Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Pastor's Letter (06/07)

The word of God says in 1 Pet 4:17,

"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God" (NKJV).

Because of our "westernized" mentality, the word "judgment" automatically conjures thoughts of hellfire, brimstone, eternal condemnation and punishment. Thoughts of an impersonal, angry, grey haired, long bearded God, sitting on a throne in a far away, fantasy world, watching, waiting for some one to slip up so that He can beat them senseless with a rod. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a judgment that does involve punishment and eternal condemnation, reserved for the godless and unrepentant. But there is a judgment which begins at the house of God (the Church) which is a very different form of judgment to the one we have been programmed to understand. The Greek word for judgment in 1 Pet 4:17 is "krima" which literally means: a decision that is made in favor of or against an individual or group (of people) as a result of an investigation.

We are in a season where the Lord is searching, examining and investigating the hearts of His people to determine whether we are "fit" to go higher with and deeper in Him and if we are ready to handle the responsibilities, anointings and ministries He has prepared for us, or not. How does He do this? Through tests, trials and tribulations.

We see that the word of God often equates this type of judgment with tests, trials and tribulations. Examine verse 12 and 13 of the same chapter (1 Pet 4). It says;

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Pet 4:12 & 13. NKJV).

Then it goes on to say in verse 17,

"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the House of God."

The scripture here mentions a "fiery trial". What is a fiery trial? A fiery trial is an intensive, often extensive situation that the Lord allows us to experience (go through) for a season. It is unlike anything we have already encountered. It comes for the purpose of purifying us of everything that would hinder us from going deeper in and higher with God in preparation for what He is going to do in and through us.

Have you noticed, especially in the past few years, that the tests, trials, tribulations and persecutions have become hotter, more intense and grievous than ever before? That's because the Lord is drawing near to us for judgment (Mal 3:5). He is taking us deeper in and higher with Him and because the level of relationship, intimacy and faith He is taking us to is a higher one, a more intense level of purification and preparation is necessary.

It is not something to fear, be sad or grumble and complain about, it is something to rejoice in. The Lord wants you closer to Him and wants to do more in and through you. What an honor! Jas 1:2 says; "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials…" 1 Pet 1:6 says; "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials…" Paul writes in Rom 5:3;"and not only that, but we glory (rejoice) in tribulations…" (Parenthesis added), and 1 Pet 4:13 says; "but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."

Notice that each of these scripture versus agree on the fact that we are to rejoice in tribulations? Why rejoice in tribulations, tests and trials? Why rejoice when everything seems to be going wrong? Because we understand that the will and purpose of God for us in it is good (Jer 29:11). That all things work together for the good to those who love God (Rom 8:28) He is working all things together for our good. The Lord is changing us in the midst of the trial, removing everything from our lives that would hinder us from going deeper in Him and from receiving what He has for us, challenging us to look at and examine ourselves.

Just like gold is tried (tested) in fire to bring to the surface any impurities that would de-value it which are then removed by the smith once they surface, so too the Lord is testing us to reveal and bring to the surface any impurities, sins and weaknesses in our hearts and lives in order to remove them. This is for the purpose of forming Godly character, the character of Jesus, in us (2 Chron 32:31) and when you have a true revelation of this, you will rejoice.

The word of God in Malachi 3:3 says,

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness" (NKJV).

Just like a smith who sits at a cauldron, carefully observing as he is purifying the gold and then removes it from the fire once the purification process is completed, so too the Lord is with us; loving us, comforting us, correcting us, helping us, strengthening us, encouraging us and changing us in the trial and will deliver us out of it at the right time. He will not leave us to suffer in our situation but will put an end to it at the appointed time, when the work is completed (Rom 9:28, Phil 1:6).

Just the fact that the Lord is even taking the time to do this is an act of His unconditional love and mercy towards us. He rebukes and chastens those whom He loves and truly considers His children (Heb 12:1-13) this is a sign, proof or confirmation of God's love towards us. He is doing it for our profit, so that we may; "be partakers of His holiness" (vs. 10). Or, in other words; so that we may be free from the bondage of sin and be more like Him in nature.

Paul the apostle wrote,

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope, now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom 5:3-5 NKJV).

