Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 7 February 2016

For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Double Recompense

 

A pastor from Brisbane wrote the bookLiving in the Miraculousand this is what she is teaching in one of the chapters:

 

Katherine Ruonala: Living in the Miraculous, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2013: MY MOM AND dad divorced when I was quite young, and because my father lived about twelve hours away, my younger brother and I were able to see him only a couple of times a year. My brother got himself into some trouble at school, so at the last minute one year my father decided to take him with his new family on their planned vacation to Fiji, traveling first class. Dad knew my brother needed some father time with him. I can understand that now as an adult, but as a teenager I felt a little rejected being left behind. It didn’t seem fair. I had never been on an overseas trip and had certainly never been anywhere first class.
  Years later I was invited along with several others to speak at a Hindu school in Fiji … On the plane as I was traveling back home, still rejoicing at what God had done, I heard Him speak to me. He said, “Double recompense, Katherine.” I knew He was referring to a scriptural truth I had been learning—His promise to give us double for all the trouble we have been through. I immediately remembered that time years before when my father was traveling first class to Fiji and had chosen my brother rather than me to go with him. Now God was giving me what I missed then—and He was doing it in a way that brought glory to Him and built His kingdom. Even the little things I had forgotten about had not escaped His attention.

 

Katherine Ruonala: Living in the Miraculous, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2013: A couple of years later I was traveling by myself from Finland to minister in the United States, and I found myself upgraded to first class. As I sat up in the front of the plane being offered lobster and moose (yes, as in the big, hairy Finnish animal!), the Lord again whispered to me: “Double recompense.” Not only had He healed my heart from the wounds of abuse and the sense of rejection, He was now allowing me to go around the world and give so many other souls the comfort He had given me. And He was sending me first class!
  In fact, God continues to give “double recompense” for those wounds of the past, both large and small. I frequently have supernatural favor on airplanes now; I’m a magnet for it. Even airlines I rarely fly will upgrade me to first class for no apparent reason. I don’t deserve it, of course. It isn’t about that at all. God just loves to take our pain, our shame, and our hurt and give us double for our trouble. I have learned that, based on His promises, I can now take any pain, shame, or disgrace I have suffered and exchange it for His blessing. Not only will He restore us and heal us, but also He wants to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask, hope, or imagine.

Isaiah 61 is a passage about restoration. The Israelites had gotten themselves in trouble and had been disciplined for it, but the prophecy in Isaiah demonstrates the heart of God for His people. Even though they had sinned, God promised double recompense for the trouble they were bringing on themselves. His plan was for restoration, for a double blessing. So the passage talks about giving them beauty in place of their ashes, the oil of joy in place of their mourning, and a garment of praise instead of their spirit of heaviness (Isa. 61:3). Then God promises this: “Instead of your [former] shame you shall have twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs” (Isaiah 61:7 AMP).

The passage goes on to explain how God, who loves justice, will give His people visible blessings and a reputation among the nations. He will clothe us with garments of salvation and cover us with a robe of righteousness, adorning us in the way a bride and groom adorn themselves for their wedding.

This is so important to understand because many people think that when they are going through hard times, perhaps God has withdrawn His favor. I used to let my thoughts go there, wondering if God was on my side. I would read marvelous promises, but many of them were only for “the righteous,” and I wondered if I qualified …

God can turn any situation around and make it fruitful. His love, not our behavior, is the basis for our righteousness. We are qualified for the blessing of double recompense not because we deserve it but because of His great love that never fails us. If we have placed our faith in Him, He is on our side …

 

Double for your trouble.” Is this a scriptural principle? It’s what we would like to hear and it’s a great catchword going down the prayer line but is it true? Does God care about a hurt little girl that was not travelling first-class with her Daddy to a family holiday – like her brother? Yes, he does – he does care – we know about God’s love – but would he make it up to her and turn her into an airline upgrade magnet to have her eat lobster in first-class as an adult? How practical is the love of God? Is it double for your trouble – “double recompense”?

I want to say immediately that this pastor from Brisbane is not shallow. For her, “double recompenseis not all about flying first-class and eating lobsters. What she values most is her relationship with God – her loving Father in heaven – who has healed the wounds of the little girl whose parents divorced and lots more. She would have received more than double for all her trouble even if no airline had ever upgraded her to first-class. She is loved by God. Yet – nevertheless – she also feels that God paid attention to the specific hurts of a little girl and did something about them in such a way that she learned about God’s nature and character – his abounding love – for her.

I am side-tracking now but this reminds me of another testimony where God remembered and answered the prayer of a little boy. This is what God is like:

 

Henry Gruver: ... [This happened in a bad car accident] When I left my body, I could hear the sound of that metal crunching ... the last thing I heard was the cry of my wife as I heard one final crunch ... flipped the van in the air so violently ... but it came down like a feather as in slow motion ... I didn’t know that ... and then very quickly I entered into what I call “the tunnel” ... (sound seemed to reflect from a wall, sensation of a tunnel) ... However, when I entered that, it was a total change from the outside of the tunnel. Inside the tunnel was a darkness that was so dark and so heavy that you could cut it with a knife ... I knew I had a body. I knew I was in a sitting position but I was in a darkness that I had never experienced in my life. As I was going backward ... only the sound of this tunnel sensation ... all of a sudden, I burst out of that tunnel like being shot out of a cannon. As I was shot out of it, the earth was right in front of me. It was … sitting down going backwards and I could see the earth ... In my total peripheral vision I could see nothing but the world and then the world was getting smaller and smaller fast ... down to a baseball size ... and I passed the moon. I looked over to the moon and I said to myself: “That’s the moon. I’ve seen many pictures of that. That’s what the dark side looks like.” And I was thoroughly enjoying the moon but the moon then was getting smaller and smaller and then another planet and another planet went by me ... below ... left ... and I was looking at these planets and I was looking back at the earth and all of a sudden is was about the size of a marble ... that quick it has become that small ... barely discern the earth ... the last time, I looked back at the earth, all I could see was a little sparkle ... I am long ways from home ...

