Read : Genesis 3: 1 - 24
by A S. Venter
The idea usually connected to a question is that the questioner wants to obtain information from the other person which he does not possess. It may also be that the questioner wants to test the knowledge of the person to whom the questions are directed, or it may be that the questioner wants to let the person to whom the questions are directed grasp the implications of a specific situation.
In the Scripture read, we find that God asks mankind four consecutive questions according to verses 9, 11 and 13, with the leading question according to verse 9 “Where art thou?”
The fact that God is asking the questions should never be seen as a remotest possibility that with God there could ever be a shred of ignorance. What actually is quite plain to us is that through the questions, but more specifically the question according to verse 9, God makes mankind understand that He knows everything and that mankind must realise his position before God through this question.
I believe there are numerous references in the Bible where God asks mankind questions, but there are four specific questions that God has asked four different people in the Bible that deserve our attention, because mankind’s disposition before God is articulated by them.
WHERE ARE YOU?
The first question of God I would like to present to you, is the question according to Gen. 3:9 “Where art thou?”
This question is frequently described by preachers as the most gloomy text in the Bible, because it implies the estrangement between God and mankind. It was, after all is said and done, the first words exchanged between God and man in his fallen state.
We should not, however, merely emphasise the negative aspect of this text, because it also illustrates to us the love of a seeking God, since it was God Who first reached out to mankind in his fallen state.
We know that numerous questions are asked in our everyday lives which passes by mankind unanswered, but the manner in which God directs the question “Where are you?” to Adam and Eve, is put in such a way that it demands a definite answer. By asking this question, God brought the humans Adam and Eve to the true realisation of their condition before God, so that they could grasp their need of God’s mercy, and they were obliged to react.
Yes, their first reaction was one of making excuses, but this question made them realise their disposition, which inevitably also resulted in them having a need for salvation. Of that the rejection of Cain’s and the acceptance of Abel’s offerings bears testimony, which unquestionably must have had its origin in Adam’s offerings.
God did not only ask Adam and Eve the question Where are you?, but throughout all ages He is still busy, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, asking this question to a lost humanity so that a lost sinner can realise his position before God. That is why we read in Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,”
The words of God’s question may differ from one person to another, but the tenor of His question has never changed. Can I ever forget that evening in September, 1985 when God asked me the question: What are you doing with you life? It was these words that made me realize at that moment where I stood before God: In enmity towards God, just like Adam.
It is such a pity that man increasingly wants to justify himself before God regarding this question, whilst it is often the church and parents that present the children with the answer to self-justification before God. We say, are we not all little children of God? We were, after all, baptized, presented and confirmed (in church).
God still asks the question despite man’s self-justification. That is why Satan has succeeded in presenting to humanity a new route to self-justification, namely to keep one away from God’s question by no longer attending church services and also by not reading the Bible any more.
Now the question is whether we who share in this message, have already acted positively to God’s question, so that God can ask the question to a lost humanity through our lives.
WHERE IS YOUR BROTHER
The second question I would like to present to you is the question that God put to Cain according to Gen. 4:9 “Where is Abel thy brother?”
Cain killed Abel, whereupon God called Cain to account with these words: “Where is Abel thy brother?”
This question is an indication of the kinship that existed between Cain and Abel, viz., that they were brothers.
I believe that this is a question that God still asks throughout all the ages, and often this question is also asked of children of God regarding fellow brothers and sisters in the family of Jesus Christ. It is also a question that God asks you and me, because where are our brothers and sisters in these days of ever-increasing backsliding and decline?
Do we still have a passion for fellow brothers and sisters who became tired along the passageway of life? This poses the question: How many children of God lay murdered by fellow brothers and sisters along the passageway of life because of spiritual envy or self-centeredness to which we have yielded? That’s why God asks the question: Where is your brother?
Furthermore I see that this question of God rules out a lack of concern of Cain towards his brother, because it once again requires a definite reply.
Child of God, we can also in our day hear the question of God regarding a brother or a sister in Christ, but being unconcerned will be tantamount to an arrogant reply as was given by Cain to God according to Gen. 4:9 “Am I my brother's keeper?”
Thus Paul says according to Rom.15:1 that I should indeed be my brother’s keeper, for we read there “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
Wont we as children of God again in this late stage of this dispensation react to God’s question: Where is your brother?, by once more taking the trouble as children of God to have each other’s interests at heart?
Yes, we should go even further by encouraging each another, by once again reminding one another, as did the first congregations, that Jesus had risen and that He will soon return so that we and our brothers and sisters will be ready to meet the Lord [1Thes. 4:17].
God asks you and me this very moment: Where is your brother?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?
The third question of God I would like to discuss with you, we find recorded in 1Kings 19:9 & 13 where we read these words: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” [NKJV]
Elijah, the man of God who fearlessly stood on behalf of God against the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, we afterwards find dejected under a broom tree. There he is then ordered by an angel to go to Horeb.
Elijah who won those spiritual victories for God, now stands before God because of his despondency and sudden lack of enthusiasm for God’s cause. He who took action in the Name of God, now has to give account of himself before God, because God asks him the question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
It seems on the face of it that Elijah is in the right place, for he is in the presence of God, but in spiritual stance he is not in the spiritual place where God wants him to be. That is why God asks him: What are you doing here?
Should it not perhaps be that God’s question must now, in His investigative light, be directed to you and me? On the face of it we are in the presence of God. Yes, we are here in the church, but what is the state of affairs spiritually with you and me at this moment? Are we still engaged in fighting the battle or have we, as with the masses, already become despondent because it seems that it is now no longer worth while?
