..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Is Our Gospel Pure?

"...keep that which is committed to
thy trust...which some professing
have erred concerning the faith"
1 Timothy 6:20,21).

Part of our call as Christians is to to
faithfully hold and live out the faith
that has been passed onto us. Each
generation has a commission to carry
the faith for the time they are given
on earth.

Within each generation many things will
happen. Wars arise, technology changes,
worldviews evolve, opinions rage, values
shift, religious furvor rises and falls.
And yet, the gospel, and the job of
carrying forth the gospel, remain.

The question we must ask ourselves in
this hour is, "How pure is our gospel?"
For right now it is this generation's
charge to carry it forward in truth. Are
we being faithful to the Lord in its
proclamation? Untold millions have given
their lives to deliver the gospel,
rightly divided, to us" now it is our turn.

Each generation has had to wrestle with the
demons of compromise, false doctrine, complacency
and the spirit of antichrist. Attacks on
the gospel are nothing new.

We need to ask ourselves, "What is currently
attacking the gospel?" Some earmarks of
our age, especially in America, is an
extreme emphasis on the individual and
his or her right to think and choose for
themselves. Amen to freedom! But too
much "freedom" can lead to "every man doing
what seems right in his own eyes" (Judges

In the Book of Judges, we read of the
burial of Joshua, one of only two original
men of faith, that God allowed into
the Promised Land. Joshua is buried
and with his passing an era of faith comes
to an end.

It then says, "and also all that
generation were gathered unto their
fathers: and there arose another generation
after them, which knew not the Lord, nor
yet the works which he had done for Israel,
and the children of Israel did evil in
the sight of the Lord." (Judges 2: 8-11).
The passing forward of the knowledge of the
Lord had failed. People did as they pleased.
They did not know God.

Israel entered into a time when people
just free-wheeled: they did as they
saw fit. What was the problem with
that? One of the main problems is
that there was no ultimate standard,
each person would make decisions based
on whatever components informed his morals
and whims.

Human nature being what it is, caused
things to quickly deteriorate. Israel
no longer thought in terms of being in
covenant with God, or being in submission
to Him, she just went ahead and did
whatever suited her.

As we look at our responsibility to
be stewards of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, we must ask ourselves if
we are sure we know what the gospel is,
and if what is being put forward matches
that which Jesus entrusted to His Church.
Then we must ask ourselves if we are
carrying that message forward in the
purest way we know how to.

It seems apparent that there is
serious lack on both counts. One of
the attacks on the gospel is caused by
a serious lack of understanding of
even the most basic revelation of
God as revealed to us in Scripture.
Knowing who God is cuts the slack
out of a lot of error. If the church
does not know who God is, then how
can the world?

Should not everyone be free to
read the scripture and interpret it
as they see fit? Yes, and no.
Each person is thankfully free to read the
Scripture, but we cannot think
that any one individual, or even
one sector of the Church, has the
whole mind of God or the whole
counsel of God. At least up
until now, there has been general
consensus that the Scriptures are an
essential, primary, component
for measuring the purity of whatever
gospel is preached and bringing it back
to purity.

But what if there is a further shift
to "everyone doing as they see fit?"
What if we are only nominally
informed by Scripture or not
informed at all? What if we feel
that we can trust our experience
and our interpretation of our
experience apart from the Word? What
if we refuse to honor that which
has been passed down to us and
decide to do with it whatever we
will? What if we change the gospel
and don't even recognize that we've
changed it? Worse yet, what if we do
change it because we think that it
needs to be changed?

Throughout church history there
have always been reform movements
when things get out of balance.
The reforms that come from God
lead us back to God. The reforms
that come from man lead to death
and a perversion of the truth.
The old-fashioned word for that
is "heresy." Although folks can
try, there, at this point, is
nothing really knew under the
sun. Most current "new revelations"
are old heresies reappearing. If would
be a shame if we failed to
recognize that because we haven't
been doing our scriptural, historical,
and devotional homework.

God has already given us what we
need to know, and that will keep
us pretty busy. Even this much
of it is a full time job:
"Love the Lord thy God with all
thy heart, soul and mind,
and love thy neighbor as thyself."
(Matthew 22-37-40).

We are stewards of the gospel
of God and we need to be found
faithful to it. Let us be people
who seek God, people who pray much,
people who love much, people who
read the Word of God and take
heed to it, people who love the
truth, so that the next generation
and the world around us, receive
from us the gospel of God in its
purest possible state.

We need to look at the gospel or
gospels that are circulating and
we need to make our commitment
to preaching the gospel in purity,
simplicity, and boldness lest "another
gospel" overtake us and cause us to fall
short of our call and allow many to
perish. The days are frought with
change and the danger of falling away
from a simple, unhindered devotion to
the Lord Jesus Christ. Submit all that
you perceive the gospel to be to the
Lord. Allow Him to judge it, allow
Scripture to judge it. Aim for
a pure gospel. Begin with a pure

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Devotions from the Heart: Dark Places

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

"What I tell you in darkness, that speak
ye in light, and what you hear in the ear,
that preach ye upon the housetops." (Matthew 10:27)

Some of the rarest pearls we find are found
in the deepest depths and so it is in the
saints walk with God. Oftentimes great treasures
are revealed to us when in the darkest valleys.
How often we desire that the heavy load be lifted
off us so that we might be able to bear life’s trials.

Yet the Lord does not lift a little finger to
remove it till we have seen the amazing truths
that He is wanting to reveal through the trial.
If God is allowing a dark valley right now it
is not because of what you have, but what you
do not have. He is bringing into the life fresh
things, new things concerning Himself that will
bring glory to Him.

