STEEL AND CONCRETE, January 2000
THE STEEL AND CONCRETE
MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
Often I've heard the term "MIRACLE" applied to everything from a cell-mate getting a shower to a sports team's victory, a favorable outcome to a specific selfish wish, or even a change in the prison's menu. Miracles won't be delivered by an elf and they can't be found on your grocery store shelf. Miracles are a very special blessing and shouldn't be cheapened by incorrect classifications.
In the four Gospels of the Bible there are 37 recorded miracles. If you were to look up the definition of the word "Miracle," you might find it described as:
1) Something not done by human hands
2) Wonders, signs, powers, and works of God
Over the years I've been told that miracles are brought about in the external world by the power of God, intended as a sign or attesting to God's will. It's true that the Triune God sustains, controls, and or guides all things. The Bible tells us He is a personal God and is omnipotent (all powerful). I once heard a Bible study teacher give the following five-fold test for miracles:
1) They teach truths concerning God.
2) There is an adequate occasion for them, according to God's will.
3. They are in harmony with the established Word of God.
4) They exhibit the character of God.
5) They are established by the character and qualifications of the witness.
It's easy to get lost by focusing on the miracle, or classification and reason, instead of focusing on the sender. I have seen people pray for miracles, get the answer, then forget that they prayed for it. Some get miracles and never offer a prayer of thanks to God. Jesus healed several people of leprosy, but only one person thanked him. Jesus led by example. Early in the morning Jesus prayed (Mark 1:35). It was how he approached the process of making important decisions (in prayer) that made the difference. We find in the Bible that when Jesus performed healing miracles it drew great crowds. Jesus found himself at a crossroad. He needed to decide to either place the stress of his ministry on the preaching of the Gospel for the healing of the diseased soul, or place his focus on the more popular, performing miracles for the healing of man's ills. God the Son sought God the Father in prayer to make the right choice. One may desire to have miracles in life but never take the time to believe, have faith, or even pray.
Asking God for things, even miracles, is O.K. James, the half brother of Jesus said:
"...yet you have not, because you ask not." James 4:2b
"...The effectual (effective) fervent prayer (supplication) of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16b
It must break God's heart to look down from Heaven upon His loved ones whom He died for and see such faithlessness. It's vital that our lives be full of faith, not disbelief. I've heard many statements like: "I can't forgive," "I can't face this trial," "I can't do this time," "I can't endure this failing marriage or relationship," "I can't make ends meet," "I can't....," "I can't....," "I CAN'T....!" If God was to show me how many miracles and blessings I'd passed up in my life by saying "I can't," I believe that I would truly be surprised. How often have I suffered from miracle thirst while standing in the middle of God's miracle stream. I've been blessed to receive Christ in my life as Savior and Lord. Christ performing His purpose in and through all believers is God's greatest miracle. When we say, "I can't" God has already given us the answer through Apostle Paul:
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
When people say "I can't," in their own power they are not lying. They truly can't. The can't, but Jesus can. Only with Jesus living in and through us can we truly say we can. So when it comes to being and getting miracles, look upward and within. Remember that all believers are god's miracle to the world. Don't say you can't. Believe that in Christ you can, because miracles don't come in I cant's, they come in I cans!
~ GOOD NEWS ~
If you are unsaved, then I beg you to do the following four things in prayer to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ:
1. Admit you are a sinner,
2. Be willing to repent (turn away) from all sin,
3. Believe that Jesus died to save you, and
4. Accept him into your life as Savior and Lord.
God is not into long fancy prayers. Just pray and speak to him from your heart.
"THE 21st CENTURY CHURCH"
by Brother John Grubb
Being incarcerated for the last six years has proved to be a very in-depth Bible study. It's been a time to reflect upon my past mistakes, my desire to seek God's face, and learning to hear His voice. Having repented from my backslidden lifestyle, I picked up the Word of God that I'd once run from. I've been blessed, and I share that revealed Word to all I meet. While listening, learning, and observing, this message came upon my heart. As I meditated on this message, a question plagued my mind: "Is the 21st Century Church honestly listening to God?" One of the greatest achievements of America is prosperity. No doubt, we are one of the most blessed countries in the world. Do people take the time to wonder how this tremendous prosperity has affected the spiritual condition of America? On the TV, the new prosperity gospel is being preached all across America. It's been widely accepted and heartily received. The "Name It And Claim It" message is so appealing because no one desires to be poor, destitute, or lonely. There are some who have bought into this "prosperity gospel." To those I'd give the following scripture:
"Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord." Lamentations 3:40
John the Baptist exhorted, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). As I compare God's Word to the modern church of today, I see a sad, empty, and destitute imitation of the real thing. I see churches where a great deal of substitution has replaced what's rightfully needed. Pastors have replaced God's Word with jokes, fasting with fellowship picnics, and evangelism with comfort zones. There are even charismatic churches that have replaced true worship with emotionalism and showmanship. It's no wonder those pastors complain of low attendance. They've lost the desire to evangelize lost souls. There's no cross in the "Name It And Claim It" message. This new 21st Century Church will turn out very few missionaries. They've replaced the cross with blessings. Carrying a cross is not a popular concept: I ran from it for years! Do the words of Paul found in 2nd Timothy tell us how to deal with this New 21st Century Church?
