Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 22 June 2014
For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
Mark 4:35-41: That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
The disciples faced death by drowning. A storm was belting their little boat in the middle of a lake. The wind was howling, the waves were swamping the boat and the disciples became afraid – (as most of us would) – full of fear – because survival became more and more unlikely. There was nothing (that) they could do.
In desperation, they turned to Jesus who was asleep in the stern of the boat – with his head resting on a cushion. (What nerve!) They woke him up, he silenced the storm and then he turned on them, asking them: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
What did Jesus mean by this question? Is it wrong to be fearful in a storm? Does he expect us to believe that we are safe in any storm; therefore don’t have to worry about anything ever?
In other parts of the Bible, people – even God’s own – do get hurt by storms. For instance, the apostle Paul was on a boat when it sunk and he spent “a night and a day in the open sea” (2 Corinthians 11:25). That’s a long time paddling hoping that no sharks are nearby. Paul reported to one church that he had been shipwrecked three times and we know about a fourth shipwreck in more detail:
Acts 27:8-28:6: We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.
Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Day of Atonement. So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.
When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure, so the men hoisted it aboard. Then they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Because they were afraid they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.
After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”
On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
This was not plain sailing for Paul. In chains, taking a violent battering from the storm for fourteen days, giving up all hope (at first), going without food, being almost killed by the Roman soldiers as the ship was breaking up, finally being bitten by a poisonous snake, this was not a good time and – what do you think – maybe not quite the right time to hear Jesus’ words again: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Paul barely escaped death. It was touch and go for so long and others have perished on mission journeys.
www.moravianchurcharchives.org/thismonth/08%20july%20st%20croix.pdf: Eighteen missionaries left Herrnhut for St Croix and St Thomas in 1733. Unfortunately this eager start led to severe hardship in the years that followed. The fourteen men and four women who left from Herrnhut were relegated to a room on ship only fifteen feet square [4.57 metres square] and so low they could not even sit upright. The ship was forced to winter over in Norway, causing some to live outdoors in caves through the harsh winter. By the time the ship reached its destination almost a year later, all were debilitated by lack of provisions and fresh water, and several suffered from scurvy.
In addition, disharmony crept in among the group over the long voyage, and a sense of mutual love and purpose could not be regained. Many succumbed to illness and death as a result of strenuous work, poor nutrition, and rampant disease in the tropical climate.
Eleven additional missionaries were sent as reinforcements in 1735, but even these could not staunch the tide of failure. Altogether seventeen missionaries died. Nine reduced by illness returned to Europe (three were lost at sea on the journey).
Timotheus Fiedler remained on St. Croix as an overseer, but lost his association with the mission. Matthias Freundlich, the single faithful remaining missionary, joined the mission on St. Thomas in 1736.
Yet, Paul survived and there was a specific turning point in his account. He could have died and he would not even have minded [“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”] but, as everyone had lost hope, God sent him an angel and said to him that he would not die in this storm because his job was not yet finished:
Acts 27:23-24: Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’
Philippians 1:20-26: I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
We will not die before our jobs are finished. No storm can kill you before you have done what God told you to do and, coming back to the disciples and Jesus in a boat on a lake, this was precisely what could have given the disciples hope back then. Jesus had told them: “Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].” This was the job – the will of Jesus – this is what Jesus had said – and nothing – no storm – neither wind nor waves – can contradict him. You can have faith in that and not worry.
