"SHEEP TRAX"

Given to Bryan Hupperts, December, 1998

"SHEEP TRAX" by Bryan Hupperts

My name is Bryan Hupperts. I am an itinerant evangelist from St. Louis, MO with both a traveling ministry as well as ministering to internationals here in my city. I write a daily desktop devotional called SheepTrax which is available for free over the net. We're into our third year of this ministry and have readers in over 50 countries, and we're still growing.

To actually join Sheep Trax, please respond with the word SUBSCRIBE. This is an invitation to blessing, teaching, and an occasional tweaking by the Lord. If you're just wanting to explore about God, this is the place!

Enjoy these recent posts!

THE GOD WHO ANSWERS BY FIRE:

Hi, SheepTrax!

"Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." 1 Kings 18: 24
"And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind and there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" Acts 2: 2-4.
The God who answers by fire is God. The Bible is full of fire imagery that applies from everything from the presence of God to the everlasting punishment for the wicked. God Himself is described as an "all consuming fire."

He first appeared as fire in a bush to Moses. When the children of Israel left Egypt, He was with them as a "column of fire by night." There are a number of places in the Bible where the fire of the Lord fell from heaven and consumed a sacrifice. That happened to Abraham, King David, Solomon, and the prophet Elijah.

In the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the prophet had invited the false prophets to Mt. Carmel to a kind of showdown at the O. K. Corral. Elijah had also invited the nation of Israel to watch. In the natural, he was outnumbered 450 to one. What no one but Elijah knew was the one plus God ALWAYS equals a majority. God always hears and answers the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man.

Elijah had Baal's prophets lay out a sacrifice to their god while he laid out his to the Lord. His challenge was that the God who answered by fire; who would let fire fall from the sky and consume the sacrifice, He alone would be God.

Have you ever been called to publicly lay your faith on the line? All day long the false prophets prayed and danced and cut themselves with knives to offer a bloodletting to Baal. Finally Elijah began to mock them with taunts asking where their god might be. Perhaps he was busy at the moment, or sleeping, or indisposed in the john (that is implied in the original Hebrew). The point was no one answered them because there was no one listening. Their god was a fake.

Then Elijah had his sacrifice soaked in water before he prayed. He called on the Lord God to turn the hearts of His people back to Him and to come and consume the sacrifice.
WHOOSH!
"Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burn offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water. When the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The Lord, He is God.'" 1Kings 18: 38. The God who answered by fire was indeed God!

It didn't go real well for the prophets of Baal that day as they were all killed. Serving the devil has that eventual effect on people.

I have a relative who is into New Age philosophy and had a large crystal that glowed whenever they were around. One day, my wife and I were visiting this person and Cyndi put her hands on the crystal and bound and rebuked the spirit behind the phenomena in Jesus' name. My relative told me later that for some reason, their crystal "stopped working." It quit glowing...Duh!

The God who answers by fire is God. My wife was raised Buddhist in a Muslim country. After she received Christ, she went on the offensive spiritually. Spiritual warfare wasn't the latest money making $60 dollar a head conference topic. It was a daily exercise that kept you alive. She quickly learned that her God hears and answers prayer.

It's interesting to see what happened to the apostles and the upper room company when they prayed. The God who answers by fire answered again! They were filled with the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire appeared over them.

Remember what happened to Elijah? When the fire fell, it consumed the sacrifice and everything else around it. Consumed means to completely envelop something. As God is an all-consuming fire, He did what His name and nature dictate - He came in a fiery blaze of glory and consumed the sacrifice!

The Bible says that we should offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. The apostles were filled with the Spirit by the One who baptizes with the Holy Ghost and fire because they were laying their lives down at that moment as living sacrifices unto the Lord. And God came and consumed their sacrifice! He filled them with Himself.

If you have never had the fire of God come and consume you, perhaps it is because you have yet to totally lay your life before Him and say, "Not my will, but yours." The upper room company went forth from that place infused with the power and life of God to turn the world upside down.