So important was it that we understand the
darkness that Jesus said, “What I tell you in
darkness, that speak ye in the light.” He is
speaking in the darkness, in the valley.
He has not, as most suppose, left His people,
He is still there, but not in the way that you
have been used to.

Now there is no trumpet, no miracles, no
supernatural worship. Now the Lord is requiring
that you simply believe Him, believe that He is
here. This will mean that we will have to go
against things within our hearts that will rise
up against the absence of any feelings or
experience and must patiently wait for Him to
return to the heart in due time.

Isaiah 30:18 says, “He waits to be gracious
to us.” Not because He wants to play games with
us, but because we are not ready for Him. The
verses before this one read, “For thus saith
the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, in returning
and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and
confidence shall be your strength, but you would not.”

That little piece of stubbornness was evident,
but the Lord just says He will wait. A dark place
it may be, but it will be for our good, and when
we make it into the light, preach it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

There is No Standing Still

In the way of virtue, there is no standing still;
anyone who does not daily advance, loses ground.
To remain at a standstill is impossible; he that
gains not, loses; he that ascends not, descends.
If one does not ascend the ladder, one must descend;
if one does not conquer, one will be conquered.

... St. Bonaventure (1221-1274)

photo taken in Abergavenny, Wales

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Consolations or The Consolation of Israel?

"And, behold, there was a man in
Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon;
and the same man was just and devout,
waiting for the Consolation of Israel:
and the Holy Ghost was upon him" (Luke 2:25)

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, ...
who did not depart from the temple, but
served God with fastings and prayers night
and day... and spoke of Him to all those who
looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38,

In this time when much is being said about
"feeling" a sense of God's presence there
is much wisdom in considering whether
it is spiritual consolations that we
want or the Consolation of Israel, who
is Christ Himself.

Before there was "pickling in His Presence",
"getting sloshed in the Spirit", "tokin'
the Ghost", "being hammered on the
carpet", the old spiritual writers used
to refer to "spiritual consolations." It
is a widely discussed topic throughout
Christian devotional history.

Spiritual consolations can be described
as a sense of God which "has its beginning
and is felt chiefly in the senses or
sensible faculties." There are many
types of consolations, base ones and pure
ones, real ones and false ones. And much
consideration has been already been given
to their place in the life of a Christian.

This passage from Luke on the Consolation
of Israel
, never fails, speaking of
consolations, to make my heart skip a
beat. The devout Simeon, and Anna,
the prophetess, served God day in and
day out. Their life was God. They were
given entirely to Him. They had seen
the good and the bad, they had seen the
faith of many wax and wane, they had seen
enough tragedy to break their hearts and
to turn them away from God, but still they
served God, in His Temple.

Their longing was not for a feeling,
or a spiritual experience, there longing
was for God! They longed for the Holy
One of Israel to break into human history.
They longed for the bloodshed to stop,
and for their exile to be over and for
peace to come and for the terrible
ache in their hearts to be comforted.

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her
that her warfare is ended, and her iniquity
is pardoned" (Isaiah 40:1,2). Here was
the consolation that they looked for, a
consolation that could only come in the
person and work of Christ.

These two old covenant saints, who got to
witness the birth of the One who would bring
them into the New Covenant, longed for redemption,
and for forgiveness, and for reconciliation.
They longed for the kingdom of God. They
longed for the everlasting rule and reign
of The Lord God of Hosts.

Poor consolations they are indeed if they
do not bring us to this elevated level of
longing and fulfillment. I fear that the
consolations that people are currently feeling
are hardly to be called worthy of the name
"consolations" at all. For if we feel something
that we assume to be God, we can judge whether
that something really is from God by some basic
criteria. God isn't against excess, He is
against excess that takes us away from HIM!

In the late 1800's, in the city of New
Haven, not too far from here, a man
named John Wesley Redfield preached up a storm.
People fell under such conviction of the
Holy Spirit that they were found laying
in the streets. The paddy wagon would
come around and pick them up, along
with any alcoholically drunk persons
who might also be passed out in the street.
Even the jailers knew what the difference
was: when those with "Redfield's Disease"
"woke up" the next morning, their lives
were changed. They cried out "Holy!"
They gave up drinking and gambling and
whatever vice they had layed down with.

Encounter with God produces not just
a good feeling, but a changed life.
Consolations without holy adaptations
are worth very little. The point of
"feeling God" is not the feeling part
but the being changed part.

Simeon and Anna were long past wanting
just to personally "feel good" in God.
They had sat with God, cried with God,
cried for God, waited for God, longed
for God, prayed and prayed and prayed
and prayed some more and in so doing
had built relationship with the Consolation
of Israel. It was only He that could
console them. It was only His purposes
that they longed for. It was only
His Kingdom that was on their minds.

Let me ask you, "Do your consolations
bring you the feet of the Consolation
of Israel or do they just make you
feel good?" Don't waste your time
with spiritual child's play or,
perhaps, the devil's distractions.

The wise counsel of spiritual directors
through the centuries has been to advise
people not to center on consolations:
not to seek them, not to pursue them,
not to be attached to them. If they are
there, fine, but if you never "feel" God again,
it does not matter. It does not, or
should not, affect your commitment to Him
and His purposes. They are certainly
not what you judge the validity of
a revival upon.

There are some very real things to be felt in
God. Substantial, life-changing things.
Things that you will never get to unless
you abandon lesser pursuits. Simeon and
Anna knew about those substantial things,
you can feel it flooding out of this text.
Until your insides turn inside out, and
you fall to your knees in repentance
and adoration when you think of who God
is and what He is about, then you have barely
begun your journey. It is only then, that
you can, as Simeon, die in peace.

Until your vision and your life
are on the full tilt of complete surrender, total
obedience, and utter commitment to holiness you are
missing the mark. Until you are pursuing knowing
Christ and Christ alone, then you are living with
a lesser standard than you should be.

