Archives For Faith and Life

There is something I didn’t share with you, my dear friend. I meant to, but life is so busy. I think of you guys who get our emails and newsletters, and read our blog as part of the MMI team, so I feel like something is missing between us if I forget to share something with you.

In February, I went to Nepal. The trip was completely spontaneous. Elana and two of our girls, Sharon and Danielle, went there to partner with our dear friends, Troy and Leanna Brewer of Open Door Church and their team. The trip had one week left and they ask me to come. It ended up being a life-changing trip.

Troy is a rescuer. That is simply who he is. His ministry is funding several operations in Nepal where young girls are being rescued from the hands of some of the most evil people in the world. (more on that in part 2)

He is an apostolic leader with the heart of a pastor. I know Troy’s children—the ones in Texas—but on the second day of the trip he said to me, “Ron, meet Shavani—she’s my daughter.” Shavani is Indian—as in from India. Troy is a full-blown country boy from Texas. But I knew what he meant. He took Shavani in when he first began to work with orphans and gave her his last name. She calls him Daddy. She is a beautiful twenty-two-year-old young lady, who just finished flight-attendant school. If Troy and Leanna had not rescued her, who knows if she would even be alive.

Bob and Debbie

On our second day there, we took 10 young ladies to a shopping mall and forced them to shop. You see, these are all girls who have been from abusive situations. They have all suffered chronic incest from a father or an uncle. A couple of them have been rescued from the sex trade industry. They all lived in unbearable conditions. Now, they live with Bob and Debbie. Bob is not his real name. He is Nepali and I guess, at some point, he decided when working with westerners, it was easier to be just Bob.

Debbie is American but has lived there with Bob for nearly three decades. They are parents to these ten girls. Some girls have transitioned out of their home to university. One of them, Anu, was home from university to visit her sisters. You could never guess the circumstances out of which she came. She is bright, cheery, confident and is an amazing artist.

Many of them were skittish about shopping in a real mall. While they had been to the mall, they had never shopped for clothes there. They were each given $50 as a gift from Messiah’s Mandate, from you, and the only demand was that they had to spend it. We were told that many of them would simply save it, if we didn’t make them spend it. It was great to see Elana, Sharon and Danielle taking these girls from shop to shop. They were so happy.

The girls with Bob. On this night they made our whole team a delicious Nepali dinner.

Fell in Love

While I feel that we are called to spend most of our time in Israel—to the point that we have cut back on our trips to the US—I felt drawn to this place. Katmandu is one of the most polluted cities in the world. It is about 6,000 ft above sea level and sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains. There is no place for the soot and pollutants to escape. People walk around with surgical masks on, in order to not breathe in the dusty air. You can see me in the picture at the top with mine.

The people, however, are so warm. We fell in love with them. One family, which Danielle met on the street, took her home and made her dinner. Thanks to the generosity of Troy Brewer Ministries (TBM), the daughter is now in university! And they paid their rent for a year!

Revival in Nepal!

While I love to hear the stories of rescued girls, I was wondering why God sent me there. But then, Bob came to me and shared about the other work they have there—overseeing 70 congregations. I didn’t realize that there is a massive revival all over Nepal. In fact, Nepal has just passed China as the fasting growing church in the world!

In 2001 less than one percent of Nepal was Christian. Now it is over 10%! That means in the past 17 years, well over two million Nepalis have come to Jesus.

Going Back

Elana and I will be going back at the end of September to lead a two-day pastors retreat for 70 pastors. I will be teaching the first day on leadership, and the second day on God’s heart for Israel. I can’t wait!

My airfare and hotel has been covered by TBM—we just need to raise $3,700 for the conference—to bring the pastors and give them room and board. They will come from all over Nepal. Don’t feel any pressure to donate. I don’t want you—our precious friends and donors—to feel that we are always asking for money. Only give if you know God has put this on your heart. I know that God is going to speak to a few to cover the costs. You can give at www.standwithmmi.org by choosing Nepal Pastors Conference. But, again, no pressure. And we going to donate an additional $500 to take the girls from the girls home shopping.

Please be in prayer, as just recently the Nepal government has begun to crack down on Christians. Nepal is now a democracy, since the overthrow of the monarchy over a decade ago. However the government just made it illegal to convert to another religion or to encourage someone to convert.

