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Amazing Grace Ministries

Newsletter Archive

September   99

The Gates of the City

Pastor John Doonan

The Water Gate #8

We often as Christians find ourselves in situations where our testimony is tested by many different hindrances. Various agents of this world that are impure try to touch our lives. Yet, as we’ve learned of the gates of the city, we see how we can enter the presence of God, filled with the power and faith of knowing in ourselves that we are free. We know we are cleansed and able to stand before God’s presence without guilt or fear. As we continually enter and are filled with His presence, we are separated from the things of this earth that attempt to defile us.

However it seems there are many Christians who either:
One; do not know that this place exists or,
Two; do not understand the full importance of what transpires in God’s presence.

We who do know and understand find a perfect freedom and liberty in that beautiful place. As we stand, we realize that God is gracious, that He is gentle, easy, and kind. By this knowledge, we are able to grow as Christians. The key is realizing there is a place we can stand, no matter how broken our lives are, or the circumstances may appear. We recognize that no matter what, we can come unto the presence of God and He’s not going to throw us out, He’ll never deny us. If anything, we reject Him. Yet, the Bible declares that though we forsake Him, He can never forsake us.

The problem is most Christians don’t know this truth. Once they think they’ve failed God, making Him mad, then they have no right to come before Him until they’ve fixed it and cleaned up their lives. This is just not true. If we could do that then what would be the purpose of the cross of Christ in the first place? If we were able to operate separately from God’s power to overcome trials and curses in this earth, we’d be doing it already. But we can’t. Therefore we come into His presence to walk in the freedom and liberty He’s provided that we may be equipped to finish the course He’s set us on.

Nehemiah 3:26 Moreover, the Nethinim dwelt in Ophel, into the place opposite the water gate toward the east, and the projecting tower.

Notice it does not say that the Watergate needed repair. Yet it says that a man stood there to fulfill all that needed to be done at this gate.

Psalm 119:9 "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word."

We come to the Watergate. The water represents the Word of God, and its inherent ability to cleanse. As Christians, we don’t want to be sin conscious, but we also don’t want to live in denial of the reality that sin exists. We must see sin for what it is and then appreciate that there are God given tools to deal with sin. We can never conquer sin with our own power but we can use God’s perfect provision. The Psalm says ‘that I might hide Thy Word in my heart.’ The author understood the power of the Word to wash and cleanse him.

Nehemiah 3 states that the Watergate didn’t need to be repaired. I believe that this is also the case with the Word of God. It doesn’t need to be repaired; it stands on its own. I believe what happened in Jerusalem with the city gates is a clear picture of the Word’s ability to stand and prevail against all enemies. As Jerusalem’s enemies attacked the city, tearing down the walls and gates, there was one section they could not destroy, the Watergate. It stood on its own, it stood the test of time, and it represents the Word of God. It didn’t need to be fixed then, nor does it need fixing now. All it needed was someone to stand and defend it.

We know that when rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem, the men stood holding two things; a brick in one hand and a sword in the other. There were many enemies outside the camp attempting to sabotage the rebuilding of the city. These enemies remembered the Israel of old and how powerful their God was, and they did not want this power to re-emerge. Now in this particular section, the Watergate, it was not a matter of having to rebuild, but certainly, it needed defending against those trying to destroy it.

Let’s look at water. Water is essential to life. One can live forty days without food but only three days without water; and so it is spiritually. The Word of God brings the Spirit of Life to us and sustains us before God. The Word of God brings us healing. The process of continually being washed and cleansed by the Word of God is essential to living. It is necessary to hide the Word of God in our hearts that we might not sin against Him. To sin would be to operate in faithlessness; to do things according to your own power and strength, to do things according to the way your unregenerate mind thinks; the way the world operates. Yet, the Psalmist realized that the Word of God, when he hid it in his heart has the power to control him, to cleanse his thoughts, and to purify his desires. He realized that the Word in him could keep him from being part of the death that is in this world. The Word in our heart has it’s own power.

