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Jesus + A New Man by Jessica Meldrum

“Jesus wants to bless you like He blessed me. All you need to do is come forward and say a little prayer with me.”

I was half listening to the woman giving her testimony and half watching the expressionless faces of those I was serving food to. My husband, Glenn and I were helping with an outreach in Phoenix just a few days before Christmas. The event was planned by an organization whose purpose is to meet the needs of low income families and present the gospel “after their stomachs were full.” This outreach was being done in an empty lot in the heart of the city and the turnout was very good. Flyers had been handed out a few days before advertising a free meal and Christmas presents for all children attending.

“Let me tell you about what Jesus did for me,” the woman with the microphone continued. “Before I got saved, I had a terrible marriage. My husband was no good. But then I got saved and Jesus got rid of my old husband and gave me a new one and this one is ten years younger than the old one! He can do the same for you! Just come forward and pray a little prayer with me.”

My eyes shot over to the area where the children’s gifts were stacked high. No, none of them looked big enough to contain a new, young husband.  Maybe she had a catalog and every woman in the crowd that came forward to say the prayer would be able to place their order.            This was perhaps the worst presentation of the gospel I had ever heard. It grieved the heart of God and it is very doubtful that any true salvations occurred that day. What has happened to Christianity in the West that people can think this kind of invitation is attractive or necessary to bring people to Christ?

A few years ago I was at a flea market and came across a man demonstrating the amazing Wizamatic Vegetable Chopper. A small crowd had gathered and right before our eyes he made salsa in less than five minutes by just throwing the vegetables under the gadget and pushing down on the plunger a few times. He asked the group of us that had gathered what we would expect to pay for such a valuable kitchen appliance. Before he told us the price though he showed us how easy the Wizamatic was to clean, told us all the ways we could use it and assured us that we would need to find a new hobby because we would be cutting our meal preparation time by half. Still he would not tell us the price because today, just for us, he was going to throw in a professional paring knife (the kind used by trained chefs) and an all vinyl designer cover for the chopper.

I don’t know what happened to me. I have never fallen for these kitchen gadgets before but for some reason that day I believed the salesman when he said this vegetable chopper would make my life easier. And besides, even if the Wizamatic did not live up to its claims at least I would still have the professional paring knife and designer cover. I took my gadget home and used it with satisfaction the first and second weeks but by the third week I was thinking that  either I had a disease that was causing my arm muscles to deteriorate or the blades on the chopper were getting very dull. By the fifth week I knew what my new hobby would be: weight lifting. Finally the blades were so dull I could cut nothing but ripe tomatoes so I stored my Wizamatic away and threw out the paring knife that was badly bent from use in less time than it took for the chopper to go dull. I had been taken in. I should have known the chopper was not valuable because other items had to be thrown in with the deal before anyone would buy it.

Haven’t we done the same thing with “selling” Jesus? This woman at the outreach was trying to make Jesus more appealing to her audience by throwing in other tempting items. She assumed that the women in the crowd would not take her up on her offer to pray a little prayer unless she spiced up the deal with a new man. Not only that but her “testimony” spoke of a God that responds like our culture – if you can’t get along with your spouse what you need is a new one. The tragedy is if these women would have agreed to say a prayer only because “today, just for them” a new husband was going to be thrown in with the deal, they would not have experienced true conversion. The only way for the lost to be found is for them to see that they are in desperate need of a Savior and are willing to forsake all to follow Him.

The injustice being done to the Savior and to the lost is obvious here because this example is so extreme. However, as I have thought back on my own witness to people, I’ve found that I am guilty too. How many times have I felt that I had to spice up the gospel to make it more desirable to people? In doing this I led them to believe that Jesus is not enough so I have to throw in His blessings with the deal. This can easily happen when we share our testimony (which we should be doing). The problem is we can often communicate the message that the best thing about Jesus is His assets. The best thing about Jesus is Jesus!

In John chapter 4, we are told the story about Jesus encountering the woman at the well, a woman who was thirsty for more than just water. In verses 13 and 14 Jesus said to this woman; “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

I believe that Jesus was comparing this woman’s need of water to the deeper spiritual need in her. In essence, he was saying to her; “You keep coming to this well because your thirst is never quenched; in the same way, you keep getting a new man to try and satisfy your spiritual thirst but that also leaves you thirsty and unsatisfied. What I have to give is like living water that always abides in you. No longer will you have to keep coming to the well of human affection to try to get some temporary relief. But I will abide in you so that you will never thirst again.”

Notice Jesus did not offer her anything but Himself; not a new man, not a better situation, nor more material possessions. He exposed her need and offered Himself as the answer. This is consistent throughout the New Testament whether it is a one on one encounter or a sermon to the multitude. Jesus and his disciples preached a pure and simple gospel to people who were weary, broken and guilty – those who wanted to be reconciled to God. This gospel demanded that those who choose this road be willing to forsake all to follow the Savior with no extras thrown in.

