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June 2015

Book: Hannah’s Prayer

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“And Hannah prayed, she said, My heart rejoices in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD” (1 Sam 2:1a). The Word of God is full of tiny mysteries. But how does He reveal them? When we read the Word of God with prayer we are granted with the spirit of wisdom and revelation. And the mysteries are unraveled through such a healthy reading. The book, Hannah’s Prayer, touches on this topic using the Old Testament example of Hanna, the formally barren mother of the prophet Samuel.

The Bible is like a large treasure hunt map. Treasures of life are buried in each written word in His book! Paul compared the written word as life itself! (Eph. 1:16-17).

After the Israelites had escaped slavery in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and began wandering in the harsh, wasteland wilderness of the Middle East, God would leave food for them every morning. They would have to go out of their tents to find it. They called it manna.

As we read the Bible today, we similarly can find the “manna” God has left us.

In the Old Testament, manna was used by God to foreshadow Christ – our true heavenly food. That same “manna” is present today in God’s Word (John 6:31-35). As we read His Word we find two types of manna: the “visible manna”, which is the written Word of God, and the “hidden manna.” Do you remember that at the beginning we talked about discovering the mysteries of God’s Word? These mysteries are the hidden manna, we need to have a true fellowship with the Lord in order to eat this manna. It’s a special portion of His word (Rev. 2:17). And of course, both are necessary to supply our lives! That’s what the book Hannah’s prayer will walk you through to do. We’ll learn how to to eat, to chew and to transform His living Word in our prayer.

As we pray, we’ll realize that our prayer becomes richer, full of spiritual meanings and reaching deeply the heart of our Lord! His life will be increased in us day by day and we will learn to have joy in the Lord in every situation. And this is done through prayer! As human beings we rejoice when we get things, or when we get complimented, or when we listen to a good song. There’s nothing wrong with these things on the surface, I mean, they gladden our heart, but all those things are fleeting. And that joy is also fleeting.

In this book we’ll learn how to rejoice in who is TRUE, EVERLASTING and is ALWAYS NEW! We’ll rejoice not in what He gives us, but in who our beloved Lord Jesus is for us!

When trying to speak to God we just have to open our hearts to Him. Exactly like Hannah did it! Hanna wanted a son but she was barren. She was told she’d never have children. But she’d pray at the temple nearly constantly. She gave God all of her pain and her anguished heart to God, crying for help. She allowed herself to be vulnerable with God. God already knows how she felt. But He wants and needs to hear us call on Him. We have to tell everything to the Lord without fear or reservations! When Hannah told everything to God, she got to know the Lord better and gain an intimacy with Him that she couldn’t if her heart was guarded (Ps. 25:14).

Hannah saw the need of God. Hannah had such an intimate fellowship with the Lord that she touched God’s heart. Her first prayer presenting her desire for God. It was simple . She presented her deepest sadness of not being able to give birth to a child when she wanted one so badly. So, she began to pray, letting herself be led by the Spirit that guided her, and she realized the need that the family had to have a descendant to preserve the heritage. And as the Spirit guided her, she found out she wasn’t the only one who wanted something, but God wanted something too. God would need a king to rule his people and it would be through Hannah’s future son, Samuel, that that king would be appointed. Hannah asked for a son because she knew that God would also need him to fulfill His plan, then, she consecrated her son to the Lord. She wanted her son to be for the Lord and made a vow deciding not pass razor on the boy’s head. Prayer answered! Her prayer that had began with what Hannah wanted but that expanded to the family and reached the need of God. An intimate prayer lead to both Hannah and the Lord being supplied!

Young one, at this moment you may feel overloaded by things the world offers. Perhaps you are not being able to go deep into the wonders of God and the biggest difficulty is in separating out time to talk to Him. So, we propose you a challenge. How about going to the “mount”, a place where you can be alone and pray, cry for help, as did Hannah, presenting everything to God?

Pray with the belief that everything has already been accomplished (Mark 11:24). Persevere! Do not give up, because God will speak to you when you cast off your guardedness. He always answers us. Once the need of God is reached in our prayers, our prayers are answered. Allow yourself to deeply know God. The book Hannah’s Prayer will change the way you pray and read the God’s Word and you will taste the greatness of the riches that Christ has to give you! Will you miss out this opportunity? Jesus is the Lord!

Datasheet

Title: The Hannah’s Prayer

Publisher: Editora Árvore da Vida

Pages: 69

First Edition: May / 1999

Messages given by Brother Dong Yu Lan in March 1994 in the city of Cuiabá, MT.

Translation of the article Livro: A oração de Ana (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

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How to Know God’s Will

directionsBefore we believed in the Lord, we used to do everything according to our own will. But He saved us, so we belong to Him, and we’re here to do His will. This new life we have received has a basic requirement from us to have power: to walk according God’s will. The more we obey Him, the more life we get and the deeper joy we feel. However, if we walk according to our own will, we won’t get the what God wants to give us.

The desire of God is that we act according to His will in all of our decisions. He only wants His children to be happy. But how can we know that something is indeed the will of God? Or if it’s just a feeling from ourselves or from the people around us? God wants us to do His will so he had to give us a way to help determine it. Faced with so many factors around us, we need to be clear about three principles for which we can figure out the will of God.

