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.  Go 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.

Spirit vs. Theology

As Christians and especially as preachers and pastors, when it comes to ministry, we often times will fall into stride with our comforts and resort to what we feel strongest in.

It often goes against the flesh to be stretched, to be changed, and to learn to operate in ways that seem foreign to us or that we do not feel accomplished in according to our own natural strengths.

I think for a great many that are in ministry, feeling that we have a strong grasp of the scriptures and having a scholarly and deep knowledge of the Word of God is important.  For some, winning theological debates is a benchmark for where one stands authoritatively on the subject of knowledge and wisdom.

Personally, I have to humbly admit, it was also for me at one time early on a hurdle and something that had to be brought to a place of surrender and submission.  To let go of my need to try and feel validated through the accolades of others as being “legitimate” or “qualified” based on my intellectual ability or biblical knowledge.

Even knowing and using the right terminology and lingo to sound more spiritually in-depth can be a part of this struggle and often it is done unconsciously.

Eventually, I came to the place where I trusted the leadership of Holy Spirit more than my natural abilities, education or self perceived understanding.  A place where I implicitly lean on Holy Spirit to accomplish in and through me that which I could never accomplish or be in my own right.

To be fair, we are designed by God to be a winner.  To be accomplished, to succeed, to seek to be more than what we are.  The problem for us as believers and ministers happens when we begin to look to people or the world to define our successes or abilities by their standards of success or meaningfulness rather than judging ourselves according to God’s thought over us on the matters.

For much of the church, there has been over generations a shift from the supernatural to the philosophical as a standard of being authoritative in the church.

The presence and power of the Holy Spirit in many circles has been exclusively replaced by study of the Bible and theological study.  The supernatural and the gifts of Holy Spirit have become something of ridicule and dismissed as “irrelevant” in a time in history where they couldn’t possibly be more relevant and needed.

I jokingly say that some churches believe in the trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and The Holy Bible.

It is important that we study God’s word and show ourselves approved however, to do so without the Holy Spirit at work to illuminate and give us revelation, we are only understanding in our own wisdom.

We cannot depend upon arguments and philosophy to once again turn the world upside down.  That can only be accomplished by love;  love that is spiritual and supernatural in nature, the very love of God poured out into our hearts that spills over onto everyone and everything around us.

I find it ironic that Paul talks about this very thing in 1 Corinthians.

Paul was a scholar of scholars when it came to the scriptures and theological study.  He had been trained and was considered to be somewhat of a prodigy where this was concerned.

Yet here he makes it very clear that he came, teaching not with deep arguments or eloquent speech but the simplistic Gospel of Jesus Christ and a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

2 As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom;

2 For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified.

3 And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you.

4 And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them],

5 So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God.

When I began to embrace the calling on my life to ministry, I for a time undoubtably like many others struggled with the thought of being “qualified” to be a pastor and to operate in the ministry.

It was in the middle of this struggle that Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me that the face of ministry as I had always knew it was about to forever change.

The word that Holy Spirit revealed to me was tearing down kingdoms that men have built up for themselves.  He was tearing them down and was going to establish His kingdom.  One that is built upon the power of His Spirit.

In fact, those that seemed the least qualified by standards of institutionalized religion would be some of the greatest ministers that the world has ever seen.  Not necessarily by the standards in which the world defines “great” or “qualified”.  Sounds oddly familiar.

The second part of this word was that Holy Spirit was restoring apostolic ministry and that there would be many leaders or “pastors” that would shepherd smaller groups in a larger body under the leadership of head pastors. Some of these lead pastors would actually operate more in the role of Apostles.

There is indeed joy and strength in letting go of our preconceived notions and letting Holy Speak the simple yet powerful words of life and demonstrating His power towards those that He loves.

I still love wisdom and knowledge and pursuing it and I value it as needed in leadership but it cannot be a substitute for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  I even enjoy engaging the the occasional debate for edification and exhortation.   The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not have to be complicated.  It is as simplistic and fulfilling as a loving embrace yet profound to a degree that cannot be calculated.

It’s power lies in the marriage of the Word with the Spirit at work through love in a spirit of humility.

“Qualified”

Every person in the body of Christ is called to be in ministry in some form or another.

While not every person may operate as a pastor or evangelist, all believers have been given the ministry of reconciliation to spread the “Good News” of the Gospel.

This ministry should never be taken lightly or seen as secondary or inferior to any other ministry.  We as the church have to stop looking at the value or success of our calling and life by the standards the world uses.

God looks inwardly and does not see or value the importance of something the way the world does.  What may seem small and insignificant to man is great, wonderful, powerful and of significant purpose to The God of all creation.

Regardless of your past mistakes or failures, whatever your calling, God ordained it before the foundation of the world and God does not hold a plan “B” for your life.

Whatever situation you have found yourself in because of your past life, there is grace enough to superabundantly cover it, prepare you and launch you forward to release the Kingdom of Heaven into the world around you.

Whatever choices you have made in life, man cannot disqualify or reject what God has qualified and accepted.

Ministry is not vindicated by gaining a position in a church, a piece of paper with credentials, or intellectual knowledge of all things “Christian”.

Ministry is the result of our willingness to say “Yes” in obedience to all things revealed by the Holy Spirit daily, to release the Kingdom of Heaven into the lives of those we encounter.

Don’t let the enemy disqualify you based on your old identity, your present and future mistakes or the standards of the world or religion. You have a new identity; one that is established to the highest standard and is irrevocable through Jesus Christ.

Pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may understand what it means to be called “A Son of God”. That you may know who you are in Christ and how your Heavenly Father sees you; with eyes that burn with love for you.

This revelation and communion is the engine and the heart of what drives ministry in our lives. That we live an outward expression of Jesus Christ because He lives in us.

Holy Spirit, You Rock!

I love the freedom and grace of Holy Spirit.  He is our biggest fan, our encourager, our teacher, comforter and so much more.  He is the epitome of freedom and the complete opposite of religion.

Holy Spirit loves it when we step out and try, when we take our toddling steps towards our destiny.  He gives us the room to experiment, to grow, to move in our motivations from His love without condemnation, fear or punishment.

His love is corrective, nurturing, growing and disciplining; in that He motivates and enables us to step up into a higher plane of relationship with Jesus Christ.

Religion teaches that we have to have a skill, way or thinking or characteristic before we learn it putting the cart before the horse but, the Holy Spirit teaches us and enables us through His power to walk through experiences that build concretely the in-depth truths of these skills, ways of thinking and characteristics that are quickened into our hearts forever becoming a “living truth”.

This is what it means to marry the “Word of God” to the “Spirit of God”.  We have to move out of the confines of religious, dogmatic, theological thinking.

It reminds me of stories I have heard that people I have worked with have told me about in regards to engineering.  There is a definitive difference between textbook theory and real world practical application.  While both have their place, there is a relationship that exists between the two to bring about the “real truth”.

Recently a dear sister of mine gave me a prophetic word that said “Your Joy and Strength are found in letting go of your preconceive notions”.  It was for me, a call to embrace the openness of Holy Spirit that cannot be contained in our finite understanding.  When we understand we don’t have to have it all figured out, have a formula for everything or put everything into nice little boxes so we can feel like we are smarter or more righteous and holy than someone else, we become free of the stifling confines of our own intellect and feeble minds.

Holy Spirit wants us to experience the Word, not just be able to recite it.  By that, I mean we have the opportunity to embrace and believe for every promise, blessing and every spiritual gift that has been afforded.

While many denominations will teach that James 1:22 refers to “outward works of righteousness”, for me it gives much broader connotations; that we should embrace ALL of what the Word of God has for us and walk in the fullness of that, not merely what we can seemingly accomplish in our own strengths.

James 1:22

22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].

We allow Holy Spirit to birth creativity, wisdom and the Mind of Christ in us and without having to carry all the baggage of convincing ourselves that we have control or a monopoly on what God is thinking or saying.  It is liberating and it is joyous.

It is impossible, yes impossible, to live the life of Christ and embrace our supernatural existence as a believer without knowing and having the Holy Spirit. For the flesh can only give birth to the flesh and the spirit must born of spirit.

We must endeavor to listen, see, feel and experience everything Holy Spirit has for us.  It is only through Him that the understanding of who Jesus Christ truly is becomes alive to us, that the living Word comes alive to us, that our identity and destiny comes alive to us.

I want more of Holy Spirit in my life, to live in a place of perpetual baptism of His love, power, grace and wisdom.  This is how we enable and live the abundant kingdom life.

Holy Spirit, you rock.

Strength Made Perfect in Weakness

Some Christians would have you believe that the ability to go deeper in God revolves around you and your ability to discipline your flesh.

While it is important for us to present our body as a living sacrifice, submission is not laborious; in fact it is the exact opposite.

The trap in much of Christianity, is that we must work and be busy to show that we are “sincere” and “truly believe” or “really love” God but, God never requires us to do anything more than to submit to His leadership and be obedient to what He directs us to do.

That is quite a departure from the long laundry list of requirements some would have us believe we must do to become more intimate with God.

This is not to say that we should not pursue the Lord in our own strength and commit our efforts to growing more in love and in revelation of His will for our lives however, it is freedom from the lie that if we do not produce it in our own strength we will never see it or that we are not sincere in our hunger for more of God.

Intimacy is not a job, in fact Jesus made it very clear that intimacy simply comes from sitting at His feet rather than laboring and working to earn a higher or deeper place (as some would say) who in doing so effectively exemplify and identify themselves with Martha who was offended at the one (Mary) who did not labor in an attempt to position herself in better standing with Jesus and prove her dedication.

If you struggle with unbelief, listen to the Word of God until it becomes belief.

If you struggle with weakness and unbelief confess the truth and promises of God’s Word openly with your mouth until your heart aligns with your mouth.

God responds to our cries in weakness and desperation that are full of truth and desire, even when we cannot help ourselves.

God is not hindered by your weakness but is totally motivated by your desire. HE and HE alone can and will help your unbelief, weakness or lack. It is HE who gives faith and revelation by HIS Spirit alone. He does not need your works to give His good gifts and love.

He gives it freely. If we are so busy working trying to prove to God that we deserve more of His love, we miss out on an opportunity simple to experience and receive direct impartation of His love by HIS doing:

Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

It is true that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart, but if there is a great desire for something even in the absence of it in our heart, our mouth can proclaim truths and be empowered (quickened) by the Holy Spirit that can fill our heart in agreement, making it a truth as truth has never been before in our hearts.

Don’t wreck yourself trying to convince God and others of your belief, trust that He loves you so much that He will help you overcome your unbelief so that you can love and trust Him as your heart truly desires to.

Zephaniah 3:17
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A Warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with joy;
He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins],
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.