Those first preachers did not spice up the deal or promise people a happy life. If their message was refused then they prayed for more power – but they did not compromise the message. This is where we fail. When people are not coming into the Kingdom through Biblical preaching or personal evangelism, we feel we must make the gospel more appealing by listing the many benefits that may go along with the deal. Instead we need to take the example of the early church; abandon ourselves to Jesus, pray and be filled with the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that does the work of drawing and convicting. If at least one of these things is not evident when speaking of Christ then either the Holy Spirit is not full in us or He is not drawing the person we are speaking to. Either way, it’s when nothing is happening that we are often tempted to resort to other methods like promising things we should not to get people’s attention.

I have been trying in the last few years to be more careful about how I present Jesus to those who do not know Him. I try to talk about Him rather than talk about what He has given me. I was speaking about Jesus to a young woman named Kia a few months ago. She told me that the “Christian thing” had not worked for her even though she said “that prayer.” When I questioned her further I found that she had been led to believe that she could just say a little prayer, then God was obligated to make all her dreams come true and in addition she would receive a guaranteed ticket to heaven. I showed her from Scripture that being a Christian meant surrendering your life completely to Jesus and that she could not have a Savior if she did not want a Lord.

Kia confessed that she still wanted to practice her sin so I was able to convince her that she was not a Christian and to not to let anyone tell her otherwise. She understands now that He will only accept her prayer of repentance when she becomes desperate for a pardon for her many crimes against the Savior and is so sick of her life that she is willing to trade it in for another – one under Christ’s control. I ended the conversation by saying, “Kia, knowing Jesus makes me complete, quenching my deepest needs and surpassing anything this world has to offer. If you only knew Him you would fall in love with Him too – you just can’t help it once you gaze upon His beauty and goodness.” Before we parted Kia seemed genuinely interested in finding out the truth about God and promised me that she would begin to read the gospels to learn who this Jesus really was.

Someone had tried to sell Jesus to Kia by spicing up the deal with “testimonies” and false promises because they mistakenly thought it would make Christianity more desirable. One look at the places in the world where true Christianity is flourishing quickly dismantles this wrong view. Why is it that nations experiencing persecution are the ones seeing so many radical conversions?  What kind of testimonies do they have to share? “I came to Jesus and my family forsook me. I lost my job, I now live in poverty and may soon go to prison for preaching the gospel.” There is nothing in the natural about this kind of testimony that would appeal to people yet they are flooding into the Kingdom. Could it be that what people really want to know is if this Jesus is worth losing all to follow? We must demonstrate with our words and our lives that Jesus is the prize above all prizes; no gift or blessing can ever compare to knowing Him. For a world that keeps going to the well and still finds itself thirsty; the answer has not changed it is still Jesus – Him alone.

 

Jessica Meldrum has been a national evangelist with her husband Glenn since 1997. She speaks to women’s groups, is a freelance author and wrote the book Floods on Dry Ground: The Story of the Hebrides Awakening. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn and Jessica Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Angry With God by Jessica Meldrum

The young woman that sat across from me was very pregnant and extremely angry. Her features, which were probably very pretty, were so distorted with bitterness it was impossible to see any beauty. I have known people who have allowed a consuming anger to destroy their lives but I still don’t understand the desire to hold on to such an ugly emotion, especially when it is directed towards God.

I met Amanda last week while my husband, Glenn and I were ministering at a Christian drug and alcohol rehab for women and their children. It is a tremendous program that provides the opportunity for these women to surrender their lives to Jesus and let Him conquer their addictions. Needless to say, all these women come into the program with lots of baggage including a history of physical abuse or incest. Amanda is one of these. She was sexually abused by her father and now she cannot forgive. I’m not talking about forgiving her earthly father; I’m talking about forgiving her heavenly Father.

She began her life story by telling Glenn and I how she came to be in the program. Although she is only 25, Amanda has been in jail often for drug related crimes. Two months ago as she stood before another judge he shocked her by offering an alternative to jail. He suggested she consider entering a year long Christian program to get help for her addiction. He then offered to pay her entrance fee out of his pocket. Amanda chose to enter the program and acknowledges that God did a miracle for her.

At this point the conversation took a turn. Amanda confessed to being in and out of Christianity for many years and said the reason for this was that she had not been able to forgive God for the abuse she suffered. Glenn responded by questioning her as to why she would lay the blame on God for what her father did to her. She explained that she was angry with God because it was His job to make sure nothing bad ever happened to her and He had failed her in this. Of course we tried to show her the error of thinking this way using Scripture and trying to help her understand the nature of man’s freewill, but she was determined to make God as evil as her father. 

