Friends, I didn’t know this blog still existed. Please check out my new blog and website. The new blog has the freshest material and my website offers my three new books and tons of audio teaching.
Friends, I didn’t know this blog still existed. Please check out my new blog and website. The new blog has the freshest material and my website offers my three new books and tons of audio teaching.
What is faith?
Jesus talked about faith saying it was like mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Jesus said that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, it would move mountains. Faith seems so simple and it is easy to underestimate, but it can do a whole lot more than you think it can!
Faith is not just: believing! Faith is: believing to a point that you act according to your beliefs! Faith is trusting God. FAITH = Belief + Supporting Actions
Some say that they believe that believers have authority to heal the sick, but they never pray for the sick. They don’t have supporting actions; therefore, they don’t have real faith that believers have authority to heal the sick.
Some say that they believe that they believe God is their Provider, but all they do all day is complain how broke they are. They don’t have supporting actions.
Some say that they believe that they are the righteousness of God in Christ, but they are always doing unrighteous things. They don’t have supporting actions; therefore, they don’t have true faith.
At Walmart, they sell pregnancy tests. It is 99% accurate, and all that the woman has to do is, pee on the stick, wait three minutes, and you will then get the results. How does it work? The stick will examine the urine, which reveals the woman’s hormone levels.
Faith and Pregnancy have many similarities
One, it starts with a seed. (Luke 8:11) Two, conception happens before delivery.
I remember reading a book by Dr. David Yonggi Cho, and he had been praying for a certain chair, desk made from a certain type of food, and a bicycle made in the USA. He knew that He knew that he had received it. He was absolutely sure of it, “Now, Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not yet seen.” He had the assurance all right. He was so sure that He told his congregation, the Lord blessed me with three new furniture pieces. He said, they are in here, and pointed to his stomach. The conception happened before the delivery.
By the way, it’s important to note that he wasn’t using His faith for His greed. He was in love with Jesus, and wanted these things to be added to him, because he was seeking first the kingdom.
How can we test if we are pregnant with faith? It’s not by peeing on a stick and examining our hormones. It’s by praying and examining our actions by the help of the Holy Spirit.
We ought to check to actions of our lives, and it will tell us something about our faith. If the actions of your life sucks, it’s because your faith sucks. Jesus told Peter, “I prayed for you that your faith would not fail.” (Luke 22:32) Why didn’t Jesus pray for Peter that He wouldn’t be a failure, but instead prayed that His faith wouldn’t fail? Because Jesus gets to the root of the problem. In Jesus’ eyes, people are failures because they faith fails.
If you are failing in an area of your life, it could be because your faith is failing in that area. Some people are successful in one area of their life in God, but not in another. I could think of a good number of men of God- who have incredible success in healings, signs, and wonders; but they are failing tremendously in the holiness. Their faith might be strong when it comes to the promises of God regarding their authority over sickness, but there is failing when it comes to the promises of God regarding their authority over sin. Or, it could be the other way around.
But, if you are failing in something, it could be because you faith is failing in that area. That’s why we need to study the Word and claim all the promises, not just one or two.
I’m convinced that a bitterness problem is really a faith problem. Lust problems are really faith problems. Stress problems are really faith problems. Issues with pride, ego, and greed are really just issues with your faith. The problems in churches are quite often the result of the weak faith of the church members. Almost always, those who have drug problems, really have a faith problem. Sometimes, health problems are really rooted in faith problems. Sometimes, financial problems are really rooted in faith problems. The list goes on and on!
So you could either spend all your energy trying to fix your bitterness, stress, pride, lust, greed, addictions, and get your body healed and finances prospering, or you would seek to grow in faith in God and His Word! People have problems because they have a faith problem. Once you get in the Word with the Holy Spirit being your private tutor, and you start believing and confessing God’s Word over anything and everything else, and you start renouncing the mindsets and the words that are contrary to the Word of God, your faith in God will get fixed. Once your faith in God gets fixed, your life will get fixed.
Jesus came and made abundant life available by His grace (John 10:10). That abundant life in Christ is going forth like a Cable TV signal from the cross of Calvary! However, only those who have satellite receivers can pick it up. That satellite receiver is your faith! How much does this service cost? Its paid for by the blood of Jesus!
In the Old Covenant, the Lord spoke to the nation and promised them victory before they fought. Moses would wait for God to speak to Him about whether God would give them the victory or not, and then, God would speak to Moses and promise victory, and Moses would lead Israel. The Lord would speak to Joshua and tell him, “I have given them into your hands,” and Joshua would go for it, no matter how scary and risky it seemed. David would inquire of the Lord and if the Lord said, “Go, I’ve given them into your hands, He would step out in faith and fight!” Just because the Lord promised victory, didn’t mean they didn’t have to put up a fight. But, it did mean that if they would fight in faith, that God’s supernatural power would work for them and give them the victory.
When Jesus came, our battle was and is no longer against flesh and blood. Jesus never killed anybody. But, Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan. Before Jesus came, no one had the power the cast out demons with great authority and success. The only way to fight evil B.C. was through killing evil, demonized people off. But, when Jesus came, the way to defeat evil was getting to the root of evil, and casting out demons and breaking Satanic strongholds. Jesus spent his 3 years of ministry successfully fighting three things: sickness, sin, and Satan and his demons.
In the New Covenant, God tells us through His Word that there are three things we have victory over, He’s given them into our hands, and as Jesus was victory over those three things, so are we, as Jesus had authority over those three things, so do we. Now, it’s our responsibility to step out in faith and fight against those things without being intimidated. When the Israelites were intimidated and refused to fight for what God had promised them, they went without it.
Our weapons are not of this world. The way we fight against these things are with spiritual weapons such as: faith, prayer, worship, the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
(In Genesis 8:22), God told Noah that there would always be seasons on earth. I believe that in the spiritual sense as well there are seasons that we go through. It is important to understand which season we are in. You shouldn’t be planting in the winter, you are supposed to be storing before the winter. You shouldn’t be sowing in the spring, that’s the time for harvest. It’s important to recognize which season we are in. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote in (Ecclessiates 3:1): “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” He goes on to write about how there is a time to: plant and harvest, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to give and a time to withhold, a time to speak and a time to be silent. I believe that for many of us, we are in a season of getting the Word of God deeply imbedded into us. The Bible said that Apollos was a mighty man of God, but when he met Priscilla and Aquila, they explained the ways of God to him more accurately (Acts 18:26). I love this, because I firmly believe that, that is where we are at, the Holy Spirit is taking us into a season of explaining the ways and the Word of God more accurately to us.