Elijah’s answer to God according to 1Kings 19:14 was “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Child of God: Is this not exactly the state of affairs in this Country? Our nation has turned its back on God, attendance of church services and prayer-meetings have dropped and are cancelled in many places. Add to this that ministers who preach the Gospel truthfully are increasingly being exposed to persecution.
It really feels as if only very few children of God are left and that the pressure to yield to spiritual despondency is becoming more and more severe. It is to you and me who have begun to waver in this spiritual struggle, that the question is raised by God right now: What are you doing here?
God also says to you and me what He said to Elijah according to 1Kings 19:15 – “Go, return on your way …” because there is still work to be conclude for God.
WHY ARE YOU PERSECUTING ME?
The question from God that I want to present to you is recorded in Acts 9:4 “…Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
Saul, who later became Paul, persecuted the church of Jesus Christ with the purpose of destroying it, as instructed by the authority of the spiritual leaders of his time,– until he came up against Jesus Christ’s question: Why are you persecuting Me?
You may have the query in your mind, why is that question included in this message. To respond I would like to present to you the distress of the church in our day. Never in the history has there been such a blatant rejection of the Deity of Jesus Christ. This attack has never been so fierce as it is now, and it comes from of all facets of society.
The film and media industry persecute Jesus Christ with the most blasphemous utterances imaginable. The present government persecutes Jesus Christ with their silence. Add to all this that within church-circles more and more voices are heard in favour of the so-called “New Reformation” which is just plain modern-day persecution and assassination of the church of Jesus Christ.
Is it not a fact that in these circles the Deity of Jesus is questioned?
Is it not a fact that in these circles the Virgin Birth and Christ’s resurrection from the dead are rejected?
Is it not also in these circles that the gospel of a literal Second Coming of Christ is held in contempt?
Therefore the question is also directed at the visible church at this time: Why are you persecuting Me?
The question is also raised at this moment, in order that we may once more think about our task and calling as children of God. Can we remain impartial any longer in the face of the winds of change that are raging through the visible church in this Country? Because then God’s question is also directed at us: Why are you persecuting Me?
The question is also raised at this time in order that we as children of God may grasp the seriousness of the times so that we can again resist this wicked persecution as supplicants in prayer and witnesses.
God has directed specific questions at specific persons so that in each of the four examples quoted the person may grasp his position before God.
To Adam God asked: Where are you? – Adam’s relationship with God was severed.
To Cain God asked: Where is your brother? – Cain could not detach himself from his involvement with his brother.
To Elijah God asked: What are you doing here? – Because of despondency Elijah was no longer involved in the conflict.
To Saul God asked: Why are you persecuting Me? – The persecution came from the spiritual circles of that time.
God’s questions are also directed at us in our time.
Which question has touched you?
Is it perhaps the unsaved condition wherein you find yourself?
Is it your lack of involvement or unforgiving disposition towards a brother or sister?
Is it perhaps a spiritual dejectedness about which God has to reprimand you?
Is it that you and I should again grasp the attack against the gospel of the blood, so that we can renew our warfare against the evil powers in prayer and witness?
Time and again God’s questions demanded a definite reaction. What are you going to do about God’s question to you? U
THE OPPORTUNE TIME OF YOUR VISITATION FROM GOD
Read : Luke 19:29 – 44
by A S. Venter
Those of you who are older may remember the film “Beautiful People” by Jamie Uys. It is a nature-film depicting the survival of plants and animals in the Kalahari.
What was especially striking about the film, is that this desert-region can at times be transformed into a lush garden. It happens when this region receives good rainfall. Because it is a desert-region, we find that years sometimes pass without a single drop of rain, but the moment there is a good downpour, a variety of plant seeds germinate. The seeds lay in this barren arid soil until the very moment favourable conditions are created by the rain for these seeds to germinate.
It was in the light of these reflections that I pondered over the words of the Lord Jesus according to Luke 19:44, for we read: “…because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God”
Just as an opportune time in nature is required to transform that arid soil into a lush garden, in like manner there is in the spiritual life for a lost sinner an opportune time required to be transformed from lost sinner to child of God.
It is clear from the Scripture we have read that God did indeed appoint such an opportune time for the people of Israel, and that poses the question: what is meant by the opportune time when God visited His people?
AN OPPORTUNE TIME IS A TIME OF MERCY BECAUSE MANKIND RECEIVES A VISITATION FROM GOD
We read in Verse 44 “...because you did not recognize the [opportune] time of your visitation from God.” [NKJV]
When Jesus makes this pronouncement, it refers to a specific point in time in the history of the people of Israel, namely from the instant Jesus was pointed out to the people as the Son of God through the baptism of John [the Baptist], up to His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, which then afterwards gradually declined up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Not only was Jesus pointed out as the Lamb of God by John according to Jn. 1:36, but the time of Jesus’ sojourn on earth was also characterised by signs and wonders, because He was fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.
In the Scripture we have read, we see that Jesus looked at Jerusalem city, being the headquarters of the Jewish people, and He sees a nation under Roman subjugation with Judaism predominating over the religion of the time – and then He calls it the opportune time at which point this nation received a visitation from God.
Immediately we realise that the opportune time of God does not necessarily have to be an opportune time from a human standpoint, but that it was the opportune time for this nation according to God’s assessment. It was the time chosen by God that He wanted to equip this nation and then summons them to act as proclaimants of the Kingdom of God.
Just as there came an opportune time for the nation of Israel, God has likewise ordained that an opportune time will be at hand for every person, a time for his or her visitation from God, for we read in Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”
Then we realise that the opportune time of a person’s or a nation’s visitation from God does not necessarily revolve around the prosperity or favourable circumstances of mankind, but rather that it revolves around mankind’s recognizing the opportune time of God, despite his circumstances.
