Featured

How Big Are You Thinking?

The scriptures tell us as believers we have the mind of Christ. This is not merely for “religious” thinking, but rather that we can begin to think with a kingdom mentality, to begin to see and think on a scale and with the scope of God’s mind for our lives, our family, our finances, our calling and our destiny.

God wants to give you God sized dreams, visions and goals, not man sized. We must begin to open our hearts and minds to imagine what God sees for us.

1 Corinthians 2:16 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

 

Advertisements

Some Say Wrong, I Say New!

Isaiah 43:18-21 (AMPC)

18 Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.

19 Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

20 The beasts of the field honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen,

21 The people I formed for Myself, that they may set forth My praise [and they shall do it].

Have you ever had God speak to you about something and have repeated encounters with people and situations that all point back to that one particular train of thought?

I love how that God puts things together and how that when it comes to showing us deep things it is He and He alone that can connect the dots. What’s even more amazing to me is that often times He does it through people, even when they may be unsuspecting or even knowledgeable of it!

Think about that for a moment, there can be things that come out of your mouth that are birthed in your thoughts that God planted there to be spoken at the right time to the right person for the right reason!

Recently, I had several of our prophetic ministry team members and the ministry leader gave me some prophetic words when I visited the “Furnace” or our prophetic ministry room at His Place.  To save time I won’t go into details but they were very powerful and right on target with things God has been speaking to me.

Afterwards, I left and was talking with my Senior Pastor before services that Sunday morning and we were sharing with each other the words we had received and just insightfully looking into what God was saying to us. As I shared part of what I received he told me I should go back and reread the books of Samuel.

I had not read very far until I came upon Hannah. Hannah was discouraged and I can certainly relate to what it is to be frustrated and discouraged because of a lack of birth. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that a lack of seeing the end result in our present circumstances is no proof that God is not up to something and working a process. This was certainly true with Hannah. I also know what it means to commit what is given to us by God to be given back to Him!

All of that aside, what struck me most was how she was perceived by Eli the priest as she prayed. Now Hannah certainly was bold, she had no qualms about going to God directly and praying both out loud and quietly. What struck me most is that the way in which Hannah was engaging God and praying was seen as “out of order” by Eli and the religious status quo and certainly was not customary. So grotesquely that Eli both reprimanded her and assumed she was not in her right mind and accused her of being drunk. That tells me that she was not concerned with appearances or standards and her response to Eli also let him know that she knew her God and that He was listening to her! She meant business and she was determined that God would hear her and see her frustrations and her discouragement. What courage, what tenacity!  I love that about her!  I can see a picture of the bride of the last days painted in her example as I write this.

Ironically, as I thought on this and I recalled what my pastor told me to read, I also remembered some points that he made concerning Jesus in his sermon last Sunday. He spoke on the counter culture approach that Jesus had in His ministry and how that the established cultural norms were not only exclusive, they were prejudicial against women and the whole methodology that Jesus used went rogue and flew in the face of all the religious and prestigious formats of the day. It all began to gel together in my mind.

It resonated further on a much deeper thought that God has been dealing with me about for several months; changing my preconceived notions about Who He is and how He does things.

For some time, perhaps as far back as 4 years ago, God has been challenging my thinking about myself, about Him and how He thinks and acts. If there is one thing I am coming to a rising climax on mentally speaking, it is that God cannot be defined conventionally in any shape, form, or fashion. Not poetically, not intellectually, and not theologically. I know it sounds radical but God IS radical, there is nothing passé about God in any respect. Now before you jump and bear your religious teeth, I get it, we need good teaching and yes all scriptures are profitable for doctrine, but doctrine is not the only way in which God speaks or is conveyed. Doctrine at best serves as guard rails to keep us from unbelief. Knowing doctrine will never equal practicing a relationship.

This is also something that God has been dealing with me about even more intently on for the last several months. I believe that God wants to speak new things and give us new revelations concerning His nature, His ways of thinking and His heart. Christians have a tendency to camp on things or establish things as to what can be evidence of credible displays of the Holy Spirit or that it is credible revelation because it is associated with a certain person. While those things may be true, we often as Christians are trying to live off of yesterday or even more yester-years manna. I believe there is much from the past and from God’s previous movements that is important and can teach us, but we must be willing to follow the pillar of fire, to follow the whirlwind into new previously unknown territory. We know that in the end day (which I believe us to be in) God is going to pour out the former and the latter rain and while we can expect to see things God has done before, we should also be so open in our minds and imaginations to anything that God wants to do to demonstrate His manifest presence, His glory, His power and most importantly His love. We have the mind of Christ and we have an opportunity to know Gods thoughts and intentions and ways of thinking but we so often limit ourselves to a standard that has been established settling for spiritual leftovers instead of something hot off the grill so to speak. God is not finished giving new visions and He certainly is not finished giving revelation if we can only let go of what is in our hand currently to grasp what He is trying to hand to us!  The question is, can we be open enough to see it, hear it and accept it?  Or will we filter every expectation or occurrence through a prescribed manner of formulated religious scrutiny?  Can we let God be God and test the spirit and the fruit as the bar of standard?  Of course I am not talking about adding to or rewriting the bible as some may immediately jump in their conclusions to.  I am not talking about that at all.  I am talking about experiencing God and the supernatural and inexplicable nature of relationship with God.  I get it that some people don’t sit well with the idea of expanding their understanding of what it is to walk and interact with God, but at the same time I certainly don’t feel comfortable with them trying to dumb mine down.

As I get back to my main point, and revisiting the examples of Hannah and Jesus I have since looked at other examples in the bible who did not “do it right” as far as how religion, religious culture or even the world says is should be done. It is as if God keeps reiterating to me, “change your way of thinking” as I was also once told in a prophetic word given to me to “let go of my preconceived notions”. God is challenging me and He wants to challenge us to open ourselves to His sovereignty. If we truly believe He is sovereign then we also have to be open to the idea that God can do it however He wants, whenever He wants, and through whomever He wants. No wonder Jesus said “blessed are those who are not offended because of Me.”

So here it is, just a blast of things Holy Spirit has put into my heart. He that has ears to hear and eyes to see, let them see and hear!  Be open to the leading of the spirit; be open to the creativity of your imagination and your mind and the mind of Christ in you so that you can begin to grasp the deep things of God!

Be less concerned with “doing it right” in terms of what church tradition says and more concerned with “doing it with the right heart”. God does not look at the outward man, He looks at our hearts. God rewards those that diligently seek Him with passion, with desperation, with brokenness and even those with failure and weakness. Even more, let us be ever increasingly open to God’s sovereignty in the “new things” God says He is going to do.

