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First the Blade (Chapter 6)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 6

Building a Foundation of Faith (d)

Almost everything we do for the Lord requires faith on our parts, but some things may require even more faith on our parts.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17: 19-20)

In the late fall of 1995, I lived with a friend in an apartment in Ames, Iowa. To say I was going through bad times would be a classic understatement. My truck had been repossessed. My painting company had collapsed. There were a couple of dollars in my billfold with few hopes of earning more. I had to stand on a stepladder to touch bottom in my life.

My roommate and I felt we should pray for Northern Ireland on one particular morning. We began praying in tongues, waiting on the Holy Spirit to show us how to intercede for that war-torn area.

As we prayed, I had a vision in which I saw the bodies of young people piled up in the streets of Belfast. There were thousands of them. All had their lives snuffed out by the continued violence between the Catholics and Protestants.

The vision so disturbed me I could do nothing but weep. We eventually prayed as best we could to stop the vision from happening in Northern Ireland, but I had no inner peace. The main problem seemed to be that I knew I had an important prophetic word for Northern Ireland within my spirit, waiting to be given.

I went to my bedroom and prayed some more. I asked the Lord to give the prophecy to a well-known preacher. After all, who would listen to me? As soon as I prayed these words, I knew it was a bad idea so I quickly repented.

“Okay, Lord, show me how to speak the prophecy to Northern Ireland,” I prayed and with those words, I finally had peace.

A couple of days later, the Lord impressed me to visit a Catholic church near the Iowa State University campus. I walked in the door and asked if anybody knew someone in Northern Ireland. They laughed, but one person told me to talk with a secretary in the basement.

I went to the secretary. She did not know anyone in Ireland, but she knew the name of the Catholic Charismatic leader in Des Moines, Iowa. “Maybe that person knows someone in Ireland,” she said.

I phoned the Catholic Charismatic leader in Des Moines. “I don’t know anyone in Ireland,” she said, “but my husband knows the head of the Catholic Charismatic movement in England.”

Her husband got on the line and gave me the phone number.

I phoned the number in England early the next morning and talked with the leader’s wife because the leader was busy at some meetings in London. I told her why I was calling and what I needed.

“Funny,” she said, “but I’m looking at the exact person you need. His picture is on the cover of a book.” She then gave me the information for the man.

After hanging up, I sat down at the table and wrote the prophetic word, which I had for Northern Ireland. I mailed it to the Charismatic leader in Belfast.

Now, this whole experience was by faith, and as soon as I dropped the letter into the mailbox, all of my faith was used up. Every doubt in the world hit me. Who did I think I was? A nobody. A failure. I didn’t even belong to a church. No pastor would ever vouch for me. The Irish leader would take one look at my name, my handwritten letter and laugh.

But in the midst of those doubts, I knew enough to run to the throne of grace and ask for grace and mercy to help me.

A week or so later on a Sunday afternoon, the telephone rang.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Larry, I’m Cecil Kerr from Belfast, Ireland,” he said, “and I’m calling to thank you for the prophetic word you sent me. Our prayer group had been waiting for weeks for just such a word and we are already praying your prophetic word into fruition. So, from all of us, we thank you for your obedience to the Holy Spirit.”

We talked for a few minutes and then we said goodbye. As soon as I hung up, I fell on my knees and cried. I can still feel the emotions of that moment and how small I felt compared to a big, big God.

The next day, our phone was disconnected because we owed two months of phone bills.

If we want to change our community, our state and our nation, we can do it, but we must build our faith so mountains will move out of our way.

(Continued…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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First the Blade (Chapter 1)

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Chapter 1

Can We Trust the Bible?

On May 20, 1985, I gave my life to the Lord. Yes, I was a changed man, but I had no clue about what to do next. And to be honest, I didn’t even know how to label myself.

I phoned Bill Sheridan at 8 a.m. the following morning and told him about my conversion on the bathroom floor. Then, I asked, “What am I? Am I a follower of some weird cult like Hare Krishna? Or what?”

Bill laughed. “No, you’re not a follower of Hare Krishna or any weird cult. You’re a born-again believer. A Christian.”

“A Christian? I’m just a Christian! I’ve never met a Christian like me in my whole life.”