When Jereme Nelson met with our church staff, he shared with us that the Lord wants us to be fully developed in every area, not just one. That is why He will take us through different seasons. In the different seasons there are different graces to do different things. For example, I believe that the Lord took us through a season of intercession and we knew how to mourn in prayer and there was a grace for it. But, that’s not the only thing the Lord wants to teach us. He wanted to teach us about the joy of the Lord, so there was a season of refreshing and the new wine, and there would be a grace for that. During the season of refreshing, you could be stubborn and insist on mourning, but there is no grace (or divine empowerment) for that anymore. During the season of refreshing you could soak for hours a day and it would be good. But, I believe that the Lord is taking many people into a season of deep study and love for the Word of God, and there will be a grace for it!
So, you can try soaking two hours a day, but there won’t be too much grace there. But, if you get in the Word for two hours a day in this season, there will be much grace. The Lord doesn’t just want people who can pray, soak, dance and worship, but people who have the Word of God deeply imbedded in their hearts. He wants us to be equipped for every good work, not just one. (2 Timothy 3:17) I used to be so strict with myself, and I’d be like: Ok, I’m fasting three days a week, I’m praying three hours a day, and I’m going to read the Bible for 1 hour, and listen to a teaching for 1 hour. I would do it religiously, and it wasn’t easy. But, I don’t think that’s what God wants from His kids.
Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) Instead of us coming up with our own draining, training program, He wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit in His training program. How does the Holy Spirit want to train your right now? Is it praying? Is it interceding? Is it studying the Word? Ask God what He wants you to be doing now. The old saying goes, “Where God guides, He provides.” I do believe that if we get with His training program for our lives, and we can discern the season we are in, we will experience divine empowerment (or grace) to go through the season, and we will get the most out of every season! Do you see the difference? If you start applying this, you will definitely experience the difference. I have. I don’t pray and intercede for many hours like I have done for many years. I don’t have to condemn myself for it either. Why? There is a time for everything. Just because I don’t pray for five hours a day anymore doesn’t mean I love God less. If I’m going with the discipleship program of the Holy Spirit for my life, that’s the best thing I can be doing right now. I’m so thankful that the key to growing as a Christian is my relationship the Holy Spirit, not my own wisdom and effort.
Majoring on the Majors
When we talk about the message of the cross, we are majoring on the majors of the Scriptures, not the minors. When Paul hung out with the Corinthian church, ministering day after day, month after month, for a year and a half, Paul taught the Corinthians the Word of God (Acts 18:11). As he taught, many people came to the Lord (Acts 18:10). What did he teach? How did he teach?
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
Paul’s secret: Not eloquence or education, but Jesus and the cross.
The secret to Paul establishing a powerful church in Corinth was not because he was the most eloquent speaker, and he mastered the art of preaching. He was simple in his teaching and simple in his delivery. While his ministry style was simple, the effect of it was profound and impressive! It’s sad when a preacher tries to do and be the opposite, by to be so profound, but the results are simple- and unimpressive. Paul didn’t try to be a powerful speaker, he only tried to accurately share the testimony of God- Jesus and the cross, and that made him powerful. You can try your best to be naturally powerful, but if you just do what God wants you to do, and say what He wants you to say, you will be supernaturally powerful.
Paul’s secret was not his skills in communication, but his simple teachings about Jesus and the cross. Paul’s secret was not all the degrees he had and books he read, but it was that he was passionate about Jesus and the cross.
Paul’s mistake: Trying to be profound.
We learn from our mistakes don’t we? Paul made a mistake when he was in Athens, Greece. He went there and preached a philosophical message- which he hoped would be relatable. Paul quoted from their poets, seemed to be very in tune with Greek Culture. Paul sounded more like a college professor than a simple street preacher. Ultimately, when Paul was in Athens, he tried to be profound, but his impact was simple and unimpressive. Yes, a few souls came to Christ, but that was not normal for the early church. Paul’s ministry was marked by him going into cities, see revival breakout like a wildfire and then, he would establish a church to keep the fire of the Spirit burning. That fire would grow and spread even after he left. That never happened in Athens, no church was established. Paul wasn’t going to make that mistake in Corinth. He simply preached about Jesus and the cross. For 18 months, Paul just talked about Jesus and the cross.
1. The Message of the Cross is for Everyone
Wait, isn’t the message of the cross for unbelievers? I used to think that the message of the cross was just for those who weren’t saved, and it was to get them saved. I thought preaching the message of the cross was basically showing people the door, and once they got saved, or walked through the door, there was not much need to show them the door again. I was so wrong! If it was just for unbelievers would Paul have preached it for 18 months to the Christians in the church? Nope. The message of the cross is for believers and non-believers. It’s the message for everyone, because it is God’s testimony. The message of the cross tells unbelievers what God did so they could go to heaven, but it also tells believers what is available for them right now on earth. The message of the cross instead just the doorway into God’s house, it’s the menu for believers- through it we see what we can order! The message of the cross is the will of your inheritance, and you can claim everything on that will. The message of the cross is the title-deed to your promise land.
2. The Message of the Cross is God’s testimony
In Corinth, Paul declared the “testimony of God”. What is a testimony? It’s a personal and true story. When I share my testimony, I share my true personal story. Paul declared God’s testimony, which is God’s true personal story. God’s story is a passionate romance novel, the object of His romance is humanity, so He created us to know His love, but man fell into sin, and God showed his love by sending His Son, who would die for the redemption of man on a bloody cross. The only reason you and I have a beautiful testimony, is because God first had a testimony-which climaxed at the cross.
3. The Message of the Cross is foundational
For 18 months, Paul preached and taught on the cross. Why? It is a foundational teaching, and we all know that if you want to build a big building, the foundation must be strong. A weak foundation cause a building to crumble in the face of a disaster. Why do so many Christians crumble in the face of adversity and calamity? Why do some Christians get so high in their gifts and ministries, but then, they fall and fall hard? Quite often it is a weak foundation. Paul was a master builder (1 Corinthians 3:10). He knew what the secret to a strong foundation was for Christians, it’s the message of Christ and the cross. So, do you want a strong foundation?
