Awesome Signs – Part Five

Jerusalem Christian sought miracles with faith and proper motives. They were  not seeking money (Acts 8:18), a demonstration of human power (Acts 14:11-15), or a hypocritical ritual (Acts 19:13-16). Miracles happened as believers tapped into the mind of the Lord, walked in it, and acted in faith — not presumption. 

In fact, 1 Samuel 15:23 warns against the sin of presumption. 

“For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and the sin of presumption is like the evil of idolatry.”

The Purpose of Miracles:

The purpose of miracles are as follows:

1> The deliverance and preservation of God’s people based on His love and compassion for them.

Ten times the Gospels say Jesus was moved with compassion (pity). Miracles testify to God’s love and caring relationship with His people

Mark 1:41 “Moved with pity (compassion), he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’”

2> The encouragement of real faith, in believers and unbelievers.

The manifested power of God always causes people to stand in awe and have a healthy fear of God. Faith is sometimes built upon this kind of experimental knowledge, people literally experiencing the power of God in real life.

Acts 5:11 “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” 

3> Miracles validated Jesus’s message and His identity.

John 14:11 “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

4> Miracles accompany evangelism and the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Miracles are part of the Great Commission.

Mark 16:17-20 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”

Romans 15:18-19 “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ…”

Dunamis (power) is given to dynamite people in the Kingdom of God. Those who are not passive. When men believe the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom and see miracles, the Father is glorified in and through the Son.

Signs and wonders have not ceased or disappeared from the Church. The Word still needs confirming. Society still needs to know that the Kingdom of God has come, and the members of the Church have an ongoing need to see the demonstration of God’s power. Signs and wonders are basic elements of Church life. 

Sometimes I Fail To Embrace Eternity

Sometimes I Fail To Embrace Eternity

In the year 2000, Australia, “the Land Down Under,” took the world stage for two special events

The welcoming of a brand new millennium and the summer Olympic Games

As the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000 Sydney was the first city on the planet to welcome the new millennium

A barrage of fireworks exploded from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, lighting up the entire port

Over one million people gathered to watch the New Year’s celebration — while millions more watched it on television

Some of course, intently watching their computers to see if the Y2K bug was indeed fact or fiction

Later that summer, Sydney hosted the Olympic Games

Once again, the Harbour Bridge was the central focus as billions of people watched thetelevised opening ceremonies

These two events shared a lot of things in common Read more

Recent News

Check out these BLOGS!!!

 

This week Ralph will be writing a series of blogs discussing “apostolic fellowship.” The Bible states “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42). So, exactly what is “apostolic fellowship”?

We will be looking at the early church as revealed in the Book of Acts and examining what was really involved in fellowship in the Church and then compare it to what passes as fellowship in most churches today. A series of five blogs to help you see the Church as Jesus designed it to be when He said that “He would build His Church.”

 

You may also sign up and have them automatically delivered to your inbox each week day.

 

 “Sometimes I Fail To Embrace Eternity.” 

C.S. Lewis once wrote: “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.” How profound and how true. As believers we should be focused on that which is eternal. However, often we become so involved in the “now” and the daily routine and events of regular life that we can fail to even think about eternity let alone embrace it. 

Eternity is woven into the gospel! And when we begin to grasp what eternity really is and what it means for today and then tomorrow we come to realize that we need to embrace eternity and let it influence the way we live and relate to others. Embracing eternity brings so much of life’s daily details into an eternal perspective which changes our values and our priorities and then compels us to tell others about Jesus.

As believers we need to “embrace eternity” and allow the teaching of Scripture about the ‘eternalness’ of eternity alter the way we view and live life.

Click here to read and hear the full teaching…

Posted as an audio on Podbean under Ralph Howe Ministries.

 

 

“Sometimes I Don’t Submit.”

Looking at the life of Solomon who became king after David his father, Ralph will be looking at the benefits of submitting to God as well as what happens when we fail to submit and follow ‘the desires of our heart.’ 

An in-depth look at what it means to truly “submit.” And, why it is that we don’t submit and trust God in the daily affairs of life. We will learn how not to trust your heart but to trust God with your heart. There is a vast difference between the two. 

