Sometimes the best way to overcome the temptation to give up is to say to yourself: “Oh, no you don’t! Stop your whining and straighten up right this minute!” Over the years, when I have felt like giving up and had no one to encourage me, I’ve said to myself: “Joyce, you can make it! It may be hard, but you can make it and don’t you dare think you can’t!”
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Being critical of others not only destroys our relationships but also blinds us to our own weaknesses.
Much torment comes to people's lives because of judgmental attitudes, criticism and suspicion. Multitudes of relationships are destroyed by these enemies.
Following god is easier when we are led by his spirit rather than by our emotions.
It is God's greatest desire that, as believers, you and I progressively learn how to be led by His Spirit. However, there is a powerful enemy that stands in the way: our emotions. Satan is the most powerful enemy we face externally, but internally, it's our emotions that give us some of the biggest problems.
Getting "drunk in the Holy Spirit" has been a popular concept in some churches. But is it biblical?
A few years ago a traveling charismatic minister from the West coast passed through Florida to conduct a series of renewal meetings. I'd never heard of the guy, but the rumor was that he carried a "special" anointing. It was unique, that's for sure-especially when he took the microphone, slurred his words as if intoxicated and leaned to the left of the pulpit as if he were about to fall over. Then, in between some bizarre spasms, he would shout what sounded like "Walla walla bing bang!"
His message didn't make sense. But if he had just said "Ding Dong Bell" or "Yabba Dabba Doo" over and over, some people in his meetings would have run to the front of the room and swooned, even though he never opened his Bible during his message. They wanted what this man claimed to possess—an anointing to become "drunk in the Spirit."
Have you ever read the book of Acts with longing to be back in that time so you could experience the miracles and the move of the Holy Spirit? Don't worry; right now, today, God is turning that water into wine. In fact, He has saved the best wine for last, and the glory of the latter house is going to be greater than the glory of the first (see Hag. 2:9). We are going to walk in such miracles that there will be no comparison. I would rather be in this move of God than to be in the book of Acts, because this wine tastes better.
In the book of John we read that miracles are manifestations of the glory of God: "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him" (John 2:11, KJV). You may say, "Well, Brother John, why do you need miracles?" The answer is simple: We need the glory.
"Well, Brother John, why do we need the glory?" The answer is because it is only the glory that will change us into the image of Jesus Christ. Prophecy comes, miracles come, the glory comes and then change comes. We are changed into His likeness.
It is the glory of God that will change us into the image of Jesus Christ. There is no way we can come into contact with the glory of God and not be affected with a positive change.
I am sure that most people have not yet truly come into contact with the glory of God. How do I know? Because people can regularly attend church year after year, hear the Word, and go through all the religious motions, yet they never seem to change into the image of Jesus Christ. They stay the same. They are stuck.
People can pray, read their Bibles, and still never experience the change that God desires—until they come into contact with the glory of God. But the glory of God has not been manifested in a lot of churches; they have neither the unction nor the anointing of God.
It doesn't matter how much people may want to change. They need something more so they can reach the fulfillment of their desires. And that something more is the glory of God. Scripture says that we are changed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord (see 2 Cor. 3:17-18).
We must have the glory of God in our services in order to experience change. What is the glory of God? It is the tangible, manifest presence of God. What do I mean by that?
Most people understand that God is omnipresent; people realize that God is everywhere. People therefore know that God is present whether you feel Him or not. The Bible says the eyes of the Lord are everywhere, beholding the evil and the good. And yet, chances are you are not going to feel the presence of God in a bar. Instead, you are going to feel the presence of demons, sin and darkness.
The glory of God is something you can feel, sense and see. In the Old Testament, the glory of God was manifested in a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. It was also manifested sometimes by smoke, although it was not literal smoke but rather the palpable strength of His presence.
When the glory of God comes, when the tangible anointing and presence of God are in a building or in a person, a person cannot help but be changed. When this happens, you are able to sense the presence of God beyond the faith realm. The influence of God is very heavy because He is manifesting Himself. His manifest presence brings a change.
People cannot come into contact with the glory and presence of God and not be changed.
I want you to notice that the best is yet to come. The Lord has kept back the good wine until the end of the age. You talk about miracles, signs and wonders—you haven't seen anything yet!
We need to pursue the glory and the presence of God. Let's decide today to pursue Him and His glory so that He can change us into His image and experience the best that is to come.
Adapted from God Still Speaks by John Eckhardt, copyright 2009, published by Charisma House. This book combines instructive, narrative teaching with powerful truths that helps bring moving in the prophetic easily achievable, while sparking your zeal to pursue the presence and glory of God and be forever changed. To order a copy click on this link:
Last month God used a poor pastor from Malawi to challenge my suburban American priorities.
When I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, last month to conduct a women's conference, my host, a journalist named Gideon, mentioned that my "pastor friend from Malawi" was waiting to see me. I was surprised to hear this, since I wasn't aware that I had a pastor friend from Malawi. I've never been to that country and I didn't remember talking to anyone from there.