Now for us today it’s not a matter of making the Word of God work in our lives but rather it is standing and defending the Word of God. To hide the word in our hearts is a defense mechanism, which is the way given to us to have the ability not to sin against God—not to fail faith.

I have known Spirit filled Christians and I have known Scripture filled Christians. I believe the most excellent Christians are equally Spirit and Scripture filled. Christians must be both. These two Divine Authorities have to go together in order for the Empowered Word to fulfill what God wants to do in our lives.

When we come before God, we have to remember that His Word is like water. It’s part of a washing, cleansing, revitalizing process. When I get confused about what’s going on in my life or when the things of this earth start to weigh me down I go to the Word of God. At times, the Spirit seems far away yet the Word is nigh me even in my own heart and in my own mouth. The Word is inseparable from the Spirit. If I can connect to the Word I am able to receive Spiritual knowledge that gives me stability, deep insight, and flexibility toward God’s Word. These things are available to me whether I feel good or bad, whether I am high or low, or I feel close to or far from God’s Spirit. There is much more available to us than good feelings, although when we do have them they are wonderful. If we simply come before God, to humbly receive of His Word, then He is able to direct our lives unto the things He has planned for them by His Spirit. We can lay aside our own preconceived notions and allow the Word to cleanse us and distil our desires so we can freely follow where He’s leading.

John 13:1-16 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

The Washing of the
Water of the Word.

As we come before God we realize our ability to obediently minister in this earth, as He has called us to, is entirely dependent upon this washing, this pouring out of the water of the Word.

We see Jesus as an example. He came before the disciples and lowered Himself to wash His disciple’s feet. The feet are a symbol of our Christian walk and the things we do daily. Feet are a common denominator; everyone has them. They are simple, functional parts of the body and they’re not very special or noble, but unquestionably necessary to transport us from place to place. Jesus is concerned that we need not be ashamed of our feet when we walk into a room, and truly we don’t need to be, for they have been cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word.

The Scriptures we just looked at say that Jesus does that to us. So, we realize that as we come before God at the Watergate, the Word of God has one single purpose in mind for us. It’s about letting us get from one place to the next without being self-conscious. It’s about knowing that our lives are fulfilling the things He’s ordained for us by the sheer fact that Jesus has washed our feet.

The Word has the ability to cleanse. If you were living in a desert region, and you only had sandals for footwear what part of you would get the dirtiest? Why, your feet, of course. Who is it that deals with the dirtiest part of us? Jesus, Himself. He does it every time we come into the presence of the Word as well as every time we come into communion with Him.

In the other gospels during this same time period was when Jesus broke bread and served the disciples wine saying, "This is My body and this is My blood of the new covenant." Then He immediately lowered Himself to wash the disciples’ feet. In other words, as we come before the cross and the cleansing power of the blood we realize it’s the Word Himself who cleanses us. Jesus is the Word of God. He was the washing of the Word, that which cleanses the dirtiest part of our anatomy. As we come to the Watergate, the only thing we have to do is get into the presence of the Word of God. The Word is not just words written on paper but it is Spirit and it is Life, it is Jesus Himself. In short, every time we come to the Word of God, Jesus automatically supplies a service to us; He washes us by the water of the Word.

As a believer, you really have to identify with this. You have to appreciate what the Word is doing. Peter said to Jesus, "Wash all of me," but Jesus told him that was not necessary. As long as He washed the dirtiest part of him, he would be completely clean.

Therefore, obedience begins by submitting yourself to the power of the Word of God. If you don’t believe in its power what good can it be to you? Only the Word of God can remove sin, and has the cleansing ability that can make you fit to sit in the presence of the King of Kings. If the Word can’t do it certainly nothing else can. As Jesus said to Peter, "If I don’t wash your feet you are no part of me."

You know when you’ve been washed; you know when He has come to you by the power of His Word. It is obvious. If you are born of the Spirit of God, the Spirit bears witness in you that you’re being cleansed by the Word of God. You just know that you know.

