Wayne Matthews delivered the sermon. Johnny added an announcement in the front that there would be a special church-wide fast next weekend and a post from Ron today explaining the reason. Here’s a copy of it below for your comments
————- Ron’s special post —————
This special post is an important one, and it is an urgent one. This post is being inserted in between the current series of posts on the subject of family, which will continue after this post.
Laura and I as the physical leaders of God’s Church today under Jesus Christ, with me as God’s apostle and Laura as a prophet, are calling for an important fast in God’s Church on August 24th. That is the weekly Sabbath, and you are being asked to have some portion (or all) of your fast to be on that Sabbath day.
This post is being directed in a specific manner to the ministry, as well as to the entire membership of God’s Church.
For some time now, I have believed that we needed a Church-wide fast and that God was directing us to do so, but the timing was not being made clear of when to do so, nor was the subject matter being made clear. It is interesting that within this period of time I’ve received some letters and ministerial reports that have directly mentioned certain areas of concern about some of the subject matter that will be covered here.
The calling of a Church-wide fast is not something done on a whim, nor is it a matter of a personal belief that it is a good time to do so again. Rather, it is a matter of receiving inspiration and direction from our High Priest, Jesus Christ.
This post will be candid and to the point, as we are being directed to “examine” ourselves spiritually, just as we are often admonished to do before Passover. We have experienced various fasts in God’s Church that have had some kind of focus associated with it, and always using the guidelines for fasting found in Isaiah 58. Certainly those guidelines will be followed in this fast, but with a quite serious focus – the most serious I have ever been led to direct.
A Final Cleansing of God’s Church
Isaiah 58 is about examining ourselves in truth and in spirit before God – in deep and genuine humility, honesty, and desire to clearly see how we are standing spiritually. We are then to follow up by striving to change what is revealed to us that is not in full unity and oneness with God. It is only when we can clearly “see” what changes need to take place in our life that we can then seek repentance and the help we need to have our mind transformed so that we can indeed grow in greater unity with God.
However, what often happens in the environment of the Church, especially after fighting some great (larger) battle, a person can often begin to let up spiritually and seek “rest” from the fight and the stress from the constant warfare before us. Yet we are told to “always” have on the armor of God so that we can always be “in” the fight. We do not have the luxury of rest until we have actually entered God’s full rest in His Kingdom – changed into Elohim. If we pull back and rest, we will not find the true spiritual rest God seeks to give us. So what often does happen in such cases as I’ve just mentioned is that a person begins to “let up” and then can easily slip back into old bad habits or even develop new ones. This is already happening in the lives of a few since Pentecost. Yet we are being refined wholly and completely as a Body, and throughout the entirety of the Church we need to be in even greater unity and oneness with God.
With that being said, I am now going to tell you what God is clearly revealing to me, and then I’ll address some examples of a few things that some need to examine more closely if they desire to continue in the quest to grow spiritually, become more at one with God, and continue into the Millennium.
Jesus Christ is working to cleanse His Church for the next phase of God’s work, which may well be the final phase (He has not revealed that as of yet). As addressed in the series of posts “Extraordinary 4 1/2 Years”, God’s Church has gone through an important period of judgment. Just before that specific period of time ended, some few had already been judged and separated from God’s grace, spirit, and fellowship. Most of those individuals were part of the ministry. They did not “suddenly” choose to leave (as they seem to insinuate or even believe), but God removed them. Due to wrong attitudes and a judgmental spirit toward God’s government (which is rebellion), jealousies toward others, and unrepented sin, God removed His spiritual favor (help and grace). When God makes such a judgment, a person begins relying on their own reasoning (thinking about God and truth) because God’s spirit is no longer “in” them, nor leading them.
Over the past few months God has removed a few people from His ministry and His Church, but some have mercifully been given more time before the judgment to fully remove them is made. That brings us to this time of fasting, as this is the marker of time for God’s judgment of some, whether there is proper repentance and change, or not. God’s Church is being cleansed as we go into this fall Holy Day season.
Each and every one of us needs to fully seek God’s help to become more at one with Him and His Son. We all need to thoroughly examine ourselves at this time. To become more “at one” means ongoing repentance which must be followed by actual “change.” There are a few, however, who are flirting with spiritual disaster – the distinct possibility of being cut off from God. Some of you are in the ministry. There are others, besides ministers, who are in the Body of Christ who have been becoming weaker spiritually (or have never truly taken hold of the opportunity placed before them) and are about to be fully separated from God’s presence, where a person will begin to quickly lose what has been given to them.
If you truly value the priceless gift God has placed before you, then you will fight for it! Most of that fight is against self – selfish, pride-filled human nature that must choose to yield to (and deeply desire) God’s government in (and “over”) one’s life. God’s truth, ways, and laws must govern our life!