What became clear was that Amanda felt that God did not take good care of her and that she believed that she was a much better parent than He. She proclaimed her love to be so great for her children that she would give her life for them; she would never let anything bad happen to them. In other words she condemned God by claiming herself more kind and compassionate than He was. After questioning her about her “children” I learned that in addition to her unborn child, Amanda had a six year old daughter who had been taken from her. She wouldn’t tell me why but I did get her to admit that her daughter had to be taken away because Amanda was not a good mom. Yet again Amanda declared she would lay her life down even now for her daughter and her unborn child. Obviously she has not yet understood that she would never die for her children because she has not been willing to live for them.

As the conversation came to a close I asked Amanda to pray that God would show her the cross; the reality of our wickedness, Jesus’ incredible sacrifice and the gift of forgiveness offered to rebels such as us. I suggested that the real reason that she is experiencing anger towards God is because she has not truly seen Him or known Him; she does not understand who He is. She replied that she knew all about the cross, God and Jesus and there was nothing more to learn about Him. Now it was up to God to bless her so that she might one day forgive Him. Until that time she would continue to be angry with Him.

To believe that God has done anything for which He needs our forgiveness is a polluted, twisted idea. Only created, sinful beings are guilty of crimes that need to be forgiven. The Lamb of God is pure and holy. Jesus has never committed an evil act. In this Amanda showed her complete ignorance of the character of God, the sacrifice of Jesus and her own wickedness. However, the struggle with anger towards God is a very real issue for many of us.

To feel anger towards God is something we all have experienced at times even if we dare not tell anyone about it. Sometimes we don’t recognize it for what it is or we try to dress it up in religious garb to make ourselves appear righteous. Anger is a strong emotion and we will not begin to conquer it until it is confessed. It is not sin to feel an emotion, at times we cannot help feeling anger, but it is what we do with the emotion that matters. If we are angry at God we must drag that anger up the hill to Calvary and lay it down it in the shadow of the cross to see whether we really have any right to our anger. Then as we walk by faith back down Calvary’s hill we must determinedly surrender our emotion and cry out for a heart that “would see Jesus.”

From some of Job’s statements it appears that he had his struggle with anger at God. He accused and questioned God. He wanted some answers for what he perceived as injustice on the part of God. But notice at the end of the book of Job God does not address Job’s questions and Job no longer requires any answers. In fact all his questions were forgotten. Why? Because instead of responding to his inquires God gave him a revelation – He answered Job with Himself. It is here we find Job acknowledging the foolishness of his anger when he confesses; “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  (Job 42:5&6)

When Job had an encounter with God two things changed; Job’s perception of God and Job’s perception of Job. How much better it would have been if early on Job had said; “I do not understand what is happening, but I will yield my emotions to the Character of God. By His Word I know He is loving and He is merciful. I choose to surrender my emotions and conception of God (surrender to who) because I only know Him but a little.” Would this have immediately caused Job’s anger to die? – probably not (at least it doesn’t for me). Yet statements of truth are expressions of faith that will subdue the emotion until a fresh encounter with Jesus puts to rest our questions. Consider David’s Psalms of lament in which he brings out a complaint, yet soon afterwards makes statements like this; “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. (Ps 86:15)

The abuse suffered by Amanda is not the obstacle to her finding freedom from her anger; it is her unwillingness to surrender her emotions to God. Until she is willing to “despise herself and repent” she will remain blind to her true condition and her need of mercy. She has heard of Jesus, but she has not seen Him. At this point Amanda will not even consider the possibility that God is other than what she believes Him to be. The freedom for which she longs will elude her unless, in brokenness, her heart begins to cry out; “I have only heard of You, but now let my eyes see you.”

Jessica Meldrum has been a national evangelist with her husband Glenn since 1997. She speaks to women’s groups, is a freelance author and wrote the book “Floods on Dry Ground: The Story of the Hebrides Awakening.” Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn and Jessica Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

I Am His

In this teaching Jessica Meldrum addresses issues relevant to women by gleaning some wonderful truths out of Song of Solomon. What it means to be Christs and to belong to Him are powerful themes she speaks about on how these truths can change our lives.

Waiting on God

In this message Jessica Meldrum delves into the deeper life teaching of waiting on God. She addresses the issues of prayer, obedience, abandonment and patience on how they affect our waiting on God. She teaches the practical application on how to wait patiently on God for Him to meet every need in our life.

Fasting Part 1 – Fasting Makes Me Hungry by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

“I fasted once but it made me hungry so I haven’t done it since.”  This humorous, yet illogical statement was actually made to us by a Christian woman while discussing the topic of fasting. She went on to explain that if Christians went on God ordained fasts they should never feel hungry. Obviously she had no personal experience in this matter. Only in self-indulgent Western culture would such an idea be considered reasonable; believers in the suffering nations would either laugh at us or weep for us.

There have been many books written on the subject of fasting, and if you look hard enough you can even find a few sermons on it. But like the issue of prayer, we may have an abundance of information yet still not put it into practice. To the average American Christian fasting is as popular a topic as suffering. The unpopularity of the subject does not change the fact that it is an indispensable discipline that needs to be restored to the church.

