Archives For Faith and Life

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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Over the years I have heard many people tell of their great calling to be an apostle, prophet or to save gazillions through their ministry. Most of these never pan out. Those who are called to such things don’t speak about them or have them emblazoned on their business cards.

Having said that, I saw something recently in 1 Samuel that blew me away. There is the calling and then, there is the commissioning. David was called when he was a boy, but he didn’t become king until much later. Same with King Saul.

Young Saul

How old do you think Saul was when he went looking for his father’s donkeys? This is important. If you read the story in 1 Samuel 9, the impression you get is that he was a young man, not married ­– maybe 20 years old or even less. But when he is crowned king, he is 30.

After unsuccessfully searching for his donkeys, his servant told him of Samuel the prophet. Saul doesn’t even know who Samuel is and he is the leader of Israel. When Saul approaches him, he doesn’t realize that he is talking to Samuel.

Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

“I am the seer,” Samuel replied. (1 Samuel 9:18-19)

He tells him he is going to be king and Saul is stunned. When Samuel calls all Israel to proclaim Saul as king, what does he do? He hides!

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” (1 Sam. 10:22)

This is not a man, but a boy. He is proclaimed king, but he doesn’t go and build a palace. What does he do? He goes home. He has no idea what to do as the new teen king. And many did not receive him as king:

Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent. (1 Kings 10: 26-27)

Saul Receives a Warrior’s Anointing

In the next chapter, we find Saul working in his fields. Most people think this was the next day. I think it was years later, because now he is 30 (1 Sam 13:1). Some Israelites were about to be conquered by Nahash, the Ammonite. The Israelites from Jabesh Gilead sent word to the rest of Israel, hoping that someone would help them.

When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. (1 Sam. 11:4-6)

Saul received the calling to be king some years ago, but now the anointing to be Israel’s leader comes upon him. He takes charge and leads the rescue, routing the enemy completely. Now, suddenly, everyone in Israel is willing to follow Saul as king.

So it appears that after he was declared king, he just continued to live as a farmer. But suddenly the Spirit of God comes on him and he leads, as a leader should. When the people saw the “fruit of his ministry” they, with one voice, received him as King.

Too many in ministry are concerned with titles. Yeshua is concerned with fruit. Yeshua taught us not to focus on titles.

“[Religious leaders] love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. (Matt. 23:7-10)

Yeshua often spoke hyperbolically—like when he said to hate your family or gouge out your eye. He exaggerated to make a point. Here, I don’t think He is saying titles are evil, but if you get an ego or pride boost out of your title, then you are not in a healthy place.

“Are You A Prophet?”

Many years ago in Bible college, I asked the great teacher David Pawson, after he preached a message that left me undone, “Are you a prophet?” He responded, “That is not for me to say, but for you.” In other words, let your fruit speak for itself. I submit to Asher Intrater as my apostolic leader. He doesn’t run around proclaiming to everyone that he is an apostle. It is clear from the fruit—he has birthed several successful ministries, raised up leaders to take over those ministries, leads family of ministries and congregations in Tikkun Global, has an amazing prophetic teaching gift—that is an apostle. But no one calls him Apostle Asher and he would correct him or her if they did.

Your fruit will prove your calling—not your business card, website or Facebook page. The gift of God will open every door. It is not the calling that makes the man, but rather walking it out and bearing fruit.

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Why do we go through trials? Why does God allow difficulty to get in the way of blessing and promotion? The answer is simple. Trials purify our motives and keep us humble. That humility enables us to handle blessing and promotion without becoming proud. It causes us to use His abundance for the kingdom and not for ourselves.

In 1 Samuel 1, we find several characters, representative of different people. There is a man named Elkanah. He had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah was blessed with children, while Hannah’s womb remained closed. Hannah was a good wife and Elkanah loved her (v. 5). Peninnah was petty and proud and mocked Hannah for being barren.

Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. (1 Sam. 1:6-7)

In this story, you are Hannah. You love the Lord, but there is a trial in your life. You don’t know why. It confounds you that God would allow this. You long for this trial to be over, but yet it persists.

Elkanah represents the Father and His unconditional love. In the Middle East, at that time (and today in many places), the inability to produce children, particularly a male heir, would be a reason for rejection. Yet, Elkanah expresses his love for Hannah.

Peninnah represents every mocking voice, from the Devil to your neighbor to maybe even your best friend. These are the ones who tell you, “You are barren because of your sin—God must not like you—there is a curse on you.” Sometimes, we find these people even in our own congregation—sometimes they are leaders. They lack empathy and glory in the fact that they are more blessed than you.

Now, stay with me, because your breakthrough is connected to how this story ends. There is a very powerful principle coming.

The family goes to the tabernacle in Shiloh. Since it says that Peninnah had sons and daughters, it is clear that Hannah had endured this ridicule for many years. Finally, we are at the climax. Hannah comes to her Tipping Point.

A tipping point is the point at which an issue, idea, product, etc., crosses a certain threshold and gains significant momentum, triggered by some minor factor or change.

In the life of Hannah, her tipping point was when the pressure and humiliation pushed her too far. At the tabernacle, she cries out to the Lord.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Sam. 1:10-11)

You see, when Hannah finally reached this point of full surrender to God and His will was when the blessing was released. The only thing holding back the blessing, to that point, was not being fully surrendered. I cannot tell you what her motivations were for having children:

  • So people would respect her.
  • So people wouldn’t gossip about her.
  • To please her husband.
  • To stop the ridicule.
  • To be a mother.

But God was seeking to raise up a prophet. He simply needed Hannah to be willing to give Samuel to Him. And this is what holds back the blessing in our lives many times—that our character is not sufficiently developed to handle blessing or promotion.

I am 53-years-old and I have a television show on GOD TV. Why did God have to wait until I was in my fifties to put me on TV? Very simply, I obviously didn’t have the character to handle it when I was younger. But you go through “stuff” and you realize how weak you are. The trials of life humble you—they break you—like proud Peter who was willing to “die with the Lord,” finds himself denying he even knew Him. He had to go through that humbling situation to be ready to preach to the Jews of Jerusalem on Shavuot (Pentecost).

If the promises of God are not appearing in your life, like you think they should, ask the Lord about your motives for wanting the promise. Can you handle the blessing/promotion? Or would it cause pride?

Hannah came to the place where she was willing to use the blessing for the Kingdom, and not for herself. Shortly thereafter, Elkanah made love to his wife and “the Lord remembered her.” She had a boy and, according to her vow, brought him to the tabernacle to serve the Lord.

Next, she prays a prophetic prayer:

The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. (1 Sam. 2:6-8)

In other words:  God is fully in control! There is nothing that has happened in your life that God has not seen or allowed. I am not saying that everything that happens is His will. But He allows trials to come to perfect us, so He can bless us. James urges us to rejoice in trials because:

…the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:3-4)

Don’t give up my friend. God has not forgotten you. In fact, He has you right where He wants you. He is setting you up for blessing!

And don’t feel bad for Hannah, that she had to give up her one and only son. She saw Samuel every year and

“the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” (`1 Samuel 2:21)

 

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When the book of Hebrews speaks of angels, it is to make clear to the early congregation (that struggled with error and heresies because the New Covenant was still being written) that Yeshua is way beyond the angels. It would appear that some of these Jewish believers saw Yeshua as the Messiah, but could not see Him as divine; He was like an angel in their thinking. The writer seeks to correct this.

The writer shows Yeshua’s superiority to these awesome, yet created beings:

  • Yeshua is the Son of the Father. (Heb. 1:5)
  • The angels worship Yeshua. (Heb. 1:6) Revelation speaks of ten thousand times ten thousand around His throne (Rev. 5:11)
  • He is God with an everlasting throne. (Heb. 1:8)

However, angels do play a powerful role in the lives of men. In fact, one of their primary roles is to minister to us who serve the Lord.

