woensdag 27 maart 2013
zaterdag 23 maart 2013
Many women relate to me the battles they have endured, and in most cases, still are enduring to be accepted on equal terms with men in the church. Let me share a little bit about what I believe the Holy Spirit would say to us on this issue.
Firstly, God doesn’t want us engaged in battles that are going to leave us tired and distracted. Let’s exercise discernment in what we’re actually about. The biggest battle raging is not outside of us, it is within. We try to prove who we are to those who don’t accept us on equal terms only because we don’t yet know ourselves who we are. When we know that, we don’t have to prove anything.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” and they replied: “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” (Matt. 16:13-14) Notice all the ideas men had about who Jesus is were wrong. The Lord went on to ask them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter spoke for all when He answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” (Matt. 16:16) His answer came not from education, not from persuasion, and not from reading a good book on the subject. Jesus’ true identity was revealed from Heaven.
Let’s consider another example. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread" (Luke 4:3). And another: “Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.” (Matthew 16:1) In each case Jesus was pushed to prove who He was and in each case He refused to engage at that level. The reason? Jesus knew Who He was and had no need in Himself to prove it to anyone! My point is that He left it up to His Father to reveal His identity and His mission to whoever His Father chose.
Many Christian women struggling for the chance to serve God in their giftings and callings get caught up in the wrong battle. Often the reason they do this is because they mistakenly think when they get recognition from those that doubt them they will finally be free to minister. More often than not the real battle we need to win is knowing without doubt within ourselves who we are in Christ. That’s where our freedom lies. When that particular battle is won in our own hearts and minds, the need to fight it externally will disappear. We will also usually find that God Himself will lead us into fields of ministry that may be entirely new and unexpected.
For a Christian woman struggling to emerge into fulfilling her God-given calling, sometimes after living under years of biased ‘women must submit’ theology, the question will surely confront her: “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you that authority?” Whether this question comes in the subtle form of raised eyebrows and disapproving glares, or is shouted from the pulpit, still it will certainly come.
When Jesus was confronted with this same angry question, He felt no need to justify Himself to His interrogators. (Matthew 21: 23-27) Neither should we. Again, it is God who we serve and God who must both cover us and equip us for service. It can be heartbreaking, lonely, and costly in terms of personal relationships to separate ourselves from churches and organizations that refuse to allow women to walk and minister on equal terms with their male brothers. Each woman in such a situation needs to hear the Holy Spirit’s direction for herself. However, we need to at least have the courage to be willing to follow the Lamb wherever He leads and prayerfully consider whether He may be leading us away from that system. Personally, I question the wisdom and motivation of women fighting for recognition within the priesthood of major church denominations. Jesus never contended for personal recognition or acknowledgment as a Rabbi, nor did He need the approval of men to fulfil His ministry and mission. He just simply lived it outside the established system, and God backed Him up completely.
Am I advocating rebellion towards established leadership? No, I am advocating obedience to a higher leadership. Obedience to God can be walked without rebellion as Jesus has exemplified, but whatever the cost, obedience to God MUST be our priority. More and more women are becoming convicted of this truth and are forging new ministry directions for themselves ‘outside the gates’ of denominationalism. The harvest is ready and waiting, but the journey can be costly and often lonely. Sometimes it is the cost that holds us back. If we have heard from God, are we willing to set out with Him and trust Him to provide all we need along the journey, including the fellowship of like minded believers?
Inevitably, for women emerging out of religious oppression into their right to follow Christ in fullness, accusations will be levelled of rebellion, error and of course that old favourite “Jezebel spirit.” Do I believe there is an actual Jezebel spirit? Yes I do. I have seen it operate in women and just as often in men, and it is vastly overrated. Does it surprise you that this demonic entity commonly known as Jezebel is not confined to the female gender? Demonic spirits are genderless for Jesus told us “that which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spirit is spirit.” They can operate wherever they find a place to hide and they are not fussy. This particular spirit operates hand in hand with the religious spirit, which is far more powerful.
More Christian women have been deeply wounded and slandered by the false accusation of operating in a ‘Jezebel spirit’ than can ever be known. Too often church leaders have hidden behind this over-used accusation as an excuse for not dealing compassionately with wounded women in their churches, or worse, to distract from their own struggle with sin rather than dealing honestly with it. Isn’t it time, the church in general began to mature into a place of true spiritual discernment instead of automatically labeling every woman who questions controlling male authority or begins to operate in her own God-given authority as a “Jezebel spirit”?
Regardless of the accusations that have been, or will be leveled at us in the future, we need to understand, the Lord has walked before us even in that scenario.
