2014 National Theme: “United in the Mission’

Fasting Day 21

Unity in Purpose

Mark 10:35 – 41

V.35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. V.36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? V.37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right , and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. V.38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? V.39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: V.40 But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but {it shall be given to them} for whom it is prepared. V.41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.

I don’t know if my title should be, the obstacle of Unity or obstacles of unity, but there is something that is always going to be a stumbling block to the efforts made of achieving unity. The two stumbling  blocks that we must constantly address is selfishness and egotism. There is a wrestling that is constant in the heart of man with these two issues. The soulish area of man is the one place that we must address constantly. Our emotions and our desires must be constantly examined and evaluated. Why do I feel the way I feel and why do I want the things that I want?

There is no doubt that James and John were consumed with the aura of the presence of the man Christ Jesus. In his writings the historian Josephus comments that when he got to see Jesus Christ, the impact and impression of Jesus was that he was a God man. When the roman soldiers were sent to apprehend Jesus and bring him to the Pharisees. The roman soldiers returned and said, “never a man spake like this man.” The anointing and power of the ministry of Jesus captivated the roman soldiers in such a way that they could not do what they were commanded to do. So there is no doubt that James and John were so impacted that their heavenly ambitions prompted them to boldly ask of Jesus their petition. We want to be somebody great and we want to be the first ones in your choosing, and by the way Jesus, this is a family thing. We are brothers. We are pulling for each other, there is special interest here.

Were James and John being selfish and egotistical in their asking? Do we see the face of nepotism here? For we see the mother of these two men being the promoter of her two sons to Jesus. I wonder what the conversation of James and John was with their mother as they planed their approach to Jesus. I can see a zealous proud mother of two sons as she promotes the agenda of elevation before the Messiah. (Excuse me Master Jesus; my sons want to ask you something.)

We do not doubt the fact that James and John were to become great in the Kingdom of God. But what I notice here is the reaction and atmosphere that James and John create with the other Apostles. For when the ten heard what James and John had done, they became indignant or displeased. They became upset and mad and despised James and John for being so egotistical in their petition before Jesus. So tense became the condition of the feelings amongst them that Jesus immediately tells them. You know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. ( Mk 10: 42 – 45 )

This moment that transpired had created a division amongst the Apostles. It was two Apostles and a proud zealous mother against ten offended Apostles. I can almost hear the aggressive tough Peter saying under his breath, “who do James and John think they are? And why are they hiding behind the skirts of their mother? As soon as I get them alone I’ll give them a piece of my mind.” Does this scene look familiar? I think we have seen it more times than we care to remember, especially if you have been around a good number of years in Christianity. The pastor is called upon many a time to be the referee and counsellor of many a conflict and so many times the cause of the conflict is the selfish heart and character of an individual or both.

We cannot ignore the fact that pride is the big brother that pushes selfishness and egotism. Pride seeks self-exultation and cares little of others. The agenda is self-gratification and my program must be the one chosen. If I don’t get what I want or ask for, then there will be repercussions. Then we see or find individuals looking for sympathizers to support their cause or fight.

But if I am a servant, then my mission is to serve. My cause is the exultation of Christ. My hope is not for someone to acknowledge or praise me, but that Jesus may be exulted and glorified. I am just a servant, a slave is what Jesus called me, and a slave is what Paul the Apostle called himself. A slave, that does not sound so appealing. How we need slaves in the kingdom of God. When I examine this well, I don’t look to good. Truly I must die so that Christ may live in me.

If I am a servant I am not fighting for my rights, a slave does not have any. If I am a servant I look for others to be first because I am serving and not being served. If I am a servant I seek the comfort of others and not my own, I am serving. If I am a servant I am looking for the unity of the family of God, because the love of my great master who loved me and gave his life for me has so humbled me. I cannot find a way that is sufficient enough to express my gratitude that my Lord Jesus could love a sinner like me. So I will try my best and become a servant and give my life in service to bring the purpose of his gospel to fruition. This I will endeavor in the bond of peace, for the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. Amen

Yours for the Kingdom of Christ!

Bishop Mark Dominguez


Fasting Day 20

Unity in the Service

1 Corinthians 14:26-How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

The key verse we are focusing on in this occasion is in reference to the gatherings of the primitive church in Corinth and to the problems that were faced at these reunions. To be truthful, we find no outline about a service in the New Testament. But the apostle Paul’s intention was to bring order to these gatherings. Not much has changed since then, the gatherings now days are done so in the form that the clergy, who leads the church, understands that they should be. The variations of how services are done are abundant, and because of this we find a need to pay attention to the verses mentioned before. “Let all things be done for edification… Let all things be done decently and in order.” The Word edification in Greek is “oikodome” and means “a structure”, when there is unity in a service then a completed structure is formed. If each participant in a service is aware that their participation is for the edification of the body, they will be able to offer, with the help of their understanding, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the church officials, a service unto God in a decently and orderly manner. The results will be a unity in the service and everyone will be able to exclaim like King David, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

But it is much easier said than done. The enemy will do whatever is possible so that the service will not fulfill its purpose and will try to drench it in cold water. The service unto God is spiritual and so, if the participants are spiritual, then there will be a greater unity and there will be less opportunities for the enemy to cause problems in the service. Here is where the importance of fasting, prayer and consecration in the Word of God comes in.

A service that is characterized by unity is a service that is fluid throughout all its components. In my experiences the key to a powerful worship is the fluidity of the service. The various elements of the service are not patches that are disconnected and isolated, but rather an integral piece of a great and beautiful tapestry. There are no “dead” points or disruptive intrusions. The worshiper is taken by the good flow of the service.

A service that has fluidity is a service that has been adequately thought through, planned and prepared for. If to this we add the anointing of the Holy Spirit then without a doubt we will have a service that will fulfill the purpose for which it was created; the edification of the church and to glorify Christ! Let’s make a goal to remain in the unity of the service!


