A Man (or Woman) After God’s Own Heart

Have you ever experienced a revelation from the Holy Spirit that is correction but you knew that it was for the purpose of bringing greater levels of anointing and relationship with Jesus?

I would say without a doubt if you are a Christian you most certainly have and if you haven’t come to understand it that way, hang on because you will!

This is why I have come to love repentance; because it is a revelatory gift from God.

David understood this and it is one of the big reasons why he was a man after God’s own heart.

The church has had generations to confuse things in their ongoing drive to put God into the confines of religion. The church has equated repentance with sin, shame and condemnation – something that has been turned into a public exhibition of a person’s sin and a denial of self-worth in some manner of misguided self-redemption and apology to God.  The church has got it all wrong.

The scriptures tell us the God is always, and I do mean always, working for our good.

Romans 8:28 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

28 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Jesus is not a part time lover, He is a dedicated husband that is inseparable in His makeup from us – His body and His bride.  He is not going to keep His bride in ignorance or in the dark.  He is going to reveal His nature and glory to her so that she (we the church) are transformed into His image.

Of course, there is often times feelings of remorse and even weeping that sometime can come with repentance, but genuine repentance to the believer that understands it as a process of revelation.   in fact it is a gift, and it is seen as a love gesture, a promotion and edification.

When Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness it is never to get us to grovel or to shame us.  Holy Spirit is always trying to show us the glory (the manifest nature) of Jesus Christ.  That Jesus is going to do everything in His power to help us become the bride that John writes about in Revelation chapter 19.

This repentance then is an act of obedience on our part that steps us up in revelation knowledge, knowing more about the inherent mind, heart and emotions of God – In essence we have taken a step to become more like Him, being further transformed into His image.

Some time ago the Holy Spirit really ramped up His thoughts regarding how I speak about, treat, honor and love the body of Jesus Christ.

I have always had an affinity for the body, ever since God began moving me into the realm of ministry and the pursuit of becoming a pastor, but as I officially entered that calling specifically, there was a much more significant importance and raised standard put into my heart by Holy Spirit.

This continues to be an ongoing revelation of the inseparability between Jesus and the Body of Christ when it comes to having relationship with Him.

There has been a higher expectation communicated to me about what God wants for me and from me in terms of my relationship with His body.  To not only love His body but to passionately fall in love with His body with the love of Jesus.

It is after all, an inseparable part of being in love with Jesus Christ.   That means changing the way I speak, the way I see, the way I deal with and what I do for the body of Christ.

I was once again reminded this week as I studied in the word about the importance of this:

1 Peter 4:10-11 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)  

10 As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the [f]extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor].

Our gifts and callings are for the benefit of each other and for the body at large.  Our perspective has to be for the good of others – in love towards them.  Love has to be our motivation and our purpose.

11 Whoever speaks, [let him do it as one who utters] oracles of God; whoever renders service, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever (through endless ages). Amen (so be it).

Whoever speaks – let it be prophetic; declaring the heart, emptions, mind and love of God over one another always.  Our words should always be for the edification and encouragement of each other (speaking as oracles).  Whenever we render service, let our gifts (spiritual and natural) be executed with all our strength to the benefit of others that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ that lives in us.

Repentance is also an exercise in humility.

God loves humility and loves it when we humble ourselves and He gives such rewards for it both in the way of revelation gained but also in the power of God’s grace!

James 4:6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) 

6 But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).

Repentance becomes a mile marker in our lives of revelation given by God having been applied by us.  Repentance becomes the evidence of humility at work in lives as well as the evidence that God is so interested in everything that we do and are and that He has made us for good works!

It shows us that He sees us and watches us and is always speaking to us to elevate and empower us.  Repentance is a vital part of our growth and should be something that we embrace with welcome arms –for with every opportunity for repentance comes opportunity for revelation and power from Holy Spirit.

Repentance is a gracious opportunity for us to see God’s heart, mind and emotions and to adopt His ways as our own.

 

 

Relationship, Covenant, Marriage

Today, marriage is on a slippery slope.  More and more millennials and even other generations have decided to shake off the need for “traditional marriage” instead, opting to simply live together.  After all, marriage is just a piece of paper right?

Well, to answer that question in short, no, marriage is not just a piece of paper.  Marriage is an institution that was created by God.  God is in the business of relationship and He is certainly in the business of honor and love.  In fact, love is not just something that God does, it is what He IS.

God designed us for two primary reasons; first to love Him and to be loved by Him and secondly to experience relationship with Him.  A huge part of our relationship with Him comes through our relationship with each other.

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

36 Teacher, which [a]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 [b]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.

 

But, we aren’t just talking about relationship or love, we are talking about covenant and God is all about having covenant with those He is in relationship with and for us as His children to be in covenant with one another.

