Tuesday, July 30, 2013

EKKLESIA OR JUST CHURCH? Ekklesia Part 2.

EKKLESIA—Part Two.
A. Brother

          Those of us who’ve grown up in the “church” must be the first to question what we’ve been taught and test it in the Light of God’s Word for ourselves, no longer accepting the word of those shepherds who exist at the beck and call of those who pay their salaries.  Not listening to those whose entire secure livelihoods and career paths depend upon preaching and teaching things that will be acceptable to the religious majority. 
          We in the church organizations, the church denominations, are prone to accept things as routine and normal that are at best man-made and ineffective, and at worst apostate.
          Tragically, and not unexpectedly, our current versions of “church” are built mostly upon the traditions of men.

          Many of us, if we’re honest, will admit we’ve never seen one person come to Christ in our church services.  We’ve seen Christians drift from church to church, and group to group, and so the mega-churches drained all the small churches to form their memberships.  Like the marketplace economy in the 20th century, with our villages being desiccated by the movement of people living in rural areas with small populations to the large metro areas of the nation, so our small churches have disappeared, melded into the mega.
          Have some people come to Christ? 
          Yes, but what have they been brought to?
         
          Are we teaching these same unbiblical practices to our children, so they can grow up and perpetuate a man-made traditional institutional system that has no resemblance to historic, biblical ekklesia?   Or so they can grow up and reject this institutional, lifeless version of churchianity, and cause us to wring our hands, wondering why they’ve “gone away” from the Lord?
          Shouldn’t we make certain every day that we are listening to the truth of God in His Word, and practicing it?  Shouldn’t we be measuring our gatherings and our life with other believers in the bright light of God’s revealed Word?  Shouldn’t we have a healthy fear that we will create ways of doing things in the churches that run counter to Scripture, as man has been prone to do throughout his checkered history?
          Shouldn’t we become mighty protectors of the Way, given us by Jesus, the Word made flesh, instead of fierce defenders of our man-made systems and organizations?

          For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea…They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
            Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”                                                                    --1 Cor. 10:1-5

            You may not understand at first glance how this Scripture applies.  But sadly, many of us have come out of Egypt--in other words, we’ve been called out of this world, to go into the Promised Land, which is the Kingdom of God--yet we will be scattered over the desert, not able to enter the Kingdom of God because of our disobedience to the Word of God.
          This warning from Paul was given to believers in Christ.  Not pagans.  So as believers, we must take care not to give ourselves to things that don’t please God.  All these Jews had come out of Egypt together, and they had gone through the Sinai desert together, drinking the water and food God miraculously provided, following the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.  They had all passed through the Red Sea unscathed together, and had seen the power and might of God.  In other words, they had started out right. 
          Yet they didn’t all make it into the Promised Land.  An entire generation was kept out of the Kingdom by sin, and by “setting their hearts on evil things.”

            Brothers, doesn’t this concern you enough to make you fall to your knees today, seeking the Lord from His Word, and from His Spirit, to show you how we should be living as the people of God?

          It should, because one of the chief ways we displease God is by direct disobedience to His commands, in favor of obeying our own traditions.
          So we find ourselves face to face with the fact that many who follow our modern, easy church traditions will never see the Kingdom of God.  We will be kept out of the Promised Land by our adherence to weak and ineffectual man-made ideas instead of God’s wonderful provision for us in Scripture.



Thursday, July 18, 2013

EKKLESIA!! CALLED OUT TO BE TOGETHER. PART ONE.

