Saturday, January 2, 2016

Some Wonderful Truths For The New Year - 2016 - Br. Zac Poonen

As we begin another year, it is good to think of some wonderful truths from God's Word for our encouragement.
God's mercies are new every morning: (Lamentations 3:2223). This means that every morning during this New Year God will look at you as though you have never sinned in your entire life thus far-provided you have repented of all your past sins and confessed them to Him. He will not remember the sins you have confessed (Heb.8:12). And that is why He can look at you every morning, with new mercies. On your part, you must also forgive others exactly as God has forgiven you. You must look at people with new mercies every day, not holding their past against them.
God will open up the way before you, step by step: (Proverbs 4:12-paraphrase). You don't need to know what liestwo steps ahead of you. Just take the step that you see, at each point in this new year..Then you will see the next step. That is how God will guide you. Doors may appear to be closed in front of you. But as you approach them, they will open automatically. But they won't open until you come near them. That is how God will lead you on. So don't be hesitant or afraid, if you see a door closed in front of you. Take the step God shows you and move forward."I have put before you an open door," says the Lord, "which no-one can shut" (Rev.3:8)
God will make your path shine brighter and brighter: (Proverbs 4:18). The new birth is compared to the sunrisehere and the coming of Christ to the noonday sun. God's perfect will for you is that you should become more and more like Christ every day of your life, from new birth until Christ's return. This is the path of the righteous - and along this path, you will get more and more revelation on God's Word, more and more light on the corruption of your Self-life, and more and more wisdom for practical situations that you will face. If you walk along this path, you will never backslide, just as the sun never goes back in the sky.
God will bless you as you eagerly wait before Him to hear His Word : (Proverbs 8:34). The first words that Jesus spoke in His public' ministry were that man can live only by every word that proceeds from God's mouth. To hear that word we must have a constant attitude throughout the day, of waiting on God with eager expectation in our spirit.
God gives fullness of joy to all those who live in his presence(Psalm 16:11). This was the "joy set before Him"that Jesus sought for and that made Him willing to endure the cross every day (Heb 12:2). Fellowship with the Father was Jesus' most prized possession. To follow Jesus is to value fellowship with the Father just as He did. True Christianity is nothing less than a life of unbroken fellowship with a loving Father in Heaven.
God planned every day of your life, even before you were bornPsalm 139:16-18 (Living Bible) reads thus: "Lord, you saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I even began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book. How precious it is Lord to realize that You are thinking about me constantly. I can't even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn towards me. And when I awake in the morning, You are still thinking of me." God has a book in heaven with your name on it. In that book is written what His plan for every day of your life is. He has written there the trials He has planned for you in 2016, to give you a rich spiritual education. He has also written there how He will make even the blunders you commit this year to work for His glory. He has also written what you should do and where you should go. With all your heart, seek to know that plan.
God is silently planning for you in love right now. (Zephaniah 3:17- paraphrase). All of God's dealings with you this year will be based on His immense love for you. Everything that God will allow to enter into your life this year will come from a heart that has planned it specifically for you in love. He has pleasant surprises for you around the corner.
God will make everything work together for your good: ( Romans 8:28). Romans 1 to 8 is an exposition of the good news of the new covenant gospel. We start out as sinners (Chaps.1 to 3), then we receive the forgiveness of our sins (Chap.3); then we are declared righteous by God (Chap.4, 5). Then God delivers us from sin's power (Chap.6) and also from living by rules and laws (Chap.7). Finally we enter into life in the Holy Spirit (Chap.8). It is when we finally come into this life of submission to the Holy Spirit every day that our Father begins to work all the circumstances of our life for our eternal good. If other people harm us, God will make it work for our good. If you believe Romans 8:28, you will never again be afraid of people or of circumstances, for the rest of your life. You will not live in fear that you might have an accident, or die of cancer, or be harmed by anti-Christian fanatics, or any other fear - because our Father controls everything and everyone. It is because Romans 8:28 says, 'all things', that we can also "give thanks for ALL things ALWAYS" (Eph.5:20). Romans 8:28 covers every single circumstance and every single person you will face this year - absolutely and totally. Like a water-filter purifies filthy water and makes it drinkable, even so your Almighty Father will make everything work for your good perfectly in this new year, if you love Him and desire only His will for your life.
May the Lord grant you a blessed, Christ-filled new year.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DO NOT JUDGE - Zac Poonen

