By Joanie Stahl & Brook Ardoin (January 2017)
In light of current events, I had a heartfelt need to share a bit here. Ever since the end of last year, and the beginning of 2017 and onward, I have been increasingly sad and very grieved within my spirit. This grief derives from all the arguing, name-calling, fighting, and outright blatant cursing coming from what we loosely call the “Body of Christ”.
By choice, I have taken a solid back row view of this and a real grief has welled up within me. Let me say that this grief I have grown to know I do not share alone. In fact, as the days have progressed, I have been very aware of the fact that this deepening sadness is not really my own, as it seems to enlarge itself on its own, telling me that this is indeed the heart of the Lord.
God gave me a kind of bird’s eye view from above to see it as He sees it – and I wept. Honestly, I have been so sad about it, and again, this sadness is not generated by my own heart. I know the difference.
Satan is thrashing the Body of Christ. He is using everyone, and I mean everyone to dash with the sword while getting the Believers to do his business thinking they are doing God service. I think of that verse in Proverbs that says, “Such is the way of the adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness”. Proverbs 30:20 [KJV].
It stands out to me. There is an unconscious, cold, and feelingless attack towards one another. The sentiment is that it is the right of each Believer to say what he or she wants in defense of the Gospel. However, in seeing this done, I have cringed at things they say to one another and the hurtful responses. All I have seen and am witness to is a big household war.
I think that perhaps this verse might be fitting:
“There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes and yet is not washed from their filthiness. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. There is a generation , whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.” Proverbs 30:11-14 [KJV].
This sounds like now doesn’t it!
Let me make myself clear about something before I go on. What I speak is not coming from some wound or anything else that happened to me when I recently had to stand up and confess my wrong. No! Not at all. I have peace with God and I am at rest in Him.
This is coming from something, or rather someone, much deeper than my own self. I also know that within myself, I have had a taste of the love of God and I want more; not to just feel good, but that I know He is beginning a new training in my life. This is a training that I do not just feel, but rather it is one that I know.
To use Paul the Apostles words, “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31 [KJV].
The entire next chapter is about the more “excellent way” in the above verse. For the sake of time, I invite you to please read 1 Corinthians 13. Notice here that Paul sandwiches it between chapters 12 and 14. Chapter 12 deals with the administrations of the Holy Spirit, which are about the diversities of gifts and operations and the differences of administration. He also speaks about the set up in church government starting with apostles, prophets, and teachers. From there he speaks on the gifts of miracles, then of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues and their application.
Chapter 14 deals with the gifts of prophesy, tongues, edification, exhortation, comfort, and church order. I fully believe God purposely placed His love chapter straight in the heart between chapters 12 and 14. I propose this is because it is His very heart and who He is.
A couple of weeks ago I heard in my heart the name by which He has made known to me of what He is preparing to teach me….“The Weaponry of Love.”
Since that day, I have been very quiet with Him thinking about this weaponry. I know there are times you all hear me talk about how old I feel sometimes. What I need you to understand is that though I am getting older, with age comes more He can trust me/us with. I say that with my face glued to the ground forever. I have no problem saying it because in and of itself it is true. It is time for more – time for the “more excellent way”.
I know that I am at a crossroads in my faith and in my walk and have felt if for quite some time. I have prayed and waited, and He has answered. This I know… He is going to take me into a new school of learning. He is going to open up to me His arsenal of “The Weaponry of Love”. He has already begun. Every fine point is in process of making itself revealed to me. I am hearing things within myself I have never known.
I would like to share one instance of this for the sake of example. Since I have moved here, when my husband asks me for something, many times I have responded kindly. Yet, within myself, I am peeved and put out. I try to talk myself into proper behavior and I put a smile on my face. Regardless, by the next time he asks something of me, I am return to the same ol’ behavior! It has become a cycle of sorts.
I have been looking at the job market lately and someone a while ago was talking about care giving. I heard it PAYS well. It is not something I am really interested in at all, but thought, “Hey, for the money I’ll do it, and they are always hiring”. I do not mean to sound as if I do not care. It is only that I am not interested in that field. It is difficult work and hard to do on many levels. That is what I mean.
Back to where I left off. I woke up yesterday and did my devotions. My husband, Jon, then got up and went out into the living room. He recently sprained his ankle so he is in need of help in many ways.
So first off, he began asking me for this and for that. I did what I was supposed to do, but in my heart there was this annoyance. I was busy and involved with things. I know it was wrong. It is embarrassingly true. I confess it. I know that is not love. Not the love of God, but a self-love. Yet, I acknowledge that this has been in me all my life. I am only being open and honest.