4. The Message of the cross is powerful
The message of the cross is powerful. It’s a powerful foundation and produces powerful Christians. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) What actually took place on the cross and what that means for us today is God’s message, and it releases God’s power in our lives. Are you a powerful Christian or not? The reason why we lack God’s power, is really because we lack God’s message- or God’s Word in our hearts. Sometimes, we think that the secret to the Spirit’s power is having hands laid on us by the hot shot evangelist, or some big named person, or getting on a plane to fly to a certain Christian Mecca. While I’m not opposed to those things, let’s not miss what this verse is saying to us: The power is in the message, specifically, the message of the cross.
This class is designed for just that, to establish a firm foundation, and impart the power of God into your life. As you get a greater revelation of God’s love story- which crescendos at the cross, your life’s story will become more and more powerful. The more you understand and believe God’s story, the more powerful your story will be.
Let’s pay attention to the wording, “being saved”. What’s that all about? Aren’t we saved or not? Didn’t Jesus say you are for me or against me? Isn’t a person a citizen of the Kingdom or not? Yes. All those things are true and Scripturally proven. Why does this verse say “being saved”?
Salvation is two fold, it is something that happened, and something that is happening. When we got born again, through faith in Jesus, the penalty of sin was broken off of our lives! But, the power of sin, still needs to be broken off right? Did you become Mr. Perfect the day you received Jesus Christ? I don’t know about you, but after the penalty of sin was broken off or my life, the power of sin was still pretty active. As Christians, we have been saved from the penalty of sin- which is an eternal hell. However, we are being saved from the power of sin- it’s a process, the Bible calls it: sanctification.
Sanctification comes from the combination of two Latin words: Sanctus- which means “holy”, and Facere- which means “to make”. Sanctification is to make holy. When we got saved we have been made righteous- which means we are in right standing with God. However, as saved people, we are being made holy- which means were are being made more and more like Jesus in our expression. Your position changes in a moment-from sinner to righteous, and hell to heaven, from enemy of God to child of God; but, the expression of your life is being changed or saved. Once you have had your position changed, now the Holy Spirit has come into your life to change your expression.
Some people claim that their position changed, but their expression never changes. Quite often, that tells us that their position hasn’t changed, and they are just deceived. If you position really changed, the Holy Spirit now comes into your life. By the way, we can’t receive the indwelling of the Spirit without a change of position- a sinner and an enemy of God cannot have the Spirit of God, but a saved person who is not righteous and a child of God can have the Spirit of God. When the Holy Spirit comes, He changes our expression.
As people who are being saved- or sanctified, or purified- what do we need to empower that process? The message of the cross! “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)-NIV The more we understand and believe the message of the cross, the more we will experience the power of God that will make us more like Jesus in our everyday expression. In the creation account, when the Holy Spirit hovered over the earth, and God spoke, “Let there be light” there was a creative power released, and the Sun was formed. The same thing happens in the heart of every Believer- who has the Holy Spirit hovering over their hearts. The word of God, the message of the cross will come, and creative power will be released, and Christ-the “Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) will be formed in us (Gal. 4:19).
Believe the Message
“For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 2:19-21) The message of the cross has saving power, to save a person’s eternal position and the Christian’s earthly expression. However, it is only powerful to the person who believes the message.
In this class, we will teach the Word of God- the message of the cross. But, if you don’t believe what is taught, then, all you will get out of this is a brain-load of information, and it will bring very little transformation into your life. But, if you do believe, you will experience the power of God, and you will never be the same. I will try to accurately share God’s story about the cross. I don’t plan to ramble my own thoughts and ideas, and if I do, I don’t expect you to believe it with your heart and respond with an Amen. But, if you see for yourself, that what comes out of my mouth is indeed straight from the Word of God, then believe it and respond with an Amen- which is saying, “I agree.”
The following will be the 2 main questions we will seek to answer in this course: What actually happened at the cross of Christ, and what does that mean for me today?
In remembering the parable of the sower that Jesus taught, I asked the Lord to melt away the rocks in my heart. The rocks are the what keeps the Word of God from going deep and bearing long lasting fruit.
This is what the Lord spoke to me, “Because it is the heart that I seek, it is the heart that I see. I died on the cross, not to change the exterior of man, but to change his heart. It is the heart of a man which will cause him to ascend or descend in my kingdom. I am seeking the hearts that are loyal towards me.”
Not everything that we do is from the heart. I’ve done many things grudgingly, have you? Not everything we say is the overflow of the heart (even though often times it is), but in our culture, sarcasm has become a way of life, too many times we say things that aren’t from the heart, that there becomes a disconnect from our own hearts. So, when we do want to speak from our hearts, we can’t. We end up living superficial lives, being ruled by flashing thoughts in the mind, and mere impulses of the flesh, and the mimic-ing of others, without living from our hearts. If we are disconnect from our own hearts, we cannot have intimacy with the Lord, because that intimacy is not a physical one or a mental one, but one that exists in the core of our hearts
When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, doing things for Him, and saying things to Him, which are not from the heart, doesn’t capture Him, because He is not captured by outward ceremony, actions, and sayings, but by our hearts. He is moved by the movements of our heart, not mere lip-service, acts of obligation, or stern religiosity. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for heartless-but-righteous robots. Nope, He died for our hearts. He’s not concerned with what comes out of our shell, but our core.
So, Jesus condemned the pharisees for worshipping with their lips, but having a disconnect in their hearts. Paul talked to the Corinthian church that giving financially ought to be done with joy, not a grudge. James warned against double mindedness, which is opposite of living from the genuineness of our hearts. James also talked about the power of fervent prayer- which is prayer from the heart. Jesus praised Nathaniel for being a man without deceit in his heart- there was not a disconnect between his actions, his words, and his heart; they were all in unity. Paul talked to the Roman Church about how the key to salvation is confessing with the mouth and believing in the heart that Jesus is Lord, again, we see that there must be that pure connection, not contradiction, between the mouth and the heart.
On that day we stand before Jesus to give an account for our lives, it won’t just be our actions that are brought to the table, but our hearts. We could have sacrificed much, but if the sacrifices weren’t packaged with a heart of love, then, there will be no eternal profit given. Because it’s the heart that He seeks, it’s the heart that He will see.