 

Grace That Leads to Obedience

There are probably very few pastors or preachers who teach or speak on the love and grace of God any more than I myself do.

The revelation of God’s love and the freedom that Grace gives from the condemnation of sin and the law are cornerstone’s of all that God has called me to proclaim in my personal walk in ministry.

I am a firm believer in the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus Christ and that His blood is more than capable to not only save us but keep us.  After all, He is the author and finisher of our faith and the good works He has begun in us He is faithful to complete.

As I have come to understand grace more in depth, I have come to see grace as more than just the great equalizer that takes me from my righteous inadequacy to being in right standing with God.  Grace is also not a magically empowered spiritual soap by which all my sins are just merely blotted out or simply the great spiritual equalizer.

While I make those analogies in jest, it is true that grace does put me in right standing with God and makes me spiritually through faith in Christ what I can’t be on my own however, grace is much more.

In fact, what I want to focus on is the power of grace.  Grace is real power by which we overcome sin and we no longer are held as a defenseless victim in its clutches.

As we grow in grace, we grow in power and in victory so that sin no longer rules our minds and bodies.

Roman’s chapter 6 is an in depth writing by Paul that addresses the misunderstanding that many misguided Christians often have in believing grace does not require obedience or that there is not a standard or an obligation on our part to pursue the practice of righteousness and holiness.

Romans 6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

6 What shall we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow?

2 Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?

3 Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

4 We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.

5 For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God].

In verses 1 through 5 Paul is asking questions that are simply rhetorical.  Paul asks are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace may abound?  (Again, Paul is asking a rhetorical question.)

Paul goes on to answer the question anyway which reads like it has a slight degree of facetiousness due to the ridiculousness of the question.

Notice, to paraphrase Paul, he asks, how can we who are now a new living creation in a new life, continue to live and behave the way we once did when we were sinners?

Shall we continue to sin?  Uh no!  How can a dead man live?  Your old nature was killed silly!

To put it yet another way, I think if Paul would have wanted he could have used an example and said, can a dog behave and pretend it is a cat?  Will a dog meow and purr?  Of course not, a dog is not a cat and therefore will not behave like one!

Likewise, we as new creations with a new nature cannot and do not embrace the old nature of the old man and we are not governed by the primal nature of our biology (the flesh).  The real identity, our spirit, is in fact the man in charge.

In the next few verses, 6-11  Paul clearly outlines the process.  When we die spiritually (the former man) and we are made alive in Christ in the new man.  We are no longer under the power of sin.  Paul not only tells us that this is a spiritual truth, but goes on to tell us to consider ourselves dead to sin.  In effect Paul is telling us how to think and see ourselves.  This is not merely speaking about the fact that we are no longer transgressors of the law but that everything we are and how we live is about denouncing our own lives and any entitlement to the indulgence in sin that we once had and exchanging it for UNBROKEN fellowship with Jesus Christ.

6 We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin.

7 For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].

8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

9 Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

10 For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].

11 Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Now, Paul expands upon this giving us an outline of our obligations and responsibilities to pursue obedience and to pursue the practice of righteousness and holiness in our lives.

12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.

13 Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and [b]faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.

14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].

To reiterate, Paul has made it very clear that grace not only frees us from the condemnation of the law, it also gives us power to break the strongholds of sin in our lives and to no longer be slaves to it.  Lastly, as Paul gives instruction, it gives us power to bring the nature of our carnal desires and fleshly appetites into submission to the spirit man that we are.  In short, grace also gives us the power to walk in obedience to the Father’s desires and expectations of us.  Jesus models this behavior in the Garden of Gethsemane when He tells the Father “not My will but Yours be done.”  We see this echoed throughout the life and ministry of Jesus as Jesus explains He only does what the Father shows Him to do.

Bill Johnson once said “Grace that does not lead to holiness is not grace at all”.

This is in perfect agreement with what Paul is teaching in Romans chapter 6.

There are of course many opposing viewpoints in many churches today.  Some who argue against grace and are totally legalistic and others who dilute grace to a freedom to live however they choose embracing any sin or desire they choose, taking on no responsibility for the call to self-denial and the pursuit of obedience and practicing righteousness and holiness.

15 What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not!

16 Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?

17 But thank God, though you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed.

18 And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action).

Paul expands upon the obligations we have and the choice we have and what fruit those choices bear.  Paul makes it very clear that if we allow sin to reign and we become slaves of obedience to sin, we will drink from the cup that sin brings which is ultimately death.  Not because we are not loved of God and not because the blood of Jesus does not redeem us but because the result of being a slave to sin is death.  Whether it be physical sickness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, or any other thing that the love of God does not desire or give us, disobedience does have a cost.  Conversely, when we continuously surrender ourselves to do God’s will as Paul writes in verse 16 and as we become obedient with all of our hearts as Paul outlines in verse 17 we begin to sow seed that brings forth new and abundant harvest in our lives.  Paul also explains in verse 22 that regardless of how many crops of thorns and thistles we have sown and reaped in our sin, there is always a new field and crop we can plant and harvest when we embrace the grace of Jesus Christ not only for salvation but to be free from and masters over sin so that we may be empowered to walk in obedience, righteousness and holiness.  Paul reminds us of the shame and the uselessness of our old nature and our lives once dedicated to the pursuit of fleeting pleasures of sin in verses 19-21.  It is a strong reminder to help keep our focus on the prize and not be lulled into believing the lies that our past offers us some kind of fulfillment.

There is no going back, all that once was will only be as ashes in our mouths once we have tasted the goodness of God that is sweeter than wine or honey.

Once you have experienced abundant life free from sin, no one in their right mind refuses the well of Bethlehem to drink from an open sewer.

19 I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

21 But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None] for the end of those things is death.

22 But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.

23 For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.

In summation, we have the grace and love of Jesus Christ that is freely ours.  We are free from condemnation and the guilt of sin under the law.  We are in fact free from the curse of the law and all the punishments that were written against us by the grace of Jesus Christ.  That is the first step towards abundant life.

Real abundant living comes as we step forth in the power of grace and crush the power and influence of sin in our lives and we learn what it is to live a life of submission and to become sons and daughters of obedience to our Heavenly Father.  True abundant living is found in the pursuit of His righteousness and holiness with a fervent zeal, forsaking and leaving behind all that offers a counterfeit joy or pleasure through pride, vanity, or otherwise that only leads to self-indulgence and the pursuit of lawlessness and impurity.

Our joy only increases as we learn to walk like Jesus, looking for every opportunity to please the Father and mirror all that He is as we behold Him and are transformed into His image.

 

Once Saved, Always Saved

I was recently asked to complete a survey on this topic and to offer my thoughts on a Christian discussion forum and as I thought about this, I felt that Holy Spirit wanted me to share this in a blog.