We need to pay attention to three things: the arrangements in the environment we’re in, the direction of the Spirit, and, of course, the Word. If these three things fall into place for us, we may be sure that we know God’s will. IfBut if one is out of balance, we should wait until all 3 are in unison.

1) Arrangements in the environment

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31) 

This passage says that even things as small as a sparrow, or as thin as a hair are under God’s care. God cares for everything and everything that happens to us is under His sovereign arrangement. The circumstances around us are often the result of God’s mercy which keeps and sometimes restricts us, until we see that there isn’t other choice but to follow Him. Like a set of doors all becoming locked leaving us with one door to choose. 

2) The direction of the Spirit

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)

We’re God’s children because we took in the same divine life that He has. We can say Spirit of God flows through His believers and can give us the knowledge of His will. Through it, spontaneously we get a feeling, a wisdom, an inner certainty that goes beyond our own feelings. There are two ways the Spirit guides us inwardly. It either encourages us or forbids us to do something.

Some examples of the encouraging of the Spirit: 

“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.'” (Acts 8:29)

 “While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.'” (Acts 10:19,20)

Now, an example of the forbiddance of the Spirit:

“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” (Acts 16:6,7)

This divine life running through us gives us calming peace when we act according to it. Likewise we’ll feel uncomfortable when we don’t act according to it. As we read in Colossians 3:15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts”. We will have peace if what we’re considering comes from the Lord.  We will not have peace if it doesn’t come from Him.

3) The Word

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105)

The Word of God is revealed to us through His words recorded in the Bible. These inscribed words don’t change and have to be studied carefully. We can’t interpret them according to our own point of view and adjust it to our own will. Moreover, the Holy Spirit will never contradict the Word. We can rest assured that it’s the Holy Spirit guiding us if it’s in accordance with His written Word. In His scriptures we can know the person of the Spirit and the way He acts.

If these three things of environment, the Spirit and the Word are all aligned we know that it is God’s will. If not, we need to pray for them to align or pray to accept that they might not be meant to align. It could be that a possible decision has been confirmed by the Word and the inner feeling of the Spirit, but not by the circumstances around us. In this case, we could say that indeed it is the will of God, but not yet the right time to act it. Or the circumstances could be perfect and confirmed by the word but we have no peace from the Spirit which could meanGod is trying to tell you to hold on.

In either case, we need to wait and keep seeking guidance before the Lord.

The confirmation from the Church

The principles listed above work together, like support beams to a bridge, to reveal God’s will to us. But we might not have enough experience to evaluate each of them. When this is the case, we can resort to the more experienced brothers regarding the Word, the Spirit and the circumstances around us. The Lord has placed us in the church life to perfect us and it’s a fortunate grace to have people who care for us and help us with their own experiences with the Lord. It is always important to seek confirmation from the brothers ahead of us. But their feeling should never replace our individual search to know God’s will. 

Other Factors

These are the main ways God used to reveal His will to His servants in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, visions and dreams like for Joseph, were common then but aren’t the regular way God uses to guide us in this age. Since Christ ascended, He left us the Spirit for us who speaks to us.

God uses dreams and visions when something is so radical that it’d hardly accepted under normal conditions. In Acts 10, for example, the Lord called Peter to preach the gospel to the non-Jews which he never would, because of his traditional stance to ignore the non-Jews. But in this chapter, we’ll see that there was environmental confirmation (Cornelius sent men to Peter) and the speaking of the Holy Spirit (v.19).

There are also times when we have little time to consider like when Paul reached a spiritual epiphany while praying in the temple, and God told him to hurry up and leave Jerusalem without delay (Acts 22: 17-21). In extreme cases like these, with clear visions or dreams and the approval of the inward feeling of the Spirit, we can act without waiting for confirmation of the environment. But again, these instances are far and few in between.

Conclusion

Above all, we must have a living before the Lord with a heart delivered to Him and a purified conscience. Striving for this allows us to better know who He is making it easier to know His will before every situation. Each of us is different and God will guide us each differently, but these are the main ways: our environmental, the inward direction of the Spirit and the teachings of the Bible.

“If we had not been chosen by God, He would let us go as we wanted to. But as we were chosen by God, He will take us to the path of obedience according to His way. Disobedience only bring in unnecessary delays.”

Text made based on the chapter “Searching the Will of God”, of the book “Building up New Believers”, from Watchman Nee.

Translation of the article Como conhecer a vontade de Deus (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

His Name Is JESUS!

img_3368How often have you felt alone? Maybe you have many friends but at the same time feel like you have no one? You want to vent but have no idea who to tell it to? Willing to cry but not knowing who to collapse onto? Don’t be discouraged! There is a solution to these problems. There’s someone interested in everything you are – even the bad parts. And not only that; this Person also wants to give you His life. His name is Jesus!In our lives we go through waves of anxiety, sorrow, want, loneliness, and discouragement. And sometimes those waves feel more like whirlpools and we don’t understand why we go through those feelings. We are suffocated all day by what life demands from us. It feels like we aren’t going to be able to endure it. Those feelings are like a weight tied around us, dragging us deeper into an ocean. The truth is we can’t really deal with it. On our own, at least. The greater truth is that we can be supplied with a life that can transform the whole valley of dry bones into green pastures!

When Jesus came to this earth, He went through all emotions like sorrow, pain, loneliness. He, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7). He could have come to this earth just to make demands and give orders. Nevertheless, the verse continues: He humbled Himself (Phil. 2:8).