EKKLESIA—Part One
A. Brother

          The Greek word ekklesia is used over 100 times in the New Testament to describe what happens when God’s chosen and called out people gather together wherever they are.  This word has been translated “church” in our Bibles.  We need to see that this translation has become completely inadequate for describing what should happen when those who love God gather together.
          One of satan’s greatest and most important tasks on his daily agenda is to keep true followers of Christ apart.  He is dedicated to separating those who love God from each other in any way he can.  The enemy of our souls knows that when Christ’s men and women become filled with the Holy Spirit, and begin coming together not just to worship for an hour on Sunday, but gathering in earnest, in constant prayer, confessing their sins to one another, sharing with each other their earthly incomes and possessions, giving love with open hearts and hands, and in general being like Jesus—and so becoming His Body on earth—then he has lost a huge battle in his war on God.
          Does any of this sound like the definition of “church” the way you’ve known it?  Perhaps that’s why our “churches” in this day and age have been allowed to grow vastly in numbers without opposition by the enemy.  Our mega-church society, with its watered down version of “churchianity” has not been difficult to create or maintain. 
          We need to think about this.  Why would Jesus tell us that we will be few, and persecuted, and suffer all kinds of opposition from the world, if it weren’t true? 
          If we are flourishing in a godless society, and experiencing a virtually unchecked ability to publish our books, and make our music, and build our great buildings, and preach our great sermons in our beautifully designed sanctuaries, and organize hundreds more “Christian” organizations and institutions every year, ad infinitum, then shouldn’t we question what we’re doing and test ourselves to see if we’re really practicing in any way the gospel we’ve been given in the Word of God?
          Why would Satan and his minions, and a world that is plunging headlong into every conceivable depravity, not give us a hard time about all these things we’re doing?  Should not this be cause for falling on our knees and asking God why?
          And why, if the large group, numbering in the millions, of evangelical believers in the western countries, are practicing, true, unadulterated Biblical discipleship to Christ, is our society-at-large descending into sinful degradation?  Where is the salt and light described by Jesus as accompanying His true followers?  If we are being these things to the world around us, then why are our neighbors and business associates going to hell just as much today as yesterday? 
          The ancient world of Rome and other nations was turned upside down by a handful of people filled with the Holy Spirit.  When millions who claim Christ in these United States cannot make a ripple in the pond of evil, then something is very definitely wrong.
          It’s time we gained the biblical perspective on what it means to be the ekklesia of God.  This perspective was held by the small, insignificant group of believers who turned the world upside down, rocked empires, and with only the weapons of spiritual warfare spread the gospel far and wide over the earth.  Their blood, shed for the Christ they loved, cries out to us as the blood of Jesus does, as an example of what it means to “lay down our lives” for the truth.  Shouldn’t we listen to this cry?

(PART ONE OF FOUR INSTALLMENTS)

Friday, July 12, 2013

FISHBELLY. NOT A VACATION DESTINATION.