The precious thing about children is that they will tell you what is in their heart. Children are direct. Children have their actions, their words, and their hearts working together without contradiction. As kids become adults, some of them will have their actions do one thing, their words say something else, and their heart being totally disconnected from what they are doing and their heart totally rejecting what they are saying. It was about the kids that Jesus said, “such is the kingdom of God.” Kingdom people ought to be genuine people. Kingdom people say what the mean, mean what they say, do what they say, say what they do, and their hearts convictions are in-line with what they do and say.
Every person of faith had their actions, their words, and their heart working in harmony, not discord, when the conceived their promises from God. David’s heart believed that the Lord would give Goliath the victory, his mouth spoke it, and his actions were in complete agreement to his heart and his lips. Abraham believed in the promises of God, and although he wasn’t perfect, his actions supported his hearts belief, and his words were in line with his heart’s belief and actions- he was calling himself- the father of many nations, and Sarah- princess. If we want to be people of faith, we need to get those three components in unity with each other. If we don’t, our faith won’t work. Jesus taught us that mountain moving faith is released when people speak without doubt- again, that means it is released by people who are genuine, not those who always speak what they don’t really mean. People of faith are genuine people, not those who say a butt load of things that they don’t really mean and have deep convictions about.
That’s one reason why the Lord tells us to be “slow to speak” and “thou shalt not lie”, is because every time we speak something that our hearts don’t agree with, it damages our vehicle of faith- and if that vehicle breaks down- we are in trouble. That’s the vehicle that has been chosen by God to take us to our destiny.
A person of integrity is a person who is united in their actions, words, and heart. Are we training ourselves to be people of integrity?
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
In verses one and two, when we are admonished by Paul to set our affection towards heaven, I am reminded of when Jesus taught us to store our treasures in heaven, not on the earth (Matthew 6:18-20). I believe that where our investments are, there are affections will be. I believe that is why parents usually have great affection for their children, because they have invested so much into them. If I invest a great some of money into a business project, that project will capture my affections. I believe that Jesus wants us to invest so much in heaven/eternity, that we will have such great affections for heaven. Sometimes, I have to make decisions that I know will make me unpopular, and my flesh would rather not do it, but I know that is what the Lord wants me to do, so I do it. At these times, I know that my eternal rewards in heaven are building up. As I give my life here on earth to build up my accolades- not on earth- but in heaven, I believe that my affections for the things above will magnify. I pray that I will not be so near-sighted, that all I could see the here and now. Everything that I store for myself on earth will be stripped from me one day: my popularity, my prestige, and my possessions. However, what I store up in heaven will never be taken away from me.
I love how Paul says to so plainly, “For you died.” That is something so important to remember. How I see myself determines how I live my life. I am absolutely convinced that I am a man. Therefore, I’m never tempted to wear a dress. It never crosses my mind that I need to put on make up or mascara. What’s easy and restful for me is to be a man. How do I know I’m a man? Well, let’s just say I have the evidence. When Paul says that we have died to my old life, and that my new life has now been “hidden with Christ in God.” I ought to be as persuaded that I am with Christ and in God, and that the sinner I was before Christ is now dead, that I’m as convinced of my identity in Christ as I am in my identity as a man; because the Word of God is my evidence.
What is so empowering about the Scriptures is that it aims to change my beliefs before my behavior. Here Paul is calling the Colossian church to live right, but he’s not just trying to modify their behavior by telling them what to do. The Holy Spirit is working through Paul to modify their beliefs by telling them who they are. I love it. I remember how when the angel appeared to Gideon, the angel of the Lord told him, “You mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). Gideon is speechless at such a description of himself that the angel had just given him, because it was contrary to what he had believed all his life. The Lord changed Gideon’s self-image, and then Gideon’s lifestyle changed. I see the same amazing grace at work in this passage, because Paul is telling them what God’s grace has made them, and then, encourages them to be who they already are.
What drains people is when they have to try to be someone they don’t believe that they are. If I had to act like I was a woman for an entire day, it would tire me out and drain me of my emotional energies. Why? It’s tiring trying to be someone you don’t believe that you are. Being a guy is the easiest thing for me, because there is ease when you are just being who you believe that you are. I’m so thankful that God doesn’t tell us that we-Christians are dirty rotten sinners, and then scare us by screaming, “live holy or I will be angry!” Nope. God first changes our self-identity, and simple faith in that new self-identity becomes our launch pad or empowerment into a new blessed lifestyle.
Worship Ministry in David’s Time
David was a man ahead of his time. David was a man who knew God’s heart, and God’s heart was always for worshippers (John 4:23). David was a worshipper, and he knew how much God enjoyed our worship. So, David had it in his heart to build God a house of worship, so worship would go on 24/7. He knew how God was so pleased when David would get in the backside of the hills and just sing to the Lord with his harp, so David envisioned seeing a worship team of 4,000 people playing and worshipping before the Lord 24/7. These 4,000 worshippers would be led by 288 worshippers who were trained and led by 24 worshippers, and those 24 worshippers were led and trained by 3 prophets. Huh? Why prophets?
These are the names and short profiles of the three prophets:
Asaph was a prophetic preacher, Jeduthun was a prophetic worshipper, and Heman was a prophetic seer. We know that Jeduthun was a prophet and a musician, but we don’t know if Asaph or Heman were. Asaph was a prophetic preacher and Heman was a prophetic seer. Asaph knew what was burning on the heart of God and he could release it at will. Heman saw what was going on in the spiritual realm, and he saw what was really happening and what was going to happen. They were all prophets.
Question: Why did God have the worshippers and musicians train under the prophets?
All three of them had the prophetic anointing- by anointing, I mean ability or unction.
What do I mean by prophetic? The root word of prophetic is prophet. Prophets were those who saw into the spirit realm, they heard the voice of God, they knew the heart of God, and they had radical experiences with God. Prophetic means prophet-like, so prophetic experiences mean: prophet like experiences. Just like chaotic- means: chaos like, or allergic- means allergy like. Now just because someone is prophetic doesn’t mean they are placed by God in the office of a prophet. However, they will have prophet like gifting and experiences. By the way, every Christian can be and should be prophetic. We should all experience God in a personal and powerful way, we should all know what’s on His heart, we should know what the Holy Spirit is saying, we ought to be able to have spiritual insight and revelation!
