Josh. 1: 7 – 9 – “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book
Life in the early church was a result of one factor- “Christ” was in their midst! The resurrected Lord was their message and the One Who did great works through them! “ACTS” was the Genesis of the New Creation. The early church was led by Galilean fishermen, tax collectors, ordinary men of ordinary means with ordinary problems, but who had extraordinary power because of union with Holy Spirit!
The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) was the proclamation of the kingdom of God. It was not the message of the church- it was so much bigger – it was the message that the Kingdom had come to earth in Holy Spirit. The apostolic burden was not to bring the church into a certain form – but to see “Christ” formed within believers. Their message was Christ-centered, Christ-focused, and Christ-led; not man-centered, church-centered or seeker-friendly! The more man became the focus, the quicker the church fell into apostasy. As long as the message remained Christ – the church remained pure.
The more we focus on who we are – the less likely we will be to fulfill our purpose. An over emphasis exists today about who we are in Christ, instead of Who He is in us! This is a subtle but glaring difference.
Disciples understood the Great Commission was to make “disciples” not just converts. It’s wonderful to see thousands born again, but early Christians understood that was only the beginning of the journey – not the end. The ultimate goal of the apostles was to see Christ formed His people. Anything less than “being conformed to Christ” was a dilution of the gospel of Christ. This message requires community and unity of vision and individual purpose. It also requires the operation of the manifestation of Holy Spirit – the power of God demonstrated through His people. The Great Commission will never be fulfilled by only declaring Jesus Christ to be “Savior.” He must be Lord! Lord of all or not Lord at all! One word sums up the Great Commission – “ALL”! Jesus had “ALL” authority! Disciples were to teach “ALL” that He commanded. Their message was “ALL” encompassing to those embracing it! Christ was “ALL” to the early church! Jesus Christ was the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6). We can not just choose salvation and deny His Lordship. We cannot accept Holy Spirit and then deny His activities. Eph. 4:15 details that we are to grow up into “ALL” aspects of Him.
A sad statistic exists - today, only 5% of those making decisions for Christ at an evangelistic campaign remain in the church a year later. Yet, much acclaim is given to those who make converts … but have they been truly added to the church? Our 5% is a huge decline from the first century where “ALL” who confessed Jesus as Christ were joined to the church. Can we even call these converts if we are not complying with the biblical definition of the word?
Eph. 4:11-16 details the ministry cadre of the first church – apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. These ministry positions were deemed necessary to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Today, the church has focused on one man/woman to do what it took five in the first church – the pastor. No one person can perform all the ministries required for equipping the church. A pastor, no matter how loved he is, can equip the church by himself. It takes the 5-fold ministry in operation to complete this mission. This begs the question - are we making true disciples today? Are people being converted by the cross, or by our methodology? Are they coming to Jesus Christ, or to our doctrines and fellowship? Anything less than conformity to Christ – the Anointed one and His Anointing - is a perversion of the gospel! Too many have not come to the Lord because of conviction of sin, but because they are seeking relief from their problems. Today, a tendency exists to promote Jesus Christ as the Savior from troubles, not sin! Only Holy Spirit can make a true disciple! Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin as we cast ourselves in desperation upon the cross. If conversion does not start in desperation because of sin, then we’ve started with the wrong foundation. Resurrection comes only after crucifixion. Repentance is the New Covenant crucifixion!
Too many have received a “delusional gospel” which is no gospel at all. They have been made to feel better about themselves all the while still living in their sin. They are in a “death condition” with their eternal destiny in danger, all the while hiding in the shadow of the cross, having never embraced it.
Lk 9:23. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Lk 14:33, “So likewise, whoever of you who does not forsake all that he has can not be My disciple.”
Jesus called His disciples to “total commitment.” They had to be willing to forsake “ALL” and follow Him. That is true discipleship! The message of the cross can not be modified to make it more acceptable to men. If this is done there is no power.
1 Cor. 1:17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”
The true gospel does not need our cleverness to make it palatable to men. We only compromise the message when this happens and end up with a powerless performance not able to save or transform. True evangelism must be first based on a love for Jesus Christ –not a love for the lost! We must have a Christ-centered message - not man-centered!
Jn. 12:32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.”
Only when Jesus Christ is lifted up will all men be drawn to Him -any other version leads to perversion. The gospel is NOT about building an institution, NOR about pleasing men! When the true gospel of the kingdom is preached, it will burst the institutions of men like new wine bursts an old wineskin!
Acts 17:6, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
The early church was a “powerhouse” because they did not use the church as the pattern for the church. Jesus Himself was their pattern. Perhaps, the time has come to re-examine our motivations and return to the basics of the true gospel of Christ. Selah.
Heb.11:3 - "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
This is the process whereby the creative power of God manifests through us. The prophetic gift "understands" how to frame Holy Spirit's word (rhema) so that others can step into its reality.