The phrase “once saved always saved” is often a subject of heated debate and used by many Christians and denominations as a focal point of ridicule. This ridicule and its related ways of thinking however in fact challenge the power of the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ and often leads to a works based Christianity and living a life of fear having no security in the faith of one’s salvation.

There are Christians who subscribe to the ideology that you can become “saved” and then become “unsaved” The real question is not once saved always saved in those arguing the sentiment.  The real argument they are wanting to determine is: “was the person ever really saved?”

The phrase “once saved, always saved is in truth a tautology.  A tautology is an expression that is logically always true, making it redundant. It may do so by saying the same thing twice in different words.  Much like saying “a cat is a cat”.

So much of the western church has systematically categorized and formulated Christianity that if you don’t fit their particular brand or flavor of Christianity, there is no possible way that you could be “right with God.” They have limited God and God’s people to their cookie cutter mold and delusions of infallibility in their doctrine.  People who believe that their interpretation of the written word of God encapsulated all that God is and all the He does, but I digress.

So let’s look at how we can prove that “once saved always saved” is in actuality a scriptural truth.

If a person has accepted Christ and has become a new creation then there is more that happens in them than just a mental ascent to being born again.  There is in fact a supernatural change that takes place in their existence and their very nature. We know that when we are “born again” the identity that we once had or the “spiritual person” we once were no longer exists.  That we are crucified with Christ and rose with Christ new –

2 Corinthians 5:17 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

We also know that the gifts of God are irrevocable and that God does not give something and take it back.

Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

29 For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]

None of this is accomplished through doctrine, theology or works.  It is achieved through faith.  Faith that God Himself has in fact given us.  Our part is to accept and agree with God and call upon Him for our salvation.

Romans 10:13 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

13 For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9 Amplified Bible (AMP)

8 For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9 not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].

Romans 12:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.

Lastly, we know that when we become a new creation and was born again, we were also sealed with Christ.  The argument is that a Christian can choose to deny Christ, but that goes against the very nature and identity of one who is a born again Christian and it denies the power of Jesus Christ at work in us.  We no longer are living as our own selves nor do we only have our own minds, wills and emptions at work in us.  It is not up to us to gain salvation nor to keep it.  It is in Christ alone that we are redeemed, sanctified and ultimately glorified, not in our ability, will power or strength.  We believe, that is our part and to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that our faith is made alive.

Galatians 2:19-21 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

19 For I through the Law [under the operation of the curse of the Law] have [in Christ’s death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law’s demands upon me, so that I may [henceforth] live to and for God.

20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

21 [Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]

1 Corinthians 2:16 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

2 Corinthians 1:22 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

22 [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

Philippians 1:6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

Hebrews 12:2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In conclusion, the short question without answer is yes; once you are saved you are always saved.  Falling from grace and losing salvation are not the same thing.

Any time we try to work in self-righteousness we are not operating in the power and the mercy of grace.  This has nothing to do with our eternal standing or our position of righteousness before God.

Ultimately, grace at work in the life of a believer produces the fruits of the spirit and outwardly we can make some degree of determination regarding whether a person is a born again Christian because their nature and behavior will exemplify it.  To quote Bill Johnson, “grace that does not lead to holiness is not grace at all”.  We cannot however judge a persons eternal destination based on a season in their life, a trial they may be facing, a moment of weakness in a besetting sin or falling short of the glory.

We must understand the vast difference between “practicing” sin and unrighteousness in gross insubordination towards God and struggling with sin but still having a willing and inviting heart (even in weakness) towards God

As Christians there are many times we walk in self-righteousness, thinking it is humility.  Lines of thinking such as “God helps those that help themselves” falls right into this category.  A false sense of humility and righteousness that is really based in pride, but that is a whole other conversation.

Don’t let religious rhetoric discount or minimize the power of the blood of Jesus or what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you personally!

Why Not You?

Spiritual mentors are important and I am so glad to have as many of them that I have in my life.  There is no doubt in my mind that many people such as my pastors, wife, friends and family who love me dearly and have prayed and imparted into me so much are a huge part of the reason I am where I am in my life today.  I am also so glad to have access to those who I don’t know personally such as famous public figures we find in the Body of Christ.  I have admired and learned a great deal through their sermons, teachings, books etc.  As a pastor myself, and someone who enjoys working in leadership, God has given me a love of taking on challenges and seeing personal gains and victories.  This is something that God puts in our very spiritual DNA.  We were born to lead and to rule and reign with Christ.  There is an inherent desire planted in us to want to succeed.  Christ has made us winners, not losers.

On the other hand, we are also born to uplift and exhort those alongside of us. As pastors, mentors, teachers, and so on, it is especially important that we continuously find our value and purpose in God alone and guard our hearts from pride and adulation of men and women.  I believe especially as pastors but also as individual members of the body of Christ we must always strive to live under the audience of one and be completely secure in our identity first and foremost and secondly in our calling, self-worth and value that are found in Christ.

I feel prompted to write this because there are two sides (equally important) to how God has established ministry to go forth and how we are to view and honor people in the Body of Christ.  On one hand there is honoring people who God has anointed as part of the five-fold ministry that are a gift to the church.  On the other hand there is recognizing the individual importance and anointing and gifts given to every other person in the body of Christ for their respective calling (we are all called to be ministers of the Ministry of Reconciliation).  Often times and more historically, we have seen an imbalance or partiality that is both given and received between what is traditionally referred to as the “clergy” and the “laity”.

As someone who gets to enjoy the benefits of having so many people who love me and honor me as a pastor, I never want to take their love, friendship or importance to the Body of Christ for granted.  In fact, I believe that one of the main functions of a pastor is to help people gain insight as well as to encourage and pray for them to come to a place where the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1 becomes a reality for them.  Any pastor that is called of God should have a desire to see all that is in their congregation walk into the fullness of their purpose, calling, anointing and destiny in Christ, even if it far supersedes their own.  I believe that part of my attitude on this comes directly from the leadership I have been exposed to from my personal pastors.

I say this because when we all discover the truth about our unique place, function, and identity in Christ and how that relates to a special and exclusive relationship with Him, we will be satisfied only with that.  We will not covet or desire the relationship, calling or destiny that someone else has.  Why would we want to limit ourselves to that?  I remember praying one time and was just talking to the Lord and saying “Jesus I want to have a relationship with you just like Peter had.”  Instantly I heard the Holy Spirit rebuke me!  I was a bit surprised but Holy Spirit just revealed to my heart that His relationship with me was unique and special and that I would miss out on all that He wanted to reveal to me about myself and about our relationship if I was to seek someone else’s relationship with Him.

