HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET

HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET
And how shall they preach, except they be sent?
as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that
preach the Gospel of Peace,
and bring glad tidings of good things!”
(Romans 10:15)
Forty-four years ago, Brother Paul traveled with a tent ministry “CHRIST IS THE ANSWER” which for a young believer was surely a blessed opportunity to see first hand what it means to take the Gospel to the highways and byways.  Twenty-six years ago when Brother Paul and I were first married, we sold-out and living in a small motor home plastered with scriptures, took the Gospel to the highways and byways of the United States.  One of our first stops was Metropolis, Illinois where we worked with STRAIGHT GATE CRUSADES setting up a huge tent for nightly evangelistic meetings.  Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets were passed around for offerings.  A family of four, Dad preaching, Mom singing and kids witnessing were the entire team (plus local volunteers).  Seven years later, Brother Paul and myself, still traveling for Christ, were in Silverdale, Alabama where we were invited by a Christian family to hear a little preacher who had sent up a small tent in a field.  This brother, so in love with Jesus, would preach the salvation message and the Holy Spirit would give him ‘words of knowledge.’  It was during that meeting that when we went forward for prayer, his word for us from the Lord was: “You have been going in circles (we had – North in the Summer; South in the Winter) God is going to give you a new direction, a straight path, I see two sets of double doors opening wide for you.”  Well, that summer we arrived in Annandale, Virginia, where we ended up staying because of difficulties with the motor home.  That Autumn, I got a job at a very large church in Falls Church where the pastor had just resigned.  Soon Brother Paul and myself found ourselves becoming ‘spiritual advisers’ to a very lost, confused congregation.  The church had two sets of double doors.  It was after spending two years in Annandale, during which time we were introduced to a ministry that was helping in India, that we began to support several pastors (one of which was Brother Hanoch Putra, our current chief Integrity Group Leader).  Two years later we moved to Front Royal, Virginia, and two years after that we formed Hope and Helps Ministry.  
God uses tent ministries and He uses those willing to place their feet in the paths of the lost.  Every single person you come in contact with needs to hear the Good News.  We are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.  If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to take the Good News to the lost …  then support a ministry that does.  Every single person on Earth is important and loved by God … we are His feet.   Your sister-in-Christ, Linda
Below is Pastor Duda Durga Rao preaching under a tent in India.
TENT MINISTRY - PASTOR DUDA DURGA RAO.jpg

PRIESTLY EARS

PRIESTLY EARS
 
And he bought the other ram, the ram of consecration …
and Moses took the blood of it, and put it upon tip of Aaron’s
right ear, upon the thumb of his right hand,
and upon the great toe of his right foot.”  (Leviticus 8:23)
Traditionally the book of Leviticus was known as Torat Kohanim, the ‘teachings of the Priests’.  As a believer you have been called to be part of a holy priesthood “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1st Peter 2:5).  Traditionally, those who would be ministering at the Temple in Jerusalem would have to adhere to the teachings which pertained to priestly sacrifice, ritual and purity.  We are not under the law, of course, but there is a spiritual message to be found in the above passage from Leviticus.
Again, we are called to be priests to our God.  When our Lord sacrificed Himself on the Cross, Jesus became the High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 4:14).  As people of God, we are now under the authority of our High Priest, and have become a royal priesthood.  “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people …” (1st Peter 2:9).  As a priesthood we are required to minister to the things of God.  We have been called to sacred service.  Our duties include proclaiming the Kingdom of God (reaching the lost for Christ), ministering to the needs of the saints, taking care of widows (widows in-deed), orphans, and spreading abroad the love of Christ to all in whom we come in contact.
But these holy duties require that we guard our words (hearing), our actions (hands), and our pilgrimage (paths).  Consider what having ‘priestly ears’ what require of you.  First, we must sanctify our ears by listening to only those things that would please God.  This may require that we not only flee/avoid cursing, lying or speaking gossip; but, we must also refuse to listen to them.  When we listen to what is not pleasing to God – we have defiled our ears.
In order to be always guided and directed by the Holy Spirit, for that is the purpose for which He (the Comforter) was given to us, we need to guard our ears.  If we have defiled ears, we cannot, we won’t, hear from Him — we won’t hear the Voice of God.
Apply thine heart unto instruction,
and thine ears to the words of knowledge”
(Proverbs 23:12)
Selah.

