..."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)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: "But If Not...": The Fiery Furnace of Faith

Daniel Chapter Three:

"Our God whom we serve is able to
deliver us from the burning fiery
furnace, BUT IF NOT, let it be known to
you, O King, that we will not serve
your gods or worship the golden image
which you have set up" (Daniel 3:17,18).

Our faith in God does not guarantee our
earthly safety. It does not guarantee
that we will not suffer for our faith.
It only guarantees that we are known
and eternally kept by God and that
nothing can snatch us out of His Hands,
not even death.

In the third chapter of Daniel, King
Nebuchadnezzar has built a giant statue
of gold that he has commanded everyone
to worship. Word reaches the king, as word
always does,that Shadrach, Meschach, and
Abednego are not bowing down and worshipping
the image.

King Nebuchadnezzar is furious. He offers
them "a chance" to worship the image.
Gee, "thanks, but no thanks!" They
emphatically decline. No matter what, they
are not going to compromise their devotion
to the Living God! We, too, have to have
this same mind. For them, it was not
even an issue. They say, "It is not
necessary for us to answer you on this point"
(vs 16).

The thought of it is so ridiculous
and the request so ludicrous in their minds
that they do no even feel they need to reply
to the king. Jesus, too, when He stood before
Pilate, also said nothing (Mark 15:1-5). The
truth would fall on deaf ears and make the
judgment all the worse. The pure action of
faith, of remaining true to God, of trusting
Him with our lives and not defending
ourselves, speaks louder than words. Truth,
incarnated, speaks louder than words.

The three men in this account have utmost
faith in God: they trust Him no matter what
He decides for them. May we have such faith!
May death and life be the same for us as we
walk out our devotion to the Lord!

They know that God is able to deliver them,
BUT IF NOT, if He should choose to let them
die at the hands of their enemies, so be it!
This does not show a lack of faith, but
an abandonment to God, a greater faith!

It is easy to follow God when He delivers
us and causes our enemies to be routed.
But when deliverance is slow to come or
in His great purposes, He allows a deliverance
that takes us out of this world into His
everlasting kingdom, then our faith, or
the faith of those watching what happens
to us, can waiver.

The Christian church, it is said, is built
on the blood of the martyrs. There is a
godly legacy both of earthly deliverance,
and of deliverance unto the presence of
the Lord. Hebrews 11, the great faith
chapter, tells us of those that lived
in faith, and those that died in faith.
There is no difference, really. Those that
were not delivered did not have less faith,
their faith did not fail them for their
faith was not in the deliverance but
in the God of deliverance.

We do not believe in God because of what
He can do for us, but because He is who
He says He is and we adore that!
The days are coming when we may need to
take great comfort from this story
of persecution. When the three were cast
into the fiery furnace by the crazed
Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar watched,
perhaps through some sort of opening, to
see what would happen to them.

To his amazement he saw, "one like the
son of God" in the oven with them. Now
whether this be an angel or Christ,
Himself, is not for us to argue, but
be assured that God is always with us
in our trials and in our sufferings.
He never leaves us to suffer alone, never
leaves us to endure something that He has
not, or would not, endure also. Never
fails to provide what we need to endure!
What a great promise!

The three men of faith emerged uncinged
from the fire. They did not even smell
of smoke! What a great deliverance!
May we look for our deliverance on
earth, BUT IF NOT, let us determine
that our proclamation of the Lord, and
of His kingdom, will remain uncompromised.
This is our call and it is a glorious one!

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

Devotions From the Heart: The Ark Brought Home

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

The Ark Brought Home

"And I will yet be more vile than thus,
and will be base in mine own sight: and
of the maidservants which thou has
spoken of, of them shall I be had in
honor" (2 Samuel 6:22).

Such was the hunger of David to bring
the ark back to Jerusalem, he was prepared
to go to any lengths to see it return. The
ark of the covenant is a picture of the
presence of the Lord. David longed for God’s
manifest presence and did everything to make
it happen.

We could talk much of the incident with Uzza
who was destroyed trying to prevent the ark
from falling off the ox-cart but the verse we
have before us deals with another matter; David’s
behavior as the ark came home. He was literally
beside himself before the ark and totally lost
in the joy of the presence of God coming to

He knew God’s presence meant blessing. In the
incident with Uzza being struck down (verses 7-9)
he was afraid to bring the ark up, and left it
at the house of Obed-edom for 3 months (verse 11).
Seeing the blessing of God on his household he
decides he cannot wait any longer to bring the
ark up (verse 14). David began to dance before
the Lord with all his might; and the ark was
brought up with shouting and with the sound of
the trumpet (verse 5).

David’s wife was abhorred by his behavior because
of what the maidservants thought because he was
girded only with a linen ephod. David cared for
none of it, or what they thought. His was to be
taken up with the glory of God and if it made him
look vile, then so be it. It did not matter, David
was a worshipper.