Dr. Danie Steyn gave an account of a young man who told him on the telephone: “I thank God that I contracted pneumonia, because there on my bed, as a result of listening to a gospel message on the radio, I could give my life to Jesus.”
THE OPPORTUNE TIME IS OFTEN A TIME WHICH IS NOT RECOGNIZED BY MANKIND
This opportune time is not recognized by mankind for a variety of reasons.
Owing to it being hidden from mankind's eyes
We read in Luke 19:42 “…If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” [NKJV]
In this regard Paul says, with specific reference to the Jewish nation, according to Rom.11:8, “...God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day.”
Eyes that will not see is the consequence of purposeful sinning, a condition wherein man prefers to dwell. Eyes that will not see, because mankind does not want to admit his need and therefore does not see the necessity to react to God’s intervention.
THE OPPORTUNE TIME IS NOT RECOGNIZED OWING TO IGNORANCE
We read in Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
God has overlooked the time of ignorance and thereby the message of redemption is carried across to the world that Jesus is our Advocate with the Father (Jn.2:1), but that He will sit in judgment in the last days.
If God then overlooked these times of ignorance, the question may rightfully be asked, how ignorance can be held up as a reason? Because human beings purposefully follow the path of deception, that’s why he lapses into ignorance.
How many people are there that do not recognize the opportune time because they hold on to sacraments, doctrines or views to which they lend more authority than the Word of God. How many of us have not already heard the expression: “I know the Bible tells us there is a hell, but I really don’t think that a God of love will cast a person into hell.”
THE OPPORTUNE TIME IS NOT RECOGNIZED BECAUSE PEOPLE PURPOSEFULLY MAKE A CHOICE NOT TO FLEE FROM THE JUDGMENT TO COME
We read in Mt. 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! ”
The opportune time when God visited this nation through the prophets who acted in the Name of God for this nation, was rejected, and then Jesus makes use of an example from nature to illustrate that Divine intervention with this nation, namely to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
The hen that protects her chicks under her wings against approaching danger, even at the risk of losing her life.
The hen and her chicks see the approaching danger, whereas this nation did not recognize the opportune time wherein Jesus wanted to stand between them and eternal death.
HOW WILL WE KNOW WHEN THIS OPPORTUNE TIME WILL BE AT HAND?
We read in Luke 19:42 “Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! ...”
It is clear that Jesus was referring to that specific day of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as being the opportune day wherein this nation received their visitation from God.
We can also add to this the Old Testament example according to Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Paul also confirms the idea that the opportune day wherein man receives his visitation from God, is now, for we read in 2Cor. 6:1-2 “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.).”
The opportune time is now, because now is the time that God visits you so that each one of us can receive God’s act of kindness, that is remission (forgiveness) of sins, but Satan leads us to delay.
THE OPPORTUNE TIME IS A TIME THAT WILL ELAPSE
We read in Luke 19:44 “And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
A mighty judgment is pronounced over the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants which was literally fulfilled in A.D. 70. This judgment happened to the Jewish nation because for them the opportune time of their visitation from God had elapsed.
It was not a time that had elapsed without warning for the nation, for we read that Paul made a pronouncement which should have made this nation realise that the time of their visitation from God was in the process of passing. We read in Acts 18:4-6 “And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.”
Because they did not notice the opportune time and openly rejected it, it became a time that had elapsed for this nation. You have only to read past history to observe how this nation has been subjected to extreme tribulations, with a future oppression still awaiting them, precisely because the opportune time has elapsed for them.
When we reflect on the words of the Scripture we have read, we know that it specifically applies to the Jewish nation.
These words of Jesus are however not restricted to the Jewish nation, but is still applicable to every nation, congregation and individual.
When looking at my nation, I realise that we are heading for a sliding track downwards on the way to God’s judgments, because the opportune time when this nation had its visitation from God on account of esteemed godly men having played their part in this country, but to no avail as it has to a great extent passed by us unnoticed.
If I look at the church in general, the disintegration of families, and the fact that there are so few souls that are still being saved in our country, then one has to admit that the opportune time has also to a great extent elapsed for us.
We have clearly seen that the opportune time of man’s visitation from God is now.
The fact that you have read this article indicates that you have also now had an opportune time of a visitation from God, but how much time is left before also your opportune time will elapse – should you continue on your way remaining untouched.
May God grant you mercy to recognize the opportune time whereupon God has now paid you a visit. U
THE PRIVILEGES OF CAPERNAUM
Read : Luke 5:17-26
by A S. Venter
We read in Luke 10:13-15, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.”
If the Son of God pronounces judgment upon people, cities and nations, it deserves our attention, for God’s judgments are only pronounced in instances of continual disobedience. Sustained disobedience and a purposeful rejection of spiritual privileges.
If we pay attention to the passage we have read regarding the healing of the paralyzed man and we examine the corresponding section according to Mk. 2:1-12, then it is clear that the chain of events regarding the paralytic took place in Capernaum. We are familiar with the narrative of how this paralyzed man, because of the crowd, had to be let down with his bed through the tiling and how he, according to Lk. 5:20, was healed by virtue of the faith of his friends.
Many were healed in a number of other cities and villages, but if Capernaum is selected as one of the cities upon which God’s judgments were pronounced, it is clear that more took place in Capernaum than merely the healing of the paralyzed man. There must surely also have been other factors involved that speak of privileges that were scorned. If we examine the passage we have read, we are struck by the words according to Lk. 5:17, for we read there: “Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”
It was an exceptional day because the power of the Lord was present to heal them. We can so easily link this power of healing to the physical healing that was applied to the paralyzed man. However, if we read this verse attentively, it becomes clear that the power of the Lord to heal them was applicable to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Yet, if we read this whole pericope, it is clear that, except for the paralyzed man, no one else was healed. And that despite the fact that there was power of the Lord present to heal them – therefore it can definitely be said that the privilege of the power of healing was rejected.
