MaranathaMRC.com
Home Site Map   Don's Page Contact Us

 

Maranatha Revival Crusade, PO Box 218, APPLECROSS, Western Australia   6953       

       

Main Menu

Home

MRC
Contact Us
Don's Page
Links
Site Map
 

New Postings

Headlines

Publications
MRC Articles
Books
Millennium Alert
Maranatha! Hope of Glory

Our World

Preparations for War
The New World Order
International Economic Order
Israel & US

God's Word

Prayer/Praise
Prophecy

 

 

MHG#44.  March 2013. THE BIBLICAL SPRING FESTIVALS
 

 

THE BIBLICAL

SPRING FESTIVALS

“THE HOLY SEASONS OF THE LORD.”

 “These are the appointed times of YHWH,

holy convocations which you shall proclaim

at the times appointed for them.”

(Leviticus 23:4)

BY DON STANTON

 In view of the Passover, Good Friday, and Resurrection season which is before us this month, I have been led to compile this timely message.  Let me start with the basic question:

WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DO THE OLD TESTAMENT

APPOINTED TIMES HAVE FOR US TODAY?

Just this: all the seven Holy Seasons have been fulfilled, or will be fulfilled by our Saviour, Jesus, Y’shua the Messiah. All of them point to the work and ministry of our Master, and they all have challenges, and blessings, for each of us.

The Appointed Times (Mo-ed-im) of YHWH, given through Moses to Israel are, in fact, an important part of the Biblical roots of our Christian faith.

The church in general, believes in the actual events that the seven festivals pre-figure, but sadly the Biblical seasons have been ignored, minimized, or worse, influenced and compromised by Hellenized or Romanized festivals and pagan practices from “Mystery Babylon.”

There are SEVEN Holy Seasons of which we read in Leviticus 23:4-44 The first three are SPRING festivals. Around March/April. (In the Southern Hemisphere you would call them Autumn festivals.)

1. PASSOVER,

2.  UNLEAVENED BREAD, and

3. WAVING OF THE FIRST FRUITS

4.  The fourth is SHAVU’OT – PENTECOST.

(50 days after the Waving — usually in May).

The last three are AUTUMN festivals.

(Spring in Southern Hemisphere - around Sept-Oct)

5.   DAY OF TRUMPETS,

6.   DAY OF ATONEMENT

7.  FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

As the three Spring festivals, this year, fall on March 25th eve to April 2 eve, let’s concentrate at present on these awesome Spring festivals — PASSOVER, the UNLEAVENED BREAD, AND THE WAVING (or OFFERING) OF THE FIRSTFRUITS.

These three great events take place over eight days of  Nissan, the first month of the Biblical calendar.

Pesach is on 14th Nissan.

Unleavened bread15th to  21st Nissan.

The Waving is on “the day after the Sabbath” -

the Sunday following Pesach.

The dates are definite, but the days on which they occur, change. (Like, your birthday does not always occur on Friday).

             1.   PASSOVER  -  PESACH       

For Israel, Pesach looks back to its deliverance from Egypt. It represents freedom from bondage.

On 14th of Nisan, (around 1445 BC), according to God’s instructions, each Israelite family, sacrificed a chosen unblemished lamb, and sprinkled its blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. The blood on the door was a covering, and protection, for the believing families, from the 10th plague.

Because of Pharaoh’s unwillingness to release the Israelites from slavery; YHWH sent nine plagues. And then, because of the Pharaoh’s continued intransigence, He warned that He would send a 10th plague which would hit at the very heart of Egypt. The LORD declared:

“On that same night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt - both men and animals; and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt - I am YHWH.

“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the door-frames of the   houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you. No plague will be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day will be a memorial to you, and you shall commemorate it as a feast to YHWH.  Throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.” (Exodus 12:12-14)

The blood of the lamb then, was the provision for the salvation of God’s obedient people, as the Angel passed over the homes where the blood was applied to the door.

God’s purpose for Israel was that it should be a free people, and be free to worship God in truth. The word that sums up the true meaning of Pesach is "Redemption." 

Israel was commanded by YHWH in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23:4-5, to keep Pesach, including the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, continuously — every year — until a new covenant was enacted.

The Old Testament Passover was primarily a family meal with prayers, singing, worship, and remembrance of their deliverance from slavery - of being a free people.

  The traditional Jewish Passover meal includes various ingredients that cause the participants to remember where they, or their ancestors, came from.

Originally God commanded the Israelites to eat only three things — Roast Lamb, Unleavened Bread, and Bitter Herbs. (Exodus 12:8).  Later on, the Jews added several ingredients including Salt, Parsley and Charoset.

Bitter Herbs are used to remind Israel of the bitterness of life in Egyptian exile, and they remind us today of the bitterness of sin. The Salt into which the herbs are dipped, reminds us of the tears that were shed during the bitter sorrows, and also of the cost of redemption — the bitterness that the Lamb endured.