If it is the Living God who is coming to you
then He will take you, not for a "wheeeeeeee
eeeeeeeeeeeee", not for a spiritual roller
coaster ride, but to the foot of
Cross. Funny thing about God though,
He allows us humans to choose. So choose
wisely. Seek the Consolation of Israel.
Seek the Living God. Nothing else matters,
and everything else pales in comparison--
even spiritual inebriation.

Know the most important thing that a
life in God has to offer: a deeply integrated
knowledge of Christ. Such a knowledge is so high
and so holy it can hardly be called
a "feeling"! There is much, much more
to knowing God than mere spiritual rushes.
God is seeking worshippers in Spirit
and in truth. "In Spirit" might not
be what you think it is, "in truth"
definitely will be a shock to all of us.
Better get started.

Devotions From the Heart: Deliverance is God's Business

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

"And it shall come to pass, that whosover
shall call upon the name of the Lord shall
be delivered." Joel 2:32

The promise of the Lord here in the book of
Joel is so emphatic and clear that to miss
His wonderful blessing is to miss out on life

Many of us find ourselves in troubles of one
kind or another, but the Lord does not even
get into that in this verse. Calling upon the
Lord is prayer. Prayer will be affective if
we pray with all our hearts. Casual praying
will never touch God, only effectual prayer,
even as James writes, “the effectual fervent
prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

We must mean what we pray, our wills must be
in our prayers. Now there is something quite
wonderful in this statement in Joel that at
first glance might be missed. It is so important
a key that its power will never be lost once it
is found. Calling upon the Lord for deliverance
is important. Taking our troubles to God is about
leaving them there with Him. That is so important
that if we have really prayed and believed God has
heard them, the burden of trouble will be lifted
off of us. David says many are the afflictions
of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them
them out of them all. Our troubles are allowed
simply to remind us that God is always available.

The key to this wonderful verse is this - it is
the word "whosoever." God by His promise is saying
I will deliver you in the trouble. Taking the
trouble out of your life is one thing, taking
you out of the trouble is another. Your deliverance
will not necessarily come when the trouble is gone,
but when the trouble is still there and you are not!
Praise God, what a wonder He is! Let Him take us out
of the trouble first, then watch the trouble become
no more trouble.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't Underestimate the Word of God

"For the Word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and
of the joints and the marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of
the heart"
-- Hebrews 4:12

There seems to be a subtle, or not so subtle,
shift in some current streams of Christianity
to either rework what is traditional
orthodox understanding of what the basics of
our faith are, and to move toward a diminished,
more experience-based view, of the Scriptures.

The "emergent" church has sought to recast
the work and person of Christ, thinking
the idea of God having to cause His Son
to be sacrificed for the sins of the world
is somehow barbaric and punitive. From this
thinking, a psychologically correct "god",
inoffensive to current sensibilities, emerges
in a more rose-colored world.

In streams closer to my own, however, I
see an alarming move away from the use
of Scripture as the standard to judge
spiritual experience by. In place of the
Word of God, an experience based, and
prophecy-based ruler is increasingly

I can tell you one thing for sure: things
are changing fast! The nostalgic, predictable
world of Ward, June, and Beaver Cleaver is clearly
past. We who have lamented that the western
world is spiritually too antiseptic and
bookish, will soon see a society that
is filled with every kind of supernatural
and soulish activity imaginable. For better
or worse, third world spirituality is coming
to a neighborhood near you!

How will we judge what is of God unless we
hold to the Word of God?

Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the Word of God is
quick, and powerful, and sharper than any
two-edged sword, piercing even to the
dividing asunder of soul and spirit and
of the joints and the marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of
the heart."

I totally agree that we cannot correctly read
and understand the written Word of God unless
we are aided by the Spirit of God. I totally
agree that reading it apart from the Spirit
of God can turn the text into a dry lunch,
that will make us prone to legalism,
but that is not a problem with the Word,
but with our availability and submissiveness
to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus became the Word made flesh. He became
the Living Word of God, but He Himself said
that He did not come to abolish the Law but
to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Ah, but here is
were the slope starts to become quite slippery.
When Jesus was presented in the temple, Simeon
prophesied that "this child is set forth for the fall
and rising again of many in Israel" (Luke 2:34).

Who Jesus Christ really is, is a great divider.
We shall all stand or fall on our ability to
discern Him. We shall all ourselves be discerned
and divided as either a goat or a sheep,
either as a son or as an impostor.

As the Living Word, Christ is able to "divide
soul from spirit and discern the thoughts and
intents of man." On one hand the Pharisaical
will stumble over Him, but on the other hand,
so shall the lawless and those who abandon
the warnings signs that Scripture holds out
to us. Many shall slam against the
rocks of undiscerned, soulish experience.

In the past, people have tried to use the Word to make
their cases. Both "sides" might even use the same
verses to "prove" their point. That
has had its own issues, but at least people
agreed that the Bible has the authority
to address matters of faith. But now it is further
complicated by using prophecy and experience
to judge whether something is of God. "I have had
an extraordinary experience, how can it not be
of God?" "The prophet has said so, who can disagree?"
"The bible? how old-school is that? We have a 'new

But have the prophet and the experience been
subjected to and judged by the Word of God?
The Old Testament is rife with examples of
prophets, even groups of prophets, that agreed
with each other, but were not prophets of God!
(Ezekiel 13, Jeremiah 23:30ff;Isaiah 56:10, 11)
Throughout the Old and New Testaments it was
commonly understood that unusual spiritual activity
did not necessarily have its origin in God.