Many of them died as martyrs. Some were speared to death, others flogged, or crucified, or beheaded with the sword. Some lived to be aged telling 3 and 4 generations about the power of the risen Christ to transform lives. Yet in all of this they were more than overcomers. The world is not worthy of such as these.

Lay your life before the Lord today and ask him to come and consume the sacrifice of your life. Give yourself to Him body, soul, and spirit. If you'll lay your dreams and ambitions on the altar of the Lord, He'll give you a new heart out of which will flow His dreams and ambitions for your life. He lovingly grants the deepest desires of the heart that is totally His. As you consecrate yourself to him, remember: the God who answers by fire is God!
Be blessed,
Bryan Hupperts 1998

May 7, 1998
Hi, SheepTrax!
[This post will seem strange. I was praying in the Spirit about 3 am when this came. I was wide awake yet had a very real dream. What I received I pass on to you for prayer and reflection. - Bryan]
Prisoner 354-B9
To My American cousins in Christ,
It's frigidly cold here this morning. My cell is unheated and I cannot feel my legs. This is a blessing. Today I will be beaten and tortured before breakfast and I will not feel the pain as much. Numbness from the cold makes the tortures bearable. I will have to remember to scream on cue so as not to upset the guards. I wonder if they are as bored with my cries as I am with their beatings? In prison, everything becomes routine, even torture.

I prayed for you again. I have much time on my hands here and thankfully no blood. I once heard a rumor that the churches in America each had a complete Bible of their very own. Could such a thing be true? Once at a house church meeting, just before my last arrest - how many years has it been? - I actually held a page of Scripture in my own hands and was allowed to read it to the church. I myself was holding the Word of God. I knew then that I was favored of the Lord. What a great honor.

In my dream today I went to Heaven again and one of the Splendid Ones spoke with me about you. He showed me the great Russian bear - not at all dead as you have supposed - hibernating, rejuvenating, readying to attack you. Her sharp paws were unsheathed ready to slice and maul you into submission.

"Why do they disarm? " I asked.
The Splendid One replied, "They are at ease in Zion but soon will be at ease no more."
"I do not understand," I replied a bit confused.
"Many saints of the West have become wealthy and do not know that they are really wretched and poor and miserable and blind and naked. They usually equate the blessing of God with having money. They do not know of His true riches," said the glorious being.

Then Jesus Himself entered the place where we were talking. All bowed low and worshipped but I wept bitterly. Though He knew the answer, he asked me why I wept so. "Lord," I said, "Your sufferings only lasted a few days and mine have gone on for years. I have suffered much more than you. Why?"

With a great compassion, He seemed to look right through me (I felt him do this). He said, "Son, I have allowed you to sip suffering in small swallows so that your faith would not fail. I swallowed the dregs of the poison of sin whole. It was a torture you could never understand and it would have undone you. You have drank of my cup. Be patient a while longer."

I begged his forgiveness. His hand raised only to wipe my tears away and he held me close in understanding. I breathed in the perfume of His grace, which seemed to fill me with new Life.

I awoke!

My dear cousins, you are not prepared for the sufferings to come. Lose this world now and let its claims on you fall away. If you gain Christ you will lose nothing important.

Not long ago I saw my reflection for the first time in years from a medicine chest in the infirmary. My teeth have rotted and I look decayed. My once handsome face is etched with pain. I look like a corpse straining to draw breath. The doctor gave me hot water to drink for my illness - we have no medicines here. It helped a little.

I felt so sad for myself and was glad my mother was dead. My condition would have killed her. As I headed back to my cell, the Holy Spirit said, "Don't despair. I will show you as you look to me." I suddenly saw my image reflected in the ice. The bumps of the icicles took the lines away and I looked young and alive again. The best part was the snow. It gave the impression that I was dressed in a white robe of righteousness like the saints in heaven wear. It was delightful! My smiles shock the guards. I can only explain that He is with me.