Michal, his wife did not like what she saw in David.
She missed the whole point. It was all for God.
A worshipper has to look out of it. He is totally
abandoned to God and that is the way it has to be.
If only God’s church would abandon all thoughts of
herself and give herself in worship to God no matter
what others think. In John 9 we read the blind man
worshipped Jesus. In Greek it reads, “he
extravagantly loved Him”.

The Lord gives us power to lose sight of man, and
give all to Him in worship.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Place of Refuge in God

"In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence:
and his children shall have a place of refuge."
--Proverbs 14:16

Using the mind to try and navigate through
the ever growing deceptions that face us
as believers will not insure that we
are safely abiding in the Lord.

There is one thing that even the simple-
minded can have, one thing that requires
no skill, one thing that will not fail
the believer when he walks in the dark:
that one thing is the fear of the Lord.

A sign of the end times is that people
will be cocky and arrogant: they will
have no fear of even demonic entities
(Jude 8,9; 2 Tim. 3:2). But we are called
to fear God and not be intimidated by the
works, and those who practice works, of darkness.

When we fear God, we know our place:
He is large and we are small!
When we fear God we recognize
God's character: Holy, Holy, Holy!
When we fear God, we have strong
confidence, not in ourself, but
in the One in whom we have put our trust!

In God, there is a wondrous place of
refuge. "The Name of the Lord is a strong
tower, the righteous run into and
are set aloft, far above the
reach of their enemies"
(Prov 18:10).
In the Lord is refuge from our enemies,
peace from our struggles, protection
from those who assail us; a hiding place
from the arrows of the wicked.

Those who do not fear God go forth
under their own banner and at their
own peril. The fear of God is nothing
like the human fear that torments. It is
a fear that enables us to qualify
for all the provisions of God's
protection program! It produces
confidence that we are being protected
and are safe for we place ourselves
in His care.

Would you feel safe if you ran
from your enemies into the headquarters
of Scotland Yard, or the Armed Forces,
or even the local police department?
All political remarks aside, you would
because these places represent authority
and safety.

When we fear God we have a place of refuge.
His strong arm protects us because we
have submitted ourselves to His rule
and authority. We do not fear that He
will hurt us, rather, we are able to have
godly fear because we know that He
is holy. Fear of the Lord produces
the knowledge that He will protect us.

Those who do not fear God are setting
themselves up for danger because they
despise authority. We are no match
for the waves of deception that the
enemy of our souls is sending against
the shores of our minds and hearts and
spirits. We need only fear God and run
into Him as a refuge.

It is commonly said, "When the devil
knocks at your door, send Jesus to
answer it." Let Someone bigger than you
deal with that which opposes and
threatens you.

All we need to do is fear God. Not
because He is scary, but because He
is so completely worthy of our reverence.

Fear the Lord, find your refuge in God.
How happy and blessed are those who take
refuge in Him.

Devotion of the Heart: These All Died in Faith

By Pastor Derek Gitsham

"These all died in faith not having received
the promises, but having seen them afar off,
and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,
and confessed that they were strangers and
pilgrims in the earth. Hebrews 11:13

The phrase, “these all died in faith” is more
poignant than at first appearance. The battle
for the saint is hottest in the realm of our
faith. Jesus’ remarks to Peter that Satan hath
desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat,
but I have prayed for you that thy faith fail not,
and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

The statement Satan has desired to have you is
quite alarming. But the good news is we don’t read
that he did have him, only desired to have him. Could
it be that Jesus is saying that if he had gotten
Peter, would it be because his faith had failed?
It sounds like it could be. Our faith is continually
under attack, though the test of faith in 1 Peter 1
is something that God allows for the purpose of
increasing our faith and to burn the mixture out
of it.

Why are the words “they all died in faith”
important? Because there is no guarantee
for the saint that he will finish believing
God, unless we stay true to what living by faith
really means. The worth “faith” is a noun and
means faithfulness. There needs to be faithful
living to God if we are going to believe God to
the end. Because I have believed God once is no
guarantee that I will go on believing Him to the

Believing God is tough work. It certainly is a
work. Jesus said in John 6:29 “This is the work
of God that you believe on Him and Jesus Christ
whom he hath sent.”

Dying in faith is what we all want: staying in
faith will depend on my relationship with God if
it is to survive. Paul says very clearly, “Faith
worketh by love” i.e. by a relationship. Stay
intimate with God and you will keep on believing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keeping Your Own Vineyard

"They made me the keeper of the vineyards
but mine own vineyard I have not kept."--
Song of Songs 1:6

Its always "them" isn't it? "They" made me do
it. In these tumultuous days it is vital that
we seek God no matter what "they" want us to do.
We must keep our own vineyard, our spiritual
life, or suffer the consequences.

It is so easy to let our time and energies
be dissipated in the vineyards of Babylon or
even in religiosity which is really anything
spiritual that we engage in that God has
not called us to.

Americans seem to value busyness, multi-tasking,
juggling, running, and the excitement of being
on the road. It makes us feel like we are going
forward. We carry that mentality into our spiritual
lives and mistakenly think that "doing" is
better than just "being" with God.

