Spiritual Conflict – Week 32 / August 17th

Spiritual Conflict – Week 32 / August 17th

2015Devotional

 

 

Spiritual conflict is a fuzzy subject for most Christians and yet it is all over the scriptures and it behoves us to know something about it. To better understand the subject we can divide it up into four spheres. They are:

  1. Pest free conflict.

Here the believer is not grappling with demonic powers and principalities but with his or her carnal heart. The moment we get saved we become aware of a war within us and this is a struggle between our old nature and the new one that comes from Christ being in us. Paul wrote of it extensively and described its “torment” for us.

 

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill

                                                the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the

                                                Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are

                                                contrary to one another, so that you do not do the

                                                things that you wish.”

                                                                                                Galatians 5:16-17

Note also Romans 7:20-25

John writes that the life of Christ within us is like a”seed” that has to be watered and fed so that it can grow strong. (1 John 3:9) The more we can expose ourselves to Christ by prayer, fellowship and the word so the more we will be able to overcome our flesh or evil lusts.

 

  1. Pest controlled conflict.

For our spiritual growth and safety the Holy Spirit will expose us to spiritual conflict from time to time. However, the believer must know that, given that he is walking in a healthy way with Christ, the Devil or his surrogates cannot attack the believer when and how they choose! This idea is not in the Bible although it is widely taught and assumed. By contrast John writes:

 

                “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin;

                                                but he who has been born of God keeps himself and

                                                the wicked one does not touch him.”

                                                                                                1 John 5:18

And Paul writes:

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and

                                                guard you from the evil one.”

                                                                                                2 Thessalonians 3:3

Pest controlled conflict means that God’s Holy Spirit, from time to time, will lead you into conflict with the Devil! The purpose is to expose your spiritual strength, or lack of it, to you. We have this mirrored in Job, Jesus and Peter. Note: Job 2:1-6; Luke 4:1-12 and Luke 22:31-34.

 

We will have to grapple with this as well since we have to learn to control the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. That is; things, sex and importance or, as someone put it, gold, glory and girls! (1John2:16)

 

Moreover, Paul found himself the recipient of pest controlled conflict when God refused to remove a buffeting demon or, as he put it “a messenger of Satan”, from his body, a ”thorn in the flesh”, in order to keep him humble. He besought the Lord to remove it but He would not while assuring Paul that “His grace was sufficient.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) This constitutes a very interesting insight into Pest Controlled Conflict. Even satanic messengers can serve God’s purposes in us!

 

  1. Pest infested conflict

This has to do with going into the world where the Devil and his demons rule and overcoming them with the Gospel of Jesus. That is; we confront and take on the powers of darkness in their own domain and so a great struggle ensues that can only be won by prayer, clean living and determination. (Daniel 10:10-13) Paul did just this in his missionary journeys and so he encountered all sorts of resistance and conflict. He recognized the stratagems of the Devil in this.

 

“Therefore we wanted to come to you-even I, Paul, time

                                                and again-but Satan hindered us.”

                                                                                                1 Thessalonians 2:18

 

Nevertheless, we can take the “gates of hell” if we persist (Matthew 16:18) and this is precisely why we have to adorn ourselves with the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-19) This armor is totally offensive and not defensive. It has no protection for our backs! We are always going forward.

 

  1. Pest invasive conflict

Christians can give place to the Devil in their lives by living in willful sin, unforgiveness and unmanaged anger. Certainly the Devil is always on the prowl looking for these chinks to emerge in our armor and then he attacks and this is no joke!

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil

                                                walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may

                                                devour.”

                                                                                                1 Peter 5:8

So, we should note the following scriptures:

 

“Be angry, and do not sin: Do not let the sun go down

                                                on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

                                                                                                Ephesians 4:26-27

 

 

                                                “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if

                                                indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that

                                                one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest

                                                Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not

                                                ignorant of his devices.”

                                                                                                2 Corinthians 2:10-11

                                                “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will

                                                flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near

                                                to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify

                                                your hearts, you double minded.”

                                                                                                James 4:7

Spiritual conflict is real and so some aspects of it we have to endure, others we invite and yet others we can and should avoid. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

 

 

 

 

The Blessing of Trials – Week 31 / August 10th

The Blessing of Trials – Week 31 / August 10th

2015Devotional

 

“We must through many tribulations enter the
Kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:22

Paul’s Philippian letter is important because it constitutes what we call a “Prison Epistle”; meaning that he wrote it while being held in a Roman jail which was not a very blessed experience! It is remarkable because it is also called the “Joyful Epistle” because it overflows with his joy and his call to the people of God to be joyful. So, we can definitely learn a few things from it and Paul gives us some good instruction about the blessing of trials in the first chapter of the epistle. We should note the following:
1. Our trials and challenges should have no impact upon our feeling of well being and joy.
This is so because the nature of our spiritual life is not regulated by outward factors or circumstances. We can be joyful in difficult times and Paul lived this out from a Roman jail!