First of all, one must comprehend the process of taking information about God - head knowledge - and turning that information into an experience in Him. The pews are filled with people who are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2Tim.3:7). Knowledge requires an experience in God. Inherent in knowledge is faith; and, faith requires an action to manifest a kingdom experience. This is a ministry role of the prophet - to provide a platform for people to begin to exercise Holy Spirit gifts, making them become real in people's lives, changing information into experience. Here, those experiencing the reality of God's truth are never again at the mercy of religionists who only have their doctrines with no Holy Spirit experience to back them up. From experience, a believer graduates into knowledge. Here, one begins to know how Holy Spirit speaks to them individually and how He works through them as they minister to others. After all, that's what the gifts are all about - to demonstrate the love of God to others. Knowledge soon transcends into understanding. Now, when a person understands, they have the potential to replicate the power of Holy Spirit on purpose. Understanding truly means ministering from the "Glory Zone" of God's presence.
The scripture above states that "by faith we understand that the world was framed by the word (rhema) of God". In Whose image and likeness are we created? The very process in which God created is the same process for us. The first aspect of creation is found in Gen.1:2. "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." The next verse says that God then spoke and light was created. The Kingdom Principle of Predisposition requires for Holy Spirit to be present before creative power (rhema) is released. This simply means that creativity is a product of glory. Without the glory of God resident in a situation (in you); no creative power can be released. You see, God framed the worlds by His rhema; and we frame our world by our hearing Holy Spirit's voice and re-sounding it - speaking creative power into situations. We also see His works and act them out as well. This is the spirit of prophecy (Rev.19:10). It is intercession in action - "paga" at work creating kingdom manifestations as we instantaneously obey the Spirit of God.
When we "frame" God's word (rhema); we are, in fact, "packaging it" in such a way that we can release it ourselves. Each of us "packages" differently, that's why New Covenant prophetic words are to be judged (1Cor.14:29).Each of us, in all likelihood, will have a slightly different aspect of God's rhema - His revelation. This is what we call the "body ministry". One will have a piece of the puzzle, and another a second piece - and so on, until the picture is crystal clear. Then, in agreement, prophetic pronouncements can be released and the manifestation process started. What I have just briefly described are PIT Crews (Prophetic Intercessory Teams) in action. Here, no fear-based utterances normally issued in typical "prayer meetings" negate the "word" of God. God responds to faith, not fear!
As we "frame God's word", we enter into the "Glory Zone" where no time and distance constraints exist. Isa.48:3 explains, "I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass." When we sow into the glory, a spontaneous harvest comes back. Again, Isaiah explained this process, "You have heard; see all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them. They are created now and not from the beginning; and before this day you have not known them, lest you should say, 'Of course I knew them.'" (Isa.48:6-7). Holy Spirit entreats us, "Will you not declare what I am saying?" Holy Spirit is ready right now! Once He speaks, the spiritual reality is created. Our part, as intercessors is to "frame His words" and release them in earth, act them out and intercede until the manifestation comes forth. We become the "bridge of faith" which carries the reality of the "word' from the spirit realm to the natural. We have one foot planted in the eternal promises and word of God, and the other in the messes of life with the answer traveling through us transforming messes into miracles.
Paul saw this and wrote, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." God's promise has already been "prepared beforehand". God is waiting on us to "frame it" - then birth it through intercession. Paul also wrote, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." How are God's promises manifested on earth? They are "framed and birthed" from the "Glory Zone" by intercessors who have taken up their ministries from the Mercy Seat. AMEN.
Eccl. 4: 9-12 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not easily broken.”
Jesus knew the heartaches as well as dangers that lay ahead for His disciples. During His last hours, He spoke of the importance of loving one another and sustaining relationships.
Jn. 15: 12-13 – “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Shared adversity is the key to uncommon friendships. Jesus and His disciples shared adventure, uncommon stress and challenges - feeding the multitudes, challenging the Pharisees and their religious system, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead. Jesus built relationships through shared adversity. Stressful circumstances reveal character and determine who can be trusted; strengths and weaknesses are identified so we can help one another develop and discover where we fit with other members of our team. Adversity also separates the talkers from the doers.
Ulysses S. Grant, Commander of Union Army during the Civil War and the 18th President, knew the value of friends forged during times of trouble: “The friend of my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” History has demonstrated this truth many times. One such example was EASY CO, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army during WW II.
Historian Stephen Ambrose chronicled the war years of this unit in his book, “Band of Brothers” which was a factual account that covered their development in basic training at Camp Toccoa, GA through the D-Day assault in Normandy, Battle of the Bulge, and liberation of Europe, climaxing in the capture of Hitler’s Eagles Nest in Berchtesgarden.
