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Category: Theology
Read Time: 22 mins
Hits: 551

Title: Joining The Fellowship

Topic: The Holy Spirit, Refiner's Fire

Joining into the fellowship

What is it? Easy, difficult, just ok, wondersome, stop and go, falling and standing up again, stumbling forward. These are just some ideas and answers you can hear from people integrating into a new society. People learning new customs, trying to make sense of why doing this was normal in the old country and not in the new. Why doing that offends people while nobody in the old country would even pay attention to it.

Maybe you have experienced a little of this when you moved from one state to another, but can you just imagine the difference, or let's say maybe even the cultureMultiracial happy friends having fun outdoor in the city - Main focus on african curvy man shock that is experienced when moving from one continent or culture to another. We can see it, for example, the Dutch people in the northeast or in Australia holding on to the old ways in Dutch clubs and complete neighborhoods basted in the old ways. Personally, I am of the opinion that this is the wrong way of doing things. When you immigrate into a new country, you need to adhere and adjust to the legal and social rules of that community. As this might indeed have been a culture shock for me, a former Dutchman who is still learning, even after 25 years in this wonderful country of the United States of America, it also should be for each and every one moving into a new environment.

This is a continuous study and change that we also should experience in our personal life concerning holiness. We are as Christians called into a life of Holiness, and it is a rather big shock for many. Fortunately, we have a wonderful coach and guide.

John 14:16-17 (Amplified Bible)

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you.”

We are called Christians, which was first a moniker given to those who followed Yeshuah as the Messiah. Meaning the little christs. Jesus gave us this Guide, this counselor, helper, intercessor, advocate, strengthener, and standby so that we would be able to learn, to grow and stand strong, even say the right words at the right time.

Luke 12:11-12 (Amplified Bible)

“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the magistrates and the authorities, do not be anxious [beforehand] how you shall reply in defense or what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour and moment what [you] ought to say.”

No, not by some interesting magic trick, or as a way of speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit will stir our souls, stir our minds, and help us find the right words at the right time, He helps us to understand, to aggregate and disseminate the information needed into the Kingdom of the Lord and on our road to Holy living in our pursuit of a life of Holiness.

The thoughts for today’s message have kept on pouring into my mind yesterday, last night, and even still today. I do not believe that when there are words to say the Holy Spirit will leave us standing there empty-handed. The Fire of the Holy Spirit upon all of those that are walking on that Highway of Holiness, that Straight road through the desert, the Highway of our God YhWh.

Isaiah shouted it out, John the Baptist repeated it.

Matthew 3:2-3 (Common English Bible)

“Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said: The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”

On that Highway to understanding, that Highway of Holiness, that Highway of Righteousness, that Highway of Honesty, Frugality, Self-sufficiency in Christ. On that Highway, we are traveling to the New Yerushalayim, the New Jerusalem, Zion.

Oh, what a wonder journey this year will be together on the road to see Jesus, to be in the presence of Elohim. So let us therefore all have communion together, right here at this moment. Sharing on the Highway of our God, sharing in the sacrifice of the lamb, sharing His body, sharing His blood.

Communion

Now while we have shared this wonderful experience of Holy Communion, we can continue on the road of understanding. When it is already difficult to understand the things that are happening in a different or new culture in our days, many times as the followers of Christ, we are in even more trouble when we are trying to make sense of God's Customs and ways. Many thoughts and things we have accepted but still do not understand them. This coming year we are moving onward on this road and are going to see major changes and advancements in this understanding. So let us not hesitate and walk onward.

Last year we have for a couple of times touched upon the covenant between Abraham and God, the 1st covenant, and all the symbolism that was involved in this. Let us go back again and have a quick look at one particular aspect of this ceremonial sealing of the covenant.

When Abraham had fallen asleep, God passes through the sacrifice as an oven and a torch.

Genesis 15:12-17 (Amplified Bible)

“When the sun was setting, a deep sleep overcame Abram, and a horror (a terror, a shuddering fear) of great darkness assailed and oppressed him. And [God] said to Abram, Know positively that your descendants will be strangers dwelling as temporary residents in a land that is not theirs [Egypt], and they will be slaves there and will be afflicted and oppressed for 400 years. [Fulfilled in Exod. 12:40.] But I will bring judgment on that nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. And you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old (hoary) age. And in the fourth generation they [your descendants] shall come back here [to Canaan] again, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full and complete. When the sun had gone down and a [thick] darkness had come on, behold, a smoking oven and a flaming torch passed between those pieces.”