"He says you've been e-mailing each other," Gideon said. "And he arrived today to see you."
It had been a week since my dear mother passed away at the age of 89. As a minister and follower of Jesus Christ, I knew Mother had gone home to be with the Lord. God's Word had promised heaven for all believers in Jesus (see Rom. 10:9,13). Hours before her death, I had even witnessed the miracle of my blind mother waking up from her coma, to see again—and to see a glimpse of heaven.
However, a week later, as I walked through the rooms of her house, I was sorrowful.
Would this sadness ever lift? As Mother's unofficial caregivers, my husband, Terry, and I, had come to stay with her—personally and painfully witnessing Mother, the picture of "spit and spunk"—her term for "full of life"—decline to the picture of a jaundiced corpse. Whenever I thought of Mother, it was this picture of death that would come to mind. It was so sad a picture, so unlike Mother, that it overpowered me, making me sorrowful.
On this day of visiting Mother's house, I finally cried out to the Lord: "Lord, give me a new picture of Mother I can live with—one that assures me You have restored her to joy again!"
My brief prayer request was cut short by the ringing of the front doorbell. It was Pat, a neighbor who had known Mother for years.
Pat offered her condolences about Mother's illness and death. Then, without skipping a beat, she looked me squarely in the eye and announced: "I must tell you something about your mom—or Florence, as all the kids on the block called her. Did you know that the young kids, my son included, liked to knock on her door and say, 'We're here by special invitation—can Florence come out and play?' And she always did!"
A new picture was forming in my mind—Florence, just one of the kids, full of life stepping out to play. By special invitation, mind you!
Then a curious thing happened. My jaw suddenly began to drop and quiver, not from fighting off any more tears of mourning—but from fighting a good belly laugh that was greater than the tears. I could just see it now! "Can Florence come out and play?"
Like a dam bursting, I gushed out a laugh that took me to the ground. I grabbed Pat's shoulders for support, but ended up taking her with me. Picture two mature ladies in white polyester leisure pants rolling around in raucous holy laughter on the wet green grass—in broad daylight. I'm sure this wasn't a pretty sight. But something beautiful was happening. The Lord was showing a daughter in mourning a new picture. Her mother, Florence, stepping joyously into eternity—by special invitation.
God understands our sorrow, and He can give us joy in the midst of it. He also wants to lift the burden of sadness. When we simply ask, He will turn our mourning into joy—and sometimes even laughter in a white leisure suit.
In Uganda and Kenya, where polygamy is common, Christians are defending the Bible while we disdain it.
Two weeks ago when I was speaking in a women's conference in Kampala, Uganda, I asked the women to raise their hands if they grew up in a polygamous home. A majority of the hands went up. Then I asked how many wives lived in their father's home.
"How many had two wives living in the house?" I asked. A majority of the hands went up.
Is the fight against same-sex marriage primarily one fought between religious groups and the gay community? Are there any issues that a secular society should consider in this fight? We have found at least eight negative sociological outcomes that could occur if same-sex marriage is legalized.
The first impact would most likely affect the number of marriages in the United States. Fewer people would see marriage as the ultimate covenant between two people. The proof of this lies in the state of Massachusetts where only 43 percent of same-sex couples who cohabitate have utilized the state law which grants them marriage rights. Heterosexual couples in Massachusetts are more likely to marry (91 percent) but the degree to which same-sex couples marry devalues the commitment for all couples and the number is likely to decrease. In the Netherlands, only 12 percent of gay couples have chosen marriage; this low number is consistent with other countries that have legalized same-sex marriages.
One of the best examples of self-pity is the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda (see John 5). Jesus knew his full condition and then, through Peter, asked the man if he wished to be healed. The man began to explain why he had not and could not be healed. Jesus seemed to quit listening to his self-pity and healed him anyway.
Self-pity is the opposite of confidence and worth. Self-pity happens when we feel we are warranted to receive but get passed by. This can occur in our natural or spiritual life. Self-pity helps define our moment or, may I say, cause us to miss our moment. We feel we are deserving or entitled to a blessing, and we lose faith when we see a blessing slip past our life.
If Lady Liberty could cry, she would be weeping now. Among her many burdens would be the abuse of democracy and our constitution’s first principles on many fronts. Her most recent wound might be that D.C. residents are being shut out of the decision-making process. This week, the D.C. City Council introduced a same-sex marriage bill that would allow homosexual marriages to be performed in the nation’s capital. The 10 co-sponsors of the bill announced via interviews and media statements that they would not allow the people of the District of Columbia to vote on this landmark decision.
With an issue as controversial as same-sex marriage, one would think that the voice of the people should be heard. The Rev. Henry Gaston, president of the Missionary Baptist Conference of Washington, D.C. made the following statement after the council meeting: “In the name of advancing one group’s civil rights, the city council is abridging my community’s right to vote. Anyone familiar with the historic civil rights movement knows that ‘the right to vote’ not ‘the right to marry’ was the gold standard of civil rights privileges.”