It poses the question: What are we given to understand by this idea? There was power of the Lord present to heal them, especially seen in the light thereof that there was no indication that these Pharisees and teachers of the law were physically unwell.
This brings to our mind the privileges of Capernaum.
THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SAVING GRACE OF GOD THAT PRESENTED ITSELF TO THEM
When we read in Rom. 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believe…”, it speaks of salvation of the soul, but it also speaks of bodily recovery in the case of a physical ailment. That is why the converse expression according to Lk. 5:17 “… And the power of the Lord was present to heal them” also applies to the spiritual healing of the unsaved. We can so easily be dazzled by the words “salvation” and “healing” whereas the essence of the idea is locked up in the power of the Lord which brings about healing and salvation.
Therefore the privilege that was rejected in this instance by the inhabitants of Capernaum, with specific reference to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, was the saving grace of God that presented itself to them on this exceptional day. Yes, the saving grace of God presented itself to these people in the Person of Jesus Christ Himself.
It is in the light thereof that our text states that Jesus was busy teaching, that we grasp the judgments pronounced over Capernaum, for does the Word not say in Acts 17:30 - 31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man…”
This Man is Jesus the Christ of God and it is this Jesus who was rejected by the inhabitants of Capernaum.
We may ask, over how many cities will God’s judgments be extended seeing that the Word of God, according to Titus 2:11, states “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men…” ?
Although it is no longer Jesus in the flesh who walks here on earth and convicts of sin, the whole of mankind in this dispensation of grace is privileged in the sense that it is God the Holy Spirit who has the power of conviction, therefore we read in Jn. 16: 8-9, “And when He [the Holy Spirit – v. 7] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (verse 9) of sin, because they do not believe in Me [Jesus]”.
It is with a sense of shame that we have to confess that the masses have rejected Jesus, because we have our church and our opinions which carry more weight than the privilege of the saving grace of God that appeared to each of us.
Were the people of the church not caught in the same snare in which the Pharisees and teachers of the law had landed, because the power of the Lord was present to heal them, but they passed the message on to the paralyzed man? They did not realise that they needed spiritual healing. Likewise in our day the message of salvation is passed on to the next person by members of the church, because it is supposedly a message for the heathen and not for good, cultured people.
Is that not actually all the more reason for us who are members of God’s Church to watch over our children who grow up in the church amidst the preaching of this message of salvation? The danger exists they could become so familiar with this Gospel message, that they do not actually have the assurance of salvation.
THE PRIVILEGE THAT JESUS REVEALED HIMSELF TO THEM AS GOD
According to Verse 20 Jesus told the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven, as a result of which the scribes and Pharisees started reasoning amongst themselves, for we read in Lk. 5:21 “…Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Then Jesus makes a pronouncement which confirms His Deity, for we read in Lk 5:24 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins - He said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’”
The power of the Lord was present to heal them, because during His sojourn on earth the Son of Man had the authority to forgive sins. It was precisely the conclusion of the Pharisees and scribes that God alone can forgive sins, that confirmed the Divinity of Jesus, but they did not want to admit it.
Jesus pronounced judgment upon Capernaum because its people would not acknowledge the Son of God as being God. And that was despite the fact that He had revealed Himself as such to them.
When we reflect on these events, we are struck by the thought that God’s judgments through all ages are firmly resolved over so many people, for how many have called upon God for mercy, protection or healing in their moments of distress, when a beloved one lingered in the jaws of death due to illness, an accident, or for whatever reason. How often, when matters turned into a crisis, a promise was made to God, which was then quite conveniently forgotten about after the crisis had been averted.
When examining the manner in which the crisis had been averted, we cannot help but admit that it was the intervention of God. Yes, God revealed Himself to that person and his family through an intervention, regardless of the simplicity thereof, in reply to man’s distress-call.
However, a problem does arise in that he who wants to break away from his accountability towards God, often tries to find a logical explanation for God’s intervention and thus God is deprived of his status as God.
THE PRIVILEGE THAT JESUS REVEALED THE REASONING THEY HAD IN THEIR HEARTS
We read in Lk. 5:22 “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts?’” That this verse says “…Why are you reasoning in your hearts?” is a clear proof that Jesus did not in the first instance react to an uttered thought, but that, because He is God, He knew what thoughts they had in their minds.
Perhaps the question may be asked, how can the revealing of their thoughts be regarded as a privilege? We read in Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
The Deity of Jesus Christ is revealed to them through Jesus’ pronouncement regarding the paralyzed man, with reference to the forgiveness of sins. The power of the Lord was present to heal them of their spiritual need, yet they hung on to a corrupt heart, which caused them to reject God’s stretched out helping hand. This is where the privilege offered them comes to hand. Jesus revealed to them the thoughts they had in their minds and placed it in perspective, so that they could realise their need, thereby enabling them to receive forgiveness of sins – but they rejected this privilege.
I call it a privilege, for if Jesus Christ did not come and expunge the deceitfulness of my heart by the workings of the Holy Spirit, I would still have continued in that spirit of self-justification, without realising my need of God. Yes, during my childhood I had the privilege of learning about Jesus, attending weekly Sunday School, Juvenile Bible-study, and the church-services, and add to it that my parents were children of God. A lovely testimonial for self-justification, but what a privilege it was when the grace of God was presented to me and the Holy Spirit revealed to me the reasoning in my heart.
That enabled me to see the deceitfulness of my heart as revealed by God, which in turn compelled me to seek salvation from Him. It was a privilege to be able to realise how alienated I was from God, but it was an even greater privilege to be able to realise that the power of the Lord was present whereby I could be saved.