In the middle of your storm, what is Jesus saying to you? On another day, the disciples were again in a boat in the middle of a storm. This time Jesus had not been with them in the boat but he was coming toward them walking on water. Peter thought: “That’s cool. I want to do this too,” but he made sure that he wouldn’t move on water in the storm unless he had first heard a word from Jesus:
Matthew 14:22-33: Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
If you are in the middle of the storm, what is God saying to you? Has he already spoken? What are you hearing? He’s stilling the storm. You have a job to do. [On occasion, he may tell you that you are not going to make it but, frequently, our call is to do God-sized tasks despite all possible storms.] When Heidi Baker was seriously sick, she heard that she was not yet finished preaching. Like Paul, she was still needed and had a job to do and, as she relied on this word and acted on this word, she encountered the stilling of the storm – complete healing:
Sue Curran: Define Your Destiny Through Prayer: Your Journey to Divine Revelation: On another occasion, Heidi [Baker] was in hospital with an incurable staph infection that was not responding to treatment. Doctors feared for her life; the prognosis was grim. As she lay there with IVs in her arm asking God to heal her, she felt impressed that she should keep a preaching appointment in Canada.
To the consternation of doctors and friends, she checked herself out of the hospital and made the arduous trip to Canada. She was so ill that she could hardly climb the steps to the platform. She was simply walking in obedience to the command of the Holy Spirit. And when she stood to minister, she felt the power of God flood her body. In that moment, she was completely healed from this life-threatening condition.
She had taken her running shoes with her to Canada in faith she would need them. The morning after her healing, she put her shoes on and went outside to jog. When her friends saw her, they were concerned and felt they needed to caution her. “Don’t you think this is too soon to be jogging considering how seriously ill you have been?”
Smiling at them kindly, Heidi asked: “What is there about ‘healed’ that you don’t understand?”
There is no limit to how far you can take this. A wife lost her husband, a pastor, in a car accident. He was dead but she still believed that she had a word from God and, believing and acting on this word, she acted like a crazy woman with the result that even the storm of death subsided and her husband came back to life:
In her own words, these are the words of God which came to her mind when her husband was dead: But I began to call upon the name of the Lord. I began to remind God of his promises. And number one, this year God told me in Isaiah chapter 61 that I would not experience any violations to my home again. I would be called the city of the Lord. So when anything happens, I will hold God on that Word and say “this is another violation that has come again and you promised me that I would not experience them again. Why this one?” This has motivated me to hold God firm so that the violator would disappear out of my way. Another verse that inspired me is Hebrew 11:35, “Women received their dead bodies to life”. The moment I would read this verse is always strengthened me to hold God (firm) and act. That night, when I remembered all these things, I said, “No, this cannot happen.” I must do something to prove God again.
http://www.printfriendly.com/print/v2?url=http://www.insightsofgod.com/raised_dead.html: The Resurrection of Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu told by David Servant
Pastor Ekechukwu was from a city called Onitsha (Nigeria), where he was the pastor of Power Chapel Evangelical Church.
Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu physically died in the late evening of Friday, November 30th, 2001, was dead for at least 42 hours, visited heaven and hell during the time of his physical death, and was raised from the dead between 3:50 P.M. and 5:15 P.M. on Sunday, December 2nd, 2001 in the basement of the Grace of God Mission, located in Onitsha, Nigeria.
Although some of what happened to pastor Ekechukwu is certainly extra-biblical, none of it is unbiblical. Indeed, neither the story of pastor Ekechukwu’s resurrection nor the story of your salvation is found in the Bible, making them both extra-biblical, but neither should be discounted on that basis!
On Thursday, December 29th, 2001, Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu and his wife, Nneka, had a misunderstanding that degenerated into an argument that resulted in her slapping him. He was greatly offended by this incident, to the point of not acknowledging her greeting the next morning, which was, according to what pastor Daniel said to me, an attempt on her part to begin to reconcile. Pastor Daniel admitted that throughout the day of November 30th, he angrily thought about how he would put his wife in her place when he returned home. He would not, however, make it home that Friday.
As he was driving home that evening, the brakes on his 20-year old Mercedes 230E failed as he was heading down a steep hill, and his car crashed into a concrete pillar that was built to prevent cars from going over a steep embankment. He was not wearing a seat belt (few Nigerians do), and his chest hit very forcibly against the steering wheel and its knob, apparently doing damage to his internal organs, as he was soon vomiting up blood and having difficulty breathing (not to mention that he soon lost all signs of life).