All of a sudden, as I was looking back that way, I burst into what I call the Milky Way. I don’t have the earth-language to explain to you ... I can’t put it in words what I experienced when I burst into the Milky Way ...  I had never seen up close before ... The only way I can explain it to you is a feeble attempt ... but it’s like when we were kids we sitting in a Station Wagon and it had a reverse back-seat. You sit in it and three of us would cup our hands so that we could not see the terrain along the desert as we were going down the pavement and as we were going down the pavement, we would try to guess at what second we would hit the dust road ... (as soon as the car hits the dust road, there would be swirling clouds of dust everywhere – up the window – and gravel) ... Who can guess the most accurate when we would hit the dust ... but the reason I use this analogy because it was a sensation similar to that in the sense when these ... the Milky Way did not swirl like clouds but they were so numerous the planets were so numerous I could not do like I had been doing. Before I entered it, I could distinguish each and every planet I passed ... now all of a sudden there were so many all I could was try and focus on one but it would be left behind so fast ... focus only long enough ... different characteristics from the previous one ... beautiful sparkling planets ... completely forgotten about home

... totally entertained by all of these beautiful heavenly bodies and I was thoroughly enjoying that when all of a sudden back on the ground, they had been doing CPR on me ... Didn’t that too long because the more they pumped on my chest ... the more blood shot out from a hole (in my body) ... crushed to such a degree that the blood was going through all ports of my head ... [gave up] ... The injuries are too massive...

So they quit but when they quit, our fifteen-year-old daughter ... and saw my hands ... tremble for a second and then relax ... She ran around to the other side of the van where my wife ... and she had been praying over each of them ... But then the fifteen-year-old she screamed running around to Judith, my wife, and she grabbed her and began to pray and rebuke this panic and this shock, that’s what she thought, and then Cheryl wrenched her out of her arms running back around and she kind of started to follow her ... when all of a sudden, before she got around the van, she heard Cheryl say these words: “Devil, that’s my Daddy. Death, you can’t have him. I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.” And at that, Judith said: “That’s my Henry.” ... and joined in with Cheryl agreeing and then I came back in my body ... out of the Milky Way and back into my body ... I could feel blood running ... I could hear very well ... He is breathing. He’s got pulse ... It was like a balloon of faith exploded in my being and I said to myself: “There is no reason for me to go to the hospital ... Father, whatever is missing on me, you can put it back together.” And I meant it with all of my heart and then, as I prayed that, it was like two cutting torches and one hit me in each temple and – boy – were they hot and that heat started going down and as that heat was going down, my vision was coming back in ... The fire went down and as the fire went down, I began to feel my body and wanted to get up ... I want to get up and she grabbed me and said: “Don’t move your head.” ... “I’m all right. I want to get up.” “Please, don’t move.”... “Let him get up. I can believe anything at this point.”...

A year later, I was down at ... a church. I was asked to preach an evangelistic sermon ... fifteen minutes into preaching, my mind was nowhere on anything of the accident or anything about heaven ... and I was preaching away when all of a sudden it was if the Lord – I sensed his presence real close and real strong – I kind of paused like this and it was like the Lord just nudged up beside me and whispered in my ear these words: “I thought I just might let you pass through the heavens and show them to you before I roll them up as a scroll and toss them aside.”

When he spoke that, right in front of these dear Baptist people, I got emotional. The tears I couldn’t hold them. They just shot out. I couldn’t talk ... I was crying so hard ... I saw this vision and in the vision I saw myself as a seven-year-old little boy, had been to the Sunday school class and the Sunday school teacher had taught on those very Scriptures on how Jesus formed the world by the works of his fingers and tossed them out there as the works of his hands – into the heavens. And the day is coming when he will roll them up as a scroll and toss them aside and create a whole new heaven and new earth.

And what I heard this back in those days, that so shook me and that so stirred me. Only the Father understands such things ... I came home from church Sunday school and Mum was preparing dinner and ... changed into plain clothes and went out to play. My brothers and sister went out to play too ... I wanted to get away – alone by myself. I just wanted to tuck away where none of the family would see me. So I went outside into the back-yard, crawled down in the gravel underneath Dad’s camping trailer, crawled under it, propped up my elbows on the axel, that came behind the big wheel ... where no one would see me, and I was praying these words: “Dear Jesus, when you roll the heavens up and toss them aside, can I be beside you and see how you do it? And can I stay beside you and watch you make new heaven and new earth and put them in place. I would like to see you throw them out there and see how they stay.”

