The Body of Christ

The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord, She is His new creation by water and the Word , From heaven he came and sought her to be His holy bride, With his own blood he bought her and for her life He died.

This beautiful hymn written by Samuel Wesley and Samuel Stone, speaks of Christ’s love for His church. Matthew 16-18 tells us that Jesus built the church on Peter’s confession “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” When Peter made that confession, Jesus said…”and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

I joined a church at the age of 16, but did not become a member of the body of Christ until I was born-again, at the age of 30. In the months and years that followed, I learned what it means to be a Christian and to be a member of the church. It doesn’t mean that joining a certain denomination makes one a Christian. A Christian is a born-again believer submitted to the commands of Christ. The church is a living body called to be a messenger to the world to convey His truth by living His truth. The Holy Spirit inhabits each member and enables each member to love the unlovable, minister to those in need, and to proclaim the saving grace of God. Jesus is the Head of the church and each member is a vital part of His body, “a bond servant of Jesus, given to Him by the Father.” To be faithful to the call of Christ is to be His body in action, united with one purpose…to give glory to His Name.

We are all familiar with the two Great Commandments: “to love God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” There is another admonition in 1Pet 1:15-16, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” Holiness sustains the church. It is a necessary discipline as a weapon of defense and offense. Scripture is clear in proclaiming that “without holiness we will not see God, because He is holy.” Living a holy lifestyle will leave no room for selfishness. It will give a clear vision to see the need in the world. The lost, the sick, the poor, the weak and the hopeless will be seen with compassion and ministered to with the love of Jesus, manifested through His holy church. To maintain a holy lifestyle is simply exercising self-control and keeping a close relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Having said all this, I want to be clear that the church will not be perfect. We are all imperfect human beings. As long as we are in this earthly human condition, we are subject to sin. Only Jesus is perfect. “But God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him.” (2Pet 1:3) The Bible is our instruction manual. So let us study it, absorb it, and be obedient so to acquire a pure heart and therefore see God.

“Jesus gave Himself up for the church, to make her holy, cleansing her through the Word so to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph 5: 25-27)

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The Promise of Heaven

Have you ever wondered what Heaven is really like? We read about the golden streets the crystal sea, the pearly gates, the bright colored jewels, the beauty, the lasting sense of joy and well being. No more tears, no more fears, no more sorrow, no more illness, no more loneliness. Just pure joy, pure love and pure worship of the Savior, the King of kings; the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the saints. What bliss it will be to experience the true love of all the brethren, gathered together with one purpose…to worship Him. No more division, no more facades, no more pretense. Just the reality of knowing each other and basking in the light and love of Jesus forever.

Can you imagine the wonder of living in that holy atmosphere? Experiencing the holiness of God radiating from His throne embracing His children; and the reality of all His promises pouring over us? Just thinking about it is absolutely exhilarating. Too much to contain, too much to comprehend. My heart bursts with the expectation of what lies ahead. Only God knows the deep longing within that can only be satisfied with His presence. He alone is my source. My devotion to Him sustains and nourishes my soul, because He loves me more than I can ever imagine.

The depth of His grace, mercy and compassion will be overwhelming when there will be no more barriers that this earthly life entails. We will be free of the shackles of mortality. The glory of God will be evident. It will be a reality for all to see. The thought of seeing His glory is humbling but will be wonderful to behold. The beauty of His majesty will surely bring us to our knees and prostrate before Him.

My prayer for this earthly life is this: Lord, help me to be all that You want me to be. So I can stand before you and hear you say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

“Even so, come Lord Jesus!”

Spiritual Warfare

Many Christians do not believe that Satan is for real. I didn’t either before I became a Spirit filled believer. But as I grew deeper in my Christian walk with Jesus, I became aware that Satan is a reality in the world. Scripture tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion looking for whom he can devour. He gets a stronghold over us in our mind as a deceiver. I know that he deceived me for years by denying his existence. I attended a teaching years ago led by Derek Prince, a well known author and lecturer of Bible truth. I learned through the Scriptures that we are actually involved in a spiritual war with Satan. And as soldiers in the army of God we have a full armor which includes weapons of defense and weapons of offense.

These weapons are listed for us in Ephesians chapter six. For defense we are given “the girdle of truth” (honesty); “the breastplate of righteousness” (the shield of faith working by love); “the shoes of preparation” (the Gospel); “the helmet of salvation” (knowing that we are saved); “the sword of the Spirit” (the Scriptures); and “prayer” (the greatest weapon).

