Matthew 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!


(Watch an amazing performance of this beautiful Christmas hymn which follows this post.)

My very favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night" and the above is my very favorite verse. To me it represents the power of the gospel of Christ. "Truly He taught us to love one another." Without love we are nothing. When we carry the love of Christ, we carry power to shake the deepest parts of hell. I am convinced that when the love of Christ (and I mean agape) is released into even a roomful of people that there will be times when we don't have to even ask or pray for anything else. All we need to do is praise our Lord and love on the Father and His glory will come. Healing, peace, forgiveness, redemption, cleansing and salvation will just explode. I see this in 2011. I see an increase of it in 2011.

"His law is love and His gospel is peace." Read that line over and over. It is truth and in that truth is a power that is shaking earth. As I prayed with a group of pastors about a month ago I had a vision of a ring of fire that is burning that will not go out. It is burning over this region and other regions where brothers and sisters are bonding together in unity and love and with a strength that scares the devil. Because we have woken up and as we are loving and bonding as Jesus has desired for us to do, God will burn off the impurities of people and churches that do not belong in the kingdom. Watch for this to happen in 2011 in such a way that even the ungodly will begin to take notice.

His law is love indeed!

"Chains he shall break..............." Hummmmm. Even close your eyes right now and envision any chain of darkness being dissolved by the power of Christ. Some of you have gone though trials that now need to cease. Call for things that are not as though they were. God set the example for that. (Romans 4:17) Follow it. It is His love that causes this to happen. Chains he shall break indeed! Are you carrying one? In the name of Jesus I speak to that chain and command it to fall. Freedom reigns in this place. Mercy and grace! There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is a prophetic spirit that is upon me as I write this. Even blind eyes will see and deaf ears will hear in 2011. "Watch for this," says the Lord. This will happen even in areas where it has not been heard of before.

There is more that I am hearing, but I do not wish to stray far from what I first set out to do tonight. I wish and pray for you a blessed and merry Christmas. You are my family. Let our hearts be turned to our Messiah. Love has come. Our sweetest Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, our Bright and Morning Star. The Overseer of souls; the Lover of our souls. He is Jesus, God with us; let us fall in love with Him more than yesterday or the day before. Let us lay down those things which get in the way of a pure relationship with Him.

I wish you could truly understand the feeling that is coursing through my heart towards you as you read this blog. There is a love that God has given me for you that knows no bounds. It does not come from the natural man, but is Holy Spirit given and driven. There is something powerful that is happening here. All kinds of healing is being poured out. Physical, emotional and or spiritual. To God be the Glory! Yes, chains shall He break!

......"and of HIS KINGDOM there will be no end."

I love you guys! Merry Christmas!
Mark S.

"Oh Holy Night" performed by David Phelps

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

THE KEY IS IN YOUR HANDS

It's great to have you back here again! I really enjoy writing to you as well. Even though there is a great percentage of readers that I have never met and probably will never meet (at least until we experience the great crossover to Glory) I always feel a connection between us when I am writing. That connection, of course is the Holy Spirit. Because of Holy Spirit living in us, it's like He cuts down any distance in between. It's like I am right there with you and you with me.......right now. I've learned that when we pray for one another the Holy Spirit keeps us connected even though we might be states or even countries apart. It's one of those mysteries of God that you just want to be able to wrap your hands around. So anyway, it's good to hang out with you! It was my wife's birthday yesterday, so here...............have a piece of cake and sit at the table with me for awhile. There is a great verse or two from the Bible that I think we should talk about.

Just another thought before we get to that, though. As you and I grow in Christ and try to go deeper in our understanding of God and kingdom principles, let us not forget to love on other people. To do for other people. Inviting a struggling family or someone going through a really hard time over for dinner is a Jesus thing. Checking on a down and out neighbor on your street a little more often is being like Christ. Why did I use those examples? Because that's what the Holy Spirit nudged ME on this morning, reminding me that I can do better at loving others. This time of year we need to be especially aware of being ministers to others. What good does it do to reach for the deeper things of God, like we so often talk about here, if we aren't first simply loving people like Jesus did? The great Apostle Paul gives us a great talking to along these lines. And if you are one of those in a place of struggle as you read this, I am asking God to send someone or to release a ministering angel to come to your rescue.