As Derek Prince wrote it so beautifully: Hebrews says a covenant is not valid while men remain alive. It takes death to make the covenant valid. Then just think of that smoking oven and that flaming torch. What a darkness came over Abraham at that moment. Not merely the darkness of night, but the darkness of the smoke from the oven. But in the midst of that darkness, there was just one thing that brought light. That flaming torch. That flaming torch reminds us of the seven lamps of fire before the throne that John saw in Revelation 4. It’s God in the person of the Holy Spirit. So God Himself came down and passed between those pieces. Doesn’t it amaze you that God would go to such lengths and be so definite and so specific and, in a certain sense, so down to earth, to enter into a personal relationship with a man? God's oven can also be seen as the oven of the refiner's fire, all Abram's Polytheism was burned up in the oven and the darkness of the night but also the darkness of His soul without God overcame him. Abram came from the land of Ur. Which in our days we call Iraq, he lived in the land ruled by king Ur-Nammu and all its gods. We can still see the remnants of the 2100 BC ziggurat that he built in his own honor. With this, we can also see the fulfillment of biblical prophecy with the restorations that have been taking place on this building and the rest of what was known as Babylon.

Ok, that was a little side track the Holy Spirit went through the sacrifice, together with the Oven. Representing God and the sacrifice of the lamb, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, passing through on Abraham’s behalf. When we move onward we see on another time the fire of the Lord, The Holy Spirit moving and protecting those who walk in Righteousness and in Holiness before the Lord.

Daniel 3:22-26 (Common English Bible)

(22 Now the king’s command had been rash, and the furnace was heated to such an extreme that the fire’s flame killed the very men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it.) 23 So these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell, bound, into the furnace of flaming fire. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in shock and said to his associates, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound, into the fire?” They answered the king, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” 25 He replied, “Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around inside the fire, and they aren’t hurt! And the fourth one looks like one of the gods.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar went near the opening of the furnace of flaming fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire.

Here again, we see in the oven in the fire God's protection over His servants. King Nebuchadnezzar had a special bond with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and in our studies, we came to the conclusion that his anger was so strong on the setup that he could now see and with that the loss of those he cared for his friends, that his command to heat the oven up seven times hotter was not extra punishment but a form of mercy. Those that were commanded to throw them into the fire were already burned before they enter the oven. A very quick death, instead of a very slow and agonizing one. In the flames was the flame of the lamb, the Messiah, His Holy Spirit.

That my dear friends, this is again where we see God's love for those that love Him. What a wonderful gift this Holy Spirit is.

Another two fire experiences are in the book of Kings which involved one of my favorite prophets Elijah. Elijah commanding to King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.

1 Kings 18:18, 22-24a, 28-29, 31-38 (Common English Bible)

Verse 18 Elijah answered, “I haven’t troubled Israel; you and your father’s house have! You did as much when you deserted the Lord’s commands and followed the Baals. 19 Now send a message and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel. Gather the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

Verse 22 to 24a. Elijah said to the people, “I am the last of the Lord’s prophets, but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. Give us two bulls. Let Baal’s prophets choose one. Let them cut it apart and set it on the wood, but don’t add fire. I’ll prepare the other bull, put it on the wood, but won’t add fire. Then all of you will call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers with fire—that’s the real God!”

Verse 28 and 29. So the prophets of Baal cried with a louder voice and cut themselves with swords and knives as was their custom. Their blood flowed all over them. As noon passed they went crazy with their ritual until it was time for the evening offering. Still, there was no sound or answer, no response whatsoever.

And lastly Vers 31 to 38. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob—to whom the Lord’s word came: “Your name will be Israel.” He built the stones into an altar in the Lord’s name, and he dug a trench around the altar big enough to hold two seahs of dry grain. He put the wood in order, butchered the bull, and placed the bull on the wood. “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the sacrifice and on the wood,” he commanded. “Do it a second time!” he said. So they did it a second time. “Do it a third time!” And so they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar, and even the trench filled with water. At the time of the evening offering, the prophet Elijah drew near and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. I have done all these things at your instructions. Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that you, Lord, are the real God and that you can change their hearts.” Then the Lord’s fire fell; it consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up the water in the trench!_

God's Fire consuming that which was given to Him that was right, that which was according to His law. Elijah, however, even after this display of might and power, doubted and was afraid. He fled away into the desert. When Elijah was a day's journey into the desert, he sat down under a juniper tree, felt sorry for himself, and wished himself to be dead. Saying to the Lord, "take my life, because I'm nothing better than my forefathers." However, God was certainly not done with him. He provided him with sustenance and told him to go a 40 days and 40 nights journey to the mount Horeb, the mountain of God, which we now know to be mount Jebel el Lawz in Saudi Arabia. This is where Elijah entered the cave and spent the night.