When I finally answered God’s call to ministry on my life, I felt so unqualified.  I had a mental rubric already in my mind that I used to sum up the picture of what an effective minister was.  Once again, God jumped in the middle of my thinking and dashed it to pieces.  This is one of the things I have come to love about God.  He has no problem breaking through our preconceived notions to give us a better understanding.  As I argued with God and presented all the reasons why I was not qualified, the Lord told me very plainly that the face of ministry as I had always known it was going to change forever.  The Lord spoke to my heart and told me that He was tearing down kingdom’s men had built to themselves and He was going to build His kingdom and it would be built and sustained through His body.

Does that mean there won’t be pastors of large churches or leaders of large ministries?  No, God is going to continue to use people in what He has called and anointed them to do, but the shift is going to be from building their own kingdom to building His Kingdom.  Many of these people have been doing so in ignorance, but God is so gracious and He always has all of our best at heart.  What is so amazing about God to me in this is that even in the midst of our mess (even if we aren’t aware of it) God partners with us to use us mightily for His glory and is always working to move us towards the dream and vision He has for our lives.  I talk about many of these subjects in my book being released this year entitled I Am The One He Loves.

In addition, I believe God showed me and has many times over confirmed this through other pastors and people by giving them their own separate revelation concerning this truth; that the last great outpouring and movement (or revival if you prefer) is going to be sustained and carried out by the entire Body of Christ.  Each person is going to play a vital role and serve a powerful purpose from the least to the greatest.  This is going to be so great that no one person could ever sustain it.  Personally, I believe this is why we have seen past revivals die out.  The people camp around a movement of God and try to package it rather than just being led and being on board with Holy Spirit’s freedom.  We all work to facilitate what Holy Spirit wants to do, we cannot “organize and contain” revival, you would have better chances of holding a star in your palm.

Some of the other reasons I wanted to write this is because I want us as believers to be vigilant in that we are aware of where and how we seek counsel and growth and how we regard each other in the body of Christ in respect to this.  It is amazing to me that we all have personal and exclusive rights and opportunities to listen to and talk to Holy Spirit.  There is no greater source of wisdom and revelation.  Jesus made it very clear that Holy Spirit would reveal all things to us that we need and desire to know about God!

John 16:13-15 (AMPC)

13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].

14 He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.

15 Everything that the Father has is Mine. That is what I meant when I said that He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.

I think that part of the problem for the church at large is that they only receive second hand revelation and once they receive part of it they camp there.  It becomes easier to follow a movement or a person rather than to seek out firsthand revelation and come to know the giver of revelation.

Now, I don’t want to come off like I am naysaying any ministry, leaders, or movement but, it is important that we know in our hearts that absolutely nothing trumps personal revelation and first hand rhema words directly from Holy Spirit about the logos word and about ourselves and our lives.  Not even a prophetic word from someone else, not a sermon, not a book, not a teaching and not a doctrine.  So why do we as believers so often become willing to settle on only one facet of God?  Perhaps it is the religious programming we have learned through generations in some attempt to understand God in a meaningful way only to exclude so much of God by camping around a singular revelation someone has given God that turned into a doctrine that we just learned to agree with.

I want to learn from the revelations that God has given others but most of all I want to experience revelation directly from my Father through direct interaction and communication!  What’s more, we ALL have this available to us!  This is why we cannot discount anyone in the body of Christ!

We have such a tendency to be camp oriented.  If it’s not denominations, then it’s movements.  People say “I’m Baptist” or “I’m Pentecostal” or they refer to the teachings of the movement they favor “Oh we believe in the Word of Faith” or “We believe in the Prophetic Movement”.  All of those things are fine and some I even agree with but I personally don’t want to just camp on one revelation that God initiated with someone else.  We want to be like the Israelite’s and carry over and save manna because it’s just easier than going out every day and gathering new and fresh manna.

How can we minimalize God in such a way especially after we read the book of Revelation?

Where the creatures full of eyes (that far see and comprehend more than we as humans) never stop praising God as they gain ongoing and new revelation about Him?

Revelation 4:8 (AMPC)

8 And the four living creatures, individually having six wings, were full of eyes all over and within [underneath their wings]; and day and night they never stop saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty (Omnipotent), Who was and Who is and Who is to come.

Because of this we congregate around certain leaders of personalities as being “experts” or people who have a monopoly on revelation or connection to God.  Again, like the Israelite’s we look to these people to be a Moses for us.  They go speak to God and then they bring back to the rest of us what God says.  Sometimes it’s celebrities but often times it happens in our own churches.  It breeds a society in the Body of Christ that allows for no honor towards the person to our left or right but only to those who we have elevated in front of us!  What a shame that we miss out on so much opportunity to hear from and interact with our Father directly and from those in the Body of Christ that we have intimate access to personally!  This is why we must always be open for God to speak to us through any medium – including a donkey if He should choose to do so.

Part of overcoming this thinking is something that my personal pastors have preached so vehemently; to create and continuously cultivate a culture of love and honor in the body of Christ, but even more taking it to another level.  One of the things I believe that the church does that causes it to be robbed of so much is that we take each other for granted and we make others common to ourselves.

This is nothing new, it happened even to Jesus.

Matthew 13:55-57 (AMPC)

55 Is not this the carpenter’s Son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

56 And do not all His sisters live here among us? Where then did this Man get all this?

57 And they took offense at Him [they were repelled and hindered from acknowledging His authority, and caused to stumble]. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.

We look at those around us and because we are familiar with them and know them, we assume that there could be nothing extraordinary about them.  Yet, we will attend conferences, buy books and tune into TV shows as if because they are more visible publicly, that God has given them more authority or understanding.  We often attribute these people to being spiritual superhero’s when standing in front of us may be a Godly Superman but we only see a Clark Kent.

What if we began to see others around us as someone who has the potential to bring great and outstanding gifts to the body that we are part of?  Jesus did this everywhere He went and He still does today.  A prophetic view of someone can release a prophetic truth in that person.  We see them through the eyes of Jesus and honor the Christ in them!

I stand in awe of the men and women that God has entrusted with large ministries that are very visible to the body of Christ.  There are many people I consider personal hero’s in the faith and that I have looked to for wisdom and guidance such as Shawn Bolz, Graham Cooke and Todd White just to name a few.  I serve with senior pastors that love the Lord and perpetuate this ideology of loving and honoring each other as we do Jesus Christ; that we are the fullness of Him bodily and that we cannot be separate from Him.  That what we do to and how we regard each other is important to the heart of Jesus.  There are also men and women in our own church that I regard as such great men and women of God that have deep revelation insights, flow in gifts and have hearts of servants.  I want to always honor them equally and be open to the fact that God will and does speak to them as He will anyone.  I want to see them with such potential and to give them a place of honor so that what they have been endowed with is not restricted and I along with the rest of the body get to benefit from and be a part of what God is doing through them.  Most of all, I am on the edge of my seat anticipating what God is going to speak to me and show me next about my life and my relationship with Him.  To quote my pastor, Greg Worley, “Why not you?”