I was being stripped down from within by the Holy Spirit that much of what I do, not just here with Jon; I am guilty of not doing with the love of God. I simply had to stop and admit it. I thought about that Word, “Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 [KJV].
Therefore, I offered him a good breakfast, which I knew he would love.
As I was cooking, I began to hear the Holy Spirit say to me, “You are willing to care for others, for perfect strangers that would have greater demands than this for pay. Yet, you are not willing to care for those in your family that you love. Would you treat them better for pay as you would for perfect strangers?”
Oh, I stood in my tracks! The truth hurts and it had to. That cut down deep. It was supposed to. I went on making the breakfast and went on with the day, deeply thinking about what the Lord had told me.
Later that day I had to go to the local laundry mat in an area known for the homeless. Jon dropped me off and headed to do other things. I looked around and saw an old woman stooped over and homeless. She stared and stared at me as if to say, “What are you doing here?”
Suddenly, another man appeared across the street and stood perfectly still. He was staring at me with that same look the old woman had looked at me with. I looked back at both of them and at first, I felt somewhat afraid. Nevertheless, I thought, “No Lord, I am ready.”
I went into the laundry mat and loaded my washers. I had a phone appointment with a man involved with a big wealthy ministry. He is a much-regarded man and looked up to as very powerful and influential. I had no choice to have to talk to him at the laundry mat. I went outside and took the call.
As I stood there listening, I saw various homeless people just walk by in zombie-like states, probably freezing, hungry and exhausted. As the man talked about high-educated spiritual things, my attention to it in that moment was that I could care less. I felt an overwhelming love. A great force of loving power entered into my being. Tears welled up within my soul as I watched all the homeless people.
I offered verbal responses to what the man of spiritual importance was saying, and just wanted off the phone. While he spoke to me, his voice was like a blur. I finally got off the phone, and there stood two women not far from me. I heard them talking about the Lord. One was not homeless, while the other woman in her mid-sixties appeared to be. They were talking about how they see church groups in the area speak about the needs of the homeless, but nothing ever comes of it.
Furthermore, I overheard them say that recently there was a group of church women in the local newspaper. The story was about these women planning to meet the needs of the homeless in the area. The two women described them in a way that suggested that they were well to do but did not truly care for the homeless because they would see nothing come of it. That is when I approached them and began to talk about the wonderful, faithful love of God.
The woman named Barbara conversed a while, then hugged me before leaving. The older one remained the entire time I was there. Her name was Cathy. She was born with autism due to a difficult birth that she described in detail. Her mother being a Christian, always taught her about how much Jesus loved her greatly. She had been taught that no one was to blame as she was born that way, and she was exactly how Jesus wanted her to be.
She was flowing in the pure, childlike love of Jesus Christ. I sat there just listening and listening. Just then, a rough looking Rastafarian homeless man entered the laundry and said to her, “Hey Cathy, I found some money for you”! I watched as she reached her hand out. In the palm of her hand, he placed a few pennies, some nickels, and a couple of dimes.
She was so thankful! This guy had dread locks, wore Rasta jewelry, and had a strong odor of marijuana coming from him. He again spoke to Cathy saying, “Hey, I thank God. I praise God I can do it”! (Yes, I know all about their Jah Rasta god, but I did not care. Instead, I only felt powerful love for him).
I said to him, “Hey, you listen to me! It says in the Word, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He repay him again!” Proverbs 19:17 [KJV]. Seriously, I belted it out! I did so because I meant it and because I could feel that God wanted him to know it.
His eyes popped out and he threw his head back looking upwards to heaven. He spread out his arms, his fingers holding a joint, and yelled out to God, “God I thank You for that word. I thank You so much! I knew when I heard these words I felt it inside. I thank You”! He looked back at me and placed his hands together in the prayer position and looked straight into my eyes, and tearfully said, “Thank you. I have read the Bible and when I heard those words, I knew it. I just knew that that word was His”!
He departed with a big smile and thanked me. I grabbed a handful of quarters and gave them to Cathy wishing I had more to give.
These two women, Barbara and Cathy, hugged me warmly. They told me they loved God so much and that they loved me. The power of the love of God was moving mightily in that ghetto laundry mat.
Do you understand what I am saying here? All this inside-the-Body fighting (or in the home negative feelings) is nothing, and I will not have anything to do with it! I am under real new orders now, and not under self-imposed action that is powerless. I had to be made to see it.
This verse came alive and active to me, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”. John 13:34 [KJV].
Perhaps those poor homeless people who stared at me, and the ones that loved me, was not really so much towards me, but towards Him who loves them and died for them. They sensed it. I just know it. I saw it!
Regarding those that I saw hurting and devouring each other, and refusing to repent and forgive, Jesus told me that whether they repent or not is none of my business. Nor is it anyone else’s business. It is only His business. Their refusal to repent is the area of our work in love, in outstretched prayer for them in those very areas.
