Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ebenezer: A New Years Carol

There is something about the lyrics of the classic hymns that seems to strike my heart in a way that most modern songs don’t. Here is a verse of one of my favorites, “Come Thou Fount”:

Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I'm come
And I hope, by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed his precious blood

The first stanza say’s, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I come.” If you are anything like me, when you see the word Ebenezer, your mind immediately goes to a famous Charles Dickens novel and you feel like saying, “bah, humbug”. But the word Ebenezer actually comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “Stone of Help” and is found in the Old Testament.

We read about Ebenezer in a story found in First Samuel. Because of the sin of Eli’s house and of the nation, Israel had been defeated and subdued by the Philistines. After about twenty years they came to a place where the pain of staying the same was greater then the pain of change. Samuel told the children of Israel, to repent and turn from their idolatry, which they did, and God caused them to win a decisive battle against the Philistines that brought peace to Israel all of Samuels days. After that great victory, I Samuel 7:12 says;

“Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.”

Ebenezer was located near Aphek, which is in close proximity to Shiloh where the tabernacle was. For generations to come, as Israelites would be making their regular pilgrimage to Shiloah, they would walk past this giant stone and remember that in that very spot, the Lord helped them. It served as a timeless memorial of what the Lord had done for them. Hitherto, hath the Lord helped us.

I remember earlier this year we were preparing to go to India for a crusade. I had just returned from a crusade in Pakistan when I got an email from our crusade director in India saying that he desperately needed a large sum of money within a week. I checked the bank account and there was only a small fraction of what we needed. I had no way in the natural to provide the money, but I replied to him and said. “you will have it”. I knew that we needed a miracle, so I started sending money to other evangelistic ministries. (If what you have in your hand will not meet your need, It can’t be your harvest, it must be your seed). I went to the mailbox every day looking for a big donation…but it never came. There were some pastors who had promised to help us, but they never called. It came down to the day before the money was due. It was late in the afternoon and still no money had come. Suddenly my phone rang. It was someone who felt led to donate some money. A few minutes later it rang again…another donation. By the end of the day, through several individuals, every penny had come in. It came from people that I never expected it to come from and right in the nick of time.

Now, whenever I look at the pictures of that crusade in Madurai, India, they are an Ebenezer to me. When I see the picture of the little deaf girl that was instantly healed and whose Hindu parents received Christ as a result of that miracle, I say hitherto hath the Lord helped us. I remember His faithfulness. I remember His provision. I remember His goodness. These memories are a rock for my faith.

As we come to the close of another year, I wonder if you can stop for a moment and take a stroll down memory lane. How many Ebenezers do you see? How many times has the Lord helped you? How many times will you need to point to some memory and say, “there…in that place the Lord helped me.” How many times has He proven His faithfulness to you? Maybe you should have died in a terrible accident this year, but the Lord helped you and protected you. Maybe you didn’t know how you were going to pay your bills, but somehow He provided for you.

These things are Ebenezers in your life. Turn these stones of remembrance into an altar and worship God for His goodness and let them remind you to trust Him in the year to come. Thus far He has helped you, and He will continue to help you. Goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life… He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Perhaps you are facing a year of unknowns and perhaps anxiety is trying to attach itself to your heart. Just point to those Ebenezers and remember that He has always been faithful to you and the challenges of 2008 will turn out to be nothing more than a whole new set of Ebenezers in your life. The Rock of Ages is your Stone of Help. Have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Message

John 1:(1) ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Verse 3 says that the life of Jesus was the light of men. In John's day, he could not have imagined how accurate that statement would be. The life of Jesus is truly the light of humanity. He stands like a sparkling diamond among the dark coals of human history. His life has brought light to an otherwise bleak and hopeless world. If you could view the timeline of human existence all at once there would be one spot that shines as bright as the eastern star. That light would be the life of Jesus.

His existence split time in two. Those before Him looked ahead in anticipation of His coming and those after Him have all looked back to Him in reverent awe...His Life is the light of men. His coming changed the world. Because of Jesus we can point to an innumerable host of improvements that have come to the world. For example, health care and care for the mentally ill came about as a result of the influence of Christ. In fact, the council at Nicea in 325 directed bishops to found hospitals in every city with a cathedral. In 369 the first of these was built in Caesarea. In a couple of generations these hospitals had spread to the far flung corners of the world. “Christian hospitals were the world’s first voluntary charitable institutions”. Similar examples can be sited to prove that from the teachings of Jesus, women’s rights were granted, democracy was established, care for the poor and need was initiated, racism was restrained and slaves were freed. His influence has also impacted philosophy, science, literature, history and nearly every imaginable aspect of the world. His life was the light of men

He is the light of society. He is the light of literature, He is the light of philosophy, He is the light of history. He is the light of spirituality. He is the light of our existence.

Billy Sunday once said, “When the bright cloud hid Him from the gaze of those who loved Him with a devotion that took them to martyrdom, the only record of His sayings was graven upon their hearts, but now libraries are devoted to the consideration of them. No words were ever so weighty or so weighed as those of Him who was so poor that He had no where to lay His head. The scholarship of the world has sat at His feet with bared head, and has been compelled to say again and again, "Never man spake as He spake." His utterances have been translated into every known tongue, and have carried healing on their wings wherever they have gone. No other book has ever had a tithe of the circulation of that which contains His words, and not only that, but His thoughts and the story of His life are so interwoven in all literature that if a man should never read a line in the Bible, and yet be a reader at all he could not remain ignorant of the Christ."

The life of Jesus is the light of men. No one described the brightness of his life better than S.M. Lockridge in his famous sermon "That's My King"...the audio portion of the video below is an excerpt from that message.

