Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Love Letter From God to You

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.
Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don't know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalm 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I'll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Father's Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications
© 1999-2013

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let's help our brothers and sisters in need

Open Doors in Ethiopia: Oct 17 2013

“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God ….” 1 Timothy 4:10

The child was inconsolable. “They stabbed him to death,” the words rolled off his tongue. Wasihun is just seven, but seemed like an adult. He attentively listened to every word the adults were saying, breaking into tears often. Many children, who have faced similar circumstances, will cry when they see their mothers cry, without really understanding why they were crying. But not Wasihun… He understood completely. During the conversation, he repeatedly interrupted his mother to explain exactly how they had killed his father. His eyes were screaming in grief.
An Open Doors co-worker met with this family from the remote district of Hareto, Oromia State in Western Ethiopia, only two days after the tragic murder. This was a bereaved family – a mother and eight children aged 2 to 16 – completely spent by the trauma they had experienced and the bitter grief they were going through. When the crime was committed, there was no one to come to their aid. His wife and children helplessly watched Motuma Kemede die. Motuma’s day started the same as most other weekdays. He got up early and prepared for his job as casual laborer on a nearby farm where he worked throughout the rainy season. In the dry winter months, he worked as a merchant, travelling around to buy and sell items for a minimal profit.
Motuma’s family members are the only Christians in this Animist village. The increasingly hostile community knew Motuma for his dedication to the gospel and that he was a member of a congregation in a neighboring village. Like many other Christians in the area, Motuma received repeated insults and verbal warnings to renounce his faith. “It was in the middle of the night when they broke into our house,” shared his widow, Buze. “I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say or do. They shone their torches directly into our eyes, so that we could not see their faces. There were three of them in the house, but others were waiting outside. I heard them shout to each other, ‘Stab him!’ When I asked them why they were attacking us, they shouted at me to shut up. They first hit my husband with a spear over his back. Motuma was lying over Defary, our two year old, to protect him. But they dragged Motuma out of the house by his legs. Right outside the door they continued to hit his upper body with machetes. I was shouting for help, but no one came. They hit me with a stick on my right arm… We were alone... All the children were shocked to see how they killed their father.”
Open Doors remains closely involved with the local church in this and other regions of Ethiopia where persecution is intensifying. We helped cover immediate costs for Buze and her children, and have also covered the children’s school registration fees, uniforms and stationary for this academic year. In consultation with the local church, we are looking at ways to help the family in the longer term.
Let's take time to pray for those Christians around the world being persecuted for their faith that God will help them to keep their faith and give them the strength to persevere.  Let's pray for children all over the world (Christian and non-christian) that have lost their dad and/or mum and ask God to be their Father and their hope so that they may have eternal salvation.  Let's pray for all their material, emotional and spiritual needs to be met.  Let each of us think of how we can help.  What can we do?  We can write letters of encouragement, we can donate money, we can inform others. 

Click here for ways to be one with those who are suffering for their faith.  This website from Open Doors enables yous to pray with our brothers and sisters and to send them an encouraging message. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oil Pressed

By Odon Bulamba

This is a special Sunday because it’s our first Sunday to meet for 2014 and 2014 is coming with new realities and surprises and things you might not have thought of.  In 2014 we might be surprised to find that God may not have called us to change the world but to learn or to change from what we see from the world.  Many Christians today fight to change the world.  What is the world? Is the world people or is the world animals, or trees or birds.  When people fight the world, what are they fighting?  Many fight against pollution and invest in that which is fine but they forget to learn that in the world satan is the one controlling the world so we have to be careful not to step into the world. 

It’s a privilege to be called a child of God, to be called a disciple of Jesus.  When Christ came down he picked up a few people.  The only ones blessed enough to be chosen were the 12 disciples.  He left those of high ranks, those from important worldly and spiritual positions aside and chose a fisherman, a tax collector and said, “follow me”.  Isn’t it strange, why didn’t He choose those mature in theology or go to every tribe of Israel and take the best from each tribe but instead He only collected 12 people among millions of Israelites He could have chosen from.

