As the 300 listened to the Bible Study at Lakewood Church on financial freedom, I was reminded of Gideon’s 300.
The Midianites had been terrorizing Israel for seven years with an army of 135,000. Gideon only had 32,000 men but that was way too many for God. God continually had Gideon cut his army until he only had 300 warriors who lapped, putting their hand to the mouth when drinking from the river. The ones who lapped were always battle ready as opposed to those who stuck their faces in the water.
I observe Joel closely; he runs a tight ship and watches with an eagle’s eye over his congregation of 52,000 thousand. Those who came to the Bible study were drinking of the water of life from the Bible but they are also people who pray and watch. We must have both to defeat the Midianites of our time.
Gideon’s 300 advanced against the enemy with merely trumpets, pitchers and lamps. But they advanced in faith, not in numbers, but faith in their LORD and their captain, Gideon. When they shouted, “The sword of the Lord and Gideon,” the Midianites fled in fear and started fighting one another.
In the case of the Lakewood’s 300 the cry is, “The Word of the Lord and Joel.” Watch the church possess “new ground” in 2019 with this battle cry.
My thoughts were confirmed by the prostitute giving me the note about another Judge and Deliverer, Ehud.
Joel is God’s man in Texas to MAGA. Joel’s not sitting around waiting to be raptured, nor is he a keyboard warrior criticizing others who do the work of the Lord differently. Daily he faces the enemy appearing to be as harmless as a dove to his detractors, but in reality, he is as wise as a serpent. Men who look upon the outward appearance see only the dove, but God and men who look at the heart see Joel as wise warrior.
A Joel detractor on one of my threads asked me what am I trying to prove in my writings on Joel. I am attempting to get men to see Joel as God sees him, a man whom God is using to revive his generation by giving them a vision to accomplish great exploits for God. Those lapping the water understand. The critics who bow down their knees as they drink fail to recognize Joel as a comrade at arms, who is doing the Lord’s work.
One can learn more about a church from its mid-week service (if they even have one) than from the main show, which is on Sunday. This is the reason I watched and listened to Pastor John Gray, who speaks each Wednesday night at Lakewood Church in Houston. He is a middle-aged black Pentecostal preacher, old school (though dressed mod) with the usual oratorical skills of the race. When Joel hired him to build up this service, the mid-week service had about 2000 to 2500; his preaching had brought it up to 11,000.
Pastor Gray opened by reminding the congregation that it was 20 years ago today, that founding pastor John Osteen passed to his reward. “We honor him tonight.” The widow, Doty Osteen, was in the service looking young, pretty and healthy. In 1981, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer with only months to live but the family relied on God’s report of life and health, not the doctors’ diagnosis of disease and death. After all these years, Doty remains a big player in the prayer squad at Lakewood.
The title of Pastor Gray’s message was, “GO GET IT!” His text was the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. He urged the people to do “their part’ if they are going to possess the promises of God. “Rise up for God’s glory; it is not a about you. Move and move now. Bethesda is here; the pool is here, here at Lakewood.”
He cautioned the congregation not to be too critical of the man, who had waited 38 years for his deliverance. He said, “At least he was by the pool. At least he was in church. He may not have had it all together but he was in the right place.” Most men never even get close enough to the water, which symbolizes the word of God, the truth. The pool also represents the church and the anointing oil by the elders.
“We always are asking God questions about why this happens or why something is not happening, putting all the responsibility on God. In this case God asks the question, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ In other words, Jesus was asking, ‘How bad do you want it?’ Jesus did not even bother to ask the man, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Nor did he tell him to get in the water. The miracle was not in the water; the miracle was in his heart and mouth. Nor did Jesus ask, ‘Do you want me to make you well.’”
Jesus just commanded the impotent man, “Rise, take up your bed and walk!”