We talked a little longer and he advised me to read the Bible, beginning in the Book of Matthew. A couple of hours later, I bought a New King James Bible for $7.95 at Nelson’s Bookstore in downtown Fort Dodge, Iowa. I took it home and then was faced with a new dilemma.

You see, two days earlier I was an agnostic who believed the Bible was a man-made book of religious gobbledygook. Now, I held one in my hands and the friend who was instrumental in bringing about my salvation advised me to read it. What should I do? I thought.

“Lord, You showed me how real and alive You are yesterday when you saved me from committing suicide. So, I’m going to read this Bible and trust that it is Your truth. I may not understand everything, but if You help me, I will do my best,” I said aloud.

The Lord honored my prayer, but I wish the following information about the Bible would have been available to me back then. It would have erased every doubt in my mind:

The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years by over forty different authors from all walks of life. There were fishermen, politicians, generals, kings, shepherds and historians. These men were born on three different continents and wrote in three different languages. They wrote on hundreds of controversial subjects, yet they wrote in perfect agreement and harmony. They wrote in dungeons, in temples, on beaches, and on hillsides, during peacetime and during war. Yet their words sound like they came from the same source. So, even though ten people today could not write on one controversial subject and agree, God picked forty very different people to write the Bible—and it has stood the test of time.

But is it accurate?

Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses.

In the Old Testament there are prophesies against Tyre, Sidon, Ammon, Moab, Philistia, Egypt, Edom, Syria, Elam, Damascus, Gaza, Judah, Israel, and Babylon, to name a few.  Not one prophecy failed to be fulfilled with complete accuracy.

Let’s take a look at how many prophecies there are in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by Jesus. Alfred Edersheim concluded that there are at least 456 passages in the Old Testament that Jewish Rabbis historically have interpreted as being about the Messiah.

What would be the odds of just eight of these prophecies coming true, especially since they are from five different authors writing hundreds of years apart?

(1) Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

(2) Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12-13)

(3) Messiah’s clothes would be gambled away. (Psalms 22:18)

(4) Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. (Psalms 22:16)

(5) Messiah’s bones would not be broken. (Psalms 34:20)

(6) Messiah would be born of the tribe of Judah.  (Isaiah 37:31)

(7) Messiah would be called out from Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)

(8) Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s grave. (Isaiah 53:9)

The odds of all eight coming true are virtually incomprehensible! The number is written mathematically as 1014 or 100,000,000,000,000 to one.

But according to Edersheim, there are 456 scriptures that speak of the Messiah! I am not sure there is a number high enough to express the odds of fulfilling all 456 of those—not to mention all 1,817 prophecies found in the Bible. This is proof that the Author of these prophecies knew the future. The God who created the universe out of nothing knows the past, present, and future.

(All of these Bible facts are provided by Mario Murrillo and Dr. J. Smith at mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com, September 15, 2019, in the article, “Believers are leaving the Bible but the Bible will survive.”)

I am a believer who believes we can trust the Bible. How about you?

(Continued in Part 3)

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First the Blade

First the Blade 

© 2019 by Larry Nevenhoven

Introduction

I have always been intrigued by the ministry of Smith Wigglesworth, a Pentecostal pioneer. He has touched millions of believers with his exploits and teaching.

Wigglesworth (1859 – 1947) was born into a poor family in Yorkshire, England. As a child, he worked in the fields pulling turnips and working in the mills rather than attending schools. As a teenager, a man taught Wigglesworth the plumbing trade, which he worked at until he became a full-time evangelist.

After his marriage in 1882, his wife Polly eventually taught him how to read when he was twenty-seven years old. He made up his mind from that point forward to read little else but the Bible.

Many of his Christians peers referred to Wigglesworth as the Apostle of Faith. Their reasoning was based on his successful world-wide ministry that saw tens of thousands of people saved, thousands healed and hundreds of thousands taught to walk closer to the Lord. Numerous accounts even testify that Wigglesworth raised at least fourteen people from the dead.

Wigglesworth’s quotes still inspire Christians today:

“Great faith is the product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.”

“It is better to live ready than to get ready!”

“There is nothing our God cannot do. He will do everything if you dare to believe.”