Dear ones, like it or not, our hearts will be
judged by the Word of God. What is hidden in our
inward parts will be exposed to the piercing
light of the Word of God. And trust me, that
will not be an academic, intellectual piercing.
Who you are will be discerned and divided.

We can redevelop Jesus in our own image, paint
Him in hues that suit us, announce Him to be
here and there and everywhere and yet it may
be "another" Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), a figment of our
imagination, a doctrine of devils, and not the
Christ revealed to us through the "old-fashioned"
Word of God. Do you think that you cannot be
deceived? I urge you to think about that Day when
you will stand before God and He will show what
is in your heart.

The written Word of God keeps us from straying
too far into the realm of hearsay, opinion
and the false and fickle winds of change. It is a
constant that we can come back to. It has stood
before us and will stand long after us. There is that
magnificent passage in Isaiah 40: "The voice
said, "Cry." And he said, "What shall I cry?"...
All flesh is grass, and all its goodness is
as the flower of the field...the grass withers
the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall
stand forever
" (Isaiah 40:6,8).

We cannot throw away our reliance on a solid
understanding of the Word of God. Reading
a bit here and there will not do. Using one
verse to prove something will not do. Taking
things out of context will not do. Adding
things to it will not do. Subtracting things
from it will not do. The written Word of
God gives us a clear picture of who God is.
The Spirit, of course, must illumine us,
but He will never contradict Himself.

The goal of our lives should be to enter
into a knowledge of and obedience to God
AS HE IS--not as we think He is, not as
we would like Him to be, not as others
say He is. We can be greatly aided by a
conscience that is not seared (1 Tim 1:19),
but even that is not a foolproof way of
judging whether we know something is of
God. Even if our hearts do not condemn us,
God is greater than our hearts. We can think
we are right and still be wrong. This should
sober us greatly.

We need to be a people of the Word
and of the Holy Spirit. We need to be
a holy people, seeking God alone,
and not anything apart from Him--
not healing, not spiritual experience,
not signs and wonders, not even
if an "angel" comes and tells us to.

The Word of God is undiminished. It
WILL discern your heart. It will divide
that which is of soul from that which
is of the Holy Spirit within you. Don't
underestimate it. All flesh is as grass
but the Word of our God shall stand

Friday, May 16, 2008

Devotions From the Heart: Unless I Had Believed

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

"I had fainted unless I had believed to
see the goodness of the Lord in the land
of the living." Psalm 27:13

Faith is the marvelous grace of God that
saves us not only from the present calamity,
but also what is to come. For we must believe
to see, and see to believe. So many have
given up on the road of life because they
cannot see what can only be seen by the eye
of faith by the heart that believes.

Such was the distress of David that he knew
that if he had not believed, his heart would
have given way to discouragement, and would
have lost courage to continue on. Many are
the attacks of the enemy to dissuade the
saints, that to continue on would be futile.
Dark clouds hover ominously over us, but
David knew that he would see God’s hand in
the situation.

What a joy this is for the saint, to be able
to believe that God will come through for us,
He will bring forth something good out of bad,
that He will be glorified in all. It is not
time to stop short of the winning post. But
to press on by believing Him, confessing to
this in prayer as Paul says, “with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10b).

God is the God of the eleventh hour. He waited
till Israel reached the edge of the Red Sea,
there was no warning given about the water, no
preparation. At the edge of the water, God spoke.
He’s always on time, believe then only to see the
goodness of the Lord in the land of the living
and surely you will, for He cannot fail, and
has never failed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Deception of Idolatry: The False Promises of False Prophets

"Because with lies you have made the heart
of the righteous sad, whom I have not made
sad; and strengthened the hands of the
wicked, that he should not return from
his wicked way, by promising him life"
(Ezekiel 13:22).

In the Book of Ezekiel, God has severe
issues with the purveyors of Israel's
idolatry. He accuses the false prophets
of having a false vision of peace for
Jerusalem instead of calling her out of
her idolatry (13:16).

He rails against those who sell items
of idolatry to encourage idol worship,
causing people who are trying to do
right to stumble and causing people
who perpetrate this idol worship
to prosper (13:19,20).

What makes a false prophet false is that
they do not speak for God. They do not
speak the truth: they lie. They say that
"Everything will be fine," they say that
"peace is coming," they say that "you
are ok." True prophets, however, call
people back to a Holy God. They warn,
they cajol, they plead, they weep. They
are not happy campers, that is not their
job. In a sense, when all is well, we do
not need prophets! When we pursue God
with all our heart then the prophet is
out of a job! Then, and only then, is he

No-one would want to be a prophet because
his is a lonely road to walk when idolatry
and sin have overtaken a people. He does
not bring the message that everyone wants
to hear. In Jeremiah's day he was mocked for
bringing "today's sad news from God"
(Jer. 23:33).

Beware the prophet who is too popular. When
"prophets" have become as popular and
undiscerning as the rock stars they so
scarily resemble, then we are in trouble.
In the bible, prophets of God do not
usually have the luxury of being popular.
Many might come to hear him, but few wanted
or heeded his words. And sadly, they were
not his words, but God's.

How long will the righteous have to live
with a sad heart because wickedness and
lies abound? How long will the hands of
the wicked be strengthened by those who
would tell them lies about how they are
right before God? How long will the godly
have to watch ungodly and unlawful deeds?

It is no fun to watch people fall into
error. It is no fun watching the heart
of God break over that which would hurt
His people. Yet God did not and does not
wink at sin. He dealt with the cancer of
idolatry forcibly and completely. God gave
the idolatrous over to deception and
to lies. He allowed the false prophets
to be deceived and to prophecy deception
(Ezekiel 14:7-11).