And the vision, he showed me was exactly that. In the vision, it was so real I could feel the gravel on my knees. I could feel the elbows touching the axel with myself crouching down. I could hear my little seven-year-old voice bringing that petition to the Lord and ... that really made me break. I just cried and cried and cried ... Pretty soon, people all over the congregation started crying ... The next thing I knew, they started running forward and they were crying ... repenting, rejoicing ... I want to know Jesus better ... About two years later, I was finally able to explain to them what had happened ... One after the other said that they too, the reason that they ran to the altar, they felt like Jesus came in the door and sit down and snuggled up beside them and they just felt so loved and the presence of the Lord was so precious ... gave me a better understanding why the Lord allowed me to pass through the heavens so that he could show them to me before he rolls them up to a scroll ...

 

This man was in a bad car accident but God was amazing to him – healing him instantly and showing him how the prayer that he had prayed as a small boy and had long since forgotten was not forgotten by God. God cares and he cares about what matters to us – even when we are small. [This man was in trouble in a bad car accident but good was God?]

However, back to the proposed principle: “Double recompense” “Double for your trouble.” The pastor from Brisbane thinks that the principle is true for her life and she is teaching it for all Christians and she is making much use of a passage in the Bible – Isaiah 61 – where God promises precisely a double portion after suffering much:

 

Isaiah 61:1-11: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

 

What is the Bible saying here? God had judged his people and – as prophesied by Jeremiah – had sent them into exile for seventy years. For almost two entire generations – for 70 years – the people of God had endured the shame of being homeless – having been led into Babylon as captives of their army and destruction. However, now there was a new announcement. Someone, by the Spirit of God (and later Jesus would make these words his own – cf. Luke 4:18-19), would lead God’s people home and, back home, they would receive – by the promise of God – a double portion (twice as much as what shamed them) – a double portion in their land and everlasting joy.

In this case, God clearly fulfilled the promise ofdouble recompense”. However, notice the time frame. It took seventy years from shame to the double portion which means that almost two entire generations lived and died in the foreign city of Babylon (in captivity far away from their homeland) without seeing and receiving anything of the joy that was to come. And this is where I would add a note of caution. “Double for your troubleis not always instantaneous. It is not always within one year. It is not always within ten years (as it wasn’t for the pastor in Brisbane who had to grow up from a young girl to a mature adult woman before she was flying first-class on a mission trip). It may not even be in your life-time unless God wills it so. There are plenty of Christians in the world right now that are paying a high price in the persecution of their faith. They are losing their homes and they even come to our city (cf. Syrian Christians) with very little that they could salvage. The turnaround of their fortunes is not always a quick fix. It’s not easy to grow roots in a new country – speaking a new language and adapting to new customs and culture.

Yet, I want to affirm the principle. God promises always to make up for our trouble abundantly. The time is always coming when there is a turnaround in our circumstances and it will always be amazing. The most important perspective here is eternity and Paul shares his conviction in the Bible:

 

2 Corinthians 4:17: For our light and momentary troubles [here on earth] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

 

If we are willing to serve God and submit to him – despite what obedience to him may cost us – then God’s eternal rewards outstrip anything that we may suffer here on earth.

 

Mark 8:34-35: Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

 

Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

Revelation 2:10-11: Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death [the eternal judgement].

 

1 Peter 1:6-9: In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

1 Peter 4:12-14: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

 

The most important perspective is eternity but this is not the only perspective. According to the Bible, even in this life, God rewards his people and he can do so abundantly:

 

Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

 

James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

Luke 18:29-30: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” [Fulfilment of these verses may be in Luke’s understanding of the church and the sharing of all possessions as brothers and sisters in Christ (cf. Acts 2; 4).]

 

Matthew 6:1: Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. / Matthew 6:18: …your Father, who sees what is done in secret [prayer, giving, fasting], will reward you.

 

Matthew 13:28: But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

 

Job is a man in the Bible who received double recompense for the suffering that came to him – the testing of his faith and righteousness:

 

Job 1:1-3: In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

 

Job 1:13-19: One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

 

Job 2:7-8: So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

 

Job 42:10-17: After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters … Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

 

Another person in the Bible who asked and received a double portion of grace from God was Elisha:

 

Immediately prior to the time Elijah was caught up to heaven in the whirlwind, his younger understudy Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2Ki 2:9). Elijah being under the inspiration of God then replied that Elisha’s request would be granted provided that the younger prophet were with him at the time he was taken away. The scriptures then record that this condition was fulfilled.

After reading of the spectacular career of Elijah, it is difficult to believe that any man could have a double portion of his spirit, yet it came to pass that exactly twice as many miracles were done in the ministry of Elisha as in that of Elijah. The miracles in the careers of these two men of God may be summarized thus:

Miracles in the Career of Elijah: 1) Causing the rain the cease for 3 1/2 years (1Ki 17:1) / 2) Being fed by the ravens (1Ki 17:4) / 3) Miracle of the barrel of meal and cruse of oil (1Ki 17:14) / 4) Resurrection of the widow’s son (1Ki 17:22) / 5) Calling of fire from heaven on the altar (1Ki 18:38)
6) Causing it to rain (1Ki 18:45) / 7) Prophecy that Ahab’s sons would all be destroyed (1Ki 21:22) / 8) Prophecy that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs (1Ki 21:23) / 9) Prophecy that Ahaziah would die of his illness (2Ki 1:4) / 10) Calling fire from heaven upon the first 50 soldiers (2Ki 1:10) / 11) Calling fire from heaven upon the second 50 soldiers (2Ki 1:12) / 12) Parting of the Jordan (2Ki 2:8) / 13) Prophecy that Elisha should have a double portion of his spirit (2Ki 2:10) / 14) Being caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (2Ki 2:11)