The first step to get to know Jesus is to empty our self.

How? By uttering His name: “Oh, Lord Jesus!” No need of any formality, ritual or a script – just call Him. He wants to hear from your mouth. He doesn’t want to be an afterthought, He wants to hear that He is the only one who can transform all our sadness into peace. He knows we can’t deal with our problems on our own but we need to be emptied out, like a dirty pipe, for Him to pour in more easily. If Jesus, being God, emptied and gave everything of Himself for us, how much in turn do we need to empty ourselves?

After emptying ourselves, the second step is to be humbled.

To be humbled is to end lower than when you started; on your knees instead of on your feet. This isn’t something to be embarrassed of; on the contrary, it’s a pleasant thing. We can more touch deeply the person of Jesus is when we humble ourselves. By doing so, all problems of this world will not be able to touch us since we have already touched Christ. As we seek for His presence, we can be supplied with life and be full of joy even with afflictions.

Once we get to know Him, nothing will replace the love and care He gives us.

Now He is also waiting for you. Meet him NOW! Open yourself to Him. He wants to be your best friend and a great help to your difficulties (Ps. 46:1). Do not waste this wonderful person. He wants to give you victory. Go now, cry out for His name and be free from all the harshness of this world! He is your opportunity!

Translation of the article “O nome Dele é JESUS!” (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

Separating Time to Have Fellowship with God

Jesus gave Himself for us and His desire is that we give ourselves completely to Him. So our time should belong to Him. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should leave what we want to do behind, but it means that we need to give priority to Him and to live every moment in His presence. However, in the daily rush, we’ll sometimes have difficulty separating out a time for prayer and the reading of the Word. If you’ve been facing these kinds of problems, here are some principles that might help. Know that the Lord Himself is the one who is going to take you to live closer and closer to God.

The daily fellowship with God renews us, keeps us from falling into temptation and gives us strength and wisdom to continue with our daily activities. He awaits our presence. God’s desire is that we may be in fellowship with Him, and with this purpose in mind He did all His work on Earth.

However, there are many factors which stop us from having a daily intimate moment with the Lord. The first of them is time. We could argue that times have changed and that it’s difficult to have free time nowadays. It’s true that, I mean, the world is full of information and activities, but

God did not give in to our rush, not even adopted the methods of our mechanical age. The man who would truly know God must give time to Him

A. W. Tozer

Yes, God’s things do not conform to the things of this age. It’s us who should conform to God’s things.

We have an interesting example in the Bible: Daniel. He had an influential and demanding position within the kingdom of Babylon; which meant he was a busy man. Yet he separated time to pray three times a day (Dan. 6:10) and at one point, the Babylonian king said that Daniel served God continually (Dan. 6:16). So, where there is interest, there is time.

Trying to leave this moment for later in the day might not work out. When the end of the day hits, you can realize that there wasn’t time for a moment of fellowship with the Lord. So now you’re too tired to do anything. So, the best way might be …

… To go to Him as soon as you wake up.

The morning is the gate of the day, and should be well guarded with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the day’s actions are strung, and should be well knotted with devotion. If we felt more the majesty of life, we should be more careful of its mornings. He who rushes from his bed to his business and waiteth not to worship, is as foolish as though he had not put on his clothes, or cleansed his face, and as unwise as though he dashed into battle without arms or armor. Be it ours to bathe in the softly-flowing river of communion with God, before the heat of the wilderness and the burden of the way begin to oppress us.

Charles Spurgeon.

Many can testify: if we start our days with a moment of fellowship with the Lord, our activities during the day get easier to be done. This also gives us more confidence against the traps of the enemy during the day.

According to my judgement the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord.

George Müller.

The fellowship with God is what makes us truly happy and it must be the most important activity in our day. George Muller, a brother who lived in the 18th century and who, through prayer, did extraordinary things (its worth reading a bit of his history). If something happens and you can’t go to the Lord’s presence early in the morning, do it as soon as possible afterwards.

An important practice is to call upon the name of the Lord, as soon as one gets up and during the day. But, sometimes we may have …

.. Difficulties to call upon His name

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalms 145:18). For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). 

The Bible has many verses speaking about us calling upon Him. To call upon the Lord’s name also saves us from the difficulties in our lives, saves us from the enemy and saves us from ourselves. Don’t doubt, is the Word of God that says so. We must believe more in the Word than in our feelings. If you believe in these words, the simple fact of calling “O, Lord Jesus!” will lead you to experience the wonderful presence of the Lord! In fact, to call upon is an excellent way to start a prayer. Even so, someone could say…

… “I can’t pray!”

There are many factors that get in our way when praying. But to get past those we have to be one thing. Above all, be honest with God and yourself. David was very honest in his prayers in the his psalms. Tell the Lord that you can’t pray and that you need help to see and eliminate any other roadblocks. Ask Him to show if you have committed any sin and, having shown them, confess them, for our sins make separation between us and God. Doing this gives us a freedom that we didn’t have with sin.