So why would two people want to unite in marriage and a marriage covenant?

Marriage is a very special kind of covenant because it is where two people actually become as one person and are connected not only on a physical and mental level, but a spiritual level as well.

God designed relationships to have intimacy and marriage has its own unique and exclusive forms of intimacy that cannot be experienced outside of the boundaries of marriage between a woman and a man.  The level of relational commitment, love, honor, transparency and exclusivity mirror our relationship and covenant with Jesus Christ in the highest possible way for natural relationships.

More and more, we see the church embracing world systems of thinking and world standards concerning the declining importance of and definition of marriage rather than those that are biblically defined and upheld by Jesus Christ.

Putting aside for just a moment the doctrinal issues of doing this, it presents a huge dilemma for believers because it begins to erode the foundations of what relationship and covenant with Jesus Christ are and the exclusivity of our relationship with Him.

If we as the church begin to allow the boundaries of marriage in the natural to be compromised and the exclusivity and honor of marriage becomes less than what it is as defined by God to be, then we soon find ourselves in danger of allowing the same compromises to infiltrate and destroy our relationship, intimacy and exclusivity with Jesus Christ.

In the context of intimate relationship between a man and a woman, there is no equal experience to marriage.  In the context of intimate relationship between us and Jesus Christ there is no equal experience to marriage.  The natural mirrors the supernatural and in all of the scriptures, throughout all of creation and the ages we see the truth of this.

Hebrews 12:2 paints a picture of the type of love, commitment, honor and selflessness that covenant and marriage can produce as exemplified by Jesus Himself:

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.

The write of Hebrews refers to the “joy” that was set before Jesus.  That joy, is us; His bride, His beloved.

Jesus, looked into the future and saw us as we are in Revelation chapter 19 –

7 Let us rejoice and shout for joy [exulting and triumphant]! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor, for the marriage of the Lamb [at last] has come, and His bride has prepared herself.

8 She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white—for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people).

9 Then [the angel] said to me, Write this down: Blessed (happy, [b]to be envied) are those who are summoned (invited, called) to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me [further], These are the true words (the genuine and exact declarations) of God.

Marriage, allows for us to see beyond ourselves and gives us an opportunity to see the very best in another and to love and honor them as the person God is calling them to be.  Marriage gives us a unique place in another person’s life to be a part of the journey and experience to fulfil their destiny in Christ.

It allows us to speak into, influence and love through things that only covenant relationship can bring about; things that only the deepest of commitments and the most selfless of acts can produce.

Through the experience of marriage, it can help us grow in the revelation knowledge that we are not only the one that Jesus love, but we are the one that Jesus is in love with.

While God has called some people to a life of celibacy for the sake of his kingdom, overall, marriage is a gift from God that we have an option to experience and for anyone who is involved in intimate relationship with a member of the opposing gender, the benefits of joy, intimacy, relationship and fulfillment cannot be imitated or argued.

God has created us for love, for relationship and for covenant.  We as the church must always strive to see the model and example set by God as not confining rules, but as treasure that elevates our life to the fullest of joy and satisfaction.

John 15:11 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

11 I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.

Desire Over Obligation

I have a bible app on my smart phone as most Christians probably do and I get daily versus that will pop up during the day.

Today was no different than any other day other than the fact of the scripture that popped up.  Normally, I read the scriptures and I might meditate on them for a short while, but today’s scripture caught my eye especially.

I have been learning how to listen to Holy Spirit more deeply, how God speaks to us in ways that are outside normal perceived channels of communication but have much meaning.

I have learned and continue to learn that God speaks to us in a variety of ways.  Jesus taught in parables and stories.  Often times God will speak to us through repetition.  It may be a repetition of a word, a color, a number or even a line of thinking.

This scripture fell right in line with a line of thinking that God has been dealing with me on for several months.

To summarize, I think we as Christians often miss out on relational experiences because we attribute so much of who God is to only one characteristic of His overall personality; Almighty Sovereign God.

In no way do I mean to diminish His glory or the awesomeness of God.  We should have a reverential respect of our Father in heaven and even for Jesus as the risen Messiah but we cannot simply leave the personality of God as being one dimensional.

I think for many Christians including myself, we have a tendency to see this primarily as the scope of who God is and perhaps hidden fear has kept us from really finding out Who God is and what He is like.

It has occurred to me of late however, I wonder if God ever gets tired of our tiptoeing around and going through tradition and pomp and circumstance? As if we respect or even love God through what we have been taught as “reverential fear or respect” of God, but never even have a moment of connection that is equivalent to that of a son and father, a best friend or even a close buddy?

I know some people will probably shy away from my views as borderline “sacrilegious” regarding the perceived “casual” nature of my suggested interactions with God, but what kind of relationship did God have with Abraham?