Jesus started his journey with the 12 and they saw Him perform hundreds of miracles.  How proud would you be if you were chosen to follow someone who could perform such miracles, how proud would you feel to be a friend of such a man, to sit with Him at His table, to eat with Him and talk with Him? If you know a simple person like John Key (Prime Minister of New Zealand) and you are his friend, you will believe you have a good friend.  If you are the friend of the Queen of England, you will believe you have a very good friend. Being a friend of Jesus is another story. 

Friendship with Christ is a friendship of eternity that gives life forever and protects you for eternity. My first question on 1st January 2014 was, “who is going to be my friend this year…my true friend?  Is it my sleep, my bed, my neighbors, my Bible?” I have to choose the right friend, the one who will never give up on me and will always be there for me.

One day Jesus met around a table at Passover time with His disciples.  Passover means bread and wine and Jesus had taken the Passover several times since He was a child but this one was a special one.  It wasn’t anymore the bread Moses taught but Jesus had changed the formula and said, “this bread is my body now”.  How will you feel if Jesus tells you this is His body?  They were challenged because the Israelites had been taking Passover bread for hundreds of years since Moses and now they were being told it was the body of Jesus Himself.  They thought it was a simple bread but now it is the body of Christ.

What you saw in 2013, this simple Bible and Word of God is changed in 2014.  It is a new day and we have to take the Bible seriously now and remember that the Word of God is Jesus Himself.  In the same way the disciples took the bread and were now told it was His body and to remember Him and take it seriously, we also have to start a new lifestyle and take the Word of God seriously.

While the disciples were taking the Passover, Jesus told them, the devil is here but the disciples were confused because Jesus Himself had chosen them.  They asked each other, “is it you? Are you the betrayer?”  Jesus said the one who dipped his bread in the same cup as mine is the one.  Imagine if you share food from the same plate and cup as someone else.  If someone sees you do that, they will believe you love that person a lot to share the same cup.  Maybe you are the one who shares everything with Jesus and you are going to betray Him.  How often do we betray our Lord? We tell Him, “I love You, You are My Father, You are My Everything” but then we go behind his back and betray Jim. 

Remember the person who will betray you, it is someone who is next to you.  Even your own body can betray you.  In mark 14:32, the Bible says He told his 11 disciples after having the meal, “come with me” (Judas had already left to betray Christ).  Jesus took the 11 to Gethsemane which means oil press.  It was an orchard for olives and only those fruit trees were in the garden. 

It was late and the disciples should be in bed but Christ took them to the garden and told them to sit as He went to pray.  Imagine being told to go somewhere while your friend goes to pray.  What will you do?  Sleep?  Jesus came back and chose from among you the 11, James and Peter and John and told the three, “follow Me”.  He picked up only three and left the 8 behind.  When we are heading towards oil pressing, Jesus always cuts down the circle in the same way He cut the 5,000 who ate the bread and fish down to 12 disciples and then to 3 who will go deep with Him.  Jesus will have followers but some will only be there for the bread and fish, while others will only be there for the wine and bread, some will only follow for healing or money and some for a good job.  When you need a good job or money or health that is the time you will kneel down and pray but when everything is fine, you live your life as you like.

After calling those three, Jesus went to pray and He could feel the pain of death within Him, He was pressed down.  The olive oil is capable to doing 100’s of things that can help your body meaning the oil from this fruit is a different oil but before to get the oil, the first has to be detached from the branch and pressed down.

Gethsemane was a place to collect the olives and press them to produce oil.  Oil is a sign of anointing.  You want God to anoint you, do you sometimes pray to God for anointment? God will say “yes, but before I anoint you I need to press you, to crush your attitude, your behavior, the way of seeing things in order to produce oil”. 

Sometimes a bishop will take oil and place it on the persons head but the Holy Spirit and anointing is not in that oil.  God wants to see you crushed.  Oil can be placed on a person for healing but you have to know the meaning of oil first in order to understand that placing oil on a person to be healed is only a symbol.

