SPIRIT OF CHRIST CHURCH

spirit of Christ“Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God.” (1 Chr, 29:1).

When I think of the days of my first pastorate more things stand out to me than others after 27 years. Before and after I married my wife Sarah, I was preaching in the Northwest of the United States. I had opportunity to be the keynote speaker and preach the “This Jesus” Conference in November 1988. I preached on, “The Beauty of Jesus” from Psalm 45 and I will never forget it. God worked wonderfully especially among the ministers there. I was invited after that to speak in many different churches in that area, I loved doing it.

People would come in fifteen inches of snow like it was nothing. It was amazing. There was one church were at least 900 people were dancing in the Spirit. I never saw anything like that before. I tried to be dignified but it was really powerful. I saw numerous healing miracles and baptisms in the Holy Spirit. The devil was being defeated left and right.

While back on Staten Island in 1988 God was speaking to my heart. I felt what I could only describe as a spiritual anticipation. I knew something was happening in the Spirit. I was telling people that God has a church for me. One uncle said to me cynically, “You don’t have a church.”  Later, God spoke to me from scripture, “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”  (Psa. 27:6). Not long after, a Pastor for who I had preached for in Wisconsin connected me with a group in Pennsylvania who were meeting in a home. It was a beautiful home owned by Peter and Christine who were a tremendous force in the work of that ministry and who helped us maintain the building we would eventually purchase. I was well received by them. I was officially a home missions Pastor.

We moved into a townhouse in Lansdale, PA and wanted to get the carpets cleaned.  A man named Ted knocked and he was holding his baby girl Nicole when we opened the door. While looking around the house he saw my theological books all over the floor he asked me if I was a minister. I replied in the affirmative and he cleaned all the carpets for free. What a blessing!

I found out Ted came from a Mennonite family. I asked him if he would like to visit our church. He said that he did, but I did not see them for weeks. I called on the phone and I found out that both their children were suffering with the croup. So, God gave me holy boldness and I said something to the effect that, “I am going to pray that God heals both your children and when they do you will come out to service.”  Well, God did exactly that and Ted and Joyce came out to church. Joyce did not really agree with Pentecostalism and so I debated with her about some things. My wife wondered why I was being so forthright with her. I said, “I like Joyce. I think God is working on her heart.” He really was.

Not long after, my brother Mike was preaching one Sunday Night and Ted and his wife Joyce were there. My brother pointed at him and said, “Brother, the moment I lay hands on you you are going to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak with other tongues.” My brother came over, laid hands on him and Ted fell to his knees and quietly spoke in tongues. It was amazing. Ted and Joyce as I remember consumed the Bible and books about the Holy Spirit and his gifts.

Joyce had not received the baptism of the Spirit yet and on Sunday night we were sitting on the floor and I was praying with her while she was crying. I will never forget when she told me, “Everyone is getting the Holy Ghost but me.” It broke my heart.  But not long after, we were in church one Sunday and during worship I heard her speaking in tongues. I was surprised and asked her, “When were you going to tell me you were baptized in the Holy Spirit.” She told me that she had been praying at home and God filled her. Her countenance was glowing and she was so excited.

I found out Ted was a talented musician. We sang acapella and we had no music until he led worship. He played a twelve string guitar and he was anointed. He played it furiously and broke strings every Sunday. I had never seen a better Psalmist. While he was leading worship I saw what I believed was a hot flask of oil that poured on the top of his head by an invisible hand. I knew God was calling him and Joyce to ministry. They both have traveled internationally and were both he and his wife are pastoring a growing church in Pennsylvania.

I can tell you some things that came out to me among the many things that God did. There was a pregnant woman named Lisa hooked on drugs who came to our church. She was on speed during the pregnancy and her family concerned about the child. She gave her life to Christ and we prayed for her after she confessed this issue. God protected that baby and Amber was born healthy and strong.

I remember another woman named Sherri and she was drawn to Christ through a message on the armor of God. She said as she came up for prayer and knelt alone she could hear an argument going on between the devil and God. The devil said, “She’s mine!” and God spoke and said, “NO she is mine!” She became a glowing Christian. Wow.