Extraordinary accomplishments from an ordinary group of men fueled by a strong uncommon bond of friendship forged in the stress of combat. These men had devotion for one another, embraced common goals, and had an uncommon desire for excellence.
Easy Co. drew the key combat missions during the D-Day invasion of Normandy landing on Utah Beach. In combat, your reward for a job well-done is that you get the next tough mission. Easy Co. kept on getting the job done in Holland, Bastogne, and Germany. The stress of continued combat created a bond between the men that would last a lifetime. Many times wounded men of Easy Co. who were sent to military hospitals went AWOL from the hospital and found their way back to the front where Easy Co. was always located. They risked court martial as well as distained the safe-haven of a hospital environment to be back with men they could trust.
One soldier was Pvt. David Kenyon Webster, a well-heeled Harvard graduate who was wounded twice and both times returned to action with Easy Co. His parent’s wealth and influence could have rescued him from active combat duty, but he refused to allow them to save him from the dangers of the front lines. Webster was a man of books. He was sensitive, observant, thoughtful, and well-educated. He was thrown in Easy Co. with ill-educated mountain boys, southern farmers, coal miners, lumbermen, and fishermen – men with whom he had nothing in common and would have had no contact with in civilian life. Easy Co. was an unlikely group where Webster found his closest friends and identified with them in the hardest of environments. Twice he was wounded, when AWOL from the hospital and found his way back to his unit where there was freezing weather and sleeping in a foxhole constantly exposed to enemy fire. Such was the bond of friendship shared in Easy Co.
Easy Co. was constantly parachuted behind enemy lines to attack the Germans. Gen. George Patton bragged about his 3rd Army rescuing them from certain death at the Battle of the Bulge. Easy Co. never admitted they needed rescuing. They felt that being surrounded by the enemy placed them in a position where the Germans couldn’t get away! For Easy Co. it was all in a day’s work.
Physical pain, exhaustion, trench foot, exposure to freezing, wet conditions, no hot food, insufficient sleep, no sanitation, living in hastily dug foxholes, and fighting for their lives – all the while other soldiers from other units were wounding themselves to escape combat, Easy Co. soldiers did not allow their wounds to cause them to leave the war.
Easy Co. experienced comfort in the midst of suffering; December ’44 was Europe’s coldest winter in 40 years. Easy Co. did not even have winter issue clothing and they could not build fires. Two parkas were issued to every three soldiers. The middle man changed position every 20 minutes while trying to sleep in their foxholes.
Pvt. Don Malarke wrote in the summer of ’42: “So this was the beginning of the most momentous experience in my life, as a member of Easy Co. There is not a day that has passed since that I do not thank Adolf Hitler for allowing me to be associated with the most talented and inspiring group of men that I have ever known.” Every member of Easy Co. felt the same way despite the danger, stress, and difficulty – they would not trade anything for their friends who sustained them.
All this begs the question: what quality of friendships should we be experiencing in our Master’s service? Friendships are forged not found! Prov. 18: 24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Friendships must be cultivated. In the natural realm cultivation requires plowing, planting, weeding, fertilizing, more weeding, harvesting. Any crop left unattended ceases to bear fruit. Indifference and inactivity will destroy any relationship.
Hindrances to quality relationships include:
· Hardheartedness - the best rule of friendship is to keep your heart a little softer than your head!
· Pr. 17:17 - “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
· We must exercise constant forgiveness to keep lifetime friendships.
· 1 Pet. 4: 8 - “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.”
· Out of joint and needing an adjustment to bring your life back into proper alignment.
· 1 Co. 12:18 - “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” People have trouble making vital connections because they are in the wrong place – perhaps where there is no commitment or involvement. It is important to identify our place and be satisfied with where we belong.
· Wrong Concepts - Many churches have attempted to sustain relationships with rules and programs intended to bind people together. These fail to work because human agreement alone cannot hold a relationship together. If we are dependent on our own devotion and character to sustain friendships, they will fail. Only our dependence on God will enable us to remain faithful to our friends.
· Lack of Commitment - War-time soldiers were obligated to serve where they were commanded. Today there are too many spiritual deserters - people who have abandoned their posts when combat occurs. They often desert to find “greener pastures” and lose the place and position God had for them. Many leave wounded and never find a place for healing. Easy Co. soldiers who were wounded refused to leave. Part of “bearing our cross” involves being “wounded.”
· 2 Tim. 2: 3-4 - “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engages in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
Those who understand the true nature of friendship understand that the devil will assault them; time will try them; familiarity will diminish them; but, humor will sustain them; forgiveness will protect them; and, wisdom will esteem them. We must have friendships! True unity and harmony will never occur if friendships are not forged in the furnace of adversity. Amen.