There are numerous reasons why we don’t fast. One major reason is because we hold erroneous beliefs about fasting which demonstrates our ignorance of the Scriptures. Many believers have mistakenly convinced themselves that fasting makes little or no difference in this world, so why bother with the inconvenience. Probably the biggest reason we steer clear of it is that we don’t want to make ourselves uncomfortable.

We struggle with fasting because it goes against the natural order of life. Unless there is something very wrong with us, we usually don’t intentionally do anything that causes ourselves pain or discomfort. Also, there’s something within us that cherishes life and cutting off what we need to sustain life goes against nature. Even our social life can be upset by fasting because much our interaction with friends and family revolves around eating.

Commanded to Fast

The Lord places great importance on fasting. That is why we need to understand the Scriptural truths that define this spiritual discipline. With a right understanding of fasting we will hopefully find the right motivation to make it a regular part of our service to God and His kingdom.

Jesus, in obedience to the Holy Spirit, was led into the wilderness to fast and be tempted for forty days. Although He never required His disciples to perform a similar fast, He did expect them to fast. That is why He said in the Sermon on the Mount “When you fast” (Mt. 6:16). He included the discipline of fasting with prayer and benevolence (Mt. 6:1-21). Once while Jesus was reproving the Pharisees for their self-righteous, powerless fasting He informed them that fasting would be a normal part of the disciple’s life after He ascended to the Father (Luke 5:35).

The Scriptures are full of examples of His people fasting. Whether it was in times of pending danger, mourning, during national repentance, the Day of Atonement or to find His will, all true fasting was done in obedience to God. This act of denying ourselves food is an expression of brokenness and humility which communicates to God our desperate need of His intervention. It is one of the means He has given us to fulfill the purposes for which He put us in this fallen world. 

Fasting to Break Chains

Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord informs us that fasting with pure motives breaks chains, sets the oppressed free and speeds healing.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard (Isa. 58:6-8).

We have personally witnessed God fulfill all His promises in this section of Scripture through fasting and prayer. While the Lord never violates a person’s free will, He does create circumstances that will make a way for the bound to obtain freedom and the oppressed to be treated justly.

As evangelists we minister at a different church or rehab almost every week of the year. Over 13 years ago when Jesus called us out of pastoral ministry into the evangelistic field we wondered how anything of value could be accomplished in just four or five services. We knew from pastoring that change is a slow process and unless the Spirit does a quick and powerful work we would just be wasting people’s time and money. 

This realization brought us to a deeper understanding that in ourselves “we have no power” (2 Chr. 20:12). Unless we give ourselves to prayer and fasting for each church we cannot expect change that will last for eternity. Every week we pray and fast for conviction upon the lost so they will be saved, that prodigals will come home and that the church will be awakened. We admit that it was God putting this in our hearts – not our own thoughts and understand it is the Holy Spirit who does the work. So in the end we can only say, “all we have accomplished you have done for us” (Isa. 26:12).

The Lord yearns to liberate the oppressed and break the yoke of bondage people suffer under Satan’s slavery. He could do this without our help, yet He allows us to share in His sufferings in a very small way through prayer and fasting. One story that stands out in our memory is of an unsaved man whose wife had been begging him to come to church with her for years. Matt emphatically claimed that he would never set foot in church especially “that church.” One Sunday morning Matt shocked his wife by informing her that he would attend church with her. It happened to be the Sunday that we began a series of meetings at “that church.” Not only did Matt come to the service, he surrendered his life to Jesus. The pastor was amazed because the few times he had talked to Matt he found the man very hard to the gospel. The pastor informed us later that Matt gave convincing evidence that he had truly been converted.

God often works through prayer and fasting to bring a person to the point of surrender who is suffering under the bondage of addiction. A young man told Glenn recently that a year ago he had repented of his pornography addiction after hearing one of Glenn’s messages on holiness. He said that he has not looked once at pornography since that service and God healed his marriage. A similar story of being set free from addition was told to us just a few months ago at a church in Arizona. This young man had heard Glenn preach a few times at a Christian rehab eight years prior while he was in the program. He said those messages transformed his life and he is still serving Jesus because of them.   

In Isaiah 58:8 we find that God will heal the body in response to fasting. Glenn was healed over ten years ago in this way. For many years he suffered with severe asthma to the point of needing three inhalers a day as well as a rescue inhaler. Through the urging of the Holy Spirit we felt that we should take several days to pray and fast for healing. Jesus healed Glenn and never again has he used any asthma inhalers or medication.

Fasting does break chains therefore it is one of the most formable weapons God has given us. Prayer is another powerful armament made available to all His people. He has given the church both of these disciplines because without them we would be left with only our skills or intellect in which to revolutionize this world.  When fasting and prayer are combined and habitually used in spiritual warfare the oppressed will be freed, eternity can be changed and hell will tremble.