Fasting Day 19

UNITY IN CRISIS

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis; a stroke meaning “danger” and the other meaning “opportunity”.  In a crisis it becomes aware of the inherent danger of it, but you should also recognize the opportunity. And the biggest opportunity the crisis gives us is the opportunity to discover things, to open our eyes, to understand what we did not understand, to discover that we really are not as alone as we thought. We discover that God loves us, despite everything, and the Church unites with us and makes the burden of the crisis and bearable.

Acts 12:1-5 1Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.2And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Thank God for the Church! The Herod’s we find in the bible were very unscrupulous and bloodthirsty. This one, of this story, is the grandson of Herod from the time of Jesus. It seems that they tidied everything by killing their enemies. He had already sent to kill James, and now it was Peters turn. Everything looked very critical, but …the Church united in the midst of the crisis, and used the most powerful weapon it had: prayer – all united.

Beloved, do not allow the crisis to dictate your shape or lifestyle. Let God, through his word and peace, govern your steps. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing two or three, in the midst of the crisis, decided to agree, and together seek the face of God for victory.

Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

It looks like the disciples forgot the blessing of having to agree and join together in front of the crisis. This is so powerful that the Lord had to repeat it several times.

Beloved Church, do not isolate yourself in a crisis, look for someone to join, ask for help. Do not let your personal pride separate you from your brothers; that is very dangerous. Remember, victory is in unity not in isolation.

United with you,

Bishop, J. Fortino


Fasting Day 18

Unity through Worship

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

Today, in all areas of Christianity, we are seeing a wave of songs and song writers that have stirred up a revolution within the people of God, where they show a desire to be a paradigm to the new generations.

We believe that is good; but what happens when we sing only for the opportunity, without taking into consideration the true purpose of praise?
By these words, we can see that the writer makes reference to spiritual sacrifice through praise. Not through those material sacrifices anymore, which Christ has made superfluous, but the continuous confession of worship and thankfulness.

It must be understood that every believer, upon singing praise, their song must be the very expression of words with their actions. In this case, God will receive the worship that flows from the lips of the redeemed. We can take this to mean that the sacrifice should create good works toward those around us: expressing it to forge a unity, communicating it with helping and service, using our material and spiritual resources to do good and to share with those that have that type of need.

Every member in Jesus Christ should come together in their church with one accord and understanding—through healthy conduct, being filled with love and humility, and having a feeling of obedience and favorability towards others as is presented to us in Philippians 2:1-8.

Once the church demonstrates this kind of spiritual life, then we will obtain a true sacrifice of praise; what Jesus Christ pronounced to the Samaritan woman will become manifested:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. (John 4:23)

Any brethren that commit themselves for life searching for God via worship are disciples in the classic sense of the word and will look to keep what that dictates.

Their worship will be their way of life, practicing it weekly as well as daily. That process will give them more fellowship with their Lord and with others, and they will give a sacrifice of praise in times of prosperity and of difficulty.

Lastly, we understand that when the church gathers together to sing praises, that it truly reflect what they have done for the Lord and for their neighbor.


Fasting Day 17

Unity Among Bishops

Firstly, it is the saving work of the love of Christ that unites us. The blood of Christ that has been shed for the forgiveness of our sins. God Himself has redeemed us. All the more we have the Scriptures that tell us what the pure and fundamental doctrine of faith is.  Thus to deviate from that faith is to be outside of Christ’s Camp.

Consider Philipians 2:2 “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Paul said … the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)  Therefore, as Bishops it is necessary that we unite in all fundamental and doctrinal aspects. We need to look ourselves. We need to look at our districts, how they are growing and developing.

We must together find new purposes and ideals for growth. Together, we must look at our churches. We must share our experiences. Together we must say that we will remain upon the Eternal Rock which is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we need to work together in order to establish the Kingdom of God. All this revolves around one principal point: remaining united and not divided. We must overcome denominational barriers that separate us from the common ground that unites, which is JESUS.

Ask yourself. What is important in my life? If it is so, and in fact it must be so. Ought we not seek that which God would want? Should not we be seeking to love others as Christ instructed us? Love is the perfect bond of unity.

Bishop Isai Montoya
Distrito Sur Central de California.


Fasting Day 16

Unity in Cooperation

Ephesians 4:3 ” Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Unity in cooperation becomes a blessing for those who are sensible to the needs of God’s people. Also, unity becomes our responsibility to look after our brethren and offer help in any way we may that is within reach and if possible go above and beyond in supplying for that need. In this manner we are able to fulfill the mission at hand. Cooperation within the body of Christ takes on many forms such as:

“Praying us with much entreating that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4).

Saint Paul had proposed  to raise an offering  among the churches in Macedonia which he had planted and then proceeded to take that gift to those in need within the church of Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1-4, Romans 15:25-27).

The Macedonian churches had been going through hard times and tribulations (Phil. 1: 28-30, I Thess. 1:6). Although these churches were also facing hardship, through their combined efforts and cooperation they were able to, with great joy and generosity, raise an offering for the brethren in Jerusalem.

Saint Paul emphasizes how the churches had united “praying with much entreating…” not once, nor twice or thrice but many times with much entreating because the brethren considered it a privilege to be able to cooperate in this service toward the saints. We can see that unity can and must be kept in cooperation concerning the collection of funds for the help of churches, that is, the body of Christ.

As a second example of unity in cooperation we find in 2 Corinthians 1:11 the mention of cooperation within the body of believers concerning the prayers in favor of the Lord’s servants ” Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”

Without a doubt these brethren practiced Unity in Cooperation not only in financial matters but in the spiritual disciplines as well. In doing so, they have left an example to follow; that every pastor within the Apostolic Assembly unite with their respective congregations in prayer and fasting within the various sector, district, National and international levels of government and otherwise unite in the Spirit and in the bonds of peace in order to fulfill the mission at hand; Unity in cooperation.