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
always in every prayer of mine making request for
you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel
from the first day until now.” V3-5

Let us also remember the prophet Habakkuk. (3:17-19) He faced an invasion of the Babylonians that brought death and destruction to his nation and yet he found that God could keep him by faith and that he would ascend great spiritual heights like a deer in the wilderness.

2. Our trials serve the plan of God for our lives.

“But I want you to know brethren, that the things which
happened to me have actually turned out for the
furtherance of the gospel.” V12

Paul found that his trials were contributing to the purpose of God flowing through his life. He didn’t have to understand everything but he did have to trust God. We must do the same.

3. Our trials enable us to reach people who would otherwise not be reached.
That is, our behavior in trials becomes a sermon with much power!

“…so that it has become evident to the whole palace
guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in
Christ.” V13

The Palace Guard were seasoned soldiers who had no time for suspected traitors like Paul and so there was a real love hate relationship between the guards and the average prisoner. Paul was different and reached them with the love of Christ. Consequently many of them, by virtue of his behavior, became followers of Jesus. This impacted Caesar’s household, which was the plan of God from the beginning.

4. Our trials become a catalyst to encourage others to be bold in their service of Christ.

That is, when they observe God’s faithfulness to us and deliverance in trials, they are prepared to stand up and be counted. In this way we “complete the sufferings of Christ.” (Colossians 1:24)

“…and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become
confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak
the word without fear.” V14

A living example of one man’s relationship with God under pressure is worth more than a thousand sermons. God was seen to be faithful to Paul and thus he would be faithful to the brethren outside of jail and so they became fearless preachers of the faith.

5. Our trials become God’s tool by which to conform us more fully to Christ’s image.

“…according to my earnest expectation and hope
that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all
boldness, as always, so now Christ will be magnified
in my body, whether by life or death.” V20

Our trials always have an end and happy is the person who has allowed them to accomplish their holy work. Nothing removes the fault-lines in our characters like a good “dose” of trials! James expresses this truth when he writes:

 

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But
let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and
complete, lacking nothing.”
James 1:2-4

 

Malcolm Hedding

The Feasts of the Lord – Week 30 / August 4th

The Feasts of the Lord – Week 30 / August 4th

2015Devotional


                                               

“Now these things became our examples, to the

Intent that we should not lust after evil things as

They also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:6

 

The Feasts of the Lord contain important information about our walk with Jesus in that they teach us great redemptive truths and they give us an understanding of where we are in terms of God’s calendar. It is my view that we are rapidly moving toward the fulfillment of the last great pilgrim feast of the Feast of Tabernacles. That is, the day when Jesus will come back to Jerusalem and set up His earthly kingdom. (Zechariah 14:16-21) All of these, mediated to the world by Israel, are worthy then of our examination. There are three great Pilgrim Feasts:

  1. Passover

“Know that you were not redeemed with corruptible

things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct

received by tradition from your fathers, but with the

precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish

and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

This Feast celebrates the door to the Kingdom of God which is only the spilt blood of Jesus. (John 1:29) Only the blood of Jesus applied to your life can deliver you from sin, sins, the Devil and most of all the wrath of God and hell. (1 Thessalonians 1:10) Hell is a reality that we must not discount and all those who reject God’s grace in Christ will end up there. While it is not God’s purpose that any should perish and go to hell (2 Peter 3:9) it certainly remains for us to square up to the claims of Christ and thereby to accept or reject Him. Rejection will land us in a place that was only meant for the Devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)(Revelation 20:15) You need a supernatural deliverance and God provides it in Christ’s spilt blood alone. By Him you have the power to miraculously cross the Red Sea and so you will be empowered to never go back again!

“Therefore purge out the old leaven,that you may be

a new lump, since you are truly unleavened. For indeed

Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

 

  1. Pentecost

“And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy

Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues

and prophesied.” Acts 19:6

This Feast celebrates the power of the Kingdom of God. That is, Word and Sprit! On the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after the Israelites came out of Egypt God gave His word to the world accompanied by fire and thunder and just fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus the Holy Spirit came down upon the waiting disciples, at nine o clock in the morning, in tongues of fire and wind. God empowers us to do His will in the world when we know the word of God and are filled with His Spirit. So, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is far more than the reception of power; it means that the one receiving it is immersed in the life and power of God in a new way.

 

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will

   guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own

 authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He

      will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will

 take of what is mine and declare it to you.”

 John 16:13-14

 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but

 tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with

power from on high.”

 Luke 24:49

  “When the Day of Pentecost came……”

Acts 2:1

The key words here are: Thirsting, obedience, surrender and holiness. (John 7:37; Acts 5:32; Hebrews 12:14) We definitely need a new Pentecost in the Church made evident by speaking in tongues and prophetic utterances. (Acts 11:44-46)

 

  1. Tabernacles

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who

is left of all the nations which came up against

Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to

worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to

keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16

 

This Feast celebrates the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God, over all that is wicked and evil, by the coming of Jesus to the Mt. of Olives. When Jesus comes He will set up His earthly kingdom and so from Jerusalem He will rule the nations “with a rod of iron.” (Revelation 12:5) The original celebrants of this Feast lived in leafy booths for eight days thus demonstrating their:

 

  1. Celebration of God’s ways. We are saved to follow Christ
  2. Celebration of God’s power. We are saved to live super-normally!
  3. Celebration of God’s provision. We are saved from anxiety.
  4. Celebration of God’s strength. We are saved to overcome.
  5. Celebration of God’s family. We are saved to reign.
  6. Celebration of God’s faithfulness. We are saved to bless Israel as Jesus returns to Jerusalem.