Daniel was not able to remove himself from his car, but frantic on-lookers pulled him out. One bystander volunteered her car while another bystander offered to drive him to St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, not far away on the outskirts of Onitsha.
Within minutes of their arrival at the hospital, a doctor began administering emergency treatment, but Daniel knew his body was not responding to it. He began praying the prayer of a man who knows he is going to die, asking God to forgive him of all his sins so that he would be ready to stand before the Lord. He also sent for his wife, Nneka, with whom he had refused to speak when he left his home earlier that day. She fainted upon hearing the news of her husband’s accident and condition, but when revived was taken by a Christian neighbor to the hospital. Daniel’s friend, Ede Samuel (whom I interviewed at length) was with her and essentially witnessed everything that transpired over the next three days.
Upon seeing Daniel in critical condition when she arrived at St. Charles Borromeo hospital, Daniel’s wife burst into tears, begging her husband not to die and leave her. The doctor admitted that there was nothing he could do to save Daniel’s life (keep in mind this was a Third World hospital), and so Daniel requested that he be transferred by ambulance to Umezuruike Hospital at Owerri, where his family doctor practiced. The Umezuruike hospital was 80 km away. His wife arranged for the ambulance, and it was on the way to Umezuruike Hospital that Daniel died.
Daniel was lying in the back of the ambulance while his wife was in the front passenger seat. He began to feel that he was not going to survive, and so he called for his wife to come to him. He began to say goodbye, give her instructions about certain church and personal documents, and admonished her to take care of their son and his church. She began sobbing greatly and amidst her tears strongly rebuked him for such negative statements. He was a man of God and should have faith, and not be speaking of dying!
As she was speaking, Daniel saw two large angels (they were so large that he later wondered how they fit inside the ambulance---one was as big as the ambulance) who were completely white (even the pupils of their eyes). Daniel tried to speak to the angels, but one held his finger to his lips, motioning for his silence. The angels lifted him on either side, and Daniel realized that there were now two of himself. The angels were holding him under each arm of his spirit man (which was perfectly whole), while his broken body was lying below. Once they left the ambulance, Daniel became oblivious to the natural world.
When the ambulance arrived at Umezurike Hospital with Daniel’s body, it was now late at night (Friday, November 30th), and Daniel’s family doctor was not there. A member of the medical staff, however, examined his body and sadly told Nneka that her husband was dead and there was nothing that could be done.
So they drove to the Federal Medical Center in Owerri, but found no doctor there either. Finally they drove to the Eunice Clinic, and there Daniel was confirmed to be dead by Doctor Josse Annebunwa. There was no breathing, no heartbeat or pulse, and Daniel’s pupils were fixed. The doctor said that there was nothing he could do. A death certificate was issued at 11:30 P.M., November 30, 2001.
They then drove Daniel’s corpse to his father’s house in a nearby village, and naturally Daniel’s father and other family members were heartbroken at the sight of Daniel’s dead body, weeping profusely. Daniel’s father instructed them to take his body to Ikeduru General Hospital Mortuary, not far away. They arrived there around 1:00 A.M. on Saturday morning. The resident mortician, Mr. Barlington Manu, received the corpse. The primitive Nigerian mortuary where Daniel’s body was taken had no cold storage facilities, and so the mortician injected embalming chemicals between Daniel ’s fingers and into his feet. The full embalming would be administered in the morning. With the help of a staff member he laid Daniel’s body on a mortuary slab between two other corpses.
The next morning, when the mortician attempted to cut Daniel’s inner thigh in order to insert a tube by which he could inject more embalming fluid, he experienced a strange shock that pushed him away from the corpse. This did not surprise him, as he had experienced similar forces before and attributed them to occult powers (such things are widely practiced in Africa and highly respected by most African pastors whom I know). After a second attempt and a second shock, he concluded that Daniel must have been a member of a powerful secret society. He assumed, however, that after some occult sacrifices and incantations the powers in the corpse would subside, and he could then complete his work. (This mortician, of course, was not a Christian, but converted after Daniel’s resurrection.) Incidentally, Daniel said that people could smell the embalming chemicals coming out of his body for two weeks after his resurrection. They would hug him and hold their noses!