  FISHBELLY
A. Brother

TEXT: The Book of Jonah

          We who believe in Christ spend valuable time ringing our hands over the world’s ways, when we should be putting our hands to God’s plow and not looking back.  This is because we really don’t understand or believe in the true Sovereignty of our God over the world.  We think somehow all this is too much for Him to handle, and that He is constantly surprised by the evil that surrounds us.  Our faithless fear is unfounded.  God is sovereign over the earth, and indeed, He is never surprised. 
          We especially tend to ring our hands over our own sins, which of course need to be repented of in mourning, and with great regret.  But once repented of and turned from, these sins must not hold us back from the plow.  We must put our hands to God’s work once again without hesitation.  God is still on the throne, and His work still needs to be done in His Way.
          Brethren, don’t we realize that God is sovereign over the ways of men, including men like us who sin and do foolish, sinful things?  The Bible is full of examples for us of men who were called by God, then ran away or fell into sin, and then after they returned to the Lord, He called them to finish what He wanted finished.
          Let’s look at one example in Scripture together, and be encouraged about our own situation, no matter how grim it might seem.
          Jonah was called by God to go to a big city and preach repentance to the evil people there.  He had the clear call, the instructions.  He knew what he was to do.
          Yet Jonah was not willing to do what God asked him to do.  Jonah ran in the opposite direction.
          “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.  He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship headed for that port.  After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”  --Jonah 1:3
            Jonah disobeyed God’s original call on his life and ran away to do other things.  This was premeditated sin.  Rebellion.  Refusal to do what God asked him to do.  We have no idea what Jonah’s motivation was.  Maybe he was busy with business.  Maybe he was just lazy.  Maybe he was afraid of the Ninevites, because they were powerful, and were the enemies of his people, the Jews.  Maybe he didn’t want to declare the truth of God to these people, because he hated them.  Maybe he didn’t  like the weather or the food or the music over there in Assyria.
          But for whatever reason, Jonah chose to run. 
          This is important.  You heard the word chose.
          We must see that Jonah, like us, chooses what he will do or not do.  We all make choices, and Jonah, like us, was responsible before God for his own choices.  Even his sins. 
          A long time ago on television, there was a comedian named Flip Wilson playing a character named Josephine.  This crazy woman with a big wig on would do stupid things all the time.  After someone discovered whatever she’d done and said something to her, she would yell defensively at the top of her lungs, “The devil made me do it!”
          Well, we don’t get to say that.  Actually, we can say it all we want, it’s just not going to get us out of responsibility for our own choices.  So Jonah chose to run away, and we all know what happened.  The ship became caught in a great storm, and Jonah, in his sin, slept soundly through his shipmates’ terror, and had to be shaken awake.  So how badly do we think Jonah felt about his running away?  Was he torn by grief and shame?  Was he in agony of heart over running away from his God who’d called him?  I guess not.  He was in a deep sleep while his sin caused everyone around him fear, anxiety, and extra work.
          This is so like us.  We reconcile ourselves to our bad decisions.  We run from God’s call, then sleep.  We feel badly about our sins for about an hour, then spend our time trying to figure out excuses to give the Lord about why we couldn’t do what He originally asked us to do.  “The devil made me do it!”
          Jonah got up when they woke him, but still didn’t take responsibility.  The sailors asked him to pray to his God for deliverance, but he didn’t even do that.  He was still angry, still running, and he’d rather go down and take everyone with him than obey that order that God had given him.  He stayed silent, though he knew why the storm was raging, and why this ship was in trouble.
          Finally, they forced his hand, by casting lots.  And out of the entire ship, one man was chosen as the reason for the storm.  YOU KNOW WHO.
          Now the sailors do everything humanly possible to save the ship.  Yet the storm rages, and nothing they do matters. 
          Because God is in the storm.  It’s a God-storm, and it’s for a specific purpose.  It is no accident.  God is active in the affairs of men, and God wanted Jonah to do something, and God wanted us to learn something.
          So the sailors finally ask Jonah what to do to save the ship.
          With a heavy sigh and exaggerated pathos, Jonah finally tells them the truth.
          “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm.  I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”  --Jonah 1:12