We can learn an important lesson from the East African Revival, which transformed a region 80 years ago.
The people of Uganda call it Balokole. In the Luganda language it means "the saved ones," but the word became synonymous with the East African Revival—one of the most significant Christian movements in modern history.
This revival had humble beginnings in September 1929, just before America's Great Depression. Historians trace it to a prayer meeting on Namirembe Hill in Kampala, Uganda, where a missionary to Rwanda, Joe Church, prayed and read the Bible for two days with his friend Simeoni Nsibambi. They felt God had showed them that the African church was powerless because of a lack of personal holiness.
When God is first in your life and your greatest desire is to do His will, then every resource you have is available to Him because you understand it all belongs to Him anyway. The moment God sees you are a person who can be trusted with possessions, you suddenly qualify to receive more than you had before!
Do you know what made Abraham great? He trusted in God. Even to the point that when he didn't have a clue what God was doing, he still trusted Him. Abraham's ability to trust the Lord is what made it possible for him to go so far as to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice when God required it. Abraham understood that the child God had given to Sarah and him was actually not theirs at all.
Isaac came from God, and he belonged to the Lord. If the Lord required him to be sacrificed, then Abraham was simply responsible to manage the task that he was given. Not every chore you are asked to do in your role as a manager will be pleasant, but your willingness and obedience will determine how much God can trust you. In Genesis 22:12, the angel of the Lord told Abraham, "'Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me'" (NKJV).
Was Isaac precious to Abraham? Without a doubt! He was so loved that Abraham named him the son of laughter. However, although Isaac was terribly loved, Abraham knew he could trust God with what he loved the most. It was this kind of trust that enabled Abraham to be the recipient of blessings that others could only dream about.
Abraham was called "the friend of God" (James 2:23). He was blessed in his life to the point where you would have to number the stars in the sky and the sands in the earth to calculate all that he received. He was described as being very rich in livestock, silver and gold. Abraham was increased in his life, and the lives of his descendants and heirs were increased because God could trust him.
When your priorities are centered in your source, and God can trust you with His resources, your priorities will get you where you want to go.
The next priority in your life, after the Lord, should be other people—those in the world around you. For me, that list includes, in this order: my wife and children, my extended family, and my church. Once you've decided to reconnect with God, the next place to start reconnecting is at home.
The desire to live for ourselves is an epidemic. It seems we have adopted this mindset: if it is to our benefit and someone else's detriment, so be it. What is so horrifying about this mindset is that it means no relationship is safe.
There has been a notable increase through the years of the disenchantment with marriage. Without a doubt, the root of divorce is selfishness. But consider these latest trends in our society: parents are harming and abusing their children, children are being arrested for atrocities committed against parents, and siblings are being indicted for murdering their brothers and sisters—all for the sole purpose of having what they want when they want it. From all appearances, it seems there is no limit to selfish men.
The evening news carries one story or another of a mother or a boyfriend or a relative who is being arrested for some monstrosity committed against a defenseless child. Why? Because other people no longer have a place of priority in our lives. We have truly lost touch with one another. We have devalued life to the point that it is considered expendable for the sake of convenience.
However, if you are ever going to be the person of influence that you were created to be then others will need to take their proper place of priority in your life. You can begin by identifying ways that you can be a blessing to others. Place their needs in front of yours, and consider it a joy when those around you succeed.
Answer these questions honestly: Where do others fit in your life? Are you there for them, or are they there for you? You will never truly know the power that relationship possesses until you decide to be there for the other person—no matter what. Can God trust you with His stuff?
Pastor Medad Birungi was the least likely man to engineer a spiritual rebirth in the tradition-bound Church of Uganda. Raised in a polygamous home (his alcoholic father had six wives and 32 children), Birungi suffered horrible trauma, rejection and poverty. But he had a dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit while he was a college student, and his moment of renewal is still having ripple effects throughout Uganda and the world.
Birungi was a religious Anglican before this experience. He despised Pentecostals and viewed them as sheep-stealers and misguided pretenders. But while he was performing with a choir on a conference stage near Kampala in 1987, he felt strangely compelled to run outside to pray. He was then literally arrested by the power of God. He fell to the ground and spoke in tongues for three hours.
In recent weeks I've found I can no longer turn to the History Channel (my favorite) without being confronted with the Nostradamus Effect, the Mayan calendar, the Chinese I'ching or the Christian prophet, Malachy, from the 12th century, each of which has been said to have declared the end of the world in this time period. Even people who don't read their Bibles seem to be focused on the last days.
The plight of the poor has been a major bone of contention in the health care debate for months now. The morality of various approaches has also been hotly debated from all sides of the political universe. A recent statement I made at the National Press Club regarding abortion and what I called “a form of genocide” within the black community, has sparked a great deal of controversy among clergy. In fact, I have been labeled by some African-Americans as unconcerned about the needs of the poor.
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