Why? What did God have against Israel?
First, they turned away from worshipping
Him for who He is. They turned and
adopted the practices of their pagan
neighbors. Why was God so strict about
Israel's not mixing with the other pagan
nations? He did not want the leaven of sin
to infiltrate them. He is not like the
pagan gods. You cannot manipulate Him,
or conjure things up, or do as you will with
Him, or exercise power apart from Him.

That is why every true work of God
will have repentance at its heart and
holiness as its fruit and watchword.
Words can sound right but what is
behind them? The label on the can
can say "Christian" but inside it
can be devil's food! How would you
know the difference?

First, God is holy. That which is of
God is in line with the holy
character of God. The Holy Spirit
reveals Christ to us. The Holy Spirit
does not speak of Himself, but points
to Christ. Anything that is not of
the fruit of the Spirit is not of God.
And what are the fruits of the flesh?
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred,
contentions, jealousies, outbursts of
wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions,
heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness,
revelries [orgies], and the like
(Gal 5: 20, 21).

Anything that mocks goodness, is
provocative of evil, disrespects spiritual
authority, demeans, produces lust, presumes,
exerts and follows its own way, puffs itself up,
compromises the truth, is enamored with money
or excess wealth, anything degrading or
anything that leads to loss of being led or
influenced by the Holy Spirit is simply not
from God (2 Peter 2:10-22, 1 John 3:3-16,
2 Tim 3:2-7).

Evil can look good for awhile, but it
cannot continue to fake genuine holiness:
the flesh will erupt because that is what
the flesh is like. Good fruit produced over
time is a worthy test of whether something
is from God or not.

Secondly, not all signs and wonders are
of God. Throughout the bible signs and
wonders were wrought by both godly and
ungodly alike. In Moses' day, Jannes and
Jambres (2 Tim 3:8)worked signs and wonders,
some of the plagues were reproduced by
Egyptian sorcerors (Ex 7:11,12), Daniel's
contemporaries practiced magic (Daniel 2:2),
Simon the Sorceror worked false miracles
(Acts 8:9).

Jesus said that the sign of the end
of the age would be MANY false signs and
wonders (Matthew 24:25) The False Prophet
who paves the way for the Antichrist does so
with false signs and wonders (Rev 13).

We as a people are so starved for the
supernatural that we fail to discern
what spirit is behind what we see.
We have gone from seeing nothing of the
miraculous to a cesspool of spiritual
activity that few seem to be discerning
by biblical standards and by the Spirit
of the Lord. If we prefer darkness to
light, and righteousness to unrighteousness
then God will give us over, as He gave
Israel over, to darkness, unrighteousness,
and deception (2 Tim 3:8-13).

We don't want to be there. For when
God deceives us, we are truly deceived.
Dear ones, I adjure you to not be naive,
nor be led astray by the "miraculous."
Seek God. Try the spirits. Our only
safety is to walk with God.
As Micah says, "Do justly, love mercy,
and to walk humbly with God" (Micah 6:8.)
Being with the Lord is not about
feeling good. It is not even about
being healed or having a spiritual
experience. It is about being transformed
into the image of God's dear Son, Jesus,
for the Spirit of Jesus is a Holy Spirit.

May we purpose to listen to and OBEY God,
even if He tells us something that we do not
want to hear. He alone is Holy and True.
He alone knows best. Do not make His
heart, or the heart of the righteous, sad,
but forsake all others and everything
to follow Him alone.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Devotions From the Heart: Enemies of The Cross

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

"For many walk, of whom I have told you
often, and now tell you even weeping,
that they are the enemies of the cross
of Christ." Philippians 3:18.

It had not taken long for the early Church
to be infiltrated with those who wanted to
cheapen the grace and gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Everyone in the natural realm
longs for an easy life, but an easy life is
not promised to those who would follow in
the footsteps of Jesus.

Jesus said to his disciples, “If any man cometh
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). He spoke
this to his disciples and the first words out
of His mouth were to let him deny himself i.e.
let him lay down his rights to himself.

The early church had incredible accusations
against it, suffering immense persecution and
intolerable hardship. Life was not an easy matter
in those days, but embracing their afflictions
they grew and increased, and the gospel spread.

Paul’s word that many walk (live) as enemies of
the cross of Christ was clearly pointing to the
fact that the Church was being attacked by those
amongst them who did not see the necessity of a
life of discipline and perseverance. They
rejected the idea that the cross was not just
about redemption, but a way of life. Calvary
was about how we live, not just a place of
redeeming mankind.

We must recognize that the cross is to be part
of our life in Christ, even as Jesus said,
“Take up his cross and follow Me.” He called
the cross His Cross. We have to make the
cross our own if we are to follow Jesus utterly
and completely. Ours is not a life of ease,
but of accepting rejection, and following
Jesus through all that assails us.

The end of such people who refuse the cross
is destruction. Carnality is what we reap by
ignoring the cross, and our god is our belly,
whose glory is in our shame, who mind earthly
things. Pray that the cross be made our own.
Make it yours by faith right now.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Take Heed That No Man Deceive You

"For there shall arise false Christs, and
false prophets, and shall show great signs
and wonders; insomuch that, if it were
possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Behold, I have told you before." (Matthew 24:
24, 25).

In Matthew 24 Jesus gives us one of His last
discourses and it is a most earnest warning:
Let no man deceive you! Jesus mentions the
word "deceive" four times in this passage.
One mention should get our attention, two
mentions should give us pause, but 4 four
mentions should make us stop and take careful,
careful notice.

When we think about deception we often think
in terms of "the other guy" being deceived.
It is "the other guy", in the "other church,"
in "a different place" who falls into error.
Certainly is is not me and mine who are being
deceived. Often, too, we think of deception
happening outside of the church because those
that do not know the Lord are in darkness.