God called Abraham His friend, He sat with Abraham, ate with him and He cut covenant with Abraham.  There is no more intimate relationship than that.

Intimacy is a funny thing because it opens up a familiarity that “acquaintances” in our social circles don’t necessarily share with us.  For instance, with my wife or my best friend, I can be vulnerable without judgement.  I can share an inside joke that is only known and funny to us.  If our relationships with people are a mirror of what relationship with God is about, why wouldn’t He also enjoy these things and those dynamics of relationship as well?

Is God not interested in our dreams? Our fantasies, our imaginations?  Is He not interested in the small everyday common things that affect us or are in our hearts and thought lives?  Of course He is!

The bible tells us that the very hairs on our heads are numbered.  If God is willing to go into that kind of detail over our physical outside, just imagine how on the edge of His throne He is about our hearts and minds, even the things that other people don’t have time for!

So, to bring this together, the idea that God has been hitting me with for some time is the idea of family and friendship instead of being a servant.  To really begin to see God’s heart and mind about me and our relationship.

The relational dynamics conversely between friend and servant are different in so many ways that I can’t list them all here but one I want to mention primarily is motivation.  A servant’s motivation to please is one of obligation.  Servants feel they have to do this or that to please God so that God won’t be angry or He will see them favorably.  Their focus is one of working and appeasement.  Family and intimate friend’s motivation to please is one of desire.  I take joy in seeing my wife smile and laugh when I joke with her and seeing her eyes light up when I tell her how beautiful she looks.  She benefits from my desire to please and I benefit from the joy of seeing her happy.  It is the same with God.

I cannot help but see the truth of this in my relationship with God the more He reveals about Himself to me.

So you are probably wondering what scripture could have possibly spurned me to finally write a blog post about these things God has been showing me.

Look no Further:

Isaiah 29: 13

13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning],

It is apparent to me that God is addressing the issue of religious tradition and dogmatic practices that mean nothing to the observer.  Even those things that are observed as “reverential”, “fearful” or “respectful” they are nothing more than rote memorization of practices taught out of obligation and by commandment of men, being practiced in vain repetition.

We can know all the right phrases to say, we can speak all the “church speak” we want, interjecting “amen’s” and “hallelujahs” in all the right places.  We can go to all the church services, we can attend every Sunday school class.  We can even observe all the right behaviors and ordinances but without that deep connection of loving intimacy, friendship, and honor and respect based in our hearts AND from our lips, we can never fully give God what He is due or receive from Him what He wants to give us in terms of our relationship with Him.

God wants family who are also friends.  God has always recognized His prophets as His friends because He tells His friends the secrets of His heart.  Abraham was called a prophet and God’s friend and we being children of Abraham and sharing in his inheritance are in the same sense prophets and friends of God.  Even more, we are His family and He wants nothing more than to share the depths of love and goodness He has in His heart for us.

God does not want cookie cutter religious automatons, He wants children with His nature and a free will to know their identity; one that is unique, special and full of His spirit.  God is not looking for groveling slaves, He is looking for family who will share their hearts and minds with Him and make decisions based on His character and DNA that resides in us.  He is looking for people that can have a unique and individual relationship with him and an identity found in Him alone for the purpose of ruling and reigning.

We need to tear down our small mindedness and ways of thinking and embrace the mind of Christ, seeing ourselves as God sees us and bringing our hearts and minds boldly and fully into His presence.

We will honor Him because of our desire to not because we are obligated to.

 

ALWAYS for Your Good

God is ALWAYS working for your good.  Even when we are enduring pain and sorrow, God always gives us beauty for ashes and he can take our mistakes and use them to bring about great victory, life and even purpose!

As I was reading Genesis 3 I came across the scriptures where God told Eve that her sorrows would be multiplied and that she would bear children because of her disobedience.

I have heard preachers in the past preach this as a punishment or even a curse and even using it in some way to try and show that God “put women in their place” because Eve made such a mistake.

This is common theology and it is so prevalent in much of Christian teaching.  As I read and thought, I wondered, where is the heart of God in this?  God IS LOVE and He is for us not against us and is always working for our benefit.  Even before the cross, the heart and emotions of God have always been that of love and as our Father.

So how could I find the spirit of the prophetic in this?  How could I see the loving heart of God in this?

What became ironic to me is that as I read that scripture over and was studying on it was that God did not say to Eve that He was punishing her, nor did He ever place a curse on her.  He did say that he would multiply her pain and sorrow and that there was a consequence for her actions but prior to letting Eve know this, God himself prophesied victory over the seed of Satan from the Seed of Eve!  God declared Jesus in that scripture as the seed that would bruise the head of Satan as He crushed Satan underfoot!

As I read it, I reflected on the process of a woman carrying a baby, delivering a baby and nurturing a young child is very hard, tiring and painful.  It takes a toll on women both emotionally and physically.