Another woman, originally from Germany, was pregnant with what I believe was her fourth child. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was told by the doctor’s at that time she would have to abort her unborn child in order to live and that was unacceptable to her. We prayed for her and God healed her and she had a beautiful baby boy.

One time I myself was stricken with Bells Palsy and the right side of my face froze, it was devastating. I wept a lot in private and no one knew how much it crushed me, especially during a time I was teaching on healing. It was Ted and another man that prayed with me. Ted prayed for my face, but he did not touch my face. He told me that he did not want me to feel any heat from his hand, so that I could feel the Holy Spirit healing me. God healed me and now I knew personally God heals the sick.

The Lord granted me opportunities to minister in Word and to sing on television and radio and I got to evangelize in New England often. We even created an album during my time in Pennsylvania.

But not all churches are perfect in fact, wherever people are they are problems. People will tell me this happened in a church or that happened. I always ask them, “Were humans involved?” As a young pastor I did not realize that the human factor would prove to be a huge issue. Where the Spirit is, the flesh is as well. Where God is at work, the devil is at work as well. We still live on this side of heaven.

These people I began to serve were at one time the disgruntled members of another church. It was my first pastorate and I was unaware of this and I had no idea how challenging it would be. I was only 23 years old and I thought preaching was enough experience- it was not. Whether the past issues of people were valid or not is not the point. Not all Pastors have diplomatic ability, people skills or political savvy and these abilities are NOT part of the requirements to be a Pastor. A Pastor’s obedience to God is his greatest asset. But if you are a person that is called to set fires instead of putting them out you may want to think twice about dealing with people who are hurt by a previous church in a pastoral capacity. I was more of a fire setter. I was confrontational and uncompromising-which means, I got hurt badly in the end.

The family that was the largest tithe payers were affluent and I think that since they were hurt by a previous church experience they took a very business like approach to church. The man owned a successful business for sure and he arranged a balloon mortgage on the church building. I was so young I did not even know what that entailed. If I would have known I would never have agreed to it.  He and his wife and another family left the church. A few years later when the mortgage came to maturity we had to sell the building to an Anglican church for not much more than the price for which we purchased it. I miss the building to this day and even feel selling it was a mistake. The lesson I learned was stay put and watch God provide he will take care of things despite what people do.

There was a woman and man, both who were married who were committing adultery in our church. While I was ministering in California a second time (a story I will relate another chapter). My father came and preached in my place. He was an excellent Bible teacher and loved teaching about God’s purpose for marriage. My father said they confronted him after one message. My dad let me know and he did not feel they had much respect for the Word. By this I learned that God was attempting to reach this couple in his mercy so that they would repent. I was shocked when I found out that same woman was crossing out verses in her Bible that she did not like, writing notes on the sides of her Bible such as, “My god would not do that.” She was under a spirit of delusion. I reprimanded them with the scripture and they left the church refusing the restoration process. These were very sweet people but sometimes when people think that they have more love than God does, they will end up in compromising situations which will damn their souls.

My mother in law, an angelic Pentecostal woman died suddenly from colon cancer at fifty two years of age. After that my father in law was experiencing severe heart issues and my wife was back on Staten Island taking care of him best as she could. What was worse is that we experienced a church exodus as well. It was my first, it hurt. A year later my dad died from heart surgery complications. Satan was hitting us on all fronts.  The best thing that happened during those times was the birth of my son Stephen. I learned that as a Pastor you had to play hurt, sometimes bleeding and that only going through things like these is when God will build compassion in your heart. This was the beginning of a very long painful process and eventually I would have to find a job, my dream of pastoring was shattered and I wept many a morning as I went to work.