Jesus reminded me as I listened to that verse springing up within me, “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4 [KJV]. Meaning, HE will do the work to bring them to that place His way.
The standard of His eternal love will bring them to it.
No matter what, this work of the Holy Spirit has just begun in me and I love it. I thought of Stephen while they were stoning him. The potent force of “other worldly love” compelled him to cry out for forgiveness for his murderers, and the Lord stood up and honored him. You can read this powerful display of love in Acts Chapter 7.
This I say tearfully, that this IS the spirit of love that God will ultimately honor and nothing else. This is the love I want, and really, what we all want. It is in this love that everything we will do, we will do in that same spirit of love that Stephen the first Martyr displayed and died in. That everything we do in this life in the spirit of love will enter into our eternal life.
I heard the Lord tell me recently, “When you walk in the fullness of My love is when you will then walk in the fullness of My power.” This is the ONLY way we will rise up above the horizontal view of this world and dwell in the high and holy places of the Lord.
It is then that the reality of Galatians 2:20 becomes reality, “For I have been crucified in Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”. It was love that caused Jesus to deny Himself completely. He could not do it as a man, but ONLY by the power of God.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:8 [KJV].
It is a force of power. Remember what Jesus said about Satan? “Hereafter I will not talk with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” John 14:30 [KJV]. What did Jesus mean when he said the prince of this world has NOTHING in Him? This is the absence of self-love, and the fullness of the power of love. Something Satan has no power against. He cannot enter into love because he does not understand it.
“Set me a seal upon thy heart, As a seal upon thine arm: For love is strong as death!”
Song of Solomon 8:6 [KJV].
It has a conquering force, and makes us brave and fearless. It makes us indefatigable, quick, and ever ready. It clothes us with power, strength, and fortitude. Satan can do nothing with those who have this love and walk in it because it is NOT of this world, but the one from which he fell from and is banished from forever. This is where my learning begins and I am so happy. I am well aware I cannot have this love on my own. He has to give it to me. Let it flow like a river! Oh, it will be tested. That will be my homework. The testing is how I will learn. There can be no other way.
I love all of you very much, and I look forward to love even more to the praise of His glory and grace. This is a refining work and preparation not only for what is to come, but also for our entry into our final resting place where we will all meet.
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new!” Revelation 21:3-4 [KJV}.
Shalom to you
From the Editor:
When Joanie asked me to co-write this piece with her, I sat for quite some time just staring and struggling to get something on the page. When this happens, I know that means the Lord is not giving me direction. I do not want to write anything in and of myself.
That said, as I pulled the article up a little while ago, and was about to send it to Tony to be published, I suddenly felt the Lord urge me to write about 1 Corinthians 13, along with a story that ties in love to human error in the prophetic world.
It is such a short chapter, but one of the most powerful within the Bible as its focus is all on love. It not only defines what “love is”, but even more importantly, explains what happens when we are void of it.
I want to just paraphrase or summarize the life of a Believer who “has not love” below as written in 1 Corinthians 13 by Paul. [Again, I stress for you to read the chapter in full].
- If we speak in tongues, but have not love, we are as a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. Meaning, you can pray in the gift of your heavenly language from sun up to sundown, but without love, you are only making noise before God.
- You can have the gift of prophesy inasmuch as you understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. You can also possess faith that moves mountains. Yet, if you have not love, you are NOTHING. In other words, all your wisdom in the prophetic, along with your knowledge and faith that displaces mountains, is USLESS and futile without love.
- You can sell or give all you own to feed the poor, and even give your body to be burned [in sacrifice to help another]. But, if you have not love, it profits you NOTHING. The word “burn” in this verse is the Greek for “kaio”, which means the literal sense “to set on fire; burn”. Therefore, giving up all you have for the poor as well as burning to death at the stake on behalf of someone else, will gain you nothing in God’s Kingdom without love.
These are all some powerful statements. However, none of what you have or do means ANYTHING to God when we do not walk in pure love. This is how Paul would have said it in layman’s terms:
“Hey, you can have the gift of tongues, such supernatural prophesy that you can understand all the mysteries of God and all the knowledge thereof, along with faith that uproots mountains and the generosity to give all you own to the poor. You can even offer your body to be burned alive for another all in the name of Christ, but if you are void of LOVE, you gain nothing in the eyes of God and none of it matters.”
Gulp! How is that for some bold preaching?
Truth is, judging by the spiritual condition of today’s Church Body, we are a far cry from living in the perfected love of Jesus Christ as spoken of in the book of first Corinthians. I will be as bold to say that the majority of the Church does not know what love is, much less the ability to walk in its fullness.