 

   “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold

 the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell

with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself

 will be with them and be their God.”

 Revelation 21:3

Malcolm Hedding

The Devil – Week 29 / July 23rd

The Devil – Week 29 / July 23rd

2015Devotional

 

                   “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil

                   walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  I Peter 5:8

One infrequently hears or reads a message about the Devil. Some Christians feel that we should ignore him as saying or writing anything about him un-nerves them. This of course is immature and silly as the Bible itself has much to say about him and we should understand the nature of our enemy lest we be deceived or duped by him; a possibility that Paul acknowledges in his second Corinthian letter. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11)

The personification of the Devil

In scripture the leaders of nations are written about but in such a way that as you read their story you quickly recognize that you are reading about something more sinister and evil than a mere person. We see this in Isaiah fourteen where the King Babylon is ultimately personified as the Devil and in Ezekiel twenty-eight where he is personified as the King of Tyre. (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-19) We learn from these two chapters that Lucifer or the Devil was an Archangel near to the very throne of God. His beauty was amazing and he was filled with music and worship. His closeness to God eventually filled him with envy and a lust for ultimate power and so he rose up against God and thereby sought to dethrone Him. His strategy was sufficiently believable so as to deceive a third of the angelic host who joined with him in this rebellion. (Revelation 12:4) They failed and were cast out of heaven to the second heaven from where he henceforth set about seeking to find out how, where and when he could frustrate God’s plans as the Prince of the power of the air! (Ephesians 2:2)

All this took place before creation and clearly before the creation of humankind since the Devil was waiting in the Garden of Eden to undermine God’s purpose through the mechanism of deception. We certainly learn from all of this that the cardinal, and therefore most dangerous, sin in the universe is pride. It is the very essence of the demonic nature and therefore where you see it manifested you can be sure that the Devil is also nearby. It can very often be seen in the church!

In the book of Obadiah the King of Edom is also personified as the Devil. (Obadiah 1:2-9) Edom has its roots in Esau the brother of Jacob. This King of Edom is more than just a regional power as he has risen up to heaven and to the stars in his attempt to be like God! In fact his main purpose is to hate Israel, challenge Israel and seek to destroy Israel. No wonder God said, “Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated.” (Malachi 1:2-3) God saw the very Devil in Esau and hated him. This too reminds us that Israel is so crucial to God’s holy purpose that the Devil gives her special attention. A fact that scripture well testifies to. (Revelation 12:1-5) We would do well to note this.

The names of the Devil

Scripture, with good reason, gives many names to the Devil since they all in a unique way describe his activities. He is thus:

  1. Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Meaning the shining or brilliant one. Here his name reminds us that he sets out to impress and deceive. Paul tells us that he penetrates the church as an angel of light (2Corinthians 11:14) and of course the ultimate deception in this regard will be the arrival of Antichrist. He will dupe the world with his magnificence and wisdom but in fact will be the manifestation of evil in a way and manner that the world has never seen before. (2Thessalonians 2:9-10)

  1. Satan (Revelation 2:24)

Meaning the one who tempts or entices because he is the adversary of God. We see the Devil playing this role out in the Garden of Eden where he enticed Adam and Eve to disobey God. (Genesis 3) Job was enticed or tempted by Satan to rebel against God (Job 1:6-12) and Jesus’ temptations record the same saga as the Devil seeks to entice Him to sin (Matthew 4:1-11) and John in his first epistle explains that these temptations always have to do with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. (1 John 2:15-17) That is, as someone put it, gold, glory and girls! Certainly it was these three things that were placed before Adam and Eve, Jesus and the people of God through the centuries. Many, like Peter, have failed the test and we must be on guard all the time because our adversary the Devil is always looking for an opportunity to devour us. This my friends is no idle threat. If we take our lives out from under the protective grace and love of a God by living in willful sin, unforgiveness and spiritual neglect we lay ourselves open to demonic attack!

3. Apollyon (Revelation 9:11)

Meaning the one who destroys. The Devil is enraged with God and with humanity and seeks to bring destruction upon both. He lays waste and brings destruction to nations, cities and communities everywhere. Scripture tells us that the whole world lies in his power and therefore he constantly seeks ways and means by which he may destroy it. (1 John 5:19) It is only God’s restraining angels that prevent destruction on a grand scale from happening, but a day is fast coming when the God of the Bible will recall or release these angels in order to judge the world. (Revelation 9:13-21) On that day the Devil will come down to the earth with much wrath! (Revelation 12:12) We have been warned.