2 Cor.3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Our life “in Christ”, going from glory to glory is a journey of faith. Growing in faith is a prerequisite for the Glory of God – Holy Spirit - to increase in and through us. Growing in faith requires sensitivity and intimacy with Holy Spirit – to hear His voice and respond through His power. Rom.10:17 – “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The “word of God” here is “rhema” which is the spoken word of God through Holy Spirit. Rhema is a “now word” coming from the “Logos” – Lord Jesus Christ and never violates His scriptures.
For faith to grow we must know faith’s definition, operation and results. We are called to do the impossible, but faith begins in our lives through small steps. Participating in God’s healings of headaches and sprained ankles precedes healings of the lame and cancers. Experience is essential for “growing in faith”; not just obtaining information about faith. Faith transcends natural limitations. The kingdom principle of “little is more” was demonstrated by Jesus on several occasions; most notably in the feeding of the 5,000, then the 4,000 men plus women and children. Jesus Christ viewed life through the eye of faith. He never saw “little” as a liability, but as a “possibility”! As we grow in faith, we gain a faith mindset and perceive life from an elevated perspective where we have been made to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:6). Faith now becomes the force that can take a little and make it more than enough, overflowing in abundance.
Have you ever wondered why the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob dwelled in tents when God promised them land? Perhaps Abraham instilled in them the principle that they were looking for a “city… whose builder and maker was God” (Heb. 11:9-10). As the “father of faith”, Abraham instinctively understood that God’s promises were first manifested in the unseen, Spirit realm. The “city” Abraham looked for was the eternal city of the kingdom of God – fullness of life in Holy Spirit, not some temporal city built by men that would someday perish.
People of faith today, just as father Abraham, live in tents of another kind – the human kind, knowing that our outer tent will someday perish, but we also will find our glorified body and be clothed in eternity.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is known as the faith chapter. I believe much of faith’s operation and purpose can be gleaned here.
Heb. 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith begins with vision – “things hoped for”; more specifically, white hot expectation. Faith is a Spiritual force which enters your future, apprehends your vision (the object of your hope) and pulls it back into your present. Faith ascends into the unseen Spirit realm where “all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 1:20); then transports the answer back into this natural realm where it becomes “substance” and “evidence”.
Heb. 11:2, “For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.”
The patriarchs walked by faith carrying the unseen covenant promises of God in a world filled with pagan idols and demon worship.
Heb.11:3, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which can be seen.”
Faith created through the Word of God – Lord Jesus Christ (Gen. 1:3-24; Jn. 1:1-4, 14). Man, made in His image and likeness, creates in the same manner – through believing and speaking the invisible word which carries the power to create the object of faith (Mk. 11:22-24; Rom. 10:10; 2 Cor. 4:13).
Heb. 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”
Faith in God causes righteous sacrifices which have eternal consequences.
Heb. 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Faith transforms us and transports us into heavenly realms.
Heb. 11:6 - “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Faith in God is the primary attribute which pleases Him.
Heb.11:7 – “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
Faith hears and obeys God’s warnings.
Heb. 11:8 – “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going:”
Faith obeys what it cannot see.
Heb. 11:9 – “By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.”
Faith is willing to be unique.
Heb. 11:10 - “for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Faith sees into the eternal realm for what God is doing.
Heb. 11:11 – “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”
Faith conceives in impossible circumstances.
Heb. 11:12 – “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude – innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
Faith causes multiplication.
Heb. 11:13 – “These all died in faith, not having received the promises , but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Faith “sees” with spiritual vision that which is in the future.
Heb. 11:14 – 16 – “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had an opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Faith seeks the kingdom of God, never to return to earthly security.
Heb. 11: 17 – “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son”
Faith is willing to sacrifice in obedience to God.
Heb. 11:18 – “of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’”
Faith discerns promised seed from products of the flesh.
Heb. 11:19 – “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
Faith believes in resurrection power.
Heb. 11:20 – “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”
Faith prepares for the future.
Heb. 11:21 – “by faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.”
Faith worships God for His faithfulness for a lifetime.
Heb. 11:22 – “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.”
Faith anticipates the resurrection from the dead.
Heb. 11:23 – “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.”
Faith is fearless in the face of persecution.
Heb. 11: 24 –26 - “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”
Faith would rather suffer for truth than prosper in evil.
Heb. 11: 27 – “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”
Faith fears no man.
Heb. 11:28 – ‘By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”
Faith rests in the protective power of Almighty God.
Heb. 11: 29 – “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”
Faith sees victory over enemies.
Heb. 11:30 – “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days”
Faith breaks through every barrier standing in the way of God’s plan and promise.
Heb. 11:31 – “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
Faith transforms sinners.
Heb. 11:32-34 – “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me totell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
Faith creates Difference Makers, enduring persecution to serve God’s greater purpose.
Heb. 11:35-37 – “Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.”