1 Kings 19:9-18 (Amplified Bible)

"There he came to a cave and lodged in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? He replied, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice. When Elijah heard the voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah? He said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, because the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left, and they seek my life, to destroy it. And the Lord said to him, Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah to be prophet in your place. And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael Jehu shall slay, and him who escapes the sword of Jehu Elisha shall slay. Yet I will leave Myself 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."

God has come to men in the fiery all-consuming furnace smoking black, and the fiery torch. He has protected in the fire and consumed with fire. God showed His might, Power, Strength through all of this. And still, Elijah could not find God in all of this. God, however, was not done with Elijah, and even while Elijah felt pity for himself, "woe is me, I’m the only one left," God told him to go all the way back, anoint new kings, and a new prophet, Elisha.

When did Elijah hear this great word of the Lord? It was in the stillness after the exhibition of all the might and power of nature, which is all in God's might.

Luke 23:44-46 (Amplified Bible)

"It was now about the sixth hour (midday), and darkness enveloped the whole land and earth until the ninth hour (about three o’clock in the afternoon), While the sun’s light faded or was darkened; and the curtain [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit! And with these words, He expired."

eclipse 2023 11 27 04 59 18 utcThe earth shook, the sun disappeared and on top of that the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the people tore in two pieces when Jesus gave His last breath. Or in other words, when the Holy Spirit left Jesus, the earth quaked, the sun darkened, and the temple curtain split in half. WOW. What a show of might and power. Oh yeah, let me tell you fire came too, later though but it came. The Bible teaches us with the sound of a rushing wind and with tongues like fire. It was again the Holy Spirit speaking through the tongues of others, each in their own language.

Acts 2:1-26 (Common English Bible)

"When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!” They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!” Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. The sun will be changed into darkness, and the moon will be changed into blood, before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

We have seen it in the scriptures, God will and can present Himself in all situations and under all circumstances. What we need to do is to be willing to learn to understand His ways. God has given us this great and wonderful book filled with the answers to all our questions. Hundreds and Thousands of scholars have received insights of the Holy Spirit and written about it. God has given us a spirit of discernment to make sense out of all of this, and above all, He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide, this counselor, helper, intercessor, advocate, strengthener, and standby so that we would be able to learn, to grow and stand strong, even say the right words at the right time.

Many times we as Christians are waiting for the fire, many times we are expecting the outpouring in our church, with might and power and a lot of theatrics.

But I pray that today we have learned that the Fire of the Holy Spirit has entered your heart, and that like Elijah, we sometimes need to stand outside, look at all the fireworks, and then when we are done watching, walking, talking, and expecting, we have our hearts truly opened to hear God speak through His Holy Spirit. Like Abraham, have God consume our past, our present, and our future in the oven of the refiner's fire. And as Daniel and his friends be on fire, in the spirit and in the fire with God's Holy Spirit. It is He who guides us, counsels us, and helps us on this highway through the desert on which we are walking together. A straight path, Highway one, the only one straight through the cross and the covenant with Jesus Christ into the New Jerusalem.

Make sure that this year we invite, have join and have re-join those that are looking forward to a shoulder and a partner to walk on this Highway of our God.

Amen.

Sermon Notes by Pastor Christiaan J. de Ruiter are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Note: The content provided here represents the foundational notes for a sermon or teaching, and should not be misconstrued as a complete transcript or a fully articulated sermon.

It is our profound belief that the Holy Spirit operates through the preacher, guiding and inspiring the delivery to resonate with the needs and convictions of the congregation.

These notes typically form the basis for a 30 to 45-minute sermon or teaching, allowing the Holy Spirit's guidance to shape the specific message and application to the gathered believers. The essence of these teachings is not merely in the written words but in the inspired delivery and connection with the congregation, led by the Spirit.

 

 

 

Category: Theology
Read Time: 14 mins
Hits: 501

ThinkingFaithful with Little

How often have you heard the phrase, "a penny for your thoughts"?

Particularly in my younger days, I frequently found myself immersed in my own little world. Yet, have you ever pondered the true significance of a penny?