Dear American cousins, we are praying for you so that when night crashes on your land, and it soon will, your faith will not fail. Put the cross back in your Gospel preaching and prepare your people to carry it or they will fall away.
It is very cold here. I am praying for a blanket or some rags to keep warm with. He is with me.
Signed,
A nameless prisoner
His ambassador in chains
Bryan Hupperts

(c) 1997 *** September 23, 1998

Turk or Porky?

When my little brother was a lowly private in the army, he was once meandering his way through a chow line. The military serves a pressed meat concoction that is either turkey or pork; you really can't tell the difference between them by mere sight. Military culinary experts claim that, when soaked with gravy, you can't taste the difference, either. This pressed meat concoction is jadedly referred to in morbid undertones as "the other white meat." Some suspect pressed meat to be part of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

Sometimes, for no apparent reason, things will strike you as gut wrenchingly hilarious when no one else is laughing. And the harder you try to explain the absurdity that is reducing you to chuckles and tears to a bemused onlooker, the more you laugh, especially when they just don't get it. It's a vicious circle.

My baby brother was going through a chow line with a burly Sergeant following behind him. When he got to the white meat, his tongue kind of twisted as he pointed to "the other white meat" and asked the cook, "Is that turk or porky?"

He started to giggle and tried to rephrase the question. "I mean, is that turk or porky?" And he started peeling with laughter. The Sergeant behind him eventually threw him out of the chow line for causing a disturbance. He nearly crawled out the door gasping for breath - the more he tried to stop laughing, the harder he laughed.

He never did find out if it was turkey or pork on the menu. They wouldn't let him have chow that night, either.
He was laughing too hard to care.

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish one thing from another because they look so similar. My brother couldn't discern between the "white meats" of turkey and pork. They looked so much alike that you needed to take a bite to figure out what the "white meat" of the meal was.

1John 2:15. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him."

When God calls us, He infuses us with His Spirit, and sets us against the flow and current of this present world system. We become citizens of Heaven, heralds of the new coming order of the reign of Jesus Christ. This world is no longer our hope or home and we become as strangers and aliens on the earth.

The saint becomes, as a city set on a hill whose light cannot be seen. We begin to take on holy character and to exhibit the life of Christ. Kingdoms begin to clash in conflict as we begin to make godly choices that set us against the old world system.

Many believers begin to weary in doing well and start to faint. There is a great temptation to begin to compromise and go along with the world on what are first deemed "unessential." As this trend accelerates, the presence of the Lord begins to wane in our lives. We go from white hot to lukewarm; while being congratulated by those who have backslidden before us on our new found "maturity." We begin to lose the flavor of heaven and begin to look, live, and talk like the world.

James 4:4. "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ has an unchanging price.
Luke 9:23 "And he said to all, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
We have to daily decide to deny ourselves, pick up his cross, and follow Him. There is no other way to faithfully serve God.
When the world comes to "taste and see that the Lord is good" by taking a bite out of your flesh, what will they taste? Will they find the sweet peace and character of Jesus or the anger and rage of the fallen world?
What will they taste: turk or porky? With grace in your face,
Bryan Hupperts 1998

October 9, 1998
Hi, SheepTrax!

When Nations Tremble
(A Prophetic Psalm)

When nations tremble it is because the Lord has roused Himself to walk among men. His approaching steps thunder like hoof beats from a stampeding herd of wild horses. He walks the lands searching hearts for righteousness. He hungers to taste the fruit of His Spirit growing sweetly among His tender vines. He longs to sip in communion with His saints the wine of His grace that He lavishes freely. And for His enemies, with each measured step, kingdoms quake, countries fail, and nations tremble.