Something we have to know about the prophetic anointing is that: it is contagious. Remember, King Saul stepped into a company of prophets trying to kill David, but ended up prophesying for days (1 Sam. 19:24).
Worship and the prophetic is a marriage made in heaven!
I also believe that the primary purpose of music is for worship! The primary purpose of music was not to make Michael Jackson or Kanye West famous, the purpose of music was to make God famous and to declare His fame.
Music was designed for worship. Worship was designed to foster a prophetic environment where people can hear from God. David knew something about worship and music, he was a musician and a worshipper himself. David worshipped much. David prophesied much. See the correlation! Where did David learn? His mentor was Samuel, and Samuel used to have a prophetic school where they would prophesy accompanied by “lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them.” (1 Samuel 10:5) Elisha was a prophet and he would say, “Now bring me a harpist” for “while the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha” (2 Kings 3:14-16). Most of the prophetic psalms were written in the tabernacle of David, where worship was going non-stop.
At our church, we have an extended period of worship, we take at least an hour. Why? It’s not to foster an atmosphere of entertainment, but an atmosphere for a prophetic encounter! We aren’t just trying to butter up the people before the preacher, we are seeking God to encounter God.
Why do we worship? Is it just to enjoy the music and dance? No. Is it to give God the glory? Absolutely, but there’s still more to it. Worship is supposed to take us to a place where we can hear clearly from God, know what’s on His heart, and see things by the Holy Spirit! Worship is supposed to lead us into a prophetic encounter and the prophetic encounter is supposed to lead us into deeper worship.
It wasn’t scholars who trained the prophetic worshippers, because worship isn’t for education purposes, it’s for ENCOUNTER PURPOSES! It wasn’t the entertainers who trained the prophetic worshippers, because worship isn’t for entertainment purposes, but ENCOUNTER PURPOSES! The more we worship, the more prophetic encounters we will have, the more we will hear from God, know His heart, and have sharper spiritual vision!
The design of the worship department in the Tabernacle of David- the temple of God, was for the prophets to train the 14 sons, who would each train 12 others, which makes 288, and they were to lead the 4,000 and the 4,000 were to lead the nation in worship. The design was that the prophetic anointing on the three prophets would be imparted to the 14, and then to the 288, and then to the 4,000, and then to the entire nation. While the Tabernacle of David was running 24/7 worship, that is when Israel was on top of the world!
I believe that even today, the prophets should be training the worship leaders. Every Christian can prophesy or have prophetic experiences, but God has called prophets today who have a special anointing to equip and activate the body of Christ in the prophetic (Eph. 4:11). Every worship leader ought to move in a prophetic anointing- which is a special gifting to hear from God and see what He’s up to. When a worship leader gets on stage and worships and plays his/her music, that prophetic anointing ought to be released, so the people can also encounter God in a real way. The prophetic anointing is contagious. Remember, King Saul stepped into a company of prophets trying to kill David, but ended up prophesying for days (1 Sam. 19:24). May it be today! I’m convinced that worship leaders don’t just release hot-air and strums or beats, they release their anointing- or lack of anointing, they release their spirit of intimacy with God, or lack of it. Therefore, worship leaders ought to be so full of that prophetic anointing, that they release it, and the people now are enabled to have prophetic experiences with God and encounter Him in a very real way.
I have a friend- who is a preacher, and he told me once, “I don’t know why, but I feel so nervous to preach, but always during the worship, I get so charged up and I end up preaching powerfully, but I can’t do it without worshipping first.” I know why that is, because during the worship, my friend has a prophetic encounter, and from that encounter he can preach from not just his head, but God’s heart. A mentor of mine walks into a conference or a service he has to preach in without any notes. During the worship, he feels out what the Spirit is saying, and then preaches and lives are forever changed. Why? Worship is the environment for a prophetic encounter. Any preacher who is not a worshipper, can preach from his head, but that’s it. The preacher who is a worshipper, can preach from God’s heart, not just his head! You might not be a full time preacher, but we are all called to share God’s Word with those around us. Will those words come from our heads, or from God’s heart? It depends on this question: Are you a worshipper? Worship is the pipeline that sends heaven’s revelation (unveiled truth) to earth!
Most of my sermon material has not been the regurgitation of other peoples’ sermons or books, but has just come upon my spirit during a time of worship or soaking in God’s presence with my Bible open and with worship music in the background. I’ve written over 150 spiritual articles, and most of what I’ve written was received during a time of worship or soaking in God’s presence with my Bible open and worship music in the background. Now, I’m not saying this has to be the rule, it’s worked for me, and I believe it’s because worship releases revelation. Our worship is like our internet modem. When I first got internet, I had a dial-up modem. It would take fifteen minute to open NBA.com, now, I have cable modem and it takes less than a second. Our worship is the modem, the greater the worship, the faster and more frequent we receive revelation of God and His Word-His Truth.
“ 1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
What does it mean to judge?
Jesus is telling us that we must not judge others. What does that mean? The Amplified Bible gives a little more clarity: “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned.” (Matthew 7:1) To judge means to not just criticize, but condemn. To condemn means to label someone as hopeless and worthless. It doesn’t matter how evil or stupid a person is, everyone has hope and worth. To judge means to jump to a quick conclusion about someone based on what your 7 favorite jurors say. Their names being: Pride, insecurity, bitterness, religiosity, jealousy, greed, and past hurts. All this, while pushing away the good jurors, named: love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, humility. An immature person is one who is quick to judge another. I remember when I was a youth pastor, it was after 9-11, one of my middle school students brought two of his friends. He later told me that his friends try to act like Mexicans, but they were really Saudi Arabian. He went on to tell me that they tried to hide their identity because they didn’t want to be made fun of or on the receiving end of prejudice. This happens in middle school, why? Immaturity. Immature people are quick to draw conclusions about others, and they aren’t afraid of expressing their judgments, which is really an expression of stupidity and immaturity. Arab College Students weren’t faking to be Mexican. Why? More mature you get, the less you judge.