It's hard to believe, but in less than two weeks we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus. As we think about Jesus and His coming to earth, think about this with me. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." Listen to that again. "He is the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE God..............." I read that verse in Colossians last week and something inside of me stirred. Then during praise and worship Sunday morning, God really messed with me (in a good way) and brought that verse back into my mind along with some random thoughts of........... the Kingdom of Heaven.........as in Heaven, so on earth.......the spiritual realm........the kingdom is here, but the kingdom is also at hand.
In that moment and with that verse in my head it was like God was saying to me, "It's because of Jesus. Because you encounter Jesus that is why there is access to the things of Me that you can and cannot see," and then the word "key" clearly came into my thoughts and I was able to put it together. I talk so much about the invisible realm. Jesus is the key to all that. He is the IMAGE of the INVISIBLE God. When we receive Christ He brings with that the ability to access the things of heaven. I sensed that in a strong enough way that I felt I needed to mention this to our pastor in case it had significance for the church service. No sooner had I mentioned this to him and began to worship again when I had a very quick vision. It came and went within a second, or so it seemed. I actually saw myself with keys in hand unlocking the front door to our house and boy did I get it. When we go in and out of our houses we don't even think about reaching for the keys. We just do it out of instinct. Instant access. And that, my friend, is what Jesus did for us when he brought the things of His father with Him to earth. Sometimes we petition God for things that already belong to us. All we need to do is use our "key." We shouldn't even have to think about it. When our grown children come to visit they don't need to ask me if they can have a glass of milk or make a cup of tea. Those things are already here.....for them.....whenever they want them.

"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," somehow ties into all that. Think about what goes on in heaven compared to how things are on earth. How close can we get? I don't really know, but I do know that we should be seeing more of the things of God in operation here on earth. I don't know about you, but I want everything that God has made available for me through Jesus. That isn't selfishness. It is about reaching potential and destiny in Christ that the Father desires for us. I'm not going to give you any more of my opinion on this. If you've read this blog for any length of time you have to have a pretty good idea by now as to how I'm wired anyway. All I wanted to share with you this time was the concept of using our "keys" to gaining access to kingdom things. Ponder that for as long as you would like.

I hope to talk to you before Christmas, but I really try not to write just for the sake of writing. I try to hear from God regarding what I write, so just in case......MERRY CHRISTMAS. I truly wish and pray that for you.

You wouldn't know this, but I've tried to close this out twice now and God won't let me do it. I've been sitting here asking Him why and I think I'm getting to the pulse of that. I believe that God is telling me that there are people who will be reading this in the coming days who are struggling with self esteem and self doubt for the first time in a long time.

If that is you...FIGHT ON.

You are in a spiritual battle right now. satan has lost ground that he wants to regain and he is trying to be stubborn. You need to stand firm in Christ. Set your face like flint upon the things that you know in your heart to be true. Do not let the devil alter your thinking. You are on the verge of spiritual breakthroughs and fresh understandings and anointing. Do not let satan rob you of this. Remember, you are created by God, loved by God and chosen by God. "Call on me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3) I'm thinking of a song that the late Rich Mullins used to sing in which he used to remind people that "You're on the verge of a miracle." Even as you're reading this, God is beginning to fill you with new strength and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is at work.....in YOU..............right now. I can't wait to see what God has planned for you!

Peace and goodwill,
Mark S.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NOT ON MY WATCH!

While Matthew was getting ready for school this morning, I pulled up the home page of one of the television stations in Cleveland. I almost started wishing that I hadn't done that. Headline after headline was filled with tragedy, brutality and hideous things. My mind was affected immediately and discouragement came all over me. I just stared at nothing for awhile. My thoughts were something like........

God what is going on? For months I've been telling people to watch out for a mighty move of You. When people will start moving back to you and we will see things begin to make a turn. God what about the dreams You've given me about the extended period of grace that is upon us? My vision about the Holy Spirit moving in and out of homes here and cleaning people up when they don't even realize it's You? I feel kind of numb.

........................BUT THEN.....
........SOMETHING STIRRED......AND....

God moved my eyes off of what is seen. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN. All those things that God has been showing me have started to take place. Others have had the same visions or similar experiences and we are confirming it for each other. Among all the bad things going on there is a lot of good and great God things.

And then, my mind drifted back to something that caught my attention last night which is what I really want to talk to you about today. I've started to read 1 Corinthians very slowly. Taking time to ponder each verse and to try to understand what Paul is really saying. It wasn't a particular verse that caught my attention, but it was more of the subtitle in my Bible right before chapter 4. This is the subtitle that is penned in the "Spirit Filled Life Bible." (Which is my favorite, by the way.)

STEWARDS of the MYSTERIES of GODand then chapter four begins.

