Divine Woodcutters — Guest Post by Ted Pavloff

The following message is one my dad taught and shared on his own website several years ago. He’s gone on to be with the Lord now, but I decided to share this message here to encourage some of my readers as well.


DIVINE WOODCUTTERS

“But I would that you should understand brethren, that the things that happened to me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel: so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, in all other places ….” Phil. 1: 12-13.

I suppose that hardly a day passes that we Christians don’t complain about something. We fuss about being handicapped in one way or another: that we are hedged in and are undergoing irritating and uncomfortable testing; or that we are tempted to the edge of our strength. Consequently, we grumble and are unable to do what we would like to do for the Lord.

The above Scripture text is one of many revelations into the ministry life of the Apostle Paul that proved the mettle of this man. His life as an apostle had been anything but easy. He was continually extinguishing brush fires of false teaching and practices in the churches he founded. He had problems with individual believers who were making a mockery of the Blood of Jesus. Add to that the repeated attacks of the unbelievers, Jew and Gentile, and you see a man who had plenty to complain about — but never did!

Are you contributing to, or hindering the advance of the Gospel? In the Scripture above Paul is writing to his beloved Philippians while a prisoner in Rome, and he is assuring them that his present circumstances are contributing to, rather than hindering, the advance of the gospel. What a remarkable statement

DIVINE WOODCUTTERS PHOTOThe key word in this Scripture is the word “furtherance.” I discovered that it was translated from a Greek word used in the first century to describe a company of woodcutters, who proceeded ahead of an army, and cut a road through a forest so they could advance. Paul is literally saying that his circumstances at the moment, were simply “divine woodcutters” cutting a path through the opposition so the Gospel might advance. Incredible! In prison, liberty gone, totally handicapped, chained to a Roman guard. But Paul says it is all God’s woodcutters making a road for the Good News!

You see, something was happening that the Roman government never anticipated: the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached from the pulpit of the Roman Empire. Detachments from the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s elite unit of 10,000 palace guards) were the soldiers assigned to guard the Apostle 24 hours a day. As each detachment came on duty, Paul saturated them with the Good News, and they would in turn carry the message back to the palace barracks. Gradually the entire unit and the palace staff were soaked with the Good News.

And there were even more “Divine Woodcutters.” Brethren in Rome, jealous of Paul, were preaching the Message more energetically, simply out of envy. Other brothers friendly to Paul, out of love, began preaching with added enthusiasm. Paul’s response? “It makes no difference to me the why’s behind it; the woodcutters are at work, the gospel is getting out, and I’m glad.”

The Apostle’s message here refers to experiences that eventually come to the life of every Christian. All of us may not spend time in a prison or experience anything as drastic as Paul. But there are times when the walls seem to close in upon us, and barriers appear out of nowhere — things like difficult personal circumstances or physical problems. All such roadblocks, even though they are the work of the enemy, or even our own failure to heed God’s Word, can be turned into “Divine Woodcutters” contributing to the advancement of the Gospel … Through you!

Listen, Beloved, we do not glory in hardships and problems; but in the midst of them, we can become closer to Jesus and more dependent upon the Holy Spirit. When we do that, we ultimately overcome all of them and grow more efficient in proclaiming the Word.

Paul accomplished some of his greatest work when limitations upon him were the strongest. Listen to him as he speaks in Second Corinthians 12:9, paraphrased: “My weakness is no big deal anymore. I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power instead of showing off my own power and abilities. Since I know my whole life is all for Christ’s glory, I just get happy about it, and about all the persecutions, insult, hardships, and difficulties … for when I am weak then I am strong and the less I have the more I depend on Him!”

 

Jesus: The Morning Star of Our Answered Prayers

 

MORNING STAR - Sharsharu - PX

Throughout Scripture, Jesus is identified and referred to as the “Morning Star” or “Daystar.” The reference, of course, is to the earliest star in our natural galaxy to show up in the heavens just before dawn. We often use the terms “morning” or “day in describing this star, but in actual fact this star is the forerunner of the dawn. It’s the star that comes before and announces that there is a new day about to break forth.