“Nepali government [has] taken a regressive step as this law severely restricts our freedom of expression and our freedom of religion or belief,” said Tanka Subedi, chair of the national Religious Liberty Forum, to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). —Christianity Today

So these pastors have to choose between obeying the government or obeying the Great Commission. Keep them in your prayers! Oh, and I forgot to mention—Bob is going to turn over this work to another leader soon. His dream is to take his 13 main pastors that he has mentored to Israel before he moves on. I told him that if his 13 pastors could pay for their tickets, we would cover the land portion of the trip. I really want to bless these people. We have a year before they will come, but I wanted to let you know now.

In the meantime, agree with me that the understanding of God’s plan for Israel in the end times would spread through these 70 leaders throughout Nepal. The church is so young there; they have not been poisoned by European replacement theology. We will give them the tools to combat it.

Thank you for standing with us.

 

 

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I was reading through the book of Acts recently, and I saw something very interesting in chapter 16. Paul and Silas were falsely accused and thrown into jail. How would you handle that? What would those around you think of your response to being beaten, falsely accused and thrown in jail? And, not just that, they were chained in stocks.

In the natural, outside of the grace of God, I would be screaming, “I am innocent!” I would be terrified and it would be apparent to everyone around me that I was terrified – just by my actions. But Paul and Silas had a very unnatural response to this great injustice.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)

First, we see that at midnight they were full of Holy Spirit and worshiping. That, in and of itself, is amazing. They were just beaten with rods, after being stripped of their clothes, and yet, they were focused on the mission and on the man, Yeshua. Like the apostles before them, they “rejoic[ed] because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5:41)

The Prisoners

But look at the end of the verse, “…. and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Yes, beloved, you are being watched! Unbelievers want to see how you, as a believer, react to trials and tribulations. They want to see if you really practice what you preach.

These were criminals. Imagine what they thought when they heard the rabbi and his prophetic friend worshipping God after their beating. They didn’t know if it was real, but they were sure convinced that these two fellows thought it was real. And, then, there is an earthquake.

Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:26-28)

Isn’t it interesting that none of the prisoners ran away? If you are a prisoner and, suddenly, you are freed, your first instinct is to run! I have never seen a TV show where the freed prisoner didn’t run. But these prisoners were more interested in hearing from Paul and Silas than they were in running. Freedom in Jesus just became more important than freedom from chains.

“Woe is me”

But imagine how different this scenario would have been if Paul and Silas had been in their cells, moaning and crying from the pain. I have, at times, given up on life – over not being able to find my car keys! Much less being persecuted! In fact, it reminds of when I was arrested after blocking an abortion clinic in the early nineties. The police put me in plastic cuffs and, because of a bracelet I was wearing, it cut off circulation in my hand, not to mention it was really painful.

On the way to the police station in a school bus, I asked the policer to loosen the handcuffs, explaining that they were too tight. I can’t remember his exact words, but they were something akin to, “What did you expect when you got arrested?” He looked at me as weak—a soft suburbanite who expected special treatment. I was embarrassed. Yes, I was being watched—and I failed.

But I’ve learned much since that time. Sadly, there are so many who are willing to speak of the glory of God to unbelievers, and then, the minute trouble comes, they collapse. As Proverbs says, “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Pro. 24:10)

Decide Before

We can be proactive and prepare for times of trouble. We can choose now to be like Paul and Silas who, in the midst of their trial, worshiped God at midnight. No one cares how happy we are when times are good. But they are watching to see how we react in difficulty. How we react can be the difference between heaven and hell for those watching.

Those prisoners could’ve run, but they stayed to hear about Paul’s God. The fear of God came upon them as God answered Paul and Silas with an earthquake. God, help me to react like Paul and Silas in times of trouble. You never know when God is about to answer—so don’t give up!

 

 

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note: Dan Juster, Ariel Blumenthal and Asher Intrater contributed to this paper.

Is someone who prophesies mistakenly a “false prophet”? Is someone who teaches in error a “false teacher”? For instance, we believe strongly in the Gifts of the Spirit. If another teacher teaches cessation (the idea that those gifts have ceased), is one of us a false teacher?

We maintain that there is a difference between teaching in error and being a false teacher. A false teacher is teaching false doctrine about Yeshua and leading people away from the true gospel doctrine. It is not merely someone who has made a mistake in his or her theology. If our standard is that we must be 100% right all the time in doctrine, then we all are false teachers to some degree—as we have all changed and/or tweaked our doctrinal understanding over the years.