The defeat of the Devil

The Devil was defeated at the cross meaning that for all those who obey its message through repentance and faith in Jesus the power and influence of the Devil has been broken over their lives. (Colossians 2:14-16) He cannot harm us or touch us and in Christ we have the authority to resist and defeat him. (1 John 5:18) This defeat of the Devil, now in the lives of those who follow Jesus, will become complete when Jesus comes again. The devil will be cast into hell with all those who have rejected and hated God. (Revelation 20:10) Hell has been especially set aside for the Devil and his angels and sadly for those who reject the Gospel. (Matthew 25:41) This has never been the intention of God who desires that all men should be saved.

Concluding thoughts

The Devil is a serious and determined adversary who can even influence Christians around us. Peter was a loyal follower of Jesus who went forth with the other Disciples to cast out devils, heal the sick and preach the Gospel but he could still be impacted by demonic thoughts, as we all can, and thus Jesus lovingly looked at Peter and said, “Get behind Me Satan.” (Matthew 16:23)

We need to cover our lives with prayer and guard our minds with the helmet of salvation because our tongues can so easily become instruments of evil. (Ephesians 4:26-27) The result being division, contentions and outbursts of anger and all of this amongst the people of God! (James 3:5-16)

Let us then go forth protected by the blood of Christ to storm and take the gates of hell. (Matthew 16:18)

Malcolm Hedding

Abiding in Christ – Week 28 / July 15th

Abiding in Christ – Week 28 / July 15th

2015Devotional


“The power of the Christian life is not found in theology, liturgy or learning but in a real and vital union between the Christian and his Lord.” Unknown Author

Our Position in Christ as believers

We are:
1. Delivered from the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3)
2. Delivered from our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:8)
3. Delivered from our carnal nature or “sin factor” (Romans 6:11-14)
4. Regenerated by the Spirit of God (Titus 3:4-5)
5. Reconciled to God our Father (Romans 5:10)….and;
6. Delivered from all demonic power (Colossians 2:13-150…..and,
7. We are the recipients of all that God can give us (Ephesians 1:3)

If all this is true then why do so many Christians struggle with sinfulness, failure and challenges that never seem to go away? It must be remembered that God can give you nothing more than He has already given you in Christ. That is, you have already received ‘every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians1:3) God, in Christ, gave you everything you need in order to live a victorious Christian life two thousand years ago. Again, I say, He can give you nothing more and so all you have to do to appropriate His abundance is abide in Jesus. Listen to His words:
Our Power

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in
Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears
fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean
because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the
branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for with-
out Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast
out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them
into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words
abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My
disciples.”
John 15:1-8

Abiding in Christ is the power of our Christian walk; but let’s see what this means. The word “abiding” means constant communion or fellowship. It has the idea of staying in a certain position; in this case in fellowship with Jesus. Only this will enable us to draw on or appropriate the many wonderful things that He has done for us on the cross. So, we need to understand:

a. The work of the vinedresser. (v1)
God in Christ will beautify or “dress you” by cutting out the carnal impulses of your life. This can be a distressing experience but it is needed and we are all subject to it. A vine, in order to bear abundant fruit, needs to be cut back to a stump by the vinedresser. Thankfully He knows what he is doing. In like manner God, your Father, will cut you back so that your life will more fully reflect Him.

b. The power of the vine. (2-6)
The vine is amazing since the sap in it actually pushes the dead leaves off the tree; they do not just fall off by themselves. Only by abiding in Christ will you be able to change. His life sustained in you by constant fellowship will transform you and, with ease, push off the dead carnal leaves of your life. Without Him you can do nothing!

c. The secret of powerful prayer (v7)
Jesus here teaches us that if we learn His ways, through His word, we will never ask amiss and our prayers will be answered. I have been hanging out with my wife for 46 years now and this means I know what she likes and dislikes. Therefore if I ask her if she wants sugar in her tea I know that she will say no, because she does not like sugar in her tea. So, I wouldn’t ask her that question. In like manner when we abide in Jesus constantly we learn His ways and we ask according to them. James writes about this in his epistle. (James 4:2-3)

d. The nature of fruitfulness. (v8)
Jesus desires that our lives should feed others. The abundant fruit that we bear is not just the fruit of the Spirit but the fruit that can be plucked from our lives to bless others. We should be spiritual feeding centers! After Peter failed by denying Christ, Jesus met him in the Galilee and simply asked him an important question; “Peter do you love Me?” Indeed He frustrated Peter to some extent by asking this question three times. Upon hearing Peter’s affirmation that he did love Jesus, Jesus replied by saying, “feed my sheep.” In other words if you claim to love Jesus by abiding in Him you will automatically feed others! Is this true or, to put it another way, “Who are you feeding?”

Our picture
So then, as a reminder; the truth above about fruitfulness is demonstrated in Jesus relationship with Peter and Paul’s relationship with the local church in Rome. Let me say it again; your life should be a feeding center if you are truly abiding in Jesus.
1. Peter. Jesus said, “Do you love Me, feed my sheep! (John 21:15-17)
2. Paul. The exchange of fruitfulness. (Romans 1:11-12)
He said that he was coming to Rome to “feed” them and to be “fed’ by them.