Our weapons of offense are “the Word of God”; “the Name of Jesus”; and the blood of Jesus”. All of these weapons are launched through four main ways of communication: prayer, praise, testimony, and preaching. Not all of us are called to preach, but we can all pray, give praise to God, and witness to the power of God in our lives.

In Psalm 8:1-2, we read that “Satan is silenced by the Name of the Lord and our praise directed toward Him.” In Romans 8:1-2 we learn that “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death.”

I was enlightened and filled with a joy that produced real laughter when I accepted the truth that I am set free through the blood of Jesus shed for me on the cross. I laughed inwardly and outwardly for three days following the revelation that Jesus has defeated Satan, the enemy of our souls. I claimed the following truths of Scripture for myself, applied them to my life, and included them in my testimony of faith. I read these truths aloud over and over until they suddenly became real to me.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace.

Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of the devil; through the blood of Jesus all my sins are forgiven.

The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is cleansing me now and continually from all sin.

Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, made righteous, just as if I had never sinned.

Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God.

My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed, sanctified by the blood of Jesus, the devil has no place in me and no power over me. I have overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony.

I thank God and praise Him for the revelations he has given to us through His Holy Word. He loves us and will never forsake us. He is our provider, our protector, our Savior, and our eternal refuge. All glory be to His Holy Name!

The Sword of the Spirit

The Bible is the Holy Word of God for all who will accept it. It is “alive and active, sharper than a double edged sword.” It is not only historic but also prophetic. It records “what was, what is and what is to come.” It contains all the information needed to know who God is and why He is. His word reveals the reason for Jesus’s life on earth. That reason is to give everlasting life to all who will believe in Jesus, the Son of God who is the “way, the truth, and the life.” All truth can be found in the depths of His Word that “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It is like an instruction manual that will lead to righteousness and peace for those who seek to obey His commands. The Holy Word of God reveals the character of Him who desires to give His children all the blessings of a life lived for His glory.

It is there In His Word that I found salvation. It is there where I found life, hope, love, forgiveness, and strength to walk in confidence that God is always present. It is there that I learned of His power, His majesty, His love, and that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings. In His Word I learned from Genesis to Revelation, He is “Alpha and Omega”, the beginning and the end. He is the “Great I Am”, the Creator of all things seen and unseen. ” I learned that all creation is designed to bring glory to His Name. In His Word I discovered the role of the Holy Spirit is to give counsel, to guide, and to give comfort. Through the wisdom of His Word I have grown in His grace and knowledge of Him. His Word will never die.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

God Is…

When we begin to listen to the voices of men to try to define God, we can easily be led into false doctrine, false dogma, and false beliefs, which keep us in a state of confusion.

God is not a god of many faces, moods, and purposes. He is not elusive, undefined, nor questionable. It is really possible to know Him, to be one in Him and one with each other through Him. He is most eager to reveal His truth to us, and to fill us with His love and His joy. He has shown me that He is righteous and just, always faithful, never wavering. He is always ready to meet my needs, willing my good. He is steadfast in His purpose to have a people who will worship and serve Him, to have a people who are of one mind and one Spirit.

We need only to study the Scriptures to know His purpose. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile us to God, erasing all of our iniquity. His resurrection makes it possible for us to be re-born as His children and to live as His children. God is…..our Father.

When Phillip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father.” Jesus answered him, “Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me, Phillip? He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9) And again in John 14:6-7, Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me. If you had known me, you would have known the Father, also.”

Jesus identifies Himself with the Father in simple clarity. Look to Jesus if you are truly sincere in seeking to know God.

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A number of years ago, I found this embellishment of the 23 Psalm. I do not remember where I found it, nor do I remember who wrote it. I want to share it because I think it is a beautiful expression of the wonderful words in this endearing Psalm. If anyone knows who wrote it, please let know.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. I shall not want anything but my Shepherd. He is strong and wise and wonderful, and He loves me. Although He knows my faults, weakness, and even the sin and selfishness that besets me, He loves me for what I am. And when I am tired and weary…..

He makes me to lie down in green pastures. In the soft lush grass I rest. He stands guard over my thoughts, so no disturbing thoughts enter and remain. I let go of my burdens and cares. I am still and know that He is God. When I am rested, refreshed and ready to start my journey again…..