Around 2:00 A.M. Saturday morning, the mortician, who lived next to the mortuary, was disturbed by songs of worship coming from inside his mortuary, which stopped as soon as approached the mortuary doorway. Upon searching for the music’s source in his mortuary, he noticed light emanating from the face of Daniel’s corpse. This completely unnerved him.
Later on Saturday, he again attempted to cut Daniel’s inner thigh in order to insert an injection tube, and met with the same resistance as before. That night the sounds of worship again emanated from the mortuary.(Don’t assume that Daniel’s body would have been buried the day after his death. Nigerians often bury their dead weeks after death has taken place.)
All of this so disturbed the mortician that he located Daniel’s father to inform him of what had been happening and to request that he remove Daniel’s corpse from his mortuary. Just before the mortician’s arrival, Daniel’s wife experienced a dream in which she saw the face of her husband, and he was asking her why they had left him in the mortuary. He stated that he was not dead and that she should take him to Onitsha where German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching. She determined to do so, even though her family thought she was out of her mind. It was now Saturday evening, and Daniel had been dead for 24 hours. The family finally yielded, but purchased a casket and brought funeral clothing for the mortician to dress Daniel. The mortician, however, had to cut the clothing in order to clothe Daniel because his body was as stiff as a board. An ambulance was hired on Sunday morning, December 2nd, and the casket that contained Daniel’s body was taken to Grace of God Mission (a large church) in Onitsha, about 1½ hours away, where evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching at an afternoon church dedication service. They arrived at the church around 1:00 P.M.
The church grounds were being protected by swarms of federal and state security guards for the sake of Reinhard Bonnke, who has received many death threats, and who is hated by Muslims all over Africa. (Not to mention the fact that the World Trade Center had been destroyed by Muslim hijackers just weeks before.) For this reason, the security guards would not allow the casket to be brought onto church grounds, thinking it might actually contain explosives. Daniel’s wife loudly pleaded with them, and opened the casket to show them her dead husband, which resulted in their mocking and even flogging her because of her persistence. She caused such a disturbance that the senior pastor was notified, and his son instructed that Daniel’s wife be permitted to bring his body to the church without the casket, and that it be placed in the basement. Daniel’s body was laid there on two tables pushed together in a Sunday School room.
Some believers gathered around Daniel’s body and prayed while Reinhard Bonnke, who knew nothing of the dead body in the basement, preached and prayed. Eventually, it was noticed that Daniel’s corpse twitched, and then irregular breathing started. (By this time, Reinhard Bonnke had left the premises entirely.) The attendant believers began praying fervently, and because his body was stiff and cold, they began massaging his neck, arms and legs. When those in the sanctuary got word that a dead man below was coming back to life, the basement room was soon jammed with people. Suddenly Daniel sneezed and arose with a jump. It was somewhere between 3:50 and 5:15 PM on Sunday afternoon. Daniel had died Friday night around 10:00 PM. He slowly became fully coherent over the next few hours.
Do you doubt this account? A report on the web site of Christ of all Nations declares:
Here are some hard facts that won’t go away. For two days Daniel did not breathe, his heart had stopped beating. It was in a hot climate, not suspended animation in an ice chamber. He had been injected with a harsh chemical to keep back mortification. As a corpse he was carted around for hours, pulled about, and lay in an airless narrow coffin for hours. He should have had severe brain damage, but he is alive now without any ill effects.
This is no unsupported claim of bringing someone to life privately, as in a house. Here was a public event, an open demonstration of revival from death. If anyone has to be named, it is Nneka. Her incurable faith alone prevented Daniel’s burial simply to bring him where she was convinced God could bring him back to life. She regarded Reinhard Bonnke as a man of God and that in the atmosphere of faith where he ministered this miracle was possible. The faith of Nneka dictated the whole event and her faith was honored. By whom? Who honored her faith? If not God, who else?