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews. 1:14)

They bring prophetic messages

Angels announced the birth of Messiah to the shepherds in Bethlehem. Gabriel, the angel, appeared to the father of John the Baptist with a prophetic word about John. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to tell him it was okay to marry Miriam, “because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 1:20)

Daniel received a visit from Gabriel, as well, with an extremely important prophetic message (Dan. 9). It was an angel who told Philip where to go so as to be in the right place to find the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8). It was an angel who announced to Cornelius that he should send for Peter, who would then open the way of salvation to the nations.

They protect us

In the book of Acts, the apostles are freed from prison by an angel (Acts 5) and told to go to the Temple courts to “tell people about this new life.” (Acts 5:20) An angel punched Peter, in Acts 12, to wake him up and get him about of prison! That reminds of when I was in Bible College. I was falling asleep during the class of our no-nonsense director and would have received a four- hour work detail, had I been spotted! But, suddenly, someone poked me hard in the chest, just as I was drifting off. Startled, I looked around to see who poked me, thinking I was in trouble, but there was no one. An angel? Maybe.

Psalm 91 says, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Over and over again in Exodus, God says, “My angel will go before you.” (Ex. 23:20, 23, 32:34, 33:2) An angel shut the mouth of the lions that would have gladly eaten Daniel. (Dan. 6)

Fight Demons/Spiritual Warfare

When Daniel was seeking the Lord, the angel who visited him said he was in a battle with demonic forces for 21 days. (Dan. 10:13) What is interesting here is that it appears Daniel’s intercession strengthened the angel in his battle. Don’t give up in prayer! Again we see Michael and his army of angels fighting the dragon. (Rev. 12:7)

They Help us in Temptation

When Yeshua was tempted in the wilderness, the text says that “the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matt. 4:11) And when He was tempted in the Garden of Gethsemane, struggling with the fact that He would soon be separated from His Father, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43)

They can appear to us as Humans

Hebrews tells us:

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

The idea here is that when someone is in need, it may be a test, and actually an angel that you are helping. Lot shows hospitality to visiting angels who came in the form of men. When Mary encountered the two angels after the resurrection, though they were “in white,” she does not appear to know they are angels, as she has a conversation with them. When Yeshua comes as the angel of the Lord to Joshua, he does not know at first that it is not a mere mortal. (Joshua 5)

Bring Judgment on the Wicked

Herod, when he was praised as a god and did not give glory to God, was struck done and killed by an angel. Angels brought judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah, saying, “we are going to destroy this place.” (Gen. 19:13) The angel of the Lord defeated the Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah.

Revelation speaks of angels announcing judgment through sounding trumpets (Rev. 8:7-13). It is an angel who releases God’s wrath on earth (Rev. 14:19).

Do I have a Guardian Angel?

I cannot find any strong support for this in scripture. There are two verses that somewhat speak to it. One is:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Personally I see the “their” as belonging to the collective group of “little ones,” and others, not each one having an angel. However, I would be thrilled if there was an angel for each of us. Regardless, angels do watch over us and they do belong to us in the sense that God has commissioned them to serve believers (as noted above Heb. 1:14).

Then, when Peter is freed from prison in Acts 12, the maid Rhoda, who answers the door, says, “it must be his angel.” But that is merely the quote of someone who may have been brought up to believe that we each have an angel assigned to us. She was not a theologian. Nevertheless, there is enough support in scripture to expect angels to be active in our lives and to minister to us, the heirs of salvation.

Warning

I cannot see any place where we are to pray to angels. I think this can open one up to deception. Yeshua taught us to pray to the Father, in His name.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)

In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:26-27)

I regularly ask the Father in Yeshua’s name to send angel to be active in my life to protect and guide me. But I do not speak to angels and make this request. They are to do God’s will, not mine:

Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. (Ps. 103:20)

 

 

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