No doubt, life sometimes comes at us fast, but no
matter what, we DO have control over the spiritual
vineyard of our own life. We can choose to tend it,
for it needs constant care, or we will reap a
neglected, weed-filled, and unfruitful spiritual life.

We make choices and those choices, once made, dictate
much of how we will spend our time. "But," you say,
"I must work, the children need time, there are
responsibilities to be kept, meetings to attend, etc."
Yes, we live in the world but we carry our spiritual
vineyard within ourselves. It is with us 24 hours
a day. No matter what circumstances you find yourself
in, even if they are a result of poor choices,
you can cultivate your spiritual vineyard.

There is special temptation for those who lead
others spiritually. It is easy to forfeit your
own spiritual life to keep the ministry afloat.
You can be ministering out of an empty shell--
from a dried up vine. It is vital that those
who take care of others spiritually start
by keeping their own walk with the Lord
the first priority.

We cannot help others unless we are being helped
by the Lord. We cannot feed others unless the Lord
is feeding us. We cannot give to others what
they need until we have received what we need from
the Lord. We can do nothing apart from Him!

The temptation to not tend our own vineyard
is the most serious temptation we face in
this hour. Something is occurring in the Spirit
that requires ALL of our attention. Our individual
or corporate lives could change in a second.
Are we prepared? Is your lamp full of oil?
Are you ready for whatever will come?

Abraham was called alone. Before we can be
called together we must know what it is
to be called alone. We must know how to
commune with God. We cannot just accept
what our spiritual leaders say, however
good, without we ourselves seeking God
with and for them.

There is no substitute for time spent alone
with God: not sermonaudio; not Christian
music, not conferences, not even church.
There are things in our hearts that demand
that we give God our undivided attention.
Alone. By ourselves. In our prayer closet.

Hearing God can and does take time. Why
does it seem easier and more satisfying
to keep the vineyard of committees, however
wholesome; of ministry, however prestigious;
even of overindulgence in spiritual meetings,
however stimulating? Why is it so hard to go
into our houses and sit alone with God?

Martha was a practical pragmatist but she
missed a greater point: it is more important
to sit with Jesus when He comes, then it
is to worry about "them." "Them" and "they"
must be put aside so it is all about
tending only to Jesus. Jesus tells the indignant,
and other-vineyard tending Martha, that Mary
has chosen the better, though socially
less acceptable part.

As we sit alone with God, He tells us what
He wants from us. What He wants us to do He
provides time to accomplish. Its as simple as

Ask God each day what it is that He would
have you do. It goes without question that
you should make the time to sit with Him,
so that you will know.

Tend your vineyard. Sit with Jesus no matter
what "they" say.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Devotions from the Heart: I Will Show the Salvation of God

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

"Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me:
and to him that ordereth his conversation
aright I will show the salvation of God."
(Psalm 50:23)

Praise is a powerful medium in the saint’s
life. David loved to sing and praise the Lord.
Oftentimes when we are caught up in praising
the Lord, thoughts that have depressed us
begin to lift off us, and we begin to see
more clearly what the Lord is saying to us.
Like a fog slowly lifting from the city in
the early morning as the sun begins to shine

David has much revelation from the Lord in his
Psalms. Much has come through the vehicle of
rejoicing, thankfulness and praising the Lord.
He was like many of us, full of passion at times
in expressing himself, but his one overriding
zeal was his devotion to the Lord. A study can
be made in the Psalms of David’s devotional life
- a study worth making.

But here David makes a wonderful statement,
“He that ordereth his conversation aright, will
I show the salvation of God.” Living right comes
from living in a right relationship with God.
The word “perfect” in the New Testament sometimes
scares the saint into believing that he will
never attain. But the word does not mean “perfect”
as we understand it, but heart, mind and will
being rightly related to God. In that sense we are
perfect, even as Paul says in Philippians 3:15,
as many as be perfect, be thus minded.

We need to think in terms of being rightly related
to God. This is what David is saying here - he that
ordereth his conversation aright (the old word
conversation means behavior) God will show Him His
salvation. We all need to see the saving power of
God working in our lives. Believing God will produce
results, and it cannot be otherwise.

John is clear in his gospel about this, he that
believeth—result—out of his belly shall flow
rivers of living water. God help us to order
our lives, keep them rightly related to Jesus,
that we might see the salvation of God’s operation
in us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: Chapter 3--The Narcissism of Nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold,
whose height was sixty cubits or ninety feet
and its breadth six cubits or nine feet (Daniel 3:1).

King Nebuchadnezzar had a large problem:
he thought it was all about him! Nearsighted
and self-focused, all he could see was himself.
We, like he, will make fatal mistakes
interpreting what God has said to us if
we try to make ourselves the center of the world.
The sun does not revolve around the earth.
Nor does the Son revolve around the creature
or the creation.