So how about it church, why not you?

Grace and Your Hot Mess

Romans 5:20-21 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

20 But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded,

21 So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord.

The title of this blog is a bit tongue in cheek, I get it.  It might even offend some people’s religious sensibilities but I have never been in the habit of making religious spirits feel comfortable.

This past Sunday, my pastor preached on some things that got me stirred up and while his sermon was not on this specific topic, it hit on a lot of things that got my mind to thinking.  I am so thankful that I have a pastor who understands the grace of Jesus Christ because that revelation put my feet on the path that has led me to the place I am today and continues to motivate me to my higher calling.

As a pastor myself now, it is so important to my heart to see others realize their vital importance, significance and unique and beautiful niche in the body of Christ and the heart of God.  Second to trying rob people of a relationship with God, the enemy tries to rob those who have come alive through Christ from unfolding the depths of their unique story and the treasure that they are to the rest of us.  I hate religious spirits especially because of this.

If you take anything away from this as you read it today, walk away knowing that there is nothing that can any longer disqualify you from experiencing the fullness of all that God has dreamed for your life and your purpose.

Sin is no longer a problem for you.  There will be battles, there will be struggles but there will be victories and there will be promotions.  Jesus has fully qualified you to live the life He and the Father imagined for you and Holy Spirit has for you everything you need to be victorious in every situation and every circumstance.  Jesus has already given you the fully “all inclusive” deal.

Jesus expects us to live a life full of experiences.  This means making decisions and choices and being a direct representative of Jesus Christ to the world and to the other kingdoms residing in this world.  Real leadership as an overcoming achiever and as one who rules and reigns is full of trial and error and learning.  Sometimes epic failures, sometimes epic victories but always and never changing in the way you capture God’s heart.

How can God expect us to overcome things if He does not avail to us those things we so desperately need to be successful or have victory in our lives?  How can we earn God’s favor if we inherently are broken or struggling in weakness in an area in our lives?  This theology while seemingly righteous is merely religious and does not reflect the heart of God.

When you get a real revelation of the freedom found in the grace of Jesus Christ, it does not give you a desire to indulge in sin it gives you power OVER sin.  The freedom we discover does not increase a desire for the flesh.  It creates a desire to go deeper into the things of the spirit.  The revelation of grace gives you freedom from the condemnation of sin and the lies, deceit and guilt that the enemy uses against you to keep you from embracing the truth about grace.

That truth in grace is this; that you can have complete freedom in Christ and complete confidence and boldness that your identity and position with Jesus are secured despite any and all mistakes you may make.  That your wrong decisions or your besetting sins and struggles are not a disqualifier and they do not diminish your identity, your calling and anointing.

God is going to give you room to grow, change and learn to practice righteousness and holiness.  He loves to see us gain victory over these areas in our lives.  He loves to see us being transformed into His likeness as we walk with Him and behold him.  He loves to see us conquer and defeat these things in our lives and He is not taken aback when we fail or slip or have to try many times with His help to achieve victory.

In addition, we can have full confidence and boldness to ask ANYTHING of God in the midst of these experiences and growth.  Not only can we have confidence, it is what He desires of us!  That we would trust Him wholeheartedly and would choose to bring Him into every area of our lives and struggle.  He truly wants to be our loving, giving and providing Father!

God does not want to make every decision and choice for us.  He wants us to make choices and decisions based on His character at work in and through us but He is always ready to help us, empower us, bless us and give us wisdom.  He wants a partnership with us in our lives and in our hearts.  Grace is God trusting His Kingdom work to us in spite of our apparent lacking of abilities, power, and strength because His grace becomes all that we cannot be in of ourselves.  It is a process, it is growing, it is surrendering, it is learning and becoming.

We cannot expect to be about kingdom business and releasing the love, goodness and power of God through us when we finally “have it all put together” because we would never be able to truly be about kingdom business!  We have to be about kingdom business in the middle of our mess, our failures, our weaknesses and shortcomings.  It is in middle of the struggle and the mess that Jesus stands with us.  His hand on our shoulders, his lips to our ears speaking words of love, affirmation and encouragement.

I want to leave you with this final thought.  I once read somewhere that Jesus so loved us and so valued us and saw so much in us that even for those who he knew would refuse to ever accept Him as their Lord and Savior, He still chose to die for their chance at salvation.

Some people would say that is a waste but that is still grace.  We can’t change the dynamics or the characteristics of grace.  They remain despite how we feel.  That grace is not based upon our value system, but it is based on God’s.  If Jesus was willing to die and make grace available even to those who will reject him, how much greater is his grace to those of us who accept Him?

 

Taking Back Our Nation

John 10:10

10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

In the wake of another school shooting, once again the nation rages against itself.

Social justice warriors on one side gear up to scream about gun control, stricter legislation and social reforms.

On the other side we have elite patriots who talk about bringing back public executions, armed guards in schools and more decisive and swift punishments.

My pastor recently preached a sermon about doctrine and to illustrate his points he used the analogy of there being a left ditch, a right ditch and the road.

I am going to borrow from that analogy but with a different set of points.

As Americans, we can have differing political viewpoints.  That is our right as American citizens.

We can agree to disagree on what is the best methodology on going about combating these kinds of tragedies in our nation.

As believers however, our weapons of warfare on these matters cannot be carnal.  Our hopes for justice cannot lie in fractured and imperfect ideologies on social justice.

As believers, our response cannot be to take up the sword and to rule through violence and fear.

As believers, we do have power, authority and means to change our world but it is not through natural means alone.

The change does not come through wielding our intellects or our fists.  Those measures only bring about temporary measures that eventually lead to more problems.

No, our weapons are much greater than those things alone:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

3 For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

 5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),

To truly kill evil, you must slay the head.

To do that, we as believers must once again begin to understand that the battle is against an enemy that exists in the supernatural.

Ephesians 6:12-13

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

If we have a supernatural enemy, then we too must fight back through the supernatural.

To be effective, the church must once again embrace the fullness of our authority and power through the Spirit of God that lives in us, once again becoming a nation that prays, that believes, that seeks the presence, power and gifts of Holy Spirit to have dominance in our lives, families and communities.

For too long the church has adopted systems and standards of thinking of the world.  Relying on psychology and placing the value systems established by the world’s way of appraising people in the church.

It is time once again for the church to turn the world upside down. Not through politics, not through public demonstrations but through the love and power of God.