Miracles in the Career of Elisha: 1) Parting of the Jordan (2Ki 2:14) / 2) Healing of the waters (2Ki 2:21) / 3) Curse of the she bears (2Ki 2:24) / 4) Filling of the valley with water (2Ki 3:17) / 5) Deception of the Moabites with the valley of blood (2Ki 3:22) / 6) Miracle of the vessels of oil (2Ki 4:4) / 7) Prophecy that the Shunammite woman would have a son (2Ki 4:16) / 8) Resurrection of the Shunammite’s son (2Ki 4:34) / 9) Healing of the gourds (2Ki 4:41) / 10) Miracle of the bread (2Ki 4:43) / 11) Healing of Naaman (2Ki 5:14) / 12) Perception of Gehazi’s transgression (2Ki 5:26) / 13) Cursing Gehazi with leprosy (2Ki 5:27) / 14) Floating of the axe head (2Ki 6:6) / 15) Prophecy of the Syrian battle plans (2Ki 6:9) / 16) Vision of the chariots (2Ki 6:17) / 17) Smiting the Syrian army with blindness (2Ki 6:18) / 18) Restoring the sight of the Syrian army (2Ki 6:20) / 19) Prophecy of the end of the great famine (2Ki 7:1) / 20) Prophecy that the scoffing nobleman would see, but not partake of, the abundance (2Ki 7:2) / 21) Deception of the Syrians with the sound of chariots (2Ki 7:6) / 22) Prophecy of the seven-year famine (2Ki 8:1) / 23) Prophecy of Benhadad’s untimely death (2Ki 8:10) / 24) Prophecy of Hazael’s cruelty to Israel (2Ki 8:12) / 25) Prophecy that Jehu would smite the house of Ahab (2Ki 9:7) / 26) Prophecy that Joash would smite the Syrians at Aphek (2Ki 13:17) / 27) Prophecy that Joash would smite Syria thrice but not consume it (2Ki 13:19) / 28) Resurrection of the man touched by his bones (2Ki 13:21)

 

In modern times, Reinhard Bonnke experienced recompense for previous trouble. In his case, it was ten-fold.

 

Reinhard Bonnke: Life of Fire Videos: In 1991, Muslim fanatics threatened Reinhard Bonnke’s life in Kanu (Nigeria). He had to abandon the preaching crusade and flee the country (escorted and protected by the army). [Muslim extremists burned down Christian churches and killed several Christians.] That night they announced on the radio that things should quieten down because Reinhard Bonnke had left the city.

On account of the riots, Bonnke was blacklisted from returning to Nigeria. This lasted for nine years. And Reinhard Bonnke always said that on the day that he would return something fantastic is going to happen. He felt in his spirit as if a vacuum had formed that would be filled with a bang. Crowds were growing until they saw a million souls saved in a single day.

Before he went back, he had a word with the devil. He said: “Devil, you kept me out of Nigeria for nine years. I am going back now but I demand a bonus of 900%.” And looking back, Bonnke said that it was as if heaven, earth and hell had been listening to that because it happened that during that first crusade we saw a ten-fold increase. He was deeply moved and he realized that the world was going to see something that it had never seen before.

 

As a general principle, it is always true. God rewards abundantly – more than double recompense – more than anyone can even imagine – and we can always live in expectation for rewards to come but as for the specific time frame (if we want to know when precisely we can expect God’s rewards) we need a word from him. Reinhard Bonnke felt avacuumgrowing in his spirit and felt that something was going to happen soon. And God’s people in exile had the prophet Jeremiah who had announced the precise time frame of seventy years which would mark the end of their shame.

God rewards his people and I believe – listening to what the Spirit is saying to us (here at Living Grace) – that we are in a season where he is rewarding us. In 2008, we suffered from the breakaway of a third of our members because we were pursuing more of the Holy Spirit. Then, in 2009, I became a pastor in our denomination that was no longer eligible for a call anywhere else (without charge or trial or even prior consultation) which was a black mark to my name and it was public and put me and the Living Grace congregation on the sidelines. Then, we had some internal heart-ache and the miracle of gold sparkles also had a mixed reaction among church friends. Since 2008 we have been declining in worship attendance except for last year which showed a small increase. We declined for seven solid years (2008-2014). The climax of rejection came last year when the Bishop of Qld forbade the Lutherans in Rockhampton to receive ministry from me and Living Grace. This was public and humiliating. But it also signalled a turnaround. When this happened, God declared that we were in a new season – a season of breakthrough.

 

From “Relaunching Lutheran Renewal” (29 March 2015): On the other hand, however, I was delighted because it put the General Bishop on alert (encouraging him to treat the conflict more seriously than he would have done otherwise) and I just knew that the “powers and principalities” (Ephesians 6:12) behind the opposition to me, and what was happening at Living Grace, had overplayed their hand … And – further adding to my delight – I knew the time had finally come to stand up and be counted … now I sensed that a change had come …

On Sunday, Herman preached and he didn’t preach what he had in mind earlier in the week. God had given him a new message and the message was “breakthrough” for Living Grace and our ministry. Herman said: “It was breakthrough not just for individuals but breakthrough also for Living Grace and the Lutheran Church of Australia.”

Herman also sensed that God had wanted him to pray for breakthrough in people’s work situation but, not knowing what was on his heart, we had already done so straight after the worship. I led but then Letoya suggested that Brett had authority in this area and he should pray which he did. This was great confirmation that we were on the right track. God had put the same burden on all of us.