Faith abides in glory no matter the surroundings and circumstances.
Heb. 11:39 – “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise”
Faith pursues the eternal- not the temporary.
Heb. 11:40 – “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”
Faith’s family grows from “glory to glory just as by Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Faith lives beyond the circumstances of this present evil world to receive the eternal promises of God; penetrates the Spiritual realm containing infinite possibilities. Faith embraces the eternal realm to gain authority over the temporal so we can be delivered from it!
Faith elevates believers so we can see Him as He is. Amen.
A map does little good unless you know where you are. The Holy Bible is our map for life which can show us where we are in most every situation and which route to take to our destination. It will even tell you the different stages of experience and maturity that you will go through in your journey. Additionally, Holy Spirit has given us His revelation gifts (divine GPS system) to supplement and enhance our journey by helping us see and adapt to life’s changing environment.
For church leaders, having both a written roadmap and God’s GPS system is vital. Equally important is the leader’s ability to tell others where they’re going – imparting a vision. Vision casting has two important parts – values and clarity. Values are important because the more noble the value (purpose) the more devoted believers will be in the journey. An important connection exists between vision and value. Some leaders have great values, but no vision; likewise others have vision, but lack values. The balance between vision and values in the right combination is a tremendous force against the powers of darkness set to oppose any forward movement.
Clarity of vision and purpose is the other vital aspect. The clearer and more specific a vision is; the more likely its accomplishment becomes. Again specifics are essential – a general vision such as reaching the lost for Christ in full time ministry rarely is realized. However, a specific vision of reaching teens in a particular section of the city is more likely to be accomplished.
After casting the vision, leaders must in partnership with Holy Spirit devise a workable, step-by-step plan to fulfill the vision. Unplanned visions are useless without strategic planning through Holy Spirit’s guidance to see it accomplished. Plans should include benchmarks of accomplishment to encourage participants along the way. It’s best to backward plan from the finished product, situation, or spiritual attainment (which is written with as much detail as possible); taking a step by step progression backward to your present situation. By doing so, you highlight the strategic objectives and critical stages of the project. Some of the most virtuous, noble visions have been unrealized because of improper planning – either weak plans with no specific objectives or over-planning with such complexity that no one could follow. Avoid the planning ditches on both sides of the road to completing your vision.
The next stage involves mobilizing the resources and personnel the Lord has provided. This involves a leadership anointing for mobilization and management. Mismanagement of our most important resource – people - has stopped more spiritual movements than anything else. If anyone is reading this – the first church had the apostolic model of the five-fold ministry gift (Eph.4:11) which was the most powerful concept of leadership ever devised and in effect gave it to the world – yet has failed to use it since!
Many might be thinking – “But what about money?” Money is the least important resource from God’s perspective. Success is based upon the calling of God first and foremost – whom He calls, He equips. Our focus must also be on the proper equipping of people that Holy Spirit has joined with us while maintaining faith and obedience throughout the project. If we’re doing His things correctly, money will be there as we need it (Matt.6:33). When we become too focused on money, we’ll lose the best people and more importantly God’s anointing. It’s impossible to put a value on people – as God gave His Own Son for them. People are of infinite value. In fact, God is not as interested in our finished product as He is the journey along the way and how we manage His people and resources.
Journeys can become nightmares if focus is lost on the way. Ever been lost in a strange city? Satan uses distractions of all sorts to entice leaders to lose focus. Determined focus is really the best way to describe the type focus necessary to accomplish a vision. Pressure, opposition, trials and tests of faith will come often as God’s purpose to promote and advance us along the way.
Finally, if we’re to accomplish our vision, we must be people of action. A good plan is important, but timing is also a critical as well. Perfect circumstances never appear (Eccl.11:4); so dependence on Holy Spirit’s guidance is essential for leaders to move forward, even if circumstances look unfavorable. In fact, one of the most deadly traps I’ve seen for leaders is waiting to “feel adequate for the task”. Feelings never accomplish visions, only faith accomplishes the task at hand. Over-devotion to perfection and being under confident in ability are other traps to avoid. It’s not about our talent, but God’s wisdom and power through us.
I also believe a tendency exists for many leaders to “try to make yesterday perfect.” To be overly focused on what’s wrong will negatively affect the finished product because most critical folks are out of touch with God’s present purpose. This again speaks to proper focus and avoiding distractions. We must learn from our mistakes of the past, forgive and be forgiven – then move forward!
Paul was a great example for us – “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do , forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”(Phil.3:12-14).
I trust what I’ve written here is beneficial to someone. This is not my usual “spiritual fare” normally provided. I was impressed by Holy Spirit to share this, having made many leadership mistakes myself, so that you can avoid them and keep God’s move on track. Amen.