Beyond being honest, an important principle that the Lord taught us was to pray in secret, away from others’ eyes:

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6)

This verse, outlines that God reveals Himself to us when if we take a moment to move away from the many distractions of the world and seek the intimacy of being alone with God! But, even so, it may be that when you try to pray you feel troubled, cold hearted, and even unworthy to go to Him. However,

Do not be thinking of how little you have to bring God, but of how much He wants to give you. Just place yourself before, and look up into, His face; think of His love, His wonderful, tender, pitying love. Just tell Him how sinful and cold and dark all is: it is the Father’s loving heart will give light and warmth to yours. O do what Jesus says: Just shut the door, and pray to thy Father, which is in secret. Is it not wonderful? to be able to go alone with God, the infinite God. And then to look up and say: My Father!”

Andrew Murray – With Christ in the School of Prayer

The main function of prayer is to listen to God, not to speak to Him. Before all, open your heart! God always has something new of Himself to reveal to us.

And He also reveals Himself through His word. That’s why, prayer and reading of the Bible must be together: reading a verse helps to start a prayer, as praying helps to start a scripture reading! Perhaps a scripture reading of a devotional, such as the Daily Food. This helps us to deal with those situations in which we can say:

“I don’t know what to pray for!”

You don’t have something to pray for? Then open the Bible, there you will find a subject to talk about with God (Book: The Potter’s House). Try to pray on some verses. To pray on the Word is a valuable practice!

For the rest,

Pray for prayer—pray till you can pray; pray to be helped to pray, and give not up praying because thou canst not pray, for it is when thou thinkest thou canst not pray that thou art most praying; and sometimes when thou hast no sort of comfort in thy supplications, it is then that thy heart all broken and cast down is really wrestling and truly prevailing with the Most High.

Charles Spurgeon.

Remember: depend on the Lord, confess your inability. He goes to those who know their weaknesses and humble themselves before Him (2 Chr. 7:14; 2 Cor. 12:10).

In the beginning prayer can seem something forced, but keep praying until it becomes spontaneous. It’s like re-acquainting yourself with an old friend or cleaning out a dirty pipe. As the water flows through the channel, it removes obstacles and eventually flows freely.

To conclude, we always need to remember that, in our Christian lives, we need to have perseverance. In many passages of the Bible, God tells us we need to persevere. It’s He who gives us strength and wisdom in order to persevere. It doesn’t matter the difficulties that we come across with, we will keep looking to Him!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” Heb. 12:1-2a

Translation of the article Separar tempo para a comunhão com Deus (Blog Eu vos escrevi). Español.

The Mind Behind the System – Love Not the World Series (1)

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Introduction – Love Not the World Series

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15)

The Bible addresses this world in a very serious manner, as we can see by the verse above. But what is the exact meaning of world in passages like this one? And how do we deal with it? What are the boundaries when we get involved with activities here on earth? There are many different opinions about this matter among Christians, some are very strict and some are more liberal. So we need to be clear about what the Bible says.

So we decided to start a new series, introducing the book Love Not the World which was based on messages given by Watchman Nee in several places, during 1938 and 1941. It remains however very relevant to today. Our posts are merely abstracts of the chapters in the book, so we suggest you read it to gain a more complete understanding. We invite you to accompany us in this series and discover how we can keep our lives on this earth in accordance with God’s will. May the Lord bring us His freedom through these readings!

The Mind Behind the System

“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:31-32)

In these verses, Jesus places Himself in opposition to the ruler of this world. Here we see that this world will be judged and its ruler will be cast out. This would happen through the obedience of Christ unto His death on the cross.

In the Bible, the Greek word kosmos is mostly translated as world – there is only one exception. It’s a meaningful word. If we check its origins in Classical Greek, we find that it originally meant 2 things: first, an orderly or harmonious arrangement; second, embellishment or ornamentation. The second idea brings in the verb kosmeo, to adorn, to embellish, as in Luke 21:5 and Revelation 21:2. The exception we’ve spoken about is in 1 Peter 3:3, where the word kosmos is translated as adornment, in accordance with the same verb in verse 5.

By reading the New Testament, the context where the word is used leads us to conclude that it has three separate meanings:

1) The material universe, the whole world, this earth

As in Acts 17:24, “God, who made the world and everything in it”; Matthew 13:35, “The foundation of the world”; John 1:10, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him”; and Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world”.

2) The second meaning is double:

a) The world’s inhabitants

As in John 1:10, “And the world did not know Him”; 3:16, “For God so loved the world”; 12:19, “Look, the world has gone after Him!”; 17:21, “That the world may believe”.

b) The human race apart from God

Some examples can be found in John 14:17, “Whom the world cannot receive”; 15:18, “If the world hates you”.

3) World affairs

The riches and delights of this earth, stimulating our desires and moving us away from God. Examples in 1 John 2:15, “The things in the world”; 2:17, “The world is passing away”; Matthew 16:26, “If he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul”; 1 Corinthians 7:31, “And those who use this world as not misusing it”.

The word kosmos is used like this not only in regards to material things, but also to abstract concepts, such as spiritual and moral values. Thus, 1 Corinthians 3:19, “The wisdom of this world”; 7:31, “The form of this world”; 2 Peter 1:4, “The corruption that is in the world through lust”. A Christian should keep him or herself “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

These 3 definitions put together, (1) the material earth, (2) people on earth, and (3) earthly affairs, help us form a general idea of what the world is. We can see that there is something behind them. The classic idea of an organized system can aid us in understanding: behind all of this there is a planned system, one that operates in perfect order.