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Fasting Part 2 – Show Me Your Glory by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

Prayer and fasting are indispensable disciplines that believers must restore to their rightful place in faith and practice. Both of these disciplines are some of the basic expectations that Jesus established for every believer, not just a select few. The motive behind prayer and fasting, though, decides whether or not they are acceptable to God.

During our early Christian years we knew a man in his twenties that was deeply confused over the subject of fasting. He decided to fast 39 days because he did not want to compete with Christ’s 40 day fast. As the fast progressed he started to get sick and had to be hospitalized— he was actually killing himself. One long term effect of this self-imposed fast was that the young man lost every bit of his hair which never grew back.

It is interesting to note that the only fast God commanded in the Old Testament was on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). All other fasting was voluntary. The huge list of required fasts that the Hebrews eventually observed predominately developed after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and then deported a large portion of the people to Babylon. God never required these extra fasts, the rabbis and religious system did. By Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were fasting at least twice a week (Lk. 18:12). Although the New Testament does not mandate any special or regular fasts, Jesus did expect His disciples to practice the discipline.

The problem the Lord often had with Israel’s fasts was not so much over the fasts themselves, but with the legalistic and selfish motives that defined them. They became dead rituals that were detrimental to the spiritual wellbeing of the people. Once the Lord questioned the people to expose their wicked motives, “When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?” (Zec. 7:5). They were deceived into thinking that religious acts made them righteous rather than living a surrendered life to the Lord through contrition, personal transformation and authentic love for God. The people had an outward form of godliness but did not have a true relationship with the Lord. Jesus exposed the corrupt motives behind the religious practices of Israel’s leaders by saying “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Mt. 23:5).

Their fasts had degenerated into worthless, selfish rituals that they believed would appease God’s wrath and grant them personal prosperity. What their cold hearts failed to understand was their religious rebellion against God was actually fueling the approaching Day of Wrath. His righteous, holy anger could only be assuaged through heartrending repentance. But repentance is a byproduct of surrender and love to God; both of which they refused to do. Their fasts were all about themselves and not about God (Isa. 58:2-4). They were deceived into believing that self-denial and self-abuse was equivalent to right standing with the Lord (Isa. 58:5). However, if the heart is not right with God, or seeking to be so, then fasting becomes an offense to Him.

The motives behind true fasting are not selfish, but selfless. This is why the one who fasts for incorrect reasons is no better than the one who refuses to fast – both are selfish. Those who begin to understand the privilege of sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering will selflessly subdue their flesh to accomplish that which can be done no other way. They are driven by the knowledge that fasting will “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” (Isa. 58:6). Their deepest desire is that the hunger they feel when fasting will cause an intense spiritual hunger for Jesus in the one that desperately needs to be freed.

Let’s look at Moses’ example of fasting which Scripture tells us was the type of fasting that God receives. Moses spent forty days interceding through prayer and fasting that the Lord would not destroy Israel because they had built and worshiped the golden calf. Through his selfless act men, women and children were spared from having to face the wrath of God. Is it not the same today? Do we truly believe that fasting and prayer loosens the yoke of those enslaved to Satan, the world and sin? While it is true that our fasting will not save a soul from hell (Jesus is the only mediator), yet this story teaches us that we can prevail with God when we have a heart like Moses – which is really a heart like our Savior.

As the account of Moses’ intercession unfolds we find an incredible petition uttered from the lips of this great spiritual giant: “please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Ex. 32:32). What Christlike compassion—Moses was willing to go to hell that his people might be saved. Obviously, God was moved by Moses’ sincere and heartfelt prayer, even though He would never grant Moses’ request in the literal sense (Ex. 32:33). The Lord did spare the nation, but there were consequences for their sins. Mercy coupled with severe discipline was granted to the repentant people, judgment to the unrepentant.  This very account begs us to ask a heart-wrenching question: “Who among us could pray such a prayer today in all honesty?”

The intercession of Moses comes to a climax. It is at this point that prayer and fasting either becomes truly successful or a dismal failure. It speaks of the primary motive behind why we do, or do not, fast and pray. While Moses was in the Tent of Meeting continuing to intercede for the people he prayed, “Now show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). Though Moses prayed and fasted for the people, his spiritual craving to know the Lord is what drove him. Without a passion for God, Moses would have never had compassion for the people that drove him to his knees for hours, days and even weeks at a time. He understood the prize to be coveted from fasting and prayer was to see God’s glory.

The ultimate prize we are to seek through fasting and prayer is Christ Himself. That is why we must guard our hearts when we practice the disciplines Christ demands of us lest they become dead religious practices. Jesus must always be the ultimate prize we seek, even when we are interceding for the needs of others. When the motive of the heart is right then the promises attached to fasting will break forth upon us: “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isa. 58:9). So what is the greatest reward of prayer and fasting? Christ Himself! When we seek Him with all of our being then we will hear Him speak to us the most beautiful of words, “Here am I.”

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Fasting Part 3 – A Fasted Lifestyle by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard (Isa. 58:6-8).