Malcolm Hedding

……………………………………………………………….

Prayer for the week:
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for all that you have done for me in your Son Jesus. Help me to be all that He died to make me. Teach me then to abide in Him every day so that my life may reflect His glory and be filled with His love and power. Most of all make me a blessing to those around me so that I can “feed” them with your love and bear much fruit. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Be Prayerful – Week 27 / July 7th

Be Prayerful – Week 27 / July 7th

2015Devotional

 

 

“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that

day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they

continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in

the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Acts 2: 41-42

 

There is no doubt that prayer is the foundation upon which our real relationship with God, by Jesus Christ, is built and sustained. There is no mystery about prayer, as some would have us believe. It is not complicated and its success is not dependent upon knowing a particular technique. Prayer is just talking to God in a way that you pour out your heart to Him and carry upon your shoulders the burden of His work on earth. This is precisely what Jesus did. (Hebrews 5:7)

 

Prayer is thus living in fellowship with God by the power of His Holy Spirit and therefore those who live by it are in a close relationship with Him. This automatically empowers and transforms one; as to be in God’s presence continuously means to be like Him. So, prayer fired by God’s word is a very powerful weapon that can accomplish anything and transform our world. Most important of all is that prayer should not only be a personal pursuit but a corporate one. That is, all the people of God, without exception, should be involved with it. Thus, a local congregation of 200 people should have two hundred people in the weekly prayer meeting. This is not radical as according to the New Testament it is the norm! All those who were saved prayed together all the time. (Acts 2:40-42) Consequently they shook their world and within a few decades transformed it.

 

We of course know this to be true but for some reason we will not do it and then we lament the ungodliness and darkness that is overtaking our communities and nations on our watch! It’s actually all a question of leadership. Leaders have to get up, indeed as never before, and call their congregations to prayer. We must bear in mind that Jesus said that His house “should be a house of prayer for all nations.” (Matthew 21:12-13) Therefore this means that if we have to define the nature of the local church we should do so by stating that chiefly it is a house of prayer. It is not defined as a house of preaching or singing, while these pursuits are good and required. No, the local church should and must be a house of prayer. The early church was just that and the results speak for themselves. (Acts1:14)

 

I well remember the days in the early 1970s in Cape Town when the midweek prayer meeting at the Harfield Road Assembly of God was almost as big as the Sunday morning worship service. The minister and local elders gave leadership to these weekly prayer meetings and consequently the “work” exploded and expanded in every direction. Out of this prayer meeting churches were planted and hundreds of hippies got saved. Prayer was the power and backbone of all of this! Today by contrast the weekly prayer meeting is small and if ten percent of the congregation attend you would be “lucky”. Consequently, wickedness marches forward everywhere and the people of God wonder why? It is because we have become prayer-less! The Devil is more than happy to allow us to have “good meetings” just as long as we do not gather in good numbers to pray. He will oppose this vehemently since it is the source of our real power!

 

The question is, when will we change and begin praying together? A casual reading of the bible makes all of this self-evident. Prayer is commanded and spoken of everywhere. Paul says that we are to pray without ceasing and Jesus Himself commanded prayer and built His ministry upon it. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)(Matthew 26:41) Daniel prayed daily and thereby incurred the wrath of the Devil and yet he transformed our world by his faithful intercession and the early church constantly gave themselves to prayer. Consequently the very place in which they prayed was shaken by the power of God. (Acts 4:31) All of this we well know but we will not do! Why?

 

I was recently in Finland preaching in many churches there on the need for prayer. I noted that time and time again when I got to the place in the sermon where I really challenged the people about prayer the Devil would disrupt the meeting in one way or another. It was truly a learning moment to witness this as a cell phone would go off, a child would begin to scream, a person would begin to cough uncontrollably and eventually get up and leave or, as happened in one church, someone stood up to call another person out of the meeting. All of this just as I was calling them to regular corporate prayer. We need to know that the Devil hates prayer as he knows that it will be the reason why his work and influence in the world will be defeated.

 

Dear friends, we need to start praying as never before. The darkness and urgency of the hour dictates this. The prophet Joel gives us an urgent call to prayer and so he states that everyone, even the bride and groom in their bridal chamber, must give themselves to prayer. (Joel 2:15-17) Let us not be found wanting in terms of this holy calling.