I would add to this defense that if the incident was a hoax, I doubt that pastor Ekechukwa would have invented the story of what happened to him when he was escorted to hell, which I will relate next. Pastor Daniel’s message is now one of repentance to the church, to prepare the church to stand before Jesus, and many have indeed repented after hearing his testimony. If his story is all a hoax, the result of this hoax is real holiness.
Finally, the ministry of Reinhard Bonnke certainly needs no promotional hoax, as His Nigerian crusades are already attended by millions. He in fact states that he had nothing to do with the miracle, and wasn’t aware of the dead body in the basement of the church where he was preaching.
As amazing as the story of his death and resurrection is, what pastor Daniel experienced after his death is even more amazing. To him, what he experienced between his death and resurrection could have taken only fifteen minutes, even though he was physically dead for almost two days. After he was lifted from his body by the two angels in the ambulance, he soon found himself momentarily alone, but soon joined by a different angel. Daniel stated that if he was confused about something that he saw or experienced, or if he had a question in his mind, this angel immediately gave him the answer. This angel first told him that they were going to Paradise. There was no time expended in getting anywhere the angel took him. As soon as the angel said they were going to Paradise, they were there.
Daniel stood with the angel and watched a multitude of worshipping people who were dressed in sparkling white garments. He immediately thought they were angels, but the escorting angel told him that they were human beings who, "while they lived on earth, served God and had their faith focused on Christ Jesus and lived righteously." These people were all ageless and raceless. That is, none appeared to be young or middle-aged or elderly, and none had any racial distinctives in their appearance. All were focused on a very bright light, and all worshipped in perfect unison. They would all lift their hands at once and bow at once "as if a sort of electronic device was activating them." (This same phenomena was described to my wife by an elderly Haitian pastor who died for a short time, but was sent back to earth to finish his work.)
Daniel did notice one man who looked elderly among the multitude, and the thought occurred to him that perhaps that man was God, but the escorting angel immediately corrected him. The man was father Abraham.
Daniel longed to join the worshippers, but the angel told him that there were other things Daniel needed to see. He told Daniel they would next go to see Jesus’ promise to His followers, the mansion He had prepared for those whom "He would find righteous on the last day." Immediately they were there.
Daniel said there is no earthly way to describe what he saw. The mansion had no apparent end to its height or width. It continually moved, and each room also revolved in some manner. It was made of something that was transparent like glass, and the floors appear to be made of light. Daniel didn’t see anybody in the great mansion, but heard beautiful singing. Wondering where the music was coming from, the angel immediately pointed him to the many flowers around the mansion. When Daniel looked at them more closely, they were moving and swaying and singing praise to God!
The angel told Daniel, "The mansion is ready but the saints of God are not. Jesus is being delayed because Christians in the church are not ready yet." (This is entirely scriptural; see 2 Peter 3:12.)
Next the angel took Daniel to hell, and they stood at the gate. When the angel lifted his hand and let it fall again, the gate opened, and Daniel could immediately hear the awful sounds of people screaming and weeping, but everything in hell was in total blackness. Then a bright light shone from the angel, and Daniel could see many groups of people in anguish. He told me of three specific groups that went through endless cycles of torment, forever reaping in hell what they had sown on earth. One group consisted of people who would eat their own flesh and then vomit it out onto the ground, at which time the vomit would fly back onto their bodies and turn back into flesh that they would eat again. The angel told Daniel these people were those who had eaten human flesh as an occult practice. Another group, who had stolen land from others while on earth, endlessly dug rock-hard ground with their bare hands. Another group, former fornicators and adulterers, endlessly mutilated their sexual organs, which after being destroyed, would be regenerated only to be mutilated again.