This judging that Jesus is warning us about is a “loveless judging” from a proud heart
Even though it might not always be obvious, there is a huge difference between someone who judges another from a loveless heart, and someone who points out something about another person from a heart of love. It’s all about the heart isn’t it? I remember hearing someone point things about other people all the time, and I jumped to conclusions and judged that person as being judgmental. However, I later came to find out that this person spent hours compassionately praying for and continually thinking about how to help those people he was talking about. This passage is strictly addressing those who judge with the wrong heart. Mature Christians will see the issues of immature believers as clearly as an eagle will spot a snake. However the mature Christian will attack the snake or the issue with prayer and consol, without judging or condemning the person.
Judging is a Sin and a Seed
Judging is a seed, and what you dispense, you will drink. If you don’t want to drink in criticism and condemnation from others, don’t dispense it. The harder you through a bouncing ball at a wall, the faster and harder it comes back at you. The harder you through a judgment on another, the harder it will come upon you! This isn’t my own teaching, it’s Jesus’.
He also says, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 37:-38) Here Jesus introduces three seeds, judgment, condemnation, and forgiveness. What you sow, you will reap of harvest thereof. Which seeds do you like to plant? You better like eating the fruit of it. With the measure you give out to other people, people will give back to you.
How I treat people, effects how God treats me
“You husbands, in like manner, live with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor to the woman, as to the weaker vessel, as being also joint heirs of the grace of life; that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) The failure to honor our spouse, results in our failure to receive from God. This principle continues…
Jesus taught that as we sow the seeds of forgiveness towards man, we will reap forgiveness from God (Matthew 6:14). That’s an incredible concept: how I treat people, has an impact on how God treats me. We already covered that how we treat people is how people will treat us, but it’s not just that. How we treat people impacts how God treats us.
I believe there was a direct correlation between how Ruth graciously treated her widowed mother in law Naomi, and how God graciously treated Ruth. We saw the parable about how when the servant who was forgiven for his 1 million dollar debt by his master, but refused to forgive another for a 500 dollar debt, and when his master found out about this wickedness, his anger was poured upon the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35). According to Jesus, that master was a type of the Heavenly Father. I would rather sow seeds of honor, love, and grace like Ruth, and judgment and un-forgiveness like that servant. Do you want to live a life being honored or despised? This isn’t up to God, it’s up to the seeds we decide to sow.
The Favor on my life determines the Influence of my life
I see certain people and they have special favor in their lives. Just like how Esther had supernatural favor, which opened to the door for her to have supernatural influence for God, some people have favor permeating from their lives. The favor on our lives determines the influence of our lives. You can have gifting, but if you don’t have favor, your gifting isn’t going to be very influential. If you have a level 10 gift, but you only have level 2 favor, your influence will level off at level 2. If you have a level 4 gift, but have level 10 favor, your influence will be at a 10. Billy Graham wasn’t and isn’t the most talented preacher, there are sixteen year olds who can preach better than him, there are unknown ministers who can communicate better than him, there are many who pray more than him, but how has he preached to more people face to face than anyone else? How has he had personal relationships with every president from Harry Truman? Favor.
I would rather have favor than money, because if I have favor, money and other things will just come, ask Ruth, Boaz-the most eligible Bachelor- who had the fear of the Lord and lots of cash- not a bad combination- went after her! He could had got with a richer girl or a prettier girl (I don’t think Ruth was pretty- the Bible usually tells us when a woman was gorgeous). Ruth didn’t need to be super hot, she wore clothe straight from the goodwill store, she couldn’t afford makeup, but she had favor! Girls, you can have all the nice clothes, get plastic surgery, work out seven days a week, and come from a rich family like Paris Hilton, but if you don’t have favor, you don’t have much going for you- and without favor, instead of marrying a Boaz, you might marry a Bozo. We need favor. I know I didn’t get to marry my wife because of my smashing good looks, it was favor! I didn’t have bulging muscles or Prince Charming charm, but I had favor.
How do we grow in favor?
Jesus grew in favor with man and with God (Luke 2:52). Favor is something that can grow in our lives. I believe that one of the keys to growing in favor, is sowing honor. Favor is essentially honor. If you have favor, that means you have honor. A man with favor will start working as a cashier at the super market, and in one year, he will be honored to the place of manager. Others might have been working at the market longer, but it’s about favor! To reap honor, we need sow honor.
Honor is not just being nice. You can be nice without a heart of honor. It’s called: hypocrisy or butt-kissing. Honor is an attitude of the heart which overflows into ones life. A person becomes honorable or favorable because he has a heart of honor and has sowed seeds of honor.
If honor is the key to favor, what’s the key to honor?
Humility. A humble person is one who honors God and people. (1 Peter 5:5) talks about being clothed with humility, and it’s talking about in the context to our relationship with other people! (1 Peter 5:6) talks about humbling ourselves before God, it’s addressing our relationship with God. A humble person is not one who only applies (1 Peter 5:6), but ignores (1 Peter 5:5). A humble person applies both and honors God and people. A person who claims to honor God, but fails to honor everyone, is a walking contradiction, because those who truly honor God will honor His Word which says, “honor everyone” (1 Peter 2:17).
Check this verse out: “A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23) Humility is the key to receiving honor-which is favor- which determines our influence. Pride is the key to being despised- which sucks- and while will determine your lack of influence in life.
3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
Pride is a fat sin. Pride is what brought Lucifer down and made him the devil. God promises to oppose the proud (1 Peter 5:5)(James 4:6). Pride is no speck, it’s a plank. While humble people sow seeds of honor, and reap a harvest of honor or favor, proud people sow seeds of dishonor- or they are quick to despise others, and they reap a harvest of dishonor.
Proud people sow words of judgment, criticism, and condemnation in the lives of others. They will criticize someone who has a slippage of the tongue, but according to God, that slippage of the tongue can be a speck, while their pride is a plank! Do you see that? So do you know when you are qualified to point out a speck in someone else’s life? When the pride in your own heart is dealt with and replaced with humility and love. We are called to point out things in our brothers and sisters life, but we are only qualified to do so when the prideful plank has been removed first. If there is no pride in you, and that heart to despise someone is no longer in you, and instead there is a heart of humility, which values the person you are confronting, then you qualify, because you are walking in love!
1) The root of a life without influence is: LACK OF FAVOR
2) The root to the lack of favor is: THE SEEDS OF DISHONOR YOU SOWED- also known as judgments.
3) The root to the seeds of judgment is PRIDE.