An amazing look at the life of the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) and how he still made one of the most basic mistakes in life – He followed his own heart’s desire.

click here to read and hear the full teaching…

Posted as an audio on Podbean under Ralph Howe Ministries.

 

 

 

 “Sometimes I Don’t Feel Forgiven.”

We are called, as believers, to forgive others as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32). However, because we often don’t feel forgiven, at times we find it difficult to forgive others. 

We will be looking at the power of forgiveness (think: Stephen forgiving as he is being stoned to death – Acts 7). And what it truly means to be ‘forgiven in Christ.”

Most believers who find it difficult to forgive others finds themselves angry at others and even at themselves. Anger in itself is not wrong but anger must be handled or it becomes bitterness which can totally destroy your spiritual and relational life. So, Paul writes: “Be angry, and do not sin.”

So, we will look at what forgiveness is and what it is not. In the process we will find our way to experiencing the freedom that forgiveness given and received can release within us.

Click here to read and hear the full teaching…

Posted as an audio on Podbean under Ralph Howe Ministries.

 

 

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Awesome Signs – Part Four

In times of revival, the Holy Spirit renews supernatural and miraculous manifestations in the Church. Then the Word of the Lord comes and clarifies the meaning and purpose of the miracles. The Word restores he Church and enables it to fulfill its mission in the present generation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Miraculous works of God occur internally and externally. The greatest miracle takes place internally as the Lord changes the hearts of men and forms the image of Christ in them. The power of God works to strengthen Christians to carry out the mission He has given them.

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…”

Colossians 1:11 “… being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”

Externally, miraculous signs and wonders of God confirm the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, making the message more persuasive. The external working of God’s power always serves the harvest.

Mark 16:20 “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The obedience of man combines with the will of God to produce miracles. Only God in heaven initiates miracles, but they become reality as believers cooperate with heaven by faith. The sequence of events appears as follows:

1> Hearing the Word of God 

When believers have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, they can respond obediently to the Word and see the grace and power of God released to do His will.

Acts 9:17-18 “So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized…”

2> Believing the Word

When believers hear the Word, they must receive it and be willing to act upon it, no matter how silly that might think it looks. 

Acts 14:8-10 “Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he sprang up and began walking.”

3> Speaking the Word

God’s power flows through His Word (see Genesis 1:2). Whenever God desires to perform a miracle, He seeks an instrument through which He can speak or articulate His Word. With the speaking of the Word, power is released.

Acts 3:6-8 “But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”

4> Acting on the Word

An action must correspond to the Word. A step of faith begins the process of seeing God’s sovereign will accomplished

Acts 27:22-25, 31-32 “Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told … Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.”

More next time

Awesome Signs – Part Three

The truth and dynamics of the New Testament Church are being restored, including the working of miracles and sign and wonders. A miracle is a supernatural event that breaks into the natural. It is the spiritual breaking into the natural or the material world. 

One Greek word translated miracle is dunamis. This word is used 113 times in the New Testament. It means inherent power or the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. It refers to God’s energy, power, ability, influence, wealth, or might. It is translated power(s) 77 times; mighty or mightily, 13 times; miracle(s), 8 times; strength, 7 times; virtue, 3 times; ability, 1 time; and abundance, 1 time.

The New Testament Church carried on its mission in the power of the Holy Spirit. This pattern will continue until the second coming of Christ, according to the Bible. Spiritual power will increase greatly before the Lord’s second advent. The Church will move in great power, and so will the domaine of darkness. Therefore, believers will need to distinguish God’s miracles from other miracles. People attracted to spiritual power just for the sake of power open themselves to delusion or deception.

Key passages using dunamis include:

Revelation 11:6 “They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.”

2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders…”

Another important word pertaining to miracles is the Greek word semeion. It refers to a distinguishing mark by which something is known or a visual sign by which something is recognized. It is used 61 times in the New Testament. It is translated as sign(s) 34 times; miracle(s), 22 times; wonder(s) 3 times; token, 1 time; and tare, 1 time. 

John uses semeion in his Gospel to refer to miracles that are signs of Christ or that reveal something about Christ’s nature. For John, miracles always pointed to something about Jesus as King or about His Kingdom.