Paul here wrote that; "we also glory (rejoice) in tribulation…" (vs3). Why would he say that? Not because he was a masochist and enjoyed pain and suffering but because he understood God's perfect will for him in the situation, that the nature and character of Jesus Christ was being forged in him as a result of it.

In Rom 5:3-5, we see that three of the fruits of the Holy Spirit are mentioned here; "perseverance" (patience, longsuffering), "hope" (a form of faith or faithfulness) and "love." In Galatians 5:22, we see the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit - which is the manifestation of the nature and character of God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ) in the heart and life of a believer - and that three of them are; longsuffering, faithfulness and love.

Paul also mentions that perseverance produces character and character, hope. What character? Whose character? The nature and character of Jesus in us, and how is it forged in us? One of the ways is in and through tribulations (trials).

Tests, trials and tribulations bring out the best and worst in a person. God uses them to increase our faith, bring fourth our strengths, reveal and remove our sins and strengthen us in weakness. He tests us to reveal the sin in our hearts so that we may see it for what it really is, repent of it and be cleansed of it (2 Chron 32:31).

As a result, He is conforming us into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, forming Godly character in us which then makes it possible for us to love as He loves, to overcome every trial and to properly handle the responsibilities he has for us (Rom 8:28 & 29).

How do you get olive oil out of an olive? You squeeze or press it. How do you get wine out of grapes? You crush them. How do you get bread from wheat? You crush it and how do you get toothpaste out of the tube? You squeeze it. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we feel our soul is being hard-pressed or squeezed. The Lord has put us into or is allowing us to go through situations where He is using the circumstances to apply pressure to our souls which in turn brings our sins, weaknesses and impurities to the surface. Once they emerge, we see them for what they really are and when we repent of them, the Lord removes them from our life which in turn brings forth the nature and character of Jesus Christ which is being formed in us.

The word tribulation, in the Bible, is often used in relation to tests and trials. The word tribulation in the Greek is "thlipsis" Which means; pressure, tribulation, affliction, trouble, anguish, persecution, to be burdened "a pressing down, pressure, anything which burdens the soul". Just like a potter who takes a piece of clay, spins it on the potters wheel and begins applying pressure to different places on the clay with his fingers to create a beautiful vessel, so too God does with us. He is the potter, we are the clay and He is forming us into beautiful vessels meet (fit) for the Master's use (Jer 18:1-11).

We see in Jeremiah 18, the Lord reveals to the prophet that He is the potter, Israel is the clay and that He was forming them as a potter forms clay. Verses 1-6 states, "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" Says the Lord. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so you are in my hand, O house of Israel!"
 
When God revealed this to Jeremiah, Israel was experiencing a time of great hardship and trial. In verse 11, God says,

"Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the Lord: "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good" ' " (NKJV).

Notice that God uses the analogy of the potter forming the clay in relation to the pressure of hardship, disaster, tests and trials? That God warned He would send a disaster in order to cause His people to repent and turn from their sins? In Israel's case they were experiencing hardship because of their own disobedience. At times we find ourselves facing hardships, tribulation and persecution because of our own disobedience and carelessness. Because we have made wrong decisions or blindly rushed into something when we should have waited for the Lord or failed to use wisdom and discernment when it was necessary. But if we repent, the Lord will turn it all around for our good and will use it for our profit.

At times God uses tests, trials, tribulations and hardships to change us and bring us to repentance. Why? Because that is the only way He can do it. In some cases, it is the only way we will respond to Him especially if our hearts are stubborn and dull towards Him in a certain area. Usually, most will not turn to God and repent unless they have a reason to. Most will not seek the Lord and turn to His word unless they are facing a problem or trial. But rejoice!

The word of God says,

"No temptation (test) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (test) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor 10:13 NKJV. Parenthesis added).

Praise God! He has provided a way out! That is why Paul writes in 2 Cor 7-10,

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (NKJV).

There are certain things that we can repent of without having to go through a trial or disaster before we do. Don't wait until a trial comes or until the situation becomes disastrous before you repent. Do it today! If you have found yourself in a trail or disastrous situation and need to repent, Do it now! Do not delay!