Charoset, a sweet mixture of apples, nuts, and honey, looks back to the mortar—the mixture used to make the bricks in Egypt. Matzah reminds the Jews of God's provision, and of the Manna in the wilderness.  And also of God’s constant logistical support of us on the way!

A Lamb Bone on the plate is a reminder of the lamb that was slain, whose blood was painted on the doorposts with hyssop. The hyssop is represented by the Parsley or green vegetables on the plate.

Four cups of wine on the table represent four aspects of Salvation – Sanctification, Praise, Redemption and Completion.  The Jews have added also a 5th cup, called the Cup of Elijah.  They believe Elijah will come as a fore-runner for the Messiah, and so a cup is kept ready in case Elijah turns up tonight. Yes Jews do expect the Messiah to come, but tragically, the majority are looking for a Messiah who is not Y’shua (Jesus).

At Passover, the children traditionally ask questions about the customs, and the father explains everything to them.  This , I believe, is a very good custom.

One interesting Passover custom which Messianic believers practice with good effect, is the breaking and hiding of “the Afikomen.” 

 Three pieces of matzah are taken, and then the central matzah is broken into two pieces.  One piece, (called the Afikomen), is wrapped in a white cloth and secretly hidden somewhere in the room.  The children have to find this hidden Afikomen.

Traditional Jews will have an explanation for this game, but believers explain that the three matzot (pl) represent the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  The central matzah represents the Divinity and Humanity of the Son, whose body was broken at Calvary.  This central matzah is broken into two. The afikomen, which represents Messiah’s humanity, is wrapped in a white cloth -  like a burial shroud. It is hidden in the room (as in the tomb).

When it is recovered, the children are taught about the Resurrection of Y’shua.  This “game” is a powerful illustration of how the Passover is all about our Saviour.

 

  Y’SHUA WAS THE PASSOVER SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS  

For the church, Passover pictures our redemption and freedom, for our Passover Lamb was Y’shua the Messiah; He was slain at Calvary

for our deliverance from the bondage of sin. And His shed blood covers all who have faith in the Lamb of God, and His redemptive work.  

“For you know that it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were redeemed from the futile way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of the Messiah, a Lamb without blemish or defect.”  (1 Peter 1:18-19) 

Shortly before OUR Saviour’s crucifixion, the high priest, Caiaphas, prophesied that it was “expedient for one man, (Y’shua), to die for the people, so that the whole nation should not perish." (John 11:50).

John says of Caiaphas’ remark:

“This he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Y’shua should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. So from that day forth they took counsel together to put Him to death.” (John 11:51-53)

The Scriptures reveal that Y’shua is our true Passover Lamb and that the ancient Pesach ceremony pointed to Him and His sacrificial death on behalf of the world. 

Passover contains the symbol of the broken Matzah - a broken piece of unleavened bread represents the broken body of our sinless Messiah. 

The Gospels show that the Messiah was slain on the very day of Passover.

Now, as we look back to that Passover - no doubt the most important day of man’s whole history - we  deeply appreciate the central role of Y’shua in the removal of our sins, as foreshadowed by the former Passover lambs. 

“And you know that He was manifested to take away sins; and in Him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)

The New Testament Passover is all about Y’shua the Messiah. Without His sacrifice, there would be no deliverance, and no hope whatever. 

Have we forgotten how great was our deliverance from the harsh slavery of Satan?

CALVARY AND PASSOVER

ARE FOR “WHOEVER WILL”

Christians do not need to follow traditional Jewish practices. We have freedom to worship and celebrate Messiah’s sacrifice as He leads us. We celebrate in various ways. There is no hard and fast ritual. It should not be a “ritual” at all. We don’t have to participate in an annual Passover, just as we don't have to go to “communion.” We can do either or both as we desire. There is no law as such. There is only exhortation and invitation.

Y’shua said: “This do in remembrance of Me.”

Paul said: “Let’s celebrate the feast.” (1 Corinthians 5:8)

I ask: Is the usual weekly or monthly Sunday communion service the only way to, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” ?  Doesn’t each church have their communion in whichever way they desire?

Messianic believers all around the world are finding that it is indeed a real blessing to celebrate an annual Passover in a much fuller way, praising and worshiping God, (in contrast to the usual 10-minute church communion service that most of us are accustomed to).

Many believers who come from a Jewish background, like to have a program similar to the traditional Pesach, but they relate each part of the meal and practice to the centrality of Y’shua in the Passover. They have Scripture readings, sing songs of Y’shua, worship, and pray in His Name as we all do

Others have a Passover meal with roast lamb, vegetables, and matzah, crispbread, or chapathis.

Puffed up “hot cross buns” are leavened and are certainly not a suitable symbol of the Lamb of God. 

“Easter eggs” also have a pagan origin – they represent the fertility goddess Estre.  Buns and chocolate eggs may be nice to eat – but NOT at Passover time.