He leads me beside the still waters. I sit there in the quiet of the evening and see the sun set beyond the horizon. In that golden hour my heart finds peace. My strivings cease and I surrender myself to His will. And now…..

He restores my soul. Yes, He takes hold of my hand and holds it fast, while we walk past the many forks in the road. How easily I could have chosen the wrong road, had He not been there beside me, but…..

He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. It is a narrow path but oh so beautiful. The birds sing early in the morning, while the grass is still wet with dew. The sun shines and the air is fresh and pure. If I should let go of my Shepherd’s hand and I should stray and get lost in the deep forest of the wilderness…..

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For He is with me. His rod and His staff, they comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Whose names are fear, worry, selfishness, and pride. Yet when they see me drink of gladness and joy, and eat of perfect peace, they leave me, and then…..

He anoints my head with oil. The gentleness of His hand almost makes my heart burst asunder with happiness. Yes, oh yes…..

My cup runs over. It is so full, I have room for no more. The gifts that He bestows on me are the best in the land, and with the good companions He gives me I know I shall never be lonely…..

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. As we walk along together, one day at dusk I shall come to a bend in the road. I shall stop, and far off in the distance I shall see a great mansion, magnificent in all its glory. It is a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens and only the single eye of the soul can behold it. I shall bow down and worship my Lord…..

And as I walk silently toward it, my heart will leap up in gladness and gratitude. A thousand stars will spring into space. The sweet laughter of God’s children echoes back through the heavens into the angelic choir of the numberless saints dressed in white. I shall have forgotten my yesterdays, my tears, my frustrations and my sorrows. For joy is set before me because I have been invited to enter…..

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Loving God

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” (Matt 22:37) This is the great commandment handed down through the ages from the time of Moses. It is a statement that reveals the jealous nature of God. He demands total love from us and does not want to settle for half-heartedness or second place. He chose us for His own possession because he loves us. He wants our praise, our worship, our thanks, and our service. He wants us to remember Him in all that we do.

Let us empty ourselves of anything else that we might be giving our hearts and minds to. As we give those things over to Him for His keeping, He will fill us with His great love. Let us praise God and thank Him for everything, even those difficult and trying times that cause us pain, for there can be no birth or growth without pain. Remember that He works toward good in all things for those who love Him. (Rom 8:28)

Jesus added a second commandment that is like the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:39) We cannot love God and refuse to love our fellow men. To open our hearts to God includes opening ourselves to all the world. It is to share in the suffering as well as the joys of others. To live and love as Jesus did is to love God as He would have us love Him.

That They May Be One

I have often tried to close my eyes and my ears to the trend in the world toward hatred, chaos, lawlessness, and the senseless things that divide and pit persons against each other. But when I hear the twisting of God’s Word in an effort to validate lies being told to those who are not grounded in His Word, my first reaction is anger. Jesus said, “love your enemies”. I confess, I have not done well with obeying this command. How do we love those whose intent is to discredit our Lord? My second reaction is sympathy for those receiving the lies and accepting them as truth. This is a reminder to me of the need for Christians to speak out to declare the truth of His Word and the Lordship of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.

Jesus prayed that all believers may be one, just as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. He prayed that they would be brought to complete unity in Him so that the world would know that the Father had sent Him and loved them just as the Father loved Him. (John 17:20-26)

He lives in His church through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He has impowered us to proclaim the truth that through his death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, he gives eternal life to those who believe and receive Him to be their Savior. We Christians must stand together, united in our calling to tell the world of these great truths. No greater witness can be given to His Lordship than the unity and love of His church proclaiming His Sovereignty.

It is a demonic spirit that keeps persons in bondage and blinds them to the truth of God’s love. They cry out in fear, pain, anger, and blasphemy. God help the church to look upon them with compassion, as ones who Jesus loves and died to save. His heart longs for those living in bondage to the lies being thrust upon them by many sources. Those who live without hope will receive hope through the love of God alive in us, calling us, the church, to action.

It is imperative that we pray for courage, love, and strength to fulfill His command to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

“May God who gives endurance, and encouragement, give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 15:5-6)

He is faithful and true to His Word. He has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us. We must be united in our faith, and in our witness to Him, and trust Him.

Genuine Worship

It had been nearly 20 years since I picked up a pen to write any additions to my testimonial. I thought that I had written all I had to say concerning my relationship with the Lord. But I have found that I had much more to learn and to share. Perhaps the most important thing. That is to truly worship Jesus with a thankful heart, and to desire to be in His presence above all else.