We must once again allow Holy Spirit to create a culture of love and honor within our churches and see this overflow into our communities and schools through which the Spirit of God Himself will teach an inherent value of life and people.

We must like Jesus Christ our example, lead with love and to see value and greatness where the world says there is no value and that love and kindness are not deserved.

It is time for the church to take up these supernatural weapons of warfare – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; those things which are given and instilled by the Holy Spirit.

It is time that we become a nation that prays and fasts instead of a nation of good vibes and good feelings.

It is time to begin speaking the words of life over our children.  To speak the promises of the word of God over them and to claim them for the kingdom of God.

Jesus gave us the power to bind and to lose.

Our mouths can bring forth life or death.  Our confessions can change the atmosphere that we and our families encounter and live in.

We can give charge over angels in the lives of those we love and around us.

Will we as believers rise up and assert our God given and promised power and authority by faith, or will be continue to put our confidence in the laws, politics and intellect of men?

My pastor once shared that God spoke to him about the importance of believing that God is greater than our culture.

God has the power to create a new culture – one of love and honor but it is perpetuated by His body.

It begins with the voice and the action of His people.

I mourn for the loss of these young people who have lost their lives so tragically.  I mourn for their families who feel such a deep sense of loss.

I even mourn for the shooter who gave into the lies of the enemy and now has a destroyed life set before him.

Most of all, I mourn for this nation.  I mourn for a nation that God so desperately loves and that Jesus Christ died for but is trapped in the prison of sin and separation from relationship with God.

My heart is heavy because the enemy has had a stronghold on our people for so long.

So my prayer is the following scriptures; Act 2:17, Jeremiah 50.  I ask that you join me in declaring these things over our nation.

Lord in these end days, pour out your Spirit on all mankind.  Let your power be demonstrated on earth as it has never been before.

Let words of life come forth, let your heart be proclaimed and your love demonstrated in a way that shakes the earth to its core.

Visit us in our dreams and invade our hearts and minds giving us new paradigms of your love and goodness.

Raise up and fight for us.  Let your goodness be known in such a way that this land comes to you with weeping.

That we would once again seek you and ask the way to return to Jerusalem.

Help us to find our way back home again and to bind ourselves in covenant to you forever.

We have been a nation of lost sheep, unable to find our way home.  Led astray by shepherds, we have been devoured by our enemies as we roamed lost in the mountains and wilderness.

Father, restore our hearts and minds back to you.

Bring peace through the Prince of Peace who is Jesus Christ the Firstborn of God.

Lead us into repentance with your goodness and lead us into abundant life through revelation by your Holy Spirit.

Bind up the broken hearted and let the good news of your love be proclaimed throughout our land and to all people.

Make us mighty weapons in your hand to defeat the enemy and to break the jaw of all powers, principalities and spiritual wickedness that has camped over our cities.

Let love lead and reign in our hearts for one another and that all we are and do be ruled and motivated by your love at work in us.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

 

 

 

That You’re Joy May be Complete

Our Father desires to gift us and give to us not only out of necessity, but in the midst of our desires and our intimacy and relationship with Him.

His desire is to see our Joy complete. It is important for us to know God’s word so that we know what He has promised to us and that we can ask in a manner boldly with full confidence because God has esteemed His Word above His name.

When we learn what it means to be a Son of God, we begin to walk with a new understanding of our entitlement and with a regal attitude that identifies us as the Royal Family of God.

We will be satisfied with nothing less than what God’s Word proclaims for us as rightfully ours and we will execute with all authority and power that which has been freely given. We will live a life of expectancy and abundance because we know that our desire to pursue and release the Kingdom of Heaven on the Earth brings about all things in our lives with a violence and unapologetic intensity.

The days of living a life for Christ that is laissez faire are coming to an end as we begin to behold Christ, toe to toe, eye to eye, face to face, full on in the brilliance of His glory.

When we will no longer be satisfied with a simple church service, a church program, entertainment value, support groups, intellectual pop psychology pep speeches, condemnation by way of tradition and law, lack of love, mercy and grace, we will begin entering a time of the outpouring of God’s glory and power on His people, because there is a bountiful harvest awaiting thee reap, a harvest searching for something that is real and offers a complete deliverance and empowerment rather than a sympathetic ear or a spiritually neutered attempt to mask the symptoms of the larger problem. They are searching for the solution, the answer to the problem, the complete deliverance and the power to pass on to others the ability to overcome that which was a stronghold in their own life.

There is a life that was modeled by Christ, that we have the entitled privileged to grasp and envelop as our own, that is a far cry from the diluted state of what is now called being a Christian.

There is a life of discipleship and even greater of sonship through Christ that offers so much more in the way of power, authority, prosperity, joy and abundance is ALL areas of life itself.

It begins with opening all parts of our life to the Lordship of Christ, and seeking a hunger that burns within us to be all things in Christ. A desire that can only be birthed in us by God’s spirit alone. A weak and desperate cry is heard and honored by God in our willingness to even ask.

He supplies the Hunger, He supplies the love, He supplies the Faith, He supplies the Power, He supplies the victory, He supplies the promises, He supplies the abundance…..we simply supply the yes….over and over to anything and everything we supply the YES.

Jesus, I will cry out and I will ask, I will ask for more of you, more of your revelation, more of your spirit, more of your wisdom, more of the desire to love you, more of the desire to seek you, more of your lordship, until I embrace fully all that you have promised, all that you have freely given, all of the your gifts, until I live the abundant life to rule and reign with you, with power and authority as a complete son of God!!

24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Fruits & Gifts

Growing up in Pentecostal or charismatic circles, there was always a heavy emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, it is believed by many that the expression of the gifts especially that of the gift of tongues, is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

As I have grown to desire more of the gifts especially those gifts such as prophecy, miracles, healings and faith, I believe Holy Spirit has begun to widen my scope and view on the way the gifts work and how they are not a stand alone expression of God’s Spirit.

It is my belief, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are tools given to us in order to help foster the growth of and as a result of the working of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and NOT to be a substitute for them.

So how do I arrive at this conclusion?  Well I want to give you some of the following points to help clarify.

The bible tells us that “As a man in his heart, so is he” to paraphrase.  In essence this means that the outward behaviors and actions of a person are the result of the thoughts and emotions they have inside.

A behavior always starts as a thought or thinking pattern.  It is the mind that drives the body into action.

Just as with our minds and bodies, it is Christ, our head who drives us (His body) into action.  Just as Jesus could not act on His own without the direction and example of the Father, so we too, as the body are dictated by the direction of our head; Jesus Christ.

Every outward action of His body being a result of His thoughts and emotions.

