Published: Monday, 26 March 2018 17:53
Written by Don Goulding
The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners … to strengthen those who mourn in Zion, by giving them a turban, instead of ashes, oil symbolizing joy, instead of mourning, a garment symbolizing praise, instead of discouragement. Isaiah 61:1-3 (NETFull)
Olive was a Chinese flower with a loser-stalker boyfriend. When she accepted Jesus, he claimed to convert also, then she discovered he was married to another woman. During our underground church service, the scoundrel sent twenty text messages to keep his claws in Olive.
The wonder of the gospel is that it not only saves but it also transforms human suffering. I have yet to encounter a form of agony the cross cannot redeem. Ashes change into crowns, mourning becomes joy, discouragement turns to praise. Allow me to demonstrate.
The house church put Olive in a chair and placed their hands on her shoulders and head. Because all Christians are called to the work of intercession, we anointed her forehead with oil and prayed.
“By the power of Jesus, we pronounce this unholy love nailed to the cross. We break the emotional ties and exchange infatuation from a lying human for the pure love of Olive's greatest admirer, Jesus Christ.”
In response to our invocation, the Holy Spirit set a barrier in Olive’s heart that her ex’s words no longer penetrated. At the same time, he flooded her awareness with the cherishing love of Jesus. Cleansing tears steamed to her petite chin.
Life hurts. It gouges, bruises, and scars. We are licensed to perform the great exchange on every wound. There is nothing hell can throw at us that heaven can’t convert into victory. We are anointed into this ministry and, for every day God allows us to remain on earth, this is our mission.
Prayer: Spirit of the Sovereign LORD, let me place a crown of beauty on the maimed.
Published: Monday, 19 March 2018 14:07
Written by Don Goulding
But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. John 3:21 (NETFull)
Vibrant-green crops of sugarcane flew past the windows of our van and school children were stricken in amazement at the sight of so many white people. The road ended hours later in the village of Nampiyumpetu, India. Every attempt to bring the gospel to these mountain people had been met with hostility—twenty years worth. Our bold plan was a free medical clinic but, by the time our team arrived, the doctors had seen most of the patients and were about to leave—an organizational disaster.
In a desperate effort, I grabbed the last feverish boy and explained the simple gospel. A crowd gathered to listen in, so my interpreter, Asher, and I stood and addressed the group. At end of the presentation, thirty-two adults signed decision cards and Asher’s father agreed to return weekly for follow up.
We had planned a medical clinic but God planted a church.
The events of mankind’s history—the Israelites, romanization, medieval kingdoms, industrialization, and my tiny life—are not the real story. They are merely a framework on which God weaves his masterful purposes. As happened in Nampiyumpetu, we make our gossamer plans while the Sovereign King works threads of silver and gold into elegant destinies.
The Holy One often involves his servants in miracles of reclamation, yet I can never be so foolish as to conclude they are sourced by me. I’m blind to most of what God accomplishes. Yes, I should be brave and step into the authority of Christ but I should also remain humble and aware it is always his party. I'm only the cardboard box used to deliver his invaluable gift.
Prayer: Mighty God, in the light of truth, it’s plain that you bring all goodness.
Published: Sunday, 11 March 2018 21:52
Written by Don Goulding
…the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someoneʼs work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NET_FL)
Flames leapt ten meters carrying grass, trees, and bush animals into gray billows. The wildfire raced toward the mission complex in Zimbabwe and every able-bodied man beat at the flames with a leafy branch. I’d never battled fire with a branch but I couldn’t stand-by and watch, so I carried my bough into a burning field.
“Stop, brother,” an African grabbed my arm.
The hungry blaze jumped and the trail I almost used was engulfed in a roar of orange flames. My ignorance was nearly my undoing.
Will my spiritual ignorance be my undoing when I get to paradise? I will be saved by the grace of Jesus but will my personality lie in charred ruins because it wasn’t remade beforehand? After walking with the Lord for years, I still harbor jealousy, fear, and apathy. I don’t want to show up at the marriage feast of the Lamb as a gray-haired spiritual baby with no eternal gifts to present.
The prescription for fireproof maturity is simple. That which I construct with humble, godly love will be unharmed by the flames. Whatever I build with self-interest will incinerate.
We are under attack by a practiced enemy who blocks our attempts to build honorably. But that’s why life is a test. It’s all a grand plan to see if, in spite of the obstacles, our character will be fireproof.
Prayer: Create in me, O God, a heart that will survive the fire.