It was however, the necessary process through which a child could be born, that without the process (even though tiresome, painful and emotional) without woman to endure and persevere, there would be no continuation or carrying on of new life.

Here is the really awesome part though, through that process, through that responsibility that God placed on a woman and wife comes the salvation for all of mankind.

It was through this process and through the mistake of Eve that God set up the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ.

It was in this that I saw God’s heart and the spirit of the prophetic.  God could have cursed Eve, He could have punished her however He saw fit, but in the midst of her mistake, He gave her a purpose, an identity that was so unique and He planted the seed for the greatest honor – to bring forth into flesh God Himself!  Yes, there was pain and work but there was also joy and such love that was released from it!

As I began to realize this, it also made me begin to understand the reason why the anti-Christ spirit has such a stronghold in the area of abortion.

Killing babies is nothing new from a biblical study historically.  It happened to the Jews on more than one occasion.  Most prominently prior to the birth of Moses and of Jesus.

Both of which came to deliver God’s people from bondage and captivity, one in the natural the other in the spiritual.

As I looked at this it began to occur to me that the enemy used knowledge that was prophetically shared to God’s people to formulate a plan that ultimately failed.

In both instances Satan used the killing of innocent babies to try and stop the hand of God.  Both times, he failed.

So now I asked myself, why is abortion so important to the enemy?  Why would killing unborn babies be so important to the agenda of the anti-Christ outside the obvious that Satan hates mankind because God loves us and we are His children.

It seemed to click, Satan knows that His time is short, He also knows that God plans to pour out his spirit on ALL flesh in these end times.  I believe that God is raising up forerunners now and the coming generations will be the ones who will comprise the numbers of the glorious and victorious church, the church that will walk with power, victory and authority like never seen before.

For Satan, it is about keeping an impending army from happening.  He is trying to limit the numbers and effectiveness of the Army of God.

This is not a new tactic, it has been practiced for millennia by mankind.

The enemy has deceived so many women with spiritual espionage and tricked them into doing his work for him with the same initial lie that he deceived Eve with.

He is afraid of who might arise, who God may anoint and what damage these unborn individuals may have on his kingdom and being the coward that he is, he kills the helpless, the defenseless.

But, there is hope and good news.  Despite what the enemy has done historically and even though his tactics remain the same, so will his ultimate failure.

God is going to raise up his pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists and apostles.  God is going to bring forth what He has purposed to do.

 

It’s ALL About Love

I love it when I find parallelisms in scripture.  I also love it when I find that Jesus is making references to one thing but it has much deeper implications that affect something else.

Case in point; much of what is often taught in the scriptures has a benefit or ramifications in the natural and supernatural simultaneously.

We see that both Jesus and Paul the Apostle taught about the natural and supernatural law of sowing and reaping as well as other things that have dual influence.

As I was meditating on a couple of thoughts that I have preached on and often discussed with others, I thought to myself I have never really just sat down and did a side by side comparison in writing.

There are two areas of scriptures that I want to compare today and for this reason; to show that the benefits of God come not necessarily from our pursuit of the blessing or benefit but from the pursuit of Jesus.  This is true both in the natural and spiritual.

Matthew 6:33 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

33 But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

Matthew 22:37-40 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

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.

Romans 8:32Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

32 He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?

 

A seed contains both the life and the fruit that will be born from it.  Only the seed can produce the fruit and give the life to the tree.

So, for all the fruit that we desire (which is Godly) we have to not simply desire the fruit but me must seek the seed, for the seed contains all the life and abundance within it.

God knows that we have needs, He also knows that we have desires.  God wants to give us the desires of our hearts more than we ourselves desire them.

The problem often becomes that our focus is pointed towards the natural needs and desires of our bodies and minds as well as the spiritual blessings and gifts we desire from God.

If we pursue those things and desire those things more than we desire and pursue love and intimacy with God, they can become idols.  Yes I said Idols.  ANYTHING that usurps the position of love and relationship with God and robs those things of having preeminence in our lives can and do become idols.  Even the benefits, blessings and gifts of God.

I believe that Jesus taught and gave the two commandments because this is the seed of relationship.  Within the seed of relationship is contained the fruit of relationship; our needs, our desires, gifts, blessings for both the natural and spiritual.

Even our theology and doctrine is found in this seed of love and relationship.

God’s love for us conveys His heart to give us all things; spiritual gifts, power, authority, destiny, callings, abundance, wisdom, favor, finances, the list can go on and on.

All of these things being fruit contained in the seed.

So we see that our sufficiency is in God and in Him alone.  Our identity is simply this – You are a son of God.  Your purpose is simply this – to love God and to be loved by God.  These two things are part of the seed of love and relationship with God.  Everything that happens as a result of that or to experience that are the fruits born from the seed.