God bless our honorable assembly in order to fulfill our mission of Unity.

Sincerely,
Bishop Bernardo Iglesias


Fasting Day 15

“Unity in the District”

The Third Strand

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12b (KJV)[9] Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.[10] For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.[12] . . . “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

There is great strength in spiritual unity.

In Matthew 18:19, Jesus said, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

For where two are closely joined in holy love and fellowship, Christ will by his Spirit come to them, and become the third strand.

In Luke 24:13-35, we find two disciples walking together on the road to Emmaus, sharing their experiences and feelings of the crucifixion of Jesus when suddenly the resurrected Christ joined himself to them on the road. Jesus then became the third strand to their unity walk. (“Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3)

As they arrived at their lodging, the two disciples constrained the Lord to stay with them for the night. In their continued conversations, the Lord strengthened them in the faith. Then the Lord took bread, broke it, and communed with the disciples. It was then that Jesus revealed Himself to them and confirmed His death, burial, and resurrection. Revelation and the miraculous will happen when we unite and commune with Christ. The two disciples became His mouthpiece and witnesses of the resurrection power of God. They that dwell in unity and love, dwell in God, and God in them.

Luke 24:33-35  “So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, [34] saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” [35] And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”

“He was known to them in the breaking of bread”
The Lord will become known to us when we break bread in fellowship!

If every pastor would commit to pray and break bread with his neighboring pastor, we can tear down any barriers that can easily confine and distract us. If we join in fellowship and unite, the Lord will become the third strand in our mission, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken”. More than ever, our effort should be to unite the pastors and churches in our district to reach our potential and grow the Kingdom of God.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”  2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NKJV

Humbly submitted,
Bishop Joseph Rodriguez


Fasting Day 14

PASTORS UNTIED WITH CHRIST’S MISSION

First Peter 5:1-4 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. (NLT)

The Apostle Peter after addressing doctrines and fundamental principles to the newly converted believers, during a time of hardship and persecution he encourages and prepares them to be patient and persevere in the faith when suffering and sad calamities were coming upon them that they can prevail the slanders and the reproaches of their enemies by being faithful and live for God in holiness.

Now the Apostle Peter in chapter 5 of his first epistle gives exhortation to all the elders (Pastors) of the churches in which he includes himself as an elder (Pastor), they all are witnesses of the sufferings of Christ and partakers of His Glory that shall be revealed. The Apostle Peter within his exhortation calls the elders to take time to reflect on their calling, duties and finally their rewards.

The Apostle Peter wants the Elders including himself to reflect on the Flock (congregation) that was entrusted to them by God. Their duty is to…

Care for the flock
Watch over the flock willingly
Lead them by example.

Then the Apostle Peter exhorts the Elders (Pastors) to revive their passion in pastoring; “Eager to Serve God” – meaning to serve God’s people with enthusiasm and desire. Not grudgingly, not what you can gain from it, not becoming a dictator; but being a servant of God. The Writer to the Hebrews stated these words about the Elders; “they watch for the souls and to do with joy” (13:17).

Finally, the Apostle Peter tells the Elders that the Great Shepherd (Jesus Christ) will soon appear, to judge and reward all the elders, to call them to accountability to those who faithfully discharge their duty both publicly and privately according to the forgoing directions. Those that are found to have done their duty shall receive from the Great Shepherd a crown of never-ending glory and honor. In the King James version it says “A crown of glory that does not fade away.”

Jesus Christ leaned over to Simon Peter and said, “Do you love me?” and Peter response was “Yes, I love you.” Then Jesus gives him a mission, “Find My sheep” (John 21:15-17). If we really love the Lord, let us all unite as pastors with Christ’s mission, Feeding God’s people, leading them to greener pastures and watch over their souls, knowing that our reward will be given by the Great Shepherd.

By Bishop Agustin Hoyer III
North Central California District


Fasting Day 13

Unity within Evangelism

“And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven”
Mark 2:1-5

During his ministry in Galilee, Jesus entered the house of Simon Peter one night probably tired and rumor pf his arrival spread quickly. How did they find out? The case was that the house was full and the four disciples tried to come in but could not, no one moved to allow them to enter, no one wanted to expose losing your place. Leonard Ravenhill dijo “At the doors of our churches lay the masses not being reached because they are not being searched for, they are not being sought because they are not loved”

The roof strategy was able to fix there problem and Jesus observing there faith, love and unity preformed the miracle.

These men who brought the sick man to Jesus showed us what a united effort can produce. There was harmony between these disciples. Jesus’ strategy is an excellent tool where we can work in unity within each of its gears. It is true that we are all different but harmony is comprised of differences, but together give the same chord. In a symphony orchestra or band can there can be different musical instruments each gives a different sound, but united give a single tone and this is when harmony and melody arise. Uniting the necessary elements: gifts, ministries, talents and temperaments, will cause the impact we should have on our society as the salt and light that we are.

The Apostle Peter says that we are “living stones” and this expression refers to the carved columns that held an entire structure. We each have a role and are united in the work of evangelization. The missionary William Carey mentioned the unity of evangelism as follows: “I will go down to the deepest mine in India, where thousands are lost, if you hold the rope.”

How many souls are neglected for lack of unity? Through evangelization we can reach people who are paralyzed by sin in there bed of impossibilities, in the depths of sin. We are united in the plan of God: Evangelization.

(Palms 133, Mathew 28:16-20, John 17:21:23, Acts 2:41-47, Ephesians 4:11)


Fasting Day 12

UNITY IN FASTING

Read Isaiah 58:1-12

Hunger is defined as a craving or urgent need for food. The word fast in the Bible is simply denying the body food.  Therefore; it could be argued that a fasting unto the Lord is denying our body the mundane things it naturally craves so that our hungering after God’s glory and will might grow.