“Men are often content to be partially free. To be completely free; we have to take personal responsibility. Misery loves company. Often people seek the company of other complainers and murmurers. The miserables will resent it, when one of their company rises out of the bed of affliction and walks away from their wretchedness, because it is evidence that they too can be made whole. But in reality, they don’t want to pay the price of wholeness. Don’t be satisfied with a partial healing or answer to prayer. Be made every whit whole!”
“God blesses when his reputation is at stake. He put his reputation on the line when he commanded the impotent man, ‘Rise up and walk!’”
Pastor Gray gave three point for receiving from God, whether it be healing, a job, a calling, a spouse, salvation, a financial need, etc.:
1. Eliminate distractions
2. Elevate determination, “It is my time; it is my turn. ‘PRESS toward the mark of the prize.’ His Word will come to pass.”
3. Eradicate doubt.
The Hebrew spies make the mistake of seeing themselves as grasshoppers instead of warriors and then they had the audacity to come back and speak to Moses that they were mere grasshopper instead of members of the army of the living God.
“Do something! Put on a suit even if you have no place to go. You are not going to get the job if you don’t apply for the job. ‘Faith without works is dead.’“
“The BLOOD of Jesus sets free!” shouted Pastor Gray. Joel’s critics tell me that Joel never mentions the blood, which is another point of misinformation. He preaches salvation through the blood (suffering and death of Christ).
The Osteens are actually in many respects old fashion; Lakewood, for a mega church, is about as close as you will get to “the old-time religion” with a flair of the new. For God loves to do a new work! Lakewood is Pentecostal, which may be the rub against his fundamentalist critics.
Three more points by Pastor Gray:
1. See what God sees; 2. Think what God thinks; 3. Speak what God Speaks.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”—Proverbs 18:21
“SPEAK LIFE, GO GET IT!” At the conclusion of his sermon, he had the congregation chatting, “GO GET IT!”
“Start clapping! Clapping shifts the atmosphere.” We often need to shift the atmosphere as did the lame man, when he took up his bed and walked. Be careful that you do not allow doubters and naysayers to be your circle of friends.
As happens at virtually every service at Lakewood, Pastor Gray gave an altar call. Among the crowd, which looked to be as large as the Sunday AM service we attended, many people stood confessing their faith.
Pastor instructed them, “Go to the New Beginnings room where there will be cake, cookies and refreshing drinks. No, I am only kidding; there will be none of that stuff there, just people who care and the Holy Ghost. You will get a free Bible and answers to any questions or additional prayer.”
Lakewood teaches men to take responsibility, which may be why so many oppose Joel. Some expect God to do everything.
What did this look like? Did Jesus actually pray for people in Nazareth and nothing happen? Did he make an attempt to do a mighty work and fail, because of the peoples’ unbelief? Or does it mean he knew their hearts and did not even attempt a great miracles except for healing a few sick folks?
The Pulpit Commentary seems to imply the former, “This is a remarkable expression. He could do no mighty work there. The words imply want of power – that in some sense or other he was unable to do it.”
I believe gifts of healing should be active in the church today and elders ought to lay hands on the sick and anoint with oil and pray the prayer of faith. When I pray for miracles or attempt to heal a few sick folks, I don’t get any better results than Jesus had in his hometown. But I don’t get discouraged out of obedience to God I press on and try again in the next town or situation.
A big part of the New Testament records the many miracles and healings which Jesus and the Apostles did. But isn’t it interesting that there is this record when even Jesus did not perform as well as he would have liked?
January 4th, on my 76th birthday, I am meditating on David’s mighty men, his army of rebels.
2 Samuel 23:9-10: “Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: 10 He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.”
The men of Israel were so dismayed by the forces of the Philistines that they retreated. But Eleazar of old heard the call, the same call which I answered 47 years ago, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”—Psalm 94:16.
Eleazar stood his ground that notable day with David and the other two men of renowned against the intimidating advancing army of Philistines.