The Lord has measured the nations like grains of sand on righteous scales; the nations are less than nothing in His sight. While the kings of the earth plan their dark dread against God and His holy people, the Lord laughs His terrifying laugh at the wicked. He shall suddenly rise and rage against them and in a moment, they shall be no more. The terrifying echo of His laugh shall haunt them forever.

God is sifting the nations even as grain is sifted. He is tossing up and down, back and forth, shaking all that can be shaken. He lets tyrants and evil men rise up to the measure of their own sin, and He hurls them back scorned to be forgotten in the dust. Pharaohs have risen and vanished, Kings have reigned by the score, Presidents and Prime Ministers etch their competing voice in the fading wind and they all finally wither away. The man who fears the Lord remains steadfast forever.

When nations tremble they learn the fear of the Lord. He has roused Himself to walk among men. He is coming with His reward for those who love His coming. For those who oppose Him, He will meet them in battle and subdue them. Devils will fall, chains shall be shattered, the earth will seem as a scorched field, and God alone will be glorified in that great and terrible day. As that day is quickly approaching, the shadow of its dread falls like a curtain across the lands, and the nations tremble.
Bryan Hupperts
1998

October 19, 1998
Hi, SheepTrax!

Haunted Souls

There was an abandoned house not far from where I grew up that was rumored to be haunted by the ghost of it's deceased owner. The place moaned eerily, almost forlornly in the rural Iowa wind.

It sat on a small hill just outside of town looking always ghostly and uninviting in the moonlight. People sped past it just a bit when driving - and the narrowed road wasn't the reason. The house always evoked memories of past emotions rather than a specific past event. If for no other reason than that, I would say the house was haunted.

Have you ever walked down a street and really looked into a stranger's eye? I've met people who were chained to some event in the past, a sad, beguiled prisoner of time and circumstance. Somewhere, sometime there was a war waged deep in their soul and they lost the fight, and became a prisoner of war to their own past. A wounding chained them to a darkness they feel condemned to repeat; whose poisoned clutches they feel powerless to escape from.

Souls can be haunted, too.
What haunts you in the recesses of your soul? Is it some forgotten love, a dream decayed, turned to ash and dust? A voice echoing from the dim past calling out to you reverberating with cries and sorrows only you can hear? Is there a haunted look that suddenly flashes through your eyes that instantly transports you from the present to a tortured time from long ago?

Our bodies are called temples of the Holy Spirit. We were made with a place inside of us that is set apart as the dwelling place of God's Spirit. When something else begins to usurp that sovereign place of communion with God, we become haunted souls. There is some other spirit beginning to rule and reign over us that is not the Spirit of Christ.

When someone becomes mortally wounded in the essence of who and what they are, they begin to close up, harden inside, and the wound begins to fester. Somewhere something begins to go sour and instead of living each new day that bursts joyously with the overflowing mercies of God, they begin to live that dreaded old day over and over again. They go out of sync with the new day and get lost in a merciless maze in a frozen, dark unchangeable past that terrorizes them.

Jesus came to set prisoners free. You don't need to be under the thumb of a military tyrant to be a prisoner. Sometimes the heartbreaking past is enough of a dreaded master to make you a captive soul in need of liberation and freedom.

Healing doesn't always come overnight in a single prayer. Deliverance often comes by minute degree and decrees of God's promises - but healing will come as we begin to take every haunting thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

If you're haunted by some specter from the past, Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. God's will is to restore you to wholeness, and make all things new. Let the haunting end by surrendering your 'prisoner status' to your Liberator. Ask Him to break the chains of shame that hold you in needless bondage.

If the past haunts you, prowling and stalking like a ravaging monster in the ruins of your mind, call out to God from the deep recesses of your shattered heart. A broken and contrite heart he'll never reject. Give your haunted past a funeral service and lay your ghosts to rest by burying them in the blood of the Lamb. He came to set prisoners free. Souls were made to be free, and were not intended to be playgrounds for marauding ghosts that should have been buried long ago.
For freedom in Christ,
Bryan Hupperts 1998

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