Unfortunately only the minority realise that it is a privilege, thus most people act just like the Pharisees and scribes by denying the revelation of the thoughts they harbour in their hearts.
The actions of people reflect the fact that they do not want to admit the revelation of the thoughts they have in their minds. How many people resign from the church, or go about feeling offended by the preacher’s message from God whereby the thoughts they have harboured in their hearts were revealed.
The power of the Lord was present to heal them, but they did not grasp:
the privilege of the saving grace of God that presented itself to them in the Person of Jesus Christ, therefore they were denied the spiritual blessing;
the privilege of Jesus revealing Himself to them as God, that’s why they said that Jesus “speaks blasphemies”;
the privilege thereof that Jesus revealed to them the reasoning they had in their hearts, so that they could comprehend the deceitfulness of their hearts.
They chose the path of self-justification.
The power of the Lord was present to heal them, but they allowed these privileges to pass by them, therefore the words according to Lk. 10:15 “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades.”
God’s judgments were pronounced upon Capernaum and its inhabitants because they held in contempt the privileges that God presented to them.
This brings us to the question: How will this Country and its inhabitants escape the judgments of God seeing that His privileges were so abundantly offered to us?
How will a soul escape God’s judgments after God repeatedly extended his privileges to that person?
The power of the Lord is at this very moment at your disposal to heal you. Do not let this privilege pass by you.
May God have mercy on us that we do not scorn His blessing, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. [Heb. 10:31] U
The HOLY BIBLE
By Winkie Pratney
The Bible isn't like any other book that's ever been written. The claims of the Bible are unlike any other book -it's not a human book! God called His Word living. But unless you have a rock-solid commitment to truth, the Bible won't change your life -it will only be so many words in a sea of words.
Many of the Eastern thought forms use Scripture. They use it to capture people's hearts. That's because the Bible is so powerful you can't ignore it. God has built life into His Word, and all of the strong cults rip it off. They steal bites out of the Bible and use it. They use the truth of it to try to justify the lies they tell. Just the fact that
pieces taken out of context are powerful enough to draw men's hearts should tell you what the whole Word, used under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can do!
Here are some facts that will be valuable for anyone with an open heart. Now, you don't have to throw your mind away in order to believe these facts, but if you don't want to believe, nothing will convince you. Mark Twain said, "It's not the things I don't understand in the Bible that bother me, it's the things I do understand!" This accurate insight exposes the real reason most people are afraid to study the Scriptures. They're afraid they might meet the Author, and they know they're not ready to do that...
So what are this book's credentials? I could say to you, "I've just written a book and it's the Word of God. It's a great book ... took me a whole year to write it." And you would have every right to say, "Prove it!" In the various world religions, there are 30 or 40 books, each one claiming to be a superior revelation. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35)
The Bible doesn't attempt to defend its inspiration. You won't find any verse that says, "This book is really true, so you better believe it!!" But here is an interesting thing: Genesis opens with the words, "God said" nine times in the first chapter. The statement, "Thus says the Lord" appears 23 times in the last Old Testament book-Malachi. So you have "God says" from Genesis to Malachi. "The Lord spoke" appears 560 times in the first five books of the Bible and at least 3800 times in the whole of the Old Testament! Isaiah claims at least 40 times that his message came directly from the Lord; Ezekiel, 60 times; and Jeremiah, 100 times! And the Lord Jesus quoted from at least 24 different Old Testament books -that's right, He just quoted.
In the mid-1700s Voltaire, one of the most influential writers of his day, held a copy of the Bible in his hand and stated that within 100 years from his time, Christianity would be swept from existence and would pass into history. What's hilarious is that merely 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used his house and press to print and distribute stacks of Bibles! They even made his house their headquarters! God has an incredible sense of humor!
Could You Write The Bible?
Say you were going to write a book, and this was how you had to write it: For a start find 40 different writers -totally different writers. Get some who are highly educated, even doctors - then get some farmers. Go dig a guy off a ranch somewhere and say, "I'd like you to help me write a book." Then find some fishermen. Go down to the wharf and find a couple of guys from San Francisco and say, "Hey! listen, help me write a book." And they say, "Sure, fine ... we'll help you." And then you get all of them to write on the following things: religion, poetry, ethics, science, philosophy, the creation of the universe and where it's going -and ask them to throw in a few things about where they think it will all end.
Next, you need to collect all that information, and then ... oh, by the way, you have to separate these people so they can't communicate by phone or telegraph ... only possibly word of mouth, passed down over the years. Ah yes, years ... you collect all this stuff over about one and a half thousand years, and compile the whole thing in one book. What would you have? I know what you'd have -you'd have the most motley junk you've ever seen in your life, with people totally contradicting each other! I suggest you take a biology textbook from 60 years ago, and compare it with one today. And that's just 60 years! But that's not what you have when you read your Bible. The more you read this book, the more you see the incredible unity of it. Because the more you get into it, the more incredibly detailed it is, and you find there are not 40 people who wrote it, but One Person.
The Bible: Your Science Book
The Bible is scientifically accurate. The God of the Bible is the God who created the universe. True science and Scripture will always agree - they both have the same Author! No statement in the Scriptures is scientifically incorrect. Science can tabulate the "what," analyze the "how," and probe for the "why," but it can't tell us the "where from," nor the reason for which the universe exists. It can't say who you are or why you are here. It can tell us what we're able to do, but not what we ought to do.
At the same time the Bible was written, people thought the world was flat and held up by three elephants. Big elephants. Someone asked, "What holds the world up?" Another said, "Three elephants." Then someone ventured to ask, "And what holds up the elephants??" Someone answered, "A big tortoise." And so the early sciences grew.