And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebub," and, "By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons." (Mark 3:22)
Have you been accused of having a ‘Jezebel spirit?” Jesus was accused of being Satan himself (Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies). Take courage in His own words:
"It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!" (Matt. 10:25)
As we as Christian women emerge from centuries of false and oppressive theology concerning who we are and what we can do, the single most important thing we can give to the generations of women who have gone before us is live the life that was denied to them. Time is short. Let’s not get caught up in the wrong battles. There are always going to be those who oppose us with endless doctrinal arguments. Let’s not spend one more moment trying to convince others we have the right to serve God in the fullness of our gifts and callings without all the traditional restrictions that have been placed on Christian women. There are always going to be those who would deny us that right. Let’s not be disheartened by accusation and persecution. Let’s seek to know who the Father says we are rather than who men and women say we are. And let’s determine to walk in the fullness of the freedom Christ bought for us at so costly a price. Let’s do it in the power of His love and His life within us. Let that be both our witness and our joy.
Veel Christenen leven op dit moment in gevangenschap. Het lukt ze niet om de volledige en gratis vergeving te accepteren, ze geloven niet dat ze het recht hebben om vreugdevol te zijn. Door de hele Schrift stort God Zijn olie van blijdschap uit over diegene die hebben geleerd om hun zonde te haten en Zijn gerechtigheid lief te hebben. Dat is wat het woord zegt over Jezus: “Gerechtigheid hebt Gij liefgehad en ongerechtigheid hebt Gij gehaat; daarom heeft U, o God, uw God met vreugdeolie gezalfd boven uw deelgenoten” (Hebreeën 1:9).
Mensen die hun zonden hebben afgelegd en wandelen met de Heer kunnen een worsteling hebben die nog niet afgerond is. Maar er is zo’n enorme aantrekking tot de Heer in hen, zo’n honger, dat de uitkomst onvermijdelijk is: ze zullen vreugde hebben!
Stelt u zich eens voor dat Jezus in het vlees verschijnt, gekleed als een normale man, en naast u gaat zitten. Een gewonde, verslagen Christen, met een sombere blik van schuld, veroordeling en angst in zijn ogen. U zult Hem niet herkennen terwijl Hij met u begint te praten:
“Houdt u echt van de Heer” vraagt Hij u.
U zult waarschijnlijk antwoorden: “Ja, heel veel!”
“U heeft gezondigd is het niet?”
“J-j-a” geeft u als antwoord
“Gelooft u dat Hij een ieder vergeeft die berouw toont en zich afkeert van zonde?”
“Ja, maar … het spijt me meneer. Ik geloof dat ik mijn Redder pijn gedaan heb”
“Als u uw zonde heeft beleden, waarom heeft u dan Zijn vergeving niet ontvangen?”
“Dat heb ik al zo vaak gedaan!”
“Geloof u dat Hij u 499 keer zal vergeven – iedere keer wanneer u berouw heeft?”
“Haat u uw zonde? Wilt u alleen maar de Heer”
“Waarom laat u zich dan door de duivel beroven van de overwinning aan het kruis, de kracht van het bloed van het Lam? Waarom eigent u zich niet Zijn vreugde toe en kijkt u niet omhoog?”
Geliefden, geef het niet op, en laat de vreugde niet liggen. U heeft het recht om Hem te prijzen – om te zingen, te schreeuwen en blij te zijn in de Heer – omdat u een Vader heeft die vergeeft!
What would you do if your friends were being killed because of their faith in God or the color of their skin? Would you take a stand to help them? What if you didn't even know the people being killed? Would you be willing to risk your own life to save theirs?
That is exactly what Corrie Ten Boom's family did in Holland in 1943. Germany had invaded their country as the Nazis took control of most of Europe. Corrie and her family could have helped the Nazis and been rewarded, but they didn't. Instead, they took a huge risk to help the Jewish people and paid dearly for it. Here is Corrie's story based on her own writings, speeches and interviews.
The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.
My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.
We may have been the Lord's only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We too, are to be overcomers ... bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.
Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" for I have found where it is written that Jesus said,
"He that overcometh
shall inherit all things:
and I will be His God,
and he shall be My son."
This is the future and hope of this world.
Not that the world will survive ... but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world.
Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. "Yes, the Lord will heal me," Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.
It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy's death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.
There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China, the Christians were told, "Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated ... raptured." Then came a terrible persecution.
Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, "We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes - to stand and not faint."
I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.
Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus' sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, "Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation." Then I write it down and learn it by heart.
When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, "Nothing could be any worse than today." But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part evil is spoken of, but on your part He is glorified."(I Peter 3:14)
I found myself saying, "Hallelujah! Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!"
In America, the churches sing, "Let the congregation escape tribulation," but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners.
Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.
Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.
The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, "Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?"
The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.
"When I was a little girl," I said, "I went to my father and said, "Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ." "Tell me," said Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?" "No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train." "That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength.
Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need ... just in time."
My African friends were nodding and smiling. Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing, "In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore." Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.
But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.
How can we get ready for the persecution? First we need to feed on the word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.
Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.
We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.
In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian's life.
Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, and a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am glad.
When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down.
For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him, for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life.
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him", (Job 13:15)
"for I know that to all who overcome,
He shall give the crown of life.
Corrie Ten Boom