Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 22, Issue 12     April 22, 2012

Mark:  a special sign or brand; a sign of ownership

Seal:  a mark of authority and authenticity,
             an official mark of ownership

Brand:  a mark to signify ownership

Some Christians instead of resting in the fact that they are marked by God are walking in fear that they may some how get the mark of the beast!

For every reference to the mark of the beast there are at least two references to the mark or seal of God?

Everybody will be marked or branded…..it simply depends on who’s outfit you ride for.

God has set in place a certain sign or
mark to identify those that are His.
These marked ones are protected by His very Word.

Exodus 12:13  “And the blood shall be to you for a token... and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague will not touch you... God said “When I see the blood!”

According to Ephesians 4:30 we are sealed to the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit of God.

Ephesians 1:13  “...sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”

The seal
  • is the indwelling Holy Spirit
His presence in our hearts is the evidence of our approval in the sight of God.

The sealer is God
  • He gives the Spirit to them that believe
The sealed are they “who hearing the Gospel trusted in Christ.”

The significance being that a seal is given as the closing of a deal and a sign of ownership.

The sealing of the Holy Spirit speaks of:

  • Sealed with the kings signet that the purpose might not be changed.
II Timothy 2:19  “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. None shall pluck them out of His hand.”

  • Those sealed by the Spirit of God are owned of God.
We are bought with a price!  The blood of Christ redeems us to God.  The Holy Spirit possesses us for God!

We, in reality, have been purchased by the precious blood of the Lamb…therefore we are in the greatest sense no longer our own.  It would be good for us to think of our body, soul, mind, emotions and spirit to be “under new management”.

  • The seal of God is a sign of authority.
Thus, those who are sealed of God act in the King’s name, they act in Christ’s stead.

  • A seal imparts its own image to the object sealed.
That is why the object sealed must be soft enough to receive the mark.  Those sealed by the Spirit will have the mind of the spirit, which is the mind of Christ.

Just as the mark of the antichrist system -
the mark of the beast is placed on the foreheads so is the mark for the redeemed.

Revelation 14:1  “And a Lamb stood on the mount Zion and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.”

The royal stamp of Heaven is set on all the souls that belong to the kingdom of God.

Every redeemed one is a marked one!

Come with me for a minute to Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

“.... thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

To understand what David is really saying here, we must turn to 2 scriptures:

Leviticus 27:32  “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, [even] of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy to the LORD.”

Ezekiel 20:37  “I will cause you to pass under the rod, I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.”

Let’s see how God’s marked men behave...

Ezekiel 9:1-6  “He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.”

See if this doesn’t sound familiar when we read:

Revelation 7:3  “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”

And look at Revelation 9:4  “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”

Thank God for David’s insight….
        “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 22, Issue 11      April 15, 2012

Galatians 6:14  “But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Look at the cross, my friend....
Have you ever really looked at it?

I Corinthians 1:18  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God.”

You will never understand the significance
of what happened at the cross until you
are clear about who it was that died there.

If He is the Son of the living God what is He doing there on the cross?

Jesus answered this Himself in Matthew 20:28 “the Son of man came give his life a ransom for many.”

Charles Spurgeon said…..
“The heart of the gospel is redemption and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.”

The cross had blinded the eyes of the apostle Paul so much that he gloried in nothing else!

The preacher who has ceased glorying in the cross of Christ has ceased preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit.  For the whole counsel of God finds its center in the crucified One.

Jeremiah 9:23-24  “Let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: But let him that gloriy, glory in this, that he understands and knows God, that He is the LORD which exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for I delight in these things, said the LORD.”

To know the meaning of the cross of Christ is to
understand and know God and to glory in Him.