Jesus, however, is talking privately to his
chosen twelve in this discourse (vs 3).
Was this only meant for them? Obviously
not since they are asking Him what things
would be like at His Coming and at the end
of the world.

He speaks of a deception of great magnitude
that would come: MANY would come IN HIS NAME--
as "Christians", and MANY would be deceived.
This would not be an ineffective deception
because we see Jesus use the word "MANY" even
more times than He uses the word "deceive."

MANY shall come [falsely] in His Name. MANY
will be deceived. MANY shall be offended.
MANY false prophets shall come, and the
love of MANY shall wax cold.

There is absolutely no sign that Christians will
escape this, in fact, the deception is in the
place where it should not be--even in the
Church. It has invaded the holy place on all

This idea of deception parallels what
Jesus is speaking of here about
the "abomination of desolation" (vs 15) being
in the holy place. Deception becomes
personified.That which is not of God will
sit in the holy place just as Antiochus
Ephiphanes desecrated the temple (167 B.C.)
as Daniel predicted and just as the
Roman Army devastated Jerusalem in 70 A.D.,
and just as, if we understand scripture
correctly, a coming Antichrist will try to
deceive and devastate all that is holy.

Persecution and deception will not only come from
without but from within, just as Jesus was betrayed
by His own countrymen--even a close associate.

False Christ's (Christ means "annointed one")
will arise, claiming they are "God's Annointed"
and false prophets shall come showing great
signs and wonders, so much so that if it were
ELECT. Jesus Himself asks, "...when the Son
of Man comes shall He find faith on the earth?"
(Luke 18:8). As much as we want a massive
worldwide revival, this does not bode well
for one appearing. God is always calling,
but who will answer Him? Revival must come
in our heart and not necessarily as an
external "event." You never have to wait
for that kind of revival to begin.

The very height of folly would be to think
that you cannot be deceived. If you do think that,
then you already ARE deceived! Deception works
by slight of hand--really slight of truth--
things are not what they appear.

Behind the smoke screen, the coiled serpent
lurks ready to strike. Eccles. 10:11 says,
"If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
than it is too late to call the [snake]
charmer." We must be wary lest we be bitten
by deception before we recognize it to be

We need not be heresy hunters, but we do need
to do as Jesus tells us and take heed. Christ
would not take such great steps to warn us if
there was not a grave threat. God can keep
us, but how?

First, we need to be people of prayer. We must
continually be speaking with, and inquiring of
the Lord. We must stay close to Him in simple,
childlike faith.

Second, we need to be people of the Word of God.
As we walk more and more in the realm of the
supernatural we cannot divorce our inner
discernment of things from the written Word
of God. God has revealed all that we really
need through His Word. By the Holy Spirit,
that Word is revealed and understood. The
Living Word and the written Word of God
are always in agreement.

Seeking "deep truth" or "hidden revelation" or
"extreme prophetic" encounters, or third heaven
"day trips" can set us up for "old age" deception
quicker than fast. Soaring into spiritual realms
without being grounded in the Word of God
is just plain dangerous. As the song says, "Just a
song, before I go, a message to be learned,
traveling twice the speed of sound its easy
to get burned!" As deception and false spiritual
activity accelerates,then we must be doubly
careful to stay within the boundaries the Word
of God sets for us.

Third, we must be people of holiness. Jesus shows
us the fruit of deception: offense, hatred,
betrayal, iniquity, and love grown cold. But the
pure in heart see God! Hallelujah! They see
who God is and they know His Voice. They follow
Him as He leads them to safety. We need to
pursue holiness and truth so that there
is less and less within us that will be
attracted to the beguiling claws of deception.

Deception is very real and is coming to a
theatre near you: your mind! Seek the Lord.
Stay up to date with God. Pursue Holiness. Read
the Word. Entrust yourself to the Good Shepherd
so that you will be safe in the coming days of
deep deception.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Devotions from the Heart: The Help of His Countenance

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why
art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in
God: for I shall yet praise him for the
help of His countenance" Psalm 42:5

Though David’s name is not over this Psalm
it is so like him in style and language that
it must be him. He speaks in the Psalm of
being greatly distressed (verse 3) my tears
have been my meat day and night, while they
continually say unto me, where is thy God?

At the same time he talks of tremendous
longing for God, which he knows, is the only
answer to great trials and afflictions.
(Verse 1) As the hart panteth after the water
brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
(Verse 2) My soul thirsteth for God, for the
living God, when shall I come and appear
before God?

Then he says in verse 4 that when he
remembered these things, his longing for God,
his thirst, he poured out his soul in him. He
began to say to himself, “Why art thou cast
down, oh my soul? Why art thou disquieted
within me? Hope thou in God for I shall yet
praise him for the help of His countenance.”

This last phrase “for the help of His
countenance” can be translated, “His presence
is salvation.” David knows this more than any
other. Having seen the house of Obed-edom
under the blessing of God because of the ark’s
presence in his house he knew that there was
no greater blessing but God Himself. The
same is true today.

Charles Wesley wrote in the same vein the hymn:

“Give me Thyself from every boast;
From every wish set free,
Let all I am in Thee be lost,
But give Thyself to me.”

Peter in his first epistle writes in the
third chapter, “For Christ now hast once
suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,
that He might bring us to God, being put to
death in the flesh, but quickened by the
Spirit.” Oh, that our hearts will never be
satisfied with anything less than Him, for
it is He and He alone who saves, and to
Him we must come.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: The Atmosphere of Idolatry

"Therefore, at that time, when all the
people heard the sound of the cornet,
flute, harp...and all kinds of music,
all the people...fell down and worshipped
the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had
set up" (Daniel 3:7).