Regardless of whether it's a small amount or a substantial sum, what is crucial is how we steward what is entrusted to us.

Today's message on stewardship and heavenly storehouses finds its foundation in a specific biblical narrative. Let us explore Luke 16:1-13 from the Amplified Bible, where Jesus narrates the story of a rich man and his estate manager, who was accused of squandering his master's assets. The rich man demands an accounting from the manager, leading to a cunning plan by the manager to secure his future by reducing the debts owed to his master. Intriguingly, the master commends the manager for his shrewdness. Through this parable, Jesus imparts lessons on the importance of being faithful in small matters and the impossibility of serving two masters – God and wealth.

"Also [Jesus] said to the disciples, There was a certain rich man who had a manager of his estate, and accusations [against this man] were brought to him, that he was squandering his [master’s] possessions. And he called him and said to him, What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management [of my affairs], for you can be [my] manager no longer. And the manager of the estate said to himself, What shall I do, seeing that my master is taking the management away from me? I am not able to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have come to know what I will do, so that they [my master’s debtors] may accept and welcome me into their houses when I am put out of the management. So he summoned his master’s debtors one by one, and he said to the first, How much do you owe my master? He said, A hundred measures [about 900 gallons] of oil. And he said to him, Take back your written acknowledgement of obligation, and sit down quickly and write fifty [about 450 gallons]. After that he said to another, And how much do you owe? He said, A hundred measures [about 900 bushels] of wheat. He said to him, Take back your written acknowledgement of obligation, and write eighty [about 700 bushels]. And [his] master praised the dishonest (unjust) manager for acting shrewdly and prudently; for the sons of this age are shrewder and more prudent and wiser in [relation to] their own generation [to their own age and kind] than are the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), so that when it fails, they [those you have favored] may receive and welcome you into the everlasting habitations (dwellings). He who is faithful in a very little [thing] is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest and unjust in a very little [thing] is dishonest and unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not proved faithful in that which belongs to another [whether God or man], who will give you that which is your own [that is, the true riches]? No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely)."

This parable reveals several profound truths. First, it challenges our ability to handle greater responsibilities if we falter in managing smaller ones. Second, it underscores the impossibility of serving two masters with equal devotion. Third, as also illustrated in the parable of the talents, it emphasizes our role as stewards of what we possess, as everything ultimately belongs to God.

The narrative suggests that earthly connections and resources are of little value if we fail to be good stewards of the modest amounts that God entrusts to us. How, then, can He trust us with the riches of heaven?

Mismanagement and failure to yield expected returns can indeed be viewed as a form of theft. Relying on our own riches leads to an uncertain future.

Let's reflect on some enlightening proverbs, which I highly recommend for their wisdom.

Proverbs 3:9-10 (KJV) instructs us to honor the Lord with our substance, promising abundant blessings in return.

"Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."

Proverbs 10:2-3 (AMP) contrasts the fruitlessness of ill-gotten wealth with the life-saving power of righteousness.

"Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) delivers from death. The Lord will not allow the [uncompromisingly] righteous to famish, but He thwarts the desire of the wicked."

Proverbs 15:6 (AMP) speaks of the great treasure in the house of the righteous, while Proverbs 18:10-12 (KJV) contrasts the security found in the Lord with the deceptive security of wealth.

"In the house of the [uncompromisingly] righteous is great [priceless] treasure, but with the income of the wicked is trouble and vexation. The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit. Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility."

These scriptures underscore the importance of obedience to God and being excellent stewards. counting the pennies 2023 11 27 04 51 13 utcGood stewardship involves taking ownership of what is entrusted to us, treating it as if it were our own. Reflecting on our theme scripture from Luke 16, we realize that time is one of the most valuable assets entrusted to us. Even a minute, seemingly insignificant like a penny, adds up over a lifetime. The average American life expectancy is 76 years, and if we start making conscious decisions for Christ at 16, we have 60 years of service. Consider the cumulative impact of how we spend each minute of our day.

Let’s have a closer look, as said at 16 years of age we are old enough to drive, thus let's take this age to make an honest decision for Christ which gives us 60 years in His service.

In a day we fool around for about 4 H a day, we sleep 8 H and we have 12 H of productivity or semi-productivity. A minute here and a minute there over those twelve hours is 720 minutes in 12 H.

Which comes down to 262,800 Minutes per year thus 60 Years is 15,768,000 minutes. oh yes, I almost forgot, in 60 years we have 15 leap years, which adds an additional 15 days, thus it makes in total 15,778,800 minutes, or?  would we say just a penny.

Luke 16:11 (CEB) challenges us: If we are not faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust us with true riches? God, who exists outside our temporal constraints, sees our full potential. We are of immeasurable worth to Him, far beyond mere monetary value.

"If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?"

Our God, in His omnipotence, transcends the confines of human time. He is intimately familiar with every moment of our lives, from the instance of our birth to the inevitability of our passing. He is the Alpha and Omega, embodying both the beginning and the end.

In the eyes of God, our value far surpasses the triviality of a mere penny. He perceives us not as we perceive ourselves, limited and insignificant, but in the fullness of our true potential. To Him, we are infinitely more precious than a mere collection of coins, be it 15,778,800 pennies or even a billion. Our worth, in His divine estimation, is immeasurable and incomparable, far exceeding any earthly treasure.

Matthew 10:28-33 (CEB) reminds us not to fear those who can harm the body but cannot touch the soul. Instead, we should revere God, who cares for us deeply, valuing us more than many sparrows. Acknowledging Christ before others ensures His acknowledgment of us before the Father.

"Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before people, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. But everyone who denies me before people, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."

Being good stewards of God's gifts – our time, talents, and lives – opens up heavenly riches. The prophets have declared it, and God reaffirms it repeatedly. Time spent for God, labor in His service, and love shared with others are investments in heavenly treasures. The dividends belong to the Lord, and when we need them, He will unlock the storehouses of heaven to shower us with blessings.

Malachi 3:10-11 (CEB) and Deuteronomy 28:12 (KJV) echo this promise, inviting us to test God's faithfulness.

"Bring the whole tenth-part to the storage house so there might be food in my house. Please test me in this, says the Lord of heavenly forces. See whether I do not open all the windows of the heavens for you and empty out a blessing until there is enough. I will threaten the one who wants to devour you so that it doesn’t spoil the fruit of your fertile land, and so that the vine doesn’t abort its fruit in your field, says the Lord of heavenly forces. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow."

The Common English Bible translated verse 10 of Malachi 3 with the phrase, Please test me in this.

Our God is an awesome God, and He has placed this challenge in front of us. Do I trust Him enough to cut up the credit cards, to get rid of all the debt and to not take on any more. He has already given us so much, our talents, our time, do we test Him on this?

First Lady Wilma and I have embarked on a journey of faith, continually testing the Lord's promises. Yet, we often find ourselves reverting to old habits. Our contemporary society has shifted away from the godly principle of accumulating wealth through saving and giving; it now leans heavily towards accruing wealth through borrowing. This raises a pertinent question: who truly benefits from this system? Is it the individual, or is it the credit card companies reaping the profits?

Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, our trials have revealed God's unwavering faithfulness. The storehouses of heaven have opened in response to our faith. However, we recognize our human frailty and the need for persistent prayer to strengthen our resolve. Our ultimate aim is to place our complete trust in the Lord, dedicating a portion of everything we have – our time, labor, and finances – as a tithe to Him. This aspiration is lofty and challenging to achieve. We are far from reaching this goal, but we are committed to striving for more, to do better. I long to witness the gates of heaven's storehouse swing open for us. What about you? Are you prepared to experience the miracle that even a minute of your time, a small act of giving, can bring?

I propose a challenge: if you possess four credit cards, focus on paying off one and then cut it up. If you're accustomed to paying $100 monthly on a card, redirect $50 of that amount into savings and allocate the remaining $50 to pay off the next card. From your savings, dedicate 10% to God – not merely because the church needs it, but as a gesture of gratitude for His blessings. Continue this process, creating a snowball effect, until all your debts are cleared. You'll be amazed to find yourself with more financial freedom than ever before. And in doing so, God will bless you, for your focus is on His plan, not merely on worldly gain.

This strategy is not a whimsical idea; it aligns with God's plan for our lives, teaching us to be prudent stewards of the resources He has entrusted to us. Our journey is marked by both growth and setbacks, yet I am confident that with the Lord's guidance, we will ultimately succeed.

God knows each of us intimately; He understands our hearts. When we commit wholeheartedly to His path, He recognizes this dedication and blesses us accordingly. This path is not a shortcut to wealth but a long journey towards recovery – recovery from negative thinking, from mismanaging our talents, time, and finances. Participating in God's recovery program is challenging, but the rewards are profound and lasting.

The Apostle John captured the essence of this journey in the words of Jesus, reminding us of the deeper purpose and the eternal value of our endeavors.