Sometimes, it appears that the outward actions of a person are good, noble and even righteous (especially when we see what appears to be gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy or tongues) but when examining the intent behind such things and the heart condition of said people, it does not necessarily take long to discern what spirit is really in operation behind it.

It is much like seeing an apple that looks firm, ripe and delicious only to bite into it and find that it is soft, mushy and rotten inside.

Sometimes this may seem difficult at first to disseminate, but it is not impossible.  The fruit test, not the gift test ultimately tells us about the connection to God’s heart that a person has or may be lacking.

I want to be clear here as well, that when this is perceived, it should be our motivation not to criticize or condemn.  Our hearts must be in the right place and in line with the heart of Jesus – to see these persons come into the knowledge of God and to be connected to Him in deep relationship and to operate in the fullness of all that God has dreamed for them!

Part of my reason and really largely the reason for writing on this is to address why we have the gifts of Holy Spirit and the real motivation that should be partnered with them.

The gifts of Holy Spirit are for the sole purpose of expressing the love of God and fostering relationship and connection to His heart.  Everything that God does and is, is to that end.  If it is not motivated by that and to that end, simply put it is not of God’s design.

Am I saying that God cannot perform gifts through people who are not connected relationally to God?

No, the scriptures make it very clear that there are going to be many who can operate in faith and even the revelatory gifts but absolutely do not know God nor are they connected to His heart:

Matthew 7:21-23 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven.

22 Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name?

23 And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].

So what IS the will of God?  In the scriptures above Jesus explains that anyone who does the will of His Father keeps the Fathers commandments.   So what are His commandments?  Let’s examine what the Word says about this:

Jesus gives us the very simplistic mandate that is God’s will and His mandate or commandments for us:

Matthew 22:36-40Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

36 Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?]

37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).

38 This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment.

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.

40 These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Ok, so now we know what the commandment is which inherently expresses what Gods will or desire of us is; to love.  But, what does that look like?  How do we love?  What does love do?  What IS love?

The Apostle Paul gives a very in depth outline of this:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

4 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

6 It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

7 Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

8 Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].

So where does the fruit of the spirit come into play?  The fruit of the spirit is the result of the love of God reigning in our hearts.  It is the manifest evidence that the spirit of God lives in our hearts and has Lordship there and that we are connected relationally with God.

Galatians 5:22-23 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,

23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

It is this love, this nature and these attributes or characteristic “fruits”, that produces by default the great motivation and the power to operate in the gifts of the spirit in the way God has intended.

When we couple the heart of God with the gifts of God, then we see real power at work with the right motivation because we have the right connection to God – A relationship in which not only are we able to use His gifts, but we know Him and He knows us.

When Jesus performed miracles of healing, it was because He was overcome with compassion.

The definition of compassion:

sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

synonyms:  pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, charity

Compassion is the result of a heart that is ruled by love.

The gifts cannot and will not ever be a substitute for nor will they be evidence of relationship with God.  Ultimately, without relationship with God and coming to know and live out God’s heart (by demonstration of the fruits of the Spirit and keeping His commandments) the gifts of the Holy Spirit are useless to us in the context of being connected to God relationally, because exercising a gift is not the same as participating in intimate relationship.  Paul makes this abundantly clear when writing to the church at Corinth:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

13 If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such [a]as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 And if I have prophetic powers ([b]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).

3 Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.

As the new testament church, we want to see the gifts of the spirit manifested.  We want to see the sick healed, the cripple walk, to preach the gospel and bind up the broken hearts of people.  We welcome and desire these things greatly but we want to do so keeping the right order of priority.

We want and desire these things but not at the expense of sidestepping or neglecting the pursuit of love, of relationship with our God so that we may make His heart and His will our own.

1 Corinthians 12:31 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

31 But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all—love].

1 Corinthians 14:1 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

14 Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy ([a]interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching). 

Taking on the heart and will of God is not about being a servant, it is about becoming like God.  Manifesting His inherent nature and character through us because it is in our DNA to do so.

There is so much that God has for us and we must never allow ourselves to become so focused on one blessing that it robs us of all the others and especially that the blessings and gifts do not rob us of or supersede relationship.

Even if our love is weak, it is not through works or gifts that we grow stronger, it is in beholding God.  Spending time just in His presence, getting to know Him and be in relationship with Him, ultimately we come to revelation by experiencing God Himself.

To close, I want to offer the following excerpt from the teaching entitled Abiding in Love: Experiencing the Heart of God by Mike Bickle of IHOP.

“In 1 John 4:9, John declares how the love of God works in terms of our personal experience. John says we love Him because He first loved us. What he means by that is we love Him to the degree that we understand that He loves us. We will only love God to the measure that we see He loves us. In other words, the source of our love for God is rooted in our growing understanding of how much He loves us. Our love for God is actually a response to revelation of His love for us.

Our worship of God is a response to revelation of the love of God. We love more and we worship more when we see more. When we gain more revelation, more insight—I use the word revelation and insight interchangeably—when we gain more insight, we love more, and we worship more.

So whenever our love is weak, which mine is continually, I will focus my attention on gaining more understanding of how God feels about me. When I see the way God loves me, it tenderizes me, it changes the way I see myself, and it changes the way I see you.

The answer is always rooted in gaining more understanding, seeing more. I urge young people in their quest to love God with all of their heart, “Do not try harder, but see more. Focus on seeing more. Put your energy into gaining more understanding of the heart of God toward you instead of trying harder to love. Do not grit your teeth and determine this time you really mean it for real. Put your energy in seeing more, because when you see more, you will feel differently. You will see yourself differently; you will see people differently. On the inside you will feel differently, when you feel this glorious free love of God that He gives towards us.”

 

 

The Power of the Blood

A lot of Christians live a life of fear that there is the threat of Hell always looming over every mistake they make or over some outward thing about their life.  That believe God must be appeased or He will punish them and make them suffer and that ultimately He does not really love them or will withhold His love and goodness over the slightest infraction.

 

This kind of living is not only damaging to the Body of Christ, this testimony of such believers makes for a poor witness to those who wrestle with the same fears but are not yet believers of Christ.

 

Sadly, many Christians do not grasp the full scope of the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.  They act many times as if the blood will wear or wash off or that it’s redemptive power is only good if they are doing their part to make it work or maintain it.

 

As Christians, we need to repent of this – in other words we need to change our thinking and pray for greater revelation concerning the depths of power that is found in the blood of Jesus Christ.  A good place to pray from is Ephesians chapter 1 concerning this.

 

Unknowingly, by living this way, in their minds they dilute the power of the blood of Jesus Christ applied to their lives.  This is so often caused by religious thinking rather than having revelation.  Religious thinking is a counter-agent against the truth of the unfathomable power of the blood of Jesus Christ.  Paul the apostle emphatically addresses this in the scriptures:

 

Galatians 3:1-3

 

3 O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified?

 

2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?]