We find specific references to Jesus in this capacity in Numbers 24: 17, Luke 1: 78, 2 Peter 1:19, and Revelation 22:16.

(It’s important not to get confused with a scripture from Isaiah 14:12, which is translated erroneously in some versions of the Bible and seems to refer to Satan as a “Morning Star.”  However, the Hebrew word used in that passage is correctly translated, “O Shining One” — not “morning star,” and refers to Satan as he was in his originally created state of exceeding beauty and brilliance. The angels in general are referred to as shining ones and stars in other places in Scripture, and this reference in Isaiah is simply verifying that, although Satan was once a brilliant light carrier in the top levels of God’s angelic creation, he has fallen from that state and now resides on planet earth in darkness created by his own works and man’s sin.).

Jesus Christ, the Messiah is the only true and verified “Morning Star” in God’s original plan and in His secondary plan, which brought redemption to the human race after we messed up God’s original plan.

It’s important that we understand what the Morning Star does. It runs ahead of the dawn. It announces and brings in the dawn, if you will. So perhaps an even more accurate name for it would be “Star of the Dawning.” When we see that star in the natural, we say, “The new day is here.” But in actual fact, we don’t see evidence of being in the daylight, and we don’t begin our daily work or go about our normal daytime activities. Most people are still asleep — or wish they were — at that time. [ The exception is those unfortunate folks who have to work the night shifts. 🙂 ]

So what are we saying? That the Morning Star truly does bring in the new day, but we don’t actually have manifestation of daytime when we first look at the star. Recently, the Lord began to reason with me about this fact and shared with me that we need to respond in as much faith where Jesus is concerned and His answers to our prayers.

When we pray for anything based on God’s Word and promises, we have His guarantee that He will hear that prayer, and we will receive what we asked Him for. (1 John 5:16-17). Jesus brings us those answers. But we need to receive them by faith first — before we actually see, touch, and hear them in the natural realm. Remember, in Mark 11:24, He said when you pray, don’t doubt in your heart, but believe you have received what you prayed for, and you will have them. When do we believe we receive? Right then — when we pray — not after we see or feel the manifested answer. The manifestation comes in response to our believing.

So the next time we pray for something promised in God’s Word, let’s believe we receive those things granted right then. Let’s look to Jesus, who is the Morning Star — the forerunner of the answer. See Him coming to us — rising to meet our faith — running ahead of the manifestation. He’s bringing the answer as surely as Venus brings the new day. But just as we don’t see and feel the daylight and sunshine when we see Venus, so we may not see or feel the manifested answer to our prayer for period of time. That’s when we set our hearts on Jesus and say, “He’s the Morning Star of my miracles — my answer. He’s come ahead of its manifestation to announce that I have it.” And we need to grasp it right then and not let go until the full day — the full answer — manifests completely.


photo courtesy of Sharsharu @ pixabay.com



 

Navigating Life Using God’s Instrument Panel

PLANE - Holger Detje - PX

A few years ago, I heard Pastor Bill Winston, of Chicago, Illinois, sharing about his training to become a pilot. He talked about what he learned when going through his Instrument Flight Rules training, blindfolded. While working in the flight simulator, he thought that his plane was straight and level, but when he took off the blindfold, he discovered that it was actually upside down. That was when he learned just how important it was to learn to use – and to trust – the instrument panel on the plane. He then made this statement: “God’s Word is our instrument panel.”

As soon as he said those words, the Spirit of God just sort of leaped inside of me, confirming how true that statement was. And then I heard the Lord say this in my spirit. “Yes, My Word is your instrument panel, and the Holy Spirit is the control tower operator.”

Wow, that lit something up inside me. It was another great confirmation of how faith works and how completely we can trust the tools God has given us to get through this life successfully.