Now, listen to what God said. Remember, this wasn't written in the last hundred years, or even the last thousand. This comes from over 2500 years ago... "Have you not known? Have you not heard? ... Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth." (Isaiah 40:21-22) The word circle" is the word "sphere" in Hebrew. Also, "He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing." (Job 26:7) Well, so much for elephants!
There are many other astounding scientific facts in Scripture, presented centuries before it became part of man's "knowledge."
Argument Melts Down
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.'." (II Pet. 3:10) This very verse was used nearly a century ago to prove that the Bible couldn't have been divinely inspired because, "How could there be a fire big enough to burn the whole world? Silly fisherman!" It took over two more generations for science to catch up to what God had spoken through Peter, that an atomic reaction could actually melt the basic building blocks of matter itself. God was prophesying how the world would end.
In fact, two verses later we find these words, "... the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" (vs.12) Do you know what the word "destroy" is? It's a Greek word that literally means to untie. That's an atomic physics statement from a fisherman! These and countless other examples show us how the Lord has hidden unsurpassed knowledge and wisdom in His Word.
Lots Of Lucky Guesses?
If there's one thing the Bible dares to do, that no other book in the world does, it's to accurately predict the future. God can arrange the situations and circumstances of history to bring about patterns laid down before the foundation of the world. The outline of many of these patterns is revealed in the Bible.
There are about 3,856 verses directly or indirectly concerned with prophecy in Scripture - about one verse in six tells of future events! God's challenge to the world is "Prove Me now - I am the Lord... 1 will speak, and the word that I speak shall come to pass. " (See Jer. 28:9; Ezek. 12:25, 24:14) Buddhists, Confucianists, and Muslims have their own sacred writings, but in them the element of prophecy is obviously absent. The destruction of Tyre, the invasion of Jerusalem, the fall of Babylon and Rome- each were accurately predicted in the Bible and fulfilled to the smallest details.
In the brief life of Jesus alone we see over 300 fulfilled prophecies. The odds that these would all coincide by accident in one person are laughable. By the laws of chance, the conservative odds of even just 48 of those prophecies being fulfilled by one man are one in 10157. (That's 1 followed by 157 zeros!!!) Let me try to give you an idea of how immense this number is.
We'll take a very small object, let's say an electron. (Electrons are so small that if you lined them up, it would take 2½ quadrillion of them to equal one inch.) Now let's go back to our figure of 10157.
If you tried to put this many electrons into a big pile, it would be 10,000,000,000 times larger than the universe as we know it - which scientists calculate to be 6,000,000,000 light-years across. (A light-year is the distance that light will travel in one year, moving at the speed of 186,000 miles per second.)
Now, take just one electron out and colour it red. Stir it back into this pile for a hundred thousand years with all the others. Then blindfold a man and send him in to pick it out - first time! Impossible? These would be the same odds that one man would live and die according to only 48 of the prophecies about the Messiah, if it were only an accident. The Scriptures specifically predict events and happenings that are as modern as tomorrow's news release.
No Other Conclusion
You can put any test you like on this book and nothing is even in the same category, not even in the same class. It's not just a book - it is God who has spoken in history, and that's why He says that His word is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword"! (Heb. 4:12) Only the 66 books of the Scriptures bear this divine seal. No other work of man in any language even faintly resembles the intricate structure and design of the Bible. The fact remains - only an infinite mind could have devised this Book of books.
The Bible is a book with a universal message for all men. It's the only volume that a child and scholar may find equal delight in. Its simple, life-related principles can work in any country, transcending barriers of culture and race to bring peace, love, joy, and forgiveness. Only the Bible can make bad men good inside, transforming the rebel into the saint.
The greatest proof of the Bible is the difference its message can make in your life. If you haven't done so - will you ask God the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of His power to your heart through its pages? But pray honestly, "God, I don't know if this is Your Word or not, but if it is and You can help me, please show Yourself to me as I read," and God will meet you in a living demonstration of His reality. U
by Dean Sherman
You may believe spiritual warfare is only for Christians who happen to be "into" such things - or for obscure missionaries working in dark, heathen places. I'm sorry to say, this just isn't so. I wish we could all live in Disneyland, but we can't. There is a real devil and there are real demons. And every Christian is in a real war - a desperate, life-and-death struggle with a vicious enemy.
You might say. "Well, I'm not sure I'm ready for that. It's not my calling, I'm really into music." Or you might mistakenly think, "If I leave the devil alone, he'll leave me alone. But the war is on and we're in it whether we like it - or agree with it. It's not just for some Christians, and it's not just for some of the time. The war is on for every Christian, 24 hours a day-. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You are engaged in spiritual warfare whether you know it or not - the Bible states it categorically in Ephesians 6:10-18: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;….”
That's a warning cry from the Bible for each of us! Be on the alert at all times. Be strong. Get your armour on... You're in a raging war! And the attack is not coming from people - but from unseen beings. There is a roster in hell and your name is on it.
Interestingly, this scripture uses the word "wrestle" to describe the conflict. The most disciplined athletes I know are wrestlers. In football, basketball, and most other sports, the players are given a "time out" to catch their breath. But not in wrestling. 'the wrestler has to be in top physical form. Once he enters the ring lie can't let his guard down for even a second or his opponent will pin him to the mat.
Christians can't say, "Time out devil, I need a breather!" lie doesn't take weekends or Mondays off. He doesn't take it easy on you when you've been through a tragedy or been ripped off. That's when he pours on the heat. He's the original 'kick-'em-while-they're-down' person. He is totally evil. He has no sense of mercy, sympathy, or what it means to have a fair fight. There's no practice and no warm-up. Satan is fighting a real battle against every one of us. We need to learn the "Three R’s” of .spiritual warfare so we can fight back.