The whole church embraced the call to give shape to a national movement of Lutheran Renewal.

At the prayer meeting before the service [29 March 2015], Vicki was surprised at my excitement and peace in the face of the Qld Bishop’s actions. She thought that the black mark against me name had become blacker and it was true but I sensed a change of seasons and had joy and confidence. Vicki took it all in and when she heard Herman begin to preach on “breakthrough”, (in her words) her spirit jumped and she was connecting the dots:

 

Vicki Meagher’s testimony: Two weeks before Christmas 2014 we were discussing prayer and fasting for 7 days in the New Year (2015). As time went by, the Lord put on my heart He wanted the first fruits. It became clear He wanted the first day of the year, so I was led by the Holy Spirit into a 40 day fast from the 1st January to 9th of February.

We were going through difficult times in the church (Living Grace), difficult times personally. In general, everything was getting too hard. As always, God has perfect timing. It was such a relief that God took over, took control and set discipline in place. I laid everything down before Him that was weighing so heavy on my heart. He knew everything but I just wanted to make sure.

On Monday the 9th of February (40th day) I was reading and praying 5-5.30am and words came out of my mouth that had nothing to do with what I was doing. They were all out before I realized what had happened. I did not move or say anything – just sat. It had never happened like that before.

 

He said: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.”

 

I was still for about an hour. Then I got angry because for so, so long I had been crying out begging, pleading with Him to do something and in the natural nothing seemed to be happening. So I let it go and walked away from what was said.

On Thursday 12th February (3 days later) – around the same time reading and praying – the exact same thing happened. Words came out of my mouth before I realized. I was in control of nothing.

 

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.”

 

I didn’t get angry. I just cried, repented and meditated on what he had said – not once but twice. This fast was God’s plan. He ordered it. He planned it. All I did was obey. What was it for?

On Sunday 15th February, we all went into the 8am prayer meeting. We were talking. Pastor Edgar told us about his week. The Jesus Tent in Rockhampton had been cancelled. The black mark against him had become blacker. Turmoil was still around us but he said that he was excited. He was at peace. He spoke with confidence.

Church began and Pastor Herman was preaching and the word the Lord gave him was “BREAKTHROUGH”. My spirit jumped. God’s word was being confirmed all morning.

It is a new day – a new beginning. We will have warfare but God has promised:

 

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things thou knowest not.”

 

Amen.

 

+++

 

First recorded in the message “Laden with Prosperity” (15 November 2015): Vicki was very busy and only remembered late that our “Touching Base” meeting was coming up and she asked God for a word for the congregation. She continued with her work [Tue 3 Nov 2015] and was vacuuming when she heard God in a voice that was louder than the vacuum cleaner and he said: “Forcefully advancing.” She immediately went to the Bible and found the verse: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12).

Vicki went to bed early because she was very tired. Around midnight, God woke her up and said: “Church of Philadelphia”. She left the bedroom and looked up the church in Philadelphia in the Bible:

 

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13).

 

This is what we had been sensing all year. The time of waiting and closed doors is over and we are now in a breakthrough season. For years (since 2010), we have been praying about the “key” to the Lutheran Church and now God opened the door that no one can shut again. God is pleased with us – “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” And there will be vindication.

 

[Compare this with the prophetic word in 2008 when God gave us the word of being like the church in Laodicea (also in Revelation 3).]

 

We are in a season of breakthrough, of God rewarding us, of expecting good things from God. And this means, in my view, that we have permission to ask also fordouble recompense” – at least to begin there. What woulddouble for your troublelook like here at Living Grace? Allow yourself to dream.

 

In 2008 – before the breakaway – we had an average Sunday worship attendance of 260+. Double that number would be 520+ people – more than we could fit into this building at one time. For a while now, Tatjana has been believing for Living Grace to grow to 500 on a Sunday and, expecting double recompense, she is spot on.

 

In 2008, we had five staff members at Living Grace (not all full time but we were five) and we expect that our staff numbers will grow again to ten, beginning with a second full-time pastor whom we need now.

 

For six years (2009-2015) there was a black mark against my name. I will now enjoy favour and it has already begun with the Bishops reinstating me as a pastor that is eligible to receive a call in our denomination.

 

Since 2008, we have had only few converts that continued in the faith. This will change now and the harvest will be manifold.

 

[Can you think of more rewards?]

 

We are due for coming out of our tough years into a season of double recompense. There will be growth. There will be favour. There will be joy.  There will be honour.

What does it require from us? Not much. It is God that is good to us because of who he is. We do not deserve what he is giving us. We may receive double for our trouble but is his mercy alone that accounts for the change of seasons. None of us are never perfect enough to be deserving of God’s good gifts. Yet, on the other hand, we do have a role to play, certainly the mature members among us.

God promised his people that, after seventy years in Babylon (after seventy years of judgement and suffering), they would return home. Daniel, living at the end of the seventy years, listened to what God had announced and he responded like we are all meant to respond when God is making a promise to us:

 

 Daniel 9:1-27: In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favour of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favour on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision …”

 

When God makes a promise, we do not deserve what he is preparing to give to us but we have a role to play in bringing the promise to pass. Like Daniel, we respond by believing his words. We repent of our sins (and the sins of others like Daniel) to receive forgiveness and the removal of any obstacles to his grace. We pray and we fast. As much as we can (by the Spirit of God), we align ourselves with God’s promise because most prophecies depend on our cooperation. They are conditional on our response. Maybe the majority of God’s people were not like Daniel but he and others like him are important to pray God’s promises into reality.