We are often navigating this life without being able to see things clearly enough to know what the next move should be. We cannot see what’s ahead most of the time, and we can’t see all the difficulties and enemies around us on all sides. Sometimes it’s like being in a storm, with clouds so heavy we have no idea which way is up, let alone north, south, east, or west. Sometimes our problems so overwhelm us that there’s no way to see the sun, the north star, or any lights on the ground.

But none of that matters. As long as we have an instrument panel in good condition, we can navigate this journey right onto the correct runway and make a safe landing every single time. We can find the solution to every problem, no matter how impossible it looks, as long as we follow the instructions for using that instrument panel.

And the first important point to be aware of is that we must trust that instrument panel. We must believe that what it’s telling us is the truth. If we do believe that, then, if we’ve spent time in training to learn how to use it, we know exactly what to do. And we get the results we wanted.

Let’s be sure we spend ample time training with our instrument panel – God’s Word. We need to read it, meditate it, pray over it, and let the Holy Spirit who wrote it help us understand it. Then we have to make up our minds that it is true – no questions, no doubts. When Pastor Winston was in that training session, his own intellect told him his plane was upright, straight, and level. If he had looked at his instrument panel, it would have told him the opposite. He would have had to make a choice at that point: trust his own intellect – and what he thought he knew – or trust his instrument panel. If he had been in a real flight situation, trusting his own thoughts and feelings would have meant certain destruction. But trusting the panel, which told him his own thoughts and feelings were way off, would have meant safety and success.

When it comes to a decision about whether what we see in God’s Word is true – or whether our own ideas, traditions, doctrines, or feelings are true – we’d better make the right choice. We’d better side with our instrument panel. And the great thing is that we don’t have to lean on those dials and gauges alone, because we also have a control tower operator – the Holy Spirit Himself – who will talk us through understanding those gauges even better and will help convince us that we really can trust what the control panel is telling us. Moreover, He’ll tell us how to apply what we are seeing there and how to respond for the best results.

So let’s practice every day using our God-given instrument panel. Let’s learn to trust it above all else. And when we find ourselves flying through a storm so dark and vicious that we can’t even tell which way is up, locking our eyes on that instrument panel will be second nature to us, We’ll read the gauges of God’s Word and tune in to our Control Tower Operator and let Him talk us right through that storm and into a safe landing every time.


photo courtesy of Holger Detje @ pixabay.com


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Encouraging Bruised Reeds and Smoking Flax

(by Sandra Pavloff Conner, Founder & President of Radical About Jesus Ministries)

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FLAX -- Ria Algra - PX

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.”  (Matthew 12:20, KJV).

These words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, described Jesus Christ, both in the Old Testament prophecy forecasting His coming, and in the New Testament as He carried out His earthly ministry. The words referred to the fact that Jesus was careful not to put down or belittle people who came to Him, even when they were weak in faith, or because they were lacking in some area of consecration or obedience. Now, to be sure, He did on occasion ask His own disciples, “Why are you fearful, or why did you doubt?” But those words were not intended as reprimands, but as questions to cause them to think and learn. They were in training, after all, and were supposed to be learning from Him and growing in faith and the demonstration of it. They were in a different position from the average person who came to Jesus for ministry.

Throughout His earthly walk, Jesus was kind and compassionate to everyone who had need of Him. If the people He dealt with had even a smoldering bit of faith, or just a heart-felt desire to connect with Him, He welcomed them and spoke and acted in such a way as to encourage them. To the sick man at the Pool of Bethesda, who evidently had some lack of initiative if he’d been supposedly “trying to get to the pool” for 38 years,  Jesus simply asked, “Do you want to be made well?”  And then, even though the man’s only response was to complain about not having any other people to help him, Jesus proceeded to heal him completely. (John 5:1-15).