"THREE R's" OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE
RECOGNIZE: Recognizing you're in a war is a big part of victory, because knowing the enemy's tactics is to be in the light -- and the devil works in darkness. The devil takes advantage of our ignorance, but when there's light, he can't do what he planned.
The Bible teaches us to he alert, which means "to watch." We must keep our eyes on Jesus at all times - but also on the devil The Bible says we must not he ignorant but instead, "stand firm against the devil's schemes." The enemies we face are not "bad vibes," or "negative energies in the universe.- or the "dark side of the force." They are personalities who think, talk, listen, observe, and plan strategies. (IICor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11.)
If we watch, we'll recognize the strategies of the enemy in our lives as well as in society. Do you see a pattern of hurt and rejection in your life? Or perhaps you're bothered by suicidal thoughts, or by the slow deadly escape of dope and booze. Does something always seem to happen to keep your family or church in strife? Look for the enemy's strategies and recognize the patterns -- then go to the second "R"
REFUSE: Refusing Satan is passive warfare. Once you recognize what he is up to, ignore it and avoid it. 'burn away and begin to worship the Lord and lift Him up. Refuse to be hurt. Refuse to get angry. Just let it go by. That's warfare. Nothing defeats the devil faster than ignoring what he's trying to stir up.
RESIST: This is active warfare! We're told to "Resist the devil and he will flee from you. "God won't resist him - you have to. Speak to him and say, "Devil, I cut off this strategy in Jesus' Name. You've been doing this to me for 15 years, but I'm on to you and IT'S OVER!" He may try it six more times, but when you've convinced him that you're convinced of your spiritual authority, he will stop. (Jas. 4:7; IPet.5:9)
HOW TO STAY BALANCED
How do we go to battle without becoming demon chasers'? There are two extremes to avoid. Some people tend to blame every adversity on the devil, always assuming, "It's a demon!" They're impressed by the heaviness and the oppression. They know all the spirits and the "sub-spirits." This can be an unhealthy preoccupation.
But there are others who never admit the devil is doing anything. They don't want to even think about it. They say "Let's not give the devil publicity! Let's just keep our eyes on the Lord." They may he frightened or maybe they don't want to be like some of the "demon chasers" they know. Unfortunately, you can't make the enemy nonexistent by refusing to recognize he's there.
So, how do you stay balanced? Don't assume the devil is behind something, but don't refuse to consider it either. How will you know? Ask God. When lie shows you, that's what the Bible calls "discernment."
Be aware of what the devil does, but don't he influenced by his activity. Being aware won't hurt you - the Bible refers to demons and Satan all the time. But if you fall into the subtle trap of being influenced, Satan will have you focusing on him. Then you'll end up with a big, complex devil and a relatively small God in your mind, find out what the devil is doing, but spend more time studying God and His greatness.
WARFARE: DEFENSIVE AND OFFENSIVE
We need to defeat the devil on two fronts: defensive and the offensive. God gave us weapons and armour, which means we're prepared for both. If you're a Christian, you're ready! Christ is our armour, righteousness, salvation, and truth. Remember, "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world - We can be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” So let the weak say, "I am strong." (.Joel3: 10; IICor.10:4)
Defensive warfare has to do with you as an individual. To paraphrase a familiar saying, "The devil hates you and has a horrible plan for your life!" Ephesians 6:13 says, "... having done everything, to stand firm." In sports, the defence's job is to stand in front of the goal and keep the opponent out. We don't struggle to get saved or stay saved. That's a gift of God's grace and He can keep us from falling. But we must defend our commitment from the enemy's attacks, lies, seductions, and temptations. We must declare, "I'm standing firm, devil, and you are not coming through here!"
THREE AREAS TO DEFEND
YOUR MIND. The devil loves to put thoughts into your mind. You can be born-again and heaven-bound, but if you have wrong thoughts, your effectiveness on earth is greatly diminished. We must war against thoughts that don't agree with the truth. Analyze your thoughts_ Just say to yourself, "Hey, thoughts! Where did you come from? It is a thought of pride, fear, unbelief, lust, depression, or condemnation, it needs to be cast down. That's something you have to do. Refuse to dwell on it. Turn your mind to God and make it agree with His Word. (2Cor.10:3-5)
YOUR HEART. In this case, your "heart" means your attitudes and emotions. Wrong attitudes are killers. In Ephesians 4:27, we learn that as Christians we give opportunity to the devil if we don't deal with our wrong attitudes. Arrogant, rebellious, unforgiving, and contentious attitudes open up a door for the enemy to enter our life, marriage, church, nation, and world.
The devil only has access to the world through people's sin and selfishness. Jesus defeated every demonic power on the cross 2,000 years ago - but Satan is still active to the exact degree people allow him to he. Sinners arc not the only ones allowing him to work. Christians allow him to work when we don't deal with our wrong attitudes.
Ephesians 4:26 tells us, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger" So we must deal with any wrong attitudes on a regular basis – like taking a shower or brushing our teeth. It's something we must do. We "put off" the old man and "put on" the new man. That keeps the devil shut down. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence..."
YOUR MOUTH. The mouth is a powerful instrument and the devil knows it. Our mouth has spiritual power for either good or evil. The same mouth can pronounce a blessing or a curse. (James 3:10) Our words can he a vehicle for the human spirit, the Holy Spirit, or an evil spirit.
The enemy loves to inspire us to speak unbelief, slander, gossip, and hurtful, harsh sarcasm. Many of us carry wounds from things said to us years ago. Don't let the devil bring curses through your mouth. Think! Pray what David prayed in Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard, 0 Lord, over my mouth: keep watch over the door of my lips."