            So here was this Hebrew who knew the truth, and when finally forced at gunpoint to face it, he went from silent rebellion straight to fatalistic resignation.  He didn’t call out to God and repent.  He just felt sorry for himself and was willing to commit suicide rather than fall on his knees and admit how wrong he was to run away.  He may have wanted to impress the pagan crew with his brave admission of guilt, and seem a martyr.  He may have just gone straight to depression because of his low self-esteem.  He may have hated God so much at that point—it’s God’s fault for giving me this impossible task, after all, He’s the one who asked me, and He knew I would run away, yet He still asked me, and so it’s all His fault!—that he was willing to die to show God how mad he was.
          Who knows?  Does it really matter?
          No.  That’s the point here.  Jonah’s story is meant to instruct us about a much higher truth.  That’s why the Bible doesn’t go into Jonah’s feelings and motivations.  The fact is:  God called Jonah, and Jonah, for whatever reasons, ran away from that call.
          So then, does Jonah bravely stand up, walk to the railing, climb up and stand there for a minute, then wave to the watching crowd and jump into the churning waves?
          No.  He makes the crew throw him overboard.  They must do the work for him.  They are terrified of having his blood on their hands, so they continue to try and save the ship themselves.  All this time, Jonah is sitting on his duff.  He isn’t bailing, he isn’t climbing the rigging and helping cut it down.  He isn’t comforting the other passengers.  He’s just feeling sorry for himself.
          Poor me, he thinks.  God has to ask me to do the impossible, and then when, because of all my weakness and my fear, and the terrible parenting I had as a child, and the poor education I received in school by that one teacher who didn’t like me, and because my childhood sweetheart went off with that other guy, and because my mom hated my dad, and because Uncle Abraham was a drunk and slapped me around, and because the other kids made fun of me, and….and….and….excuses flooded in, and his thinking was centered on himself.  Not on God, or Nineveh, or the people on the ship who would perish with him.  HIS THOUGHTS WERE ON HIMSELF.
          This is the core of our sin—SELF.  Jonah is consumed with self.  He is an inner-facing man, who constantly thinks of God and the world in terms of how it affects him.
          So in crisis, where do his thoughts turn?  Is he suddenly going to become a selfless, courageous, sacrificial man?  No.  He’s going to be who he really is.  In the big things, Jonah will do what he did in the small things.
          But here is an important point.
          GOD DIDN’T GIVE UP ON JONAH.  GOD KNEW ALL ALONG WHO JONAH WAS, AND HE INTENDED TO HAVE JONAH FULFILL HIS CALL. 
          No matter what it took.  Because God loved Jonah.  And God loved Nineveh, and wanted the people of Nineveh to repent of their sin, and have life in Him.
          This true story of a man in rebellion against God’s calling is meant to show us that God is sovereign over believer’s lives, even when those chosen ones run away from God’s call.  That God will pursue us to the ends of the earth.  That our feelings and our wrong thoughts and our rebellions and our sins may lead us in wrong directions, but God’s faithful power on our behalf is what matters.
          God desires to complete His calling in us, and to empower us to do His will, no matter how late in the game.
          GOD DIDN’T SEND THE STORM AS PUNISHMENT FOR JONAH’S SIN.  HE SENT THE STORM AS A MEANS OF GETTING JONAH OFF THE REBELLION BOAT AND BACK ON THE ROAD TO FULFILLING HIS CALLING.
          When the sailors threw Jonah overboard a big fish came up and swallowed him.  And finally, in dank, foul-smelling Fishbelly, Jonah took the time to face himself.  He looked at himself, and saw the sin, and the rebellion, and the ugliness of his character.  He saw how God had been gracious to him, and allowed him to live, and to repent, and to change.  He saw how God was not rescinding his call, but giving Jonah time to become humble enough to fulfill it in God’s Way.
          Was Jonah perfect from then on?  Of course not.  He was like us.  He was a man, and later, even after seeing the Ninevites be turned successfully from their sin by his own obedience to God, Jonah became angry at God for giving the same grace he’d gotten in his rebellion to the rebellious Ninevites.  Jonah went into a deep depression and wanted to die, just because he felt God was being too lenient on the wicked.
          But the point is this:  GOD KNEW AHEAD OF TIME THAT JONAH WOULD RUN AWAY FROM HIS CALLING.  YET GOD CALLED HIM ANYWAY.  AND GOD BROUGHT THE STORM, AND GOD BROUGHT THE FISH, AND GOD WORKED WITH JONAH IN SPITE OF HIS SIN AND REBELLION TO FULFILL THAT CALLING.
          God didn’t give up on Jonah, and say, “Well, I guess I made a mistake here.  I sure messed up in choosing him.  Wow, am I ever surprised!”
          God is Lord, and knows it all.  Before it happens.  God is never surprised at our sin.  He chooses us anyway.   And He waits for us to respond to the storm, respond to our time in Fishbelly, come to our senses and repent and turn back onto the road to Nineveh to help Him love and save the world.