About this system, there are 2 main matters we need to know. First of all, we need to know that the world has been in opposition to God since Adam fell. The world “hated” Christ (John 5:18), “its works are evil” (7:7), and “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4). That is why the verse from John 12 we quoted in the beginning of the article says that this world is under judgment. God’s position towards it is uncompromising. This is because, in the second place, there is a mind behind the system – John writes several times about “the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).

Now we can better understand the passage from 1 Peter 3 which we spoke of before. There we see Peter saying that inner beauty is what counts before God, and not outward “adornment” (kosmos). We can realise that there is power acting behind clothes, jewellery and makeup. Do not let this power rule over you. We should ask ourselves what motivates us in regards to those things. It can be something truly innocent, nothing sensual, simply wanting to have a nice appearance. There is nothing wrong with that. But can you notice what we are dealing with here? We are touching that harmonious system (sorry, I don’t understand this) behind visible things, a system which is controlled by the enemy of God. Hence, we need to be careful.

In the beginning, neither earth nor man had anything to do with the world. But Satan took the opportunity of man sinning to introduce this system on earth. So we can say that before the fall there was an earth, and after the fall there was a world. At the Lord’s coming, there will be a Kingdom. When the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus is here, it will put an end to that of Satan. Politics, Education, Literature, Science, Art, Law, Commerce, Music – these are all things that make up the kosmos, things we can find in our daily lives. These fields have been developing throughout history. Where is this progress going, though? What is the final goal of all this? In the end, the antichrist will rise and establish his own government in this world (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7; Rev. 13). This is the direction the progress of this world is going. Satan is using the material world, its people, and the things of this world to eventually rule over everything under the government of the antichrist. Then the world system will have reached its peak and each one of its units will be revealed as being an antichrist.

Finally the question we should always ask ourselves when relating to the things of this world is, “How will this affect my relationship with the Father?” God is working in the church to bring about His Kingdom. Meanwhile Satan is building up his system to obtain the government of the antichrist. Which one do you want to take part in? We see here that we need to be alert not only against sin, but against the ruler of this world as well. When we have to decide between two things, we should not ask if that’s good or bad, or if that’s useful or harmful. No! What we need to ask ourselves is, “Is this from this world or from God?” Once we know that is the only conflict in the universe, we know that whenever two options are put before us the choice is between nothing over than: God or Satan?

Do you have any doubts on practical matters? Well, this is only an intro. Keep on following us through this series for more clarification about the matter. May God bless you!

Translation of the article A Mente por Trás do Sistema (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

Prayer: The First Step to a Blessed Relationship – He (1)

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Well guys, I, Marcos Felipe, and Sara are very happy to be the first couple to share with you some of our experience in our relationship. We thought it would be better for both of us to share our own view of the facts individually, so here goes! In this first post, I would like to share with you about my time of prayer.

I have always known that marriage is something that is in God’s heart and I have prayed for it since I was 12 years old. Whaaat? 12 years old? That’s right! 12 years old. I didn’t pray for a specific person, but for the Lord to keep whoever she was until then.

During that time, feelings came and went, and to be honest, these feelings were very helpful, because they somehow saved me from the world and stopped me from turning away from God’s path and searching for worldly things. I always thought: “I will save myself for that person”.

When I turned 18 years old, I thought: “I think now is the time to find someone”. However, my time wasn’t the Lord’s, and therefore, I had some disappointments. Actually, there is no such thing as the ‘time to find someone’; we need to wait for the Lord to provide.

So for this, I kept myself from searching anything in the world, I lived the church life intensely, I went to all conferences I could, I did the GPPC.

Oh, the GPPC! One of the best times of my life! I was still very closed towards the matter of relationships, so I read the booklet “The Marriage of the Dreams of God”, which I highly recommend. After reading it, I was able to rest in the Lord. I was sure God had the best for me.

I sought the Lord even more, I gave myself to Him, I really enjoyed the GPPC, I had many experiences with the Lord, visited many churches in many cities. And, in one of those visits, there was a problem with our car, which forced us to sleep over in the house of a very dear sister, who later became my mother-in-law. That small car problem led me getting to know the most important person in my life. Do you want to know when everything began? Well, I’m not telling you until the next chapter.

See you in the next post!

When God Makes Us Wait

00011Why do we have so many fast food chains? Why are ready meals so popular? It’s because we don’t like to wait.

If you want to have a quick meal, you can simply go to a drive-thru at McDonald’s and order a Happy Meal. However, if you want a feast, you know you will have to wait a while. Large meals are not prepared all of a sudden, no matter what TV commercials say. I have never seen anyone putting food in the microwave because they thought it would be tastier than if prepared in the oven or cooked in a saucepan. We choose ready meals when we’re in a rush to eat. We use the oven when we want to eat well.

The plans and the promises of God are not ready meals. God slowly prepares His plan and His people, extracting the best from them. You can almost always expect that God will make you wait, because He has what is best prepared for you. He is never late and is rarely in a hurry. However, I assure you: When God’s plan is that you wait; He will make the wait worthwhile.

By studying the life of David, we find that he spent a good part of his life waiting. He had to wait for about fifteen years since he was anointed by Samuel to become the king of Judah. And he had to wait another seven years to be anointed king over all Israel. That means he waited more than twenty years to be king.