We don’t need to imitate Jewish customs; and we are NOT going back to Judaism in either our “communion” or special annual celebration of our Saviour’s sacrifice. Rather we observe God’s Holy Season as led by the Holy Spirit with love and adoration for our Blessed Redeemer.

Some churches, especially in India, have a 3-hour service on Good Friday – 12 noon to 3pm, and teach and meditate on the seven words of the cross.  It can be very instructing and a blessing.  Some have an early morning service on Resurrection Day.  But Passover is an evening service – like the Saviour had with His disciples on the evening of the beginning of Passover. The Upper Room experience. 

And that is what I would encourage each Christian family to experience. A blessed time of remembrance, partaking in the unleavened bread, and the 3rd cup - the Cup of the New Covenant in the Saviour’s blood. (This year Passover begins on Monday, March 25th evening.)

If you want to have your Passover on Good Friday, it’s ok. The main thing is to observe and celebrate the Lord’s Appointed Season - to acknowledge His redemptive work, and to worship Him.  It. surely pleases God for His people to reach out to Him in spirit and truth.

  2.   UNLEAVENED BREAD  -  HAG MATZAH

15th to 21st of 1st month (Nissan)

The seven-day Holy Season, starting the day after Passover, is very important for observant Jews. It’s one of Israel’s main national festivals.

Leaven (or yeast) is a fungus which ferments in cooking and rapidly spreads through the whole of a batch of bread to puff it up. In spiritual terms, it is a symbol of sin, which puffs up.

For Israel, the week of Unleavened Bread was a solemn time to emphasise the need for sanctification – separation from all evil.  In preparation for this 8-day season, all leaven had to be removed from the peoples’ homes.          

It was Yahweh, the Almighty, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had commanded very strictly:

“On the very first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” (Exodus 12:15)

For 7 days Israel was to totally reject all leaven (an agent such as yeast or baking soda that causes bread to rise), during the festival, as leaven represents sin.

      In an observant Jewish home there is much preparation for the Passover week. The house is cleansed from front to back, so that there is no sign of leaven anywhere in the house.

The father would take a feather, a wooden spoon and a lighted candle or torch, and the children would help search under every chair, and in every cupboard, for any trace of leaven. It was like the game Hide and Seek.

When any leaven was found, it was taken out with great ado, and burned outside the house.  This practice was to emphasize the seriousness of sin.

The term Spring Cleaning originated, I believe, from the Spring Cleaning of the houses of Israel, according to God’s command at the Passover season.

And I ask you, my dear believing reader, would not this holy season, be a very appropriate time to go through our homes and lives and remove all symbols and evidence of sin? 

This special week can provide a very good opportunity to give instruction for Christian believers, about the need for holiness. There are many spiritual lessons for Believers here. The leaven (sin) must be cleaned from our house and hearts.

  Should we not go through our homes and remove everything that is filthy, idolatrous, or occultic, anything questionable, whether in books or magazines, CDs, DVDs, videos, or on our computers, pen drives, or mobiles - anything at all that’s dishonouring to our Heavenly Father; and burn them in the back yard?

      In so doing, we must use the light of the Word of God to expose our sin. 

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”

 (Psalm 119:105)

Oh the seriousness of sin!

If just to tolerate the symbol of sin was so serious, what about actual sin?  Who could not be condemned?

But central to the Passover week there was a lamb of sacrifice which was God’s provision for the sins of the people. And that slain lamb was a graphic type of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God whose blood, shed at Calvary, would take away the penalty of the sins of all who take refuge in Him.

 

“Y’SHUA IN US,

THE UNLEAVENED BREAD OF LIFE

For the church, the feast of Unleavened Bread is fulfilled in Christ who is made to us, sanctification.  (1 Cor 2:30)

 This appointed week of Unleavened Bread should be a reminder to us all, of our responsibility to be holy, for our God is Holy; and also of the need to daily feed on the Living (unleavened) Bread.

“Then Y'shua said to them, 'I am telling you the truth! Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:53-54)

     “And taking some bread, after He had given thanks, He broke it and gave to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:19)

So the apostle Paul admonished the gentile believers in Corinth to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread because they are days of Messianic celebration.

“Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new batch without leaven - because in reality you are unleavened. For our Passover Lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed for us. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old yeast, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

The apostle Paul compares leaven to sin with its tendency to grow and spread.  Y’shua also, referred to leaven as representing hypocrisy (Luke 12:1), false doctrine (Matthew 16:12) and moral depravity (Mark 8:15).  These are some of the sins Y’shua's true followers must overcome by the grace and power of God.

The unleavened bread of this feast reminds us that Y’shua is the perfect example of a sanctified life. And we should desire with all our beings to have that Holy One living out His life in us.

The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us that it is not our own righteousness that causes us to overcome sin.  Rather, it is the righteousness that comes as a result of Y’shua living His righteous life in us, empowering us to conquer sin.