I Corinthians 2:2  “I have determined not to know any thing....except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Here are some good reasons why we should glory in the cross:

BY IT…..
*   The Love of the Father is seen
I John 4:9-10  “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”

Romans 5:8  “But God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

*   The Love of Jesus is declared
John 10:11  “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

*   Sinners are reconciled to God
Romans 5:10  “We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

*   Believers are crucified
Galatians 6:14  “God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”

*   Every blessing is pledged
Romans 8:17&32  “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together..... He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

IN IT…..
*   Lies a remedy for all the woes of the world
John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The cross, not just any cross -
but the cross of Christ,
is what brings man,
a guilty sinner,
together with a Holy God.

Without the shedding of blood there would be no remission of sin.

At the cross of Christ, Jesus Himself, bore your sins and mine.  Jesus paid the debt of our guilt and our transgressions.

II Corinthians 5:21  “For he has made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God.”

Galatians 1:4  “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”

I Peter 2:24  “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed.”

Colossians 2:13-15  “You were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting (IOU) of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”

You and I have only one thing to do:
Simply believe the cross’ message.
Nothing else! Simply trust God!

  • Do not tell me you are going to live better.
  • Do not tell me you will try harder.
……You don’t understand the cross if you say that!

Acts 13:38-39  “Know this - through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

Only believe and you shall see!
That Christ is all and all to you!

The most important thing about each and every one of us is that outside of Christ we are lost!  It doesn’t matter who we are for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God!”

Whatever particular form your sin takes…
  • respectable sins
  • repulsive sins
It matters not!  Sin is sin!

Be it known to you all, that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay your debt.... Just believe!

By Him, all who believe, are at this very moment justified entirely and completely from everything you have ever done!

Jesus died on the cross for your sins!

Believe that and thank Him for it and rely utterly and only on Him and all your SINS are blotted out completely as if you had never sinned in your life!

Jesus’ righteousness is put on you and God sees you perfect in His Son….


Now do you see why we should glory in the cross of our Lord?

And can it be that I should gain,
An interest in the Saviour’s blood
Died He for me who caused His pain,
For me who Him to death pursued….
Amazing love How can it be,
That You my God, should die for me!

Christ, by offering Himself, has…..

Hebrews 10:14  “For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Jeremiah 31:34  “I will forgive their sin, and I will remember it no more.”

Galatians 6:14  “But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.”


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 22, Issue 10      April 1, 2012

I sometimes wish there was a “Discernment For Dummies” course.

I’d like to address a topic that is seldom, if ever, brought up in church, “How to deal with toxic people”.  The Bible must have some words of wisdom to help us remain good Christians and still avoid a head on crash with these kinds of people?

The first verse I thought of was “I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”  I Corinthians 5:11

And then there was my old friend Nehemiah.  He faced three men in his life who were toxic: liars and gossipers and they wanted to control Nehemiah with their negative attitudes.

And then I thought of Judas.  Chosen as one of the twelve.  He was right in the middle of the core group for over the three years of Jesus’ ministry.  He is as close as you could get, yet he had been robbing the purse that was there to support Jesus and the disciples and to feed the poor.  He was deceitful and finally sells Jesus out for filthy lucre, 30 pieces of silver, the cost of a slave.  His name has come to mean betrayer.  Certainly he’d be considered toxic.

Yet his toxicity level was no match for our Lord’s grace.

Sometimes the biggest stressors in our lives are people who are easy to upset and hard to please, or those who let you down time after time.  A toxic person robs you of your self-esteem and dignity.

There are many types of toxic people.  The following are the more toxic ones:

Needy people
There are mildly needy people which isn't a big problem and then there are the “Drain the very life out of you” needy.

Their message is:
  • “I need you to solve all my problems”
  • “I can't function without you”
  • My happiness depends totally on you”
  • “If you leave, I’ll just die”
Needy people demand constant attention.  They use emotional blackmail to get it and offer gratitude only if it keeps you on the hook.

No matter what you do for them
it is never enough.

You'll handle one crisis, only to find them weeping inconsolably over the next one.  And you'll sink deeper and deeper into their quicksand each time you try to pull them out.