Eleazar cut down the Philistines one by one until there was none left to fight him. Afterward, the other Israelites came back, but only for the plunder. When they found Eleazar, his arm was so exhausted from the battle; the blood on his hand had congealed to his sword and it had to be pried loose. His hand was also likely cramped from holding so tightly to his weapon for so long. Through the heat of the battle, as tired as he was, he was not about to drop his sword.
Since I took up the Sword of the Spirit in 1972, I have never put it down in the midst of the battle. It has become stuck to my hand and I wield it against the multitudes of students daily. I meditate about its truth and teach and proclaim it daily.
Bro. Jed & Co. are going forth to fight the Philistines with the Sword of Truth, knowing that we are not simply battling against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and the rulers of darkness, which captured our universities generations ago. Victory is ours! Defeat is unthinkable.
Christian warfare is a fight to the finish. David said that the righteous “shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing”–Psalm 92:12–14
With the passing of the years, I am asked ever more frequently, “How much longer are you going to preach? When are you going to retire?”
I reply, “Retirement is not in my plans; I intend on continuing as long as I am able. I want to die standing, wielding my sword.”
We encourage others to join us and we are thankful for those who have partnered with us to keep us supplied on the front-lines of our battle between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error, God and the devil. We are determined to be successful or die trying. Should we succeed in saving the multitudes, we will probably have hordes of Christians, who will then want to join us to make disciples for their organizations. Our purpose is to raise an army, who will love righteousness and hate iniquity.
Later, Eleazar, as part of the Three, broke through Philistine lines to Bethlehem to get a drink for David from a well near the gate while they were encamped in the Cave of Adullam, but David poured the water out as a drink offering saying, “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?”—2 Samuel 23:17
We don’t need hordes to retake the campuses for Christ; we require a dedicated few, like the Three, who go forth with the water of life in jeopardy of their lives. Join us in prayer, financial support or even actually on the battlefield–if you dare. Join the Church Militant!
Please consider sending a special gift of $76 to The CMUSA in celebration of my 76th birthday.
A constant theme of the traditional Christmas Carols is the joyous news. How can men of good will be in a state of depression, when the news of “peace on earth and good will towards men” has been broadcast by angels?
Are not angels still “bending near the earth” to communicate with men on clear nights, when their thoughts are directed above instead of below? Our concentration should be on eternal matters, especially during this season of Advent.
The peace that the angels proclaimed does not mainly speak of a lack of strife between nations but it sings of an inner peace within the hearts and minds of the faithful. There is little that we as individuals can do to stop nations at war. But we do have the choice of striving to make peace with those within our family, social and business circles.
On a clear night as you lay your head in “solemn stillness,” remember that to hear the joyful song and to be jubilant we need to also be solemn, serious, and in earnest. In the midst of our joy over our salvation, the blessed will mourn over the lost state of a Christ rejecting world. But it will be a comforting joy, found on the hope of Christ’s second advent.
The joy of the Lord is not light or frivolous, but a state of mind of gladness and blessedness.
Hearken unto the voice of your conscience. Is there anyone against whom you have ill will? If so, the unforgiving spirit can rob you of your joy and peace.
Are you warring against the convicting power of the Holy Ghost? Surrender to him now! He is a “all gracious King.”
Finally, at Jesus second coming, he will bring peace between the nations and the “whole world will send back the song, which now the angles sing.”
Gladly, we do not have to wait until an obscure future date. Sing now! Get out your old hymnal and sing back, this glorious song of old. Sing it over and over until you are refreshed from your state of gloom.
Alas, I know of no new song that comes close to capturing the glory that is Christmas as “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear,” written 169 years ago.
In 1739, Charles Wesley published the hymn, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!” One verse of the carol says, “Joyful all ye nations rise.” Nations rise and fall according to what they do with the gospel, which the angels heralded.
America joyfully rose out of the darkness of heathenism to become the mightiest nation ever, because of men, who first gave “glory unto the new born king,” instead of temporal kings.
