November 23, 2020
Short messages that have a long-lasting impact.
Christ in the Quarantine
From a sermon by Raju Rayudu, the District Superintendent of Andhra Pradesh State and pastor of the India headquarters church in Kaikavolu.
When the world went into quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no doubt the devil was happy to see all our churches closed. He may have thought Christians would become discouraged if they were kept away from services. However, God can change the devil’s harmful tactics into something good for us. Let us consider a few “quarantines” from Scripture and how God worked in those situations.
Moses was “quarantined” with God on Mount Sinai for forty days (Exodus 24:18). This was valuable time spent with God—he returned with the Ten Commandments, the design plans for the Tabernacle, and the Law. He may have received even more. Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, so perhaps at that time God also revealed how He had formed the earth, the heavens, and the rest of Creation. We read in Exodus 34:29, “And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.” Moses’ face literally shone! What mighty results from his quarantine with God.
Noah’s family spent a year in a “lockdown” in the ark. They could not leave to retrieve anything from outside, yet they were kept safe and never lacked necessities because God had planned for their provision.
The Apostle Paul was imprisoned for two years in Rome (see Acts 28:30). Under house arrest, he could not leave his home, but God was there with him. During that time, he penned four letters that were later included in the New Testament. The Books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon contain exhortations and instructions that have guided believers for centuries. His time spent quarantined with God was invaluable.
John the Revelator was exiled to the Island of Patmos during the later years of his life. Almost entirely alone except for other prisoners on that island, he spent time with God. It was then that he had a great vision of the end times, which we now have recorded in the Book of Revelation. Christians around the world today are filled with hope as we continue to await the fulfillment of the prophecy he received.
We could speak of Jonah in the belly of the fish, Daniel in the den of lions, the three Hebrews in the furnace, and many more. Our God is a God of quarantines! From these examples, we can see that when God allows a period of isolation, He has a good purpose for it. Though sometimes isolated from other people, we are never isolated from Jesus because He is Emmanuel, “God with us.” He will never leave us, and He will supply our every need.
How have your times of quarantine with God been? These can be periods when we draw nearer to Jesus as we spend more time studying His Word and praying earnestly for His will to be done. Whatever we may lack from interacting with others, God will more than compensate by sending greater spiritual blessings. These are some of the best opportunities to exercise faith and see how God will meet our needs.
Don’t Just Rent, Own!
From a sermon by Donald Fittin, a minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in Van Buren, Arkansas, United States.
A while back, I stopped by my home church in Van Buren, Arkansas. As I was there, I washed my hands in the restroom, and there were no paper towels in the dispenser. I was a little frustrated and wondered who had cleaned the church last and why the paper towels had not been replenished. The Spirit of God spoke to my heart and said, “Do you own or do you rent?”
Replenishing paper towels is a small thing, but it is part of the Gospel work. The point was, I know where the supply of paper towels is kept, I know where the key to the dispenser is kept, and I know how to resupply it. Yet I was feeling frustrated because someone else hadn’t done what I was completely capable of doing. The Lord was helping me see the importance of “owning” the Gospel.
Jesus said, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44). This man realized right away the value of what he had found. How do we know? He hid it so he would not risk losing it. And with joy, he sold everything so he could buy the field and own that priceless treasure. Nothing was held back.
When we are seeking God, we need to empty ourselves before Him and hold nothing back. We can pray, “What do You want from me? I will do anything. Here is my all—it’s all Yours.” That type of consecrating is what brings ownership of the Gospel.
Today we are reaping the benefits of the saints who went before us. Those people took ownership of the Gospel and spread it. They paid the price to hand us an understanding of what it means to serve God. And because of their dedication and faithfulness, other people heard that Jesus can save souls and change lives. We want to carry on the Gospel that we have been given and cherish the treasure of God’s salvation.
When I was saved in 1987, there was an elderly man in our congregation named Red Arnold. He had been an alcoholic before he was born again, and God had delivered him from much sin. After he had been saved for a while, the church leaders asked him to go with them to hold church services in the jail. Brother Arnold said, “I’m not going down there. I have never volunteered to go there. Every time I have gone in, I was in handcuffs.” However, God began to work on Brother Arnold’s heart, and he consecrated his reluctance to God. By the time I was saved, Brother Arnold went to the jail services every week. He told the men there, “If God would save someone like me, He will save you.” Brother Arnold sold out to have the Gospel and he had the treasure in his heart. He was in his place and doing what God had called him to do with everything he had.