 

3 Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh?

 

They live a life that is devoid of real intimate relationship with God because they do not know His heart towards them.  God is not in the business of desiring to send people to Hell, making people grovel before Him or punish them. He is in the business of making people His children, and making His children into Kings and Priests who will rule and reign with power and authority beside Him both in this life and the next.

 

The simple truth is, that God desires that ALL should be saved and has absolutely NO desire that ANYONE should go to hell, but rather that we would experience abundant life and His love and Goodness and there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God.

 

In fact, did you know that God Himself is not responsible for anyone going to Hell?  Oh that sounds almost like heresy to religious thinking doesn’t it?  Truth be told, God does not send people to Hell just because He has a whim.  People make a choice to go to Hell themselves by consciously rejecting Christ, who was punished, died and even went to Hell for us.  He conquered them all (sin, death and hell) and has provided the atonement for righteousness and holiness, everlasting life and complete freedom from sin and it’s punishment.

 

God however, made us to be beings that have free will and to make our own choices because love requires free will to be given.  God cannot force Himself upon us and even though many will go to Hell because of their choice, it does not negate that God loved them and did everything He could do to offer them freedom and life.

 

There is nothing you need to do to appease God by your works in your own abilities to gain His acceptance and love and there is no terror, condemnation or fear of punishment to be experienced in relationship with God.

 

Everything has been provided to us through Jesus Christ.  Our acceptance of Him by simple faith forever nullifies the threat of Hell and gives us the full inheritance of a son of God.

 

Don’t believe me?  What does God Himself day about these things in His Word?

 

Concerning the Threat of Hell:

 

John 3:16-17

 

16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

 

17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

 

John 10:10 (Jesus Himself speaking)

 

10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [overflows).

 

What Jesus did on the cross not only is enough to save you from Hell, it is enough to keep you from Hell and to live a life that is fully righteous and full of grace and power to live holy.

 

Righteousness comes not from good works, but good works come from righteousness!

 

Simple faith and trust in Christ as your savior is what is required for salvation not your ability to do good deeds; complete trust from a love relationship with Him which He Himself initiates!

 

Ephesians 2:8

 

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

 

Concerning Fear of Punishment:

 

God is not looking for a reason to punish you nor is He in the business of withholding His love or goodness from you.  God is not a God of Karma.  Karma is not a concept any person should confuse with the nature and personality of God and is a lie that Christians should avoid embracing:

 

1 John 4:18

 

18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].

 

Romans 8:1-2

 

8 Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.

 

2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.

 

Finally, nothing can separate you from the love of God.  Not any situation, not any mistake not any failure.

 

God’s love for you is 100% at 100% of the time.  God loves you the way that He love Jesus – the way He loves Himself.  He is ALWAYS working for your benefit and good!

 

Romans 8:35-39

 

35 Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?

 

36 Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.

 

37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors [a]and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.

 

38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things [impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,

 

39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Start today to seek greater revelation of the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.  Purpose to no longer live in fear, but rather in faith that the blood not only has cleansed you but keeps you.

 

Live in freedom to pursue your dreams, make decisions and enjoy abundant life.  Your Father will direct you and guide you lovingly and has sent His Spirit to teach you, guide you and empower you.

 

Trust that the sin issue is conquered and your salvation is secure by faith.  You have kingdom business to be about and not cowering from defeated enemies!

Being Anxious For Nothing

The bible tells us to be anxious for nothing and not to have worry.  The bible also makes it very clear that we are not given to a spirit of fear.

Philippians 4:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:7New King James Version (NKJV)

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

So how do we reconcile and justify the fact that we have emotions of fear or even anxiety when something happens to us?  Are we sinning when we have an emotional response from something that causes fear or anxiety?

Does God expect us to act in a sublime fashion as if nothing has happened at all?

The answer in short is no.

God created us fearfully and wonderfully.  God expects us to have emotions and feelings.  This is how we experience things in the natural.  We experience joy, love, anger, fear and so on.

Having a feeling of fear or anxiety is not a sin and it is not wrong for us to experience these things in the right context and manner.

Our bodies have a natural fight or flight response that is an automatic body response that takes over when we are startled or come into a situation where our safety is threatened.

It is natural to feel physical and mental effects from these scenarios.  It is also natural that our emotions can be affected as well.

A person who gets up to speak in front of a crowd may experience nervousness or anxiety before or during their presentation.  Again, a natural biological and mental reaction that ultimately stems from our fight or flight response.

Yet another example is that we may have grief and anxiety when a loved one is hurt, ill or passes away.

There is no doubt in my mind that Abraham was overcome with emotions of anxiety and worry when the Lord told him to sacrifice his son Isaac.

Even Jesus wept when He stood before the tomb of Lazarus.

So the question is not whether we can experience fear or anxiety. The question is whether or not we give it dominion over us and accept the appearance of the situation as the final truth over what God’s Word says.

Ultimately, we must give first place to the Word of God as absolute truth which means that we act in faith and not fear.

In the scriptures I presented earlier, Jesus and Paul both are talking about a mindset, a paradigm, a way of thinking and living, not merely a reaction to something we experience.

Jesus wants us to have faith in Him.  Jesus told the disciples that He would never leave them and was in them and with them until the end of the world.

I may experience fear or anxiety, but I don’t have to hold onto it.  I can give it to Jesus to bear for me.  When I am weakest, He is strong for me.

Jesus also told the disciples that He would leave His peace with them, not the peace of the world, but His peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ because the spirit of God lives in us and because that spirit lives in us, fear has no place of dominion in our hearts and minds.  Rather, love rules and reigns casting out all fear.

All of these things still extend to us all as believers.

God designed our confidence and our ability to overcome fear and anxiety on a relational basis.

Our confidence and courage comes from revelation that God loves us so much and that He is always for us and has nothing but good for us.  It also comes from a revelation that God wants to and will meet or needs, but not only our needs, He wants to fulfill our hopes and dreams.

This is why for yet another reason the prayer that Paul the Apostle prays in Ephesians 1 is so important for us to continue to pray over ourselves and the Body of Christ:

Ephesians 1:15-21New King James Version (NKJV)

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Ultimately, we were not created to be subdued by fear or to wrestle ongoing with anxiety.  We were created to be conquerors, overcomers and to rule and reign with Christ.

We don’t have to pretend we don’t have emotions or reactions to things that happen to us in life, we just don’t have to be a slave to them, for we have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God that rose Jesus from the grave living in us.

From faith to faith, glory to glory, through Christ, we will triumph over all things.