If you are confronted with a needy person and you feel that the relationship is worth saving here is something you may try:

  • Be honest with them (novel idea)
Tell them something like this…
“I'm getting close to avoiding you, because almost every time I ask you about something you haven't done you make an excuse or blame someone else. And almost every time I confront you about ways in which you need to improve, you either act hurt, start to cry or get angry. All of us feel disappointment, hurt or upset from time to time, but if you get angry or emotional each time, it's too exhausting to be around. You have the right to react in ways you choose. But I have the right to excuse myself or avoid you, which is what I will do. And that is not going to help our relationship. So I hope you will start taking responsibility for yourself, and find a way to keep from falling apart when you feel upset.”

This could go one of two ways.  If the person is smart enough to take your message seriously, you'll see a change for the better.  On the other hand, the person may refuse to change, or even escalate the needy behavior.  This may seem like pretty strong medicine, and is not something you should have to say to other people.  But, with needy people, however, you need strong medicine.

If you are coping with a needy person, one warning is in order:
  • extreme and highly pathological neediness can sometimes be a sign of borderline personality disorder
People with this disorder also exhibit these behaviors:
  • They demand more than whine
  • They desperately fear abandonment
  • They cycle between idolizing you and you devaluing you
  • They have no core personality, they seem empty because they are empty and to fill that hole they've parasitically latched onto whoever is closest.
  • They act impulsively and have extreme mood swings.
  • They may threaten suicide or act paranoid.
If you are dealing with a person who acts this way, you are in trouble. You need professional help in dealing with this type of person.  Be careful, people with borderline personality disorder can become stalkers.

Borderline personality disorder is treatable, but even professionals find it tough to help these people.  Try to rescue a person with borderline personality on your own and you'll go down in flames together.

Bullies….yes there are bullies in the church.  They are not just found in the schoolyard.  Bullies come after you because they think you are easy prey, refuse to follow their script and they usually give up and seek an easier target.  When a bully tries to intimidate you by verbally attacking you do this:
  • Make eye contact
  • Act perfectly polite but ever so slightly bored as if your mind is elsewhere
  • Let your body language transmit the same message
  • Stand up straight, be relaxed and cock your head as if you're listening but not very hard
  • Let your arms hang casually, instead of throwing them defensively across your chest
Often this response makes bullies feel uncomfortable or even foolish and causes them to back down.  Bullies act the way they do because they get away with it, but deep down, most of them know it's not an ideal strategy.  Sometimes they just need someone to say that to their face.  Many bullies are knocked for a loop when someone bullies them back.

Takers…..they're the ones who hit you up every day for a favor.  These people usually won't ruin your life, but they can ruin your day.  Avoid takers when you can, but if that's not possible neutralize them.

How?  It's the easiest trick in the book.  The next time a taker asks you for a favor follow with: “Sure no problem, you can help me out by (fill in the blank). You don't mind doing a favor for me in return….right?”  You’ll only need to do this once or twice.

Narcissists…..these people aren't out to hurt you, but they don’t care about you either, except as an audience for their own “wonderfulness”.

A narcissist’s motto is, “So enough about you”.  Narcissists are always on center stage, expecting you to sit in the wings and cheer them on.

The Psychopath…..cold, lack of empathy, self-centered, ruthless – make some of the world’s most financially successful business leaders.  But the not so bright ones end up in prison.

Odds are, you'll run into one of these people at some point in your life.

If so follow this rule:
  • Get away! Run!
  • Chew off your leg to escape the trap if you have to, because these people will ruin you financially, crush you emotionally and destroy your life if it helps them and they'll never look back.
Most people make the mistake of trying to reason with a psychopath.  But you cannot touch these people emotionally.  You cannot win them over, make them feel sorry for you, or make them want to help you in any way.  They may pretend to care about you, but they don't.