 One primary reason we are commanded to fast according to Isaiah 58 is so we will have food to share with the hungry, clothes to give the naked and shelter to provide the for wander. Can such work be accomplished by skipping a meal or two a week and using those savings for others? It can help a little. But maybe there is something more to this than first meets the eye. Could not the Lord be calling His people to live a life of fasting that goes beyond the forsaking of food for the salvation and well-being of others? Might not this be part of our Lord’s call for His people to take up their cross by living a lifestyle of fasting?

What is a lifestyle of fasting? It is applying Jesus’ teachings regarding the wise use of this world’s material goods in living out our everyday lives for the purpose of bringing Him glory. Through submission to Christ we are compelled to live simply so we will have more money to give to missions, churches, the poor or to any need He shows us. Though this simple way of living is thoroughly Biblical it is also blatantly contrary to the American way of life that focuses upon the self-indulgent pursuit of wealth to squander it upon ourselves.

Wealth is not the issue—it is how it is used. Selfish people, whether they call themselves Christian or not, will live for themselves and this will be revealed in how they make and spend their money. True Christians strive to live like Christ (1 Jn. 2:6). His was a selfless life: “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus freely gave us the wealth of salvation so that we could spend our lives for His glory.

The Lord did not save us to live self-absorbed lives in the pursuit of wealth and pleasure. No, He saved us to promote the very purpose that compelled Him to come into this world: “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). The nitty-gritty of the matter rests upon who will be lord of our lives—the Lord Jesus or our sinful, selfish nature. K. P. Yohannan addresses this issue stating:

The most important goal is to employ material things for the kingdom of God rather than ourselves. This is one of the truest tests of where our affections really lie. Christ demands nothing less than lordship of our whole being, including the material blessings we have accumulated in this life. It’s not how much we give that counts – but how much is still left sticking to our fingers. That is the way to measure correctly the simplicity of one’s life (Road to Reality, 159).

When we yield to Christ’s lordship He will be Lord of our finances, time, relationships and recreation.

It seems that in the Western church we have forgotten that we are only stewards of our lives and will give an account of it to our Lord and Master. In Luke 12:16-21 we find the parable of the Rich Fool. One character trait patently glares out—that he was a self willed, selfish man. All of his financial decisions were based upon his desires to live in ease and comfort now, and to secure this lifestyle for the future. His repeated use of statements like; “I will do”, “I will build”, “I will store” speaks volumes about his spiritual condition. The Rich Fool does not acknowledge God in any of His decisions.

In verse 20 we find that his life ended much sooner than he anticipated. The Lord decreed that the man’s soul would be required of him that very night. The Greek word for “required” comes from two root words, one meaning cessation or completion and the other to call for or desire. It means his life has ended and God was calling for a reckoning of what was entrusted to him. The Rich Fool mistakenly thought certain things were his, “my crops”, “my goods”, “my soul”, but in truth they were merely on loan to him. He discovered too late that his soul was on loan as well as his possessions. There is no escaping this Day of Reckoning. 

We also must give an account for how we live in this world and what we do with the loans we are entrusted with. The bookkeeper does not make the decisions about how money is spent, he only receives directions from the owner and distributes as he is told. Many Christians think they are good people because they take a certain, comfortable percentage of their income and give it to missions or a local church but it hardly affects their lifestyle. When our finances are surrendered to Him we will live very differently from the world; we will not buy as they buy or vacation like they do or be motivated by money in employment choices. To live simply for the sake of the Gospel “costs”!   

There have been many good examples of those who lived the fasted life. One that stands out is John Wesley, a man that could have been wealthy yet chose to live simply. He gave to churches, orphanages, the work of spreading the gospel and printing Christian literature. Very little “stuck to his fingers”, which is why he died with only pennies in his pocket.  But look at Wesley’s legacy—he turned England upside down and set America ablaze through the Methodist revivals. This very moment Wesley is enjoying the true wealth that can never be taken from him.

The fasted life is not one that seeks poverty believing it to be a noble thing, but rather lives as simply as possible so that others might know Christ. Instead of spending money and time on extravagances and frivolous pursuits we lavish it on Christ for His glory. We should freely give to grow the kingdom of God out of the abundance that Christ has poured into our lives.

We need to rightly hear what Paul taught the Ephesian elders, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35). Paul was not teaching the greedy false doctrine of giving a supposed faith seed so that we get a tenfold return. What selfishness! That kind of thinking was anathema to Paul. He was compelling the elders to give everything to Christ for the sake of His glory and the growth of His church. By teaching the spiritual leaders how to live a fasted life he was securing the expectation for the people to live the same.

In this world we live only a few short years and only in this life are we given the privilege to suffer for Jesus. We may not have to bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus as Paul did, but we better have some kind of scar upon our life for the Gospel’s sake when we stand before Him. Our wallets should testify of sacrificial giving. The lack of comforts in our homes, vehicles and possessions should prove our hearts were fixed on the city whose builder and maker is God. Both our prime years and retirement years should bear the marks of selfless service for the kingdom. Amy Carmichael warned her potential missionary recruits that they should expect to bear scars in their service, for did they not follow a wounded Savior? She later wrote the poem Hast Thou No Scar:

Hast thou no scar ? . . . Hast thou no wound? . . .