On the other hand:
1) The root of a life with influence is: FAVOR
2) The root to favor is: SOWING SEEDS OF HONOR
3) The root to sowing honor is: HUMILITY
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
If we seek the Kingdom, we get the Kingdom and the things.
If we seek the things, we don’t get either.
When King David appointed prophetic worshippers- those who would make their living worshipping and prophesying the in the house of God, he chose:
Asaph was a prophetic preacher, Jeduthun was a prophetic worshipper, and Heman was a prophetic seer. Now, those who were in the families of these men of God “were all trained in making music before the Lord, and each of them -288 in all- was an accomplished musician.” (1 Chronicles 25:7)
4 Things about Prophetic Worshippers in David’s Day:
1) They were all hand picked by God, regardless of their age or education: “The musicians were appointed to their particular term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student.” (1 Chronicles 25:8) Of course, we don’t use sacred lots today, because under the New Covenant we have greater advantage in discovering God’s will. We don’t need to depend on sacred lots, but we can depend on the Holy Spirit who is with us!
EVEN TODAY: Prophetic worshippers are hand-picked by God!
2) They were to serve under the authority and direction of their fathers:
“All these men were under the direction of their fathers as they made music at the house of the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 25:6) Prophetic worshippers who aren’t willing to submit to their God-ordained spiritual fathers and mothers are not worthy of their call. Talent is not enough to be a prophetic worshipper! It requires character, which means that you will work under the direction of your spiritual leaders. Worship leaders who don’t know how to submit to their pastors will cause ruckus in the church, and that’s not God’s will. Worship leaders must not just know how to harmonize their voice, but harmonize with their leaders. Worship and music can be breeding ground for ego, that proved true in the case of Lucifer. Those with inflated egos refuse to work under their leaders. They become a sad story, because all they do is get offended and cause division, and even though they might think they are talented in glorifying God in music, they aren’t glorifying to God in their lives!
EVEN TODAY: Prophetic worshippers need to learn how to submit to their spiritual fathers and mothers!
3) They were trained by their fathers in music:
All of them “were all trained in making music before the Lord, and each of them -288 in all- was an accomplished musician.” (1 Chronicles 25:7) Being trained in music is important. God doesn’t deserve sloppiness or mediocrity. If you are called to be a prophetic worshipper, you ought to be trained in music, always striving to get better! Also, if you are called to be a preacher, you ought to be trained in communication, and always strive to be a more effective communicator. We don’t depend on our excellence or eloquence in speech, we depend on the Spirit of God, but we ought to give it out best to develop the gifts God has given us.
EVEN TODAY: Prophetic worshippers ought to seek to perfect their craft!
4) They were trained by and under the leadership of prophets:
We know that Jeduthun was a prophet and a musician, but we don’t know if Asaph or Heman were. Asaph was a prophetic preacher and Heman was a prophetic seer. Asaph knew what was burning on the heart of God and he could release it at will. Heman saw what was going on in the spiritual realm, and he saw what was really happening and what was going to happen.
Question: Why did God have the worshippers and musicians train under the prophets?
Worshippers are all supposed to be prophetic- they are supposed to hear from God, know what’s currently on His heart, and be able to see into the spirit realm! Worshippers aren’t just supposed to be excellent musicians, but prophetic people! We cannot separate worship and the prophetic!
Why do we worship? Is it just to enjoy the music and dance? No. Is it to give God the glory? Absolutely, but there’s still more to it. Worship is supposed to take us to a place where we can hear clearly from God, know what’s on His heart, and see things by the Holy Spirit!
It wasn’t scholars who trained the prophetic worshippers, because worship isn’t for education purposes, it’s for ENCOUNTER PURPOSES! It wasn’t the entertainers who trained the prophetic worshippers, because worship isn’t for entertainment purposes, but ENCOUNTER PURPOSES! The more we worship, the more prophetic encounters we will have, the more we will hear from God, know His heart, and have sharper spiritual vision!
Any preacher who is not a worshipper, can preach from his head, but that’s it. The preacher who is a worshipper, can preach from not just his heart, but God’s heart! David worshipped much. David prophesied much. See the correlation!
I believe that even today, the prophets should be training the worship leaders. Every Christian can prophesy or have prophetic experiences, but God has called prophets today who have a special anointing to equip the body of Christ in the prophetic (Eph. 4:11).
Every worship leader ought to move in a prophetic anointing- which is a special gifting to hear from God and see what He’s up to. When a worship leader gets on stage and worships and plays his/her music, that prophetic anointing ought to be released, so the people can also encounter God in a real way. The prophetic anointing is contagious. Remember, King Saul stepped into a company of prophets trying to kill David, but ended up prophesying for days (1 Sam. 19:24). May it be today!
EVEN TODAY: The prophetic & worship is a marriage made in heaven. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder! If worship doesn’t bring you to a place of greater intimacy with God where you can hear Him, feel Him, and see Him and what He’s doing more clearly, than you have missed the point of worship!
5) The prophetic worshippers were the ones raised up to impact the spiritual climate of their nation! The prophetic worshippers weren’t raised up to worship for the people, but to lead the people in worship! Not forced worship, not dry worship, but prophetic worship- so the people will have prophetic encounters with God. The prophetic worshippers were raised up to help the others engage in the same prophetic worship! When more people catch the fire for worship, then, they will have more prophetic encounters! Basically, prophetic worship connects heaven and earth. When more people worship more, more heavenly encounters and manifestations show up on earth!
EVEN TODAY: If God raises up a worshipper like a shining star in the body of Christ, it’s not so that person would be worshipped, but so others would catch that fire to worship, because when more people worship more, then more of heaven shows up on earth.
You might not like how I’ve extracted so many principles from the Old Testament. However, the tabernacle of David is not an Old Testament thing. Worship is not an Old Testament thing.
“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11)
“After these things I will turn back, and I will build again the tabernacle of David, that is fallen down, and its ruins I will build again, and will set it upright” (Acts 15:16)
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching(continue in My Word), you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-36)
1. If you are a believer, Jesus is challenging you to hold on to His teachings, to explore and abide in His Word.
If you believe in the person of Jesus, you have entered through the door. Now, Jesus is inviting you to explore the garden of His heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Do you want to know Jesus’ heart? Get into His Word.