This is evident by the fruits within the Body. Sadly, there are trees with much rotten fruit. Discord, malice, slander, envy, strife, division…I could go on and on.
What I want to stress is that it is up to each individual to not only turn to the Word of God to learn what love is, but to work daily to implement it within our lives. As written above, if what we do is not performed with the spirit of love behind it, then we do it for nothing.
In our last in-house, we noted how many in the prophecy world today are getting things wrong. We asked, “Where is the accountability by those getting prophecy completely wrong”? We did not call any of these “false prophets”. There is a difference between giving an unintentional, false word and being ranked as a false prophet. Please take note on this as MANY are being titled false prophets wrongly.
Our show struck a nerve because soon after, we received what could be deemed “hate” mail. It was rather vicious and spoken in a manner of complete rage towards AMTM. We were shocked to say the least, as the very person responsible is one whom we support and in no way were speaking about in the discussion.
This person is big in the prophetic world. It is my experience that when someone lashes out in this type of manner, the truth of our words must have gripped them in some way. Also, they may be hurting in some capacity. Nevertheless, we forgive and extend love. A reply was given in complete love and sincerity, and the rest is between the person and their Maker.
If I may clarify myself concerning what was spoken in the in-house, we were not bashing those that have moved in human error. We simply asked why are so many who have gotten some things wrong not been openly accountable for their actions? In one case for certain, we know that pride is an issue because the Lord provided that knowledge to the team in His timing. However, we have instructed others to PRAY for the person rather than bash them. Prayer is an act of love.
There are three sources of prophecy: the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:21), a demon spirit (Jeremiah 23:13), and the human spirit (Jeremiah 23:17). We can all understand how in the prophetic world, some may get things wrong on occasion. We also understand that Gods people with a gift of prophecy CAN end up speaking with the human spirit attached rather than straight from Gods Spirit.
It is not far-fetched to say that if someone gets it completely wrong, they likely were speaking from human thoughts, or the human spirit. We must recognize that this will happen and have an open heart to forgive. To forgive is to love.
We all miss the mark at times. However, is it so terrible that Gods people simply give an explanation of their error? When they do not, this opens endless speculation from the Body. It also creates confusion and distrust, and God is not the author of confusion.
“For God is no the author of confusion, but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33a [KJV]
If one is mature enough to get on a public platform and announce, “The LORD told me”, and get it wrong, then one should be mature enough to come back and be accountable in explaining himself. This should not make any man furious in the asking. Is it not in the Word that prophetic words are to be judged?
“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge”. 1 Corinthians 14:29 [KJV]
Taken from the Greek, the word “judge” in this instance is “diakrino” which means to “separate thoroughly”. This suggests that we pull apart, or divide what was spoken to decide if it was a correct statement. In essence, we are to dissect it, and if we are to dissect it, then surely we have a right to lovingly question if it does not happen. To judge righteously is to love.
Above this, if we are given ANY word of knowledge from anyone and we do not do what the Lord commands in testing that word by going directly to Him, then do not come back to shred apart the one who got it wrong. If we are listening and following every word man speaks without bringing it before the Lord, then we get what we deserve. It is only fair to hold yourself accountable as well.
Therefore, if anyone in the Body attempts to respectfully and lovingly ask for an explanation, then the one who gave the prophesy ought to willingly and graciously help to either clarify it, or humble themselves to admit they missed God on the matter.
My entire point in bringing all of this up is to shed some light on what Joanie pointed out how right smack dab in the middle of two chapters in 1 Corinthians on gifts and prophecy, we see one of the most beautiful chapters on love composed within the Bible. God already knew when, what, and who would miss the mark. Perhaps He placed chapter 13 of Corinthians where He did was that we have a responsibility to love those who have the courage to stand up and say, “Thus sayeth the Lord”.
Of course, I am not speaking of those with an intent to deceive, or a true false prophet. I am speaking of the leaders that have a true heart for God, the things of God, and are called to His purposes for such a time as this. It is not an easy task for those who are charged in the gift of prophecy. Instead of attacking someone publically, reach out to him or her in love and in privacy. Always continue to pray for them and the great task that God has given them, even if they fall short at times.
In closing, 1 Corinthians 13 goes on to say that prophesies will FAIL, tongues will CEASE, and knowledge shall VANISH AWAY. As for love, IT NEVER FAILS! Whatever we do in the fullness of His love, according to how God defines love, CAN NEVER FAIL because God is love!
Love is our greatest weapon! When used properly, it will greatly cripple, defeat, or destroy the enemy. The only way we can change the division which is happening within the Body on an unprecedented scale, is to choose to love.
Here is a link to the youtube video of the In-house Show that Brook mentioned in this article