It should be noted that Ted was influenced by an outside source and a very strange man attending our church who had an agenda of his own. The man was very subtle in his demeanor. He convinced Ted that I should no longer be the pastor. They even approached me and wanted me to give up the building so they could have it. That was unacceptable to us. Eventually, he and Joyce left. I tearfully begged them not to leave but they did anyway. It was a real shame. While I am thankful they are serving the Lord I also learned that if people do not want to serve in the church that you Pastor, let them go with a blessing. Keep your spirit sweet. God will provide others who love you and will be glad to serve the Lord with their gifts.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due

THE NIGHT I MET THE HOLY SPIRIT

201002_112_HSBaptism_art“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)

High School was not like I expected, there was almost 4000 kids in one school. You try to look cool, like you know what you are doing but I got lost so many times trying to find my classes, I needed a GPS to get around. They had initiations the first day and they would egg and paint the Freshman with makeup. It was ugly. But my brother and I were so tall they thought we were Sophomores so no one bothered us. We got through it, I was saved now and I knew God protected us.

Not long after my family was invited to hear preaching in huge tent on the other side of Staten Island. It rained earlier that day, and it stopped by night time but I was amazed at hundreds of people walking through the mud to get inside. I sat with my church and I did not know who Morris Cerullo was but he and some other guy R.W. Shambach were preaching there. I don’t remember the message that night, the only night we came but he talked a lot about youth. I was a young convert so I did not know much. He called for people to come up front, he actually encouraged us to run up front and the church people were smiling and saying to me, “Go ahead, go ahead.” So we ran up front and Rev. Cerullo prayed over the crowd and then he asked us to go to a side tent where people would pray for us.

So I went and found a place to sit in the sand of that side tent and I prayed. As a young convert, I only knew to quote scripture in my prayers. That night it felt like a door closed and it was just me and the Lord. I did not even notice anyone around me, everything was tuned out.  The only thing I felt was the hand of someone who came over and prayed quietly for me for just a moment. I did not see who they were because my eyes were closed.  All of a sudden I began to speak in a foreign language. It was amazing! I did not expect this. No one told me about it. I was flooded both with a bubbling joy and peace and it flowed out of me. I did not know what was happening then but I was being introduced to my Friend, the Holy Spirit. More people came by and prayed and in the mind of this young convert thought I was getting more of the Holy Spirit.

I was thrilled but I had questions. I told my brother what happened. He was still new at this as well but he took a crack at it.

He said, “That language is so you can talk directly to the Father.”

I did not say anything it just made me think of the possibilities when I would pray. I thought that was incredible. Direct access to God in prayer. Going home I felt God’s presence-it was bubbling in my soul. I was excited and refreshed. Again like when I was saved, this was a quiet experience but it had wonderful results.

But my unsaved Father who for some strange reason came with us, was unnerved and was what the old saints called, “under conviction.” He was next in line for God’s incredible grace.

This is part six of my testimony.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due.

FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES

imagesThen I said, ‘I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.” But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” (Jer. 20:9). 

A fire has been burning deep within the earth and anthracite coal fields of what used to be a small community called Centralia, Pennsylvania since May 27, 1962.  The temperature exceeds 1000°F and emits poisonous gas. There has been no success in extinguishing the fire and eventually the whole town was evacuated in 2012. At this rate the fire will burn in the earth for another 250 years. This is quite a phenomena.

It is like what we see in this passage.  Jeremiah does not want to preach anymore. He feels like a failure and no one is listening. One man said that Jeremiah is suffering, acute “prophetitus” because not only are there no results in his ministry but people are getting worse.  God seems to be giving him no words of encouragement at all.  Jeremiah said that he wanted to forget about preaching God’s words but there underneath the earth of his being there was a fire in his belly, a burning in his bones and he had to speak.

God told Jeremiah early in his ministry, ” I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.” (Jer 5:14). God also describes the characteristic of his word, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:29).  The word was like fire and there was not some dichotomy, some separation from what was in his mouth and what was in his heart.  The Word was a fire and He was on fire with the Word. The word in his heart was heaven birthed and nurtured and God deployed it from this man. He was made to do this. The more he held back- the pressure of the divine furnace in his bones began to force its way out of him.  He was worn out from holding back what was in his heart-he had to speak it!