          Brother or sister in Christ, what rebellion are you in today?
          What ship are you taking in your flight away from His calling?
          Or what beach are you lying on, wet and tired from your exile in the fish’s belly, thinking how you can’t fulfill your calling because of God’s anger against you?
          If you are running, stop.  Fall down and repent, and God will forgive, and God will turn you from your rebellious ways.  He will give you back your original call.
          If you are in flight, land.  Kiss the ground and prostrate yourself before the God who loves you.  Listen once again to Him and His call.
          If you are discouraged and hopeless, lying on the beach after being vomited onto dry land, your sins evident to God and everyone, and your task looking impossible, humble yourself under God’s hand, and at the right time He will fulfill His Word to you.
          Throw away your worthless pursuits and begin to pursue God with every fiber of your being, and every moment you have left in this life.
          Remember Jonah’s words from Fishbelly.
          “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You.  What I have vowed I will make good.  Salvation comes from the Lord.” 
                                                                                         --Jonah 2: 8,9

          In this time, call to mind:

          1.  GOD KNEW YOU BEFORE HE CALLED YOU.  HE IS NOT SURPRISED BY YOUR REBELLION AND SIN.  HE CALLED YOU KNOWING YOU WOULD RUN AWAY.

            2.  GOD SENT THE STORM TO BRING YOU BACK, NOT TO PUNISH YOU.  THE STORM, THE FISH, THE TROUBLES AND TRIBULATIONS ARE DESIGNED TO SHOW YOU GOD’S UNENDING LOVE FOR YOU. 

            3.  GOD’S CALL HAS NOT CHANGED.  HE KNOWS WHY HE MADE YOU, AND YOUR CALLING IS STILL ACTIVE.  GOD EXPECTS YOU TO GET UP OFF THE SAND, WASH THE SEAWEED AWAY, GET DRESSED, AND HEAD TO YOUR NINEVEH TO FULFILL WHAT HE’S ASKED OF YOU.

            4.  REJOICE IN THE LORD AND HIS LOVE.  HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, BECAUSE HIS POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN YOUR WEAKNESS.  YOU MAY HAVE NO IDEA HOW HE WILL MAKE A WAY FOR YOU TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED, BUT HE WILL DO IT.
         


         

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LET'S GO TO CHRIST OUTSIDE THE CAMP.

BE CAREFUL, THEN, HOW YOU BUILD
A. Brother

“However, the Most High does not
live in houses made by men.”
Acts 7:48

“Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp,
bearing the disgrace He bore.  For here
we do not have an enduring city, but we
are looking for the City that is to come.”
Heb. 13:13,14

When God calls us out and away from the “camp”, in other words, the traditions of men, the cities built by men, the works and monuments to man’s energies and efforts to do things for God, we must go to Him.

When God reminds us, through Stephen, that God doesn’t dwell in any man-made thing, then we must either follow Christ, dying like Stephen did, or follow men, who are represented by the religious establishment, and who actually stoned Stephen and murdered him there in Jerusalem.

There is nothing we touch that we don’t try to alter.  Instead of laying all on the altar, we alter all God gives us.  In this play on words, we see the truth God has spent all history trying to give us.  We can’t do anything, or build anything, that will hold the presence of God.  Everything we create, including any efforts to build systems, procedures, programs, curriculums, creeds, dogmas, or houses to house the Kingdom of God will automatically head in the wrong direction. 

In the 1960’s a brilliant thinker, Marshall Macluhan, made a statement after examining the nature of communications; especially modern media.  He said, “The medium is the message.”  And, though a worldly man, and without Christ, Mr. Macluhan had it right.  He basically meant that whatever we use to communicate a message changes that message in some way.  Whatever we use to contain and relate something we’ve heard or seen is automatically tainted by the means we use. 

Witness television news.  Just being picked to be on the news is a form of editing: each day over 400 potential prime time stories are reviewed, but only 20 or so can be featured on the television news program you watch.  Just picking the stories is a form of changing what is really going on in the world, and the medium, television, has changed the message in huge ways.  That’s why every medium we use, including print, audio, video, or other forms of electronic communications, actually alters what we are trying to say.