My husband, Jack, died in the year 2006. I left Ohio to live in Florida to be near my daughter and her family. The transition was not easy. I left behind a seven room house, the gardens I nurtured, a five acre plot of land complete with a mature woods and a river flowing beside it, my friends of 23 years, and the church where I served.

I moved into a 2 bedroom condo complete with all the rules and regulations that go with condo living. And I joined the church where my daughter was a member at that time.

As I look back, I wonder, was I following the Lord’s leading or was I just doing what seemed necessary to make me feel secure and sheltered?

Jack and I were a team. We worked together, worshiped together, prayed together, sang together, served together, studied together. We enjoyed the same friends. Now I found myself in a whole new environment and lifestyle. I looked for ways to keep myself occupied and to feel useful. I answered an ad that was in the local newspaper. It was a request for singers to join a group of seniors who ministered to persons living in nursing homes. I was accepted into the group and am still a part of it after 11 years. I also served as a member of the praise team at the church I had joined.

However, I am sorry to say that I did not form meaningful personal relationships. I began to look at other churches and became a church hopper for nearly three years. As a result, my relationship with the Lord became stagnant. I felt no passion. I began to watch church services on TV and learned anew that “the Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” The preaching, teaching and the music ministered to me, but He used a worship leader to be the inspiration I needed to open my heart again. The Lord knows everything about us. he knows how to speak to us in ways that we will understand. As I watched the worship leader sing praises to the Lord, I could see that he was actually worshiping as he sang. He was not just trying to impress an audience. His authentic devotion to God made me realize how far I had strayed from real worship. The Lord touched my heart and I wanted only to be in His presence.

I thank God for that moment of revelation. Without worship of Him life is flat, uninspiring and empty. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest.” We are created to worship Him, to live for Him. He is Almighty God, the creator of all things, the only one worthy of worship.

I am so thankful that God is a loving, patient, and faithful Father. He was always there waiting for me. He provided the means, the inspiration, that opened my heart again to receive His love. I learned anew that genuine worship of Him is vital in keeping an open relationship with Jesus, my Savior, and the lover of my soul. His grace is all I need.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise His Holy Name.” Psalm 103:1

The Counselor

God the Father, and God the Son, desires to communicate with His children. And He has provided the means of communication through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, who is present with us now, and forever.

The Lord has spoken to me through journaling for many years. This has given me a written account of His teachings and encouragement that I can refer to again and again. His message to me has been consistent, weaving a common thread which I accept to be His mission for my life.

In John 14:16-17, Jesus tells us that He will ask the Father, and He will give us a Counselor to be with us forever, the Spirit of truth who lives with us and in us. In John 14:26, He says that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in His name, will teach us all things and remind us of everything that Jesus has said to us. This is a gift given to all believers. It is the “still, small voice” heard within our spirits. I believe these are words of instruction and encouragement given for our own personal edification. But some of them are spiritual truths that can be enlarged upon for instructing others in their Christian walk.

As I reviewed the words of knowledge the Lord has spoken into my spirit, I can see that my life of service has been ordained by Him. It has been good for me to write this testimony to His presence in my life. Because doing so has renewed and re-enforced His call to be His witness and His servant. He has given me direction and instruction which I cannot disregard.

However, I regret that I have not attained what He intended for me to be, nor have I accomplished what He has ordained. I have tried feebly to be obedient, but I have failed to see His perfect will for me come to pass. Perhaps, I have allowed the flesh to sway me into believing that I lacked the initiative, the faith, the boldness and the compassion that is necessary in being a willing vessel for Him. I can only hope that will be remedied in the future.

It is my prayer that all of my descendants will seek to follow Jesus. My hope for them is Rom. 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” I know that all of my children have accepted Him as their Savior.

I am numbered with the redeemed, and there are many promises in the Scriptures that are directed toward the descendants of the redeemed. They will walk the path of righteousness and will be blessed by the Father. They will grow in His mercy and His love. Like a well-watered garden they will produce good fruit. The promise of Isaiah 59:20-21 is a confirmation that I hold in my heart: ” The Redeemer will come from Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the Lord. As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the Lord, My Spirit who is in you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever, says the Lord.”

I pray that this testimony will be a source of inspiration and motivation to all who read it. Take it and run with it. Where I have failed, may you succeed. God bless you.