SO what am I saying?  If we desire blessings and favor in the natural, then we will naturally see these things by default when we make our pursuit and relationship with God the first and foremost endeavor.

When we want to gain a greater spirit of wisdom and revelation about how God loves us, what our role in the kingdom is, what our calling is, we love Him with all that we are.

In doing so, those spiritual things we desire; the gifts of the Holy Spirit, ministry, purpose, they will all be given and are a benefit of our real identity and ultimate purpose – to love God.

We know that God will withhold nothing from us, but as we love Him and pursue Him, we discover the treasures of His heart and He cannot help but do what is in His nature to do for us; to bless us, empower us, give us gifts, enlighten us about His love and grace.

Do you seek the gifts of the spirit?  Focus on loving God.  Do you seek greater financial blessings?  Focus on loving God.  Do you want to understand your calling?  Focus on loving God.

Nothing will be withheld, all will be given by default without our need to pursue or work for any of the blessings or gifts of God.  They are all fruits contained within the seed – which itself is the ultimate reward – to love God and to be loved by Him.

Fear Not…

The enemy wants to steal our joy and our relationship with our heavenly Father by trying to keep us focused on fear; fear of making mistakes, fear of failure, fear of falling down and most of all fear that God will be angry with us when we do.

God is not angry when we miss the mark, in fact God is excited to watch us as we take steps out in faith trusting the wisdom and the Mind of Christ He gives us because of His spirit being alive within us.

God is not disappointed, He is not taken aback when we don’t get it “perfect”. He is continuously telling you, He loves you, He is proud of You, you can do so much more!

He is there to pick you up just like a toddler learning to walk, taking steps, unbalanced and uncoordinated. He picks you up and holds your hand and encourages you to take steps on your own, listening to His voice behind you, guide you, teaching you, encouraging you.

This is the Dad that I have in my heavenly Father, this is the awesome big brother I have in Jesus. These are the ones who do not make me slave or servant, but love me as family.

It’s time to change your paradigm, it’s time to change your theology and doctrine through revelation, that this is a family relationship that is entirely wrapped up in and about love between Father God’s heart and our own.

Welcoming the Truth

I will be the first to admit, I am no expert on eschatology, although I do find the revelation of Jesus Christ to be amazing.  I find it so not because of the apocalyptic nature often assigned to the book by Christians who study it but rather because of the fact that in spite of all the prophetic things it speaks of concerning the world, I am excited about the prophetic things it declares about us, the church – His beloved.

For the believer, the book of Revelation should not be a book of fear but one of celebration!  The reason why?  Because the book of revelation reveals the heart of Jesus towards us!  It also shows that we will be perfected by His righteousness and we will walk into the greatest depths of glory, power, righteousness and holiness that the world has ever seen!

So why do I bring this up as someone who is not an accomplished student of eschatology?  To speak to a point concerning deception and fear that often grips Christians of being deceived by the anti-Christ.

As I was reading II Thessalonians, I came across some of the writings of Paul that deal with the anti-Christ and apostasy.  Paul notes in his writings that before the anti-Christ rises into power that apostasy will increase and the rejection of Christ as the exclusive means to salvation and sanctification will be rejected.

We see this happening more and more in the western church.  With the introduction of universalism and the doctrines of demons that Paul talks about opening the way to challenge the institutions God has set forth such as marriage between a man and a woman and the deliberate misuse of grace as a means to justify sin rather than as a power to practice holiness and righteousness born out of an intimate love for Jesus Christ.

With all of these things going on, there has for many years been a hostile fear and protectionism that has developed in the church over doctrine.  So much so, to the point that the fear has caused division in the body of Christ and often supersedes the commandment to love one another!

Church members will shred each other to ribbons and withhold honor and love over arguments of doctrine and much of it is rooted in a fear of being deceived by the enemy and ultimately believing a lie and being lost.

The truth is however, that God did not give us over to a spirit of fear, but one of sound mind and of love.

As I read these scriptures in II Thessalonians 2, it became clear to me who was in danger of being deceived, and it is NOT the Body of Christ living by faith – a new creation in Christ.  As I read this, I saw parallelism between these writings and what Paul writes in Romans Chapter 1.

II Thessalonians 2:9-12

The coming [of the lawless one, the antichrist] is through the activity and working of Satan and will be attended by great power and with all sorts of [pretended] miracles and signs and delusive marvels—[all of them] lying wonders—

10 And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved.

11 Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false,

12 In order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on] the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.

Paul makes it very clear that those who embrace and love wickedness are the ones who will be given a delusion and God will send them a misleading influence and they will believe what is false.