And look at His treatment of Zacchaeus, who was a first-rank sinner (self-confessed) and who had no obvious faith or obedience going for him. Just the fact that Zacchaeus wanted to know more about Jesus — enough to climb into a tree so that he could see Jesus better as He went through town — was enough for Jesus to call him over and invite Himself to Zacchaeus’ house — showing him both honor and compassion at the same time. (Luke 19:1-10).

When his disciples told him of other ministers who were delivering people in Jesus’ name but were not following Him, Jesus said to leave them alone because if they were not “against” Him, then they were “for” Him. He didn’t rebuke those other ministers or even correct them. (Luke 9:49-50)

Wherever He went, Jesus was looking for ways to lift people up, encourage them, and help them grow in their relationship with their Creator.

Several years ago I read words by another minister that said, in effect, that we should be careful not to destroy someone’s imperfect faith because, at the time we’re interacting with that individual, it’s the only faith that person has. But it’s likely that, given time and encouragement, that imperfect faith will grow into something stronger and purer.

I’ve learned over the years that there’s a good deal of wisdom in those words, and I’ve seen people’s faith grow exceedingly. In fact, my own faith has grown, changed, grown some more, and changed some more over some sixty years of life as a Christian. So I know the potential is there.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about this particular subject matter lately, and I believe the reason is that the Lord is showing me it’s really important to encourage people in these areas. I think I’ve always been an encourager in general, but I know, at times, I also tend to hold back when I see that a person has areas of his life or faith that are most definitely unscriptural. I sometimes tend to concentrate more on trying to “help” them get “fixed” in those areas rather than encouraging the little bit of positive in them — that smoking flax of faith or that character trait that is slightly bruised.

But I believe the Lord is saying that I need to refocus and concentrate on encouraging for a while rather than fixing. It may be that enough encouragement of the positive — even if it’s just smoldering or somewhat bruised or damaged — will strengthen those people enough to help them go on and eventually get the other stuff fixed.

And, after all, God is the real “fixer” — not me. And I’m also aware that there are a number of areas in my own life that need “fixing” as well. Certainly, I need to pray for the people in my life where the negative areas are concerned, so that the Lord has an open channel to work in their lives. But I need to let Him take care of the fixing and use my energy and influence to encourage those individuals. Encouragement in the right places can sometimes put us in a stronger position so that we can better receive the help God has for us.

So, in this coming year of 2020, one of my primary spiritual goals is going to be to encourage every positive thing I see in every person I’m with, and to do so in the name of Jesus Christ — who never broke a bruised reed (damaged person) or quenched any smoking flax (smoldering faith.)  I believe if I’ll be faithful to do my part, He will be able to do all the rest of the work necessary to bring them to wholeness and overcoming faith.




photo courtesy of Ria Algra @ pixabay.com



 

What Does Christmas Mean to the Christ from Whom It’s Named?

WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS REALLY MEAN TO JESUS???
Everyone has different opinions and different feelings concerning the meaning of Christmas. What were Jesus’ feelings about coming from the throne into a tiny body that was laid in a manger at Bethlehem? That’s the focus of my most recent upload to Radical About Jesus YouTube channel: “Let’s Not Get Stuck At The Manger”

Make listening to and sharing this message part of your Advent Celebration this year.




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Joyful Medicine

JOY PEOPLE - CREDITS - darker


There is healing in joy, and God’s Word tells us that He gives us His own joy to deliver us from heaviness, to strengthen us, and to work as a medicine in our bodies and souls:

 
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4).

 
“Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).

 
“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”  (Psalm 30:11).

 
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted … to bind up the brokenhearted, to comfort all who mourn … giving them the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.”  (Isaiah 61:1-3).

 
“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10).

 
“A joyful heart is good medicine.”  (Proverbs 17:22).

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Living In The Miraculous

A guest post by Ted Pavloff

hands-reaching-gold-blurred1“And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number; to such an extent that they even carried the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. And also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits; and they were all being healed.” Acts 5:12, 14-16 (NAS).