The Problem with Mankind is that in our fallen state we have an insatiable desire to gratify ourselves. Many of our days are spent on satisfying our own needs, on being bighearted with ourselves. It is true that selfishness is depravities most obvious expression. Because we have a sinful nature the most natural thing is for us to focus on ourselves, on our needs and our wants. Selfishness is an inordinate focus on what we desire at the expense of God’s glory and will. Human history is replete with examples of this dismal problem.

In Isaiah 58 God is chastising the nation of Israel for collectively fasting and praying in a manner that was useless in advancing his divine purposes. The nation fasted as a means to realize their desires. The goals of Israel in fasting were too mundane, too lowly. God desired much more than mere religious acts that for them were nothing more than instruments for getting from God the things they wanted for themselves. Their fasting was designed to change for the better their circumstances, but not to change them. The manner in which they were fasting allowed them to take delight in their apparent God-seeking, and in afflicting their souls through fasting and yet remain unchanged (vss. 2,4). In other words, they fasted and at the end of their fasts they still craved the ordinary, common, material things that all men desire. Nothing had changed. Their hunger was not elevated, while fasting, from the mundane to the heavenly. Consequently, God closed his ears to their prayers and became a silent spectator as they preformed their endless religious acts (vs. 3).

To the nation of Israel, the silence of God seemed to indicate that God didn’t care. But he did, He cared greatly! Israel was his chosen nation. He longed for the time when, instead of mere religious afflictions, they would instead seek righteousness and ask to be changed (vss. 6,7). He looked to a time when a putting off of unrighteousness and a putting on of righteousness would highlight their approach to God. So he sent the Prophet Isaiah to decry their shortcoming. “Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet.” was the prophets mandate as he revealed the people’s sin and God’s heart for his people.

To hunger after God is to hunger after righteousness. The prophet Isaiah called the people of Israel to eight external acts of righteousness each of them having to do with the weak and the oppressed. These virtuous acts, however, would only be possible if internal transformation took place. Israel was called to: loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the straps of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, 
 break every yoke, share their bread with the hungry, bring the homeless poor into their houses, clothe the naked, and hide not themselves from their own flesh (vss. 6,7). A people that walk humbly before their God are to manifest their love for Him by acts of righteousness, kindness and love. The measure of our love for God has always been and will always be our love for our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). Hence, God called Israel to continue fasting and in so doing to seek to become more like him. Fasting should always be a time of change; it should be a time of self-examination.

God’s promises to Israel, if they honored Him in their approach, were great! Listen to the words of the Prophet.  Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; 
your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’(vss. 8,9). These promises were for Israel. They are also our promises! They include the things we need to be fruitful and the things God desires to give us. As we approach the second half of our 21-day fast let us remember what God really cares about in these times of consecration. He cares about righteousness because he cares about his people. So let us pray: “Lord let the shouting’s of our very human desires be quieted and our hunger for you and for righteousness grow. Amen.”

Bishop Felipe A. Salazar


Fasting Day 11

United in the Work
“Building the House of God”

2 Chronicles 2:1-6

2:1 And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.

3 And Solomon sent to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, As thou didst deal with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him an house to dwell therein, even so deal with me.

4 Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.

5 And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods.

6 But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? Who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him.

In Solomon we see a determination to build the Lord a house. He said the house that he would build would be great because the God that he was building it for was great.

We also see that Solomon was able to gather others to unite with him in this mission if building a House of Worship unto the Lord. Solomon and others became “United in the Mission” and “United in the Work”.

As Apostolics we must be “United in the Work” so that we may “Build the House”. Here, “House” is used to refer to the Kingdom of God or the congregations we serve.

As in Solomon, who was granted the gift of wisdom, we must also ask God for the His wisdom to become united in the mission He has placed in our hands. The wisdom Solomon received was not just for the specular, but for action! As servants of the Almighty God we must unite in the work of reaching the Lost for Christ. We must be united in His work and place our faith into the action of reaching many more people who need the Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ has commissioned us as the servants He will use in these last days. He said “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). There’s a church to be built, there’s a harvest ready to be harvested and there are souls waiting to be saved.  We must be “United in the Work” to reach this lost world for Jesus.

We must unite to bring people together for the purpose of glorifying and honoring the name of Jesus. We must be united in His work so people can assemble together to hear Him speak to our lives. United in the work to bring His glory and anointing to all.

One of the greatest needs in the Church today is to communicate purpose, direction and destiny to His people. Jesus has given and shown us His purpose. In Luke 19:10 we read “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” As we unite in prayer and fasting for unity in the work we will be touched by Christ so His purpose will also be our purpose. Let us also seek and save the lost through the blood of Jesus Christ.

To be “United in the Work” we must have ‘Trust”. We must have trust in God and also trust in each other and those who serve with us. The Lord while on this earth reached out and touched people. The people also reached out and touched Him. They trusted Him with complete faith. They trusted Jesus with their needs, family, and children. They trusted Jesus with all areas of their life.  As we unite in the work we must also trust each other in every area of our ministry and calling. When we do this we will be able to touch the people for Christ and they in turn will be able to touch and trust Christ for their salvation. And the greatest benefit is that they will in turn also touch others for Christ and those will touch Jesus with the faith for salvation.

There are many hurting men, women and children in this world that is lost in sin. As we fast and pray let us ask God to help us be “United in the Work” and in trust so that this lost world may trust us to present to them the Savior of the World. The Mission and Work of the Church is to touch people with the redemptive love of Jesus and of the Church. Let us show forth His mercy in a way that will cause the people to want to touch Christ.

God bless you

Bishop Abel E. Rodriguez
East Los Angeles District


Fasting Day 10

UNITED IN PRAYER

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” ACTS 2:1

I have always believed and especially in these latter days, that God is ready and waiting to give us a great outpouring of His Holy Ghost.