John 6:14 “When the people saw the sign that he (Jesus) had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

John 12:18 “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he Jesus) had done this sign.”

Signs never are an end in themselves. They are signposts, prophetic markers, or supernatural revelations of something beyond themselves. In the New Testament they were signs that the Kingdom of God has come, For example:

      • Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11) and then cleansed the temple (2:12-25), demonstrating that the New Covenant era had come.
      • Jesus fed the 5,000 (John 6:1-15) and then revealed Himself as the Bread of Life (6:25-59).
      • Jesus healed a man born blind (John 9:1-7) and revealed Himself as the Light of the World (9:5).
      • Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44) and revealed Himself as the Resurrection and the Life (11:25).

People who sought miraculous signs as an end in themselves were condemned by the Lord. They sought miracles for self-centered reasons or for personal blessing. Bored religious people even sought signs for entertainment.

A third Greek word referring to the miraculous is Ergon. It refers to a deed, action, or accomplishment. It describes something brought into being by work. It is used 177 times in the New Testament and his usually translated work(s) or deed(s). This word clearly shows that the work of God includes miracles.

John 5:20 “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.”

John 5:36 “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.”

John 9:3-4  “Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.’”

The work and words of God are related. Every work has within it a word. Every miracle has a message. Miracles encourage people to believe the message.

John 14:10-11 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

Jesus promised that the pattern of ministering the work and words of God would increase in the Church.

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

More next time…

Awesome Signs – Part Two

We are looking at the awesome signs. wonders and miracles  that the early Church experienced in book of Acts. Last time we saw that they experienced God’s power and presence in many ways including healing and deliverance. Let’s continue the discussion.

PROPHECY

The Lord gave the early disciples and followers of Jesus supernatural messages and prophetic insights. These came to the early Church in many different ways,

Acts 13:2 “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”

Acts 21:10-11 “While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

Acts 16:9 “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”

You will find further references to the prophetic in Acts 18:9; 23:11; 27:23.

TRAVEL IN THE SPIRIT

Philip received supernatural transport from the Judean desert to the city of Azotus.

Acts 8:39-40 “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.”

UNUSUAL MIRACLES

The Lord tailored miracles to meet particular circumstances in specific places. Customized miracles clearly demonstrated God’s power and authority as well as His love and care in unique situations and conditions

Acts 19:11-12 “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

JUDGMENT

Supernatural judgments took place, resulting in an even greater fear of the Lord.

Acts 5:5 “When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.”

Acts 13:11 “And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.

Acts 12:23-24 “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied.”

The Church was not passive about the miraculous. Believers prayed and interceded, asking the Lord to release signs and wonders in their midst.

Acts 4:29-30 “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

The Church today understand very little about miracles. In fact, modernism denies the possibility of genuine miracles. In contrast, the Jerusalem church saw heaven’s constant involvement in the affairs of men through miracles, signs, and wonders. Because the first Christians were more aware of heaven’s involvement, they were more effectively involved as partners with heaven in carrying out their mission.

So, because miracles, signs and wonders were such a vital part of the life and expansion of the early church we should look further into this and come to understand “miracles” more fully.

Next time… 

Awesome Signs – Part One

In the book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit accomplished through the first apostles we read: “Then fear came upon every soul and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:43). 

Supernatural signs and wonders revealed God’s presence in the early Church. Through miracles, God gave tangible, visible evidence that He, who is supernatural, was in fact present. Miraculous signs occurred frequently. They were part of the ongoing, normal lifestyle of the Church. The testimony of signs and wonders created a healthy fear of the Lord and a sense of wonder in the people. God used miracles and wonders to authenticate the leaders He sent and to prove their message was His own. Miracles also commanded the attention of people outside the church.

Hebrews 2:4 “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

The word wonders describes an event or object so strange that people stop to watch or observe it. It is a prodigy or a portent. In Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, wonders is found only in plural and in combination with the word signs. The word translated signs means a mark or token that distinguishes a person or thing from others. Sighs also can also point to remarkable events soon to happen.

The phrase signs and wonders appears 16 times in the New Testament, nine times in the book of Acts (2:19,22,43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 14:3; 15:12. See also Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; John 4:48; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Acts 2:43 begins a series of verbs of the imperfect Greek tense, which attest to the continual activity in miracles.