Some call into question America’s Christian heritage, because they primarily associate our founders with political and secular fathers like Franklin, Washington and Jefferson, instead of men of great faith, like Methodist preacher, George Whitfield. He came to America from England in 1740 and preached up and down the colonies and became a leading light of the First Great Awakening.
Whitefield’s popular hymn book, A Collection of Hymns for Social Worship (1753), which went through dozens of editions, included, “Hark the Herald Angels sing. Whitfield and his travelling companions were known for singing on public roads as they journeyed from town to before the Revolution.
The father of American Methodism, Francis Asbury, was commissioned to America by John Wesley in 1771. After the Revolution, he became known as “the prophet of the long road.” On horseback he rode the circuit up and down the newly formed states with the Bible in one hand and the hymns of Charles Wesley on his tongue, including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” He established Methodist churches, which were instrumental in making America great in the first place. Asbury was one of the leaders of the Second Great Awakening.
Other evangelical preachers, many of whom like Whitfield and Asbury preached outside, were instrumental in laying the Christian foundation of America. They are rarely given the credit they deserve as founding fathers. Certainly, they were not Deists. Whitfield and Asbury were two of the best-known men of their times. Whitfield reached celebrity status.
“Hark! The herald angels sing.” Hark means to listen carefully. It is a strong word that we rarely here anymore. Herald angels are messenger angels. Herald is another word, which has fallen out of popular usage with the demise of city newspapers. Today, the favorite media term is breaking news.
The publishing angels proclaimed the birth of the new born king, which is the most important event of history; it was an announcement of peace to a world in strife, a promise of tender mercies to minds tormented with guilt.
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” —2 Cor 5:19
With the herald angels, disciples of Christ are commanded to preach the message of reconciliation between God and sinners; whereby sinners are transformed into saints.
This hymn is more than a Christmas Carol; it is an Easter hymn; it heralds, “Christ has risen with healing in his wings!” When men make peace with God through repentance and faith in his death and resurrection, distressed minds become serene.
Few heard the multitude of the heavenly host singing that night, because few were carefully listening. Anxious souls, hearken to those that Herald the truth, then your mind will experience a tranquility, which no medication can provide.
“Join the triumph of the skies.” Hark and Sing your way to a perfect peace this Christmas season, mediate and pray over the words you are singing. Then tell the world, that “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Hark, then herald the good news!
Before the faithful go into all the world to preach the gospel, we must first come to Bethlehem to adore or worship the Incarnate Christ, the Babe, born this happy morning.
Babies are weak and dependent creatures. Isn’t it astounding that our Savior is represented first as a child in a manger, born in obscurity? Lastly, we see him apparently in defeat, weakly hanging from a wooden cross on a mount for every eye to see.
God said to Paul in his suffering, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”–2 Cor 12:9.
The world wants power to escape weakness in ease and comfort, but the faithful are offered power to endure weakness in love and hope. Jesus ultimately triumph over suffering and death, when he rose from the dead on the third day.
For good mental health we cannot give into our fears and anxieties, or even necessarily count on God in this life-time to deliver us from terrible trials and distresses. The faithful should glory and be take pleasure in their infirmities, knowing God’s grace is sufficient to carry us through the difficulties and disappointments of life.
This Christmas morning join the choir of angles and the church triumphant in singing, “Glory to God, Glory in the highest.” Especially those that may be depressed, “sing in exaltation.”
Sing, sing, sing, until you have the victory!
Eusebius taught, “The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature.”–The Christian Examiner, Volume One, published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66
Thus, Eusebius confirms that the doctrine of original sin, or an inherited sinful nature did not come into prominence until Augustine (354-440), who developed his doctrine in his controversy with Pelagius (360-418), who was defender of the historical, traditional, rational, intuitive, and scriptural view of free-will, which was the prevailing view of the church until Augustine.