We the church today don’t want to be crushed.  At Gethsemane, 8 disciples stayed behind.  As Jesus was praying with pain in his heart, He stopped and came back to the three He chose and found them asleep, “I told you to pray with Me and you can’t even pray for one hour” (verse 38).  Sometimes I pick up my phone and I can talk to friends for 2 hours or listen to music for 6 hours or go to a party and celebrate all night or play sport for 2 hours.  Hugh can run for 2 hours and Colleen told me she recently climbed a mountain for 7 hours walking by herself.  This is determination.  Everything we do is a matter of decision regardless of the barriers, even if you fall asleep you can tell yourself, “no, I’m not sleeping, I’m praying” and your body will accept that.  Stand up, move around, drink water and pray but if you decide to put your head down for two minutes but you will fall asleep.

Jesus came back to those young men, “why can’t you just stay with Me for one hour, if it were a party you could dance for all night.”  Every church today is good at praising but we are not good in prayers.  When it is time for praying, the number decreases as you can see 5,000 went down to three and even those three found it was a challenge.

You go through a hard situation and you ask people to pray for you but they sleep instead.  Leave those people aside and be like Jesus and continue to pray.  For situations that people are crossing, are you serious or are you joking?: “Lord bless this person amen”.  As Jesus knelt down, the pores opened and he sweated blood because of the pain.  Sometimes you are crossing a hard situation and you ask people to pray for you and they take it like a joke.  All they need to know is the news and once they have satisfied their curiosity they go away and never pray.  Jesus was crying and if you really love Jesus, you will take time to cry and pray with Him.

Finally Jesus came back a second time and found them sleeping again.  When you watch tv, you can see churches worshipping and full of joy but when it is the time to pray, people  are looking at their watches, looking around, and hoping it will finish now because it takes so long only after three minutes.  People can lie on the beach for hours transforming the colour of their skin with the power of the sun but ask them to kneel down for hours to pray to God and they will tell you they are tired or their back hurts.

We are interested in gossip and can talk for four hours but when it is time to pray we feel we should do other things.  Jesus is calling us to put ourselves in the lives of others for 2014.  There is no blessing or anointing without prayer.  Let no one cheat you.  You will never find anointing without praying and praying means to pray seriously.  It doesn’t mean to tell God what we want.  In Mark it says nothing is impossible for God but let Your will be done. To pray doesn’t mean to change the situation but to change me to fit in that situation.  e.g. if I pray for a car and God says no to a car then pray that I will be able to move around without a car.

How often do we need to be anointed?  I want to feel anointed every second and we ask for the Holy Spirit who says, “I am already here with you, just accept to get into the press” and allow someone to press you down to get the oil. Leave your comfort zone.  There was a tv program called Desperate Housewives, which many people loved to watch and if they missed one episode they will ask around to see if anyone recorded it and if they missed one episode they will become angry.  I used to watch the tv program “24” and loved it very much and when kids annoyed me, I would pause it.  How often do we pause our prayer when we are distracted and then come back to the prayer? Zero times.  We are distracted every time, that is why Jesus said to go to your room in a secret place and lock the door and tell Jesus your problems who is the only One who can bring the answer.

You can have a plan but God is above all our plans.  Before I came to New Zealand I was told that my money could be easily transferred electronically from Africa to New Zealand but once I got here, the money was not allowed to be transferred.  I had joy before I left Africa knowing I would have money once in New Zealand but then all my joy for money was flushed down the toilet.  Money is not the solution to your problems because you will only have the money when God allows it even if you are working, therefore God is the solution to all our problems.  Even if you have a good job and believe you will be paid next week, you can wake up in the morning and you are paralyzed so all your plans should rely on God’s hands. 

Make yourself a good prayer person.  Don’t be like the disciples who followed God only for glory but when it was time to pray they slept.  You have to work on your faith, your behavior, your character and when Jesus comes to select his Own, you will be among them.  Only those sealed with holy Spirit will meet with Him in the air and then we have to present our deeds.  Based on what you did you will receive your crown. 