How can you spot a psychopath?  It's harder than you think.  Here are a few clues:
  • They manipulate people like chess pieces with no regard to the pain they cause
  • They are predatory thrill seekers
  • They lie easily and don't care if they get caught
  • They are glib, charismatic and charming
  • They crave power and do whatever it takes to get it
  • They use people for sexual or financial purposes and then discard them
Again, do not make the mistake of thinking that you can handle these people. Quite simply, these people lacked the neural mechanisms to respond to you in a reciprocal moral or ethical way.

Stay clear no matter what the cost, you'll pay a far
higher price if you stay connected. 
In summary you need to strip these
people of the power to hurt you.

There are three ways to do this:
  1. Confront these people directly
  2. Neutralize them
  3. Walk away and pray they don't follow you
Sometimes we get entangled financially or emotionally and it's really tough to do, but painful or not ,handling these people is critical to your success, your inner peace and your sanity.

*   Maybe they are like Judas
Lying thieves, betrayers of trust, taking advantage of every opportunity to get ahead on the backs of others

*   Maybe they’re people you have to rely on but they continually let you down

*   Maybe you share the toxicity
You’ve a need to please and they’re impossible to please!

*   Maybe they are hateful people

*   Maybe they have a twisted negative view of the world

*   Maybe they have power and they use it to grind you down

How do you deal with them?

If you google “toxic people” you get a bunch of articles about how to avoid toxic people, how to get them out of your life and even a few on how to get revenge.

But the question really is, “How does Jesus want me to deal with them?”

At the Passover, the Last Supper, the “do this in remembrance of me” meal, Jesus shares this meal with toxic Judas.  They share the same dipping bowl, “The one who dipped his bread with me…”.  Jesus shares His dipping bowl with the one who is going to betray Him.

We see that Jesus is aware of Judas’ toxicity.  Jesus even washes Judas’ feet.

So Jesus’ way of dealing with toxic people
is to serve them and show them love.

You say, “I could never do that”.  Well, you're not the only one.  Jesus does it because of the power within Him.

Jesus knows who He is… John 13:1-3 “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God.”

So is this how we should deal with toxic people?

First and foremost, we need to KNOW who we are in Christ.

Question - What is our purpose?  Is it to change the toxic person or is it to be like Jesus?

Did Jesus change Judas?  Jesus gets in his face and serves him and then Jesus frees Judas to betray Him.

We often try to appease toxic people, dance around them or avoid them.

We need to meditate on who we are in Christ.  That way we will not try to build our self-worth by trying to please, or change, or defeat the toxic people in our lives.

Meditate on who you are in Christ….
Loved, Accepted, Adopted, Forgiven

That is radical living!  Matthew 5:43-44 “You have heard it said, ’Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so 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.”

Luke 6:27,28&36 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Romans 12:14-21 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse; Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 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 (and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you).”

We are to have a healthy self-respect and a
good self-image / healthy self-esteem.

So to deal with toxic people follow the following three steps:

1.   Don't Take It Personally
When we take personal insults personally, we allow Satan and whoever to catch us with their hooks.  Hold up your shield of faith!  Ignore them.

2.   If You Can Avoid This Person - Do So! 
Billy Graham has often been heard to say, “I do not answer my critics”.

You do not have to have conversations with people just because they want to argue with you.  Avoid them if possible.  Refuse to engage toxic people, stay focused on God's mission for your life.

3.   Don't Try To Change Toxic People
You can't change them.  Do not try.  If you kick a skunk you will end up stinking.

Consider this truth…..
We blossom and flourish from childhood to adulthood because of the encouragement, support, and mentorship of parents, teachers, coaches, and other influential people.  We are able to face tough times largely through the emotional support and compassion of our loved ones.

We need each other!

Thankfully God has put people in our lives who we can always count on.
  • those who know you best
  • those you can trust with your darkest secrets and they will still love you, forgiveness is readily granted and memories erased.
Remember that toxic relationships can and will steal
your joy, your health and well-being.

It is appropriate to sever relationships that are poisonous.