DAT VENIAM CORVIS, VEXAT CENSURA COLUMBAS

DAT VENIAM CORVIS, VEXAT CENSURA COLUMBAS
(The censor forgives the crows and harasses the doves.)
But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones
which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone
were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned
in the depth of the sea.”
(Matthew 18:6)
Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas is a Latin saying that bites deeply into those who are of a critical nature.  A censure being someone who feels he is morally superior or morally correct.  The crows represent thieves, who never mend their ways, and get off scot-free; while the doves peace-loving and harmless are never left in peace.
Matthew 18 begins with the disciples asking our Lord who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Already they were anxious to know if they would be granted some special considerations, honors or rewards.  Jesus, instead of answering directly, pulls a little child to Himself says, “Except ye be converted, and become as a little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  What was our Lord saying?  Humble yourselves!  
Yeshua then went on to speak about offences.  Make no mistake, our all-knowing God takes very seriously offences again His Children.  A child of God exhibits Christ-like qualities.  They are generally harmless and inoffensive, void of malice, governable, under the Father’s command, and humble as children.  When we observe very small children, we see they are not only little in body and stature, but also little or low in spirit.  If we humble ourselves before God, He is more likely to grant us grace, protection from the enemy, and equip us for service.
Jesus told us that if we receive a little child (a humble servant of His) that we receive Him.  Believers accepted by God are to be accepted by us.  To backbite, treat less than honorably, or disrespect another believer is something that is not overlooked by our Heavenly Father. 
Abuse exists within the church.  The basest of men love to trample on the meek and humble.  It feeds their pride.  And we all know what happened to the Archangel Lucifer when He lifted himself up in pride.  Jesus Christ is warning us in Verse 6 above not to injure any of His little ones.  Their belief in Him unites them to Christ, He takes an interest in their cause, they partake of the benefit of His sufferings and He also partakes in theirs.  There are those that offend the ‘little ones’ of God drawing them into sin, grieving them and vexing their righteous souls, discouraging them, using the fact they they are humble and meek to make a prey of them in their persons, their families, in their goods, and in their good name.  1st Corinthians 8:9 “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.”  “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” (1st Corinthians 8:12)  (These verses are in reference to causing offenses.  We must be careful not to hurt physically or emotionally anyone, but in particular, the children of God.)
Beware — God has made a wall of fire around His children, he that touches them touches the apple of God’s eye.  If you are a persecutor of your fellow believers, please heed the words of Jesus, it is better for you to tie a millstone around your neck and throw yourself into the sea, then to face the judgment of Almighty God.
Selah.