But I also understand that God’s plans for a person or for a group of people don’t just happen. There must first be a  preparation of ourselves in order to receive what God wants to give us before it can take place.

We are all familiar with the story of Acts chapter 2. The day of Pentecost was the day the Holy Ghost rained down from Heaven to dwell in the hearts of men for the first time.  It didn’t just happen because some people casually got together to pray.

It had been planned out in the mind of God since the beginning of time!  The prophet Joel had prophesied that God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh 400 years before it ever happened.

I truly believe the reason God chose to fill 120 believers and 3000 sinners with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost was because there was a group of people who had prepared themselves for that very day!

This was God’s plan. And it is still God’s plan, He still wants people to be saved. All the 120 that were in the upper room received it and 3000 more sinners were saved because of God’s Mercy and Grace.

But every time we see the Holy Ghost poured out in the Bible, there were always a group of believers who had submitted their will to God’s perfect will.

The 120 had submitted their plans to God’s plans. They had laid aside their own plans. They were together in the same place praying for days. And as soon as they received the Holy Ghost they began to share what they had received.

The reason I believe 3000 sinners received the Holy Ghost that same day was because these 120  believers were prepared in with one accord in the Mission that Jesus had mandated to them.

Finally, we the Church of Jesus Christ, have received the same Holy Spirit of God, the same message, as well as the same mandate in Acts chapter 1:8, but we need to come together in one accord spiritually to have the same mind of Christ by submitting to His perfect will. My brethren lets strive to be UNITED IN PRAYER, in Jesus Name.

Bishop John Sanchez
Southern California District


Fasting Day 9

United in the Helping

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

Today’s theme deals with the ministry of “helps” in the church.  This ministry is vital for the health of the church and to have success in our pastoral work.  God has gifted and equipped His church with the adequate staff for it to fulfill its function and purpose in this world.  God has appointed men and women in the church to fulfill the “spiritual” as well as the “natural”.  When the pastor has adequate help in the “natural” things, he will be able to fulfill the “spiritual” effectively and with excellence.  In the Old Testament we find an example of this principle in the leadership of Moses; we can find this example to be helpful to us today.

At this point in his leadership, Moses felt a heavy burden from the people of Israel and was not able to carry it by himself.  According to the story, the congregation of the people of Israel was approximately five million people.  Moses was frustrated with the people and the people also felt frustrated with him.

I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. (Numbers 11:14)

God heard Moses clamor and gave him this counsel:

So the Lord said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. (Numbers 11:16-17)

God gave Moses detailed instructions to get him out of this problem.  The plan of God was for Moses to share his responsibilities of leadership with seventy faithful men.  Because Moses obeyed God, he activated the ministry of “helps” within the congregation of Israel.

The unity of the Spirit activates the ministry of “helps” within the church.  When this happens, God raises up dynamic leaders to help the pastor carry the load.  God gives the pastor the vision to direct the congregation, however, the pastor can’t carry the load by himself.  He must share the load with faithful men and women.

There is something beautiful and important in this story: God imparts the spirit of Moses into seventy men.  God imparts into them a measure of Moses’ anointing.  When this happened, they received the same vision and passion that Moses had for the people of Israel.  This divine intervention produced unity between Moses and his leaders.  And in doing so, they shared it with the entire congregation.

In the book of Acts, we find the same example.  The church had grown and the work had multiplied for the Apostles and for this reason, the widows were unattended. Just as there was murmuring in the time of Moses, we find the same thing happening to the leadership of the Apostles.  However, the direction of the Holy Spirit was the same as in the time of Moses.

Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word  And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1-7)

Dear pastors, the help that we need for our pastoral work is sitting within our congregations. We don’t need to import help from elsewhere. In our church pews, there are men and women who can help us do the natural things, while we can attend to the spiritual things more effectively and with excellence. Don’t be afraid to share your leadership with faithful men and women. When we all work within the order of the Spirit, united in harmony, church growth becomes exponential. In this New Year of 2014, let us activate this ministry of “helps” in our congregations so that we may see the spiritual and numerical growth that God will give us.

United in the Vision,

Bishop Joe Prado


Fasting Day 8

UNITY IN THE FAMILY

BUT IF SERVING THE LORD SEEMS UNDESIRABLE TO YOU, THEN CHOOSE FOR YOURSELVES THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE, WHETHER THE GODS YOUR ANCESTORS SERVED BEYOND THE EUPHRATES, OR THE GODS OF THE AMORITES, IN WHOSE LAND YOU ARE LIVING. BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSEHOLD, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.”
Joshua 24:15, New International Version

We learn the following family principles from Joshua’s discourse to the people of Israel in Joshua 24 and from his life:

1. Our family’s unity is reached in God’s presence. And God’s presence is with our family through prayer, worship and consecration. To start off the year in fasting and prayer with our family is the best way to unite our family

2. Our family’s unity is constructed through daily reading and study of God’s Word. Joshua’s family was ready to walk in the Lord’s covenant because they had been taught well and constantly.

3. Our family’s unity must be modeled through our faith in and obedience to God’s commandments. To his family Joshua was a firm example of confidence and respect to God’s precepts.

4. And our family’s unity is based in our constant decisions with which we affirm the covenant of exclusive consecration that we have made with the Lord Jesus Christ.

A testimony of family unity upon trusting in God:

The Castellanos family was going through a good time. Mario and Maria had been blessed with four kids. They felt complete. Even though their youngest kid, Emmanuel, was born with Down syndrome, everyone at home and at church loved him and that made the family feel happy regardless of the special care he needed.

Due to that syndrome being genetic, the Castellanos family decided not to have more babies to avoid the risk and to be able to take better care of Emmanuel.

