THANK YOU FOR THE CROSS

A message you need to imbibe. Imbibe is not a word I use. It just came to mind and it means “to take or receive into the mind”. The Holy Spirit does His work to give you the right word at the right time. Hopefully, the message will not only be received into your mind but it will inspire, even empower you to act and step out to do what God has for you to do in these “last days”.

HOW TO BE LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

Torben Sondergaad delivers an amazing message on how God is moving the Last Reformation Movement on from their present location in North Carolina. How God provided the present premises just over 12 months ago was miraculous. Most of us realise that in these “last days” it is like we have gone into “fast forward”, events good and bad are unfolding rapidly. The world is getting darker by the hour but at the same time God is also stepping up the attack of His warriors to expand the Kingdom of God. This move by the Last Reformation is an example of how quickly we can expect change as we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

“I’m very excited to share with you that God has been speaking to us these last weeks. It came as a big, big surprise when suddenly, two Fridays ago, He told us we have outgrown the Ark, and He has a new place for us. We have now been renting this place for over one year, and it has been amazing times! We’ve had many training schools – many people coming by, being trained and sent out… At this moment, as this video is being made, there are twenty teams around the neighboring cities, preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, and making disciples. We’ve had an amazing time here in North Carolina, but Friday a couple weeks ago, God spoke very clearly… Our time is over. The Ark is moving. Saturday, the day after, a man came from Tennessee and asked me if I need another building. This became the beginning of an amazing journey, a crazy story where God has been speaking through dreams and confirmations, and we are now sure our time here is over, and God has another place for us. We are so excited to share this with you! We have not gotten the new place yet, but we walk by faith and not by sight. We know it’s time to move on. The reason we’re doing this video now is that we want all of you who are living near us in North Carolina, in this part of America, who want to connect with us, to know that in a few weeks we will be going to another place. So, if you want to meet us, meet our teams, set up a house fellowship, do a mini-kickstart, or anything with us in the next few weeks, please let us know. At this link here, you can see a video we did a few days ago where we tell more about how we are ready to come and serve where you are.

TESTIMONY OF A TRANSFORMED LIFE

For me, prison ministry is a no-brainer,” he says. “I’m going to do that until the Lord calls me home. … I want to help the parole board see that people can change. … I want our senators and lawmakers to have a different mentality, and I want the people who are coming home to have the resources they need.

The above quote was made by Jon Kelly the same man who made the following quote

“I was always high every day … always in fights, always getting shot at or shooting at somebody,” Jon Kelly says. “I for sure did not think I would make it past 16.”

Growing up in north Philadelphia with a single mother and a little sister, Jon was the epitome of a disrespectful, troubled teen. He grew up in a rough neighborhood. Multiple schools—including a disciplinary school he says was “like prison, but you get to go home”—couldn’t keep him out of trouble. He dropped out by ninth grade.

Jon began selling crack cocaine when he was only 12 years old, but in his teens, he decided it was more lucrative to rob drug dealers. “I thought it was a good thing,” he says. After all, “I wasn’t bothering law-abiding citizens.”

One night, Jon and his friends went to a drug dealer’s home and robbed him. Things got out of hand, and in the process, one of the group shot and killed their victim.

Jon remembers the day he was arrested. It was a Friday—March 15, 2002—and he had just turned 19 two months before. He was arrested for his role in the murder and brought to jail, but it was overcrowded from the city’s violent crime. The only place with room for Jon was in isolation, or solitary confinement.

A couple of the corrections officers would talk to Jon from time to time. That first week in jail, Jon was so bored he asked if either of the men could bring him something to read. The officers handed him a New Testament. On the cover were the words, “There’s hope for you. Jesus cares.”

“I read God’s Word for the first time,” Jon says, “and I haven’t been the same since.”

pastor jon kelly
Jon Kelly today

Today, Jon Kelly is the pastor of Chicago West Bible Church, a 2-year-old church he helped start after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Moody Bible Institute. He is married and has two children.

“It’s been an amazing journey, and I praise God for that,” Jon says.

Only God can change lives like Jon Kelly’s and provide the people and the resources to make use of that life for the benefit of God’s Kingdom.

Only Holy Spirit led lives are both transformed by God to produce the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self-control and be available to be used by the Holy Spirit using the gifts of the Spirit – Revelation Gifts – Words of Wisdom, Words of Knowledge and Discerning of Spirits, Vocal Gifts – Prophecy, Tongues, and interpretations of Tongues, Power Gifts – Faith, Healing and Miracles.