 

Jeremiah 18:7-10: If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

 

Jeremiah 35:17: Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on Judah and on everyone living in Jerusalem every disaster I pronounced against them. I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer.’ / Jeremiah 36:1-3: In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” [Cf. Jonah prophesied destruction to the people in Nineveh but they repented and God relented.]

 

1 Kings 18:41-45: And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.

 

But we do not only pray, we also do something. If God promises a return from exile, you sell your home, pack your bags and get moving. When God promised Joshua, the leader of Israelites, that he would give him every place where he would set his foot, as promised to Moses (his predecessor), God also told him tobe strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6) because he would lead these people to inherit the land which meant that he would have to cross the Jordan river and start doing something about conquering the inhabitants.

In the same way, if this is the year of double recompense and the church is going to grow, what are we meant to do? God’s promises of breakthrough are not given to make us passive – to see us twiddling our thumbs, simply waiting for people to become Christians by themselves. Promises are made to give us permission and motivation to be strong and courageous in doing something about reaching the lost. God says that we will succeed.

How would you feel about starting Alpha courses at Living Grace? The course structure is simple:

 

Alpha is organised as a series of sessions over 10 weeks, typically preceded by an “Alpha Supper” which often includes the talk “Is there more to life than this?” and with a day or weekend away which includes three or four of the talks asterisked below. Each session starts with a meal, followed by a talk (often a video by Nicky Gumbel) and then discussion in small groups. The talks aim to cover the basic beliefs of the Christian faith.

 

Topics covered:

 

1.        Life: Is There More to Life Than This? Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

2.        Cross: Why Did Jesus Die?

3.        Faith: How Can We Have Faith?

4.        Prayer: Why and How Do I Pray?

5.        Word: Why and How Do I Read the Bible?

6.        Follow: How Does God Guide Us?

7.        Spirit: Who Is the Holy Spirit and What Does He Do?

8.        Fill: How Can I Be Filled With the Holy Spirit?

9.        Evil: How Can I Resist Evil?

10.     Healing: Does God Heal Today?

11.     Church: What About the Church and Telling Others?

 

My suggestion would be not to use video teachings from England but do our own talks with our own Living Grace presenters which will give the whole course our flavour.

In 2015, the Alpha website described the course as running in 169 countries and 112 languages, with over 27 million people having taken the course. This course works – a strategy given by God – and we could do this as well, especially now that we are expecting double recompense. How good would it be to invite non-Christians to learn about Jesus and they accept the invitation and, over the length of the course, they accept Jesus and receive the joy of salvation? Frequently, the group that has done Alpha together, then continues as a small group in the church. It is a brilliant way into the family of God, the church.

Could this be on the cards for us? It would require a leadership team, presenters, discussion leaders, cooks and caterers, and a church that is promoting the program. It would mean that we get busy – every one of us – but this is what the promises of God are meant to do: make us get on board with them. [Cf. Lou Engle had a dream of standing behind Bill Johnson laying a hand on him and interceding for him. There is a feeling that they will inherit a double portion of the healing revival of the 1950s. Therefore, they have hired a stadium that seats more than 100,000 people to step into this inheritance. They discern that they are in a season of double recompense and act accordingly. All overseas mission trips for students have been cancelled and everything is focused on this.]

What else do I need to say? The people of Israel were deported into exile by strangers and aliens – the army of Babylon. When the people returned, it is interesting that God’s people do not take revenge on their enemies but receive their services and are praised by them:

 

Isaiah 61:5-9: Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.

 

Before Job was to receive his double recompense, God asked him to pray for his three friends who had tormented him by blaming him for all the trouble in his life – the death of his children, loss of possessions and sickness. These friends had behaved worse than enemies but God asked Job to pray for them with a clean heart and only then the door opened for him to receive twice as much as before:

 

Job 42:7-10: After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

 

Jesus’ teaching on this point is rather clear:

 

Matthew 5:43-48: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Cf. Luke 6:27-36.]

 

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. [Cf. Luke 6:37.]

 

Matthew 18:32-35: Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

 

Romans 12:14-21: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse … Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

When we are cursed, we don’t curse back but bless our enemies. We do not take revenge but forgive. Whatever happens, wehumble ourselves [original: yourselves], therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift us [original: you] up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6; cf. Genesis 50:20). We trust and submit to God and bless our enemies.

We cannot minister to people when we are annoyed with them. The pastor from Brisbane shares in her book how God taught her this lesson:

 

Katherine Ruonala: Living in the Miraculous, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2013: I knew what God had said about laying hands on the sick and healing them. He said these signs would accompany those who believe. I had been receiving visions since I was twenty-three; often I was unable to get off the floor at home as I was groaning in birth pangs and having visions of fireballs going out into audiences and healing the sick as I preached all over the world. I had watched every video I could find about people with great healing ministries from previous generations. I had dug into this truth and given myself to feeding on the faithfulness of God.

This made me a nuisance in Bible College. I have a very passionate personality, and it got stirred up when the lecturers were trying to teach that God, in His sovereignty, doesn’t always want to heal people—that sometimes there’s a better way, something He wants to teach people in their sickness, and some mysterious way He’s glorified in that. This teaching really bothered me because, at its core, it means that whenever I go to lay my hands on someone to be healed, I would have to ask myself if this person was one of those whom God didn’t want to heal. How can you ever pray confidently in faith for anyone’s healing if you believe that? To me that was like a red rag to a bull, and it provoked that kind of reaction in me.