Not expecting it, sister Maria found out she was pregnant in July 2001. When she shared the news with her husband, both started to cry fearing that this new baby would come with Down syndrome as well.

When sister Castellanos had the first exam with her gynecologist, she told her that unfortunately the baby had Down syndrome. The doctor, knowing about Emmanuel, advised our sister to have an abortion using all kinds of “humanitarian arguments”. Since the beginning, Sister Maria stood firm: her baby was going to be born.

That afternoon, she shared the unpleasant news with her husband. They both wept bitterly thinking that this new baby would also be born with mental retardation.

In September 2001, the next medical exam simply confirmed that the baby would be born with the already detected disease. Both husband and wife firmly told the doctors that they would keep the baby. That if it was God’s will for this baby to be like this, they would welcome and love him/her.

Their church started to pray for Sister Maria and her baby. Later, at the end of the year, more than 50 members of her church did a 21-day fast following the Prophet Daniel’s model. During this fasting, they prayed intensely for baby Castellanos and for other sick people too. In November 2001 and January 2002, the exams revealed the baby as a girl who was going to be born with Down syndrome.

Baby Castellanos was born on March 6, 2002 at Garfield Medical Center. When this little girl was born, her mother immediately held her, checked her out and shouted: “she is healthy!” The doctor scolded her with a rude question (because human wisdom is proud), but at the end, they kept her one more day at the hospital to do exams on her. On the third day, they sent her to a specialized hospital for another set of medical exams. The results were the same: Belen Castellanos (this is the Apostolic girl’s name) was born completely healthy and even to this day, she is a healthy and happy girl, but most of all, alive because her parents united in prayer and obeyed the Word of God.


Fasting Day 7

Unity Among the Brethren

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 KJV)

King David received a divided kingdom and through God’s help, was able to unite it. He could well have written this psalm when he began his reign in Jerusalem, when he became King of both Hebron and Judah. The challenge was to not only unite the brethren but to maintain harmony among the brethren.

Gathering together in one place to worship, is not the main objective, but as the original language denotes, “to dwell even (also) together in unity.” Unity, here, is compared to 1) the anointing oil upon Aaron and 2) the dew of Hermon. The oil that was poured upon Aaron when he was consecrated to the holy office, was “good and delightful”, and so abundant that it descended upon the whole person, diffusing a sweet fragrance all around. The dew that descended upon Hermon was gentle, abundant, and life-giving, spreading beauty and abundance all around. This level of unity, then, is what God has appointed as the place of worship, the seat of His residence, and the source of all godly and eternal life-giving influence.

God desires for brethren to dwell also together in unity and harmony. We have been called and consecrated for holy service. God’s love should so fill the community of brothers and sisters in the church that it has a sweet and holy influence on those around us. This influence is not a forced or unnatural one, but calm and refreshing. When this unity occurs among the brethren, God makes their community His throne and the place where people find eternal life.

Maintaining the spiritual unity of God’s people is the work of every believer, through the power of the Holy Ghost. We that have been born again belong to the same family and must pray for the empowerment of God’s Spirit to love one another, to reject everything that would bring division, and to receive God’s life-giving Word and daily renewal in the Holy Ghost. May He make us one, and may this unity influence the world around us to come to where we meet to worship, the place where eternal life will be disseminated upon them. So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. There is nothing impossible for those who walk together in unity to fulfill God’s vision and purpose for their local churches.

Coming together in the unity of the Spirit is the beginning, keeping together in unity is progress, and working together in unity in the power of the Spirit, is success! May you have a very prosperous New Year, united in the bonds of peace!


Fasting Day 6

UNITY IN THE MISSION

Acts 2:43-47 (NIV)
43. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

44. All the believers were together and had everything in common.

45. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

46. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

47. praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

For three and a half years, the Lord Jesus Christ developed His ministry in the demonstration of power and love. His disciples traveled with him as he prepared them for the great task ahead. After his resurrection he manifests himself to them with irrefutable evidence that he had died but was resurrected. Moments before ascending to heaven while with his disciples, he confirms His commission by saying “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV). For several days this group of men and women prayed together waiting for the promised power. Once filled with the Holy Spirit, with authority and power they launched themselves on the mission to take the gospel to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

The book of Acts clearly records the boldness with which this small group of disciples won thousands for the kingdom of God. This raises some questions: What was it that made this community of believers grow and succeed? How was it possible to reach so many people from different countries and languages? How was it possible to have a growth from 120 people to thousands in such a short time?

Let me offer the following: first, in the book of Acts several times we see the expressions, “and they prayed or when they had prayed” The apostolic church of the first century; PRAYED, the word of God says: “They all joined together constantly in prayer” Acts 1:14 (NIV) They were united in prayer, praying for one another, they prayed for their enemies, for direction, for healing and for their leaders. They prayed in the streets, in homes, at the beach, on boats and in the temple. This church was united in prayer. Second, the word of God says: “All who believed were together and had all things in common;” Acts 2:44 (NKJV). These believers were together, they prayed and because they prayed they were united. They believed in Jesus Christ and in the power of the gospel. They believed that Jesus Christ was the only one who can save the sinner. Together they preached this truth to the entire world, without fear for their own lives. They managed to impact their community, and as a church to provide for the needs of all. Of course they faced difficulties and problems, but together they managed to overcome and obtain the victory. Because they prayed they were united. Finally, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number those who were being saved”. Because they were united God added to the church those who were being saved. The early church understood the importance of being united and that only through the power of God they could reach the world. United they believed and lived what the prophet Zechariah spoke: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV) and the Lord added to the church those who would be saved. The church that prays and is united is the church that grows.


Fasting Day 5

UNITED IN VISION

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”  Philippians 1:27

At the beginning of the Second World War, American public opinion was very much against the participation of the country in this great international conflict. Isolationism reigned in the United Stated because the First World War had left very painful memories in the minds of the people.