There are certain tests, trials and tribulations that we will need to go through whether we have something to repent of or not. Persecution for Christ's sake comes not because we have done anything wrong but because we are doing what is right. Jesus in Mt 4 was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (tested) of the devil forty days and forty nights. Who led Him into the wilderness, into this time of testing and trial? Not the devil but the Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus was tested not because He was a sinner, sinned and needed to repent nor because He was imperfect, but as a man, needed to be tested (tried) in preparation for His assignment. We see that only after He passes the test does Jesus begin His public ministry (Mt 4:12-17).

If we are faithful to the Lord in whatever we are going through, choosing to remain with and obey Him when it is easier to give up and walk away, The Lord will provide a way out for you and will bring you out victoriously. We will come out of it stronger in God than we were before we went into it, closer to Him than we were before we went into it, at a higher level of faith than we were before we went into it and more like Jesus than we were before we went into it. We will be taken to the next level with and in God but if we choose to disobey when we need to obey Him, we will stay where we are and will be taken around the mountain again until we learn our lesson but If we still refuse to learn the lesson and repent, we will then begin to backslide and drift away from God. Don't ever let it get to this point!

In a situation like this, it is up to us. The decision is ours. We must choose to remain with, be faithful to and obey God no matter what is happening around us, what people say, what the enemy may say or do or how we feel otherwise we will fall. But if we choose to be faithful to the Lord then He will help us to be.

We see in Mal 3:5, the word says,

"And I will come near you for judgment…" (NKJV).

We see that the word judgment here in the Hebrew (mish-pawt) has the same meaning as the Greek word krima in 1 Pet 4:17; a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially (by a judge). We see in versus 2 and 3 that the coming near of the Lord to us for judgment involves purification. It speaks of God purifying the sons of Levi (Levites) which are a type of the Church (Christians). That's you and me! This judgment begins at the house of God! It begins with us!

He is preparing us for the next level with Him. For something far greater than what we have ever known or experienced before. He desires to reveal Himself to us and through us. But first He needs to purify us, to remove from our hearts and lives, everything that would hinder us from going to higher levels in and with Him. How are we going to preach righteousness, holiness and purity if we are not practicing it ourselves? How is God going to display His glory through us effectively if we are filled with impurity?

*In November 2005 the Lord spoke to me about what He was going to do in 2006. He said,

"My son. 2006 will be a year of "spiritual renovations". I will draw near to you to purify and prepare you for the coming years. I will draw near to my house to prepare it for a visitation of my Spirit."

"There will be a moving (shifting) of nations, peoples, lives and hearts. Even so, a shifting (change) in the atmosphere and of the land itself in certain places. I will draw near to you to examine your hearts so that I can make a decision on whether you are "fit" to go deeper in and higher with me or whether I will take you around the mountain again."

"Those in government (secular and religious), who abused their authority will be removed and replaced with those who can be trusted with the position. Those who have been faithful to me even through tests, trials and tribulations will be exalted. Those who were persecuted for following me and doing good when it was easier for them to give up and walk away will be vindicated."

"Those who have been faithful with the little they have been given will now be entrusted with more (much). And those who have been called to higher places of authority and responsibility, who were faithful to me and to my cause in the face of persecutions even death, will be exalted to replace those who abused their authority. Those who persecuted them will have to admit that the very people who they accused as being "of the devil" are anointed and ordained of me. Those who are first will be last and those who are last will be first.

On the 17th of October 2006, in an intercessory meeting, the Lord spoke to me and said,

"My son. Twenty days from now (Mon 6th November) I am going to do something which is of the utmost importance and seven to eight days after that (Mon 13th and Tues 14th of November) I will do something more."

"Lord! What are you going to do?" I asked.

And He replied;

"I am going to make decisions concerning the lives of my people, the Church and the world of such importance that it will change the course of your lives, the Church and the world for the coming years and for eternity."

"Those who have been faithful to me in tests, trials, tribulations and persecutions will be exalted but those who have not will be left behind. Those who embraced my discipline, repented and obeyed Me will be lifted up but those who resisted My hand will be brought low. During this time (season) people who have abused their authority will be removed from their positions and replaced with those who I can trust. Many miracles, conversions, deliverances and victories, the likes of which have never been seen or heard of before, will occur now and over the next few years as a result of the decisions I will have made."