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Days of Deception – Week 26 / June 24th

Days of Deception – Week 26 / June 24th

2015Devotional

 

 

“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.” Mark 13:22-23

 

According to the New Testament writers the days just prior to Jesus’ second coming will be ones filled with deception; so much so that even the elect will be tempted to embrace it. Moreover Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse, warned that Christians would be hated and fiercely persecuted at this time and that because of it many will fall away and abandon the faith. He thus stated that the end time would require tenacity, perseverance and dedication from His people because it will be only as they endure that they will be saved. One endures when one is under pressure and difficulty. All in all the picture that Jesus paints of the days just before his coming is one of trial and apostasy. (Mark 13:13)(Matthew 24:10-14)

 

Paul himself confirmed this when he wrote that the two final great signs of Jesus’ second coming would be the arrival of the Antichrist and a great falling away from the church. (2 Thessalonians 2:3) Why would believers fall away in great numbers? Because the pressure of persecution and public hatred will be too great to bear. Paul also warned that these would be days of great delusion because weak Christians did not know and love the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12) John, like Jesus and Paul, also warns of a time of great trial and persecution before Jesus returns. This, he warns, will require patience and great endurance from the saints of a God. (Revelation 13:10)

 

Given that all this is true, how strange it is to hear preachers today, not warning the Church of what lies ahead of them, indeed just around the corner, but instead preaching a message of blessing, prosperity and of great revival before Jesus comes back. To vouch for this from the scriptures they falsely expound passages of the New Testament and thereby tell their hearers that great times of amazing revival, prosperity and blessing are about to befall them and their nations. Naturally the people of God love it so and, their ears having been tickled, they respond with much clapping, hallelujahs and amens! One almost feels un-spiritual and back-slidden to believe otherwise!

So, this end time deception is cast over the people of God. Some examples of this deception is by telling people the following:

  1. The Gospel will impact and transform the whole world. Jesus never said this; indeed He said that the Gospel would be preached as a witness or testimony to the whole world and then the end would come. In the very same context He warned that as a consequence Christians would be hated by all nations for His name sake! (Mark 13:10-13)
  2. The end time would see a new brand of Christian appear on the earth who will be without spot, wrinkle or any such thing. This is a statement that Paul made in Ephesians five in reference to the relationship between Jesus and His bride, the Church. The truth is, Paul was not referring to some amazing end time group of Christians but to the fact that when Jesus comes again He will present to Himself the Church of all ages finally freed from all sin! This is no reference to a great end time revival but one to the saving power of Jesus toward all those who through the centuries have put their faith in Him. To believe otherwise is to fall prey to deception.
  3. The spiritual recovery of Israel will unleash resurrection power on the world-wide Church. This error is preached from Romans 11:15 where Paul states that Israel’s inclusion in the Olive Tree of salvation will result in “resurrection from the dead” for the global believing community. On the contrary, this passage means exactly what it says, in that when Israel is recovered spiritually the whole “Olive Tree”, comprising of Jews and Gentiles, will be resurrected to meet Jesus in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) This is in harmony with Paul’s teaching in the whole of Romans eleven in that after the fullness of the Gentiles “have come in all Israel will be saved” and the Deliverer will come out of Zion. (Romans 11:25-36) In other words there will not be two “fullnesses of the Gentiles” and those who teach this stuff are teaching a lie and thus deception!
  4. The end time will witness a great outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh. This is taken from Acts two where we have the account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a waiting Church. (Acts2:1-4) Peter giving interpretation to that which happened said, “This is that” meaning that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was indeed a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy given hundreds of years before. (Acts 2:14-21) On the Day of Pentecost the Spirit was indeed poured out and given to the church as part of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. (Acts 2:33) Joel’s prophecy was fully fulfilled on that Day, meaning, that from that day forward anyone who comes to Jesus, by repentance and faith in His atoning work, can claim the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). He will now come upon all flesh and has and this will be true up until the great Day of the Lord arrives! This is not a promise of some great end time revival where God’s people will get something more than they have now.

Revival is just what it means; the reviving of what we have lost and should already have. God has done this time and time again through the centuries, and may He do it again! But to teach that this passage promises a special end time global revival is false. Indeed Jesus stated that when He comes will He find “the faith” on the earth!

Dear friends, we must pray for revival and certainly we are not going to approach the end time with a timid and fearful disposition. No, we are going to aggressively engage the world with the good news of all that Jesus has done for it on the cross but scripture warns that days of great trial and persecution are just ahead of us. One doesn’t have to be a prophet to see the signs of this everywhere. My word to you is; don’t be deceived, strengthen your relationship with God by Jesus Christ, live a holy life and serve Him with all your heart because days of great testing are before us.

 

Maranatha!

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

 

Jerusalem – Week 25 / June 15th

Jerusalem – Week 25 / June 15th

2015Devotional


 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who Love you.”

Palm 122:6

 

Jerusalem has a four thousand year history going all the way back to Abraham and it is the most contested city on earth even though it has no natural resources, partially straddles a desert and, when the Jews are not in control of it, has descended into a forgotten broken down village. So, the question is; why is it so important to the world and the Jewish people or; wherein lies its significance? Consider the following:

  1. Jerusalem the sacred city.

God Himself is zealous for it and this means that He is supportive of its Jewish identity and character.

“I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal. I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry, and they helped-but with evil intent” (Zechariah 1:14-15)

 

The city is sacred to God because it is the platform chiefly from which His redemptive purpose for the world has been accomplished. It is in this city that Jesus died for the world and it is to this city that Jesus will return. This purpose is intertwined with the historical calling and journey of the Jewish people. God is not a respecter of persons and yet He, when a Jewish Jerusalem is under threat, will be aroused in His anger as a man awakened by bad news from a sleep!