EVIDENCE OF A SPIRITUAL MIND

EVIDENCE OF A SPIRITUAL MIND
 
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit …”
(Ephesians 5:18)
There is no greater evidence of a renewed heart and mind than a change in the habit and stream of your thoughts.  The more your thoughts flow in a new spiritual channel (wrought by the Holy Spirit), the more evidence you have that you are spiritually minded.  Our thoughts fall from our mind like leaves from a tree when shaken by the wind in Autumn.  Knowing that our thoughts are bent to be “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), how blessed it must be to be delivered from this state.  Without this deliverance, neither life nor peace nor immortality nor glory can ever be attained.  As the streams of a mighty river run into the ocean, so the thoughts of the natural man run through self into Hell.  To build a dam to try and stop this mighty river is useless.  No dam could ever hold back the mighty flow of man’s evil thoughts.
Believers must be filled with the Spirit.  They must seek to be under the influence of the Spirit so that their hearts and minds are filled with such thoughts, that the expression thereof comes forth in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” making melody in their hearts to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19).  When we are spiritually minded we will abound in spiritual thoughts.
How do we know that we abound in spiritual thoughts?  When we read Scripture we see how the saints of God expressed their experience of faith, love and delight in God and that their thoughts of God were constant.  These examples were written for our admonition (1st Corinthians 10:11).  If we do not have the same delight in God as they had, the same spiritual mindedness, than we have no evidence that we please God as they did, or shall go to that place where they have gone.  The holy men of God, those who obtained this testimony — that they pleased God — did not walk before God in a corrupt, earthy manner.  Their obedience was not half-hearted.  They meditated continually on the Law; they thought of God at every moment and their minds were free from other things; they delighted in God and followed hard after Him (Psalm 63:8).
How can we be like these saints?  How can we be like David?  We must take hold of God’s promise:  “He that is feeble … shall be like David” (Zechariah 12:8).  We cannot make ourselves like these saints.  But the Holy Spirit dwelling in us can, if we put ourselves under His power and influence.  It is good to examine yourself to see if you are spiritually  minded.
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21).  Consider how much time you spend thinking about spiritual things compared to how much time you spend thinking about other things …
Selah.
(Extracted from Evidence of a Spiritual Mind by John Owen (1616-1683).   A Puritan by upbringing John Owen was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford.)

GIVING

GIVING
 
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what 
thy right hand doeth.  That thine alms may be in secret:
and thy Father which sees in secret Himself
shall reward you openly.”  (Matthew 6:3-4)
Have you ever passed a bum on the street?  When I lived in New York City I saw many bums while walking from the subway station to the 50-story high office building where I worked.  Bums (homeless street people) are a part of NYC life.  Every weekday I would see them, perhaps curled up asleep next to a building, gray lumps on a cardboard mat.  Near by would be a cup or small container where, if you felt a heart tug, you could toss in a dollar or change.
Giving in the United States is something that we do perhaps without giving much thought.  Come Sunday we may write a check for the church we attend or, once/twice a month pop a check in the mail for ministries we support.  But do we ever stop (pause) before putting that check into an envelope to think about where that money is going or what that money is going to have an impact on?   
Please don’t take lightly your giving to any church or ministry.  Think of it this way.  When you write that check (or give cash) imagine that you are placing that gift directly into the hands of Jesus.  Makes a big difference doesn’t it?  You are not giving your money to people or a religious institution, you are handing over a portion of what you have to God to be used for His purposes.  Giving back so that the Kingdom of God can be preached on Earth.  At least, that is what your gift should be going towards …
Getting ready to give your gift?  Go secretly to your Father first, commune with Him, and then without fanfare write that check for a ministry or to your local church body.  Ask God to bless and protect your gift, pray that the gift will be used for Kingdom purposes, for His glory and not be used in a frivolous manner.  Our gifts are offerings, in some cases sacrificial, they should not part from our hands because we feel it is a duty, or obligation.  If we are giving out of obligation then we have reverted back to the Law.  Giving should flow naturally, lovingly, cheerfully, thankfully and prayerfully.
So next time you are preparing to write a check for your church or a ministry.  Prepare your heart first.  Get alone with God, commune with Him.  Then write your check.
Selah.