"...having the form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2nd Timothy 3:5
Simon Peter asks us the following question: "For his time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begins at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" 1st Peter 4:17
Over the years, if I haven't learned anything more important I've learned the importance of prayer. I've seen this new church substitute praise for prayer! Jesus said, "Could you not spend one hour with me in prayer?" These people give their exuberant testimonies of all the blessings they've received, yet spend no time alone with God! Will God have to personally shut this church up with Himself to get its attention? In the books of Luke 21 and Matthew 24, we read the warnings clearly of earthquakes, pestilence, wars, famines and fearful sights. Knowing this, do we know that the end is getting near? In Luke 21:22, Jesus said:
"For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." Luke 21:22
Ephesians 5:3-5 mentions many sins of which America is guilty. Verse six warns:
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
Someone said to me recently, "John, you don't hold on to anything. You get rid of everything." I quoted to him these two statements of Jesus:
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21
"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." John 12:25
As I pass through this world, I ask people where their treasure is. Is it laid up in heaven or is it around their wrist, neck, ears, and fingers? If your treasure isn't in heave, then friend, you won't take it with you! No U-Hauls follow you into eternity. One might ask me, "Do you think all these gifts in the Spirit are extinct?" I'd say, "No, I believe in the power of God to truly transform lives." In the past, I'd spent years listening to the "hoop-de-la" gospel. It produced lots of theatrical manifestations with little results. It was not founded on a constant diet of the Word of God, nor filled with substantial prayer. One might also ask me, "Are you against the Gifts of the Spirit, of the blessings of God?" I'd say, "Certainly not." I have found Romans 8:32 and Philippians 4:19 to often be very, very true in my life. The New 21st Century Church has left the old ways and supplemented all this new popular doctrine that has no cross, no suffering, no sorrow, only blessings, and that doctrine I'm against. I was in the courtyard one summer and felt the Holy Spirit lay a very interesting scripture upon my heart:
"Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death." Proverbs 11:4
This scripture was a real revelation to me. What good will our worldly riches do us when the wrath of God comes? The righteousness mentioned at the end of that vers is what we get from Christ. If one truly believes Luke 21 and Matthew 24, then why are they spending so much time looking for someone to lay hands on them and make all their problems go away? People today don't easily die to self, pick up their crosses, or have in prayer a consistent daily relationship with God. They need to ask themselves who and what they are actually following! Jeremiah 7:4 reads:
"Trust ye not in lying words, saying, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these."
The physical presence of the temple was no guarantee that judgment wouldn't come upon Jerusalem. God's wrath was stayed only through their genuine repentance, which was reflected in their total lives. In all that I see, the solution to all our problems is clear:
"Thus sayeth the Lord, stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein" (Jeremiah 6:16).
If this message has offended you, upset you, or made you good and mad, then you need to do some self-checking to see just what you are following. If this message was speaking of you , I say, "Good! Get out of your comfort zone and do something about it!"
~ THE POEM PAGE ~
"God Has Blessed Us"
by Brother Bobby L. Hamlett
God has blessed us to make us a blessing ~
He want to give through our hands,
Smile through our faces,
Care through our hears,
Speak through our voices,
And shine through our eyes.
Like bread, He will break us and multiply us.
Like a cup of cool water, He will pour us forth.
Like a well-planted tree, He will make us fruitful unto every good work!
"If God Had . . ."
Submitted by Sister Toni Morgan
If God had a wallet, your address would be in it.
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
God could live anywhere in the universe, but He chose our hearts.
"A Crown Of Glory"
by Brother Robert A. Bennett
When did your inspiration become the breath I breathe?
When did your Spirit become the life my soul so desperately needs?
I've been crowned with your glory and love,
As your majestic peace comes down from above.
Clothed more beautifully than the roses of Sharon,
So that beauty in this place is never barren.
For all that you have, are, and will do;
I just wanted to say, Lord, "I Thank You."
~ HUMOR PAGE ~
"My Parents Taught Me"
My parents taught me about RELIGION: "You better pray this stain comes out of the carpet."
LOGIC: "Because I said so, that's why."
IRONY: "Keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about."
OSMOSIS: "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."
CONTORTIONISM: "Look at the dirt on the back of your neck."
STAMINA: "You'll sit there until all your spinach is gone."
WEATHER MIRACLES: "It looks like a tornado hit your room."
HYPOCRISY: "I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate!"
LIFE CYCLES: "I brought you into this world and I can take you out."
BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION: "Stop acting like that!"
FORESIGHT: "Wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident."
ENVY: "There are many kids that don't have good parents like us."
"Disorder In The Court"
The following words are taken from a book called, "Disorder In The Court." These are actual quotes from court records as the court reporter recorded them:
Q: Mr. Medical Examiner, do you recall the time it was when you examined the body?
A: The autopsy started approximately at 8:30 p.m.
Q: And the patient was dead at that time?
A: No, he was lying there wondering why I was doing an autopsy.
Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you at least check for breathing?
A: No, I did not!
Q: So then it's possible that the patient was alive before you did the autopsy?
A: No, he wasn't.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was in a jar on my desk.
Q: But could not the patient had still somehow been alive?
A: Yes, it is possible he could have been alive practicing law somewhere.
2nd Timothy 1:3 "I.O.U." Crossword-Jumble
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O Come, All Ye Faithful
words by Frederick Oakeley
melody from Wades's "Cantus Diversi"
O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O Come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.
Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
All glory in the highest;
See how the shepherds,
Summoned to his cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh to gaze;
We too will thither
Bend our joyful footsteps;
Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing.
Lilies of the Valley by Acacia Victorian