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are the whole: can he have followed far

Who has nor wound nor scar?

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Flirting with the Enemy by Jessica Meldrum

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming

of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 5:23).

 

 Recently I was reading a Christian novel based on a Biblical character. Right away I could tell it was well written and the author seemed to possess a good knowledge of the culture. Suffice it to say, I was quickly drawn into the book. However, I wasn’t too far into it when I began to experience an uncomfortable feeling in my spirit.

 Since everything Christian publishing companies produce is not always genuinely “Christian,” I am very cautious about what authors and subjects I spend my reading time on. In the above mentioned novel there were no obvious “sins” in the story. So I took a moment to pray about this uncomfortable feeling and asked the Lord to show me if it was from Him. It only took another page or so until I understood that this book grieved the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. He showed me that the author was endeavoring to make the reader believe that the main character’s acts of disobedience towards her parents were not only small issues, but even ones that should be viewed as noble conduct. Also, the author described her appearance (of course she was extremely beautiful) through the eyes of a man that was bordering on lustful thoughts. 

The point of this story is to confess that I almost missed the Holy Spirit’s still small voice. I am constantly asking Jesus to reveal to me not only my sin but also anything questionable that is in my life. God is holy and I want to put away that which is unholy in me, that which keeps Him from drawing near. Not all books are sinful in themselves, however if we  continue to read a book after we have been convicted or even skip to the back to see how it ends, that would be “flirting” with rebellion.

Charles Spurgeon in his book, My Conversion, made the statement, “I cannot [flirt] with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?” This way of thinking will greatly help to keep us from sin, compromise or even the questionable things. We need to understand that even the “little things,” the flirting, is the same evil that killed the One that poured out His life to rescue us. How can we give refuge to the enemy of Jesus? How can we harbor His murderer in our heart? We who know the truth about His costly sacrifice must not supply the enemy with a place to hide out and even thrive.

Believers who are mature and have sought to live a life pleasing to their Heavenly Father will eventually find themselves in the biggest battles in their Christian experience, the battles of the mind. “Spiritual sins” are the evils we can many times ignore or justify; sins such as pride, self-love, criticalness, evil thoughts, indulging in self-loathing, etc. Because spiritual sins are so hard to see in ourselves, we are often blind to them. This is why the danger is so great and we can easily yield to the temptation to flirt with the enemy. The Christian who would never outwardly flirt with a person of the opposite sex can at times flirt with the spiritual sins.

Using my illustration as an example let me be honest about the tendency of my heart to engage in flirtatious thoughts. When I first felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting and considered throwing the book away, I questioned whether I was just being too religious or rigid in my views. After all, finishing the book would not have sent me to hell. Following this line of thinking would have soon brought me to the point of flirting with “cheap grace”.

My thoughts then turned in another direction. If I threw the book away, I might have the opportunity to tell people about how I never finished this book and would appear spiritual. This of course is the spiritual sin of self-righteousness and to be honest this is usually my greatest temptation. Continuing on in that vein, I even very briefly considered the possibility that if I limited my reading to the Scriptures alone I could gain points not only with men but also with God. How ugly legalism is and how it disgraces Him.

These kinds of temptations should never surprise us because left to ourselves our heart is bent to thoughts such as these. We should not condemn ourselves when we experience these temptations. If however, it goes past a fleeting thought and we find that we have begun to flirt with spiritual sins there is only one thing to do – repent and kick the enemy out! Do not give sanctuary to the murderer of Jesus!

Be careful if you believe you never experience these kinds of thoughts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) We cannot discern our own hearts so we must plead for help from the Holy Spirit. Only He knows the truth about who we are. Without His revelation, we can think too highly of ourselves as the Pharisees did. The other danger is we may entertain thoughts of self-abhorrence, which is just as sinful because it is an offense against His grace and questions His power to transform His people into the image of His Son.

So why should we stop our flirting with evil? Why be concerned about the questionable things? Not because it will better our lives nor improve our relationships. These things are the benefits of a holy life, not the reason. The reasons to strive for holiness are because sin breaks His heart and because the only way to ascend the hill of the Lord is to have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4). He deserves our unreserved devotion; He should receive the glory a pure heart brings to Him. In truth, throwing out a book, turning off the TV or choosing to face the truth about ourselves are not hard things to do if we are in love. Lovers never wish to grieve the heart of their beloved. True friends would never consider giving refuge to the evil that killed their best Friend.