ARE YOU A TRUE BELIEVER IN CHRIST?

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:11-14

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16-17

These verses confirm that it is only those who repent, believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on The Cross, they receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever1 John 2:17

“If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.1 John 2:29

He will render (repay) to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” Romans 2:6-8

These three verses truly verify that it is only those that do the will of God and practise righteousness are granted eternal life.

“But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind,…” Jeremiah 11:20 (ESV)

“For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” Psalm 66:10 (ESV)

“the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:7-9

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Note: the above four verses makes it clear that God tests the hearts and minds of true believers.

Faith is what is so very precious to God. And that is why God has to test people to find out if they have genuine faith. That is the biblical truth of the matter.

END TIMES JUDGEMENTS ARE ALREADY UPON US

Sister M. Basilea Schlink, wrote a remarkable book, Repentance -The Joy-Filled Life

Considering her book was written in 1959, after reading this excerpt, you will realise how much more appropriate the message is for us now. Apostasy and lawlessness abounds just as prophesied by Jesus. The following is from the last chapter of her book.

“The end-time judgements are already upon us.  Now is our last chance to repent and to allow God to judge us personally, so that we can escape what is to come.  That will be the grace of the rapture —delivered from a world in the throes of judgement and caught up to the Lord ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).  But not all who call themselves believers will be taken (Matthew 7:21).  When Jesus comes again, He will be revealed in His majesty and divine glory.  No one can enter His immediate presence or take their place beside Him unless they have been sanctified and remade in His likeness (Hebrews 12:14) .  As we allow the Lord to judge us, chastening will do its transforming work in us.  ”

Repent!Like a trumpet blast from heaven the call sounds forth with tremendous urgency.  Time is running out.  Who will hear the call and pass it on?  The Church needs to take up the challenge, so that nations are impacted and a movement of repentance gains momentum all over the earth.  Where there is repentance, the hand of the Lord is stayed and judgement deferred or tempered with mercy. “It is not just for our own sake that God wants us to repent.  More is at stake.  In a world headed for destruction we as believers bear responsibility for our nations and for the human race at large.  Soon the time of grace will be over.  Soon God’s patience will run out, and His wrath will descend.  Have we any idea of the full extent and horror of these judgements?  

“Here in Germany our hands are stained with the blood of six million Jews.  The day of reckoning will come.  Our repentance, our weeping and mourning, needs to correspond to the enormity of our deeds. 

“Tragically, it is the Church that is storing up God’s wrath.  

We have missed so many chances to repent.  Are we going to continue along this road? At the first coming of Jesus it was the religious who resisted the call.  Sure of their own rightness, they objected when John the Baptist tried to shake them out of their complacency. ‘Why this constant emphasis on repentance? It’s so one-sided.’  Today anyone who consistently preaches repentance can count on similar reactions. ‘Fanatical.  Unbalanced. A gloomy brand of Christianity. This is not the Good News.’ But the call to repentance is at the heart of the Gospel.  Contrition and repentance lead us straight into the joy of forgiveness. “If we want Jesus to draw near, if we want to be delivered from judgement, there is only one way—repent!  This is the call of the hour.  Grace lies in store for those who lives are marked by repentance.  In a world headed for the fullness of judgement, theirs will be the fullness of grace.  

When Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, He will gather them to Himself. They will be changed in an instant.  Once humiliated, now they are exalted. Once they came weeping, wearing the garment of repentance.  Now they wear the dazzling white wedding garment and, shining like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, they go in to celebrate the Wedding Feast.  Matthew 13:43 “The greater the threat of judgement, the greater our repentance needs to be.  And the greater our repentance, the greater the pardon and glory.  Repent!  That is God’s message to us in these end times.  Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it (Luke 11:28, Revelation 1:3,22:7).  Blessed are those who respond to God’s offer of love. Here and now they will have a foretaste of heaven. More wonderful still, they will be prepared for their Lord, to celebrate with Him the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.’ He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.’ (Revelation 22:20).”

Thanks to Jeff Daly of repentday.com for this gem.

GOD IS EQUIPPING MEN AND WOMEN OF ALL AGES FOR “LAST DAYS” MINISTRY

Acts 2:17-18 says,In the last days, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even on my bondservants, both men and women, I will in those days pour out My Spirit and they shall prophesy.