As Paul explained: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ who lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live through faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

I would love to see churches really serious about this. I would love to see each evangelical church have a series of meetings during this Passover week, teaching on HOLINESS and SANCTIFICATION.  I remember when I was a youth, some assemblies would have an “Easter Weekend Conference.” Some may still do, but I don’t hear much about it these days. 

Some 50 years ago I remember reading a book from such a conference held in the UK. The theme of the conference was HOLINESS. And I will never forget one of the statements that was uttered by Montague Goodman. He said: “Brethren, God has called us to holiness; and unless we are holy we are nothing and worse than nothing.”   

(I have included a reprint of that article below.)

But there is one more deeper meaning to the days of Unleavened Bread.  These days picture the fulfillment of the promise of the Saviour to rise again.  And Y’shua was resurrected during the Feasts of Unleavened Bread – on the very day — the first day of the week. 

And He also promised that He and the Father would make Their home in our hearts (John 14:23), and that His Spirit, the Comforter, would also be in them. (John 14:16-17). Indeed, El Shaddai - the risen Messiah, and the Father, and His Spirit - lives within us (if we are indeed His redeemed people). And His resurrection life in us, gives the sure hope (promise and assurance) of our future glorification as the children of God.

“… the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been revealed to His saints (His set-apart, holy people), to whom God has chosen to make known among the nations, the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)

3.    THE WAVING OF THE FIRST FRUITS

YOM  HA BIKURIM    

For Israel, this is a harvest thanksgiving - a dedication of the barley harvest, on the day after the Sabbath following Passover – which means, it was always on the first day of the week which begins at sunset on Saturday.  A sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest was brought to the priest who would wave it before the LORD. An unblemished lamb would then also be offered as a burnt offering. (Leviticus 23:12)

For the church, the waving of the Firstfruits is fulfilled by the resurrection of Christ  –  He was the “firstfruits of the resurrection.” Y’shua, of course, rose on the day after the Sabbath following Passover, and thus fulfilled this “holy event, precisely.

The fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (believers who have died) ... The Messiah is the firstfruits; after that, those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of His coming.” (1 Cor 15:20, 23)

Y’shua died on the Feast of Pesach; He was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and rose on the day of the waving of the Firstfruits.

So we see included in the Week of Unleavened Bread, the celebration of the resurrected Messiah who saves us from our sins, and who lives in each one of us who are indeed saved by His Sacrificial Death and His Resurrection.

“For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His resurrection life.  (Romans 5:10)

The harvest festival has yet another deep spiritual meaning. The offering of the first of the barley harvest was an act of faith, in anticipation of the promise of a full harvest. And in this ancient thanksgiving of waving the sheaf of firstfruits, (fulfilled exactly when Christ rose from the dead as the first-fruits of the spiritual harvest), we see the promise of the whole harvest of the redeemed being gathered in for the Kingdom of Heaven.   HalleluYah!

And would it not be good to abstain from leavened bread for the whole week to remind us of the need for a truly clean home and a continuous holy life? 

 

SHALOM  PEACE

“Therefore having been justified by faith,

we have peace with God through our Master, Y'shua the Messiah.” 

(Romans 5:1)

HOLINESS  UNTO  THE  LORD

by montague goodman

Message given at the Conference of Brethren,

Swanwick, U.K. in 1957.

“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,

so that you should proclaim the praises of Him

who has called you out of darkness into

His marvelous light.”  (1 Peter 2:9)

BRETHREN, if we are not a holy people we are nothing at all, and worse than nothing. Our teaching and preaching will be but “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.” We shall be a contradiction in terms. For God is holy, and if we are not holy, how can we call ourselves the people of God?

When God gave to Moses on the Mount, the pattern for the Tabernacle in which He would dwell in the midst of His people, He dwelt upon each item of that building in meticulous detail, and warned him to make all things according to the pattern.

He chose His priests and the dress they were to wear; then as a climax to it all He directed a golden plate to be made and attached it to the turban of the high priest as he ministered before the LORD, and before Israel.

                              And on that plate these words should be inscribed : 

     “Holiness to The LORD.”

Here then was the keynote of it all. God wanted a people for His own possession. They were a chosen generation redeem­ed out of Egypt and separated unto Himself. They were a na­tion born in a day. But they must be a holy nation or He did not want them at all. And when they were not holy, He rejected them and put them out of His sight; He loathed and hated the very worship He Himself had ordained.

When under the very shadow of Sinai He saw them danc­ing naked around a golden calf, He openly repudiated them.

“These are not My people, Moses! They are the people you brought out of Egypt. I will never go with such a people, I will keep My promise to Abraham; they shall have the land, but they shall not have Me.”

It was only after fierce judgment in which 3,000 were slain, and after prolonged intercession by Moses, that God consent­ed to go any further with them.

The same is true of the holy nation under the new coven­ant.