 

Jessica Meldrum travels full time across the country with her husband Glenn ministering in churches, rehab programs, conferences and camp meetings. She teaches women’s groups and is a speaker for the Christian Women’s Club. Jessica’s life experiences have included foster parenting, church planting and a career as a business manager. She has also authored a book entitled Floods on Dry Ground, an extraordinary account of the Hebrides revival. For scheduling call 651-247-3979 or visit the Meldrum’s website: www.ihpministry.com for more information.

Love That Costs by Jessica Meldrum

“I hate you! You’re not my mom and dad. I’m going to ask my social worker to move me to a new home!”

As Lynn* stormed off and slammed her bedroom door, I looked at my husband. The hurt I saw in Glenn’s eyes mirrored my own. Just a month ago everything seemed to be going so well. Lynn had been in our home two years now and we had witnessed many wonderful changes in her. We knew she had begun to believe that we would not abandon her, a very legitimate fear because she had been abandoned by family and other foster parents.

Lynn was 10 years old when I first met her as a volunteer helping with an outing at a local foster care agency. I fell in love with her immediately. After five years foster parenting and many years of working with unwanted kids on the streets of Detroit, I could tell Lynn had potential. I saw her often over the next two years and kept hoping that her current foster home would work out for her. It was number six since coming into the foster care system at four years old.

One day while at the agency office, I overheard one of the social workers talking about how hard it would be to place a 12 year old. The other worker agreed adding that such a nice kid like Lynn could really use break. At once I felt the Lord speak to my heart about taking her. I spoke to Glenn that night and he also believed it was God’s will for us to share our home and our hearts with her

The first year with Lynn was certainly not uneventful. It is common for a foster child to test their foster parents for at least the first year. Due to attachment issues, they want to know as soon as possible if a foster family with keep them or “give them back” once the family discovers negative behaviors in them.

Over the next two years, we came to love Lynn as we would our own daughter. She slowly opened up to us, but still we sensed that she was fighting her growing attachment to us. Two weeks before we were to celebrate our second anniversary, Lynn began doing things to sabotage our relationship. She betrayed our trust, lied to us and began forming detrimental friendships behind our backs.

When she disobeyed us, it seemed she wanted to be found out. When we confronted her about her behavior, she suggested we just get rid of her since we didn’t like what she was doing. Although we made many mistakes through this time, we did try to confirm our love for Lynn and let her know we would be very sorry if she chose to leave us.

The decision to become foster parents was not really our decision, Jesus chose it for us. He showed us a need and we simply obeyed His command to care for the “least of these.”  It began with taking in teens off the street and getting some type of legal guardianship. Because of their age and circumstances we never had to be concerned about giving them up. When Glenn and I decided to take Lynn, we again believed that we would not be in danger of losing her. Although she was younger, given the history, it was very doubtful that she would ever be given back to her mother. We hadn’t considered the possibility of Lynn rejecting us.

I was facing the predictions and warnings that many had made to us over the years; “You’re going to get your heart broken if you foster parent, that’s why I would never do it.”  It was looking like we were going to lose Lynn and I realized that I had never really prepared myself for a loss like this. But how could I have prepared for it? By not giving my heart away? How could I ever make a difference in the life of a child unless I let them into my heart?

The world teaches us to preserve our life; to save our life. That it is a very foolish thing to knowingly put yourself in a position to be hurt or suffer loss. The Scriptures teach the opposite. To love as Jesus loves is never safe. To give your life away is risky and sooner or later it will cost. As Christians we are to lose our lives through absolute surrender and follow our Master even if He takes us to a cross.

Lynn’s social worker did not grant her request to be moved to another home and soon afterwards she came to the point to love us and trust us. We had many more trying situations to go through with her, but today Lynn is a tender-hearted, young adult following Jesus. She is not repeating the sins of her natural family. Her life is a wonderful testimony of the love and mercy of God.

It all worked out well with Lynn; however all our stories don’t end like this one. At times Jesus chose for us more difficult paths, ones that included the pain of loss or the sting of betrayal. Our decisions to love must never be based on the predicted outcome. To love as Jesus loved will always cost, yet to share in the fellowship of His sufferings by giving our lives away is in truth, a great privilege. Whether we join with Christ in His sufferings by spending hours on our knees for someone who is hurting or we give ourselves in some manner of service for Him, it is a gift from Him, no matter the outcome.

Emma Booth-Tucker, a granddaughter of William Booth, understood the real blessing in living on this earth. “The portions of my life which have given me the most satisfaction,” she confessed, “are the seasons when I carried the cross for Jesus, and the one regret which fastens down upon my spirit at the thought of turning from earth and entering heaven is the realization that I shall never again be able to companion Jesus by bearing the cross, by suffering with Him for the salvation of sinners, and by ministering to Him by ministering to the sorrowing, suffering multitudes for whom His blood was given.”

* The name has been changed.

Jessica Meldrum has been a national evangelist with her husband Glenn since 1997. She speaks to women’s groups, is a freelance author and wrote the book Floods on Dry Ground: The Story of the Hebrides Awakening. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn and Jessica Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.