We see this sentiment echoed as I mentioned in Romans 1 when Paul said that those who reject God as creator are given over to a debased mind, not merely because of sin but because of their refusal to acknowledge God and their blatant rebellious rejection of Jesus Christ.  Paul outlines that no man is without excuse because the knowledge of God is born in every man.

Romans 1:16-21

16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,

17 For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.

18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],

21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

Those who embrace and kiss the son of God, they have nothing to fear regarding being deceived by the anti-Christ, for they are born of the Spirit of God and have the mind of Christ.

Not even the demonstration of (so called) gifts, signs, wonders and miracles will sway the hearts of those who are in love with Jesus.  The world that rejects Jesus Christ as Messiah will embrace a false Christ based on the demonstration of “gifts, signs and wonders” and of teachings that identify with their rebellious hearts and minds.

This should speak to us as believers that as we desire gifts, miracles, signs and wonders we must ultimately pursue love – love of Jesus Christ and of His beloved people, because out of the overflow of that love – which births the catalyst that fuels the gifts of the Holy Spirit will we see the genuine article.

We must pursue first and foremost with all fervency the God of the gifts rather than the gifts themselves.  We must let unconditional love, the love of God become our doctrine and our theology.

Is it possible for the enemy to entrap us from time to time?  Yes, it is possible but being tricked by the enemy and being completely deceived because of blatant and rebellious rejection of Jesus Christ are two entirely different things.

The Word of God tell us that Jesus is faithful to finish the work He has begun in us and we must by faith be wrapped up in that rather than gripped by fear that the enemy is stronger and can destroy the living truth of revelation that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Don’t live in fear, for the Holy Spirit lives in you, the fullness of God dwells in you and is your teacher and guide that will lead you into all truth and understanding.

The world that rejects Christ will be those that embrace heresy, false teachings, doctrines of demons and denounce Christ.

It won’t be because they have not known who Jesus Christ is, it will be because they do and they choose not to welcome Him as Lord and savior.

To Be Great

The world teaches us by their standards that to achieve greatness, we alone must be better than all others who stand in our way and as a competitor to defeat anything or anyone that steps into our path.

The world teaches us that to be considered a real leader we must stand alone by merits of our own will and strength that others may see us as an example to which they can aspire.

As believers we have to put off the standards and ways of thinking of the world and ask, what does heavenly greatness and leadership look like?

We know that Jesus set an example in all things concerning how to live our lives and walking in favor, greatness and leadership is no exception.

Jesus made it very clear that Godly ambitions and leadership are not about serving one’s own self-interests, but serving the interests of His kingdom.

What is the one of the biggest way that we in the natural achieve this?  By releasing His love, serving others and helping to restore and grow relationship with God in those who are in our sphere of influence.

I am not talking about doing good works as a means to an end, because works in of themselves in this line of thinking are usually motivated by the wrong intent.

Jesus addressed this when He instructed the disciples about fasting and praying; that if the reason is self-serving, whatever fleeting glory comes in that moment is the reward they will receive.

Our motivation has to be that which is given by Christ and our drive to do such things has to be driven by the love of Jesus at work through us.

Matthew 20 (AMPC)

25 And Jesus called them to Him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men hold them in subjection [tyrannizing over them].

26 Not so shall it be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,

27 And whoever desires to be first among you must be your slave—

28 Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free].

Jesus tells us in John 15:13

John 15:13 (AMPC)

13 No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.

I believe Jesus’ words have a dual meaning in John 15.  A man can show great love by giving up his life in an encapsulated moment by which he dies for a specific purpose; which Jesus did on the cross, but I believe that the deeper lesson that Jesus is showing us is that in true love and desire for greatness in the Kingdom of God, the greater sacrifice is a daily laying down of our lives for others – loving them, serving them and uplifting them with encouragement.

The way for one to be exalted in the Kingdom of God is by exalting others.  The way to be honored in the kingdom of God is to honor others.

In the Kingdom of God, nothing is self-serving.  To the world, humility and meekness are weak, but in the Kingdom of God they are powerful and greater measures of grace are given to those who walk in humility (James chapter 4).

Are you struggling with knowing your purpose?  Are you feeling that your God given aspirations and ambitions are not clear or are not coming to fruition?

Don’t fear, instead delight in the journey and put your eyes onto others; serving, encouraging, strengthening, teaching and most importantly loving.  You will find that not only will God bring your ambitions to bear but will do so with the right motivations of heart and will fully prepare you through the process of the journey as He ultimately reveals your calling in the body of Christ.

Blessings and Stewardship

As people, we love to get things, to have things, to receive gifts.  Equally as believers we love to be blessed, prospered, favored and enjoy the benefits of grace.

As with everything there can be extremes on both sides especially where Christian living is concerned.  With grace we can see historically in scriptures and even today everything from licentiousness to legalism.  Part of being a believer is learning how to navigate our freedoms in Christ while at the same time understanding His expectations and our responsibilities as a member of a larger body.