“If they did not escape when they refused him who spoke on earth, much less will we escape if we turn away from Him who warns from Heaven.” “For our God is a consuming fire.’’ (Hebrews 12:25, 29)

If we are indeed a holy nation, God’s peculiar people, then we are utterly and irrevocably committed to a holy life, and God is not prepared to compromise with us for anything less.

This was the lesson of Ananias and Sapphira. Their action was not of intrinsic gravity in itself. They were free to give or withhold, but not to lie to the Holy Ghost, and not to assume a position before men which they knew to be untrue. It was a deviation from holiness. It was the first introduction into the church of the leaven of malice and wickedness. And that, God will always judge, if not publicly, yet as surely in the secret experience of the individual believer.

What are the outstanding marks of a holy nation, a holy church, or a holy man? Holiness is a quality that defies definition. It is beyond comprehensive description as is the person and character of God Himself. Yet it ever demonstrates itself in marks that are unmistakable and unique. And these marks are inherent wherever holiness is seen.

They cannot be simulated or assumed. They are there in every holy man or community and they carry their own convic­tion everywhere. Men who have no use for religion are quick to acknowledge holiness wherever they meet it, as was King Herod when he met John the Baptist and feared him, because he was “a just and holy man.”

HOLY CHARACTERISTICS DISPLAYED

These marks first manifested themselves at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. For He came for the express purpose of making men holy, of calling out from the world a holy nation, consisting of holy men. And they at once display­ed holy characteristics that have never been displayed by men before, and are never displayed apart from holiness.

There are four such characteristics that are named as marking the early church as holy, four “great” things that manifested themselves at Pentecost and after, and are record­ed in Scripture as distinctive of the people of God who con­stituted the Church in its earliest days which should, and do indeed, thanks be to God, manifest themselves in measure in every holy life and in every true church or assembly of God.

Here then is the first. It is recorded that “great grace was upon them all.” The converts at Pentecost and after, were men who manifested the grace of God; they all did. It was “upon them all.” How lovely a thing is grace! And holi­ness is a very lovely thing. There is nothing more lovable, nothing more lovely than a holy life or a holy community.

When Barnabas, sent by the apostles from Jerusalem to Antioch, where multitudes were reported as having “believed and turned to the Lord,” it is recorded that “when he had come and had seen the grace of God,” he was glad. Have you ever seen the grace of God? Have you recognized its transforming power in those in whom it appears?

Barnabas saw the beauty of the grace of God; it is the beauty of holiness. The psalmist prayed. “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us.”

Holiness is something very beautiful whether in a holy man or a holy woman. It is wonder­fully attractive; there is never anything cold or repellent about true holiness.

The second mark was GREAT JOY!” A truly holy man is a happy man, for holiness and happiness are inseparable; no man has ever been able to sunder them. “What God has joined let not man set asunder.” Show me a holy man, and I’ll show you a happy man, Show me a truly happy man and I will show you a holy man. For the only truly, consistently, permanent­ly happy people in the world, that I have ever met, as I have travelled in all parts of the world, are people who have known something of the holiness of God in their experience and are reflecting it.

An unhappy Christian is an unholy Christian, just as an unhappy child is an unhealthy child. The joy of the Lord is a real, overflowing thing, radiant in the face of a man who knows it, and is walking in the light with God; he is the happiest man out of heaven! It’s a happy thing to be holy. Is your assembly happy? If it is not, there is something unholy there!

And thirdly, “with great power gave the apostles witness.” Their Lord promised, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” and they did.

Why has the Church lost this power to-day? Is it be­cause it has lost holiness? Why is not the world turned upside down to-day? Why does not the power of Christ rest upon us as it did most certainly upon Paul? Can it be that we are not prepared to pay the same price that Paul paid? Can it be because we are just not willing to be holy?

Are we not in danger, grave danger, of the sin of complacency?

And fourthly, there was “great fear.”

“And fear came upon every soul”; “and great fear came upon all the church, and none of the rest dared join them.” (Acts 5:5, 13)

Holiness always manifests itself in the fear of God, a quality that is often strangely lacking among Christians to-day. “To this man will I look, declares the LORD, to Him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

The mark of the early Friends in their most saintly period, when they were a power in the land, was such that they were dubbed “Quakers.” I wonder, do we ever quake? Do we fear the LORD?  If we are holy, we most assuredly do!

Great grace, great joy, great power, great fear; are these things outstanding in our assembly life? No wonder it was added that “none of the rest dared join them.”

“No!” said they, “we can’t go there, it is dangerous to join them unless we are prepared to be holy.”

What a purging there would be in our assembly life, if the spirit of all desiring fellowship were this: “God forbid that I should mar the assembly, and merit the judgment of God by bringing something unholy into their midst!”