If you are given the gift of healing but you refuse to be pressed, you can touch someone for healing but God will ask what you did with the olive and you will blame others and say the gift never worked but it is your fault because you didn’t have time to pray or press the oil.  How many disciples of Jesus continued to do the work of Christ - only a few continued and those are the ones who continued to pray.  You need to determine yourself, you need courage.  Don’t plan for the evil things in life like Judas did.  Imagine Jesus calling you satan as he said to the disciples at the passover, “satan is here”.  How will you feel to be called satan?  It will be bad on that day when Jesus said I told you to get into the press but you refused.

One time in Zambia I was asked to speak to a big crowd and I asked them to write down what they expect from God and there were thousands of paper but then I asked them “what can you do for God” less than 20 papers came back.  We pray and ask God to make us to be in the spotlight like Benny Hinn but maybe God created you to be in the shadow.  We want to be seen in churches like Joyce Meyer but seek Jesus first, “Lord Jesus tell me where to go to pray and adore”.  Maybe your place to pray is Gethsemane but you prefer to go to the rose garden because it’s so beautiful with many colourful flowers while the olive garden only produces olives. 

How do olives taste straight from the tree? Yuck.  Sometimes when you try to share the Word of God with others, they believe the taste is yuck because the taste doesn’t fit in the  world. 

Be someone who does what Jesus wants even if the world hates you or laughs at you or judges you and leave them behind sleeping.  Because of the prayer of Jesus, we are redeemed, we are transformed, our lives are changed and our nation is changed.  Don’t act in a group and only pray if you are at a prayer meeting.  Don’t look at people, don’t wait for Colleen to invite you, do it yourself.  We can sing by ourselves, we can go to work by ourselves, and so we can add prayer to our schedule and add it to our daily routine. We have 24 hours per day, just give Him a portion of that time to meet with God face to face and let God talk to you.  If you have something to tell Him, tell Him but also let Him tell you too.  Sometimes He doesn’t let the cup pass over as with Jesus.  Jesus asked for the cup to pass Him but God said no.  You need to be ready for God to say no and when you are ready for that, you will have the victory. 

Jesus is coming back soon, do you have a place there?  If you don’t pray, then I’m sorry for you.  Magicians pray to perform what they perform.  Who is that child that never wants to talk to their parents? By talking to their parents they learn from their parents and so we should with God.

Ask God to press you and produce the oil so God can use you, let 2014 be a year of miracles and show people that I belong to you, a year of anointing.  Remember your first love, tell God to bring that back and you need to feemnvl that again, boil in me so I can work for you. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Encourage Prisoners with a Letter

Nguyen Van Ly

Held 903 days

Arrested July 2011 in Vietnam

On Feb. 19, 2007, Father Nguyen Van Ly was arrested in Hue, Vietnam for distributing material “harmful to the state.” In March, he was sentenced to eight years in prison. He has issued statements criticizing the government’s confiscation of church property, lack of seminary training and the influence of the state in church teachings and has been a powerful advocate for Christian freedom.

On March 15, 2010, Father Nguyen was released on medical parole after he suffered three debilitating strokes. He spent 16 months convalescing before the government demanded he return to complete his sentence.

Seriously ill and weak, Father Nguyen was rearrested on July 25, 2011.

Click Here to write a letter to Father Nguyen.  This website allows you to send phrases in Chinese and gives you the correct address. 

Let's remember our brothers and sisters in prison by praying for them and encouraging them with letters.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Do Not Fear