As I heard Daniel relate this scene, I couldn’t help but thinking of how many times scr1pture declares that God will repay every person according to his or her deeds, and also promises that everyone will reap precisely what they have sown. I remembered the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man. In the afterlife, their roles were exactly reversed. The rich man longed for a drip of water from Lazarus just as Lazarus had previously longed for a crumb from the rich man’s table.
Pastor Daniel also saw the former military dictator of Nigeria. He saw a Christian who had dabbled in occult practices and fallen away from the Lord, and a pastor who had embezzled money from his own church and also lied about it. The former pastor pleaded that he would return the money if Daniel could help him escape hell. Although there were different kinds of tortures, all of the people in hell writhed in agony under an unseen force that would wrench them repeatedly. All of them were shouting, wailing and gnashing their teeth. Pastor Daniel told me that if every Christian could see what he saw, there would be no need to preach the gospel, as every Christian would become the gospel.
The most surprising thing is what happened next. The escorting angel told pastor Daniel, "If your record is to be called here, you will in no doubt be thrown into hell." Pastor Daniel immediately defended himself saying, "I am a man of God! I serve Him with all my heart!" But a Bible immediately appeared in the angel’s hand, and it was opened to Matthew 5 where Jesus warned that if one calls his brother a fool he is guilty enough to go into the hell of fire (see Matt. 5:21-22). Pastor Daniel knew he was guilty for theangry words spoken to his wife. The angel also reminded him that Jesus promised that God will not forgive our sins if we do not forgive others (see Matt. 6:14-15) because we will reap what we have sown. Only those who are merciful will obtain mercy (Matt 5:7). The angel told Daniel that the prayers he prayed as he was dying in the hospital were of no effect, because he refused to forgive his wife even when she attempted to reconcile on the morning of his fatal accident.
Pastor Daniel wept at this revelation, but the angel told him not to cry, because God was going to send him back to the earth to grant the rich man’s request (see Luke 16:27-30). A man would come back from the dead and warn people of hell. The angel said that Daniel’s resurrection would serve as a sign and be the last warning for this generation.
Finally, pastor Daniel was led to the top of a mountain, at which there was a large hole full of darkness. There the escorting angel handed Daniel to a man standing there whom he didn't recognize at first, but soon realized it was German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. The angel told Daniel that man would help him spread the gospel of salvation.
Both Daniel and Rev. Bonnke fell into the hole, and that is when pastor Daniel jumped up from the table where he lay at the Grace of God mission. He was back in his body after having been dead for at least 42 hours, almost two full days.
As you may imagine, pastor Daniel greatly emphasizes in his preaching the need to forgive those who have wronged us, lest anyone suffer the fate he almost suffered. How important it is that we obey Jesus’ commandments regarding forgiveness and walking in love toward each other, as well as all the rest of His commandments. It is indeed time for the church to repent and "pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). Do not listen to false teachers who say that holiness is not essential to ultimately gain eternal life. Jesus warned that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 7:11). Do not listen to teachers who say that if you are once saved you are guaranteed that you will always be saved. Jesus warned His closest disciples (see Matt. 24:1-3) of the possibility of their not being ready when He returned and being cast into hell (see Matt. 24:42-25:46).
Keep in mind that pastor Ekechukwu did not stand condemned just because of his one sin of unforgiveness. There were other sins he was confessing in the hospital as he was dying, but his unforgiveness annulled his prayers in which he was asking for forgiveness. If we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive others. That is what Jesus said.
See corroborating evidence here (follow up investigation): http://shepherdserve.org/special_reports/daniel3.htm
What is God saying to you? You may not know immediately but need to listen and tune in to what God is saying to you. The best starting point and sure foundation for all speech from God is the Bible – the book which he inspired by his Spirit. This is how one pastor operated in church history with great results:
[George Müller (German – born as: Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller) (27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898), a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans.]