 

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst, “says the Lord. Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord has sent me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation.” (Zechariah 2:10-13)

 

  1. Jerusalem a glorious city

Just as God in Christ imputes perfection/righteousness to us so He sees Jerusalem as something glorious and perfect that, if we have the spiritual eyes to see, will speak to us of God Himself!

 

“Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count all he towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you mat tell it to the generation following. For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.” (Psalm 48:12-14)

And,

“For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132:13-14)

And,

 

“The Mighty One, God the Lord, has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.” (Psalm 50:1-2)

 

  1. Jerusalem a contested city

The hatred of the nations against a Jewish Jerusalem is an attempt to vanquish God from their consciences and a strategy by the Devil to resist and frustrate God’s plan of global redemption. The Bible warns that in the end time, when the Jews have been restored to the city (Luke 21:24), an international attempt will be made to disinvest the Jews of the city. We are living in this time and our understanding of the significance of the city to God and to the Jewish people constitutes a test as to where our hearts are on this issue. Are we with God or with the nations and the devil on this issue?

 

“Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” (Zechariah 12:2-3)

 

The message here is clear: Nations that attempt to wrest control of the city from the Jewish people will rupture themselves and will consequently be weakened and judged. As Lance Lambert always said, “Their heavy lifting days will come to an end!” History is strewn with the debris of great nations that attempted to remove Jerusalem from Jewish control. As the people of God we must stand firm on the biblical notion that Jerusalem is the undivided eternal capital of the Jewish people.

 

  1. Jerusalem a triumphant city

The battle for Jerusalem and thus the consummation of God’s redemptive plan for all peoples has begun. Jesus is returning triumphantly to a Jewish Jerusalem because it is from this city that God’s salvation plan for the world has arisen. It will succeed because God will find us faithful and thus we are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) (Isaiah 62:6-7). This peace is nothing short of salvation peace which God has promised to Jerusalem. Our commitment to Jerusalem is ultimately proof of our commitment to God. This is not about the Jewish people; no it’s about our understanding of God’s purpose for the world through them in Jesus.

 

In Psalm two verses one to nine God declares His plan and purpose:

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?

                                                The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take

                                                Counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed

                                                Saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast Their cords

                                                from us.”

                                                “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them

                                                in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and

                                                distress them in His deep displeasure: Yet I have set My King on

                                                My holy hill of Zion.”

                                                “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My

                                                Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You

                                                The nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for

                                                Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You

shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

 

  1. Jerusalem the eternal city

The day is shortly and surely coming when Jerusalem will be immortalized in that it will merge with eternity in the form of the New Jerusalem that will come down out of Heaven. The heavenly home of the redeemed forever and ever will be named after the earthly city that gave birth to the plan and purpose of God mediated to the world by the Jewish people. Therefore its foundations will be named after the twelve Jewish Apostles of the Lamb and its twelve gates will be named after the twelve tribes of Israel. Those who dwell there will worship a Jewish Messiah and walk in the light of His eternal glory. (Revelation 21:19-21; 22:1-5)

 

This is the dignity and tribute that God Himself gives to the present city of Jerusalem. Should we not do the same? No wonder David wrote:

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.”

                                                                                       Psalm 137:5

 

 

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Hope in a Time of Crisis – Week 24 / June 8th

Hope in a Time of Crisis – Week 24 / June 8th

2015Devotional

 

                                “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren

                                beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you

                                for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the

                                truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the

                                glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and

                                hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our

                                epistle. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and

                                Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and

                                good hope by grace, comfort you hearts and establish you in every

                                good word and work.”

                                                                                                2 Thessalonians 2:13-17               

                             “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,

                                teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should

                                live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for

                                the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and

                                Savior Jesus Christ.”

                                                                                                   Titus 2:11-13                                                  

 

DSC03705Today we hear a lot about hope and blessing but what in fact do we mean by this and, more important still, what has the Bible to say about hope. Given the troubles in the Middle East, and indeed in Israel and the world, we need to have a living hope (1 Peter 1:3) and this hope must be anchored in biblical truth. So then, let’s turn to the pages of scripture to find out what they have to say.

 

The world view of the Apostles

The New Testament letters reflect the view that the early followers of Jesus had of the world. They nevertheless were filled with great hope and wrote of it but their view of the world was a dismal one!