God sent Nebuchadnezzar a dream to reveal
to him what was in his heart and to show
Him that God, in Christ, would be the
ultimate King. He was shown to be the head
of gold in a great statue, but was also shown
that the Rock hewn without hands (Christ)
would overcome ALL the kings and the kingdoms
of the earth, including his.

Nebuchadnezzar, however, saw all this through
self-colored glasses. As the King of Babylon
he can be viewed as a type of Satan and he
had the same narcissistic personality as the devil.
God tries to save him by allowing him to
be humbled, but he is slow to listen and
quick to act to exalt himself.

In Chapter Two of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has
the dream of the statue. By the first verse
of Chapter Three he has heard only what he
wanted to hear about the dream and has built
a 90 foot golden statue to himself that everyone
must worship. Talk about not getting the point!
Talk about selective hearing!

We can, like Nebuchadnezzar, in lesser or
equal ways, misinterpret prophetic dreams,
prophetic words, even the Scriptures themselves,
when we view them through the near-sighted lens
of self-focus, self-importance, and self-aggrandizement.

Much was said to Nebuchadnezzar by Daniel, but
notice what he "gets" out of it: that he is
the greatest king and deserves not just a
gold headed statue, but a completely gold
statue, made in his image, 90 feet high and nine
feet wide! We hear what we want to hear, and
we see what we want to see: what tickles our
fancy, what bolsters our ego.

Viewing ourselves as God sees us is priceless.
That view only comes to the humble in heart.
Only the pure in heart see God, and only
the humble in heart can see themselves
as God sees them.

How can we NOT be like Nebuchadnezzar?

1) Don't interpret things with yourself
at the center. Christ is the center. He
is and always will be (Colossians 1:16-18).
When God reveals something to you, it is
not to exalt you but to help you find
your rightful place and that place is
not the center of the universe!
Matthew 23:12 says, "Whosoever exalts
himself shall be humbled and whoever
humbles himself shall be exalted."
Take the low place.

2) Guard against selective hearing.
Hear the whole counsel of God. (2 Tim 3:16,
Prov. 15:22). It is not wise to build your
house on one verse of Scripture or the
interpretation of one verse of Scripture.

The whole counsel of God has a wonderful
balance to it, themes reappear and are echoed
throughout Scripture. Beware of "new"
interpretations. We have more than enough
truth to walk in. It will take more than
a lifetime just to walk in a small portion
of what we know for sure.

God speaks to us, yes, but He is merely
including us in the fellowship He has
with His precious son, Jesus Christ:
His Word is for Christ and is to Christ.
His Word is Christ! We get to
be a part of that--we are not the center
of that.

If you receive a prophetic word or dream,
review it in the light of Scripture. Do
not hastily assume that you know what it
means or interpret it so that it works out
conveniently in your favor. Let God show
you what it means. Nebuchadnezzar took
his dream and the clear interpretation
that Daniel gave him and still did not
listen or hear correctly. Beware!

3) Beware of idolatry (2 Tim 3:1-6,Romans
1:21-25). It is so easy to worship the
creature rather than the Creator. It is
so easy to think of ourselves and look
out for ourselves rather than humble
ourselves before God. Nebuchadnezzar
built himself into a god, or tried
to--he soon ended up less than a man.

4) Put God first, and others before
yourself but after God (Deut. 6:4&5,13-15).
Romans 12:3 tells us not to think of
ourselves more highly then we ought,
but to rate our abilities with sober
judgment. Each of us is gifted in
some way, don't let the gifting God
has given you go to your head or
cause you to think you are better
than others.

When you serve God, do not be proud
of it, know that you are just doing
what is expected of a servant (Luke 17:10).

Much deception abounds in the world.
Most of the deception starts when
we do not give God His proper place
but instead, put ourselves above Him.
Narcissism is a fatal flaw: it is
called sin! Take a lesson from
Nebuchadnezzar and don't be like
him! He found out the hard way that
it was not "all about him." Save yourself
the heartache. Humble yourself in the
sight of the Lord.

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Devotions From The Heart: Listening to Yourself

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

For as he thinketh in his heart,
so he is. Proverbs 23:7

Our thoughts play a tremendous place in our
life as believers that we really need to heed
to them. So much so that Solomon says in the
Proverbs that what we think is what we are.

The Lord Jesus clearly reveals by His life
on earth that His mind was harnessed by
self-discipline and not allowed to think
anything that came into it. Often we get
confused as to where we are spiritually,
but all that is needed is for the heart
to listen to what its thinking.

Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceedeth
evil thoughts”. Christ tells us that God
destroyed the earth in Noah’s day because
the thoughts and imaginations of men’s
hearts were only evil continually. One
of the great tests that the Lord has done
a work in the new believer, is the way he
thinks has been changed.

Repentance means a change of mind and,
of course, it should mean a change of
mind literally in all the ways we think.
We are bombarded every day by thoughts
reaching us externally. Many of these
thoughts are not particularly relevant
to our life in God. There are other
thoughts that are relevant, and we need
to captivate these thoughts and allow
them into our minds for the purpose of
being who the Lord designs us to be.
A man is what he believes. So it is
important that we do not believe anything.