When Brother Arnold was getting close to the end of his life, he said to me, “Don, don’t you let that jail work go.” He took the mantle of the jail work and laid it on my shoulders. I’ve thought of his words hundreds of times. We want to own the Gospel.
This is the time to give our all to God. There will be occasions when we are tired, and doing what God wants will not always be convenient. It will cost us. But we have been bought with a price—the precious Blood of Jesus. And God will give us the strength and power to serve Him if we will do our part to own the Gospel.
Weapons for Spiritual Warfare
From a sermon by Michael Ivany, the pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church in Englee, Newfoundland, Canada.
At times, it is important to have a weapon. During the spring in the little town in Newfoundland where I presently live, sometimes the ice floes come down from the Arctic, and with that ice may come some polar bears. The only place I feel comfortable looking at a live polar bear is on a screen! Other than that, I like them to keep their distance. Normally during the winter, I enjoy going on a snowmobile into the wilderness behind our town. Back there, with no one else around, I can get alone with God. However, for a while we had two polar bears wandering around behind our town, and I did not feel safe going out there. If I did go, I made sure my rifle was close by.
In the spiritual world, we need weapons as well. When we asked God to make a change in our lives, He came in and saved our souls from sin. From that moment on, we have faced a spiritual enemy every day, and sometimes situations will come that we did not expect. It is then that we have to rely on those spiritual weapons that God put at our disposal when we began to serve Him. The Bible says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Sanctification can be one weapon in our arsenal. Receiving that experience gives us a greater ability to resist Satan. When we seek for and receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we are stronger still. Yet the enemy is persistent, and he will come at us from all angles. He lurks about, seeking to place a doubt in our minds seemingly out of nowhere, or to attack us in some other way.
One of the best weapons we have to combat his tactics is the Word of God. When the enemy comes, we pick up that Word and hold on to a Scripture. If our minds seem to be blank, we can just quote the first five words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Once we have been saved, we have a relationship with the Lord, and it is good to remind ourselves of that. With that relationship comes protection from Satan. Then we can quote another Scripture or just say, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” We can cry out to our heavenly Father, “Oh God, help me through this!”
Remember that the battle is not ours; it is God’s, and we are on His side. We want to keep a tight hold on what God has given us, leaning on Him and His Word. He will be with us through the spiritual battles we face until He takes us to be with Him.
The Power in His Name
From a sermon by Joey Ruiz, the District Superintendent of the Philippines and pastor of the Filipino headquarters church in Bagong Sikat, Nueva Ecija.
David said in Psalm 29:2, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Throughout this psalm, David described how powerful God is. The Name of the Lord is synonymous with power. Let us consider how much glory is due His Name.
Emmanuel means “God with us.” Here in the United States, we can say, “God is with us.” However, when I am at home in the Philippines, I can also say, “God is with us.” My friends from Korea would say, “God is with us too.” Think of being in many different places at a single moment of time. Isn’t that power? It must be God.
Jehovah-Jireh, which means “God the Provider,” was the name Abraham gave to the place where God told him to sacrifice Isaac. This is because when he was about to fulfill God’s command, the Lord stopped him. Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a thicket. God had provided, and He will provide for us as well.
God is the Prince of Peace, Shalom. He gives us inner peace and completeness.
Some call Him Jehovah-Rapha. The word rapha means “to heal” and God is our Healer. Jesus made the lame man to walk; He made the dead to rise. He is so powerful! Nothing is too difficult or impossible for Him.
Yet nothing God has done compares with Him sending His Son, Jesus, to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He died on the Cross and after three days He rose again. That is power! And the salvation of a soul is accomplished through His power. When I testified to my old friends after I had been saved, they started laughing. They said, “You must be joking. How can you be a Christian?” Some years later, my wife told her old friends that I had become a preacher. They said, “We don’t believe you!” As I ponder these reactions, I understand how sinful I was, even though I did not realize it at the time. I thank God He called me to Himself, and forgave and saved me when I repented. Maybe you need to be saved. It would bring glory to God’s name if you yielded your heart to Him and received His salvation.