Atmosphere can really set the mood, can't it?
The word "atmosphere" comes from the Greek
"atmos" (vapor) and "spaera" (sphere), it is the
air of a locality, the surrounding influence
or the environment, or an intriguing or singular
tone, effect, or appeal.

Do you know that idolatry is often enmeshed
in a created "atmosphere"? Here in Daniel,
Nebuchadnezzar has the musicians play to
"lead" people into the worship of the golden
idol. Music has the power to lead people
past their inhibitions and past their normal
state of mind. For better or worse, it sets
a tone, makes an appeal, and has an effect.

What we might not normally do, we may find
ourselves doing given the right "atmosphere."
Consider Israel when Moses is with God on
Mt. Sinai. They do not "just decide" to worship
another god, they create a whole atmosphere
to accompany and reinforce it. They prepared the
idol, a feast was proclaimed, and then,
"party-time!" The singing and dancing created
such an atmosphere of idolatry for the golden calf,
that the people ended up "worshipping" naked
(Ex 32:25). Its hard to imagine this happening
without more than a little bit of atmosphere!

Creating an atmosphere appeals to our soulish
nature. It prepare us to let down our guard
and to be more open to receive, but the big
question is, "Receive what?"

There are so many issues feeding into this
subject that I will just touch on a few,
and speak only of one in this article.

Dear ones, I fear that we are in danger
of not discerning the Spirit of the Lord
concerning much of what is purported to be
the working and Presence of God in our midst.
The human body is amazing. If you hadn't
noticed, it can feel an amazing range of
emotions, feelings, and sensations.
It likes atmosphere, but after it is
stirred up it is not always a good judge
of the real source of what it is feeling.
Just because I feel goosebumps does not
make it the Presence of God.

Jesus told us to watch out for deception.
Many deceivers and antichrists have gone out
into the world. They are masters of illusion.
They are purveyors of atmosphere. They
are conjurers of a sense of the sacred.
And they can, themselves, be completely deceived
as to what they are doing, or willing
participants in making people "twice as fit
for hell, as they are themselves."

When these people stand before God they
tell God that they prophesied, did many
wonders, and cast out demons, IN THE
NAME OF CHRIST, and yet, God rejects
them and says that He never knew them,
and they are thrown into hell-fire
Matt 7:22,23).

So often we think that the deceivers are
outside of the church, but this is not
what Jesus is telling us here.

Right now there is a purported "revival"
going on in Lakeland, Florida. But
we would do well to ask God for discernment.
Worship sets the stage to receive something:
by its nature, it opens the heart. But
what is being received? and who is being

I listened to the worship songs that
were being sung at the Todd Bentley
"revival" and for as long as I listened
I did not hear one song that directly
spoke the name of Jesus. It was about
rain, and being free, being family,
and even, a long round of "when you're all
about Me, I'm all about you."
...Nothing much about the atoning work
of Christ, nothing much about holiness,
nothing much about the pre-eminence of
Christ above everything.

And then, when the hearts are soft, and
the atmosphere is just right, are we
given the Word of God, truthfully exposited?
or something else, something very
frighteningly something else? I adjure
you to examine the atmosphere of
"revivals" like these in light
of the Word of God.

In this case, while the worship may
produce a good feeling, it is scripturally
on dodgy ground. So we are in trouble before
we even get to the main course, where the
ground appears to ooze into quicksand quite
rapidly. I don't think Paul "visualized" himself
into the third heaven, nor do I think that the
angel named Emma is anyone that I would
want on my team.

Would to God that this were an isolated
experience, but it is not. Jesus told
us that the true worshippers worship
in Spirit and in truth. There is a lot
that we need to understand about what
He means. "In Spirit" does not mean
any sort of spiritual experience that
comes along, it means, "by means of the
Holy Spirit." "In truth", well, don't
even get me started. If our worship
is to be pleasing and acceptable to
God, it must be worship of God as
He is, and has revealed Himself,
through Scripture, to be. He must be
be given His rightful place and
we must be in our rightful place
as His worshippers.

Once we are in an "atmosphere" we
can be lulled to sleep and wake up
having been captured by something
that is not of God. We must judge
all things in the light of the
Word of God to see what be of Him.
We cannot assume that something is
from God because we thought we
felt the "presence of God" in it.
What we discern to be the presence
of God may be a host of other, not
so godlike, things.

I do not write this to frighten you,
nor to criticize. I write this to
warn you. Idolatry always has a
atmosphere. That's why there are so
many bars, that's why rock musicians
have such great followings, that's
why it costs so much to join the
country club, and that's why deceivers
gather such a willing audience to themselves.

It's all in the atmosphere. Literally. It
gives new meaning to the phrase "the prince
of the power of the air" whom Paul says
is the spirit that works in the sons
of disobedience (Eph. 2:2).

Dear ones, I exhort you to pray earnestly.
Let God sift through what you believe and
allow Him to leave only the Truth.
Immerse yourself in the Word
of God. Many deceivers have gone out
into the world. Many more are still
coming. All Nebuchadnezzar had to do
was play the music. Whose tune are
you falling down to?

(This is part of a series on the Book
of Daniel. Other studies are filed
in the archives under "Daniel Bible Study")

Thursday, May 01, 2008

I Come in the Little Things

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty, but I have set My Feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod.
There do I dwell, in weakness and in power;
Not broken or divided, saith our God!
In your strait garden plot I come to flower:
About your porch My Vine,
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine;
Waits, at the threshold, Love's appointed hour.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yea! on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confest.
On every nest
Where feathery Patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprize
Of motherhood--
There doth My Godhead rest.

I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
My starry wings
I do forsake,
Love's highway of humility to take:
Meekly I fit my stature to your need.
In beggar's part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead--
As man, to speak with man--
Till by such art
I shall achieve My Immemorial Plan,
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)

photos taken in my yard on a gorgeous spring day!