God’s Word is full of words for our
thoughts to dwell upon. His word
insists that thinking requires obedience
as well as other things in our life may
require it.

Jesus obeyed the Father in His mind. We need
to do the same if we are to gain the victory
in our lives. Thinking clear and pure thoughts
can be ours if we choose to be obedient to
God in our minds. Read 2 Corinthians 10:5:
“Casting down the imagination and every
high thing that exalteth itself against
the knowledge of God, and bringing into
captivity every thought to the obedience
of Christ.”

This is a mind at perfect peace with God.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Are You Prayer?

"In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer" (Psalm 109:4)

To say that these are turbulent times is
to make a gross understatement. David
knew what it meant to weather hard times
and here in this psalm it says he "gave
himself to prayer." In the Hebrew it
says it even stronger: "but I,
myself, am prayer."

There is a time coming, and now is, when
we must "be" prayer. In the Orthodox tradition
there is the centuries old "Jesus prayer."
It has various forms from "Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner" to,
simply, "Jesus."

Its aim is not repetitious mumbling but
to incorporate a sense of being held by God,
of being united with God, of needing and
knowing God, in the deepest part of one's
being. It is prayer that is meant to pray
itself unceasingly within us.

However we pray, it is wise to aim to make prayer
such a part of ourselves that we no longer
differentiate times that we recognize ourselves
to be praying from times that we are not
consciously praying. All should be prayer. Our
lives should become prayer. We must
"become" prayer. We must give ourselves
to it so fully that we, indeed, pray
without ceasing.

For many, sadly, it is only adversity that
drives us into such a state of continual
prayerfulness. David, here, is thrown into such
a state because he is endeavoring to love and,
instead, is being falsely accused.

David continues to pray, but he prays as
a man of war. He prays that God will judge
his enemies harshly. It is an honest prayer
and understood by anyone who has been
falsely accused. David is so taken up
with his prayer that he feels that he
has "become" his prayer. You can feel
it pouring out of him.

And yet I would believe that Jesus points
us to a higher place in our hearts. He
points us to prayer without ceasing.
He also calls us to allow God to take
such complete control of us that our lust for
personal vengeance is given completely
to God. Vengeance must be truly the Lord's!
This is not to say that we will not
have strong emotions, nor that we
will never be tempted to call down
fire on our enemies!

Things are going to sorely try us, of
that you can be sure. They are going
to cause whatever is inside of us to
form itself into a prayer. We are,
indeed, going to be our prayer, but
what will that prayer be? a vengeful
one? a prayer full of vitriol and
hatred? or one full of forgiveness
and love?

In C.S. Lewis' classic book, "Til We
All Have Faces
," one of the main characters
has a case against the "gods." When finally
she gets to stand before them she has her
"prayer" all lined up and ready to blast.

It is an unending scroll of complaints:
a litany of upset. As she goes to read her
case before the gods, she looks down and the
exceedingly long scroll she has written her
"prayer" on has shriveled to a small bit of
paper in her hand: her "true" prayer. She is
now praying not what she thinks she
means, but who she really is. Just a
small bit of paper. If you became a
prayer that was condensed to fit on a
small bit of paper, what would you be
as a prayer?

What is laying at the heart of your soul?
What is your prayer, pealed down to
to your very depths? Are you love or
hate? surrender or defiance? vengeance or

All of this matters, you know.

In these turbulent times we must
give ourselves to prayer. More than
that, we must give ourselves to
purity of heart, to surrender to
God, to forgiveness, and to love
or the prayer that we "are" will
be a most terrible prayer. In truth,
we must give ourselves completely
to Jesus.

The times are about to separate the
men from the boys and the women
from the girls. Deeper still, they
are going to cause a prayer to be
formed in us. Ask God what that prayer
is going to be in you! Let Him
make it into one sweet word, "Jesus."
The image of His Dear Son, praying
Himself in you, is the sweetest
prayer there is.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Humility always has a good cry and
then forgets petty insults. Remember this.
If you want to conquer the devil, arm
yourself with humility.
- Hildegard of Bingen, "Scivias"

photo taken at Hanbury Church, near Droitwich, England

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Are You Building With Untempered Mortar?

"Because, indeed, because they have seduced My
people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—
and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with
untempered mortar—say to those who plaster
it with untempered mortar, that it will fall.
There will be flooding rain, and you, O great
hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall
tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen,
will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar
with which you plastered it?’” Ezekiel 13:10-12.

This warning in the book of Ezekiel reminds us
that there are no shortcuts in what God builds.
God builds with the Truth and nothing else.
His foundations are unshakable because there
is no falsehood in them.

We must be careful to pay heed to this teaching:
do not build with "untempered mortar." Do not build
with that which has not been properly prepared
and treated. Cement has to be mixed properly in
order for it to withstand the onslaught of the
elements. Otherwise, it cracks or disentegrates
back into sand.