God wants each one of us to be holy. The powerful, instantaneous work when He removes the Adamic nature and the inclination to sin is called sanctification. To many people that seems difficult, but with God’s power it is possible. He wants to sanctify all believers so that He can present to Himself a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle, holy, and without blemish.
The experience of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is powerful. While you are consecrating and praying and praising Him, He can fill you with the Holy Spirit, and you will speak in a language that you have not learned. He will empower you to be more effective in your service for Him.
As we wait for the Lord’s return, the enemy of our souls would like us to fall, but the power of God will help us not to stumble. David said we need to worship God in the beauty of holiness. If we do that, God will give us the power to serve Him and His name will be glorified.
Anticipating the New Jerusalem
From a sermon by Tim Mixer, a minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in Chehalis, Washington, United States.
In Revelation 21:1, John wrote, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” John described that new Heaven and new earth as the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. He also described it as coming down, or descending, and we believe that literally. Some day the New Jerusalem, which is Heaven, will come down and unite with the new earth.
The Bible gives the dimensions of this New Jerusalem. It is measured in furlongs, and it is a massive city. I have run the numbers and came up with a size of approximately two million square miles! To put that in perspective, it is approximately half the size of the United States, and the length is the same as the breadth and the height. I have always wondered how to measure the “height” of a city. Some Bible scholars believe that the height refers to the tallest buildings within it. We don’t know, but we will know when we get there.
There will be many beautiful things in the New Jerusalem, but let’s consider first what is going to be absent from that city. Revelation 21:23 tells us, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” No more night! It also says, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” The Temple was once God’s home on earth; a place where His presence resided continually. However, in that heavenly city there will be no temple because God Almighty and the Lamb will be there. We will have direct access to God—the privilege of going to Him and giving Him praise and thanks for the plan of redemption and that He included us. It is going to be wonderful!
John went on to write that there will be no more sorrow; no more crying; no more pain; no more death; no more diseases; no more heartaches; no more disappointments. Those things will be gone. We read, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
Let’s consider what is going to be in the New Jerusalem. In Revelation 22:1 John wrote, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” He described the streets of the city as “pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:21). The river is pure and the streets are pure. God Himself is pure and holy, and He puts a premium on purity and holiness. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), and we also know that without holiness no man shall see the Lord (see Hebrews 12:14). God is preparing a pure and holy place for a pure and holy people.
Are you ready for Heaven? If not, come to Jesus with an open heart and pray an honest prayer. Repent and confess your sins and you will find that Jesus is faithful and just and willing to forgive you. Whatever we do, we don’t want to miss Heaven for anything.
From a sermon by Ryan Erdmann, a minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon, United States.
God intends for the Gospel to be simple enough that even a child can understand it. However, it may be easy for us to complicate it.
The first truck I owned was a 1968 Ford pickup. My dad handed it down to me, and it was old when I got it. One time I needed to change a light bulb in it. In those days, that process was quite simple. I took out a couple of screws and detached some wires. Then I put in the new bulb, attached the wires, put the screws back in, and the light bulb was replaced.
Recently I needed to replace a light bulb in my Honda, so I took it to the dealership where one of the staff offered to help me. As we went out toward my car, he said, “Ooh, it’s going to be kind of challenging.” He explained that on this model, there wasn’t room to put your hand in to reach and replace the bulb. He said, “Let me go talk to the service technician.” The technician came to look and said, “Yes, the only way we can do this is to go up through the wheel well. That means I will have to get a tool to remove some plastic pieces.” These men were very nice and they did replace the light bulb, but I thought to myself, How we’ve complicated things! Back in 1968, they knew that light bulbs go out and they made it simple to replace them.
We don’t want to complicate the Gospel. Paul the Apostle was concerned about that when he wrote to the Corinthians. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). When God told Adam and Eve not to eat of that one tree in the Garden, it was a commandment. It was not complicated, but they disobeyed.
God will keep the Gospel simple enough for us to make it to Heaven, but we must obey Him and keep His commandments. It is our choice whether or not to obey. Luke 11:28 says, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” That’s what we want to do, without making it complicated!
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Christian Living,Heaven,Spiritual Warefare