The Watergate is just as important as any of the other gates. It is the power to come into the presence of Jesus Christ and know that every time you come into the fellowship of the Word of God you’re becoming a Scripture filled Christian. The Scripture bears witness that we’re cleansed as our Father prepares us to enter His presence. In our communion with God, we bring to mind something we know very well . . . that Jesus has washed us and does so continually as we humbly come before God.

As a church, we don’t have communion simply for the sake of tradition but rather to remember and to allocate the process of cleansing being performed on us by the Lord as the presence of His Spirit fills the sanctuary. We submit as Jesus, Himself, washes our feet with God’s Word.

John 15:1-3 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

The only thing that I know of that will stop you from growing in the Lord and bearing more fruit is if you are not open to the Word of God. God says specifically that when we deal with our growth and the necessary disciplines for our Christian walk we must allow God to work through us to make all the needed changes by the purging of His Word. Our own willpower, duty, or might, used in the self-purging process always ends in miserable failure.

When we are purged by the Word it is not a painful, dreadful, act of cutting but rather a natural act of the refreshing refinement that takes place. As we stand before God, our everyday lives are changed because of the way we think. The cleansing and purging power of the Word of God changes our thinking. The Bible says, "As a man thinks, so is he."

The Word changes us for it has its own power. It does something to us every time we come into the presence of God. Often I’ll say to the congregation of Amazing Grace, "In six months you’re going to either love me or hate me." I say this because I understand the power of the Word of God that it will absolutely change your life. It will do one of two things. Either you will become ecstatically happy and submitted before God, or begrudgingly unhappy as the Word begins purging and cleansing your life. When our selfish personal desires begin washing away, you surprisingly discover you have lost control of them. There is no joy in fear of loss.

The Word says, "God is the husbandman." God is the gardener who prepares His harvest. The Word is God’s gardening tool. When one comes before the Word of God, it’s not about intellect or one being able to learn earthly knowledge. It’s not about putting it in one’s brain, but rather about hiding it in your heart. Once the Word of God has manifested in a miraculous way to bypass your brain and work itself into your heart, that seed of the Word of God inside of you begins to purge. If you are the type of person who likes to be in control, to have your own way, and to make your own plans, then when God’s Word begins working in you, you’ll automatically be in conflict with it. You’ll either be so happy because you find you don’t have to be in control anymore or you’ll find yourself under a lot of pressure because you’re fighting God. God will be in the process of removing things and you’ll be trying to hold on to them.

He says, "You are clean because of the word of God." We must realize when we submit ourselves to the Word because the Word of God is Spirit and it is Life. It is Jesus Christ. As you come before the throne of God and He begins to reveal His Word to you, it begins to cleanse and change you whether you want it to or not. The Word will follow us into our darkest hiding places, for He cannot forsake us even though we try to forsake Him.

Matthew 13:3-21 "And He spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, " Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 and when he sowed, some of the seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them. 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth. 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up, and choked them. 8 But other seeds fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
… 18 Hear, therefore, the parable of the sower,
… 20 But he that received the seed in stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it;21 yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, immediately he is offended."

The Bible says that at first so many receive the Word with joy. Think about when God has revealed the Word to you, when it’s revealed in your heart you stand in joyful wonder. You think it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever heard. It’s only later that you realize that Word has its own power. God caused it to bypass your brain and go deep into your heart where it began to cleanse and purge so you could enter into God’s presence without fear, without guilt, without shame. He does this whether you want it or not. Regardless of your opinion, Jesus is going to do His job. If you belong to Him, you’ll be purged; there is no way to escape it when you are connected to the vine. To the wise humble heart it brings great joy and fulfills our purpose in Christ.

When we come before God we have this miracle working power of the Word of God fulfilling itself in us. He is the True Vine, the Word, our Communion, and the Water that washes and cleanses us.

Reading the Bible is where we begin but we’re never to end with only just reading it. We are to meditate on the Word of God. Many people come to me feeling guilty because they think they’re not reading and studying enough. I express to them, "Let’s not worry about that, instead do this. Take just one verse, read it, then meditate on it all day. Let just that one word do something inside of you without trying to manipulate if, but rather submit to that word, and allow God to show you what it can do." The Word has more power than our intellectual ability to learn. As you begin to meditate, to hide the word in your heart, you are given the ability to move to the next place in your Christian walk. It’s not about being a scholar or trying to know more than anyone else does. It’s about God doing what He does best by the control of His word. He that began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ.