  1. For Paul the world was on the cusp of an “impending distress” and approaching it was a sinister individual called Antichrist. Indeed given these realities he suggested that young people should refrain from marriage. (1 Corinthians 7:26-29)(2 Thessalonians 2:3-5)
  2. For Peter we have come to the “end of all things” dictating that we live our lives in total commitment to Christ. Also, we are called upon to hasten the great Day of destruction and judgment that is soon coming to all the inhabitants of the earth. (1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:7;10-13)
  3. For John the world lies in the power of the “evil one” (1John 5:19) and is therefore a “holed ship”, like the Titanic, and is thus passing away rapidly because it is burdened down by lust. His “Revelation” reveals that the world, like ripened grapes, is about to be pulverized by the wrath of God. (1John 2:15-17)( Revelation 14:17-20) Furthermore the world’s towns and cities will all fall and be brought down.(Revelation 16:19)

God’s world view

The judgment of God is a repetitive and recurring theme in the Bible and will always be with us as it is today because it is a means by which God continues to preserve the world in order for His purposes to be accomplished. (Romans 1:18)Without it the world would collapse and self destruct immediately. A lawn not mowed will become a nuisance, will even destroy the property that stands on it and will no longer serve its purpose. (Zephaniah 2:9) It has to be cut down; so with the judgment of God. The proliferation of wickedness and the rapid growth of the world’s population mean that more than ever God is going to mow His lawn! (Zephaniah 3:6-7) This is why the see-saw effect of judgment and blessing is all over the Major and Minor Prophets and indeed the Psalms. (Jeremiah 18:7-10)(Zephaniah 3:8-12) So then, to mock the idea of judgment, Antichrist and corruption is to mock God and disregard the teaching of His Apostles. (Zephaniah 1:12) Were they wrong? I think not; and so where does our hope come from since we will live, and are living, in times of crisis as they did? Just ask the Jews in Israel and the suffering church in the Middle East and Africa. Our message should be one of urgent repentance because judgment is coming! (1 Thessalonians 1:10)(Acts 17:30)

 

In the long view of things the world cannot be rehabilitated and Christians that think that it can are deluded and presenting a false hope to their companions in the faith. Our hope is not in this since we look for a new heavens and a new earth wherein will dwell righteousness. We seek to hasten the destruction of the present world by calling people out of it to Christ! This is our pressing work and it is called obedience to the Great Commission! (Matthew 28:19-20)

 

The Bibles view of hope

According to the scriptures our hope in a time of crisis is found in the following:

  1. In the death of Jesus that reconciles us to God His father. (Romans 5:1-2)
  2. In the expectation of being clothed in His glory. (Romans 5:2)
  3. In the purpose of God flowing through the restoration of Israel. (Romans 11:25-26)
  4. In the second coming of Jesus (Titus 2:11-15)….. and;
  5. In holy living. (1 Peter 1:1-2)

 

Note: There is a teaching abroad in the Church that tells us that by what Jesus did for us on the cross we have been restored to the dominion that Adam once had in the Garden of Eden. This, though very popular, is a very dangerous teaching giving the false hope of a soon coming Christianized world. Paul rebuked this teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter four verses seven to thirteen. Adam’s dominion came out of his perfection and so will ours but only in the age to come when by the resurrection, at Jesus’ second coming, we will be clothed with perfection and consequently ascend the glorious throne of Jesus to reign with Him over the nations. (Revelation 2:26-27; 3:21-22) Until then we live in humility, calling on the name of the Lord and calling the “who-so-ever will” out of the world. (Hebrews 2:5-9)(Revelation 18:4-5)

 

While we must embrace a biblical view of our present world this does not mean that we are going to sit in a corner and lament the global reality. No, we have a very strong hope that declares that while great darkness will cover the earth we are going to call people out of it by the Gospel to eternal life and even more so because the light of Christ’s second coming is rising above a restored Israel. (Isaiah 60:1-3; Psalm 102:12-18) This in essence is the hope that Jesus call us to!

“When the Lord builds up Zion He will appear in His Glory!”

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Finding – Week 23 / June 1st

Finding – Week 23 / June 1st

2015Devotional

 

 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Matthew 7:7

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

James 4:3

 

These scriptures encourage us to seek God until we find what we are searching for. Finding is that holy pursuit whereby we harmonize our will with God’s in order to appropriate the good and righteous things that He has for us. Jesus actually encourages us to keep seeking until we find. We keep seeking because very often what we seek for is not what a God has in mind for us. We can so easily assume that our carnal requests will meet with God’s approval and so what we seek for has to be adjusted until we find out what Jesus really has in mind for us. The book of James pinpoints this very problem and to be sure it is a very common one in the Church today.

 

It is for this reason that we have to go through a process of seeking before we find. The process also reveals our sincerity and dedication. There is something unique, special and wonderful about waiting on God for answers and direction in life. The Lord wants us to come before Him because He loves us and desires to show us His ways. This is a process we call prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God about everything in our lives but with this provisor; that His desire for us is paramount.

 

The Apostle John reminds us that the number one priority in prayer is to find out what God’s will is. In this respect he writes, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that please Him.” Seeking God then is not just about a prayer list but also about the way we live. God looks at both and responds accordingly. So again, there is no short cut to the blessings of God. These are only bestowed upon those who wait upon Him and live for Him. These are the only ones that shall find.

 

The joy of this is that every Christian is invited into this holy calling of seeking and finding. Indeed we should have something burning within us that wants to truly find the great treasures of God. May it be that we can say one day; “I found the blessings of God by Christ Jesus and have been enriched by them.” This will constitute a life well lived!

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries