John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Luke 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. (Luke 3:16-17)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:3-4)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:10-11)
Now that the cold war with Russia appears to be over, perhaps it would be possible for us to begin dealing with another enemy. This is one that threatens to erode the security and well-being of every worthwhile cause or institution. This is not a cold war. It is not even a war at all by normal definition. This enemy is very deadly just the same. It is the condition of a heart that has become cold and indifferent. Like a contagious disease it spreads from soul to soul, aided by the power of the electronic and paper mass media. It effectively divides and weakens us, by robbing us of the love we both need to share and receive. Even the most passionate and caring are vulnerable to this malady. It's roots are fear and hopelessness, as it feeds pride and selfishness. The result is a loss of desire and zeal for those things we need the most, and a relentless pursuit for vain and unprofitable diversions.
The fact of this problem is undeniable. We are living in a time when many have become very callused and insensitive, and others do not seem to care much for anything other than a good time. Ah, but this condition presents another glorious opportunity for the Word of God and the Good News of Christ's Kingdom! In His Voice is the power to arouse the people of God to become a demonstration of what this mighty King of the Universe can do! While millions continue to await a word that will set them free, God is already speaking very loudly and very plainly to those who have ears to hear from Him.
He is at work in this present time, actively kindling His fire in the hearts of many with a zeal to satisfy His Great Heart of Love! No cause could be greater, and no flame could burn brighter than the fire of God Himself, as He consumes us with His vision for us and mankind. How we have tried to stir up and motivate ourselves and others to good works and worthy goals, only to find the desire becoming a dying ember! Oh how it is high time for all to tune in to the Heart of God and become ignited with His Eternal Flame! His is a fire that cannot be quenched, and once one has experienced it, he can never be satisfied with anything else!
Let us take some time to examine the disease, before we implement the cure. This condition has become common to us all at various times. Often those who are inspired and passionate for a message God has given them, become offensive to others who have not been touched similarly. In reality, we may never possess the exact same focus or direction from God. He uses each one in a different way to accomplish His overall plan. One thing we must share, however, is the same zeal, love and desire for Him, that liberates us all from the spirit of competition and selfish ambitions.
How do we become cold and complacent? Is it because when we have cared in the past we were hurt or rejected? Is it because the pain becomes too great for us to bear, after having tried and failed to make a difference? Maybe when we have felt helpless and unable to change things, we were tempted to turn away from the needs we were faced with. Those times when we are pressed up against a wall, we can find relief by turning the problem over to God, and this is the correct step. But those whom God will use to reveal His Kingdom to the world must eventually obtain the power from Him to face suffering and pain with the faith, hope and love to make a change.
Surely the problems of our country, our friends and often our own families can seem to be overwhelming -- not to mention the crises taking place around the world. The only answer for anyone is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but that message can only be effective as those who are consumed by it become living demonstrations of His flaming Love! You have the power to spread the fire and fan those flames right in your circle of acquaintances now, whether you are a "mature Son of God" or not! The Love of God and the passion for God is perfect in us, even though we may display many imperfections. God seems to have a habit of using imperfect humans anyway. We have learned that often the job can make the man or the woman that He has designed.
It is time for many of us to abandon our pre-conceived notions of "working for Jesus," which are often guilt driven and of a religious nature. Actions that are inspired by divine love and compassion may require great sacrifice on our part, but there is no greater satisfaction. It must grieve the heart of the Father to see His children simply going through the motions of serving Him, when they could have so much more joy and satisfaction in their own special spiritual abilities that flow out of a relationship with Him. How miserable we become when we haven't given "our all," only because we have not been able to respond to what a man compelled us to do.
Yes we must exhort, admonish and provoke one another unto love and good works. In fact, that is what I am attempting to do now. The problem is that it takes a spark or a flame to ignite another flame. How can one who is cold and complacent and satisfied create genuine desire for the Lord in another? How can the unenlightened, when they are excited in a measure about the things they are already experiencing become convinced that Christ is alive in a dead, dried up church system?
The fact is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ does change lives -- now. It empowers those who possess it to function in the Body of Christ as part of a great, world-wide team. Each of us can see ourselves as really making a difference in the world around us, as together we plant His Seeds of Truth. We not only have hope and the faith to see the change before it happens, but we have His Love within us that never fails. By it we can give and really care, even though at times we seem to be at great risk. Of what value is a life anyway if it cannot be poured out in service to others? Those who know Christ gladly absorb the pain endured if only one soul can be fully set free.
The One Who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit and fire is among us today. If you are willing, you can be immersed in His cleansing, liberating and world-changing fire. I promise you, all you will lose are the ropes that bind you, and all you will gain is a heart full of love for all mankind, with both the power and compassion to make a difference.
What a privilege it is to have been translated out of darkness, and into the marvelous light of Christ! It is here that we can enjoy a land that is flowing with the spiritual milk and honey of His righteousness, peace and joy.
There comes a time for all of us, however, when our ears must become tuned to the cries of those still in darkness, and our eyes are forced to look upon the death and devastation that surround us.
As we leave our own comfort zones, we become more painfully aware of the anguish and sorrow that exist everywhere. A terrible fear has gripped the lives of so many today even in this blessed land of America.
The first temptation might be to turn away, for what could one person possibly do to change things? Many religious concepts have been formed over the centuries that are designed to relieve us of any responsibility and therefore soothe our consciences.
Those who have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, seek for other options. Our love for Him compels us to love others, and to express that love in a tangible way. Often we might feel helpless and inadequate to do anything, but there is one option we all have.
About a year ago, we published an article on prayer, and sought to encourage this ancient, but time honored practice. This year, I feel even more compelled by the Lord to admonish us all towards a committed and fervent prayer life. It should not be necessary to give testimonials and inspirational stories about answered prayer. It should be sufficient to merely remind us all that Jesus and the apostles commanded us to lift ourselves and others from doubt and despair by this powerful exercise! You can make a difference through prayer!
Lets enter into this new year with conviction and obedience to this imperative from the throne of the Almighty! We are instructed to pray the will of God bringing His Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy to this earth! It has been the experience of many that the success of a thing is in the doing of it. If we begin to apply ourselves now, soon even the inexperienced will find the path to a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Father, Who takes pleasure in our petitions and intercessions for others! Who knows what power will be released in us as we participate together in His purposes! He will help us both learn to pray and and also to act on the direction from Him that it brings us.
Let us greet 1996 with hope and expectancy, rather than gloom and despair. Encourage everyone you can to pray for a fresh outpouring of Gods Spirit and power upon His people. In turn, we can begin to look for a world-wide awakening to the reality of God!
History has proven that the times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord, when those who truly believe in Him call Him forth. Instead of being part of the problem, we can become part of the answer, when Jesus Himself begins to appear in every situation we have presented to Him!
Am I beginning to sound like a fanatic? Folks, here lately, I am beginning to wonder myself. But it's too late. I've already gone over the edge, and I like it here! Maybe some of you would like to join me and we can all lose it together! Why not lose our doubts, fears, insecurities, and every vain obsession in reckless abandonment to the unfathomable Love of God! God bless you all.
Yours In Christ,