So I prepared a fantastically brilliant message to convince them of the truth. I was given the opportunity to lead chapel, and I had decided I was going to deliver that message and correct their bad theology. But God woke me up in the middle of the night before that chapel service and wouldn’t let me give that message. “Katherine, you don’t love them enough,” He told me. “I want you to talk about love.”
“But God, they need to know this truth!” I said. That didn’t sway Him. He wouldn’t let me preach that message in the spirit that had provoked me to give it. I had to get up in chapel the next day and preach a sermon about how much God loves us. He protected me from doing what so many do today, which is get into very nasty arguments about theology. People can even get really mean about grace, and grace is supposed to be lovely! Yes, there are foundations we can’t compromise, but we aren’t supposed to get mean and knock people in the heads with our truth. The truth must be spoken, but it must always be spoken in love.

I was prepared to go to war with those lecturers over what God says about Himself, and He told me to drop it. I was ready to give them the truth, but not in love. God had to teach me some things about not being arrogant and puffed up with knowledge. He told me just to let it go.

 

You need to love people to tell them the truth. Otherwise you are wrong even if you are right because anything that is not done in love does not represent our God who loves all people with a passion. Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of all sinners and in the midst of his greatest pain found words of forgiveness for those that mocked him and betrayed him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Do we want double recompense in this season? Then, we pray and commit to a clean heart towards all those that have not been so nice to us over the last few years.

I want to close by giving you another reason why God is serious about giving his people double for all their previous suffering. It is to his glory. No one is going to believe that God is full of grace and full of abundant goodness if his people look empty and forlorn. If people are to believe in a God who is full of blessings for him, then his people do need to look blessed and this includes health and wealth – a foretaste of what is promised to us in heaven.

 

Isaiah 61:5-9: Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.

 

[Compare with the prophecy which Living Grace received (quoted above) – Revelations 3:9: “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”]

 

Psalm 67:1-7: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations … The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.  May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

 

Acts 2:42-47: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 

[When the breakthrough comes and our desires are satisfied, renewal comes with new hope and enthusiasm. Experiencing the goodness of God is a positive experience, not at all inferior to suffering – Psalm 103:2-5: Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.]

 

If God wants us to lead a national renewal movement in the Lutheran Church – if God wants us to proclaim his greatness and goodness to Toowoomba – we need to look the part. God has to make us look the part – blessed by him. This means that we must be doing well – live and experience life better than those who do not know God. We must know peace, love and joy – healthy marriages and families – productive lives – and, last but not least, experience the provisions of God for everything that we need – our daily bread and whatever we need to bring up our children into the fullness of what God has placed into them.

Is there going to bedouble for your trouble”? Yes, maybe not always in the time frame that we want –recompense is not always instantaneous but certainly amazing from an eternal perspective) – but I think that, as a church, we have a word from God now to believe for a season of double recompense. Therefore, allow yourself to dream a little about 500 coming to worship on Sundays and the place overflowing with new Christians that have found salvation in our midst.

God is doing it but we also have a role to play. We get ready and repent – ask God to remove any remaining obstacles of sin in our lives – we pray and fast, bless our enemies, and then get busy. The time of waiting has passed. Breakthrough is here and there will now be fruit from our labour. Amen.

 

Appendix:

 

Katherine Ruonala: Living in the Miraculous, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2013: My husband and I went through a season when someone really took a severe disliking to us and tried to cause us as much trouble as possible. This person threatened to get the media to publish negative stories about us, wrote to all the pastors we knew around the world, called Tom’s job, and even threatened to stir up trouble with the Finnish embassy, for which Tom serves as an honorary consul. I just wanted it to stop and wondered why God wouldn’t put an end to it. But Tom, in his wisdom, counseled me not to get drawn into reacting and reminded me to let it go and “sow” the pain as seed into the soil of what God is doing in our lives.

We endured each of these threats and rejoiced that God was working it all for our good. We have both learned that these kinds of things are God’s battle to fight, not ours, and we can trust Him to give us double recompense for all the pain, shame, disgrace, dishonor, and injustice we experience. That very same year, not only did the media not publish any bad stories about us, but also they printed two good reports; my ministry invitations tripled; and the Finnish embassy gave Tom a knighthood!

The promise of Isaiah 61:7 is that God gives us twofold recompense for our former shame, pain, and disgrace. I’ve had to learn to trust this truth whenever people write terrible things on the Internet about me. Sometimes they see a YouTube video and feel the need to argue with it. Maybe they just want to be contrary, or perhaps they have an agenda against those who preach the things of the Spirit; maybe I just rub them the wrong way. I don’t know, but we’re told to expect opposition and even persecution if we are following God and speaking His truth.

The enemy hates God, and he hates each of us, so it’s no surprise that he tries to discourage us. God wants to give us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and a praising heart instead of depression. He loves to see us revel with hope.

Now when people upload ugly YouTube videos or comments about me on the Internet, I sow the pain with joy and faith, claiming extraordinary favor on the Web. And we have it! Our channel is so effective in getting the gospel out that YouTube wants to pay us to advertise on our videos. When people reject me, I celebrate knowing that I can exchange that rejection for double favor to come. And you can approach all of your adversity in exactly the same way.