“Some read their Bibles in Hebrew, some in Greek; I like to read mine in the Holy Ghost.”

“A man is in a great place when he has no one to turn to but God.”

“God wants us so badly that He has made the condition as simple as He possibly could: only believe.”

“There is something about believing God that will cause Him to pass over a million people to get to you.”

“If you seek nothing but the will of God, He will always put you in the right place at the right time.”

Once, Smith Wigglesworth was talking with some Bible school students when one asked, “How can I be like you?”

“First the blade, then the ear and after that the full corn in the ear,” Wigglesworth replied.

Wigglesworth used Mark 4:28 to underline an important point to the young man. He wanted the student to understand it takes time and proper preparation for a new believer to grow in his spiritual walk with the Lord. It’s not an overnight happening!

My hope in writing this book is to encourage Christians – young and old – to take the time to build a proper foundation for their spiritual journeys with the Lord.

(Continued in Part 2)

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Friday End-Times Bible Study (Conclusion…for now)

 

I have enjoyed writing this series and hope you have enjoyed them, too. If you’re interested in the End-Times, there’s plenty of room for new revelations from all of us. No one has it all figured out. So let’s start studying.

My advice is to read over the more than 150 chapters scattered throughout the Bible on End-Times prophecy. Mike Bickle has already provided us a list of these chapters. You can check them out here. And who knows? You might even find more chapters that aren’t mentioned by Bickle.

I have also listened to numerous End-Time teachers and read countless articles by such teachers as Mike Bickle, Mark Biltz, Chauncey Navarro and others. Bickle and Biltz are well-known, but Navarro happens to be my favorite. He’s fun to listen to and teaches the End-Times from a Jewish point of view.

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— (Matthew 24:15)

And those of the people who understand shall instruct many(Daniel 11:33)

Jesus admonished us to understand the End-Times. Why? So we can instruct those believers who will have no understanding when the End-Times hits this world.

None of this is above our pay grade. So, let’s go for it!

(Conclusion for now…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)

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Praying for Our Children (Part 4)

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Our Hunger for God Empowers Our Children

Nearly twenty-five years ago, a divorce turned my life upside down. This upheaval caused me to be apart from my two children most of the time. It was tough being an estranged father and, at the same time, trying to be a committed believer, godly father, and an example for them.

My only hope was to cry out to the Lord. This resulted in me feeling He wanted me to study the Bible in which I discovered some great blessings for us.

I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies and in your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.(Genesis 22:17)

 The angel of the Lord spoke the above blessings to Abraham when the patriarch laid his promise −his son Isaac −on the altar and raised his knife to slay him as an offering to God. Abraham’s willingness to obey the voice of God and to trust Him for his provision, even though there was nothing in sight, brought forth this prophetic promise for all of his children and offspring.

Jewish believers receive all of the blessings of Abraham through the patriarch’s covenant with God.  Gentile believers receive the same blessings through our faith in Christ Jesus because we are heirs according to the promises given to Abraham.

What this means is that if we believers endure trials and the testing of our faith, trusting God to bring us through them, like Abraham did, God will bless our children:

(1) with possessing the gates of their enemies and

(2) people will be blessed by our children.

Possessing the gates of the enemies?

In Abraham’s time, cities had walls around them, protecting the city dwellers from their enemies. The gates of the cities were the entrances into the city through the walls and whoever controlled the gates ended up controlling the city. So, possessing the gates of the enemies represents power and control over enemies. 

Thus, this blessing of Abraham states that our children will have control over their enemies and will bless other nations (or people).

Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way He should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. (Psalm 25:12-13 NASB)

“His descendants inheriting the land” specifically refers to Israel’s descendants inheriting all of the land God gave them in the Middle East or the Promised Land. For us Gentiles, it means that our offspring will inherit the Promised Lands for their lives, whether it is spiritual or temporal.

I have been young, and nowam old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He isever merciful, and lends; and his descendants areblessed. (Psalm 37:25-26 NKJV)

The children of righteous parents will never have to beg for food because the Lord will be their provider. And also, because the righteous parents are gracious with their gifts to others, the children will be blessed.

Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.(Psalm 112:1-2 NLT)

Parents who fear the Lord and obey His commandments will have successful children.