Superimpose this truth upon our modern churches.  By building our own huge buildings, and deciding that we must appear modern, in-tune with society, and have a relevant message, we have changed the gospel.  Automatically.  By choosing to concentrate on putting the gospel out to the masses, instead of keeping it a close-up, person-to-person message, we have automatically changed the nature of the gospel we preach.  By choosing to print our ideas and thoughts on the gospel, we change how people perceive it. 

Does this mean we don’t print the gospel truth, or that we don’t blog, make books, create websites, or twitter the truth?  No, but it means that we must keep it simple.  It means we must be absolutely careful not to alter what God has said in His Word.  It means we must choose the medium carefully, and use it wisely.  It means not many of us should become teachers, brethren, as James says, because we will be judged by a higher standard.  It means we must use media, use technology, and make sure it doesn’t use us.  Like handling fire, we must be aware it can burn as easily as it can warm us on a cold night.

Like Stephen, we must declare the truth simply, and straightforwardly.  He was killed by the men who operated within the system, within the gates of the city; the city made by human hands.  He was killed, as was His Lord Jesus, by the men who maintained the temple built by human hands, which sat inside that city, and was revered by all as the place the presence of God dwelt.

But we are called, like Stephen, to go outside the camp.  Actually, the “men of God” who murdered him took him outside the camp to kill him.  There were places for stoning, and these were outside the gates of the city.  There were places for crucifixion, and these were outside the city. 

Today, God is calling us to abandon the works of our hands.  To sell what we have built, and to sell what we possess to make us comfortable.  God is calling us to stop “managing the gospel” and start trusting the Spirit of God, along with Christ, the Lord of the church, to build His temple, the house not made with hands, His Body on the earth, without our meager and pitiful attempts to help.  What we don’t need are men who gather together and begin new and exciting ways and means to create for God, and who seek to organize, program and structure their own ways of doing church.

When will we let go of these idolatrous things?  It is a struggle, and one Peter went through with great visibility.  He was the apostle who suggested to Jesus, after three of them had gone to the mountain with Jesus and saw Him transfigured, that they build monuments there to commemorate the event.  God’s displeasure was evident in His thundering answer.  Peter was a Jew, used to thinking about God as a dweller in houses made by human hands.
Later in his life, Peter, by listening and growing in Christ, had become a man who would accept Gentiles into the church, and who died defending the God who doesn’t dwell in houses made by human hands.

These are hard things for us to learn.  But in Christ, who demands our all, we must lay all on the altar, willing to give up our ideas and plans, and in fact, avoid them.  It is Christ’s “ekklesia” (the people of God who are called to gather together) and He will not tolerate our meddling, trying to build monuments to our own perception of reality.

The medium is the message.  Meaning, we, the carriers of this “Christ-virus”, must just be Christ to those around us.  That is the purest Way.  Christ in you is the only hope of glory.
Our big churches and full calendars only taint the gospel, fashioning it in our own image.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

WHEN GOD CHOOSES TO REBUILD THE WALLS THERE WILL BE OPPOSITION.

OPPOSITION TO THE REBUILDING WILL COME
FROM WITHIN AND WITHOUT
A. Brother

“Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God,
because of what they have done;
remember also the prophetess Noadiah
and the rest of the prophets
who have been trying to intimidate me.”
Neh. 6:14

Complete Text:  Ezra, Nehemiah

You say, what a strange verse.  Yet it holds wisdom for those who seek the Lord wholeheartedly, and a great warning.

Nehemiah had received a task from God.  He was to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, the original wall of protection built by David and Solomon, and he had the backing of the King of Persia, Artaxerxes.  Ezra had spearheaded the rebuilding of the temple years earlier, with the backing of then King of Persia Cyrus, and now God commissioned Nehemiah to complete this important work.

Several things we learn from these two important Old Testament books:

1.  God was the one who called and appointed both Ezra and Nehemiah.

2.  God uses even pagans such as Cyrus and Artaxerxes to support the way for His work when He chooses, though He does not allow them to participate actively.