"2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 will be some of the most glorious and victorious years for you and the Church. The Church will grow in power and influence during those years because of the decisions I am going to make at this time."

"What I am going to do will be unlike anything I have already done, such that if I were to tell of it before it happens, no one would believe it. Prepare yourself and the people for what I am going to do."

As He was speaking to me, I saw a vision of the inside of a house. It was old, shabby and in need of repair. As I looked, I saw a man enter the room. The man began re-arranging the furniture in the room. He moved a table from one end of the room to the other, a vase from off a table onto a shelf, a sofa from one room to another. He began repairing the walls and then the ceiling. When I saw this, I understood.

The room represents our hearts, a church community, the body of Christ, a family, relationship, marriage, religious and secular governments. The man re-arranging (renovating) the room represents the Holy Spirit moving into a situation to renovate, re-arrange or change it. The Lord is preparing us for a visitation!

The Lord spoke to me recently and said,

"I am about to visit your life, ministry, family, the Church and the earth in a way that I never have before but before I can visit a life, church, suburb, state, country or nation, it has to be prepared or made ready for me. I will not visit a life, situation or place until I first come (draw near) to it for judgment to prepare it for My visitation.

The Lord will not do all that He needs to do in a situation until He first draws near to it for judgment to prepare it for what He is going to do in and through it.

Malachi 3:1 says,

"Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold He is coming," says the Lord of hosts" (NKJV).*
 
*(Excerpt featured in "Pastor's Letter (2006)" audio version and prophetic message; 2008, the Year of Overflow). Click to view prophetic message; 2008, the Year of Overflow
The word of God here says; "and the Lord whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple." Paul the apostle wrote that we are the temples of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within us (1 Cor 3:16). The Lord is about to visit you! He is coming! He is about to change your life, family, church and situation but before He does He will come near to you to change your heart. To prepare a way for Himself. To remove everything that would hinder you from giving your whole self to Him, that would prevent you from going further with Him and that would prevent Him from doing all that He desires to do in and through you. The Lord commanded His people (the Israelites) to prepare (sanctify and purify) themselves before He came to them on Mt Sinai (Exo 19:9-11 & 14-15).

In Mt 3:3 it says,

"For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight' (NKJV).


John the Baptist was sent to prepare the hearts of God's people by calling them to repent of their sins in preparation for the coming of the Lord. Then "suddenly" He (Jesus) appeared. The Lord is about to visit you "suddenly!" Your answer, your miracle is about to come "suddenly!" Prepare and watch (pray)! (Mt 24:42-44).

If you were told that, say, the Queen was coming to your home for lunch at midday tomorrow afternoon, you would be quick to make sure your home was swept, clean and presentable for her coming. Yet, she is merely a human being. How much more should we make sure our hearts and lives are prepared for a visitation from the creator of the universe? Our creator.

It is time to repent and return to the Lord! To cast off (lay aside) every weight of sin which so easily ensnares us, and to run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1).

Stand firm! The word of God in Rev 3:10-13 says,

"Because you have kept My commandment to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. "Behold I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more, and I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (NKJV).

And in Rev 3:18-22,

"I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; And white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (NKJV).

The word of God also says,

"Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward" (2 Jn 8 NKJV).

Do not give up! No matter what is happening to you, how bad your situation may seem, what people say, what the devil or demons say or how you feel for we shall reap our harvest if we do not give up (Gal 6:9,10).

Do not be as those who waited, prayed, fought, stood, were patient, continued believing and doing good then suddenly gave up and lost everything when their breakthrough was right there, at the door, about to happen.

John the Baptist said in Lk 3:9,

"And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (NKJV).

Prior to and since the 6th of November many in authority and government, both religious and secular, who have been abusing their authority and positions, have been exposed and removed. Many history forming changes have occurred and will continue to occur as a result of the decisions the Lord has made. The Lord is preparing us for something awesome!

2007 is going to be one of the most glorious years in Church history and will be the beginning of a glorious and victorious season in the church which will continue over the next six to seven years and beyond. A season which will usher in the greatest move of God (revival) the Church and the world has ever seen. It is time to repent and return to the Lord! He is coming quickly! Don't be left behind.

The blessings of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

- Richard Pace

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