In regards to serving others the same principle applies. Our job is only to share that Word with others. That Word is Jesus and He will do the cleansing and the purging of those who hear it. We are not called to, nor can we, fix anyone. We can’t even fix ourselves but, all must rely humbly on the Lord to wash and care for His body. The Word of God alone creates the ability for each individual to travel from one point to the next without being ashamed. Our responsibility is to be obedient to offer that Word, that God might use it to fulfill His purpose.

Only the Word of God and His Spirit have the ability to sanctify and make whole any that belong to Him. Regarding ministry in the church, if it were about preacher’s fixing people we’d all be in trouble. No preacher I know is in a state of self-sanctification or fixed-up well enough to have the right to do that. That’s the problem in legalistic churches, many do what they don’t have the authority to do. A preacher that understands God’s Word is one who offers his people the Word of God and allows Jesus to do the changes in their lives. That’s the power of the Word of God and that’s using it by means of tempered wisdom.

I can’t cause you to feel okay but the Word can take you perfectly to the place Jesus wants you to be. It’s not for me, as a preacher, to decide where you’re supposed to be but for God’s word to direct. As the body of Christ gathers before the Watergate, God’s word perfectly and thoroughly furnishes us unto all good works. It doesn’t matter how bad your life is, how badly your head is screwed up, what you’re doing wrong, what you’re addicted to, or what evil is manifesting in your life. God’s Word has its own power and will produce good works in you if you simply allow God to do the cleansing and purging. Therein rest our faith, our hope, and our victory in Jesus Christ.

Note: For a more in depth study of the Watergate, order the cassette tape from the series,
"The Gates of the City."

We have had such a tremedous response to this series that we want to let you know it is a 12 part series and will take some time to get it all into print. However, it is available on audio cassette tape for $70.00. Call us today!


I Got Clean!

by Bonnie Allo

January of 1990, I got clean. I signed up for a twenty-eight day treatment center program. There I decided I wanted to be one of the people that never had to use drugs or alcohol again. I remember vocally speaking this out, and I know that God heard my cry, because from that point on the HE removed the desire and obsession to use another mind or mood altering chemical. God helped me!

Being introduced to the 12-Step Program at the treatment center, I needed to know what I had to do to stay clean. The instructions of the 12-Step Program were; don’t use, stay clean one day at a time, go to meetings on a regular basis, get a sponsor. I was to work the 12 steps with my sponsor and to find a relationship with God, to pray every morning and night. I needed to ask God for the help to live clean, and thank Him for the help. They strongly suggested service work and we were to help others to do the same things.

Before this time, I never had any kind of relationship with God. I was very faithful and 100% committed to the program. As far as I was concerned, this program saved my life. I know without a doubt that I would have died if I had continued down that old road to destruction. I contently stayed with the program through February of 1994.

This time in my life was very difficult. My sadness and depression more and more often led me to tears of despair, feeling as if I had no hope. I was still very faithful and committed to my 12 Step Program and even sought professional help. Nothing I was doing was a complete and fulfilling solution. Then, in February of 1995, my girlfriend invited me to her church and I became born again! I invited Jesus Christ to live inside my heart! At that time I had no idea what all that meant.

Soon afterwards, my friend made a decision to attend another church. I continued for six more months to stay in the church where I had received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. During this time, I was water baptized and given a mentor, a spiritual advisor. This mentor asked me to make changes that I was not ready to make. I felt condemnation, shame, and guilt. So I called my girlfriend and she invited me to her new church, which was Amazing Grace Community Church. I came to a service and I loved it. This was in October of 1995 and I’ve been here ever since, sitting under the anointed teaching of the Word of God. All of the things that my old mentor told me I had to change myself just naturally fell off, one by one. Faith, grace, and the power of God’s Word changed all of them.

