Archive for: January, 2014

Blessed Assurance

Jan 27 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Life

By Rev. John Maempa

Copy of JohnFromStaffMy dad enjoyed playing the harmonica. Though he wasn’t professional by any means, he could do a pretty decent job on his double-reed Hohner. One of his favorite songs was Fanny Crosby’s well-known hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” I can still hear dad’s harmonica whenever I think of or hear that song. The first verse declares,

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”

Then the refrain,

“This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long.”

A story about the song is told surrounding the intense Boer War in South Africa in the late 1800s that took many British lives. When soldiers going to the front were passing another body of soldiers whom they recognized, their greetings as they passed, would be, “Four-nine-four, boys; four-nine-four.” The salute would often be met with “Six further on, boys; six further on.” The significance of this was that in the hymnal sent to the front, page 494 was “God be with you till we meet again.” Six further on, or page 500, was “Blessed Assurance.”

When faced with challenges and loss, whether on a battlefield or in everyday living, assurance is a powerful thing. The blessed hope that we have in Christ keeps us going and helps us know that there is a day coming when we will be reunited with loved ones who’ve gone before and all the trials of this life will be past. As another songwriter put it, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. All trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrows will erase; so bravely run the race till we see Christ.”

Prayer: O, Lord God, what a blessed hope we have in You. Regardless of the losses or the trials we experience in this life, we can know that there is a glorious day that awaits all who place their hope in You. May we walk every day in the blessed assurance that in Your presence is fullness of joy. And may we share that wonderful hope with the many that need to hear it. Amen.

Rev. John Maempa is director of the Office of Prayer & Spiritual Care for the General Council of the Assemblies of God. To learn more about the OPSC, visit www.prayer.ag.org.

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The Kingdom Within

Jan 21 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Family, Life

By Carolyn Hittenberger

Carolyn PR Photo CROPLuke 17: 21…behold the Kingdom of God is within you.

“A man’s home is his castle,” so said William Pitts in the 18th century.

We rejoiced when, officially, legally, all papers were signed and the house belonged to us.  However, it still had the residual imprints of its former owner.  We made changes and added touches that would make it a place that fits us, reflects us, that says, “We live here!”  This is our residence, where we reside and preside, a place of warmth and welcome, shelter from the cold, our little “kingdom,” the place where we dwell.

Each small change, each meal shared, each night of rest, adds to the sense that this is where we belong.  We knocked out a wall to create openness.  Light now filters into areas long deprived of the sun’s healing rays.  The dark stained varnish from the past had to go.  Cupboards, closets and corners are swept clean of any leftovers from the past.

Piece by piece the furnishings are considered.  If they please us they stay; if not, they go.  More and more the imprint of “us” is seen.  This small piece of property reflects who we are.  This is our castle.  We are at home.

The Kingdom of God cannot be adequately compared to any earthly entity.  Yet, in reflecting on our tiny, temporal “kingdom,” we learn more about His Kingdom.

God’s day by day creative work in Genesis transformed a dark, empty planet into a place of such beauty and wonder that it shouted, “God is here!” His careful plan and process as He formed mankind, revealed His longing for pure fellowship.  From dusty earth He drew man’s frame, then breathed Himself into that lifeless form until He saw in Adam a reflection of Himself.  With Adam and Eve in Eden, God could come and chat and feel at home…in their hearts.  With holy purpose He sowed the seed of His Kingdom on earth.

Sin severed communion between God and man, marring His mirrored image. God could no longer fellowship with man’s darkened nature, but His plan did not change.  He didn’t abandon His Kingdom building.  He sent His Son, God-in-flesh, to buy back Kingdom relationship.

Each time a soul accepts His salvation, God initiates His work of building in him/her a suitable residence for Himself.  He is the new owner.  A wall is torn down here, dark stains removed there, leftovers from the previous owner are swept away.  Furnishings unacceptable for God’s occupancy must go.

When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, He came into my life to establish His Kingdom.  I am His.  I am His residence, His castle.  We have Kingdom relationship.  More and more, He removes the old and brings in the new.  Step by step, I learn to make Him my King.   I want Him to be at home in me, in His church, in His world.  Around me, through me, and in me, with loving detail He is building His Kingdom…a place where He can live, a place imprinted with and reflecting who He is!

A Prayer:

Father, how could I ever express how grateful I am that you want to live in me?  I don’t fully understand how that can be.  Yet, I long for it to be so.  I am yours.  I desire no Kingdom of my own.  Build your Kingdom in me.  Make my heart Your home. 

Carolyn Hittenberger served as the Administrative Assistant to Global University’s Regional Director of the Caribbean until her retirement in December of 2013. Carolyn continues to work with Global University as a writer and a volunteer. She can be reached via email at rchitt@gmail.com.

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A Word from God and A Time of Testing

Jan 13 2014 Published by under Leadership, Life

By Vicki Johanson

Vicki1Throughout the Old and New Testaments, demonstrations exist concerning people receiving a word from God and then going through times of testing.  One remarkable example of this is found in the beginning ministry of Jesus, himself.

When examining the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, we see a pattern emerge.  At the moment of Jesus’ baptism, the Bible says that a voice out of heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matt. 3:17)  Immediately afterwards, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness, where He fasted and was tempted for forty days.

We can gain great insight into Jesus’ testing when we examine the Biblical reference He used to combat Satan in the first temptation.  Satan tormented Jesus by trying to convince Him to change the stones into bread.  Jesus quoted a scripture found in Deuteronomy 8:3b which says; “Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”  If we read the entire context of the scripture that Jesus used in Deuteronomy 8:3b, a tremendous revelation begins to surface.  Deuteronomy 8:1-3 begins by saying, “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.  2) And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  3) So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna .., that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.”  The children of Israel had numerous, awesome miracles take place when God took them out of Egypt.  They experienced God’s greatness in the ten plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea, as well as many other undeniable contacts with the God of Israel.

Immediately afterwards, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  In Deuteronomy 8, God tells them why it was necessary to suffer for those forty years.  However, not only did they suffer, but God took care of them too.  He fed them with manna and quail.  He miraculously provided water, and none of their clothes wore out.  Deuteronomy 8:15-18 says, “Do not forget that He led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with poisonous snakes and scorpions.  He gave you water from the Rock!  16) He fed you in the wilderness with manna .., that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end.  17) He did this so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy.  Then you would say in your heart, my power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.  Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to get wealth; that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is to this day.”

God gives us revelations and promises as we serve Him.  However, along with those promises, he gives us times of testing.  These come first because God wants to know what is in our hearts.  However, they also come so that we can know Him better.  We learn to trust Him, rely on Him for everything, as we truly seek His face.  God wants relationships with his children most of all.  He loves us, and He wants us to love Him back.  Psalms 119:49-50 says, “Remember the word to Your servant, upon which you have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has given me life.”  His words to us give us hope and life.  They give us something to hold onto through the trials, but those trials are just as important in building our relationship with Him.

Vicki Johanson serves as the Study Network Director for Global University. She can be reached via email at vjohanson@globaluniversity.edu.

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