George Muller never prayed for a thing just because he wanted it, or even just because he felt it was greatly needed for God’s work. When it was laid upon George Muller’s heart to pray for anything, he would search the Scriptures to find if there was some promise that covered the case. Sometimes ... for days before he presented his petition to God. And when he found the promise, with his open Bible before him and his finger upon that promise, he would plead that promise and so he received what he asked.
What could be some Bible promises which God could quicken for you to hold onto in the middle of a storm? [Can you give me some? Let the congregation answer.] Here is a selection:
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Isaiah 40:29-31: He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Romans 8:37-39: No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Psalm 147:3: He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.
Philippians 4:19: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Proverbs 3:6: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths
Luke 11:9-10: So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:13: If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
1 Corinthians 10:13: … God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Isaiah 41:10: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Romans 10:9-10: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Isaiah 54:2-4: Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated …
Psalm 37:34: Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.
Deuteronomy 28:7: The Lord shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come against you one way, and flee before you seven ways.
Matthew 21:21-22: Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
The Bible is a precious book in a storm. Allow God to speak through his promises in this book. However, use it with discernment. George Mueller checked carefully whether certain Bible verses (especially the last one above) applied to him in his particular situation.
Paul King: Moving Mountains, Grand Rapids: Chosen Books 2004, p26-27: … Mueller learned four key lessons about discerning God’s leading which we can benefit from today.
WAIT ON THE LORD. Mueller’s policy was to wait on the Lord for four things: “First, to know whether a work is God’s work; second, to know whether it is my work; third, to know whether it is God’s time; fourth, to know whether it is God’s way.” If Mueller could not answer all four affirmatively, he concluded the Lord was not leading him to ask and believe for that request.
USE SPIRIT-ENLIGHTENED REASONING …
GET CONFIRMATION FROM OTHERS …
DO NOT PRESUME UPON GOD. Mueller believed he needed to step out and act on faith when God gave it, but only when God gave it: “Every new step was taken with care and prayer, that it should not be in the energy of the flesh, or in the wisdom of man, but in the power and wisdom of the Spirit.” On one occasion a blood vessel broke in his stomach, causing a severe haemorrhage. Though weak from the loss of blood, by the grace of God he preached the next morning, commenting, “The Lord gave me faith to get out of bed. I would consider it great presumption if the Lord had not given me the faith to do it.”
When we have a word from God, the storm loses its fear (and we even get into them and face them according to his word and commission). What it does not mean is that we have nothing more to do. We may not panic in the storm but work may nevertheless be frantic. Storms frequently demand action and doing our utmost, with the help of God, not to go under. Jesus spoke a simply command and the wind and the waves died down but, after a long time of struggling against the storm, Paul had to encourage the crew to eat again to gain strength, then stop them from abandoning the sheep and its passengers (including himself) and finally survive the soldiers’ attempt to kill all prisoners as the ship was running aground on a sandbar and breaking up. Everyone had to swim to safety or float on a piece of wood from the ship. Storms are storms which must not intimidate us but often require work.
Pastor Daniel’s wife had to plead loudly for security guards to admit her dead husband into the church meeting with Reinhard Bonnke. In desperation, she opened the casket and showed his corpse which resulted in her being mocked and even flogged. Yet, she persisted and received her husband back in the basement of the church. God is with us but we are not passive in a storm. [You may have to get legal opinions in business, arrange extra help for your children at school, study and consult with people, confront slander, etc.]
Will you make it in a storm? You may have heard Jesus speak to you about making it to the other side and his promise is absolutely crucial for you to lose all fear but there is something even more foundational than the word – the promise – and that is the one who speaks the word. Who is Jesus? Do you know him? Do you know that Jesus can deliver whatever he says and promises?
Peter had heard Jesus tell him: “Come.” Therefore, he stepped out of the boat and walked on water until he lost sight of Jesus and, gazing at the raging storm, became more impressed with the ferocity of the wind and the waves than the faithfulness of Jesus. When the disciples experienced Jesus’ stilling of the storm in an earlier episode (opening Bible story), their core problem emerged in the end. It was not the storm but the identity of Jesus who terrified them with his power to command storms to subside. Who is Jesus? Do you know him and what he has done for you? (Talk about the cross.) You need an answer to this question first before you can even consider trusting anything that he says.