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 
How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" ( Matt.7:1-5 ).
There is a need for all of us to be constantly reminded to judge ourselves always and never to judge others.
We must all have discernment - but discernment is a spiritual quality, vastly different from judging others, which is acarnal activity.
Romans 14 is a chapter that we must all meditate on frequently - so that we are reminded again and again of the freedom that God gives His children in many areas.
Here are a few examples of where we may be judging others - outwardly or inwardly. We should not pass opinions (or even have opinions in our minds) about others in such matters:
- Whether someone can own a car or not (or two cars!) - or what make it should be.
- How big or grand someone's house should not be.
- Whether someone can have expensive gadgets in his home.
- What level of education someone should give his children.
- Whether someone can move elsewhere to get a higher salary, or migrate to another country.
- How much property someone can own or how much savings he should have in his bank account (Note: We are not to save up treasure for ourselves (Matt.6:19); but we are commanded to save up for our children (2 Cor.12:141 Tim.5:8)).
- Whether someone can stay in (or eat in) expensive hotels/restaurants.
- Whether a sister can wear jewellery, or expensive sarees/dresses (Who is to decide how much is "expensive"??), or asalwar-kameez, or women's pants. (The Bible commands women to be modestly dressed - and so we must warn sisters against wearing revealing, tight-fitting, provocative dresses).
- Whether men can have long hair. (Nature says "short hair", but God doesn't say anything about this -1 Cor.11:14. And who is to decide what length is "long" or " short").
- Whether women can have short hair. (Long hair is her glory, but this is not commanded by God -1 Cor.11:15. And who is to decide what length is "short" or "long").
- Whether someone can dye his/her hair.
- Whether a sister can wear any type of make-up.
- Whether someone can watch sports on TV or not (Excessive watching will hinder a person's walk with the Lord, for sport becomes an idol very easily - and we must warn people about this).
- Whether someone can have a TV or not (What he watches is the issue).
- Whether someone can consider social, economic and educational levels when choosing a marriage partner. [Note: Since there must be "an equal yoke" in all areas (spirit, soul and body), sensible believers will consider these "soul" factors as well.]
- Whether someone's wedding was too lavish and grand.
- Etc., etc.,
These are just a few areas. I am sure there are many others. Many of these decisions depend on the income of each family - and income varies considerably among believers. A very simple car, house, education, job or wedding in a big city would be considered extravagant and luxurious by the standards of those living in a poor village. So we cannot judge one another.
The scale of a wedding is determined by the wealth as well as the wholeheartedness of parents on both sides. For the sake of peace, the opinion of even one half-hearted parent or bridegroom or bride may influence the final decision in this matter. So we must not judge anyone as to how he conducts a wedding.
We have a tendency to judge the lavishness of others only in those areas where we ourselves are simple. Many who judge others in one of the above areas often fall short themselves in one of the other areas - but because their judgmental spirit blinds them, they cannot see their own shortcomings. So it is best to avoid judging specks in the eyes of others.
We must learn to "mind our own business" and avoid telling others what they should do in such matters. Otherwise we will become self-righteous Pharisees who are "busybodies in other people's affairs" (1 Pet.4:15). It is best to let each person act according to his/her own conscience.
In the church, we are to speak primarily against sin and against the love of money; and we need to give advice ONLYwhere someone asks us for it, unless of course, it is a matter of obviously sinful conduct that is affecting the church.
In financial matters however, we should encourage all believers to stay within their financial walls. Getting into debt is like breaking through the financial wall God has built around us. See Ecclesiastes 10:8b. [The Hebrew word used for "snake-bite" there is "nashak", which is very similar to the Hebrew word for "debt" - "nasha".] We must encourage believers to avoid debt, as far as possible, except where it is unavoidable (such as for emergencies and medical treatment, or when buying/building a house or buying a vehicle, etc.,). And if they do borrow, they must be encouraged to repay their debts as soon as possible (Rom.13:8).
This does not however mean that we should not teach clearly what the Bible teaches about matters such as:
- the church going through the tribulation -
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- women wearing a head-covering when praying/prophesying -
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- Etc.,
If some believers have different views on these matters, we will not judge them. But we will still teach in the church what the Bible teaches clearly.
Consider Titus 2:4,5 which states clearly that wives should primarily be "workers at home". We must teach that. But the Bible does not forbid a wife from working outside the home. So we must not forbid that either. There are many cases where a wife going to work becomes a necessity, because her husband is an invalid, or is unable to find employment, etc., So we should never judge a wife who goes to work.
Or consider the celebration of Christmas and Easter. We ourselves may be convinced about the pagan origin of these festivals. But some other believers may be totally ignorant of this fact.
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We must hold on to our convictions. But we should not judge those who celebrate these days. Romans 14:4-6 states that very clearly.
Any church that does not give its members the freedom given us by the Holy Spirit in Romans 14 is legalistic.
It is important to note that judging is different from proclaiming the truths of God's Word. We must preach the whole counsel of God in our churches. We must not keep quiet on any part of God's truth, fearing that we will be labeled as"legalists". But if some do not accept and practice what we teach on these non-central matters, we must not judge them. We must leave their judgment to God, unless their actions are affecting the church.
One great danger however is if we become more passionate about some of the non-central matters mentioned above than about Jesus Himself and conformity to His likeness.
The matters mentioned above are external matters. But God looks at the heart - and we cannot see that. Therefore we must fear God - and then we will not "judge by what our eyes see, or our ears hear, but will always judge with righteousness(Isa.11:3, 4).
If we earnestly "pursue after love" (1 Cor.14:1and earnestly seek to "learn humility" from our Lord ( Matt.11:29), we will be saved from this pitfall of judging others.
The happiest people in the world are those who always judge themselves and never judge others.