God gave signs and wonders to the Church as gifts. They were inseparable from the life and preaching of the Church. They were an integral part of the mission of the Church. Without the supernatural, Jesus Christ would not have been born and lived among men. Without the supernatural the New Testament Church would not have begun. The New Covenant people of God are called to be supernatural people in every area of life.

Acts 5:12a “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.”

Acts 6:8 “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”

Acts 14:3 “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”

The supernatural presence and power of God was evident in the following variety of ways:

HEALING: The Church ministered supernatural healing to people. As a result, the Word of God spread as it would not have otherwise.

Acts 9:34-35 “And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’ And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”

Acts 14:9-10 “He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And he sprang up and began walking.”

Acts 28:8-9 “It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.”

You can also have a look at Acts 3:6 and 8:6-7

Healing included raising people from the dead

Acts 9:40-42 “But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.”

DELIVERANCE: God supernaturally delivered people from difficult circumstances. Often angels participated in the deliverance.

Acts 5:19 “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out …”

Acts 12:7 “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands.”

Acts 28:5 “He (Paul), however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.”

God also delivered people from evil spirits (demons). Believers confronted the domain of darkness and cast out demons

Acts 16:18 “And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.”

More next time…

Sometimes I Don’t Submit

Sometimes I Don’t Submit

I have a nice lady who gives me directions when I need them most 

No, not my wife … the wonderful computer voice on my phone’s GPS

I have learned, especially for some of the new parts of the city where I live

And for first visits to new locations in other cities and provinces

That I need help getting around and reaching my destination.

Every three minutes or so I have this nice electronic lady telling me when to next turn right or left and when a major intersection is upcoming that will require me to be in a certain lane and to slow down

It seems that, for the most part, the GPS works fine unless the area has just recently been developed  Read more

Questions That I Ask Myself (and others)! – Part Three

One of the best ways to stay in touch with yourself is to find and use a series of questions for each of five different area of your life …. 

If we find or design these questions and then ask ourselves these questions on a regular basis we will be better able to stay in touch with who we are called by the Lord to be and what the Holy Spirit is guiding us to do. 

I believe it was the ancient philosopher Plato who said, “An unexamined life is not worth living!” 

I spend time every month or so taking a look at who I am and where I am at in my journey with Jesus and my journey through life. I usually record my findings in my journal and even, at times, write a blog or two in relation to my findings. I find this discipline to be helpful and healthy. I call it taking a personal inventory.

I will be sharing, over the next couple of days, the lists I use to examine several key areas of my life. It might be helpful if you took some time to go through the questions and honestly answer them for yourself. Or, even better, if you take this idea, run with it, and develop your own list of questions that you will then use to examine your journey. 

TEN QUESTIONS: MINISTRY RELATIONSHIPS 

  1. Are the people closest to me in ministry lifting me higher or dragging me down? 
  2. How have I intentionally developed new and potential leaders around me in the past week? 
  3. Am I speaking transparently with at least two other close trusted friends on a weekly basis? 
  4. Am I submitting myself to the correction and coaching of at least two mentors? 
  5. Am I holding a grudge against someone? 
  6. Am I speaking well of other ministers? 
  7. Am I falling for the temptation of comparing, complaining, criticizing or gossiping? 
  8. Are my words and relationships characterized by words of faith or negativity? 
  9. Do people enjoy being around me or am I often “down”? 
  10. Have I made at least three new ministry friends in the last year?

Sometimes I Find It Hard To Forgive

Sometimes I Find it Hard to Forgive

Over the last 50+ years of ministering I have noticed that the number one reason for believers not growing in their faith is that they do not have a deep assurance that they are totally forgiven

  • Forgiven of everything in their past
  • Forgiven for any sin or mis-step in the present
  • Forgiven for any future sin or slip-up that might happen in the future 

And because they don’t feel forgiven

Because they have not – do not – experience this sense of freedom from the burden of sin and guilt

They find it very difficult, if not impossible, to totally and permanently forgive others….

Of course, this is deeply troubling.

Jesus said: Read more