The New Covenant is clear that false teachers and false prophets are not those who merely made a mistake, but are deceivers.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. (1 Peter 2:1)

Yeshua gave us a clear warning about the emergence of false prophets in the End Times:

And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many…(they) will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:11, 24)

A false prophet in the New Covenant is not a believer who loves Yeshua, preaches the Gospel, moves in the power of the Holy Spirit, and is a recognized leader of the Body of Messiah, and yet happens to make a predictive prophecy that does not come to pass!  (That’s just one way we might prophecy incorrectly).

This might have happened because they allowed their hopes and emotions to boil over, resulting in a kind of presumption—or for any other number of reasons.  Biblically, a false prophet is an unbeliever (or former believer!) using demonic inspiration to draw people away from God and faith in Yeshua. The Torah also makes it clear that the primary issue was prophets/teachers whose words would lead the people astray, to abandon their faith and follow after “other gods.” (Deut. 13:1-5; 18:9-22)

Under Moses there were two ways to identify a false prophet.

  1. He spoke in the name of other gods.
  2. His word did not come to pass.

But in the New Testament Yeshua says, referring to false prophets:

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matt. 7:16-18)

So, again, when we speak of false prophets were not speaking of believers who preach Yeshua and have long lasting fruit in the kingdom—but one time publicly gave a presumptuous word, but rather we are speaking about cult leaders like David Koresh, Jim Jones or Charles Manson. In most cases the false prophet claims to be a messiah or the Messiah.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Scriptures teach this whole idea of prophecy under the New Covenant versus the Old.

New Testament Prophet/Prophecy

Revelation contains an important statement about the true nature of prophecy since Yeshua’s death, resurrection, ascension and outpouring of the Spirit. John sees the return of Yeshua and the wedding supper of the Lamb. An angel rebukes John for seeking to worship him and says:

“Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10)

What does this mean? “For the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy.”

This is a fundamental difference between Old and New Covenant prophecy: We prophesy to confirm the Gospel, the message of His life, the cross, resurrection, ascension, the new birth and indwelling and empowering of the Holy Spirit to all who believe, and the hope of His Second Coming to fully establish the Kingdom on earth…we have the full, prophetic revelation of everything God wants men to know in order to be saved!

Before Yeshua fulfilled all of these prophetic acts, the prophets:

…searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Messiah in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Messiah and the glories that would follow. (1 Peter 1:10-11)

By the Holy Spirit, the best the Old Testament prophets could do was to search for and predict the timing and nature of the events of the coming of the Messiah. But for us, we got it! It’s happened, it’s been preached, passed down and recorded in Holy Scripture.  When we respond to that prophetic message—Yeshua can save you—the Spirit of the Messiah himself causes us to be “born again” from above; and then the Holy Spirit makes His home in us, giving us an “anointing from the Holy One,” which leads us into all truth. (1 John 2:20, John 16:13).

This means that NT prophecy, and the gift/office of prophet is not what it used to be! We no longer predict the coming of Messiah, we proclaim it and prophetically call all men embrace it.

The Rock Comes Forth

Just look at Simon Peter (Rock) after Shavuot (Pentecost). Only 10 days earlier he still didn’t understand the gospel (see Acts 1:6-7), but moments after his immersion in the Holy Spirit, he speaks by the Spirit mysteries that had been hidden.

He quotes Joel about the outpouring. He quotes prophecies of King David, showing they were referring to the resurrection and the deity of Yeshua. He speaks like a world class theologian.

Seeing what was to come, [King David] spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. (Acts 2:31-33)

Where is the man who is rebuking Yeshua for saying that he was going to be crucified? Where is the disciple who denied Yeshua three times? Peter is uneducated, but through the spirit of prophecy, he shares the testimony of Yeshua.

In Acts 3, after the healing the crippled man, he speaks of the end times in the most marvelous way.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Yeshua.  Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (3:19-21)

And before the Sanhedrin he was so intense and overpowering, they said:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Please go back and read Acts 2-4 and be amazed at how the Holy Spirt works through the uneducated Peter.

But what about False Prophets in the New Covenant?

The phrase false prophet is used 11 times in the New Testament, and it never refers to a believer. There is the False Prophet of the antichrist and Bar Jesus of Acts 13, “a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right!” and he was “seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.” (v. 8)

The other references refer to false messiahs and deceivers of the truth. Never, not once, is a child of God referred to as a false prophet—and yet, we know that every believer was encouraged to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1). So, if one claims that someone who makes a mistake in prophecy is a false prophet, they are claiming that he is an unbeliever, presently and always, in line with the devil, seeking to deceive the body—despite repentance, loving Yeshua and bearing fruit for the kingdom—which is absurd.