THE SACREDNESS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

THE SACREDNESS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread,
and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily,
eats and drinks damnation to himself,
not discerning the Lord’s body.”  (1st Corinthians 11:28-29)
There were really only two ordinances that Jesus left for His disciples to follow, the believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  The above scripture admonishes us to examine ourselves before we partake in Communion.  Psalm 139:23-24 states:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  In your prayer time with the Lord ask Him to search your heart and bring to your mind any wicked way, the points made below should also help:
1)  Are we living in any known sin?  If you are living an immoral life (indulging in any lust whatsoever) then you are unfit to come to the table of the Lord.  Sins of omission or commission?  One commits a sin of omission whenever he does not perform that which is commanded; and a sin of commission when he does that which is strictly forbidden, or he does something which is good in itself but does it for the wrong reason (i.e, to bring honor or glory to yourself).  To ignore your sins and come unworthily is to treat something holy with contempt.  God doubtless has as much care that this sacrament of the New Testament should not be defiled as He had that the temple and altar, sacrifices and feasts should be kept pure  Unclean people were strictly forbidden to come near.  Remember God has said, “For I am the Lord, I change not …” (Malachi 3:6)
2)  In our examination do we seriously commit to avoid all sin and live in obedience to God’s commands?  Are we resolute to truly try to avoid sin?  Are we ready to walk in obedience?  These are questions you need to ask yourself.  If you can’t say yes to these questions, then you should avoid the Lord’s Supper, and seek God’s help.
3)  Are we at peace with our neighbor?  Do we harbor a spirit of hatred, envy or revenge towards someone?  If you continue to act upon these spirits (demonic / fleshly) that are controlling your spirit, then you should not partake of the Lord’s Supper, you will be eating and drinking unworthily.  If you have a quarrel with someone, you should see that you put an end to it before you come before the Lord.
4)  Examine your reasons for coming to the Lord’s Supper.  This ordinance was given to us by Jesus for our spiritual good.  We are to seek God’s blessings in this sacrament not to come asking to receive something for ourselves.
Self-examination before a Holy God is critical.  The Word tells us that to eat and drink in an unworthy manner brings damnation upon ourselves.  Think of it this way, suppose you were invited to dine with a King.  But you have a problem with authority, and you don’t really  regard this King as someone who has any authentic authority over your life.  So you show up at the King’s table, without a change of garment, without having perhaps bathed yourself first.  In fact, you have just spent the entire day working at a farm cleaning up a pig pen.  Now that may sound extreme, but perhaps that is how the soul appears to God who has an attitude that communion is something that is ‘commonplace.’
If upon your examination you find yourself unworthy but you have determined with the help of the Holy Spirit to change, then we believe God would say for you to be blessed and come to the Table.  But, if after your examination, and partaking, you return to your wickedness, stay away until you have repented and forsaken your sin.
(Portions extracted from Before the Lord’s Supper, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).)

HOUSES ON THE ROCK – HOUSES ON SAND

HOUSES ON THE ROCK – HOUSES ON SAND
“Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rains descended, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And everyone that hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
(Matthew 7:24-27)
Beginning in Chapter 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) and concluding in Chapter 7 of the Book of Matthew, our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us of the virtues (righteous living) that He expects from His followers.  Whether we build our lives on the rock (listen to and obey His teachings) or on the sand (by ignoring His teachings) is crucial.  We have now heard with our ears what He expects from us, our destiny depends on our acting upon what He has told us.  “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”  (John 13:17)  “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in Heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
All of us need to read and perhaps reread several times Chapters 5 through 7 of the Book of Matthew.
Here are some of the subjects that Jesus covers in Chapter 5:
—  we are to shine our light before men so that they will glorify our Father in Heaven.
—  we are never to be angry with a brother without a ‘just’ cause; neither are we to call any man a fool.
—  if someone has something against us, before we would bring a gift to God (or partake in Communion) we need to go to that individual and attempt reconciliation.
—  avoid the lust of the eyes and do not let yourself be caught up in covetousness.
—  divorce is forbidden, except for the cause of fornication.  This is a gross sin in God’s eyes.  Unless there is a ‘breaking’ of the covenant of marriage by fornication, whosoever divorces is causing their spouse to commit the sin of adultery (a sin mentioned in the Word that can send someone to Hell).
—  Oaths are forbidden.  An Oath is a solemn promise regarding one’s future action or behavior.  We are not to swear by Heaven or Earth.
—  Be careful about what comes out of your mouth.  Yes or No is safe.  Adding to or elaborating may lead to evil conversation.
—  Resist not evil.  If someone is persecuting or tormenting you, let them, don’t return evil for evil.  Pray for that individual.
—  Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those which despitefully use you and persecute you.
The teachings in Chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew are teachings by which we all should be living.  These are the teachings that the Apostles and Early Saints took to the world.  These are the teachings that the Early Church followed — Christians — Christ Followers.  It was because they adhered to the Words of Christ that they were ‘set apart’ and recognized as Christians.  Are we recognized as Christians?
Selah.