Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spice up your communication with God

Enjoy a spirit-to-spirit conversation with the Creator of the Universe
A recent issue of Christianity Today carried an article about the rather controversial gift of speaking in tongues. The headline said 'Assemblies of God asks whether its distinctive teaching is being lost in outreach efforts’. An interesting article and one of the many discussions about this topic.
I like to keep things simple and searched for a biblical point of view based on 1 Corinthians 14. In the first verses of this chapter three things stand out in particular and I like to share them with you:

1. When we speak in tongues we speak to God!
Now, who wouldn’t want to enjoy spirit-to-spirit conversation with the Creator of the Universe? We would be out of our minds to deny the opportunity to be in close contact with God. Millions of seekers and doubters all over the world are desperately trying to be in contact with a God they’ve never seen by means of nature worship, sacrifices, meditation etc. while at the same time laughing and criticizing the very thing the Bible says will work!
2. When we speak in tongues we utter mysteries.
So cool! We utter mysteries that only God can translate into common sense. 1 Corinthians 4:1 states that we are servants of Christ entrusted with the secret things of God. Some translations say the secret truths or mysteries of God. Every time we open our mouth to utter mysteries we make use of the trust given to us. We are setting the secret things of God free, releasing mysteries into our atmosphere. Now you might wonder what good that will do to anyone. Nothing, if not translated. 1 Corinthians 14:13 therefore says, For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. God will give us the translation, whether in some kind of revelation, knowledge, prophecy or instruction.
3. When we speak in tongues we edify ourselves.
It is good to stay under the word, to join bible studies, to visit conferences and read books and in this way learn from others, but we also need to edify ourselves! It is no coincidence that Websters dictionary says that to edify is to build or construct, a dwelling, house or temple, to instruct or improve morally or spiritually. I feel free to say that if we do not work on improving our temple, it will decay and eventually crumble.

Speaking in strange tongues, whether uttering a known or unknown language, is a gift the Holy Spirit has for every believer. God desires not only to communicate on an intellectually and emotionally level with us, but also on a spiritual level because God is Spirit and He alone knows the importance of the decoding of the mysteries, which are needed to edify and instruct the believers! Let’s not be ignorant about the gifts or fall into temptation to debate the gifts.

Let us desire them eagerly!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More, more, more

A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions
My husband and I have the privilege to be able to live on two continents. For years we have been dividing our time between Holland and Southern California, not only separated by thousands of miles but also by thousands of different cultural aspects. Our house in Holland is about the smallest house in town, it’s cute and cozy. We don’t have a lot of stuff there, simply because we lack room to store it! Here in Southern California however the house we live in is huge! Over the years we furnished every room en somehow the house became full with all kinds of things. I don’t think we intentionally wanted to fill it up, it happened slowly. It is amazing how that gathering mentality can creep up on you; more, more, more…
Jesus, as usual, has some very wise words on this. In Luke 12:15 He says,

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

Wow, a man's life does NOT consist in the abundance of his possessions, that goes against everything this country stands for. ‘The more I have, the more I be’ seems to be the main thought in our rich Western world. We have elevated the abundance of possessions to be a birth right, to a way of living; it is hard to think otherwise.
I think we better start listening to the words of the Master and change our thinking. It is NOT about what we have, but about who we are in Him and what we can give to others in need!

Search your heart,
Simplify your life
Share your belongings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Journal entry...

Fill the world with fruit that lasts
What a wonderful treasure your Word is, Lord. It is new every morning, fresh every day. Thank you for showing me Isaiah 27:6 which talks about the restoration of the people of Israel but when I personalize that, it talks about my restoration too: going from a selfish life without purpose to one that is destined to advance your Kingdom. When I personalize that scripture, it says: "Marja will bud and blossom, and fill all the world with fruit." What a wonderful pointer to Jesus' words in John 15:16 where He commands me to go and bear fruit, fruit that lasts. I am supposed to fill the world with fruit, the fruit of my lips, the fruit of my pen, the fruit of my labor and love. Starting in my own house, expanding to my city, my country and eventually the whole world! Fill the world with fruit that lasts. Love, joy, wisdom, teaching and truth.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sacred Sabbath journal & study guide now available

Book holds prophetic message for America
Your commandments are my eternal possession; they are the joy of my heart.
Psalm 119:111

When I wrote my first book Sacred Sabbath I had no idea the message would be so prophetic for the USA! I had no idea a time was coming upon this nation wherein financial crisis, rising unemployment, a political power shift away from God and an overall fear for the future would be so prevalent. I had no idea the extravagant American lifestyle would finally show her real face: a multi billion dollar debt that has most people in an iron grip.

Bleak picture of a doomsday America? Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be that way for those living by God’s Word. You can still have peace and joy in the midst of ever changing and sometimes frightening times. In the book of Joel a similar time of crisis, in which a nation is stripped from all her riches, is described. Joel 1:12 says, Surely the joy of mankind is withered away and maybe that was the worst thing of all! Loosing material stuff is bad, but loosing spiritual treasures like peace of mind and joy is a huge tragedy. If I look at the desperate attempts of people to find those treasures in our modern day society I feel free to say that mankind is loosing her joy.

In Sacred Sabbath I wrote an entire chapter on joy as well as some chapters with a prophetic message for America, which I call 'the corporate blessing'. I believe those words are very accurate for this time! I have created a study guide to go with the book, based on the sessions we had with our home group in Holland. It is a great tool for individual devotional time or for use in small groups. If you are looking for a profound and encouraging bible study this winter, make sure to order the book and print the study guide as shown in the sidebar of this blog, or contact me on how to order a study guide and journal.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Highly valued among men

All things of earthly value will not impress God
What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight
Luke 16:15
Ouch! Jesus knew how to silence a crowd! He must have had everyone gasping for air when he said the above words. They were His closing statement on a long debate about money. It doesn’t say in the Bible whether the people argued with Him after these words, most likely everyone went home in deep thought about this fundamental Kingdom principle. I believe His words still have the same impact today; for one thing, they will make us think!
What do we regard as ‘highly valued’ in our society? Education, career, a famous name, wealth? In a way, it doesn’t matter what we come up with, for all things of earthly value will not impress God. That makes me wonder why we do spend so much time and effort to reach goals that might impress our fellow men, but are of the least importance to God. Education, career, money… Yes, they are a healthy part of our life as stewards here on earth, but they should never be our main focus! We must be careful not to get carried away! The Bible teaches in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 that we should train ourselves to be godly, because godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life an the life to come! Training to be godly cannot be done according to a 5-step plan nor will we graduate after 4 years. It is, however, very promising to know that this education has value for all things!
Let’s reverse our priorities!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Prayer for America

Billy Graham's Prayer For America

Heavenly Father,
We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and
to seek your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,'
but that is exactly what we have done.
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children
and called it building self esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography
and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers
and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today;
cleanse us from every sin and set us free.