What a searching there would be! What holiness would mark our assemblies in the land, as in those first early days in England, when to be a brother was equivalent to being one who was humbly setting out “to perfect holiness in the fear of God.”  (2 Corinthians 7:1)                

 

 “TAKE UP THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME”

BY A. W. TOZER

 

“And he who does not take his cross and follow

after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:38)

“If anyone wants to come after Me,

he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily

and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

THE CONCEPT of spirituality varies among different Christian groups. In some circles the highly vocal person who talks religion continually is thought to be very spiritual; others accept noisy exuberance as a mark of spirituality, and in some churches the man who prays first, longest and loudest gets a reputation for being the most spiritual man in the assembly.

Now a vigorous testimony, frequent prayers and loud praise may be entirely consistent with spirituality, but it is important that we understand that they do not in themselves constitute it nor prove that it is present.

True spirituality manifests itself in dominant desires. These are ever-present, deep-settled wants sufficiently powerful to motivate and control the life. For convenience let me number them, though I make no effort to decide the order of their importance.

1.  First is the desire to be holy rather than happy. The yearning after happiness found so widely among Christians profes­sing a superior degree of sanctity is sufficient proof that such sanctity is not indeed present.

The truly spiritual man knows that God will give abundance of joy in His own time, after we have become able to receive it without injury to our souls, but he does not demand it at once.

John Wesley said of the mem­bers of the early Methodist societies that he doubted that they had been made perfect in love because they came to church to enjoy religion instead of to learn how they could become holy.

2.  A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honour of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonour or loss.

Such a man prays, Hallowed be Your Name,” and silently adds, “at any cost to me, Lord.” He lives for God’s honour by a kind of spiritual reflex. Every choice involving the glory of God is for him already made before it presents itself. He does not need to debate the matter with his own heart; there is nothing to debate. The glory of God is necessary to him; he gasps for it as a suffocating man gasps for air.  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

3.  The spiritual man wants to carry his cross. Many Christians accept adversity or tribulation with a sigh and call it their cross, forgetting that such things come alike to saint and sinner.

The cross is that extra adversity that comes to us as a result of our obedience to Christ. This cross is not forced upon us; we voluntarily take it up with full knowledge of the consequences. We choose to obey Christ and by so doing choose to carry the cross.

Carrying a cross means to be attached to the Person of Christ, committed to the Lordship of Christ and obedient to the commandments of Christ. The man who is so attached, so committed, so obedient, is a spiritual man.

4.  Again a Christian is spiritual when he sees everything from God’s view-point. The ability to weigh all things in the divine scale and place the same value upon them as God does is the mark of a Spirit-filled life.

God looks at, and through, at the same time. His gaze does not rest on the surface but penetrates to the true meaning of things. The carnal Christian looks at an object or a situation, but because he does not see through it he is elated or cast down by what he sees. The spiritual man is able to look through things as God looks and thinks of them as God thinks. He insists on seeing all things as God sees them even if it humbles him and exposes his ignorance to the point of real pain.

5.  Another desire of the spiritual man is to die right rather than to live wrong. A sure mark of the mature man of God is his nonchalance about living. The earth-loving, body-conscious Christian looks upon death with numb terror in his heart; but as he goes on to live in the Spirit he becomes increasingly indifferent to the number of his years here below, but increasingly careful of the kind of life he lives while he is here.

He will not purchase a few extra days of life at the cost of compromise or failure. He wants most of all, to be right, and he is happy to let God decide how long he shall live. He knows that he can afford to die, now that he is in Christ, but he knows that he cannot afford to do wrong, and this knowledge becomes a gyroscope to stabilize his thinking and his acting.

6.  The desire to see others advance at his expense is another mark of the spiritual man. He wants to see other Christians above him and is happy when they are promoted and he is over­looked. There is no envy in his heart; when his brethren are honoured he is pleased because such is the will of God and that will is his earthly heaven. If God is pleased, he is pleased for that reason, and if it pleases God to exalt another above him he is content to have it so.

7.  The spiritual man habitually makes eternity judgments instead of time judgments. By faith he rises above the tug of earth and the flow of time and learns to think and feel as one who has already left the world and gone to join the innumer­able company of angels and the general assembly and church of the Firstborn which are written in heaven. Such a man would rather be useful than famous and would rather serve than be served.

And all this must be by the operation of the Holy Spirit within him. No man can become spiritual by himself. Only the Holy Spirit can make a man spiritual.               q

 

MY DEAR BELIEVING READER, WHAT SHOULD

BE OUR RESPONSE TO THESE MESSAGES

OF MONTAGUE  AND TOZER?

 

Or have we given up on the need for HOLINESS?  Do we feel it is just too difficult — and say, I’ll just try to do the best I can? 

TRYING is not the answer. TRUSTING (faith) in the Redeemer, the Saviour and His power in us, is the answer.   “Be filled with the Spirit.”  (Ephesians 5:18-20)

How to be filled with the Holt Spirit?  The answer in these four words: 

CONFESS our sins to receive a cleansed heart. (1 Jn 1:9)

SURRENDER your life to God to walk in fellowship with your Master and to be available moment by moment to the Spirit’s control.  (Romans 12:1-2)

RESTITUTION. Put things right as much as possible, so that hindrances to your spiritual life will be cut off. (Matthew 5:24)

FAITH. Go forth trusting in your Master, Y’shua, to fill you, and to live out His life in you.  (Matthew 21:22)

  

A PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

 

                        Take my life and let it be,

                        Consecrated Lord, to You.