You are not left out, this Scripture is inclusive of all people. If you are not experiencing Acts 2 manifestations of the Holy Spirit in your life like those on the Day of Pentecost, I want to encourage you not to measure revival or your personal relationship with God strictly by visible manifestations. In fact, one of the most distinctive signatures of revival is a renewed hunger for God and a deep desire to find your identity in Him. Pursue God with all your heart and He will come in. He is always at the door.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

Man knocking on the door. Stock Vector - 91216822

Here are a few ways Kris Vallotton of https://krisvallotton.com recommends for you to experience revival and refresh your relationship with God: 

  1. Hang out with people who are alive and well in God (even if they may be having manifestations you’re not having). You may have heard me joke about having the “statue of liberty anointing,” meaning it seems like everyone around me is often powerfully touched by God while I seem unaffected! Check out this short clip of a sermon where I share what God directly said to me about being moved by God.
  2. Share your faith and testimony with others. Psalms 119:99 says, “I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.” This simply means that when you allow your history with God to counsel you, rather than your fears or any other thing, you will indeed grow in stature and wisdom. Allow your testimonies to be your counsel. Share them with others, and witness the power that you’ve been given. 
  3. Be humble. You were born to be amazing—in the very image and greatness of God. I find that one of the biggest deterrents for owning your God-given greatness is the fear of stealing God’s glory. If you don’t want to steal God’s glory, then here’s some good news: you ain’t that big! And get this… the truth is you can’t steal something that was given to you (John 17:22)! For more on humility, check out a recent podcast of mine, Humility is the Way Forward

In these “last days”, I believe you will experience the demonstration of God’s power in your life because, as we’ve learned, God is pouring everything out on “one generation”—all flesh; He is not withholding anything from you. As a Believer, you are a walking encounter of the living God. You are the embodiment of God’s revival. 

YOU WERE CREATED FOR GOOD WORKS

Read this great testimony by Nathaniel Oliveri—Founder and CEO, The Normal Christian Life. It will encourage and challenge you at the same time. It certainly did me. The testimony is based on this amazing Scripture.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:8-10

“I just love how this Scripture builds to a climactic cliffhanger, as though heaven is awaiting our response. After establishing that we’re saved by grace and not by works—but that we are created for good works, it builds this profound picture of God preparing works beforehand.
Think about it: the God of heaven literally preparing hearts, events and situations before we even walk into the room or pass that by person or make that phone call. Then the Scripture peaks with this profound statement: “that we should walk in them.” Walk in what? The works! Which works? The works He has already prepared for us!
You mean, we have a choice? Yes! It doesn’t say, “you will walk in them.” It says “you should.”
The stage has been set by Heaven, prepared beforehand. And now we have a choice to partner with God Almighty. So, what does that look like? I’m glad you asked.
I am, of course, growing in this myself and I haven’t yet arrived, but here is an example from my life in the last week that encouraged me, and I pray it will encourage you too.
So, last week I was picking up some carpet squares from a church that was moving location and selling many items. As I was putting the carpet squares in the car, a lady walked past with someone from the church. She had seen some items on the internet and didn’t even know this was a church. She asked me about the carpet squares and I sensed she may not be a Christian so I asked her a simple question. Are you from this church? She said “no”. So I said, ”Well then, I get an opportunity to tell you that Jesus loves you!”

The church staff member looked surprised that I even mentioned the ‘J’ word to a stranger. But, at that moment her eyes shot open. “My ten year old son just said while we were driving here, “Mum, do you think Jesus is real?” I then prodded cheekily, “And do you?”


“Well, I’m not sure,” she replied. I went on, “Well, what do you think the chances are of me telling you about Jesus just moments later?” To this she agreed that the timing couldn’t be a coincidence, and this in turn led to her inviting me to share the Gospel and pray for her and her son. They were deeply impacted, and I gave them some video links from our YouTube channel The Normal Christian Life.
The kid was excited because he was meeting a “YouTuber” in his words, and seemed keen to watch the videos. Now, they didn’t give their lives to Jesus there and then, but I know seeds were planted. But what struck me was how God had prepared their hearts just moments before I shared with them, even allowing her boy to ask such a specific question about Jesus, just before they arrived.
I wonder how many amazing works God has prepared beforehand for you today. What a blessing to be able to partner with Heaven and respond with our free will and walk in them.