Whatever your pain, your faith in God’s goodness will be rewarded and will bless the heart of your Father because faith pleases Him, and He delights to bless you more than you will ever know. He has a way of taking the pain we experience and turning it around so that we end up being blessed because of it. He bears fruit in our lives even through the worst things that happen to us. Adversity doesn’t limit our capacity for the supernatural; it enhances it.

I’ve learned not to waste a drop of the pain. I take it up, sow it by faith, and say, “Double recompense, Lord.” And what He does in response is wonderful. Now whenever I encounter trials, I actually celebrate. I don’t enjoy them, of course, but I know the joy they are going to lead to. That’s such a contrast from before. I used to play the part of a victim because I had so many issues and didn’t know how to put them behind me. But when the Lord came to heal me, He came also to bring a revelation of restoration: that He not only wants to deliver us from pain, guilt, shame, and disgrace, but He also wants to restore double for our trouble. Now when I suffer from hardship or opposition, I put a claim in to heaven. I know it’s going to work for my good. He replaces our ashes with beauty and our mourning with joy.

When the Lord spoke this promise into my life, I began to get militant with it. I would take my pain to God and thank Him that I could rejoice over what He would do with it. And whenever I sow my pain, I can expect a harvest. In every area people have tried to hurt us, we’ve been exceedingly blessed. I’ve seen it happen again and again …

The more pain it’s causing you, the more delight you can have because the harvest is going to be really worthwhile. Whatever pain you might be in, whatever dishonor you’ve suffered, the Lord wants you to sow it by faith and believe that you are the righteousness of God and that you therefore have the right to claim the promise of double recompense. Put your faith in Him and take hold of His promise. Don’t waste your pain. Sow it instead. Give it to God and know that He is faithful.

This is why Jesus could make such an amazing promise to His disciples. He told them that anyone who left land and homes, brothers and sisters, parents and children for His sake would receive one hundred times as much in this age and eternal life in the age to come (Mark 10:29–30). It’s an extraordinary promise. No one who has given up anything for the sake of the gospel will fail to receive it back in this life.

Zechariah 9:12 echoes the promise of Isaiah and assures us He will restore double to us: “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.” Job went through incredible hardship but ended up having everything he lost restored to him twofold. God sees the whole story; He notices everything we have been through, and He will not stand back and withhold glorious, divine recompense for long. The blessings He gives will be greater than the losses we experience. We will receive at least double for our trouble, if not more …

When we experience pain, God doesn’t just give us double recompense for our own sake. He multiplies our blessing by enabling us to bless others. This dynamic is expressed in 2 Corinthians 1: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

 

Katherine Ruonala: Living in the Miraculous, Lake Mary: Charisma House 2013: In practical terms, here’s how that works. When someone has done something nasty to me, or even just when the circumstances of life have been unkind, I take the pain, the disgrace, or the shame and sow it in faith, saying, “Lord, Your faithfulness is my shield and fortress to defend me. Your faithfulness surrounds me. You promised that You would give us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning, so here are my ashes. Here is my mourning. Here’s my pain. I trust that there will be double honor for every disgrace, double restoration for every loss, double blessing for every pain …

Then I wait with joyful expectation to see what He does. All I have to do is sit in the chair—lean back, relax, and rest in His ability to fulfill His promises. When I haven’t seen the circumstances work out yet, I am, as Zechariah 9:12 says, a “prisoner of hope.” I hang on to what God has said and declare that He is going to keep His Word. I don’t know how He will restore, but He will. I don’t know how He will use the obstacles not only for my good but also for His glory, but He will, because I know Him. I don’t know who else will benefit from the blessings He has given me, but someone will. Whatever comfort He has given me is also for me to give away.

This really is a remarkable truth. It means that there is nothing bad that can happen to us that can’t also be turned around into a blessing for us and a benefit for God’s kingdom. No matter how awful someone has been to us, no matter how terrible a disaster has seemed to us, it’s never our job to fuss and worry about it. Our job is to sit back in the chair and sow all of the loss, knowing that we are prisoners of hope and God’s faithfulness surrounds us like a shield. When we do that, the enemy is surely sorry he ever messed with us!

I want to encourage you to wake up to the reality of where you are positioned today. You are in a place of regal authority, and you are allowed to lay hold of whatever Jesus has laid hold of on your behalf. He wants you to sit in the chair with Him and to know with a sense of majesty that you can declare His faithfulness over any circumstance you face.

When you know this, all of your pain and losses and shame can become the key to a double blessing. Don’t waste any of it—not a thing. He can restore everything you ever lost. I know this from experience. He has given me more than double honor in places where I was dishonored. Some of the very people who have spoken against me have later asked me to come and work for them. It’s amazing. God doesn’t forget any of the details. If you will allow Him to watch over the promises and fulfill them in your life, if you’ll allow Him to be Lord of every circumstance, He will reveal Himself in such a magnificent way that you will want to humbly bow and tell Him how amazing He is.

Remember that this isnt because we earn or deserve His recompense. It’s because He loves us. His faithfulness surrounds us like a shield and invites us to rest in Him completely, as securely as a child rests in his father’s arms. Only as we know the fullness of His love can we begin to enter into that rest. But if we can only grasp this—that His love compels Him to bless us and show us His favor even in our greatest pain and deepest wounds—we suddenly enter into fruitfulness as we’ve never experienced it before. He is so amazingly kind that He gives us double for our trouble—and He gives enough for us to share.