3.  When God chooses to build His Kingdom there will be much opposition.

4.  This opposition will come from outside enemies, those who are of the world and who are easily identifiable (such as Sanballat and Tobiah), who will be vocal and active opponents of the work.

5.  This opposition will also come from those who claim to be part of the very work God is doing—such as Noadiah the prophetess and many other “prophets” within the churches.

The verse above gives us a graphic example of the kind of opposition we will face when we get right with God, repent of our sins and the sins of the churches, and set about rebuilding our lives and the lives of others in accordance with the gospel of Christ.

We must be ready for opposition.
  • MANY OF GOD’S PEOPLE DON’T SEE THEIR SIN, NOR WISH TO REPENT OF IT.  
We must be strong, as Nehemiah was, and root out the sin in our own life by the power of the Spirit of God, and also call for the rooting out of sin in the lives of those around us, as both Ezra and Nehemiah did.  The call to repentance was the core element in their work.

  • THOSE WHO WANT TO WORK ON BUILDING THE BODY OF CHRIST MUST BE OF CHRIST and IN CHRIST.
We must demand that all who would participate in the Kingdom of God be “set apart” for Christ.  Many wanted to join the work who were not truly of God.  The surrounding people groups who weren’t of Israel (now they are those who do not truly trust or know Christ) wanted to get in on the work, and be part of building this glorious temple to God.  It was the chance to start an “ecumenical” movement, and God rejected it, which meant Ezra and Nehemiah both had to turn down offers of help from those not of the Kingdom.
  • THOSE WHO WOULD BUILD THE KINGDOM MUST FORSAKE ALL THESE AND BE SEPARATED FROM THEIR FOREIGN GODS.
Both Nehemiah and Ezra faced a problem.  There had been much intermarrying of Jews and the foreign nations around them.  This was direct disobedience to the Word of God.  It meant that there was unequal yoking, such as we face in the churches today.  Many who claim to follow Christ have intertwined their lives with the pagan world to such an extent that this compromise has weakened the Body and caused it to be drawn away by other gods, such as the love of money, the love of comfort, an attachment to secret sin, and greed, corruption, hatred, and lust.  We must let Christ break the yoke of these attachments, or not be involved at all in the work within the Body.

  • WE MUST UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE FACT THAT GOD’S ENEMIES PLAY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL.
In the Kingdom, the tares are often sitting alongside the wheat, and they will act in their own interests, rather than in the interests of Christ Jesus.  This means, like the prophetess Noadiah and her ilk, they will oppose the true work of God in favor of religious ideas that aren’t necessarily in line with Christ’s calling and work in His people.  We know from Nehemiah that many prophets actually tried to dissuade the people from completing the wall, and worked hand in hand with special interest groups from outside the city.  These tares will be our enemies, and must be prayed over and called out when they oppose Christ’s rebuilding of His Church.

Brothers, we must resist the temptation to give up on the huge task in front of us, this rebuilding process in the Kingdom.  So many are intermarried.  So many who claim Christ and who say they belong to God are allied in many ways with the world, and in love with the world.  So many claim holy office, such as prophet or minister or preacher or teacher, and yet have little faith, little holiness, and great arrogance and pride.  They will resist every move the Spirit makes.  We must, like Ezra and Nehemiah, ignore them, and not spend our time with them, worrying about their feelings or problems.  We must be about the work, and encourage and strengthen the laborers on the temple and on the wall.

Remember, it is God who “works and wills according to His good pleasure”.  Even our own salvation is not our own work.  It is the work of Christ in us, and the rebuilding of His own Body is His task first.  We are only His helpers in it.  Christ will prevail.




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A. BROTHER'S FIRST BOOK RELEASED. "EVEN THE DEVILS HAVE RELIGION". 100 Collected Prophetic Words from A. Brother.

For the first time, A. Brother's messages are being compiled in a series of books.  These will be released periodically over the coming ...