                        Take my moments and my days,

                        Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

 

            Take my hands, and let them move

            At the impulse of Your love.

            Take my feet and let them be,

            Swift and beautiful for You.

 

                        Take my voice and let me sing,

                        Always, only, for my King.

                        Take my lips and let them be,

                        Filled with messages from You.

 

            Take my silver and my gold;

            Not a mite would I withhold.

            Take my intellect and use

            Every power as You shall choose.

 

                        Take my will and make it Yours;

                        It shall be no longer mine.

                        Take my heart, it is Your own

                        It shall be Your royal throne.

 

            Take my love; my Lord I pour

            At Your feet its treasure store.

            Take myself, and I will be,

Ever, only, all for You.

 

 

 

THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

 

PRAY FOR THE MILLIONS OF

CHRISTIANS BEING

PERSECUTED

AROUND THE WORLD.

“Remember the prisoners as if you were imprisoned with them;

and those who are mistreated,

since you yourselves are also in the body.”

(Hebrews 13:3)

 

 

CHINA PLANS TO WIPE OUT HOUSE CHURCHES

Govt.-sponsored persecution rose 42% in 2012.

FEB18/13.  China's Christians felt a noticeable rise in persecution in 2012 as the Communist government began the first of a three-phase plan to eradicate unregistered house churches.

At least 132 incidents of persecution affecting 4,919 Christians - 442 of whom were clergy - were reported in the country in 2012.  This was an increase of about 42% in 2012 compared with 2011, 372% worse than in 2006, according to a report by human rights group China Aid.

Beijing, administered directly under the central government, witnessed the highest number of persecution cases, at 62, affecting 934 Christians The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China followed with at 11 cases involving 382 Christians. Persecution was also high in central China — comprising Henan and Hubei Hunan provinces — where 1,056 Christians were affected. East China witnessed harassment of 750 Christians.

The recent appointment of Xi Jinping as the new leader of China's Communist Party has so far made no difference in the treatment of Christians, said a member of the Shouwang Church in Beijing, a congregation authorities have harassed for more than two years.

In 2012, a new three-phase approach was adopted to wipe out unregistered house churches, which the government saw as a hostile group of dissenters, and to force them to join the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church system.

In the first phase, from January 2012 to June, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) secretly investigated house churches across the country and created files on them, the report says. This was followed by a wave of crackdowns on house churches, which has continued into 2013, as part of the second phase.

The second phase will also entail strongly encouraging unregistered churches to become part of the TSPM - at which point they would become known as "house gatherings," with the government banning the term "house churches."

China Aid says its statistics are just "the tip of the iceberg."   - Christianity Today

 

                 Death penalty for holding A Bible   

Christians face the unthinkable in North Korea.

Just possessing a Bible still can be cause for a death penalty in North Korea, so it’s no surprise that the hermit kingdom remains No. 1 on this year’s World Watch List of the world’s most notorious persecutors of Christians, a project assembled by Open Doors USA.

Persecution of believers also increased sharply across Africa, eight out of 10 worst offenders are ruled by Muslim theocracy, and Egypt, under the Muslim Brotherhood, actually saw its ranking lowered, but not because of any improvement there. It was because of worsening conditions elsewhere, the report said.

In North Korea, a possible lesser penalty for someone having a Bible would be for the offender, and three generations of his or her family, to be sent to prison camps, where an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people are held in virtual concentration camps.”

 

      “North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom in any of the five spheres used in the process.”  “We have not heard any reports of improvement for Christians in the country and have no reason to believe anything has changed,” Morgan said.  -  www.wnd.com/

 

EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS TARGETED BY

NEW TERROR GROUP

FEB 21/13. A group of Christian priests from a local Coptic church in Egypt were told to convert to Islam or face death. The incident, which comes in the midst of continued persecution and pressure on Egypt’s Christian community, took place this week in the town of Safaga, near the Red Sea.

According to El Balad, an Arabic news site, the threats are from a new group in Egypt, Jihad al-Kufr, whose name translates to “Jihad against non-believers or non-Muslims.” The group targets non-Muslims, and reportedly pressures them to convert to Islam.

“It’s not the first time. This is happening every day,” said Adel Guindy, president of Coptic Solidarity and a member of Egypt’s Coptic community who travels between Paris and Cairo. “This one incident caught the attention of the news agencies, but there are worse things happening to the Christians every day in Egypt,” he said.

Christians have felt increasingly at risk since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, which resulted in the rise of President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood movement. “It has definitely worsened under the revolution. Once the worst part of the society surfaced -- the Islamists -- the Copts are paying a heavy price. The West doesn’t really feel our pain. It’s a war of attrition,” Guindy said.

Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, and the most prominent religious minority in the region. Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s 85 million people.

Egypt’s new constitution has come under scrutiny by many for including elements of Sharia, or Islamic law, while simultaneously legitimizing the marginalization of the country’s religious minorities by denying them legal protection. It also granted increased powers to Morsi, who self-declared sweeping powers in a Nov. 22 power grab that prompted heavy international criticism.

The new constitution was ratified after its second referendum in late December, winning more than 70 percent of the vote. Moderate Egyptians took to the streets to protest the rushed ratification, but the demonstrations were quickly quashed.

Some believe members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists, emboldened by the constitution’s passage, have stepped up attacks against Egyptian Christians.

Extremists over the weekend set fire to a Christian Church in the Province of Fayoum, the second such assault against the town’s Coptic population in a month. The attackers ripped down the church’s cross and hurled rocks at church members, injuring four people including the priest, according to a report by Morning Star News.

Last week, an Egyptian court forced two Coptic Christian boys, aged 10 and 9, to face trial for “insulting the Koran,” according to reports. The boys were arrested after playing in a pile of trash, which authorities claimed included pages of the Koran.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/21/islam-or-death-egypt-christians-targeted-by-new-terror-group/#ixzz2LjQ1FMAW

 

SILENT EXODUS OF SYRIAN CHRISTIANS  

IN the midst of terrible war and chaos, Syria's Christian minority is facing insurmountable challenges due to distinct persecution. Vicious attacks have been made by militant Islamists and criminals, resulting in a massive exodus of believers who are being forced to flee the country.

According to Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East, who is trying to cope with the overwhelming refugee crisis, Christians in Syria are fleeing en masse from threats, kidnappings, rapes and murders. "Behind the daily reporting about bombs," he says, "there is an ethno-religious cleansing taking place, and soon Syria (will) be emptied of its Christians."

Although the official number of Assyrian Christians who have already fled is not known, hundreds are crossing the border into Turkey and Lebanon daily. Sadly, these panic-stricken refugees have faced horrific circumstances and ongoing threats. Some point to a government that failed to protect them; others to the Islamist rebels who drove them out. One woman explained that her husband and son were shot in the head for no reason. "Our only crime is being Christians," she responded.

Source: The Christian Post. (The following link to a previous report also reveals the seriousness of Syria's mounting persecution: www.persecution.net/sy-2012-12-06.htm.)

May these displaced Assyrian believers be mindful that our Lord Jesus, who was Himself rejected by those in His homeland, understands their plight. Pray that His reassuring Presence and comfort will sustain them in their hour of need. Ask our Almighty God to provide greatly needed protection, strength and divine guidance as they seek refuge and safety in other lands. May the promised blessing of Matthew 5:10 serve to further encourage them: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."

LIBYA ARRESTS FOUR

SUSPECTED CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES

Libyan authorities have arrested four foreigners on suspicion of distributing Christian books and proselytizing in the eastern city of Benghazi, a charge that could carry the death penalty. Evangelism in the "100% Muslim" nation is a crime, assert police, who have allowed Islamist extremists to drive Christians out of Libya.

INDONESIA:

FIRE-BOMBINGS TARGETED AT CHURCHES

A total of four churches on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi were attacked recently by arsonists using homemade bombs. While no one was injured, the attacks resulted in property damage to the church buildings, as well as increased anxiety among the local communities.

According to police, it appears the assailants intended to stir up religious tensions between Christian and Islamic groups on the island. More than a decade ago, an anti-Christian campaign by extremists had destroyed hundreds of churches and thousands of homes. Reports indicate that thousands of Christians from both the Sulawesi and Moluccas islands were killed in the conflict and approximately half a million others were driven out in what has been described as an ethnic cleansing effort.

As recently stated by Human Rights Watch, religious intolerance is growing noticeably worse in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country. The latest report, which compiled information on 264 incidents of religious intolerance, revealed that these statistics are almost double those of 2007.

Sources: The Jakarta Globe, International Christian Concern, Barnabas To learn more about the situation in Indonesia, go to www.persecution.net/indonesia.htm.

TWO CHRISTIANS BEHEADED IN U.S.

FEB18/13.  Authorities in New Jersey allege a Muslim man beheaded two Coptic Christians, burying their bodies and heads and hands in separate graves near Philadelphia, bringing the horror of the persecution of Christians in Islamic nations to the United States.

According to New York’s WABC-TV, the Muslim was identified as Yusuf Ibrahim, 28. He was taken into custody after the bodies were found.

The report said investigators alleged Ibrahim killed the victims then severed their heads and hands, and buried the remains in the back yard of a home in Buena Vista, N.J.

The report said the victims were from the Coptic Christian community.             

Do pray for our persecuted brethren!

 

@@@@@@@@@@@@ 

 
 

 

 

Expression Web Templates

The One who is coming will come, He will not delay