 He will bless those who fear the LORD, bothsmall and great. May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. (Psalm 115:14 NKJV)

Parents who fear the Lord will be blessed and their children will be even more blessed.

The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7)

Walking in God’s ways brings blessings to our children.

“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.(Joel 2:28)

Peter referred to this verse in Acts 2:17. Thus, if we walk in the fear of the Lord and in His ways, we can believe our children will prophesy and see visions.

For our children to receive these blessings, the responsibility rests on us parents. We need to be righteous before the Lord, fear Him, and obey His commandments to the best of our abilities. But even then, we must use our faith to believe these blessings will be poured out on our children.

Prayer: “Father, because I am a believer in Jesus Christ, an heir to the blessings of Abraham, have Your Spirit dwelling in me, obey Your voice and Your commandments, and greatly fear You, I believe that my children −(names)−shall posses the gates of their enemies, shall be a blessing to other people, shall inherit the Promised Lands for their lives, shall not be beggars, shall be successful in whatever they attempt to do, shall have greater blessings than I have enjoyed, shall prophesy, and see visions. Now, I thank You, Father, that Your word is truth and that I can stand on it, no matter what my eyes may see; and I thank You that it is Your responsibility to make Your words come to pass in My children’s lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

(The above is an excerpt from Praying for the Frozen Chosen: Our Children by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2016, Amazon eBook)

(Continued in Part 5)

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If God Loves us, Why do we Still Suffer? (Part 5)

We Evangelicals major on talking about “being born again,” but do you know how many times our Lord spoke on this issue? Just one time. Period.

Yet, there are more than thirty instances in the four Gospels where Jesus cast out demons, gave power to His disciples to cast out demons, or taught about casting out demons.

Now, how is it that we Evangelicals can talk for hours about the importance of being “born again,” but yet, we draw blanks when it comes to casting out demons?

So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Paul wrote the above verse in reference to a man who had committed sexual immorality with his father’s wife. The apostle recommended that the man be delivered to Satan for the destruction of the man’s flesh. Then, the man repented and Paul recommended the man should be accepted back into the fellowship.

But the important point is this: Satan has schemes and plans to destroy the effectiveness of us believers.

Okay, who benefits the most by us believers not being able to cast out demons? The Kingdom of God? Or the kingdom of darkness?

But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Matthew 12:28)

It’s obvious that if we believers do not understand how to cast out demons, the kingdom of darkness rejoices at our ignorance. Why? Because our power and authority in Jesus’ name bows impotent before the god of this world: Satan.

Oh dear! What should we do?

(The above is taken from my 9-part series, “Do We Still Cast Out Demons,” which can be seen in its entirety here.)

Christians suffer many needless defeats because we do not know how to use our authority to defeat Satan and his horde of demons. We need to remember that Jesus won the victory at the cross, but we still must enforce it.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith… (1 Peter 5:8-9)

As believers, it’s our responsibility to take authority over demons and cast them out. God will not do it for us because He has given us the tools to do it.

Mike Bickle has a great teaching on the authority of believers which can be seen as a video format or read in a PDF format here.

(Continued in Part 6…the full series to date  can be read here.

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Inside Israel

SHUK

The Shuk in Jerusalem

Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —

Greetings dear brothers and sisters,

May The Lord be glorified and blessed, and may you who are His be blessed and encouraged.

Two weeks in February feel longer somehow then two weeks at other times, but it has actually been three difficult months, months of challenges. I have learned that every challenge brings the choice: will I stand in HIS way or will I look for a different way out.  This time I learned that SOMETIMES I can THINK that I am taking HIS way, but am really standing in the flesh.

I’m am SO THANKFUL TO OUR FAITHFUL AND MERCIFUL LORD Who is willing to bring us into a corner where we are forced to see our flesh yet again and cry out for His overcoming grace.

Hard times are not synonymous with bad times, IF they produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

I made some notes over these past few weeks, things that I wanted to share.  Now I stare at them and try to remember the point.

First I wrote Romans 12. What a challenging chapter to walk through after drinking in His Word.  This is a wonderful chapter as they all are.