But this sentiment changed when the Japanese Imperial Army suddenly attacked the navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Sunday morning December 7, 1941 and more than 2, 400 sailors lost their lives.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a very emotional speech declared war against the Japanese Empire and said that the day of the attack would be remembered as the “ Day of Infamy.”

The citizens of the U.S. united in such a way that people from every walk of life including the  children,  the housewives, the average working man, small business owners, corporate executives and government leaders accomplished what was asked of them from President Roosevelt.

This national unity was critical in winning the war as were the efforts of the soldiers who fought valiantly

God’s Church needs to unite in the vision of our Lord who desires that “ all people to  be saved and  to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  1 Timothy 2:4

Let’s do everything from our part so that God’s plan becomes a reality and many people obtain salvation through our unity and effort.


Fasting Day 4

Unity in the Church

Ephesians 4:3 English Standard Version (ESV)“eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The unity Paul speaks of involves three things that we should have in common. Ephesians 4:13 speaks of a “unity of . . . the knowledge of the Son of God.” This speaks of our common convictions about Christ. That same verse also speaks of a “unity of faith.” This speaks of our common confidence in Christ. And Ephesians 2:14 speaks of the end of hostility. When hostility is replaced with love, we have a common care for each other. It is now obvious from Ephesians 2:14; 4:3 and 4:13 that unity of the Spirit is having common convictions about Christ, common confidence in Christ, and common care for each other.

The Holy Spirit frees our hearts from foolish, self-defensive prejudices so that we are willing to own up to true convictions about Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14–16). The Holy Spirit enables us to have faith in Christ and to cry out to God with confidence, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15–16). And the Holy Spirit bears the fruit of love in our lives and gives us a common care for each other (Galatians 5:22). So our common convictions and confidence and care are all results from our being led by the Holy Spirit. Therefore Paul calls it the “unity of the Spirit” (v. 3).

The focus in of Ephesians 4:3 is not so much on how to maintain our common convictions or our common confidence. Those are assumed as a starting point. The focus of this verse is on how a group of imperfect people can preserve a common care for each other. How can you keep on caring about a person who doesn’t like you? Or a person who likes music you don’t like? Or a person who opposes you and wants to frustrate your dreams? How do you maintain the unity of the Spirit with them instead of becoming hostile and cold? Paul answers these questions in verse 2: be humble in spirit so that you can patiently endure their differences and their sins. A man of humility is very aware of the enormity of his own debt toward God and how he has dishonored God through unbelief and disobedience. He is also very aware of God’s amazing grace that saved a wretch like him.

Therefore, the man of humility cannot easily or quickly retaliate when he is wronged. He knows that he doesn’t deserve anything better. If he returns evil for evil, he is well aware that would be like saying to God, “You were foolish for being patient with me and enduring my sin and returning good for my evil.” And that would bring disgrace and discredit upon our high calling.

For this reason, let’s not be puffed up but humble and meek. Let’s not be impatient or resentful, but tolerant and forgiving. Then the unity that Christ died to create will become real in our church, and we will not bring any disgrace or discredit upon our great God who called us into the glory of His kingdom.


Fasting Day 3

Unity in Giving

Phil 2:1-2 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ… 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. NIV

In every church, there are people from a wide variety of backgrounds who have been exposed to different denominational influences. There are those who understand their Christian liberties, yet others who feel it’s necessary to impose strict rules for the sake of calling it disciplined. How can we keep all those factors from causing rifts in the fellowship and togetherness of a church? This has become one of the greatest challenges Christians face today, the maintaining of unity. The last thing God wanted to see between believers is a break in the fellowship.

In order to define the thought of “Unity in Giving” we must first define “Unity” as well as “Giving”. With that in mind we must first ask the questions regarding unity: “What unites the Lord’s people?”  “What makes for real, lasting, binding unity among the Family of God?” Secondly, regarding the word giving, and only because the word “giving” entails various types of giving, such as financial, time, physical, emotion as well as love, we must ask the question “To what extent are we giving?” “What type or kind of giving do we make reference too?”

In Nehemiah 3 we see the people united with different occupations working as one towards a common goal. In this case, they gave as one in the above mentioned ways. There were hardships, there were set-backs, there was serious opposition, but through it all, the hand of God was upon them bringing them into a very genuine state of unity.

Unity! The word brings in the thought togetherness. The thought immediately takes us to the scripture in Acts 2:1 that states: “… they were all with one accord in one place.”  This scripture reflects the thought of being together under the same roof doing the same thing as one. Unity cannot be separated in thought and heart. To contemplate the thought of being separated reveals division which automatically comes against God’s principals and word. Paul speaks in Eph 4:13,14,16 “till we all come to the unity of the faith…to a perfect man…14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies…”.  Paul uses the analogy of the whole body, joined and knit together by which every part does its share thus bringing growth to the body in this case the body of Christ.
Giving! The entire New Testament is structured on the thought of love which in turn brings in the word give.  John 3:16 reflects exactly that: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

Thou we understand that giving takes on many shapes and forms, it is understood that it does involve relinquishing something that we possess. As we give thought to this we would only assume that when we speak of giving to God’s kingdom it is something we treasure whether it is our time, our bodies, or our finances. Giving unto God or for that matter to anyone must be done with a purpose. It goes without saying that one that gives unto God reaps the greatest benefit. One can only imagine the outcome of giving out of love and obedience of what one treasures unto a heavenly Kingdom that in reality does not covet or have need of. Luke places on paper the words of Jesus in which states: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom…” (Luke 6:38)

To summarize, uniting together as a church to give unto Him that is worthy of all can only bring us strength, value, togetherness and victory. A church, its leaders and the body of believers stand only to benefit when we unite and give to a cause whether it be in the physical, material or spiritual realm. THIS is what unites the people of God.  In every age what brings unity is the giving of ourselves in mission and purpose. As we take part in this giving we will need each other and depend on each other in a deep and lasting way.