Those who would tell us that there is a shortcut
or an easier way to build, those who do not build
according to the correct specifications, those
who would tell us that we can rush the process,
or compromise the process are lying to us.
This is what God had against the false prophets.

We carefully need to judge what we hear against
the Word of God. Something can appear correct
until the winds of God blow against it. Something
can appear correctly built, but what will
happen when hailstones rain down on it?

We must be built on the living Word of God.
Christ is the only mortar that will hold
everything together and not fail. Indeed,
He is the mortar of the universe for
Colossians 1:17 tells us that "by him all
things consist."

So many things sound good, and look good,
but are untempered mortar. Shoddy workmanship
can be whitewashed over and you will not
be able to see what is underneath until it
falls down, and lays wrecked in a pile of bricks.

Using untempered mortar can be attractive.
It may be cheaper, it may get a house built
more quickly, but its long term value is

It is quite certain that floods, and winds
and hailstorms will test what we have built
with. Are we foolish enough to think that
this won't happen? that a jerry-built
house will stand against the onslaughts
of the "perfect storm"?

For those whose house appears to be being
built very slowly, painfully slowly, take
heart. It is better to let God temper the
mortar than to buy a cheap imitation just
to get the job done quickly.

There are many false prophets who have
gone out into the world. They will tell
you that you are "just fine" and that the
cracking bulges in your foundation are
nothing to worry about. In your heart
you know they are mistaken but do not
be tempted to listen to them--even if
your whole house has to be torn down
in order for it to be correctly repaired.

Our hearts are being built for eternity.
We dare not allow shoddy workmanship,
or untempered mortar to be used. Let Christ
build you with that which passes the test
of truth, that which forms godly character, and
that which produces holiness. Let Christ build
you with well-tempered mortar--even if it be
the furnace of affliction that tempers it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Devotions from the Heart: What Will You Do In the Night?

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

What will you do in the night?

"And it came to pass, that on the morrow
Moses went into the tabernacle of witness;
and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house
of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds,
and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds."
(Numbers 17:8)

God had obviously worked a miracle before the
people of Israel. So great was the determination
of God to show who He was with, and to make
cease the murmurings in the camp of Israel.
Verse 5 says that God requested twelve rods
from the princes according to his Father's
house, and the rod of Aaron was among them.

The rods were laid up before the Lord in the
tabernacle of witness. On the morrow, overnight,
God worked a miracle and Aaron’s rod budded,
blossomed, and yielded almonds. Aren’t you
glad that God went all the way? Not just budded
but blossomed and yielded almonds. In other words,
it produced fruit.

The lesson for us here is quite simple. The rods
were left overnight. During the dark God worked
His miracle. Many of God’s people go through
this dark night, but have we been taught that
God brings forth fruit in the night? The night,
in and of itself, is not the end.

He uses the things that perplex us to bring
us to a new day. Although we may not be aware
of it the night is a ministry to us. The very
darkness itself is teaching us new things.
Jesus said, “What I tell you in darkness,
that speak ye in light” (Matthew 10:27).

It would be good if every minister learned to
thank God for the darkness, and bring forth
his message from this place. It should be
questioned that if there was no dark times in
a saint’s life, he has not much to say. Our
greatest teachings are in the night, in the
hard places, do not despise them but embrace
them, they will be your testimony in the light.

Having gone through the dark place watch how
your authority increases when speaking for God.
Soon God will show the secret that the darkness
and the light both look alike to Him as they
will be to us as we embrace His will in all.

Friday, April 04, 2008

God's Chosen Fast: Isaiah 58

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen?
to loose the band of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, and to let the
oppressed go free, and that you break
every yoke?" ....Isaiah 58:6ff

So often when we think of fasting,
we think of abstaining from food.
God, through the prophet Isaiah,
tells us what the heart of a real
fast is. It has much more to do with
doing what is right then it does
with not eating.

If we were to heed these words concerning
God's chosen fast our souls would
prosper and both we, and the world
around us, would be changed.

Israel is complaining that God does
not act when she fasts. God tells her
that the heart with which Israel fasts
is all wrong. Even though the people
abstain from food,strife, fighting,
idolatry and hypocrisy continue. What is
evident is that fasting reveals the
true heart! When you fast you will
see what you are made of!

A real fast is warring against the
things that God wars against it.
Often we abstain from food so that
we might focus on what is important,
but fasting does not stop there.

God wants us to loose the bands of
wickedness, to undo heavy burdens that
are weighing people down, to let
the oppressed go free, and to break
every troublesome yoke that is
tied to evil.

What does this loosing mean? Is something
tight around your waist or your heart?
To loose or to lose we must starve those
things that hinder so that they shrivel and
lose their control over ourselves or others.
The excess fat of sin and oppression
weighs us down because we gather to
ourselves in excess. God's fast makes
sure that others have what they need and
no-one goes without while others eat
too much.