A Christian, especially a preacher should be a person on fire for God. This does not refer to melodramatic public speaking but they are men who have been touched by the Holy Spirit’s fire. A Christian is deeply affected by the permanent work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth and being made right with God by faith alone.  Also, a person is deeply impacted by the baptism of the Holy Spirit as it comes with its life-giving wind and purifying fire.  But there comes a time for some when they realize the call of God to gospel ministry and preaching is God’s will for them.  There is nothing like it in the world. There is no vocation like it. You cannot think about doing anything else.

Those who have the call of God in their life to preach are precious and few. A man of God should be like a burning and shining light (John 5:35). When the Holy Spirit speaks through them after prayer and as they deliver the message their heart burns (Luke 24:32). The scripture is illuminated to them (Ps. 119:130), the anointing comes upon them (Isa. 10:27)  and Christ speaks through them and elevates their words (Luke 21:15). They become soul doctor’s to the needy and weapons against the forces of the devil. Satan and his emissaries will cease at nothing to hinder these agents of the gospel and discouragement and depression are his most powerful tools against them (1 Thess. 2:18). Thus he must use the sword of the Spirit to battle against those forces personally (Eph. 6:17; Heb 4:12).

A gospel preacher is very serious about what he says in the Lord’s name and he expects others to take it serious. If the man behind the pulpit believes that what he says is only a sermon and he does not believe that he should let God speak through him he obviously has not taken his responsibility as a messenger of God seriously (1 Peter 4:11). They need to get on their knees in prayer and ask God for his mercy to reveal his message through them (Dan 2:18). God says, And I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be speechless and unable to rebuke them, for they are rebels. But when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!…” (Ezek. 3:26-27NLT).

© 2014 Soul Health Care Ministries. Give credit where credit is due.

USED BY GOD

inthehandsofthepotter-300x225If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Tim 2:20-21).

God wants to use people.  In the past few years preachers have laid waste to this term “used by God” because of it’s lack of appeal (like they have done with many truths).  The idea of being “used” by anyone, is not an attractive premise at all because people fear being manipulated, exploited and  exhausted: used.  That is not the case! This is not what is meant by the word, “use.”  The word “use” is not only pronounced differently in the text but is (euchrestos) which loosely means easier to use. 

To be used by God is to be of use to God.

It gives us the understanding that as a practice God utilizes and employs people for his purpose. God wants to use you my dear Christian friend!

Isaiah said, “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” (Isaiah 26:12).

Notice that he has wrought all OUR works in us.

He is saying, “Lord, you deserve the credit for everything we have done-it was you doing it.”

When God uses a person he actually works through that person. So being used by God means He is working with you (Josh 1:9), in you (Phil 2:13), for you (Rom 8:31), and through you (John 7:38-39).  This should be our daily prayer.

The biblical pattern is that God saved us by the blood of Christ and placed his Spirit in us to make us a living witness to the grace and power of God.  Paul said it this way, “…for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” (1 Tim 1:16).

We have been saved as examples of God’s power to save such wayward, rebellious sinners such as we were.  We who belong to God by his Sovereign Grace have the privilege of God doing his work through us.  It is no longer, “I” but “Christ” for that “Christ liveth in me” (Gal 2:20).

God’s will is that we “be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Tim 2:21). A vessel had special meaning in scripture. A vessel, could be anything from a cup, dish, plate and utensil. God fashions shapes and moulds those that he uses. Isaiah said, “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”  (Isa. 64: 8).

God uses this analogy of people.  Paul was a chosen vessel or literally “a vessel of election” (Acts 9:15). He uses the phrase, “a vessel of honor” to describe how God uses people in this passage. He is the one who has the power to make us a vessel of honor or dishonor (Rom 9:21).  When God saves a person they become a vessel of honor in salvation. God calls some the “vessels of wrath” other the “vessels of mercy” (Rom 9:22-23).

This means that God can use anything or anyone for his purposes. Saved or unsaved, godly or ungodly-God can strategically move people into position to accomplish his plans. That is what we call God’s Providence.