We do not want to see anyone else separated from the Church, or any in the ministry, but it is going to happen soon for any who do not genuinely repent, “and change.” Yet on the other hand, if there is anyone who will not repent, change, and become more at one – more in agreement with God – with God’s truth, Church, and government, then it is best that they be separated. There is no place in God’s Church for division, rebellion, and evil attitudes.
So brethren, we are going to individually fast and seek to cleanse ourselves, to become more purely “sanctified” before we come into God and Christ’s presence, as a body of people, in this special Holy Day season. We should also be praying and fasting that all others are yielding themselves to such self-examination, repentance, and change, but if they willfully refuse to participate in such a process then we should ask that they be speedily removed and cleansed from the Body. Failure to participate in such a petition is to refuse to pray according to God’s will for His Church. Such a unified petition from God’s Church reveals the level of oneness and agreement we have with God.
We are a Family, and we are to actively love each other in God’s Family. There is no place in the Family or in that expression of love toward others that ever reflects jealousy, envy, resentment, fault finding, a judgmental spirit toward others, being offended, forsaking fellowship, etc. How much do we truly love one another and desire to be close to one another? I’ve received an incredibly large volume of letters where individuals state they have never seen a period of time where greater love has been seen and experienced in God’s Church. This is true, but we are to become even more fully sanctified as a complete Family before God, before this Holy Day season is observed.
The following verse of scripture should be at the forefront of our thoughts and prayers as we enter this upcoming fast.
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves how that Jesus Christ is in you or else you are rejected?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Areas To Examine
Indeed, each of us is to examine ourselves before God, seeking His help so we can see that which is within us that needs to change – to be repented of so we can become more at one with God. So this fast is about each of us individually being more fully cleansed and sanctified, and it is about the collective Body of Christ being cleansed and more fully sanctified in unity with God.
As I told Laura about part of the focus of this fast in preparation for the upcoming Holy Days and of my concern (from God) for some in the ministry who have pulled back and let down spiritually (and need to be cleaned up), she mentioned something specific about Atonement. She stated that she could not help but think about the High Priest, who was to make an atonement for himself and for his household, and then it goes on to show he also went to make an Atonement for the people. Laura then said, “I always thought that it was odd that it was stated that way, that his household was different from the congregation (the people). When you see the analogy spiritually, the ministry is the spiritual household of the High Priest and God is cleaning them up, making them ready to be atoned – those who change and repent.” It would be good for you to read about this in Leviticus 16:11-16.
This truly is a clearer revelation of those duties being performed by the High Priest on Atonement. Whereas each of us in the ministry are to examine ourselves, repent of sin, and more zealously work to be in complete unity with God, there are some specific areas each of you need to focus upon.
Do you work to be in contact with others in the ministry and work to build a stronger bond between yourselves? If not; why not? Do you function in a manner where you believe you are “over people” in an area (perhaps even in “your” area), or do you rather function to be one who serves, encourages, seeks to be a right example, engages others in a close family friendship, etc.?
Are any of you territorial or judgmental in your relationship with others in the ministry? Are you generous, gracious, gentle, kind, forgiving, and loving toward others in the Church?
There is one last area of major spiritual concern for the ministry and for the congregation, as this next example has and still does affect some. In my nearly 44 years in the Church of God, I’ve seen how the area of “ordinations” have so often brought conflict and even spiritual disaster to some people’s lives.
When someone is ordained, there is always someone else who will have a spiritual battle with it. This is an arena within the Church environment that can cause a person some of their greatest battles and also test one’s depth of unity and belief that this is “God’s” Church, and that it is God who calls anyone into the Church and anyone into the ministry. A time of ordination is a time when jealousies, envying, and pride are so often brought to the surface for many.
This matter of a wrong response to another’s ordination is what became manifest with some in the recent cleansing in the Church. One individual struggled with why they hadn’t been ordained while others had. Eventually this person left because their actual conflict was with God. Others became indignant and self-righteous when a woman was raised to a sr. elder. Sometimes individuals believe if anyone should receive such an ordination it is them, or others who are of that particular ordination can believe that another who has been raised to that same ordination is not worthy. Such conflict any individual has in any such cases is a conflict “against” God.
Do you believe (or expect) that you should be ordained, or ordained to a higher position in the ministry? That is one of the surest signs of becoming weaker spiritually (being on very dangerous ground). It is a wrong mindset; as such a mind can become “set” against God and His Church.
Two Areas of Examination
Although each of us is to examine ourselves by addressing “our own” individual weaknesses and sins, there are two additional areas of focus (other than what has already been covered) that need to be examined by everyone. These are two of the strongest reflectors of spiritual backsliding and negligence that should serve as a powerful mirror into our true spiritual state. These are two of the most important areas that everyone is tested in when first being called. Sadly, some never genuinely repent and fully change in “faithful” obedience to God in these most basic truths. This is about Sabbath observance (weekly and annually) and tithing (1st and 2nd, as well as offerings).