Prayer

Lord, today, help me to draw close to you in my prayer life and in my day-to-day life. Help me to be sensitive to your prompting, and help me to walk in the works you’ve prepared for me. Lord, thank you that you love me and value me enough to make me a part of Your story. Show me today the people you want me to reach. Prepare their hearts and help me to be bold and obedient. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

GOD IS BUILDING HIS KINGDOM

Great article by Joseph Mattera (josephmattera.org)

15 Contrasts Between the Kingdom Age and Religious Systems

I believe now is the time in which God is shaking the global church and establishing Kingdom principles. God is ripping away and exposing extraneous second-tier traditions and denominational positions that are opposed to His kingdom. Believers need to understand the difference between the characteristics of the kingdom and man-made religion. The body of Christ and its surrounding environment will be transformed only through proper alignment with His kingdom.

The following are 15 contrasts between the kingdom age and religious systems:

  1. The kingdom focuses on manifesting God in the earth, while religion focuses on applying its traditions inside church buildings.

The word “kingdom” implies that there is a king who rules within a region. Psalm 24:1 teaches us that the earth belongs to the Lord, and Psalm 22:28 tells us His kingdom rules over all nations, not just over the church. Consequently, we in His kingdom are called to show that the cross of Christ impacted the whole cosmos, not just the church realm (Col. 1:12-13, 1:20).

  1. The kingdom transforms individuals from within, while religion focuses on observing outward rituals.

Jesus taught us that God requires truth in the inner man (Matt. 5-7, 23; Ps. 51:6). Hence, the kingdom focuses on inner transformation, while religion concentrates primarily on observing church rituals (Luke 17:21). Christ-centered spiritual disciplines help create proper habits of the heart that are conducive to growth in the knowledge and love of God.

  1. The kingdom releases all believers to the work of the ministry, while religion merely releases professional clergy to minister.

In the kingdom, all believers are both kings and priests (Rom. 5:17, 1 Pet. 2:8-9). In religion, only those trained in seminary and who are employed in church ministry are considered priests.

  1. The kingdom sees the Spirit poured out upon all flesh. Religion sees the Spirit move only during Sunday services.

The apostle Peter made it clear that the Resurrection inaugurated the kingdom age, which was seen when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon every culture, tribe, kindred, tongue and nation (Acts 2:17). Two of the results of the outpouring was that God was no longer restricted to the religious Jews, and His Spirit was not limited to the most holy place in their temple. Despite this, many in the body of Christ continue to restrict the Holy Spirit to moving only within the four walls of a building during mass or church services.

  1. In the kingdom, the Scriptures have primary ecclesiastical authority. In religion, second-tier religious tradition has primary ecclesial authority.

This second-tier religious tradition is an issue not only for the Roman Catholics, who put custom and canon law on equal terms with Scripture, but also for the Orthodox Church. Many people place the writings of the apostolic fathers on the same level as the Holy Scriptures. Many evangelical Protestant denominations, Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal churches also have second-tier traditions that they regard as primary authority as they relate to Christian practices.

  1. In the kingdom, the presence of God is wherever the believer goes. In religion, the presence of God is at the altar of their church building.

In the kingdom, the power and presence of God that heals, delivers and saves the oppressed were commonly manifested in the streets. God wants to unleash an army of believers who will turn the world upside down, but religion wants to keep believers closeted inside church buildings.

  1. In the kingdom, the fivefold minister equips the saints to do the work of the ministry. In religion, the fivefold minister does the job of the ministry.

Traditional religious systems keep people dependent upon professional clergy to pray for the sick, counsel, preach and represent God to the world. In the kingdom, fivefold ministry gifts are focused not on doing the work of the ministry but on equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12).

  1. In the kingdom, the ministry focus is Monday to Saturday. In religion, the ministry focus is Sunday.

People participating in kingdom-focused churches cannot wait until Monday comes. Whereas those who are trapped in religious systems will only see purpose and meaning during church services.

  1. In the kingdom, the church is sent to serve its community. In religion, the church strives to get the community into the church.

Kingdom-focused churches equip believers to be the problem-solvers of society. They provide them with a biblical worldview to frame their service in every vocation that affects communities. In the kingdom, it is not about how many people attend church services; rather, it is about how many people in the church are sent out to transform their world!