It should be impossible to read the Book of Acts without being in a state of awe and wonder. From the Day of Pentecost, when they were baptized and empowered by the Holy Spirit, the apostles lived and ministered in the reality of the miraculous every day. And all of that blessing and power and gifting was not reserved just for them, but even laymen like Philip and Stephen moved powerfully in the Holy Spirit, shaking entire cities.

Angels appeared to those who obeyed the directions of the Holy Spirit and unlocked their chains. The world even experienced the first automatic door as Peter walked out of prison, following the instructions of an angel. In our text, Peter was so anointed that even people touched by his passing shadow were instantly healed. Healed cripples were leaping and dancing through the Temple concourse. All the power that was vested in Jesus when He walked the earth was now poured out upon the believers, and as Jesus predicted, they now embarked on the road of doing even greater things than He did. The result — through the power of the Holy Spirit, wimps were turned into warriors; the sick, blind, and crippled were healed; restoration and deliverance were the order of the day wherever the believing apostles and lay believers went.

Well, what about today? The truth is, we need more of Jesus, more of His saving, healing, and miraculous power, more of the presence of the Holy Spirit than in any previous generation. But can we have it? The answer is a big Yes! But take a look at the early church. The believers of the Book of Acts knew the cost of miraculous living, and they joyfully paid the price. In the midst of their new-found infilling of power, they constantly sought the face of the Lord — that is, they were a praying people. From chapter 1 verse 1, to chapter 28 verse 31, it tells how prayer moved God; regardless of their circumstances.

Some people today get wonderfully saved, even baptized in the Holy Spirit, but somehow soon find themselves in a state of confusion. Notice the case of Paul: struck down on the Damascus Road, he was out of commission; in fact blinded and totally helpless. Nothing happened until he prayed. He prayed for three days, and during that time he got to know Jesus in a true, intimate way. Even though he was a new convert, he needed no counselor, no prophet, no word of knowledge; he never felt the need to run all over the Middle East looking for someone to give him a “word.” Why? Because he prayed, and prayed, and prayed. As a result, he heard the Lord say, “I will show you. Go; just keep in touch.”

God moved powerfully with Paul, Peter, and all of the believers in that day, to bring the message of salvation and Holy Spirit baptism to the Gentiles. All through the Book of Acts we see phrases like “God said to them.” “The Lord said,” “The Holy Ghost said.” “The angel of the Lord said.” Those praying saints got the clear and unmistakable Word of God with amazing clarity.

There is a teaching in the land today that says you pray only once, or even not at all — just believe. And if you pray more than once over the same issue, you are demonstrating unbelief. This is contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures. Prayer is God’s idea; He invented it and expects — and in facts pleads for us to use it. When you pray, and bring alongside believing faith, obedience, studying and meditating on the Word, then you have the greatest power in the universe working for you. Under this kind of covering, prayer will be the switch that closes the circuit and allows the surge of power to perform the miraculous.

This truth is all through the Bible. Abraham’s faith was so strong it was counted to him as righteous. Yet he ran to the altar of God over and over again to pray. Moses had a one-on-one relationship with his Jehovah, yet he was a persistent pray-er. And Elijah: when he prayed for rain, he sent his servant seven times to look for a cloud. And they kept at it all the way to victory. You don’t give up. Then how about Daniel? It took 21 days of praying, along with some fasting and weeping, but did he ever get an answer!

God wants to talk to us, and He wants us to talk to Him. The promises in His Word are numerous and every one answered “yes and amen in Christ Jesus.”(2 Cor. 1:20). Beloved, He is calling to His Holy Remnant (that’s us) to be found faithful in prayer. And like He did the saints of old, He will lift us to that miraculous realm wherein we walk as prayer warriors. If we take the time to be closed in with Him, we will walk in that realm.

God’s will is His Word, and His Word is His will. The Scriptures say that faith comes by His Word. Then we activate that faith by our prayers — the pathway to having our needs met and living in the miraculous. Glory!



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