God's fast lets the oppressed go free.
Think about this: are you oppressing
anyone? It is a different way to look
at it because it starts with YOU! Do
your actions press down on others in
a negative way? If so, let them go
free! Do not hold others, or demand
of them, or entangle them. Look out for
what you can do to lighten people's loads.
So many can barely walk under the strain
of their lives. Help them come to the
Lord so that He might unburden them.
Be His hands and back and carry some
of their load through prayer and practical

God's fast also tells us to share our
bread with the hungry (vs.7). This can be
both physical and spiritual. Who can
you feed, either physically or spiritually?
God's fast is full of hospitality, it
takes an interest in others. It causes
us to bring the poor into our homes,
and our hearts, and our lives.

God's fast covers the naked (vs. 7).
Most people have clothing, but what
does covering the naked mean? It is not
purely physical. How do we deal with
the weaknesses of others? Do we expose
the shortcoming of others? Do we make
their burdens heavier by talking about
them and not praying for them or
helping them. How we deal with others
is how God will deal with us. What we
measure out will be what is measured
to us. Now that is something to think about!

God's fast does not ignore need in
the family (vs. 7). It is easy to talk
about giving until the pressing day-to-day
needs of one's own family start to
wear on us. God says His fast does not
cause us to make oneself scarce when
need is present.

This kind of fasting can be harder
than not eating, no? And yet God
promises great blessing to us if
we fast His chosen fast. Light and
health is promised (vs.8).
The righteousness of God will go
before us and the glory of God
will be our rear guard! Amazing!

God said He will hear our prayers (vs 9).
and come quickly if we put away
pointing fingers at others and
walking in pride and vanity.
That sounds like a good enough
reason to me!

If we give ourselves to caring
for the hungry and afflicted,
darkness will flee away from us and
we can be assured that God will
guide us CONTINUALLY and take care
of our needs (vs 10, 11).

And unto many generations we
will be bringers of restoration
and healing (vs 12). Things that
have been broken will be healed!

And one more thing: if we keep
holy the Sabbath, if we set aside
that day for God and His purposes,
if we center on Him and speak of
Him, and delight in Him, He will
cause us to be lifted up and will
bless us as He did Jacob (vs 14).

These are the sure promises of God.

Read Isaiah 58 and consider carefully
God's chosen fast. It is a joy and
a delight and not a burden. Ask God
how to begin walking in this fast
as way of life. You will never be
the same!

The kingdom of heaven is not for the
well meaning but for the desperate.

-- James Denney

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress
and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom
I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn
of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of
death entangled me; the torrents of destruction
overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled
around me; the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried
to my God for help. From his temple he heard
my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears."
Psalm 18:2-6

photo taken in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Devotions From the Heart: He Gives You to Possess It All the Days of Your Life

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

These are the statutes and judgments, which
ye shall observe to do in the land, which the
Lord God thy Fathers giveth thee to possess it,
all the days that you live upon the earth.
Deuteronomy 12:1

The words of the Lord to Israel have made it
clearly known that God intends His people to
live in blessing all the days of their lives.
Not sporadically but continually. Of course to
be able to do this there are things that have
to be done. It was the lack of doing these
things that was going to prove costly to Israel
in the days to come, to the point of being
overtaken by foreign nations and dispossessed
of their land.

Their failure to not do what the second verse
said was oh so important. God said you shall
utterly destroy all the places wherein the
nations which you shall possess served their
gods, upon the high mountains, upon the hills,
and under every green tree.

Verse three continues in the same vein. Failure
to destroy and utterly destroy all the world’s
things proved to be very costly. Oftentimes we
are afraid to be radical for fear of what men
shall say of us, but God requires radical behaviour
from His people if they were going to possess all
that God promised them.

In Numbers 33:55 God warned Israel that if they
did not drive out the inhabitants of the land
from before them; then it shall come to pass that
those which you let remain of them shall be pricks
in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall
vex you in the land wherein you dwell. The word
in Hebrew for pricks means “hedged in,” “vexed
means “cramped, and blind distress”; most
uncomfortable words.

Going part way with God and not all the way can
cause more trouble to a believer than what he
knew before he knew the Lord. This is a warning.
No friendship with the world, everything has got
to be destroyed and cast out if we are to know
our true heritage in the Lord.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: Daniel 2: Dealing with Nebuchadnezzar

Have you ever worked for a boss that was just
impossible to please? Do you face difficult
people and difficult relationships? The Book
of Daniel has much wisdom to help you in
dealing with difficult situations in your life.

Daniel served the difficult, angry, impulsive
King Nebuchadnezzar. The King had a
disturbing dream that he could not completely
remember. He did not know what it meant.
He appealed to the dream interpreters of
His kingdom but they could not help him
because he wanted to know not only what the
dream meant, but what it was that he had dreamed.

When they could not do this, he ordered
them all to be killed. When the executioner
came to Daniel, to kill him, Daniel had
to spring into action.

In this bible study we are going to examine
how Daniel dealt with this very difficult
situation. There are some important
principles that can be gleaned and applied
to your life situation.