Grace is often a point of contention and there are a lot of arguments that take place about it in the body of Christ.  There are some who believe in what I like to refer to as the “benefits of grace” and are fully acquainted with those benefits, especially the freedom from all that the law demands of us.

While I fully appreciate and believe that we should take advantage of every gift of grace, I also believe there is a balancing point that requires us to also understand, embrace and operate in what I refer to as the “power of grace”.

Grace is not merely a benefit package, nor is it merely a bridge that spans our inadequacies with the immeasurable mercy, goodness and gifts of Jesus Christ.  It is also a source of power, one by which we conquer sin and we live a life not only of “existing” in a state of holiness and righteousness but we begin to “practice” holiness and righteousness.

Understand, I fully believe that what we do is not accomplished in our own strength but by complete and utter reliance on the Holy Spirit.  We do however, play a part.  That is that we must be willing to submit to the leadership of and act upon the instruction of the Holy Spirit to partner for the release of His power and kingdom.

Another area that is a very hot topic regarding this line of thinking is finances and money.  This is perhaps one of the most debated and discussed topics in the body of Christ.

Again, we have two differing extreme points of view one being that we are already rich and fully entitled to wealth and prosperity based on our identity and the other that being poor or having no desires or attachments to things is a form of holiness.

For me both extremes do not quite hit the mark.  I have to admit, my beliefs lie in favor of blessing, prosperity and all of our needs being met in Christ because of grace.  I do not believe that we must keep the law in order to receive the blessings and promises that are associated with keeping it.  I believe that because we are a new creation by faith in Christ, we become eligible to receive every benefit, blessing and promise from Christ because HE fulfilled it and is our righteousness.

I do not however subscribe to the idea that we just sit back and put ourselves on “spiritual welfare” and have no active participation or responsibility in the matter of finances, blessings, promises as well as every other area of our Christian walk.

I also believe that poverty is a curse.  I know that because of Christ, we no longer live under a curse however, I do believe people as believers can still embrace a spirit of poverty which is a deceived line of thinking from the enemy that tries to equate holiness with being poor.

The main area I want to discuss however is not the two extremes in points of view but rather what are the expectations and responsibilities of believers in regards to our finances and blessings?

We know that God gives blessing, favor and gifting’s not simply to squander on ourselves.  We are a recipient of the blessing, yet with every blessing and gift, I believe we should look at it through the context of the two great commandments; to love God and to love those around us.

I am not saying that God does not ever want us to enjoy something that He gives us exclusively for ourselves or for our family, but everything that God blesses us with can be in some way a tribute to the kingdom of God and the body of Christ.

For instance, I love motorcycles (although I don’t currently own one).  Some Christians might say “you could use the money to feed the poor instead of buying a luxury item for yourself”, but what parent does not want to give good gifts to their children?  Should we expect our own children on Christmas and birthdays to donate all their toys to others and never have anything that brings them joy?

I think the obvious answer is of course not!  I can also use a motorcycle in a way that honors God.  Most times when I ride, I spend a lot of time in prayer and worship.  A motorcycle is also a way for me to connect to others with similar interests and to operate in ministry.

The problem herein lies when we are never conscious of the kingdom and we ONLY use our finances and blessings to satisfy our desires without using wisdom.

God wants us to be stewards.  Why would He want us to be stewards and to have control and wisdom in these areas?  Because He is training us to be kings and rulers over great things.  He gives us smaller tasks and treasures so that we may learn to reign and rule over things and desires with authority, rather than letting them rule over us.

God teaches us to be patient and to discuss things with Him to gain wise counsel instead of giving into our impulses to gratify ourselves and perhaps put ourselves into financial or some other type of peril.

God gives us many blessings for us to enjoy personally, but by far and in large and ultimately, His blessings are given to produce fruit, to give increase to serve the Kingdom of God and body of Christ.

We see this in the parable of the talents.

Additionally, one of the issues that Christians often deal with is over expenditures because of blessing and prosperity.  We live in a world and culture of excess, gratification and keeping up with the person next door.  This is largely because we as the church have accepted (sometimes unconsciously) the standards and measures of the world.  We define ourselves as blessed and prosperous many times by the things we have and at the same time find ourselves up to our eyeballs in debt.

One has to honestly ask themselves, if I am in debt up to my eyeballs, was it really God blessing me or did I not use wisdom with the blessing God gave me?  I speak not from a standpoint of judgement but from one of experience and I include myself as a member of the audience I address, in fact I would be a front row attendee.