TAKING THE GATES OF HELL
Offensive warfare is aimed at the world around you. It's warfare done to advance God's Kingdom into society. In sports the offense tries to find a way over, under, around, or through the opponent - to the place of scoring. Unfortunately, in spiritual warfare many Christians only do defense. They just hope to keep the devil off their backs from Sunday to Sunday. They pray the game ends 0 to 0. How boring! Let's take the offensive. That's what Jesus described in Matthew 16:18, "and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Offensive warfare is taking initiative against the gates. They won't prevail if we move against them - but they will continue to stand if we don't attack! We need strategies of prayer and service to smash down the gates of hell. These gates are listed in Ephesians 6:12. Let's look at them.
RULERS OF THIS WORLD
The enemy is after authority because he wants to rule the whole earth. Human structures and their leaders are sources of power, so he seeks to control them. His main strategy is to assign spirit beings to attack existing authority structures so he can function through them. All of society is set up in authority structures: marriage, family, church, school, business, tribe, club, media, labour unions, cities, and nations. Spirit beings are assigned to capture these structures and rule them.
Like walls around an ancient city, authority is a wall around every structure in society. When authority is ungodly or break down from neglect or rebellion, the walls can he penetrated by the devil. Therefore, you are doing spiritual warfare by being good leaders and submitted followers. Romans 13: 1-3 indicates that good authority hinders the attack of the enemy. We Also do spiritual warfare by praying for these structures and for our leaders standing in the gap and building up broken-down walls. Ezek.13:3-5; 22:30)
In Daniel 10 there's an angel who had just fought in the heavenlies with a being called the "prince of Persia." Later in that chapter, the "prince of Greece" is mentioned. If there were princes of Persia and Greece then, there are princes of London, Los Angeles, Japan, Texas, and other regions today. The biblical use of the word "principality" - which means a specific territory ruled by a prince shows Satan's forces are assigned geographically and according to people groupings in society. That's why you can stand on a border in Africa with your toes in a country where thousands get saved every week, and with your heels in a country where there are almost no Christians.
To combat these principalities, we must pray geographically and according to people groups. People groups consist of any distinct group in society with a common bond: children, senior citizens, refugees, homosexuals, racial groups, language groups, or occupational groups. The enemy knows each one and has them targeted with a specific attack. Every Christian needs to be a student of geography- How else can we push back the enemy?
We have let the enemy work unopposed in much of what he's doing. He's been systematically deceiving, binding, and destroying people groups and structures that no Christian has ever even prayed for, let alone served. The gates of hell are prevailing. We have the authority to knock the gates down, but we must identify them and aggressively move against them. We must target every people group with prayer and loving service.
POWERS OR STRONGHOLDS
The more we sin, the greater grip the enemy has on us. In fact, he grips according to the kind of evil we give ourselves over to. If a city gives itself to witchcraft, the enemy can assign a power of witchcraft. If a church gives itself to strife and division, a stronghold of strife is set up. These strongholds can come on individuals, families, cities, or nations - anyplace people choose to allow them.
God can reveal the predominant powers in a given situation. Then we can use our authority to break them in the name of Jesus. Sometimes we can break what has been binding a family, city, or church for years. Identifying these powers also helps us avoid their influence and live in the opposite spirit. For instance, it the power is greed, we give generously. If it's pride, we humble ourselves. This is a powerful way of breaking strongholds.
FORCES OF DARKNESS
One of Satan's main tactics is
keeping people's minds in darkness. He is the father of lies and a deceiver.
Millions are supernaturally blinded by the complex network of lies he's
constructed - like atheism, evolution, heresies, cults, philosophies, and all
the world religions.
This is why it's so important to live out truth and preach the Gospel. Spiritual warfare can't be separated from evangelism. If we want darkness erased, we have to put light into it. Christians who compromise aid the enemy because people can't see the light. There are spirit beings trying to keep you from preaching the Gospel. That's why most Christians never do. Through prayer, we can drive back the darkness hovering over people's minds so we can share truth in loving and appropriate ways.
EXERCISING OUR AUTHORITY
What can we do about all this'? When God made man, He gave him a free will. Included in that tree will, was authority over Planet Earth. Psalm 115:16 declares, "..but the earth He has given to the sons of men." We have the awesome power of choice. If we sin and act selfishly, we allow the enemy to work. But if we exercise our free will and authority in Jesus' Name, we can drive the enemy out. It's just that simple. Adam used his authority to disobey God, and opened the door for the enemy to work on the earth through people.
Jesus came to take back the authority Adam gave away. Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus "disarmed," or stripped, the devil of all authority. Jesus died to destroy the works of Satan, which are, as mentioned in Isaiah 61, simply the end results of human beings giving themselves over to sin and selfishness.
Alter the Resurrection, Jesus gave that regained authority to us in His Name. That means God has done everything to satan He’s going to do – except for punishing him at the end! The rest is up to us. God said: You resist the devil. You heal the sick. You cast out demons. You pray for the Kingdom to come and for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. I give you power over all the power of the enemy. (James. 4:7; Lk.10:9,19; Matt.6:10; 16:19; Jn.20:21-23)
God is looking for an army - people who know their authority and will exercise it. If we don't rise up to drive out the enemy, he'll stay in control. Like in the Promised Land, God gave the victory, but the people had to do the fighting. We need to get angry enough at the devil to refuse him access by defensive warfare - and then push him out with offensive warfare.
Where are the people who will stand in the gap for the structures, smash the principalities, pull down the strongholds, and drive out the darkness? A policeman's authority does him no good if he just rides around in his car all day. He must exercise it. Through prevailing prayer and resisting and cutting off the strategies of the enemy, we will see change in families, in cities, and in the world. Be as specific as you can be in spiritual warfare. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and energize you as you push back the powers of darkness and pray down the Kingdom into people's hearts. U