ALWAYS ENOUGH - THE VISION by Heidi Baker: Years ago, I had a vision of Jesus surrounded by a multitude of children. Jesus looked at me with His intense, burning eyes of love, and I was completely undone. He told me to feed the children, and I began to cry out loud, “No! There are too many!” He asked me to look into His eyes, and He said, “I died that there would always be enough.”
Then He reached down and broke a piece of flesh out of His right side. His eyes were so magnificently beautiful, yet His body so bruised and broken. He handed me a piece of His flesh, and as I took it and stretched my hand out to the first child, it became fresh bread! I gave the bread to the children and they all ate.
Then He put a simple poor man’s cup next to His side and filled it with blood and water. He told me it was a cup of “suffering and joy,” and asked me if I would drink it. I drank it and then started to give it to the children. It became drink for them. Again He said, “I died that there would always be enough.” Since that day, I have taken in every orphan child He has put in front of me, and have asked my co-workers to do the same.
For the next ten years, I learned a lot about provision for the poor. With delight, I have watched God place bread in our hands for the children to eat. By His grace, everyday – there is somehow always enough food. Since the vision, Iris has gone from caring for 320 children to over 6,000. My heart is so full of praise and gratitude to God for how He has blessed us with all these beautiful children. I have stood in awe as God has grown us from a few churches to over six thousand in ten years’ time.
Jesus has given us fresh bread from Heaven. We live to be in His glorious presence. He has poured out His love to us without measure. He has called us to bring the lost children home. I love him more than life! Every breath is for Him.
Jesus made Heidi Baker look into his eyes (burning with love) and made her keep looking into his eyes before he commanded her: “Feed the children,” and giving her the promise: “I died that there will always be enough.” Unless she saw Jesus and his nature reflected in his eyes, she would not be able to trust the promise.
Another pastor (Andrew Murray) is teaching the same insight. Faith in Jesus – trusting him and knowing who he is – precedes any faith in one of his promises. If you do not have faith in Jesus, you will not have faith in anything that he says:
Paul King: Moving Mountains, Grand Rapids: Chosen Books 2004, p118: [Andrew] Murray writes: In the face of Jesus, the light which leads to “the full assurance of faith” is always found. To gaze upon his face, to sit still at his feet that the light of his love may shine upon the soul is a sure way of obtaining a strong faith … It is only in living in direct fellowship with him that our faith can increase and triumph … Those who walk with him learn from him to exercise faith.
Paul King: Moving Mountains, Grand Rapids: Chosen Books 2004, p119: [Andrew Murray] exhorts us: Have faith in God. This faith precedes the faith in the promise of an answer to prayer. The power to believe a promiser depends entirely on faith in the promiser … Faith in the promise is the fruit of faith in the promiser … Let faith focus on God more than on the thing promised, because it is his love, his power, his living presence that will awaken and work the faith … Faith in God fosters faith in the promises.
The disciples in our story were no heroes but screamed in fear. Making a good start and walking on water in faith, Peter lost sight of Jesus in the storm and began to sink but, in both cases and in your case too, Jesus is immediately to the rescue. He immediately helps, rebuking the storm and stretching out his hand and pulling Peter out of the water. He has a gentle go at his disciples, asking them: “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith? After all that you have experienced, you should be more mature,” but he saves them before doing anything else.
This morning, he will do the same for you. You may be in a mess of a storm but a word from him is coming to you – there is always assurance of a future with him – and he takes charge, if you only let him. Peter cried out at the last moment: “Lord, save me,” and all of the disciples only woke up Jesus from his sleep as a last resort attempt to survive and survive they did and so will you. Ask him now for help. He will not reject you but give you peace. What have you to lose? Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.