We should begin by noticing that the promise made by God to Israel and David took a long time to be fulfilled. David becomes king of Israel after a considerable amount of time and a lot of adversity. This is the subject of  1 Samuel 16: 1 and 2 Samuel 5: 5. This period of David’s life can be summed up in two words: “time” and “problem”.

The long time it took for David to become king of Israel is not unusual, but it’s the typical way of God to fulfill His promises and purposes. God is not in a hurry. He has all the time in the world. In fact, God is much greater than time and certainly is not limited by it. Throughout the Bible we see God promising things that men need to wait to receive:

  1. God promised a son to Abram and Sarai, but they had to wait 25 years.
  2. God promised Noah that there would be a flood of waters, but it took a long time to happen.
  3. God made Jacob wait for seven years to have the wife he wanted.
  4. Joseph had to wait a considerable amount of time to see his brothers and his family again, and failed to return to their land until after his death (his bones were carried until the people of Israel got to the Promised Land).
  5. The Israelites had to wait 430 years in Egypt before returning to the Promised Land.
  6. The writer of Hebrews tells us that all the saints of the Old Testament had to wait for us (the Gentiles) before they can see the promised kingdom (Heb. 11: 39-40).
  7. During 2,000 years the saints have been waiting for the return of our Lord and the coming of His kingdom.

Waiting is part of the divine plan. The wait is not an accident, it is on purpose/it has a purpose.

Also, many people fail in faith and obedience to God while they wait: waiting is a form of adversity, a trial of our faith and perseverance.

“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (1 Pet. 2:20)

Many of the flaws we see in the Bible are related to waiting. We can see it from the beginning with Adam and Eve. If we pay attention to the story of the fall, we’ll see the temptation to take a shortcut to accomplish something the Lord was preparing for them. The knowledge of good and evil, in itself, was not the issue. If Adam and Eve would become “like God” knowing good and evil, how could this be bad? Is it bad to be like God? Is not that what God is doing to us, conforming us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29)? Won’t we be “like Him” ​​when “we see Him as He is” (1 John 3: 2)? Wasn’t David praised for “knowing good and evil” (2 Sam. 14:17)? Solomon prayed for wisdom, to discern between “good and evil” (1 Kin. 3: 9). Christians, by obedience to the Word of God, “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). We see that God wanted Adam and Eve to have this knowledge, but not by the fast and easy way eat, in secret,  the forbidden fruit. It was not wrong to know good and evil, but to know it in a way that God had forbidden. I believe God had a better and slower way of doing it, but they preferred the shortcut. They did not want to wait on the Lord for that knowledge.

Abraham and Sarah had to wait for the promised son and, at least one of their failures was in the field of patience, to wait on God for the fulfillment of His promise.  Wasn’t it why Abraham said to be the Eliezer of Damascus, his heir (Gen. 15: 2)? Wasn’t it also why Abram gave in to Sarai’s advice to have the promised heir with her servant Hagar (Gen. 16: 1-2)?

As described in Exodus 32, the Israelites sinned by making the golden calf. Didn’t this happen because they refused to wait 40 days for Moses to return from Mount Sinai?

In 1 Samuel 13, didn’t Saul sin because he didn’t want to wait for Samuel?

Weren’t the disciples of our Lord always asking for the coming of His kingdom and trying to rush it?

The church at Corinth had many problems. One of them was concerning waiting/patience. They couldn’t wait for God to do justice, so they took each other to court (1 Cor. 6).

No wonder that our Lord has devoted so much time and attention to teaching His disciples how to behave while they waited His return:

“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to allpeople?”. And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom hismaster will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:40-48)

Satan often attacks us by trying to take advantage of the time we have to wait for divine fulfillment. Satan tries to reassure the minds of nonbelievers showing that the waiting time is proof that God does not know or does not care when we sin:

“Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet. 3:1-4)

Satan seeks to undermine the faith and obedience of God’s children deceiving them about the divine love wherever God takes time to answer them. I think that’s what Satan did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I also believe that this is the essence of the temptation of our Lord at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Satan said to the Lord: “Ok, I know that you are the King. However, instead of denying yourself (obeying God and staying 40 days and 40 nights without eating), why don’t you do something for yourself? Why don’t you eat now? Why do you need so much suffering to get into your kingdom? Why don’t you worship me and I will give you the kingdom of this world right now?”.  Isn’t this how Satan thinks and acts?

While we wait, Satan will have us believe that God’s promises will never be fulfilled. He seeks to push us to act independently of God, getting things for ourselves instead of waiting for God to give them to us. Satan tries to work within our minds with doubts about God’s love, as if God was withholding something good from us from pure meanness. Satan works by promoting mistrust in God, especially in His Word. He leads us to disobey God and follow our own judgment. He pushes us to take advantage of the occasion, using other people and questionable methods to get what we want.

When we wait upon the Lord, our faith is increased to maximum and our intimacy with God is reinforced. Have you noticed how many Psalms were written in times of waiting? The question “For how long?” is found several times in the Psalms – “to wait on the Lord”. David often is the author of those psalms of “waiting times”. To wait on the Lord is good for us. To wait helps us to develop patience and tolerance. It causes us to exercise our faith in God’s promises and to act based on His Word and not on what we see or think. To wait increases our appetite for the wonderful things God has in store for us. Waiting requires us to reject fleshly desires and to put aside the desire for instant gratification through a shortcut. To wait upon the Lord is one of the ways to “take up our cross and follow Him”.