How do you observe God’s Sabbaths? Look in the mirror! Are these days fully set apart (sanctified) by you for holy use and purpose? Are you taking advantage of what you are physically capable of in regard to taking advantage of the kind of fellowship God has made available to you? Not everyone is in an area where they can travel to a location where services are held in order to be with others in God’s Family. How much is there a desire to perhaps be with a larger group at times if you are meeting with only a handful of people? Not taking advantage of such things can actually be for genuine reasons such as poor health or too vast of a distance to drive. Although some may think a “vast distance” is an hour or two away. Not so! What about 3 hours distance? Some may feel this is too much time spent on traveling or that it is too expensive to accomplish. Do you look to God for help in such matters because you “hunger” for the added spiritual benefit this can give you in life? Is twice a month possible, or maybe at least once? You must answer such questions before God.
The answers to such questions can reflect a lot about one’s “true spiritual state” of lethargy, sluggishness, and weakness, or of one’s zeal, trust, and hunger for God.
Another area for self-examination is in the faithfulness of tithing and the giving of Holy Day offerings. Giving both tithes and offerings are commanded by God, but as it says in Malachi, there are those who do not obey this and are “robbing” God. How long should God extend grace, patience, and mercy to such a person who would dare steal from Him? The “how long” question is about to be answered if quick repentance and change does not come immediately.
A final phase of cleansing, purification, sanctification, and judgment is right now upon God’s Church. We are being made stronger spiritually, individually and collectively, as the Body of Christ. That is what God is doing. This process has not stopped, nor has it slowed down, but it has actually picked up.
Just before I started writing this last section of the post (on the Sabbath) entitled “Two Areas of Examination,” I read Johnny’s sermon given in The Netherlands entitled “Work of Faith.” As always, it is inspiring to “see” God leading the Church, and all things (especially in sermons and posts) working together that reflect His structured, unified, and awesome creation in progress. In that sermon Johnny gave, an area of scripture was quoted that has already been used in this post. There are numerous other areas of order, harmony, and overall content that perfectly compliment each other in that sermon and this post.
In addition, Wayne was also in the final stages of preparation for the sermon God had given him on the subject of “Rebellion” that you will hear on the Sabbath of this fast. This subject is one that God inspired that should be covered at the same time as this fast.
In all this, do not misunderstand the thrust of this fast or the “true condition” of God’s Church today. Areas we should all focus upon as part of our self-examination are being covered in this post, but that does not mean that the Church is weak or experiencing any great trouble.
Johnny quoted part of a past post, “Extraordinary 4 ½ Years, Pt.4” in his sermon. I am going to quote one section of that post for you:
“As a result of God working with us over that 3 1/2 year period of final witness and then our experience of going into that prophetic day that led to a 5 month assault from Satan and the demonic world, we lived what God told Daniel in that oath (God’s promise) about being “scattered” – shattered in power. What an awesome thing to understand that it was our own selfish power that was being shattered so that God could live more fully in us in His power. It was in God’s power living more fully within us that gave us the power over Satan’s attacks. “For greater is He who is in you than he (Satan) who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).”
Another section of that post needs to be quoted where it was being described how Satan believed he could once again wreck great havoc and destruction upon God’s Church, as he did during the Apostasy:
“But Satan did not know what God had been molding and creating in a highly accelerated manner during the 1260 days of witness that had just ended. Those days were also evidence, in witness, to God’s incredible creative wisdom to more powerfully and more quickly than ever transform His people in greater character, oneness, and spiritually maturing faith. The Church was not weak as it was before the Apostasy. As the “Day of the Lord” drew on, God’s people were growing ever stronger.”
In Johnny’s sermon, in another section when he was quoting a scripture about faith in Hebrews 11, he was explaining how our faith will actually become stronger as we draw closer to Satan’s world coming to a close and as we see the final end-time events unfold. Then he commented on what he could see right now in God’s Church:
“I can see our faith, as Ron talks about in this post, I can see the strength in the Church of God that I could not see before. I see more resolve than I have ever seen amongst the brethren.”
That is so true! There is an overall closeness as family and a spiritual strength in the Church of God that I have not witnessed to this level in my nearly 44 years in God’s Church. But what we must grasp is that this is not a time to now coast, rest a while (relax), or even let up just a little in this great and final stretch of the race, but instead it is a time to press forward with greater effort and purpose than ever. God has not finished what He is molding “in” us before the Millennium is established.
This is a time to refocus and become more fully purified and sanctified so that we can actually pick up the pace and start sprinting to the finish – no matter when that happens. This is from our High Priest and God Almighty.
