PILGRIMS AND STRANGERS

Peter tells us, that as believers, we are “pilgrims and strangers” on this earth. The word “stranger” has the idea of a person who lives for an extended time in a land that is not his own. He is there long enough to need a house to live in, but he is not a permanent resident. He has no legal rights, he has no social standing. He is a stranger, an exile who lives in a foreign land. The word “pilgrim” has a meaning that is more temporary than the other. This word refers to one who is merely passing through one place on the way to another place.

Both of those words describe who we are as children of the Lord. We are living in this world, but this world is not our home, Phil. 3:20. We are here, God willing, long enough to need a house to live in, and a job to feed us. But, we are not permanent residents. We are merely strangers living in the midst of an alien culture. We are pilgrims passing through the earth on our way to Heaven.

If you have ever had the opportunity to meet someone from another culture, you have recognize the fact that they think and act differently than you do. Well, as believers, we are supposed to think and act differently than the natives of this planet. Our new birth and our new nature are all products of heaven. As a result, we are to be heavenly minded. Our legal status is in heaven. We are not to live by man’s laws and man’s ways! Man’s laws and ways are lower than the standards heavenly citizens are to live by. We should obey the laws of the land, but the law and will of God are far superior to that of this world. In other words, if we are truly heaven-born people, then we are to live like heaven-born people! This is what Paul had in mind in Col. 3:1-3. (If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.)

Until Jesus comes, we will be “pilgrims and strangers” in this world. Let us remember that we are surrounded by an alien culture that needs to hear about Jesus and that needs to see His truth lives out by those who claim to know Him. They used to encourage visitors to the national parks to “leave them cleaner than they found them.” We should seek to promote the culture of Heaven in this world to leave it better than we found it!

Nicole C. Mullen – My Redeemer Lives

 

Who taught the sun
Where to stand in the morning
And who told the ocean
You can only come this far
And who showed the moon
Where to hide till evening
Whose words alone can
Catch a falling star

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testifies
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives
Yeah

The very same God
That spins things in orbit
Runs to the weary
The worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands
That hold me when I’m broken
They conquer death to bring me victory

Now I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my Redeemer

He lives to take away my shame
And He lives forever I’ll proclaim
That the payment for my sin
Was the precious life He gave
But now He’s alive and there’s an empty grave

And I know my Redeemer, He lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry

I know my Redeemer
I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
I know that, I know that, I know that, I know that, I know
I know my Redeemer lives

(Because He lives I can face tomorrow)
He lives, I know, I know, I know.
He lives
(I spoke with Him this morning.)

He lives.
(The tomb is empty)
He lives.
(I’ve got to tell everybody)

The Lord – He Will Reveal

The Lord will one day reveal all things which are done in secret.

In Isaiah’s day, there are people who do not love the God who says His name is, “I AM.” Their response is neither fear, obedience, thankfulness, love, or worship. They blatantly disobey His commands. They worship false gods. They live as though God does not exist.

They have no excuse. They are descendants of Abraham. Their ancestors have the first-hand experience of being beneficiaries of God’s mighty power and working of wonders. Their feet trod in the Promised Land given to them by God. They have set their eyes on the Holy Scriptures, the revelation of God given to Moses and the Prophets. They wear the mark of the Covenant of Abraham, eat the feasts to celebrate God’s wondrous deliverances, and by tradition, bring offerings to the temple priests in accordance with the Covenant of God.

Of all the people alive in the world, they are the most privileged because God is speaking to them through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah warns them that the same God with the power to save is the same God who stands ready to condemn them. But, they do not listen.

Their hearts are cold to the God of love and mercy. Their hands and feet devise plans which are disobedient to the all-powerful God. They live as though the all-knowing God does not see their plans nor does the ever-present God see what they do in secret places (Isaiah 29:15).

Isaiah speaks and pronounces woe upon the wicked and evil leaders of Judah. They are oppressors. They have no fear of God, and they disregard the Covenant. Twenty years earlier, Isaiah indicted the rulers of Judah for leading astray and confusing the direction God’s people ought to take. Instead of being just and righteous, the Lord says they devour the vineyard, and the plunder of the poor is in their house. They do not lift-up, but they crush the Lord’s people and grind the face of the poor (Isaiah 3:12-15).

Here we are, twenty years later, the leaders still do not heed Isaiah’s warning to repent. Isaiah mocks the voices of the leaders by assuming their voice and says, “Who sees us?” and “Who knows us?” (Isaiah 29:15). His words intend to have them realize that God sees them and knows them. They are never out of God’s sight or knowledge.

The leaders of Judah consult foreign nations concerning their safety and the well-being of the kingdom and they do not seek God’s help. They knowingly do not please God and they believe their plans are concealed from His eyes. They think if they hide their plans from God, He will be unable to interfere and bring about their defeat.

Sinners are foolish. They plot and plan their sinful ways. They believe their actions are hidden from God. But, they are deeply mistaken. The Lord sits in heaven and laughs at them.

Don’t we sometimes act in the same way? Do we think God is ignorant of our selfishness? Do we believe our sin which we commit in secret is unknown to God? How may we possibly think our unkind words, cheating, lying, acts of lustful pursuit, or attitudes of superiority go unnoticed by God? If you are here today, and you are like the rulers of Judah, which means you hide your sin from God and are unwilling to repent and receive His glorious salvation, you share the same woe as the rulers of Judah. God will one day reveal your sin and you will stand under His judgment. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

What Really Happens in an Open Heaven?

open-heaven-florin-gorgan-flickr

What does the term ‘open heaven’ really mean in the Bible? (Flickr / Florin Gorgan)

While ministering in Long Island, New York, recently, the Holy Spirit asked me a question right in the middle of worship. “What happened in the Bible when an open heaven occurred?” 