But it is my firm conviction that God uses US in a way that the UNBELIEVER could never dream about.

The reason for this is that the one whom God uses is committed to “purge himself from these…”  The Christian can be used because the Christian is clean. The word purge is where we get catharsis. It means to clean out thoroughly. In the context of this passage, Paul is reprimanding Timothy to break away from attachment with false teachers that destroy the faith of others. If he completely cleanses himself from them, then God will honor him, set him apart, and equip him for service. We will address this another time.

Believers are loyal to Jesus Christ as their Master so they desire to remove everything from the old life that would disease the new being intolerant of contaminating influences. God desires to use vessels that are clean before him and that take holy living seriously.

Paul compares the church and those in it to being a great house and there are various kinds of furniture, containers and utensils in it.  They all serve a purpose. Some have an everyday common use. But there are others that have an extraordinary, special use. Some are silverware and some are gold ware. God calls us to become vessels of honor or sanctification according to our text. He gives us the choice.

“Meet for the Masters use…” That leads into the concept of Christ being our Master. The word master (despotes) means “one who possesses undisputed ownership and absolute, unrestricted authority.”  We are Christ’s peculiar people or his particular possession (Titus 2:14). Our Lord Jesus has undisputed ownership and uninhibited power over us and he has a design to use us for his glory!

We are “prepared for every good work.” This describes the vessel God uses as fit, ready and prepared for activity. They are outfitted and equipped. They are primed for action because they are trained and rehearsed to do what God has designed for them. A vessel of honor is not only made but trained. After God sets us aside we set ourselves aside so that he might use us in a greater way.  It is an exciting thought to anyone who loves God for Him to employ them in his service to help others.

© 2014 Soul Health Care Ministries. Give credit where credit is due.

DEFINE FOR ME, “PENTECOSTAL”

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THERE WAS NEVER A GREATER NEED FOR A GENUINE PERPETUATION OF PENTECOST IN THIS LAST HOUR! To see and be part of those who have turned the world upside down with the Gospel (Acts 17:6).

At this present time in one form or another there are around three hundred million people who claim to have experienced Pentecostal blessing and being baptized in the spirit. But sadly for some and an increasing number it is only in name are they alive but in reality they are dead (Rev 3:1-2). Yes we see the wildfire folks in some groups but sound and noise does not mean motion and forward movement. It is only madness.  Others churches have little or no sense of the presence of Christ in them, very little biblical, Christ centered preaching. They are dead or about to die! How sad!  It is those that used to be vibrant are now those with the dead preachers and dead congregations.

When I refer to “Pentecost” I am NOT referring to ONE DENOMINATION OR GROUP.  I am speaking about the movement that began on the day of Pentecost known as the true expression of Christianity.

This movement reached the world in exponential time with the gospel of God’s grace: that is, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This movement in which the Lord Jesus Christ himself worked with men and women confirming what they preached by signs and wonders.

Those signs and wonders were exactly what they were: signs that pointed to Christ and things that were done by God himself that would lead people in wonder and awe of Jesus and Jesus alone.  Pentecost is not about signs and wonders. Pentecost is all about Christ who has been exalted in majesty at the right hand of God who, “hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33).

When the people saw them declare the wonderful works of God he explained, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:16-17). 

When I refer to “Pentecost” I am not referring to the charismatic movement which has distinguished itself from the Pentecostal movement. I’m referring to those who believe that after the new birth experience all believers in Jesus are promised to be filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:4).

We must embrace the baptism of the Holy Spirit, while yes, it brings a greater degree of holiness, it is really more of and empowerment to be a witness for Christ and his gospel (Acts 1:8) for those who are already saved by the blood of Jesus.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit brings what is written in the scriptures into personal experience as the reality of the presence of Christ in the preached word and of the ministry of prayer for those who have need. The real Pentecostal resists the post modern programs and inventions for marketing the gospel and sees any lack in the church attendance, backsliddeness, sickness, deliverance as a greater need for seeking God for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit in every dimension of their lives.

© 2013 Soul Health Care Ministries. Hey give credit where credit is due!