Lk. 9:24 – “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
This is one of many paradoxes in scripture. You must die to live; you must give to get; you must be weak to be strong; you must be humble to be exalted; and the foolish confound the wise. The scripture above simply states that you can only gain by giving away! Only those who are born again can truly understand this because it defies human logic. Paul wrote, “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
One of the greatest challenges we face in this “me-first society” is the spirit of self-preservation. This is particularly true with finances. The carnal mind and selfish nature wants to “get all it can and can all it gets!” This carnal instinct leads to nothing but poverty. Prov. 11: 24-26 – There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.” Our attitude towards money is an indicator of our faith in God. John writes of the financial seal of total self-centeredness of unconverted man in his metaphor of the mark of the beast in Rev. 13:16-17 – “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or name of the beast, or the number of his name.” When I see the financial condition of much of the church today, I’m reminded of Jesus words, “…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth” (Lk. 18:8)?
Dan. 11:32 – “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” When a person knows God; they know the covenant and trust Him and His word explicitly. Today, mentioning the “tithe” is an invitation for a religious argument from those with hardened hearts of unbelief. Their argument is that the tithe was Old Testament Law and that we’re no longer under the law, but under grace. I would agree that we’re no longer under law; however, grace is not about your liberty not to give, but your covenant privilege to give. In the Old Covenant, Israel was the only nation which had the opportunity to pay tithe; no other nation had that covenant right. When one has no understanding of covenant, they think tithing is a liability when it is an incredible, miracle asset. When two parties enter into covenant, whatever belongs to one belongs to the other; and vice versa. In our covenant relationship with Almighty God, we have been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness” through Holy Spirit. In turn, God owns all we possess as well. When we offer to God the tithe – a tenth – we are in effect saying “God, You are my life, my protector, my provider, my all in all. God responds with His blessing – His supernatural empowerment to prosper in all we put our hand to. The tithe is merely a test of faith. It really has very little to do with money, but our heart attitude towards God. Jesus said in Lk. 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” You can agree about the tithe being Old Testament all you want. How do you deal with Jesus’ statement in Lk. 6:38? What about Paul – “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6-9).
Now, let’s examine the first place the tithe was mentioned, before the Law came into existence! Gen. 14: 18-20 is the account of the king of Salem, Melchizedek approaching Abraham with the elements of communion and covenant. The very first thing Abraham does is pay a tenth of all he had to Melchizedek. Abraham recognized that Melchizedek offered all he had, and ever would have to him. By accepting his offer, Abraham reciprocated and they entered into covenant on with the other. This very same act was recorded in Matt. 26:26-28 when Jesus took bread; blessed it and broke it saying, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Jesus then took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to the disciples saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” The tithe is inextricably tied to covenant blessings.
Consider God’s heart to bless His covenant people – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and try Me now is this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit in the field.’ Says the Lord of hosts; ‘And all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:10-12). God is daring you to step out in faith in His word so He can bless you. One more witness – “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). Most of us don’t have barns or vats, but we do have bank accounts and cupboards that God promises to fill up when we are obedient and faithful to His covenant.
I have so much more to say about covenant, but let me end where I started – “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Lk. 9:24). This makes no sense whatever to those who are in the flesh, but my hope is that it is crystal clear to you!
2Cor. 1:3-4: “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 tribulations, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
The original meaning of “comfort” is “to fit a person for battle by coming alongside to strengthen, encourage, and bear the burden.” This is different from today’s definition. The Greek word for comforter is “paraclete,” the name given to the Holy Spirit. Another understanding of comforter is advocate, or attorney, one who represents our case and pleads on our behalf. I Jn. 2:1 describes Jesus as our Advocate. God’s nature is for us—our hidden source of strength in the midst of problems. Unfortunately, religion, the manmade, man-centered organization, has misrepresented God and perpetuated an image of Him as an angry deity holding a club over us ready to punish for the slightest infraction of rules. This notion promotes unrighteous fear and keeps people from an intimate relationship with God Who is love (I Jn. 4:8).
Pharisees of Jesus’ day typify this religious attitude. They were religious people proud of their separation to God and the Law. Their biggest problem was they hated all who weren’t like them. One of their strong belief and oft-quoted statements was, “There is joy in heaven when a sinner dies and goes to hell.” Jesus turned their words around as He gave three parables about God’s heart of compassion for the lost: the lost sheep (Lk. 15:4-7), the lost coin (v. 8-10) and the lost son (v. 11-32). In Lk. 15:10, Jesus said, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Paul’s second letter’s theme to the church at Corinth is God of all comfort. This letter, more than any of Paul’s writings, reveals Paul’s heart and dealings with life’s pressures. It holds a key that can open the door to many who have never received the full measure of God’s mercy and comfort. This letter was written after a great trial in Paul’s life that is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. We can follow Paul through most of his ministry by reading the Acts. In fact, Acts 19 and 20 through verse 14 cover the time frame which Paul writes about in this letter. We can only speculate about why Luke did not mention the reason for this great conflict in Paul’s life. Paul had three great pressures at that time.