Ultimately, I believe God blesses us because He loves us and He wants us to enjoy our lives, but more importantly I think He blesses us to see what we will do with it.  Will we be as He is?  Will we be willing to serve and give to others in some way?  Will our thoughts and hearts be towards blessing others in the body, taking on the nature and character of God Himself?  As I previously eluded to, I don’t believe that every single blessing we receive is something God expects us to share and give away to others and that there is never anything exclusively for us alone, I believe that God is concerned about our heart in the larger context of things He entrusts us with.

This is why I believe giving offerings and tithing is important to God’s heart.  Not from a legal standpoint to fulfill the law, but rather because we want to be like Him.  He is a giver, it is His nature and character to give and to bless, He cannot be anything other than good.

I want to be a giver in this respect and learn to be more like our heavenly Father.

I often hear people say and I have been guilty of thinking and saying it myself that “if I were rich I would give away so much to so many” or “I would pay for a new church and bless our pastors”, but I have to examine myself and ask would I in fact do that? Do I practice this on a smaller scale with what I am blessed with now?  How do I manage and steward over what I have now?  Do I find myself being content and fulfilled with where God has me in my finances and in the things I own?  Can I put my appetites under my feet and trust that God will give me abundance for my desires and at the same time be willing to share in what I currently have to release my blessings back into the kingdom of God no matter how small they may seem in the eyes of men?

In all things, we must use wisdom and seek the heart of God.  The question should be “God what do you want to teach me in this area of my life?”

On another note from the other end of the spectrum, my wife and I have had to discipline ourselves to accept a blessing and gift when it is given from others.  By that I mean, we have also struggled with the notion of not taking a blessing from someone else in some misguided form of sincerity.  Now, we humbly give our gratitude when someone blesses us in some way like paying for our meal and we pray that God rewards them for it.

We also bless others when we are able and do so not because we feel we have to meet some spiritual quota but because we want to be more like Jesus and give and bless out of our love for the other person or party.

Lastly, everything God does on Earth, He does in partnership with us, His children.  He is sovereign and can supernaturally do anything He chooses but by far and in large everything He does in the way of showing his love, blessing and prosperity for us is through us, His children.

Seeing Jesus is Seeing the Father

Some time ago I was thinking on the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Then I began to think about how as Christians we often times separate God the Father, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit as if they differing personalities or their hearts are different from one another.

It’s as if somehow we divorce the three from one another about being in complete agreement as to how they see us, love us and what they want for us.

I think Christians many times see Father as the authoritarian and judge and Jesus as the kind and gentle savior and Holy Spirit as some servant to them both that just runs errands on our behalf.

The truth is they are ALL equally God and they all in fact have the same desires and heart towards us.  A heart filled with love and great and amazing things they want to bring about in our lives.

I began to think about what Jesus said when he told the disciples:

John 14:7-12 (AMPC)

7 If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him.

8 Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father [cause us to see the Father—that is all we ask]; then we shall be satisfied.

9 Jesus replied, Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know Me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, Show us the Father?

10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? What I am telling you I do not say on My own authority and of My own accord; but the Father Who lives continually in Me does the (His) works (His own miracles, deeds of power).

11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the sake of the [very] works themselves. [If you cannot trust Me, at least let these works that I do in My Father’s name convince you.]

Then the thought hit “Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of God the Father’s love for us and Jesus Christ is the expressed image of God the Father.”  The two cannot be separated and their heart for us is not one that conflicted, they are in complete agreement about how they see us, love us and want only good for us.

Love can be expressed in many ways. For musicians it might be an arrangement, for a poet it may be a sonnet, for an artist perhaps a painting or sculpture, for another person perhaps it is doing something for someone else or giving of their time, money or resources.

With God, Jesus is the expression of His love for us. God so loved us and desired a restored family that He asked Jesus to go redeem us.  Jesus Himself, put aside His divinity to become as we are in order to walk among us, teach us, love us and redeem us.

At first thought I think many people brush this aside thinking “yeah but He is God” but, I want you to notice that the depth of this action and expression alone is but one small reflection of the love and character of God.

Jesus is so humble that He took upon Himself the form of man (His creation) in order that He might suffer and redeem us. God took upon Himself, what His holiness and righteousness demanded for justice. But that is not all, He took the form of man in order to be close to us to walk among us and to teach us and enable us to be like God and to have the exact same kind of connection and relationship with the Father that He (Jesus) had.

Jesus came to Earth so that He could be as we are as a man and ultimately yielded what God has wanted to reinstate; that WE could become like Him.

So when we behold Jesus, we see the Father, when we obey the teachings of Jesus we walk in the will of the Father, when we receive and love Jesus, we receive the love and blessing of the Father.

Jesus Christ is the corporal and living express of God’s love and emotion towards us His Children. Jesus Christ and what He taught stood for and fully represents the emotions and heart of God towards us. One that burns with love for us, cares for us, is interested in every part of us, is full of goodness, empathy and restoration for us.

This is the God we serve.  This is the true reflection of what His heart feels for us.