Furthermore, we must ask ourselves: are prophecy and prophets exactly the same under the New Covenant as the Old Covenant? If so, should one who prophesies presumptuously be put to death? (Duet. 18:20). If that is our conclusion, then a host of others should be killed. But there is a clear difference.

Every Believer Should Seek to Prophesy

In the Old Covenant, God spoke almost exclusively through prophets. In the New Covenant, every believer is encouraged to seek to prophesy:

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy…the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. (1 Cor. 14:1, 3)

The Greek word translated eagerly desire is zéloó—where we get our word zeal. It is an onomatopoetic word, meaning it sounds like itself (like buzz) and it sounds in Greek like “boiling water”. In other words, we are to be boiling over with zeal for the gifts of the Spirit (as we “follow the way of love”). It should be something we pray for every day.

Now, if someone who makes a mistake in prophecy is then cut off from the Lord and deserving of death, why, then, is the apostle seeking to put the everyday believer in such a precarious and perilous position by encouraging him or her to seek to prophesy? And, yet, we know that under the New Covenant, it is not just prophets who prophesy, but every believer can do so. That is Peter’s meaning in quoting Joel in Acts 2—that God’s Spirit is not just for prophets, but all flesh, meaning, any believer who is hungry.

Prophecy is an objective word from heaven, but it is highly filtered through the subjective lens of the human vessel—through our emotions, our intellect, our theology,  and even our wounds and presumptions. Paul said, “We look through a glass darkly” and “We know in part and we prophesy in part.” (1 Cor. 13) Paul also says, “If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.” (Romans 12:6) So, there must be the possibility of prophesying beyond your faith or presumptuously, as in Deuteronomy. In such cases, leaders should deal with that, but with the goal of restoration, not repudiation.

Paul says, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all; hold on to what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:19-21) What about that which is not good—or bad—and the people who falsely or presumptuously prophesied? Did they kill them? Did they label them permanently as false prophets, excommunicating them from the body of believers?  It seems not.

Something has Changed

The argument is very simple. Michael Brown has a chapter in his 2018 book Playing With Holy Fire: A Wake-Up Call to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Church on the problems and pitfalls of prophecy. He simply says that the standards of I Cor. 14 show that other prophets and leaders weigh prophecy in the New Covenant, and there is no hint that there is a penalty for making a mistake.

Obviously, something has changed. It is simply to note that the consensus of the Charismatic and Pentecostal world (and its scholarship) is that New Covenant prophecy does not function in the same way as the Mosaic covenant standards. It is that all might learn to hear from God and that leaders would be responsible to confirm (or not).

Because they did not have the Scriptures in the way that we do today, the word of the prophet was much weightier. A missed word could be the difference between life and death. With the New Covenant and the fuller revelation of Yeshua and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are less dependent on prophets today—though they are needed—and more dependent on hearing God through His word and in personal time in prayer.

Need for Accountability

Indeed, there are many self-proclaimed prophets who do damage and take advantage of the Lord’s people. There is a horrible lack of accountability when it comes to public prophecy. We must do better! Please do not take this writing as an excuse for the plethora of silliness that is out there when it comes to prophecy and prophets. But we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater (or drown him for being a false prophet!).

So, are we going to take the position that anyone who is not 100% accurate is a false prophet? Or can one make a mistake, repent and ask God for forgiveness, and seek to grow? Does not God forgive such things? Or, are we then disqualified for life? We are for mercy, but that should not be interpreted as taking prophecy light. It is no small thing to declare that you are speaking for the Lord. And one who does so presumptuously in public should submit to discipline by other leaders.

Tone it Down

One thing we can do is tone down our proclamations. We rarely, if ever, say, “The Lord told me…,” but use language like, “I sense that God might be saying…,” “The Holy Spirit bore witness with my spirit,” or, “I felt led of the Spirit.”

Making proclamations such as “Thus says the Lord…” places one in a precarious position and will rightly invite rebuke if you are wrong. It is always better to tone down the way in which we deliver prophetic words.

Accept for the account of Agabus in Acts 21, we do not see New Testament prophets saying “This is what the Lord says…” Rather, James’ tone, and he was the most senior apostle, is more low key in Acts 15 when he says, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28)

Function of the New Testament Prophet

  • A prophet can know things by the Spirit (Peter knowing that Ananias and Sapphira lied [Acts 5]).
  • He can sense one’s calling by the Spirit (Ananias to Paul [Acts 9] Prophets to Barnabas and Saul [Acts 13:1]).
  • Strengthen the body (Silas and Judas [Acts 15, Eph. 4]).
  • Proclaim the word of God in power. (Many examples such as [Acts 2, 10]).
  • Predict the future (Paul predicts that the false prophet Bar Jesus will be blind [Acts 13] or Agabus predicts a famine [Acts 11:28]).
  • Proclaim judgment on a believer or unbeliever (with Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5], and Bar Jesus [Acts 13]).
  • Weigh the prophetic words of other prophets and non-prophets (Acts 14).