· Across the sea, Paul had been receiving word of trouble in the church in Corinth. He heard about splits, immaturity, and fleshly activities and was greatly troubled—so much that he wrote the first of his two letters to that church and sent it by Timothy. He was anxious to hear about the letter’s impact.
· Intense demonic pressure was placed on Paul by satanic priests in Ephesus. Paul’s ministry had been so successful many believed and burned their magic books. This created a spiritual attack which Paul mentioned in 2 Cor 12:7-10.
· Paul’s ministry in Ephesus caused a trade union riot by silversmiths who made silver shrines for the temple of Diana. Paul’s ministry was so successful no one was buying these idols and a riot ensued which ultimately forced Paul to leave the region for Macedonia where he had arranged to meet Titus at the small part of Troas.
During this time this X-Factor began pressuring Paul. In 2 Cor. 1:8-11, Paul gives a glimpse of this conflict. He wrote, “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.” The phrase, “burdened beyond measure” was used as a description of an ancient torture as a man would be staked out with his hands and feet tied to the ground; then a large rock would be placed on the man’s chest so he would slowly be crushed to death by the weight of the rock. This describes the type of pressure Paul was experiencing.
When Paul arrived in Troas, he could not find Titus. It is hard to imagine Paul as lonely, depressed, even desperate, but this was exactly his emotional state. 2 Cor. 2:12-13 states, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.” Maybe you’ve never seen Paul in the scriptures as weak, hurting, having no hope—but here he is. Paul was not even able to take advantage of an open door for ministry provided by the Lord. My first question was, “Paul, why don’t you just handle this problem yourself? You wrote Phil. 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ didn’t you?” Then, “Paul, why don’t you go the God of all comfort yourself?’
Most questions concerning Truth are found in Genesis. The Holy Spirit led me to Gen. 2:18 which says, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” Understand this was before the Fall when Adam had unlimited access to God. Adam didn’t have a lot of time on his hands either, for God had Adam name all animals on earth. The problem was Adam had no one with whom to communicate. When he looked into an animal’s eyes, nothing but a vacant stare looked back. The Hebrew name for man is “Ish.” Adam was “Ish” alone until God created Eve from his rib. When Adam saw Eve, he saw another human like himself, yet different. His response was “Ish-Ah!” the Hebrew name for woman.
Man was created with an innate need for human companionship. This was God’s original design expressed in the Garden. Sin and man’s subsequent fall altered God’s design and resulted in a blitzed-out human existence barely recognizable as being created in God’s image. However, through God’s divine wisdom and plan of redemption through Jesus, man through faith in Christ was restored by power of Holy Spirit and became the channel and instrument of God’s mercy and comfort. Isaiah prophesied of God’s Kingdom and those who live by power of Holy Spirit in Isa. 32:1-2, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice. A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” This is a perfect description of a comforter! We are princes called to be the hiding place, cover, river of living water, and great rock to others in need!
Important to note, Paul did not consider his weakness to be sin, nor was he ashamed of his need. This letter was more of a celebration of how his neediness was supplied by another believer. 2 Cor. 7:5-6 explains, “For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts; inside were fears. Nevertheless God, Who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” Little did Titus know how badly Paul needed him! Titus, the protégé, was designed by God to bring comfort to his mentor Paul. How do you prepare for such an assignment with no time to fast and pray or prepare choice words of encouragement and exhortation? No, it was enough just to be there!
I know how difficult being really honest is about how I sometimes hurt. In fact, I’ve been warned by other ministers never to let others know my weaknesses because I’ll likely be taken advantage of. Paul is teaching the opposite! When we remain silent and stoic, we rob others of an opportunity to be a comforter. We also shut off the opportunity to receive God’s comfort which comes through believers. You may have never heard much about Titus, Barnabas, Silas, or Timothy before, but they all fill powerful roles as comforters and agents of compassion.
Today, as much as any time in history, our world needs the church to lead as agents of compassion to meet needs of hurting people. If God’s love has been poured out in your heart by Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5), be the vessel of honor to pour His love out on others! Amen.
Jn. 1:14; 16-17 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”… “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Grace is one of those theological terms we often wave at as it goes through our minds. We’ve all heard that grace is God’s unmerited favor. Some describe grace as God giving us what we don’t deserve and mercy as His Not giving us what we do deserve. These are accurate enough definitions, but somehow I believe God’s grace is so much more important than to just give it a wave and tip of the hat.