I stopped in a shop at the shuk for a new tablecloth.  When I was a kid in kindergarten in NYC we used to have oilcloths.  Do any of you remember them?  I loved them for some reason because they felt good.  Maybe they just felt like a big girl going to kindergarten, but I loved oilcloth.  It MAY be available again in the States now, but for many years, it was an item in the recesses of my memory until we came here.  Oilcloth is still not only popular, but a standard, and it still makes me smile to get a new one for a few shekels every change of season.

The rolls of oilcloth stood on the street like soldiers in front of the dry goods store and I saw one that I liked.  I peeped into the store, which is run by Haradi (religious) twins. “Geveret!  Efo at?”  This literally means: “Maam, where ARE you?” But it is an affectionate way of saying, “Where have you been?”

It makes me smile. “I haven’t needed anything for awhile.  Thank you for missing me.”

We smile affectionately at one another.  It is a warm feeling to know that in Jerusalem a shopkeeper missed seeing me.

It may have been still very cold but there is no doubt that the seasons are changing. The birds changed. The cats howl. The days are longer, and even though we still have citrus fruit, the tomatoes and cucumbers are looking heartier and the red peppers are back.

I decided to take my daughter on a trip that I have dreamed about – back to the mishtala or plant nursery, where she worked before leaving the country 5 years ago.  She had loved working there.  It is a huge, lively nursery across from the Botanical Gardens. The plants for the Botanical Gardens as well as personal gardens, are cultivated there.  It’s a delightful place and was so good for her to work there.

Now that they are home, I wanted to help her to get things growing, working a bit in the earth, putting down roots, and watching things blossom into new life.  She was pleased and even more so when we walked in and the manager shouted out her name. Others came running, hugging her and oohing and aahing over the children.  When she left here 5 years ago, she was still single. Now she was a sprouting tribe and they were all happy to see how she was doing.  Eventually we began picking out starts and seeds and of course some small gardening tools for 3 year old Maya.  I started talking to an older worker who was thrilled to see our daughter thriving.  “Nothing like Grandchildren,” he grinned and we both nodded enthusiastically.

“How many do you have?”  I asked.

“Twenty seven and we all live in the same village.”

I gulped.  How wonderful it sounded as he described all of their homes being around his on the same moshav.  “We aren’t really in each other’s houses all the time but come summer we are always outside together.”

Covetousness reared its ugly head!

And had to be dealt with QUICKLY!

There is no other way to put it: it’s hard for immigrants.

It takes a full generation to plant ourselves into the land, learn the language and the more subtle things of a culture. The generation of the “in between” has raw roots.

I began to thank The Lord for bringing us home and thought of Psalm 90:1 “LORD THOU hast been our dwelling place in all generations…”

My heart was immediately comforted and brought back into His perspective.  HE is our dwelling place…a sure Home and everlasting Abode.  But it’s good to remind those of you who so lovingly and faithfully pray for aliyah, which IS God’s plan, to also pray for the rooting and sustaining of those who come here because of the culture shock. So then a good root system can be formed.

 

On the train the next day I saw a lovely thing.  Two young men, religious boys by their dress, got on the train and without embarrassment called to everyone, “Greetings!  We are collecting money for a young immigrant couple that are getting married and have nothing.  Please share with them?”  They produced water bottles with the tops cut off and began to go along the aisle.  Nearly everyone generously poured change into the bottles.

The woman next to me said, “What?  What did he say?  I didn’t hear him.”  She cupped her hand to her ear.

“It’s for the wedding of a young immigrant couple who have nothing.”

She nodded her head.  She understood.  No one asked to see proof.  I was touched both by their open gesture and by the quick sharing of the people.  It was lovely.  It was Jerusalem.

I recalled the story a volunteer told me recently. It is common here for people to go door to door collecting money for various needs.  This volunteer shared that they had gone to the door of an elderly man and said, “We are here to help with home repairs for those who need help…”

Before they could finish the sentence, the man went to his change bag and pulled out several small coins and gave it to them saying, “Yes.  Please help them.”

They were touched because it was HIM whose apartment they had come to repair.

It’s time for bed.  Thank you for your prayers.  The Lord is faithful!  We are heading toward the beginning of the Spring feasts and the forerunner is Purim: the celebration of the book of Esther.  I will share more next time, but thank you for praying.

God bless you dear family,

Sister J

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