Each of us can put more into this final part of the race. The key is to know that it is not within us of our own doing, but with God who wants to give us even more. To give us more and to dwell more fully in us means we must receive greater purification individually and collectively. Some few are going to be removed, for this is about the whole Body of Christ that is to become stronger. Truly, a little leaven leavens the whole lump – it hurts the spiritual health and overall strength of the Body.
We have grown mightily over the past few years. It is all by God’s design and purpose. However, the growing is not over and there is more that we need in order to be more perfectly “prepared” for what is yet ahead. It is good here to consider a statement made by Jesus Christ: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” (Lk. 12:48). We have been given so much and we can do much more through receiving even more of God’s power and might into our lives.
We must be cleansed and made stronger – with more of God’s life dwelling “in” us. Not all will yield to this, yet the Body must be cleansed through repentance and change or through removal. God has placed this before each person to choose. Some portion will be removed.
A case in point, to show the wrong spirit of a few, there has been an attitude that has been reflected toward God in the matter of tithing (1st and 2nd) and Holy Day offerings. Knowing the subject matter of Wayne’s sermon being about rebellion, Laura wanted it communicated to Wayne about this specific attitude, as she knew he was already addressing a matter about monthly reports that the ministry have been told to submit each month. As one of Audra’s many tasks in working for the Church, she has been asked to check tithing and/or offering records of anyone who is seeking 2nd Tithe Assistance for the Feast of Tabernacles. The reason for this becomes obvious as I quote what she sent to Wayne about this matter that Laura wanted him to be aware of. He will likely be covering some of this in his sermon, but I do not know at this point. Here is what she sent:
“I was talking with mom and she told me to tell you about the conversation I had with her. We’ve been looking up tithing records for those who have requested Feast assistance and have noticed a few who haven’t given anything in the last year, or two years, and that includes 0 (zero) Holy Day offerings. She said that it needs to be addressed in a sermon, and I said to her, “Well I don’t understand because it has ALREADY been mentioned over and over before! Tithing has not only been mentioned over and over but Holy Day offerings too, and it has been stated that even if you don’t have a job or you are on a limited income, anyone can at least send in a dollar, and it’s commanded by God to do so.” So I mentioned that it was just like the topic in your sermon “Rebellion,” and that it was just like any elder who would think that they didn’t need to send in a report, in the same way, those people feel like they can “choose” not to send in a Holy Day offering, after they’ve been commanded to do so by God. Even after that had been repeated over and over in sermons already. It baffles me that people would even ask for assistance in a situation like that when they won’t even send in 1 dollar for over a year! If they think they can ask (and would have the nerve to do so) for something physical (money), when they can’t do what they are told to do physically (sending in an offering) then do they kid themselves into thinking they can ask for anything spiritual from God, and that He would give them anything? If they can’t do something small on a physical plain why would they think they would get anything on a spiritual plain?”
That says a lot and it must change, and it will change swiftly, one way or the other, as God will see to it. This cannot exist in the environment of God’s Church. The following verses say it so well:
“Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His. And, Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a person will therefore purge themselves of these (the things of dishonor and iniquity), they shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:19-21).
There is one final verse that also reflects much about the literal stage we are entering in that is very much about the glory that is to magnify the Messiah at his coming. These verses were also quoted in Johnny’s sermon.
“…Even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (of God), and that he might present it unto himself a glorious Church, not having wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy (filled with the life of God) and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). This is about those who will be brought to the fullest state of this fulfillment when the 144,000 are resurrected, but it is also about a Church that is very much alive and continuing in human life in the Body of Christ on into the Millennium, in a heightened sanctification and life of God dwelling in it.
We are going to bring honor and glory to God at the coming of His Son to reign as King and Messiah. We have been given a most incredible and awesome calling at this time in all the world’s history. We are exceedingly blessed!
There are a couple of areas of good news that I would also like to share at this time with everyone. While in Europe, Laura and Johnny laid hands upon Willem and officially raised him in ordination to an evangelist in God’s Church. Willem has jumped right into serving in that capacity by delivering a sermon for the Feast, and it will be given in both Dutch and in English.
In addition, eight sr. elders were asked to prepare split-sermons for the Feast and then told to submit them so we could listen to them and decide if we could use a couple to help the work-load of the evangelists. I actually read each one myself along with Laura and the evangelists listening to them and all giving their input. Audra also helped in this area, and it has been decided that all eight will be used. Let me say that I am exceedingly pleased with how they have yielded to God in this and were blessed to give what you will hear at this year’s Feast.
Brethren, we are stronger and more unified than ever, but God is revealing that the richness of this can and will be enhanced much more. We serve a most gracious and love-filled Father and elder Brother!