To wait upon the Lord is a principle that can also be applied to sexual purity. Today there is a lot of talk about “safe sex” and very little about abstinence. This is because waiting for the pleasures of marital sex is a taboo. Virginity is disdained as if it was a curse, not a gift that one spouse gives to the other. Waiting upon the Lord for the joys and pleasures of marital sex, increases the joy and the pleasure of this gift, if and when God gives it. What I want to highlight is that sexual purity requires a time of waiting, and this is very good practice for us in our Christian walk. We should not consider this issue as something that God cruelly withholds from us but, as a very good gift which we are willing to wait on the Lord to be able to fully enjoy without guilt.

We can say that some kinds of waiting time are not good for us. Often we tend to procrastinate when we should be working, and at other times, work when we should be waiting. We should not wait to do what God commands us to do. The waiting time that is pleasing to God is when we wait for His promises that we, ourselves, cannot accomplish without acting in disbelief and disobedience to His Word.

Waiting is not necessarily a time of passivity. Have you noticed what people do while waiting? Some do absolutely nothing. There are constructive things you can do while waiting. David waited over 20 years to reign over all Israel, but this was a very busy time of his life. He did much more than simply run away in order to save himself. He released the people of Keilah (1 Sam. 23: 1-5) and did many good things for the people of Judah (1 Sam. 30: 26-31). One of the things we can do while waiting is to praise God and to pray, as David and others do in the psalms. While we cannot do what we really want, we can do what God gives us the opportunity to do, while we wait on Him for the fulfillment of His promises and His purposes.

Waiting is a significant part of the life of each one of us. Each of us may be waiting for a lot of things right now. Let me name just a few of them:

  1. When young, we hope to grow and enjoy the rights, privileges and responsibilities of adulthood. Rebellions in adolescence and sex before marriage are attempts to take a shorter path that often end up causing a short circuit;
  2. Some couples hope to have children. Most parents have to wait, at least, nine months to have a child, and many of them have to wait much longer;
  3. Many people expect recognition and reward for their work, while others take shortcuts to be promoted;
  4. Almost all Christians go through some kind of pain or suffering through which they have to wait in order to be released;
  5. All Christians wait for the salvation of loved ones, friends or relatives;
  6. We all find ourselves waiting for God to change someone we love or who is close to us;
  7. We all wait for the return of our Lord and His kingdom;
  8. Strange as it may seem, a lot of Christians wait for death. There are those who are not able to wait for God’s time and choose suicide as a way to relieve their pain. We all have situations where we want the Lord “to take someone” or “take us”, but God tells us to wait.

We can learn from David that waiting is a normal aspect of the Christian life. We will be tempted to shorten this wait time, but to give in would be a sin. Sometimes, other people want to help us to take a shortcut. However, we must decide with our heart to be like David and wait on the Lord for the fulfillment of His purposes and promises in His time. We may be sure that while we wait, God is working in us, preparing us for the wonderful things that are ahead. Don’t doubt that we will see them. And let’s dedicate ourselves to growing in life and serving the Lord as we wait, not as those who are powerless, but as those who are strengthening their faith.

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” – Psalms 27:14

“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

Translation of the article Quando Deus Nos Faz Esperar (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

Steadfast as Christ

constan1“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thess. 3:5

One day we’re excited and the next day we feel down. Today we’re loving, tomorrow we’re grumpy. Calm one day, agitated another day. We’re all like this. Who doesn’t know people like this? Our feelings and the circumstances around us all change, however, our life with God cannot be so prone to changes. When many of us listen to the word in a conference, for example we have a strong desire to practice it, but we give up on it soon after. There are also those who stop going to church meetings because they are not feeling well on a particular day. That leads us to fully stop meeting.

But God wants to make us be steadfast and constant as Christ. But how can this become a reality to us? Only through faith. We need to live by faith (Heb. 10:38), and not by feelings. To have faith means to receive something as a steadfast truth. After you start to believe, it become an unchanging fact to us. It is impossible to question, doubt or overthink if it’s going to happen. And that’s it!

Now, what you have to do is to wait for the fulfillment of this fact. This must be our attitude towards the Word of God. It is written in the Bible that there are no impossible things to God. Our faith is like a grain of mustard seed and Jesus said that can move mountains (Matt. 17:20). We need to believe this! It is written that His Spirit dwells within those who believe in Him (Rom. 8:14). It is the word of God that says so! It is a fact, regardless of your feelings. We also need to believe that the same Spirit which dwells in our inner being is the same one that makes us obey the Word of God.

The Lord never said we should serve him based on our feelings but by steadfast faith! The Word tells us not to neglect to meet together (Heb. 10:25), and it doesn’t make exceptions to sentimental matters. We need to remember that our feelings, besides from stemming from our fallen soul life, are also affected by Satan. Therefore, it is of great importance that we watch ourselves and be at our best with our fellowship with the Lord. This must be our standard. If today I am discouraged with the church life comparing to yesterday, however little discouragement it may be, I need to pronto search for the presence of the Lord by gazing upon His living Word. This is safety to us!

The more we know our God, the more we have trust in His Word. We need to have the practice of reading the Word with prayer every day. And by doing so our faith will grow.