The Book of Daniel Bible Study: Forsaking the Impulse Driven Life

"You shall be cut into pieces and your
houses shall be made a dunghill" (Daniel 2:5

(What feels right today is tomorrow's disaster.)

The Book of Daniel shows us examples of
both how to be led by the Holy Spirit, and
how to be led by your impulses. The former
is much more highly recommended! Reading
through the book one is struck by the extreme
impulse disorder of King Nebuchadnezzar.

An impulse disorder is usually defined
as the "inability to resist the impulse
to perform an action that is harmful to
oneself or others." We see Nebuchadnezzar
acting "impulsively" throughout the book
of Daniel. As soon as something stirs him
up he reacts by wanting to "cut people in
pieces and make their houses a dunghill"
(Daniel 2:5,3:29) or "throw them into a
fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:6,15). He acts
frequently and compulsively out of impulse.

Nebuchadnezzar is only focused on himself
and does not care how his actions will
affect others. This is the nature of the
impulse driven life. It is a life that will
move from disastrous circumstance to disastrous
circumstance. Animals often behave this way.
Man should not. We have the opportunity to
be led by the Holy Spirit.

How shall we be led by the Holy Spirit and
not our impulses?

Romans 8:14 & 15 says that as many are led by
the Spirit of God, they are sons of God,
and God has not given us a spirit of
bondage again to fear, but a spirit of
adoption by which we cry "Abba, Father."

God's Spirit does not work by compulsion.
God leads us as a Father, not out of fear
or as a slavedriver, but out of love.
Impulse drives us, there is a tension
to it. We are slaves to it. Those who are
driven by impulse feel an increasing tension
to carry out an impulsive act. They are not
gently led.

If something is compulsively driving you,
it is probably not the Spirit of God.
While Mark's gospel says that the Spirit
"drove" Jesus out into the desert (Mark 1:12),
Matthew's gospel says, more softly,
that He was "led up" (Matt. 4:1).*(see
my note below.
) As a rule, in our
day to day walk with the Lord, God leads us
quietly, line upon line, step upon step.

1 Cor. 12:2 says, "You know that when you
were heathen, you were led off after idols
that could not speak [habitually] as impulse
directed and whenever the occasion might arise
(Amplified Version). Impulse, habitually
followed, leads us off after that which we
idolize. Without the Spirit of God helping
us, we have little control over our impulses.

The impulse driven life is steeped in idolatry.
When urges that are not of God rise up in
us they are always aimed at satisfying
something other than the will of God.
They lead us to worship other things,
other people, other gods. Impulses tempt us
to lead ourselves but we end up under their
dominion, and what a costly dominion it is.

On the other hand, I Cor 12: 3 says,
"Therefore I want you to understand that no
one speaking under the power and influence
of the [Holy] Spirit of God can [ever] say,
Jesus be cursed! And no one can [really] say,
Jesus is[my] Lord, except by and under the
power and influence of the Holy Spirit

When we are under the influence,(and notice
the word influence, and not impulse) of the
Holy Spirit we always acknowledge Jesus and
call Him, in truth, "Lord." We listen only to
Him, we obey only Him. Nothing else causes
us to move forward. If human impulse arises,
we crucify it! The Holy Spirit influences us,
teaches us, guides us into all truth.

Second Peter 2 discusses the frightening
fate of those who pursue their ungodly
impulses..."like unreasoning beasts,
mere creatures of instinct, born only
to be captured and destroyed, railing
at things of which they are ignorant,
they shall utterly perish" (2 Pet 2:12).
This whole chapter deals with those
who boast of liberty but live in
enslavement to the sinful impulses
that drive them. If you want a test
of whether something is an impulse
or not, think of what its impact will
have, think of what fruit it may produce!

Daniel, and his friends, Meschach,
Shadrach and Abednego, never are
said to act on impulse. They walk in
uncompromised discipline and obedience
to God. They seek to keep their hearts
pure and centered on God. A pure heart
produces a pure impulse. Allowing
our hearts to be purified is a process,
and one that cannot, and must not, be

When we are led by the Spirit, the
fruit of the Spirit is brought forth.
When we are led by the impulses of
the flesh, the fruit of the flesh is
brought forth (cp. Gal 5:18-24). Verse
24 tells us that those who belong
to Christ crucify the flesh with its
passions, appetites and impulses.

Impulse cannot wait, it does not
wait, to see if something is of God.
How many times do you wish that
you had waited before you said or
did something? It is important
to be quickly obedient to the Lord,
but it is also wise, in many
circumstances, to wait to see
if impulse is driving us or the
Spirit of the Lord is leading us.
The test of time, even just
a short time, usually brings
forth a clear answer.

Discerning whether something is a
fleshly impulse, or whether something is
from the Holy Spirit, is such an
important thing for we, as Christians,
to pay attention to. Let us ask
God for discernment, and let us
exercise prudence in our actions.
Pray before you leap! Wait on the
Lord. Look at what fruit your words
or actions might produce. It may save
you a lot of pain, a lot of embarrassment,
and a whole lot of repentance.


*There are several different ways this verse
can be interpreted, and even the Greek
word, ekballo, here translated
as "drove," has many different nuances and
meanings. We can be certain God was
not forcing Jesus into anything and Jesus
went forth, in obedience to God, of His
own free will. His behavior, at this
crucial moment, was certainly not born of
impulse, and only bore the fruit of obedience
to God. Human impulse on the other hand, usually
is steeped in disobedience and idolatry.

(This is part of a series on the Book
of Daniel. Other studies are filed
in the archives under "Daniel Bible Study")