see things impacted and cleansed with the Spirit of His Son.
Satan has sought continually to hinder and delay this "summing up of all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:9-10). Yet such is our mission, and, in knowing the plan of God, such is our victory. Therefore, in battling for the soul of our cities and our nation, our victory is not in knowing how to command demons but in knowing the commander Himself. We triumph in being rightly aligned with the supreme plan of God, which is to fill all things with Christ.
Therefore, if we want to obtain the endorsement of God upon our lives, Jesus must become as real to us as the world was when we were sinners. He must become our mind, and we must become His obedient body. My prayer is that the vision of attaining the likeness of Christ will be branded upon all our hearts and that, as sincere followers of God's Son, the Father Himself will back our lives with power for His purpose.
Adapted from When the Many are One by Francis Frangipane, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This book demonstrates how Christians of every color, culture and denomination can work together to transform our communities. It calls us back to oneness with Christ, so that the power and character of Christ will flow through us to bring transformation. To order a copy click on this link:
Many of us struggle with fear. Yet those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ have no need to fear. Why? Because He is always with us. Because He loves us with a perfect love. And as 1 John 4:18 states: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!” (Amplified Bible). God knows that fear is the first emotion to typically hit us the moment He calls us to do something that will move us to a new level in life. Whether it’s low-level nervousness or full-blown panic, the degree of fear varies, but most of us experience some form of it.
We might be changing careers, getting married, having children, leaving all that’s familiar for the mission field, going back to work after 20 years as a homemaker, becoming serious about diet and exercise, and so on. Our minds fill with excitement, yet we think: What if? What if? What if?
Any time we step out to do something new, especially for God, we almost always—and almost immediately—face a negative circumstance that tries to discourage us or convince us we cannot do what God asks of us. Something will come up to tell us it is too hard, does not make sense, or will not work; or that we are not qualified to do it. The enemy uses such words and thoughts to discourage us, hoping fervently we will never accomplish what we set out to do.
Revelation 12:4 gives insight on how the devil tries to plant fear in us before we even get started: “And the dragon stationed himself in front of the woman who was about to be delivered [give birth], so that he might devour her child as soon as she brought it forth.”
The dragon (who represents Satan) had stationed himself in front of her so he could devour her newborn child. This scene represents a dynamic that often happens in our lives as believers. Every time God puts a fresh new idea in our hearts or gives us a dream, vision or new challenge for our lives, the enemy will be there to oppose us. I am not referring simply to the times we want to do “big” things for God; the enemy is not selective.
When we receive Jesus as our Savior, that’s a new level. When we begin to move into a deeper walk with God or begin to pray bolder prayers, those are new levels. When we begin to give time, money and energy to God’s kingdom, we are moving to a new level.
God constantly calls us to new levels. Some seem big and important; others seem relatively small or insignificant. Whatever the case, when we reach a new level with God we face a new level of opposition from our enemy, the devil.
Along with opposition, however, comes opportunity (see 1 Cor. 16:9)—but God is always with us, and we have no need to fear. Some things may seem too great for us, but nothing is impossible with God. He is not surprised or frightened by anything.
If you are determined never to give up on your dream, then you have to take chances; you have to be courageous. When you face situations that threaten or intimidate you, you do not need to pray as much for the fear to go away as for boldness and courage so you can move ahead in spite of the fear. I can promise you, fear will not go away. It is not something you can get rid of, so you must learn to overcome it.
The spirit of fear will always try to keep you from going forward. The enemy has used fear for centuries to try to stop people, and he is not going to change his strategy now. But you can defeat fear; you are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us (see Rom. 8:37).
Courage is not the absence of fear; it is pressing forward while the feeling of fear is present. I want to encourage you to be determined to face fear when it comes against you. Stand firm, trusting God and knowing He is always with you.
Joyce Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and one of the world’s leading practical Bible teachers. She has written more than 80 books, including the popular Beauty for Ashes and Battlefield of the Mind, and her most recent, Never Give Up! Enjoying Everyday Life (all FaithWords). She is also the founder of Joyce Meyer Ministries Inc. and the host of radio and TV programs, which air on hundreds of stations worldwide.
Legalistic religion is dangerous. Here's how you can detect and avoid the poison of a religious spirit.
After Elisha watched Elijah ascend into heaven, the prophet went to the city of Jericho and performed his first miracle. The men of that city faced an environmental crisis: Their water was toxic, most likely because of the sulphur and other chemicals that had rained down upon nearby Sodom and Gomorrah years earlier. This poison had made the land barren (see 2 Kings 2:19-22) and it was probably affecting people and animals as well as plant life.
So Elisha performed a bold, prophetic act. He threw salt in the water and proclaimed: "Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer'" (v. 21, NASB). His proclamation brought immediate cleansing.
It is amazing that the biggest news story for the last few weeks has been the arrest of a Harvard professor for disorderly conduct at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Overshadowing the health care debate, national security and every other national concern -- the story simply will not go away. It’s got all the elements of a good television drama, except there’s no sex or violence.
Anyone who has traveled with a specific destination in mind knows that before you head out on the road, it helps to map out your route. If you're not lucky enough to own a GPS, then you at least need to use a road atlas or go online and map out your route using a mapping service such as MapQuest.
As many people travel down life's highway in search of happiness, they figure they'll run into it somewhere, someday. They head off in a general direction, assuming happiness will pop up on the way like a highway sign directing them which way to turn, how many miles to go, and what exit to take to get there. Happiness, however, isn't like a tourist attraction, an all-you-can-eat buffet, or a theme park.
Nine years ago I made this declaration: "I spent the first 50 years of my life trying to be balanced. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to be radical." All history shapers are radical, and I believe it's time for believers everywhere to take on this attribute.
We need voices from the past—like Andrew Murray, Corrie Ten Boom and Charles Spurgeon—to help us find our way to the future.
During a visit with my parents in Georgia, two of my daughters asked if they could listen to a tape recording my father made in 1962 when I was only 4 years old. So my dad rummaged through some drawers and found the old reel-to-reel tape, which was amazingly still intact. Then he went to the garage and found the old Realistic tape player that no one in the family had used since the Nixon administration.
To our surprise the scratchy tape actually played without breaking, and my girls laughed when they heard me—in a babyish Southern drawl—describing a Florida vacation and a fishing trip with my grandfather. After my "interview," it switched to an older recording made in 1956. It included a conversation with my dad's mother, who died before I was born.
Editor's Note: The following word is a description of a dream the Lord gave evangelist Perry Stone a number of years ago that has significance today. It is a reminder for all believers to continue to pray for the United States. The word was posted on Stone's Web site, Voice of Evangelism, at voe.orgin June.
Several years ago, when Hillary Clinton was a senator for the state of New York, I had a very strong, clear dream. In this dream I was staying in a hotel in a major city (I am uncertain which city it was). I was with a group of young people who were a part of the ministry. As we entered a van, I observed a very large tornado moving toward the heart (downtown) of this city. We were attempting to "get out" before the main storm struck the area.