We forgive.  We don't harbor ill will.
But it is absolutely appropriate to
sever such relationships.
You can still pray for that person,
but you must disarm them.

Good relationships make us happier and
happy people have better relationships.

Mirror check…..
When you encounter toxic people, in attempt to analyze the problem, always keep one thing in mind.

Is it possible – just barely possible – that the person with the problem is you? OUCH!!!

We all screw up in different ways and what separates the good people from the toxic ones is the ability to face those screw ups and learn a lesson from them.

May God help you keep toxic people from hindering your progress!


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place, Osoyoos
Pulpit Series Volume 22, Issue 9      March 25, 2012

A wise man once said that there is a good reason why we have two ears and one mouth; we were meant to use them in that proportion.

However, knowing we need to listen more and better, is not enough.

“I know that you believe you understand what
you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize
that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Why is listening important?

The average person interrupts after listening for only 17 seconds.

What would happen if we listened actively and waited respectfully for the person we're talking with to finish his or her thought?

Proverbs 20:12
“The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.”

Matthew 13:15
“For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Matthew 13:16
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.”

There are three levels of listening:

Half Listening
  • Paying attention some; tuning out some
  • Focusing on your reaction
  • Commenting to others
  • Waiting for a chance to break in
  • Distracted by thoughts and what’s going on around you
  • Doodling or texting
Sound Listening
  • Hearing the words, but not the meaning behind them
  • Missing the significance of the message
  • Responding with logic only
Active Listening
  • Ignoring distractions
  • Ignoring delivery quirks and focusing on the message
  • Making eye contact
  • Being aware of body language
  • Understanding the speaker’s ideas
  • Asking clarifying questions
  • Recognizing the speaker’s intent
  • Acknowledging the emotion involved
  • Responding appropriately
  • Remaining engaged even when taking notes

Three Keys to Developing Active Listening

Keep an open mind
  • Focus on the speaker’s ideas, not on the delivery
  • Give the speaker your full attention
  • Resist forming an opinion until you’ve heard everything
  • Don’t let the speaker’s quirks, mannerisms, speech patterns, personality, or appearance get in the way of listening
  • Stay focused on the central ideas being communicated
  • Listen for the significance of the message
Ignore distractions
  • Be fully present
  • Make sure your phone is silenced or turned off
  • Tune out any chatter around you, or politely tell the talkers that you’re having trouble listening
  • Avoid outside distractions
  • Set aside all emotional issues you brought with you
  • Know your own hot buttons and don’t allow yourself to respond emotionally to issues being presented
  • Make eye contact with the speaker
  • Nod to show understanding
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Maintain body language that shows you are interested
  • Avoid slouching in your chair and looking bored
  • Take notes, but continue to stay focused on the speaker, looking up often
I Kings 19:11-13
“And he said, Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.
And, behold, the LORD passed by and a great and strong wind
rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD;
but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake;
but the LORD was not I in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire:
and after the fire a still small voice…. and Elijah heard it.”

When Peace Speaks …

Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be the:
      “Prince of Peace”  (Isaiah 9:6)

An angel chorus proclaimed:
      “Peace to men”  (Luke 2:14)

Jesus spoke:
     “Peace to the sick, to His disciples, to nature, to life, to our
       hearts, to our minds.” 
      (Luke 8:48, John 14:27, Luke 24:36)

as He speaks peace to you. 

If we would only be wise enough to hear God in each other’s voices.

Hear God in each other’s voice…..
But I DO listen!  Don’t I??

Have you ever had Habakkuk’s complaint?
“How long, O LORD, must I call for help?  But you do not listen!”

The most basic of all human needs is the need to
understand and be understood.
The best way to understand people is to listen to them.
                                               Ralph Nichols

If someone can’t or won’t listen to you, get him to listen to himself.

The only way to truly win friends and influence the best in people, is to be more interested in listening to them than you are in impressing them.

“Listen unto others as you would
have them listen unto you!”