John 6:26-29 (AMP) records Jesus' words about seeking Him not for material benefits but for the eternal sustenance He offers. Believing in Him and trusting His word brings a fulfillment that never disappoints.

"Jesus answered them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you have been searching for Me, not because you saw the miracles and signs but because you were fed with the loaves and were filled and satisfied. Stop toiling and doing and producing for the food that perishes and decomposes [in the using], but strive and work and produce rather for the [lasting] food which endures [continually] unto life eternal; the Son of Man will give (furnish) you that, for God the Father has authorized and certified Him and put His seal of endorsement upon Him. They then said, What are we to do, that we may [habitually] be working the works of God? [What are we to do to carry out what God requires?] Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger]."

In conclusion, being a good steward of what God has given us is a journey of growth, trust, and obedience. It's about managing our resources wisely, not for immediate gratification, but for eternal rewards. Let us embrace this challenge, trusting in God's plan and His unfailing provision.

Amen.

 

 

Category: Theology
Read Time: 4 mins
Hits: 941

Charisma: A Distinctive Understanding

Charismatic Christian Beliefs

The Charismatic Christian conviction is founded on the belief that the spiritual gifts (Greek charismata χάρισμα, from charis χάρις, grace) of the Holy Spirit, as depicted in the New Testament, are accessible through the infilling or baptism of the Holy Spirit. This may happen with or without the laying on of hands.

These spiritual gifts manifest themselves in the forms of signs, miracles, and wonders, including but not limited to speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, healing, and discernment of spirits. While Pentecostals and Charismatics adhere to these beliefs, distinctions are present.

Differences Between Pentecostals and CharismaticsRuach Hakodesh

Many within the charismatic movement have intentionally distanced themselves from Pentecostalism for cultural and theological reasons. Key among these reasons is the tendency of many Pentecostals to assert that speaking in tongues is consistently the initial physical evidence of receiving Spirit baptism.

While specific doctrines may differ among groups, Charismatics usually assert that the baptism with the Holy Spirit takes place at the new birth, referring to subsequent encounters with the Holy Spirit with alternative terminology, such as "being filled." Unlike Pentecostals, Charismatics are inclined to recognize one or all of the supernatural experiences, like prophecy, miracles, healing, or other physical manifestations, as indicators of having been baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit.

Pentecostals are distinguished from the charismatic movement not only in belief but also in style, with a strong emphasis on evangelization and missionary work. Charismatics, conversely, view their movement as a catalyst for revitalization, renewal, and spiritual growth within their existing church traditions.

Personal Insights on the Neo-Charismatic Movement

Within the neo-Charismatic movement, I maintain the perspective that a person receives the Holy Spirit at the precise moment they are born anew in Christ. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, or in other words, the outpouring of grace gifts on one's life, may or may not follow immediately upon this conversion.

1 Corinthians 2:12 (AMP) eloquently states, “Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.”

These spiritual gifts must not be confused with the gift of the Spirit. While the gift of the Spirit is bestowed upon all believers, and each member should appropriate this gift, the gifts of the Spirit are dispensed as He determines to each person. It's vital to note that these gifts do not necessarily involve the gift of glossolalia (Speaking in Tongues). The Spirit of God grants freely, to meet each need, ability, and understanding.

1 Corinthians 12:10-11 (AMP) confirms, “To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.”

In sum, Charismatic belief represents a multifaceted and nuanced understanding of the Holy Spirit's work, celebrating the diversity of spiritual gifts while recognizing the uniqueness of individual experiences and interpretations. It invites both unity and diversity within the broader Christian tradition.

Category: Theology
Read Time: 8 mins
Hits: 851

William's Fear

Topic: Thoughts on Psalm 49
Presenter: Christiaan de Ruiter
Document Title: William's Fear

A song, titled “How Precious is the Ransomed Soul,” written by Mother and Son Krommenhoek from the Netherlands, has been resonating in my William Boothmind for a considerable duration. The profound notion embedded in this simple sentence has been recurring.

Recently, my friend Femmy from the Netherlands shared a picture of the Salvation Army founder, William Booth, accompanied by a quote that reads: “The chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and Heaven without hell.”

This quote has gripped my consciousness, compelling me to share it. These words encapsulate my deep concern and grief for our nation, leadership, churches, and society at large.