Final Word

False prophets go to hell or, at least, invite “swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1). They do not go around the world preaching the gospel and loving Yeshua. False prophets lead people away from Yeshua, as do false teachers. Just as a teacher’s doctrine can change over time, and he can make mistakes in his exegesis and hermeneutics, so, too, can a believer make a mistake in prophesy, repent, and be restored.

There can be no question that the New Covenant brings a higher level of mercy in regards to mistakes in prophecy and that believers are never referred to as false prophets.

 

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Recently, I was chatting with my colleague, Ariel Blumenthal. Ariel is a budding theologian within our Tikkun Global Family. We were talking about prophecy and he said something akin to, “The greatest prophetic utterances in the New Testament era are the proclamation of the Gospel.” He based that on the angel’s words to John in Revelation 19:10:

For the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of Prophesy. (TLV)

I had to meditate on that for a while. That afternoon, I felt the Lord redirect my Bible reading to the Book of Acts. I read the first four chapters and then three more today. And, BOOM, like lightning, I saw it!

The Transformation of Peter

The difference between pre-Shavuot/Pentecost Peter and post-Shavuot/Pentecost Peter is probably one of the most under-appreciated stories or testimonies of the entire Bible. Before the Shavuot outpouring in Acts 2, Peter was quite underwhelming. He is an uneducated fisherman. He is overly dramatic and impulsive:

  • He rebukes the Lord (Matt 16).
  • He declares he would die with Yeshua, hours before he denies him three times (John 13, 18).
  • He blurts out something about building tabernacles on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17). God Almighty had to rebuke him.
  • Even after the resurrection, he is confused and, with the others, goes back to fishing (John 20).

In fact, just days before Shavuot, on the day Yeshua ascended into heaven, he and the disciples did not understand the Gospel message and began to ask Yeshua if he would now restore the kingdom to Israel.

The Rock Emerges

Then, on the day of Shavuot, they were all gathered in one place and the Spirit empowered them for ministry. Fire came and rested on them, and they spoke in tongues. Something happened to Peter. Yeshua nicknamed him “Rock” and said He would build His congregation on that ‘Rock.’ No, that doesn’t mean that Peter was the first pope. It means that a prophetic anointing would come on Peter, whereby he would teach, preach and testify of Yeshua at a level that would birth revival in Jerusalem. And the worldwide ecclesia would be built on that foundation.

If you read Acts chapters two through four, it is remarkable how he speaks. Remember, he is no Bible scholar. We never heard Peter expound upon scripture before this. But now the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Yeshua, comes upon him in power.

Suddenly, he is an expert on Old Testament prophecy. He boldly tells his hearers that this is God pouring out his Spirit on all flesh, as prophesied by Joel. He then quotes five verses from Joel 2. When did he memorize these verses? He didn’t, of course. This is the Spirit of God revealing the Gospel to Peter. Yeshua promised:

When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. (John 16:13 GNT)

At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. (Matt. 10:19-20)

Peter speaks of the prophecies of King David, predicting the resurrection and showing Yeshua to be God. Listen to him:

Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. (Acts 2:29-32)

He speaks as, not only a seasoned theologian, but as a bold evangelist. Three thousand men, plus women and children, were “cut to the heart” and responded to his call that day. Immediately, they were immersed in water.

End-Times Expert in Just a Few Days

In Chapter three, he expounds on the end times. Just about two weeks before this, as stated earlier, he and the other disciples expected Yeshua to take over the world (Acts 1:6-7). Yeshua tells them, it is not the time. First, go preach the Gospel (Acts 1:8). But now, he is an end-times expert:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21)

Oh, that we would know this power of the Holy Spirit to speak through us.