First, Be up to date with God (Daniel 1:8).
Daniel was prepared. He was ready.
When the executioner came for Daniel he
was already right in his heart toward God.
He did not have time to work on getting
things straight with God. We cannot
ignore our relationship with God and
expect to be ready at a moment's notice
to meet extreme difficulties.

Daniel asked for some time to pray.
No doubt he had precious little time
to come up with this dream and its
interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was
not known for his patience. His lives
and the lives of all the other
dream interpreters in Babylon were
at stake.

2) Choose praying friends.(Daniel 2:17,18)
Daniel asked his close circle to
pray also. We need the support and
prayers of our trusted friends to
help us through difficult times.
It is important to choose those
friends wisely. Choose friends that
pray, whose lives are right with God,
and who can hold a confidence. They will
aid you greatly in your trial.

3) Have a heart to intercede for others.
(Daniel 2:17,18)

Daniel's heart was to go to the King on
behalf of himself and others. Only God
can give you this heart. Often when
we are in trouble we think only of
ourselves. Daniel, of course, wanted
to live, but he was looking out
for all of his associates, even though
many did not know or believe in the God of
Israel. He could have just sought to spare
only his own life, but he interceded for
them all.

4) Seek mercy from God. (Daniel 2:18)
Daniel did not pray "against" Nebuchadnezzar.
He did not rail against the king even
though the king was being unreasonable.
Daniel sought mercy. So, too, should
we seek mercy when we intercede for others.

5) Seek for wisdom and knowledge (Daniel 2:20-23).
God will give us the wisdom and knowledge
that we need as we seek Him. He is a God
who answers us and teaches us and guides
us with His eye. He tells us what way to
go. Praise Him!

6)Wait expectantly for God to answer and
know that He will speak. (Daniel 2;27-30)

Daniel knew and expected that God would answer.
He had already announced to the king that
God was able to tell him what the dream was.
While we pray, we must look expectantly
to God and not be discouraged. God's
answer sometimes seems slow to arrive,
but it will surely come to us.

7)When God answers, return thanks to Him.
(Daniel 2:20)

It is always right to thank God for helping us.
We must not forget to thank God for hearing us
and answering our cries.

8)Approach others TACTFULLY with the wisdom
God gives you. (Daniel 2:14, 37,38)

Daniel approached the King with great tact.
God may reveal things to us, but we need to
also pray about how to communicate what it
is that God tells us. We need to consider
how important it is that the person receive
what God has said. Let us not cause others
to reject the Word of God by handling it
poorly and causing others to stumble over it.
We cannot compromise what God tells us, but
we can say it kindly, in love, with mercy
and compassion. God's words are meant to
bring life, not condemnation.

As we read through this story, let us apply
this to our own lives. Where is this
situation in our lives? Who is our Nebuchadnezzar?
Am I ready and prepared for whatever battle
comes my way? Am I like the 5 wise virgins who
had their oil lamps full? Or the 5 foolish
ones who were unprepared? Is my heart to
intercede and to show mercy or will people
perish because I do not care to seek God?
Am I expressing thanks to God, even in
a difficult situation? Am I being sensitive
in bringing other people the words that God
reveals to me?

I cannot imagine that any of our situations
are worse than Daniel's as he faced this King.
Let us take his example to heart and
always be ready, in season and out of season,
to intercede on the behalf of others.
Someday, our own life may depend upon it.

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

Devotions From the Heart: Choose Life

by Pastor Derek Gitsham

Choose Life

"And it shall come to pass, if thou wilt
hearken diligently unto the voice of the
Lord thy God, to observe and to do all
his commandments which I command thee
this day, that the Lord thy God will
set thee on high above all nations of
the earth: and all these blessings shall
come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou
shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord
thy God." Deuteronomy 28:1, 2

The list of blessings follow this statement
from Moses, from the Lord, and it is most
encouraging. The only thing that saddens
these series of verses is the list of curses
that follow if we do inherit the blessings.
According to these verses, we are either being
cursed or blessed. Unfortunately the list
of curses is longer, much longer than the blessings.

In a later verse in chapter 30:19 Moses
exhorts Israel to choose life after having
set before them life and death. The blessing
he is talking about is life, the curse is death.
Obedience to God is a choice we must make.

Paul says of sin in Romans 6:16, “Know ye not
that to whom you yield yourselves servants to
obey, his servants you are to whom ye obey,
whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto
righteousness?” If we obey sin we are its slave.
Paul says, “If we obey righteousness, we are
slaves of righteousness.”

Obedience is what God is seeking from all His
people. Acts tells us God gives the Holy Spirit
to them that obey Him. We have been given the
Holy Ghost for the purpose of obeying Him. Paul
to the Corinthians says, “All the promises of
God are yea and Amen in Christ Jesus.” Yes is
obedience. Amen is “so be it.” The promises of
God are available to all who obey. They are

We determine whether we are going to be blessed
or not. The decision is ours. God helps us to obey
and desire to obey, that blessings may overtake us.