The Salvation Army and Early Charismatic Movement

In its early days, the Salvation Army was akin to a Pentecostal organization, although not explicitly labeled as such. It could even be considered an early form of the Charismatic movement. I believe it is crucial for them to return to these roots, despite some contemporary perspectives that might dismiss certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

Our Troubling Times

This year has been fraught with challenges not only globally but personally for many individuals. People's lives have been impacted negatively in various ways. I see this as a reflection of William Booth's words – our world is losing its true focus.

John Adams, in a message to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, stated: "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

The Complexity of Modern Religion

Today, there is confusion about different religious traditions, including various Christian denominations. The true purpose of religion is often overshadowed by the institution itself. This trend is concerning, as it diverges from the essence of faith.

William Booth's observations, articulated in the 1800s, resonate even now, as morality has become relative, and genuine repentance has lost its significance.

A Plea for Authentic Faith

The translated Dutch lyrics of the song I mentioned say, “One soul is worth much more than anything on this earth.” Is this still true for the modern Christian?

William Booth expressed his readiness to appear foolish if it would save a soul. Would we do the same?

Psalm 49:9 (TLV) reads:
“For the redemption of a soul is costly—so, one should stop trying forever.”

If we isolate this verse, it might seem we are finished with our message, yet we must explore the context and allow God's words to convict our hearts.

Psalm 49: A Universal Message

Rich and Poor Alike

For the music director: a psalm of the sons of Korah.
Hear this, all you peoples. Give ear, all you inhabitants of the world,both low and high,    rich and poor together.
My mouth speaks wisdom, My heart’s meditation is understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb.
I will utter my riddle on the harp: Why should I fear in evil days?
when the iniquity of my deceivers surrounds me?
Or those trusting in their wealth, boasting about their great riches?
No man can redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him.
For the redemption of a soul is costly— so, one should stop trying forever.
10 Will he live forever— and never see the Pit?
11 Surely he must see, even wise men die.
The fool and the brutish will alike perish, leaving their wealth to others.[a]
12 Their inward thought is: Their houses are eternal, their dwellings for generation after generation.
They name their lands after themselves.
13 But the pompous man will not endure— he is like the beasts that perish.
14 Such is the way of the self-confident, and their followers who approve their sayings. Selah

15 Like sheep they are destined for Sheol.
Death will be their shepherd and the upright will rule over them in the morning.
Their image will decay in Sheol—     far from its lofty place.
16 But God redeems my soul from the power of Sheol— for He receives me. Selah
17 Do not be afraid when a man gets rich, when his house’s splendor increases.
18 For when he dies he takes nothing away.
His splendor will not follow him down.
19 Though during his life he congratulates himself, and men praise you when you do well for yourself— 20 He will still join his fathers’ company, who will never see the light.
21 A pompous man, without understanding— he is like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49 speaks not just to a specific people or era but for all times and all individuals. It beckons us to listen carefully and offers wisdom.

We must ask ourselves why we should fear what William Booth talked about. Our churches, constrained by time and ritual, often restrict the movement of the Holy Spirit.

God's Desire for Communion

We have a loving, mighty, and powerful God who desires communion with us. Time spent in the Holy Spirit is time spent with God.

John 14:16-17, 26-27 (CEB) assures us:
“I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever [...] Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Verse 6 of Psalm 49 asks why we should fear, and Verse 27 of John 14 answers with Jesus's words, "Don't be afraid."

Knowing the Holy Spirit

holy spirit skyWhy must we comprehend the Holy Spirit? Because the Ruach Ha'Kodesh—meaning "the Breath, the Spirit of God" in Hebrew—has been given to us. Many fail to recognize this divine force, leading to fear and confusion in the face of worldly events. Lack of understanding of the Spirit of God makes us more vulnerable to fear, unable to compare our mortal struggles to His almighty power and strength.

A. The Reality of Faith with the Holy Spirit

The presence of the Holy Spirit can be seen in those who face grave challenges, such as the Christians martyred by ISIS. Their calm reflects the eternal strength of Christ within them. William Booth aptly stated that faith without the Holy Spirit is empty. Without this connection, fear takes over, as illustrated in verses 6 to 9.

B. The Sin and Redemption

We live surrounded by sin, whether it's our own or that of our loved ones. Within God's covenants were rituals for soul redemption, many of which have been lost. We may question our connection to these covenants, but they continue to be sealed by the blood of Yeshua. Through His sacrifice alone, we are saved from eternal damnation.

C. Accepting the Covenant

Each person must individually accept Christ's covenant. William Booth understood this, recognizing that it's the task of the faithful to bring others to God's love and forgiveness. Current trends in Christianity that focus on feel-good messages instead of repentance threaten the true path.