In ancient Greece, grace -“charis” was simply a sort of an empty tavern greeting such as, “How’r ya’ doin’?” Or, “Have a good day!” It was simply a meaningless form of recognition. However, after the resurrection, the disciples adopted that formerly empty word and filled charis to overflowing with new meaning which was accompanied by the power of Holy Spirit. Strong’s Concordance defines charis as “a divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” Grace charis was used to describe the very ability of Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated in and through believers by the gifts of Holy Spirit. Hence, we now have the term “Charismatics” – those believers who operate in the gifts of Holy Spirit.
God’s grace is a divine force which comes through faith in Jesus Christ ushering in an atmosphere where God’s love, favor and blessings flow into lives bringing about kingdom reality. It is the grace of God which brought about the reality of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples in Matt. 6:10 – “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” God’s grace is His kingdom’s atmosphere here on earth and comes as a direct manifestation of His agape love. His grace is responsible for all the kingdom principles; every Old Covenant example; Jesus’ birth, His life as an example for us, His death, burial & resurrection; His grace sent Holy Spirit to live within believers; it brought salvation, gifts and ability of God through Holy Spirit as well as eternal life; His grace brought heaven to earth! God’s grace brought all things we need for life and godliness and made us to be partakers of His divine nature!
God’s grace is the spiritual counterpart to His wrath against sin and man’s sin nature. Just as God’s wrath is a constant pressure against sin and sin’s consequences which is a living death penalty over sin-controlled men’s lives; His grace is a constant pressure which propels believers into deeper intimacy, understanding, revelation, power and ability to demonstrate His love in earth. Grace creates an atmosphere where earthly limitations lose its hold on lives and where impossibilities become reality as signs, wonders and miracles thrive and expand.
Grace also has the power to confront those under God’s wrath and pull them out to safety! Jude 20-23 – “But you, beloved, building yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
When the fullness of God’s grace becomes recognized, acknowledged and received in a believer, the very gates of Heaven are opened for God’s glory to be manifested on earth. For God’s glory to manifest, His grace must be recognized, received and put into action – lived out in our lives!
This is my definition of God’s grace - His willingness to provide all the resources of heaven - not just meet your need, but to overflow your life with every spiritual blessing out of the riches of His treasures in glory by Christ Jesus – which has already been accomplished through the Finished Work of Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace is a present reality, the very atmosphere of heaven, given to us through Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the release of Holy Spirit to live His life in, through and as us!
· Jesus Christ ushered in the grace of God.
· His life and ministry displayed grace in action
· His death, burial and resurrection expanded grace
· Holy Spirit ushered grace into lives of all who would receive by faith
· We now live in a perpetual state of grace in Holy Spirit
As the revelation of the Finished Work of Lord Jesus Christ expands – so also does the grace of God in our lives. Grace releases God’s ability through Holy Spirit. The grace of God always causes us to triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14); made us more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37); has given us power to trample on Satan and his demons (Lk. 10:19; Rom. 16:20); and has given us eternal life here and now (Jn. 17:3). Paul came to recognize the grace of God was sufficient to conquer and overcome the thorn in the flesh – demon assigned to cause him to lose the vision he received (2 Cor. 12:1-10). The enemy always attacks the truth of God’s word (Matt. 13: 21; Mk. 4:17; Heb. 10:32; 2 Cor. 12:7). God’s grace empowers us to overcome and walk in victory.
2 Pet. 1:2-4 – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The grace of God is responsible for our having been given ALL THINGS that we need in this life and for ministry. And not only that, but God’s grace has available to us to be a partaker of God’s very nature – just like Jesus Christ!
You might be saying to yourself – that just doesn’t equate with my feelings and my experiences. Many can’t recognize their solution – the very promise of God that you have been given “all things”- because it’s in “SEED” form in your life. God uses Covenant and His kingdom principles in His dealings with man. One can be in Covenant with God yet not understand His principles – how He works in earth through Holy Spirit. One primary principle is “Seedtime and Harvest”, simply what we sow, we will reap. A corollary principle is “Reproduction” – every SEED produces after its own kind. Your answer is in Word (seed) form, ready to be planted to produce your solution. Have you really invested time in the Word and in God’s presence asking and seeking His answer to your problems? God will give you His rhema – He is always broadcasting His answers to life’s issues; our problem is that we aren’t properly tuned in to receive! Grace holds all the mysteries of God for those who are willing to ask, seek and knock – He doesn’t just throw out His treasure for anyone to stumble over (Prov. 25:2).
All things you need in life; you already have; it’s yours – every answer to every problem, even your destiny is there – it’s just in seed form and needs to be nurtured, watered with Holy Spirit and exposed to plenty of SON-shine! Soon that seed of potential will grow into the fullness of your answer – your solution – your destiny! That’s God’s grace!
The last verse of the Bible is Rev. 22:21 – “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” John’s last words of scripture were for the grace of Lord Jesus Christ to be with us – unmerited favor? I certainly think so – and so much more! Amen.