During this time, God took one finger at a time out of my grasp from the 12-Step Program. I never thought I would be able to stay clean without going to meetings, working the 12 Steps and having a sponsor but obviously, God had another plan and purpose for me!

By December of 1998, I found I no longer believed the things the 12-Step Program had taught me. I could no longer say, "My name is Bonnie and I am an addict." I could no longer be accountable to my sponsor nor could I work the 12 Steps. You see, I am no longer an addict, and I am accountable to God, not man. I can no longer do the work in and of myself. It is God, and was God, and will always be God, doing the work in my life. Therefore, I very seriously and very sincerely went to God in prayer. I wanted to make sure that I would be doing God’s will, not mine, if I left the program. The Lord gave me two scriptures.

Psalms 119:2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies and who seek Him with the whole heart!
Isaiah 43:18 Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth, shall you not know it?

At the end of December of 1998, I chose to walk out these scriptures by faith. I no longer go to meetings. I let my sponsor go. I now know I have something much greater and more powerful to live by, which is the Word of God. I am redeemed and healed by the blood of Jesus Christ! The program was the tool that God used to save me from destroying myself, and I am grateful for it. Yet, I hope and pray that all will find their way to God the Father, through Jesus Christ and experience the fullness of freedom He’s provided for them through His eternal salvation. Amen.

God’s faithful and beloved child,
Bonnie Allo

 

Postscript by Pastor Doonan

I was so excited when Bonnie said she was going to share her testimony of God’s goodness and grace in her life. I have watched Bonnie grow in so many ways as she has attended Amazing Grace Community Church. Because of her modesty, I wanted to say a few things from another point of view as I have watched our Savior working in her life.

As Bonnie first started sharing in our fellowship in Christ, I saw her sincere and fervent desire to be all God wanted her to be. It seems so easy for her to share the decision to leave the program and accept what Jesus has prepared for her. Nevertheless, I wanted you to know of the trial and tribulation she faced as she made this important resolution, which could have produced some serious consequences if she had not done it correctly, by faith.

Firstly, her decision was not made simply because she wanted to escape the discipline of the 12 step program. She fully and completely submitted herself to the program, by faith, believing it to be God’s will for her to be free from addiction. Her service and dedication to God was made manifest in so many ways as our Lord worked with her and led her to the faith she walks in today.

She offered herself first to the word of God as she faithfully attended all the services and Bible studies she could find. Bonnie grew quickly and became committed in love to the local body in which she found such freedom of praise and fellowship in Christ. Soon she gave herself to encouraging others in her increasingly wonderful faith. She volunteered to be part of the praise team, but not as one of those who performed on stage but rather she stood behind, serving these so they could better serve God. Such a heart of a servant! She saw a need for our singles and headed up a new church ministry to aid these in their desire to wait on God.

I watched as she obediently started tithing to God’s work by faith and very faithfully. She gave not for her personal gain, but for the promotion of this Great Gospel of Grace. God met her at every turn and created in her this powerful woman of faith and humble service. Her unpretentious obedience is a pronounced lesson to all of us.

Greater still though, I watched God multiply her love, time, and finances as she gave herself so completely to Jesus. It is not so much in us looking to the Lord to give us something so we can be free, but it is in giving ourselves to Jesus that kindle these miracle working fires of faith. Bonnie’s testimony is not so much of searching for something to get from God, as it was her unselfish and faithful giving of herself to God, and all of us. In this, God has given to her what she did not seek but God wanted her to have. She is delivered by the power of Jesus’ love for her. That same love in her touches and encourages all of us.


Published by Amazing Grace Ministries Evangelistic Association Publishing, Westchester. Illinois Distributed by Amazing Grace Ministries Evangelistic Association Publishing, Westchester. Illinois Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture quotations are from the Authorized / King James Version (KJV)  No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission except for brief quotation in books and critical reviews. For information write Amazing Grace Ministries Evangelistic Association Inc.--198 Burnett St.--Yorkville, IL 60560--708/223-0070

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