D. Riches, Comfort, and Sin

We must recognize that being comfortable in sin is the real wrong, not wealth itself. Sin in all its forms—lying, cheating, perversion, and more—is an affront to God. True repentance requires a complete turning away from sin.

E. The Importance of Repentance

Booth's warning of "Forgiveness without Repentance" rings true. Salvation needs regeneration. It requires a continuous process of striving for holiness. Churches that offer salvation without regeneration fall into the trap of a religion without Christ.

F. Leading People to God's Truth

Our hearts must guide us to lead people to Messiah Yeshua. It's a task to be taken on by each believer, one soul at a time. The preciousness of a ransomed soul outweighs all earthly value.

G. Politics and Salvation

Politics without God reflects a societal issue that begins with individual salvation. Progress must be made one step at a time, valuing each soul.

Heaven, Hell, and the Comforter

Heaven without Hell is a delusion, stemming from the misconceptions Booth outlined. We must be thankful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter promised in John 14:16, to lead us on the path of righteousness.


Sermon Notes by Pastor Christiaan J. de Ruiter are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Note: The content provided here represents the foundational notes for a sermon or teaching, and should not be misconstrued as a complete transcript or a fully articulated sermon.

It is our profound belief that the Holy Spirit operates through the preacher, guiding and inspiring the delivery to resonate with the needs and convictions of the congregation.

These notes typically form the basis for a 30 to 45-minute sermon or teaching, allowing the Holy Spirit's guidance to shape the specific message and application to the gathered believers. The essence of these teachings is not merely in the written words but in the inspired delivery and connection with the congregation, led by the Spirit.

 

 

 

 

Category: Theology
Read Time: 2 mins
Hits: 2720

The Importance of Theological Underpinning in Pastoral Teachings: A Comprehensive Perspective

Introduction

Within Article Zero of the series on theology, I would like to introduce the reason for this writing.

Theology, the study of the divine and religious beliefs, practices, and experiences, is the backbone of any religious teaching. For a pastor, the theological ground from which he or she teaches is not just a matter of personal belief but a guiding principle that shapes the congregation's spiritual life. This article explores why it is essential for a pastor to provide this theological underpinning for the congregation and the importance of prayer, preparation, and making it publicly available.

Part I: The Significance of Theological Underpinning

1. Consistency and Clarity in Teaching
  • Ensures teachings are consistent with core beliefs.

  • Provides a clear framework for interpretation and application.

2. Personal Integrity and Authenticity
  • Fosters integrity and authenticity.

  • Builds trust in spiritual guidance.

3. Cultural and Contextual Relevance
  • Ensures guidance is relevant and meaningful.

  • Recognizes unique needs and challenges.

4. Fostering Spiritual Growth
  • Provides a roadmap for spiritual development.

  • Encourages deeper exploration and engagement.

5. Unity and Community Building
  • Promotes unity within the congregation.

  • Avoids divisions and conflicts.

Part II: The Imperative of Prayer, Preparation, and Public Availability

Prayer: Seeking Divine Guidance
  • Aligns theological beliefs with God's will.

  • Opens the heart and mind to divine revelation.

Preparation: Crafting a Thoughtful Framework
  • Ensures a well-thought-out and comprehensive understanding.

  • Demonstrates responsibility and accountability.

Public Availability: Transparency and Accessibility
  • Fosters transparency and builds trust.

  • Makes information accessible to all.

  • Serves as an educational resource.

Conclusion

The theological ground from which a pastor teaches is a vital aspect of spiritual leadership. It provides consistency, fosters integrity, ensures relevance, promotes spiritual growth, and builds community. Defining and sharing this theological underpinning is a sacred task that requires prayer, preparation, and a commitment to public availability.

In a world where individual perspectives and interpretations can vary widely, and spiritual guidance is often sought and scrutinized, these principles serve as a compass, guiding both the pastor and the congregation toward a shared understanding of their faith. It is a reflection of the pastor's commitment to the spiritual well-being of the community he or she serves, and a testament to the profound responsibility that comes with the calling.

By understanding and articulating this theological foundation, a pastor can lead with clarity, authenticity, and relevance, nurturing a faith community that is united, engaged, and growing in their spiritual journey. It underscores the multifaceted role that theological underpinning plays in pastoral teachings, reflecting the complexity and significance of the pastor's role in guiding and nurturing the faith community.

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