Bishop Alfredo Muñoz
Northwest Washington District


Fasting Day 2

UNITY AMONG THE LEADERSHIP

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!It is like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”         Psalm 133:1-3

Though this psalm is a very brief psalm, its encouragement of unity and brotherly loveis eternal amongst the Children of God. Some surmise that David wrote this psalm upon occasion of the union between the tribes when they all met unanimously to make him king. The unity amongst the leadership of the Twelve Tribes of Israel was a big part of the inspiration in writing this psalm. In the twelfth chapter ofI Chronicles we see all the leaders from the tribes of Israel starting to align all their efforts and strength behind David’s leadership.

This psalm is referred to as a Song of Ascents. The title Song of Ascents was given to fifteen of the Psalms, 120–134.  Many scholars believe these psalms were sung by the worshippers as they ascended up the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16).  It is believed that because of the poetic form of these psalms and the sentiments they expressed, these psalms were well suited for being set to a melody, and easy to be sung.  Can you imagine the spirit and emotion felt by all worshipers hearing the singing of these choruses as they made their way to the temple?They were alsosung by the priests, the leaders of the temple,as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem.Led by the leadership of the priest,this worship was a call of unity to the pilgrims arriving to the festivals.

The commendation of this psalm was for the brethren to dwell together in unity. It immediately gives us the results of the unity; “how good and how pleasant it is!”  Some have thought the best way for preserving peace, is for the brethren to live asunder and at a distance from each other; that indeed may prevent enmity and strife (Genesis 13:9), but the goodness and pleasantness are for brethren to dwell together and so to dwell in unity, to dwell even as one (so some read it), as having one heart, one soul, one interest.  It is good in itself, agreeable to the will of God, and brings the peace from heaven to earth. It is pleasant and pleasing to God and all good men; it brings constant delight to those who thus live in unity.

Goodness and pleasantness are illustrated by the anointing of the chief priest before he enters the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, i.e. at oneness with God.  The fragrance of the holy anointing oil, whose aroma was strongly perfumed, spread its odors to the great delight of all the Children of Israel.  It was poured upon the head of Aaron, the high priest, so plentifully that it ran down the face, even to the collar and then descended to the rest of the garments. Once the Children of Israel could smell this holy aroma they would unite in prayer for their ministering priest, the chief priest.  All in one heart, one soul, one interest, as “…one man…” (Nehemiah 8:1), the Children of Israel would intercede for their spiritual leader as he ministered for the forgiveness of their sins.

Unity among the leadership is fructifying; it brings abundance of blessings. As well as being good and pleasing it can produce incredibly profitable items.  King David compares it“…as the dew…” Just as the dew of the morning can prepare for the scorching heat of the mid-day sun, the evening dews work to cool the air and refresh the earth. The dew contributes very much to the fruitfulness in everything that is good; it moistens the earth, and makes it tender and fit to receive the good seed.  Both Mount Hermon and the mountains of Zion would wither without this dew.  So also will the people wither when the leadership is not continuing to promote unity within the Body of Christ.  As the morning dew was able to cool and refreshthe scorching heat of the mid-day sun, so can the leadership promoting unity cool the scorching heat of men’s passions. As the evening dews cools the air and refreshes the earth,the unity amongst the leadership contributes very much to our fruitfulness in everything that is good; it prepares the heart, and makes it tender and fit to receive the good seed of the Word of God.


Fasting Day 1

Ephesians 4:3 “…endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

This will be the theme that will engage us during these 21 days of fasting from January 2nd through January 22nd.  It is so good for us to be united!  Our energy is wasted away in conflicts and divisions.  Energy we require to fulfill the mission that God has given us on earth.  We lose time, lots of time in the differences that we have.  Time that we don’t have, that we should use to once again carry out the mission.

Paul’s exhortation begins with the word “endeavoring.”  In Greek it is: σπουδάζοντες – spoudazontes.  This word tells us that unity is something that is sought out, is strived, and is fought for.  Unfortunately, unity is not something that occurs by itself.  We must work to achieve it, we must strive, we must be very diligent. In the strictest sense of the word, endeavoring, applies to someone who is willing to serve and satisfy others.  So a person who seeks unity, is a person who denies himself and strives to satisfy someone else.  To achieve unity, this person, is willing (endeavoring) to cross barriers and even humble themselves, if it is necessary.

It is easier to be part of division than it is to be part of unity.  In conflicts and division, the only thing you have to do is to follow others; those who seek unity are always going against the current and popular opinion.  In the Sermon on the Mount, especially in the Beatitudes, we find the Lord Jesus, detailing the conditions of those who want unity.  It is not easy, but only in this way, will we be blessed.

Apostolic Assembly, the unity that I am presenting to you and asking all of us is not a whim, much less a slogan to muddle through and begin the year with something to do, no, a thousand times no.  This is a spiritual discipline to heal wounds, to break bands, to promote peace, to practice John 17, and above all, to “Fulfill the Mission.”

God bless you and enjoy the upcoming reflections that will come to you from the members of the International Board and the District Bishops.

For unity in the mission,

Bishop, J. Fortino
President

Greek: σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ Πνεύματος , ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης

Endeavoring (σπουδάζοντες – spoudazontes): be diligent, pay great attention

To keep (τηρεῖν – terein): protect, care for, ensure, chase

The unity (τὴν ἑνότητα – henoteta): unanimous, agreement

Of the Spirit (τοῦ Πνεύματος – pneumatos): spirit, wind, divine strength

In the bonds (ἐν τῷ  συνδέσμῳ – sundesmo): a link, the band that unites

Of peace (τῆς  εἰρήνης – eirenes): the Peace of God, that surpasses al human understanding.

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