  1. In the kingdom, the focus of concern is for the whole body of Christ. In religion, the primary focus is only on the denomination/local church.

Any person with a kingdom agenda will be concerned about the health of the entire body of Christ. Those with a religious mindset are sectarian and only care about the health of their denomination or church.

  1. In the kingdom, every sphere of life is integrated under King Jesus. In religion, the church stays out of the public square.

The kingdom of God prophetically speaks to societal structures such as law, politics, economics, families, art and business. In religion, the view is that such things are unimportant, unspiritual and therefore should be left to the concern of the world.

  1. In the kingdom, Jesus is the King of kings. In religion, He is merely the symbolic leader of the church.

In the kingdom, Jesus is not only the head of the church, but He is also the King of kings (Rev. 19:16). This is the most politically charged statement anyone can make about Jesus! Jesus is the political head of every president, politician, governor and mayor. It obligates every believer to be politically active by voting and doing their part to speak truth to power, as well as elect candidates who best represent kingdom values.

  1. In the kingdom, the church is the salt of the earth. In religion, the believer is the salt of the church.

Jesus called His followers to reflect His character and values. He called them to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, not the salt of the church and light of religion.

  1. The kingdom participates with Christ in the renewal of all things. Religion is focused on perpetuating its traditions in the church.

Every person in a kingdom-focused church should understand that the Great Commission involves influencing people groups and subcultures, not just individuals (Matt. 28:19). People stuck in religious systems work only to perpetuate the second-tier traditions of their church members.

  1. The kingdom engages culture, while religion escapes the earth.

The nature of religion is that it wants to create an enclave of safety from the unpredictable realities of the unredeemed world; religion is mystical, not practical or spiritual. However, disciples of the kingdom view every global challenge as an opportunity to be a problem solver and seek to reflect Christ to the surrounding culture.

ALL SAINTS CALLED TO BE BEREANS

Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to be our COUNSELLOR, COMFORTER and TEACHER. He will direct us into all truth if we ask HIM. Every time you open your Bible ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to you. He knows what you need and when you need it.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26

I believe the following Scripture reveals that our spirit was always meant to be the vessel of the Holy Spirit. It is only when we have the Holy Spirit in our spirit that we can be holy, and our spirit is the lamp of the Lord.

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?But we have the mind of Christ.1 Corinthians 2:12-16

If you are not desiring to spend time in God’s Word something is desperately wrong, at the very least, you are quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and certainly grieving Him.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

IS THE CHURCH NO LONGER RELEVANT?

What are the cultural realities that are crippling the church?

1. Not Holy Spirit led. It is rare to see anything like what you read about in the book of Acts happen in churches today. When’s the last time the Holy Spirit has moved among the people of your church? If you can’t point to something, that may be a sign of a powerless (Acts 1:8) church.

2. Not serving their community. Simply protesting against sin in the world without proactively working for good causes in the community creates a negative impression in the minds of those who drive past your church on Sundays. Also, consumerism has most definitely infected the church and it is reflected in how praise and worship is conducted. When you have Christians (no matter their age) content to sit and attend services (no matter the type) while refusing to stand up and serve others, you have an irrelevant church.

3. Bible knowledge alone equals spiritual maturity. Bible knowledge is foundational to spiritual maturity, but it does not in and of itself equal spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity comes with obedience and love towards others. Paul warned about this in 1 Corinthians 8:1 when he said, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

4. No John 17 unity. Jesus himself prayed (John 17:23) that his followers would be one, so that the world may know that we are his disciples. The early church brought men and women, Greeks and Jews, slaves and free, all together under the name of Jesus. Do we see that same unity today, or is the church divided along racial, political, theological and socio-economic lines?

Image result for pictures of empty churches
Anglican church in the UK

Regardless, God is still on His throne. Jesus is still building his church. The Holy Spirit continues to do his work. My prayer is that the church will start being part of the solution.

Live a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle

In Mark 9, Jesus modeled this for us:

  • Prayer = Jesus said His disciples couldn’t heal the boy because it required prayer
  • Care = Had compassion on the boy and his dad
  • Share = Jesus asked the boy’s dad to proclaim faith in Him before healing his son

Powerful Christians live accordingly, not content simply to invite people to church or stop at “telling their story”.  They understand that bringing people to Christ involves taking personal responsibility for all 3 – praying, caring and sharing.