From the natural understanding alone, what a shame it was when the life of the shining star of the human race was senselessly and mercilessly killed on a cross. But the light of Jesus did not go out on that dark day 2000 years ago at Calvary. The light of men is still shining because today He lives in millions of lives. In Mat 5:14, Jesus said to His followers; “You are the light of the world”. We are His hands, we are His feet and we are His light to a dark and hopeless world. There is hope for the human race because the light of Jesus shines in our lives.

This holiday season, let your light shine. Be a blessing to someone and cause them to glorify God.
From the staff, board and partners of CTE…have a very Merry Christmas. We love you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pictures & Video from Abakaliki

I just received the report that 782,263 decision for Christ were recorded for the 5 days of meetings in Abakaliki, Nigeria...Praise the Lord! I have just added pictures and video from this crusade. To see them just scroll down and look at the original blog entries. I have placed the pics and videos in the appropriate places...Enjoy.

Abakaliki, Nigeria Day 1 (By Reinhard Bonnke)
Abakaliki, Nigeria Day 2 (By Reinhard Bonnke)
Abakaliki, Nigeria Day 3 (By Reinhard Bonnke)
Abakaliki, Nigeria Day 4 (By Reinhard Bonnke)
Abakaliki, Nigeria Day 5 (By Reinhard Bonnke)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Abakaliki, Nigeria - Powerful Conclusion

Tonight is the last night of the Gospel Crusade here in Abakaliki, Nigeria. Right now I am standing in the midst of the people in this gigantic crowd of 360,000. Evangelist Bonnke has just finished preaching the Gospel and is now praying for the sick. We have been told that Abakaliki is a tough place for evangelism, but the Lord has broken through, and another mighty harvest of souls has taken place.

Last night I had the opportunity to preach the Gospel again. I also prayed for the people to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and prayed for the sick. There was a mighty flood of salvation and healing. Tonight a witch doctor testified that last night he and his whole family received Jesus. They burned their witchcraft items in the big barrels and have confessed Jesus as savior. Burning Witchcraft ItemsThe Ex-witch Doctor and His Son

One woman testified tonight that she had been blind for 15 years. She had left the meeting without receiving a miracle, but in the night she dreamed that Jesus came and touched her. In the morning when she opened her eyes, she could see!

There is much rejoicing here and when the people begin to dance the dust rises up in a thick choking looks like the smoke at a rock concert. It is very different conditions from the last crusade in Agbor where most people were standing in the mud up to the ankles. Peter Vandenburg said to me, "We went from the mud hole to the dust bowl". Whether through dust or rain or mud, the people come and Jesus saves.

Tomorrow we begin the long journey home. Please pray for protection in the sky and on the road.

I am looking forward to a short break now for the holidays with my family then we are off to Australia and New Zealand.

Thank you for all the prayers. The Kingdom of God has truly advanced this week and all of heaven is rejoicing. Praise the Lord!

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Everyone Who Calls on the Name of the Lord Will Be Saved!

Tonight the crowd grew to 200,000! I preached to the people about calling upon the name of the Lord...and call they did. Before I could get to the invitation the people spontaneously erupted in prayer...calling upon the Lord for salvation. I still led them in an "official" prayer of salvation, but I think that the Lord heard the cry of their hearts first.

A young girl who was born blind was healed tonight. I have been imagining what it must be like to have never seen anything in your life and suddenly your eyes are opened and before you is this spectacular sight of 200,000 people. What an amazing thing. Girl Born Blind is Instantly Healed!!

This afternoon the tech team cooked a wonderful Christmas dinner that they imported from Britain, complete with Turkey, Ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce...the works. We sat in the technical trailer on the crusade grounds, ate a delicious dinner and had a wonderful time of fellowship. These are memories I will never forget.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crowd Explosion

Tonight the tide rose on every level. More people, more miracles, more excitement and more salvations. The crowd nearly tripled tonight going from 60,000 last night to 160,000 tonight! Evangelist Bonnke preached a classic message about the Blood of Jesus and broke the curses of the land calling them by name. After the prayer for the sick there seemed to be an explosion of the miraculous. All over the field dozens of crutches were being held high as former cripples made their way to the platform to testify. It was a whirlwind of salvations, healings and miracles...praise the Lord!

This morning I preached in the Fire Conference and there was a great reception to the message. The people are so hungry for the Word of God. Tomorrow night Evangelist Bonnke has invited me to bring the message and I am looking for another increase in the tide.

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Mighty Miracles!

Tonight was the first night of the CfaN crusade here in Abakaliki. There was no warm up started out with a bang. Everyone had come with great expectation and they were not disappointed.

There are certain aspects of these crusades that you cannot experience unless you are there to see it. My favorite one is after the prayer for the sick; all over the crusade grounds there are pockets of activity. Everywhere you look something is happening. Over here someone's crutches have gone up in the air and everyone around them is going wild. On the other side someone is being delivered from a demon. Tonight, the whole field was a boiling cauldron of activity. All the commotion caused a cloud of dust to rise up from beneath the thousands of feet nearly obscuring vision, but out of the cloud came powerful testimonies of God's healing power.

Several people were healed from paralysis...some so thoroughly it was nearly impossible to tell that anything had ever been wrong. Blind eyes were opened. The deaf and dumb spoke and heard. The testimonies kept coming and coming. It was truly a glorious beginning and I'm sure there is much more to come.

Tomorrow morning I have been invited to minister to the pastors at the fire conference and Friday evening I will be preaching the evangelistic message in the crusade. We all appreciate your prayers throughout the week as we minister here in Abakaliki. More to come...
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