By Hayley Boud
“Be strong and courageous, do not fear or tremble for the LORD your God is with you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
The bible tells us 365 times not to fear.  That means we have one verse for everyday which means that we have to remind ourselves daily not to fear.  This also means that we all fear.  There will be days in our lives where we are worried or afraid…that is natural so we need every day to remind us that God tells us not to. 
Why do we fear? What are you afraid of?  Most people are afraid of getting hurt and getting killed.  I would be afraid to get into the ocean if there were hungry sharks circling because I would know they will eat me so I’m afraid to get hurt or killed.  Some are afraid of being hurt emotionally so are afraid of rejection.
So…how do we NOT fear?  Usually when someone says, “don’t look down”, that is when we look down.  So when we are told, don’t fear…that is when we fear.  So what can we do in order to help ourselves when we are afraid or worried? 
According to the English dictionary to not be afraid means to: Be brave.  How do we do that?  I think it means when we are afraid we won’t let it stop us from doing what we should.
Deuteronomy says to be strong.  How do we do that?  According to the Hebrew dictionary to be strong means to be attached to, to be firm, to hold fast, to be supported.  Obviously, if we want to be strong and not fear, we have to attach ourselves to Jesus Himself, to hold fast to Him and be supported by Him.  When we hold firm to the promises in the Bible, we can be strong and not fear because we will know that God will protect us and never let us go through anything that we can’t bear. 
This is a command that God is telling us to do.  He could just give us strength but He is saying, “Be strong” that is an action we have to do for ourselves.  Therefore, read the Bible, pray, spend time with God and other Christians and hold fast to the Word of God and Jesus Himself and then you will be strong.  We have to make the effort.
What does it mean to be courageous? The English dictionary says courage means: To Disregard fear, & Bravery.  The Hebrew dictionary says this word means good, pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, joyful, fruitful, precious, sound, cheerful, wisdom. 
So if you want to be courageous, you need to be joyful.  This is true, “joy of the Lord is your strength”, Nehemiah 8:10
If you want to be courageous, you need to have wisdom.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.  You can only have one master, you either fear God, or you fear something else.  Sometimes I fear people or what they will think of me more than I fear God and this makes me lose my courage.  God asks me to do something and I don’t have the courage to do it because I fear people more than I fear God. 
Also, if we have wisdom, we will know what is God’s will and we won’t fear once we know His will.  When I took bibles into Vietnam, I didn’t fear at all because I knew that it was God’s will so I had courage.
Do not tremble? According to the English dictionary: Shake involuntarily, trembling, Quiver.
This is to be completely terrified.  Have you ever reached this kind of fear where you are trembling?  I remember one time driving in the most aweful fog over the Kaimai ranges.  It was so foggy I couldn’t even see one foot in front of me.  I was so scared I was going to go over the edge of the mountain.  It was terrifying.  I just kept saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” because I didn’t even have words I was so scared.  When we are trembling, we can remember Jesus and just call on His name because He is the only One who can save us. 
It is also important to note that it is a command to not tremble so when we are terrified, we are actually sinning.  Very hard sometimes not to be afraid but we can openly admit to God, “I’m sorry, I know You have told us not to be afraid, but I am really scared, please forgive me”.  And then we can express why we are afraid and ask for God’s help and then declare that we trust in Him no matter what happens in the same way that Esther did, “If I die, I die”.
God promises to never fail us.  What does that mean?  The English dictionary: Not succeed, disappoint, neglect, become weaker.
In the Hebrew dictionary to fail means to be slack, idle, weak, feeble, to be despondent, to withdraw, to abandon, to desert, to quit, to discourage.  We can trust that God will never fail us, He will never be slack with us or idle (He never sleeps), He is never weak or feeble and he will never abandon us or withdraw from us or desert us or quit us or discourage us.  We can trust that God is the opposite of fail which means He is always working, He is strong, He always responds to us, He is close to us, He is near us always, He stands by us and supports us and encourages us.
However, He doesn’t encourage sin.  He supports us so we can overcome temptation but if we decide to sin…we now separate ourselves from God.  So let’s make an effort to stay away from temptations and when we fall, make sure to repent.
God promises to never forsake us.  What does that mean?  The Hebrew meaning is to release, to set free, to leave behind, to abandon.  So we can trust that God will never release us or set us free or leave us behind or abandon us, no matter what.  We can trust that God is the opposite to forsake which means He will hold onto us tightly and take us with Him. 
This is God’s promise to us.  We can know that whatever happens in 2014, God is with us.  No matter what we face…hold onto Jesus and His word and His promises and know that God will never leave us or forsake us.  Wherever we go, God is with us.  The only place God won’t go with you is to help you sin so make sure to stay away from temptations so that God will follow you everywhere.