Uneducated Man Speaks with Authority

Next, they are arrested. Peter boldly preaches to the Sanhedrin. His words are awesome! And it is because of the first thing we read in the next passage:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus the Messiah of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12)

While Peter is the vessel, the words are coming by the Spirit. The Sanhedrin is blown away. Just as it was said of Yeshua, he spoke not like the rabbis, but as one with authority (Luke 4:36, Matt. 7:28-29). The Sanhedrin could feel the anointing.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

Yes, prophecy has other functions in the New Covenant era (1 Cor. 14), but if “the testimony of Yeshua is the Spirit of Prophesy,” we should be seeking more and more of His Spirit to prophetically call all men to follow Yeshua—as Peter and the disciples did. If you are a fivefold gifted evangelist, I hope this message will cause a new authority and anointing to arise in you.

 

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Manipulation is like witchcraft. We manipulate to get what we want, when we don’t trust God. David had two opportunities to take matters in his own hands. Two times the demonized King Saul was delivered into his hands. Once, at En Gedi—incidentally, one of the beautiful places in Israel (and yes, we go there on our tour!), and then later at the Desert of Ziph.

In the first event, David and his men were in a cave, when Saul went in to relieve himself. “Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.” (1 Samuel 24:4) David could have reasoned, “Samuel already anointed me to be king. Saul knows this.” Jonathan, in the previous chapter, already told David:

“You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” (1 Sam. 23:17)

His men urged him to kill Saul saying,

“This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” (1 Sam. 24:4)

Bear, Lion, Giant, Saul

But David had learned, long before, that God was big enough to fight his battles. Long before he killed the giant with one blow, he had defeated the bear and the lion, while protecting his sheep. With Goliath, he rejected Saul’s armor and chose to rely on the arm of the Lord. Listen to zeal of David as he confronts the giant:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head…the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel…it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

“But Ron, in all those cases, David did kill his attackers.” This was different. David had a massive conflict of interest. In the other incidents, he was protecting others. In this case, David would benefit from killing Saul—he would most likely become king. He did not want to become the ruler through his own actions.

In the other case in chapter 26, David says to Abishai:

“Don’t destroy [Saul]! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Sam. 26:9-11)

Promotion Comes from Heaven

This is a lesson for all of us. I have seen people seek to manipulate their way into positions of power. God will not bless that. For years, when I have felt God calling me to something, I would simply pray: If this is your will, you can open the door. I would quote Psalm 75:6-7:

For exaltation comes
not from the east nor from the west,
nor even from the desert.
For God is the Judge:
He lowers one and lifts up another. (TLV)

I’ve come to learn that “the hand of the Lord is powerful” (Joshua 4:24) and that nothing can stop God’s will other than my own disobedience. I can rest, knowing the promotion comes from Him and not from man.

A Test

When I first became an associate pastor 1994, another leader came on staff at the same time. He had his heart set on being the next senior leader. And for some reason, he was convinced that I was his competition. He would go out of his way to seek to publicly embarrass me. Others felt the contempt he had for me.

Finally I had enough. I was going to confront him. I had my speech planned out. “What, are you two?” was going to be part of it. I would put him in his place! But before I unloaded on him, I sought council from a mentor.

“You could do that, if you want,” he told me. “Or you could take the high road and begin to pray and fast for him.” Not what I wanted to hear. But it was the right advice.

As I humbled myself and began to pray for this man, he was removed from the equation. Many years later, he came back to the congregation and asked for forgiveness and our relationship was restored. My point is that God fights our battle. I did not need to confront him. I needed to focus on God. Yes, there are times for speaking the truth in love, but only after we have made sure that we have God’s heart for the person we are confronting.

Pray and Wait for God

This is a lesson that I have kept with me for 25 years. If God has called me to something, He will open the door. When I felt that I was to go to Africa and preach in 2008, I began to daily ask God to open a door. Within a month Daniel Kolenda, a former student, invited me to attend a Reinhard Bonnke campaign in Nigeria. On my last day, a pastor invited me back to preach. A year later, I led a group of 18 Israelis to Nigeria, where we preached the gospel with signs and wonders.

On the other hand, in 1987 the Lord spoke to me that he was going to give me a Honda Accord. My father, who refused, at the time, to help me because of my faith in Yeshua, came home with a Honda Accord that he bought for my sister. I knew that was my car. My sister didn’t like it and he was going to return it (he was friends with the salesman). At that point I should have kept my mouth shut and watched God work. Instead, I offered to take the car. He said no—adamantly. But then changed his mind and gave me the car. But it would have been a much better testimony if I had just trust God to do what He said.

So, if God was able to take David—who was being chased by Saul for roughly a decade and had to constantly be on the run or Saul would kill him—and preserve him and make him king for 40 years, surely He can fulfill the call on your life. Just don’t manipulate to get position. Rather, position yourself in prayer and wait on the Lord.

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