I thought I knew the answer as I had studied this out a few times before. But instead of thinking I knew it all, I turned to the Holy Spirit and asked Him to show me in the Word of God.

I was quickly thrown in a Bible study that truly had the spirit of revelation on it. The download that came was amazing indeed. The following is what the Holy Spirit revealed to me from the Bible on “What Happens in an Open Heaven.”

 

The following are some of the occasions in Scripture of when open heavens occurred and what happened as a result.

Genesis 28:13—Jacob fell to sleep on a rock and had a vivid dream where a ladder came down from heaven with angels ascending and descending. God stood at the top of the ladder as Jacob’s perspective was changed concerning his assignment.

Ezekiel 1:26-28—The Radiant One appears in the midst of the four living creatures and the fire of God. Ezekiel sees the manifested dimension of the glory of God resulting in worship and the release of the penetrating voice of the Lord.

 

Matthew 3:16-17—The Holy Spirit descended and remained upon Jesus as the voice of the Father spoke declaring, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Acts 7:54, 55—Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and gazed into heaven and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Acts 9:5—Saul had an intense God Encounter that changed his life, brought him to salvation and resulted in an apostolic call that was released.

Acts 10—The sky was loosened while Peter was in meditation and the apostolic gospel to the Gentiles was given by revelation.

Revelations 4:1-2—A door was standing open in heaven and a sound came forth saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Then John was shown the throne of God and Him who sits up the throne.

What He did before He will do again! Like in historic revivals, open heavens on are the increase in our day. What can we expect in a true open heaven? Apostolic commissions emerge, angels appear, the voice of the Lord rattles every cage, revelation pours forth and so much more happens.

But the common thread that I found in the midst of all the scriptural activities was profound and yet amazingly simple. God became more real! God stood at the top of the ladder, the radiant one manifested, the Holy Spirit descended, salvation was actualized, Jesus stood up, the Gentiles heard the gospel and worship resulted as the Ancient of Days took His place!

So like the dream in my previous email exhorted us, “Let’s Get Positioned Properly for an Open Heaven!” Get into kingdom alignment. Step out of the shadows of the side edges and move into the center of His Word, will and ways. Be centered in Him—after all being “centered in Christ” is the best place to be!

Dr. James W. Goll is the president of Encounters Network, director of Prayer Storm and coordinates Encounters Alliance, a coalition of leaders. He is a director of God Encounters Training—an e-school of the heart—and is a member of the Harvest International Ministries apostolic team. He has shared Jesus in more than 50 nations worldwide, teaching and imparting the power of intercession, prophetic ministry and life in the Spirit. Goll is the prolific author and co-author of numerous books—including Shifting Shadows of Supernatural Experiences (co-authored with Julia Loren), from which this article is adapted—and has also produced multiple study guides and hundreds of audio and video messages.

Reprinted with permission from Charisma. Copyright © 2017 by Charisma Media, USA. All rights reserved. www.charismamag.com

NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS

 

Many days ago in Detroit, Michigan, the well-known evangelist, Dr. Charles Finney, preached on the text “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin” see I John 1:7~. After the service a strange asked Dr. Finney to walk home with him. Advised against it by church officials who knew the man, Dr Finney went with the man.

Ushering the preacher into the rear of a building, the stranger locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to ask a few questions. Do you believe what you preached tonight?’

Dr. Finney said, “I most certainly do.”

The man continued, “We’re in the back of a saloon. I’m sole proprietor. Mothers come in here, lay their babies on the counter, and beg me not to sell liquor to their husbands. I turn a deaf ear to their cry. We see to it when a man leaves here he’s well under the influence. More than one night, a man leaving here has been killed by the express at the tracks. Dr. Finney,. tell me, can God forgive a man like me?”

Dr Finney replied, “1 have but one authority the Word of God which says, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.’”

“But that’s not all,’ added the man. “In another room we run a gambling hail. If a man doesn’t spend all his money on liquor, we bring him back here and with marked cards see to it that he’s fleeced out of his last dollar We send him home penniless to a hungry family Dr. Finney, I’m sole owner. Tell me honestly can God forgive a man with a heart like that?”

Again Dr Finney replied, “1 have hut one authority, the Word of God which says, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.’”

The man spoke again. “That’s not all. Across the street is my home where live my wife and little daughter. Neither one has had a kind word from rue for five years. Their bodies bear marks of my bmtal attacks. Dr Finney, do you think God could forgive a man with a heart like that?”

Dr Finney’s head lowered. His eyes filled with tears as he said, “My friend, you have painted one of the darkest pictures I have ever gazed on, but I still have one authority which says, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’”

The man opened the door, ushered the preacher into the night, then never left that room till daybreak—not before ripping up decks of cards and pouring the contents of bottles down the sink. Across the road at home he sat in his living room. His little girl called, Daddy Mother says breakfast is ready” When he answered his little girl kindly she ran back to her mother, “Daddy spoke kind to me! Something is the matter!” The mother followed her little girl to the living room. The man beckoned them both. Taking one on each knee, he explained to their amazement that they had a new husband and daddy He ended, “I’m done with that business across the street!” The man later became a member, then an official in a leading Detroit church. When asked to tell how his life was changed, he would reply “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”

What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus! What can make you whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow, no other fount I know. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. Are your sins under the blood of Jesus today? My dear friends, if you are not saved, please turn loose of whatever it is that holds you back and come to Jesus right now.