Translation of the article Constantes como Cristo (Bog Eu vos escrevi)

The Glow of Death

wpid-radioactive-wallpaper-22Young one, what bewitches you? What draws your attention? What distracts you? “Bewitchedness” is one of the most pressing issues as a Christian. The largest Radioactive incident in Brazil nearly thirty years ago will be used to illustrate this. We hope that after reading, you would be encouraged to look forth to the right direction.  

Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians shows this massive Problem: Being Bewitched

Paul’s epistle to the Galatians was aimed at the saints residing in the region of Galatia, which is modern Turkey today. In the context of those days, the saints from that region were influenced to practice works of the old testament. Practices whose significance had come and gone in the light of to what God had prepared and revealed in the New Testament.

In one of the most significant sections of his epistle he pinpointed the state of that group of believers. He wrote this: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? – Galatians 3:1 He wants to know who bewitched the Galatians. In other words, Paul probes the saints by using the powerful word of bewitched to show how far they’d fallen. Paul showed a new Christ-like living and manifests his indignation and resentment by asking: “What bewitched you?”

Bewitched is a strong word. It’s defined as: to enchant and delight (someone), captivate, entrance, enrapture, charm, beguile, beauty that fascinates. Paul used this vocabulary to draw the saints’ attention and help them to refocus on Christ. That characteristic of the Galatians proves our biggest problem: being bewitched.   

The damage of being bewitched can be illustrated by the largest Radioactive accidents in Brasil. To illustrate how much damage being bewitched can cause in the life of a Christian, we will use the example of the biggest radioactive accident in Brazil, which occurred 28 years ago, in the city of Goiânia:

It all started when two garbage collectors trespassed into a hospital to rob an abandoned machine and fully intended of profiting from the scrap metal. After it was sold, the “new owner” of the metal began dismantling the aged machine and noticed that there was a capsule with white powder. It looked like salt. Surprisingly, the capsule looked like it had “supernatural” particles which made the powder shine in the dark.

Bewitched, the owner took the powder to his place, calling his friends and carelessly distributing and handling the powder to them. It got to the point of his niece ingesting the powder as she mixed it with a boiled egg. In a matter of days, his wife noticed that he, her husband’s friends and her niece were all feeling sick. They thought it was a virus so did the doctors. They dealt with those symptoms with a virus being its final diagnosis.

In the meanwhile, the little niece became even more ill, whereas the wife of the owner of the metal concluded that it all related to the white powder. Therefore, she obtained a sample and took it to the city’s sanitary surveillance center to have it tested. After its analysis, they discovered that the powder was Caesium 137, a radioactive compound. This would kick off the largest radioactive accidents in Brazil.

The first measure taken was to isolate people and their belongings so doctors could treat those affected. But as time went by, some had already died due to the harmful radioactive material in their bodies. The first to die was the niece of the owner of this metal (six days after she was infected). The owner’s wife died a month after, and the owner himself died 7 years later.

After the incident, 11 people died and nearly 600 were contaminated. Some are still dealing with the effects. Because the radioactivity seeps into everything in the area, that small amount of caesium 137 produced 13 thousand tons of nuclear waste. This was in the form of debris from demolition of buildings, animals, plants, soil fragments and clothing.

These radioactive remnants were stored in a deposit made in Abadia of Goiânia, a city close to the capital. The deposit is covered by layers of concrete that keeps the radioactivity isolated from the environment (click here to read more information). After reading this story, there’s a detail that must be added: the quantity of the radioactive material was only 19 grams – which is equivalent to the weight of a cereal bar.

Nineteen grams of “bewitchedness” caused 11 deaths, 600 infected, 100 thousand people exposed to radiation, and 13 thousand tons of nuclear waste. A small quantity of bewitchedness can cause vast amounts of damage. Young one, what bewitches you?  Remember that regardless of how small something is, it could cause great damage.

From this text, we can also see how subtle the enemy is, by offering us a veiled death which can appear good or lucrative to us. You must notice that many times, we are the owner of the tiny, shiny metal. We buy from garbage collectors who, in this case, represents God’s enemy. We think we’re in good shape because since we discovered a shiny capsule of Caesium 137 in the middle of all that waste. We innocently present it those close to us, to those we love, we poisoning them and eventually, kill them.Young one, can you see how the enemy interacts with us?

Furthermore, the contaminated results are so lasting that it’s necessary for them to be isolated in a specific storage and kept away from the public. This serves as an illustration of how we must deal with sin and our soul-life. In regard to those two items, we need to keep all these doors shut and sealing them off from us. In other words, in regard to our soul-life and seemingly harmless sin, the only applicable rule is, total isolation.  

From the glow of Death to the Light of Life

The encouragement from within is to refocus on Christ and in his gospel because his good news are enough to guarantee an excellent spiritual and human life. Christ is the Light of Life and anything else that shines and distracts us are is a shine of death. It’s like Caesium 137). Look towards Christ, benefit from His light, have life and grow!

That your eyes may withdraw from the bewitchedness of that shining death and may be attracted to the growth which lies in Jesus Christ, the Light of Life.

Text inspired on the ‘Daily Food’ devotional, series of ‘Galatians: Sonship’, volume ‘The work of an Apostle: Evangelize’, message 2 ‘Those whom the epistle is destined to: The churches in Galatia’. Translation of the article O Briho da Morte (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

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