I began to think about what it means to be a "steward," especially of the things of God. I won't try to paraphrase. I will instead quote directly from the Kingdom Dynamic section right out of my Bible.
"..........the "steward," one who manages the affairs of another. A steward is not the owner, but the OPERATOR and only EXERCISES the power, resources, or responsibilities given him with the interests and mind-set of the owner at heart and in focus." (Do me a favor and read that again.)

Now think about how God has us here......on this earth......to take care of all that is His. Now don't miss this, because this is the nugget that I want to pass on to you today that has the potential to change your neighborhood, community and city.

Remember the part about the steward operating and exercising the power, resources, or responsibilities? Well, this steward, meaning me, is going to enforce and release the spiritual power of the supernatural, invisible, and very real things of God that can't normally be seen. I have already begun to develop this mindset. Starting today though, more than ever I've decided to consider myself God's steward of Madison, Ohio. The keeper of the gate, so to speak. Yes, I pray for this county, this state, this nation and people in other countries, but Madison is where I live. You have the most direct impact on where you live. So it is here for me. While I can do tangible things to improve Madison and to help people in Madison, I have become much more determined to release the power of Heaven upon this town and I do not stand alone. God is raising up many "stewards" of Madison. We are determined to see this town won for God and will contend with any darkness that tries to come in. In football the term "prevent defense" is used. Many of us are already trying to practice what I will call the "prevent defense" in Madison. Remember, when you prevent something you've stopped it before it could happen.

Sometimes satan has the ball, or at least thinks he has the ball. He is like a roaring lion constantly looking around to see who he can destroy and devour. He is looking to pick apart and wear down not the defense of the Cleveland Browns, but rather families, schools, governments and entire populations. The time has come to stop his attacks before they can happen. This morning when I looked at the news headlines I saw the demonic at work hidden behind the veil of what we call the news. The schemings of the devil. Murder, lives taken by drunken driving and hideous acts by people that make made me feel sick.

You know what?

No more
Not in my town
Not on this stewards watch
I will stand and pray for protection against tragedy BEFORE it can happen.

Sound crazy like a fantasy? Does it? Think about it. All each city needs is for individuals to rise up in the name of Christ with this kind of mindset. Can you imagine if there were a dozen, or even a half dozen (and in Madison there already are) individuals who would become stewards of their city? Keepers and defenders of their town determined to stand their ground in Christ and in prayer, exposing darkness to the light, uncovering the plans and schemings of the devil BEFORE they can be manifested. The devil is nothing more that a pawn and I pray for God to expose his every move and intention to use the spirit of drunkenness, drug use, murder, hate, sex crimes and other immoral actions. Bring these things into light, God, before the unthinkable can happen. Raise up stewards in every community to begin to take action in the natural and in the supernatural. Because there is spiritual warfare that is always taking place I do believe that there are also specific times when satan works to destroy by using the natural forces of nature. I can think of two such instances lately where I am very certain that the devil wanted to use severe weather to bring death and devastation to northeast Ohio, but it was "unexplainably" stopped. In fact one of Cleveland's meteorologists wrote about one of those instances.

Click here on: NEAR MISS

This might be a bit of a stretch for some, but I give you an example that came to my mind that speaks quite a bit along these lines. At least for me. 2 Chronicles 20 starts out by reading, "It happened after this that the people of Moab and the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat." This surely was bad news and Judah could have been completely destroyed. Jehoshaphat and the people could have accepted what was about to happen to them and just hope for the best, plead for mercy at the hands of their enemies, or even turn and run. Instead, they put their "prevent defense" (humor me if you will) into effect. They got ready for this attack by calling on God, reminding Him (and in doing so reminding themselves) of the mighty ways of the Lord and how He had delivered them before. Jehoshaphat called for a fast. Instead of growing weaker, doing all the right things made them stronger. In both faith and in the understanding of what their God was capable of doing. Verse 13: "Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord." They ALL stood before the Lord! Their greatest defense, uniting together and drawing strength from the Lord was about to turn into a great offense. This seemed to excite the Lord to see this response, because things begin to get very exciting with God proclaiming to them: "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's." And so it was!!!

After this morning, I will be the first to admit to you that the news is sometimes very bad, media reports are not the best, evil gets a lot of recognition. As for me and my house, though, we will trust in the Lord. Our defense is about to become our greatest offense.

What about you? Your town, your city. Are you ready to hear the call, abandoning all risk? Can I call you "Steward of the City?" Are you ready? Are you saying:

Not in my town
Not on my watch?

What say you?

The Steward of Madison (at least one of them),
Mark S.