How lame would it be to go to Magic Mountain, and just hang around at the door, until it’s time to go home. Many Christians do that. They get through the door, by believing in Jesus, and through their faith, they get access to the park because Jesus paid it all. But, they don’t explore what’s available, they don’t study the Word of God, they just stay at the door until it’s time to go home, then they die, having missed out on all the opportunities that were available to them.
Here are 3 common excuses I hear for believers not becoming disciples in the Word of God are: One, I don’t know where to start! Two, I can’t understand it! Three, I’m not much of a reader.
I don’t know where to start: Sometimes when I go to Magic Mountain, I don’t know where to start. But, I just start somewhere! How dumb would it be to be at the entrance of Magic Mountain and continue to ask, “Where should I start?” Then, after twelve hours, the park closes and it’s time for you to go home! Again, this kind of stuff happens to Christians all the time. START SOMEWHERE! START QUICK! STOP WASTING TIME!
I can’t understand it: Understanding comes from the Holy Spirit, but diligent study comes from us. If you don’t understand the Word, that’s more reason you need to study it. If I don’t understand something on my Final Exam study guide, I spend extra time studying it. Everything that Jesus spoke of, we will be tested on it! Whether you understand it or not! If you don’t understand it, then study until understanding comes, so you will be prepared for the tests of life.
I’m not much of a reader: We read the street signs don’t we? We read the maps don’t we if we are going on a trip? The Word of God is more important that the street signs and the directions on MAPQUEST. The Word might not show you how to get to your friends house, but it will show you how to have successful relationships. The Word might not give you directions to your work, but it will show you how to have financial blessings! The Word of God might not show you how to get to the supermarket, but it will show you how to get into the glory of God. The Word of God might not show you how to get back home, but it will show you how to get back into the presence of God where there are pleasures forevermore, times of refreshing, and fulness of joy. The Word might not show you how to make a pizza delivery, but it will show you how to deliver people from oppression, depression, and demon possession. The Word might not show you how to navigate your road trip, but it will show you how to navigate through the destiny God designed for you and you for.
I became a serious student of the Bible when I was 13 years old. I was a horrible reader and was a horrible student in school. I read one sentence per minute. But, it worked to my advantage, because I spend so much time reading one verse, but the time I was done comprehending it, I had pretty much memorized it. Slow Bible reading is an excellent practice that I still use today. My first Bible I read was the King James Version, as a Junior High kid, I tattered it up so bad from fervent study, it looks like a truck ran over it. It still sits on my shelf today.
2. Those who follow Jesus follow His Word. If you aren’t following His Word, paying close attention to His Word, and letting it lead you, you aren’t following Jesus.
Jesus and His Word are one. His Word is His heart. Those who claim to desire to know the heart of Jesus, but neglect the Words of Jesus are a walking contradiction. Every true disciple of Jesus will be those who love and live by His Word. If I’m living by the words my parents spoke over me, I’m the disciple of my parents, not necessarily the disciple of Jesus. If I’m living by the negative words that people spoke over me, I’m a disciple of people, not a disciple of Jesus. Because I’m Jesus’ disciple, I will live by His Word.
3. Those who hold on to His teachings, His Word, and abide in it, there is the promise of: revelation knowledge of the truth that brings freedom from sin.
Those who treasure the teachings of Jesus, are promised a sure blessing! What’s the blessing? Revelation of the truth! If I do my part of diving in the Words of Jesus and continuing to swim in it, God will do His part and by His Spirit, He will open our eyes to see the truth that liberates us! Don’t pray for revelation of truth from the Holy Spirit, if you aren’t doing your part to be a student of God’s Word.
The Jews were asking Jesus, “Huh? We aren’t slaves to anyone- our ancestors were slaves in Egypt and the Assyrians, but now they weren’t. Jesus, what kind of slavery will Your Words set us free from?” It was slavery to sin. Sin is the greatest form of slavery. Being a slave to sin starts fun, because sin is pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 11:25). But, then it takes away all your freedom, until you are a helpless slave. In the movie Slum Dog Millionaire, the Mafia leader appeared to be the most generous and incredible man, and treated the kids like kings and queens. But, then, one by one he burned out their eyes, and made them his slaves! Sin will do more than burn out your eyes, it will burn out your soul- until your heart is ugly and calloused (1 Corinthians 10:12). Sin will control you, and steal your life’s potential and purpose.
4. We are bound by sin, not because Satan, sin, or our flesh is so powerful, we are bound because we are so ignorant.
This passage tells us a lot about the nature of people’s bondage to sin. It’s not because Satan is so strong, but it’s because they are so stupid. By stupid, I mean ignorant. ”My people perish for the lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Satan’s already been defeated on the cross. More than Satan, my stupidity is my greatest enemy. How do I wage war against my stupidity or ignorance? It’s so simple. I just need to continue in the Words of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, then, Jesus promises that I will receive knowledge, my ignorance will then be expelled, and when my ignorance is defeated, so will my bondages. So many people complicate the process of getting free from sin. Some people go to a hundred deliverance ministry seminars and have “anointed” “prophetic” prayer ministers break of every single generational curse from A to Z. I’m not saying that deliverance ministry and receiving ministry and the reality of generational sins aren’t valid at all. But, Jesus is pretty clear in this passage of (John 8:31-36), on how we get free from the slavery to sin.
Jesus will not make you into a disciple of His Word. That’s our decision. But, if we do make that decision to be a student of His Word, we will see the promise of coming to know the truth and being set free from sinful bondages fulfilled before our very eyes!
The way to fight sinful bondage, is not will-power, but Word-power! Some try will-power, and they never get permanent breakthrough. Some try accountability groups, and still don’t see permanent breakthrough. We, as believers of Jesus, need to become disciples of Jesus, which means we feast on the Words of Jesus, under we receive revelation from Jesus, and that revelation brings liberation. Isn’t that what this passage in (John 8: 31-36) is saying?
We can’t force ourselves to get revelation from the Lord! But, you can “study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The Extensiveness of your Calling is up to God.
There are certain things that are prepared by the Father for you, and then there are certain things that the Father has not prepared for you. For example, becoming a pastor might be something that the Father has prepared for you, maybe it isn’t. Maybe being a leader of millions isn’t what the Father prepared for you, but He prepared for you to be a leader of thousands. If the Father has prepared for you to be a leader of thousands, then, you can be as faithful as you can be, but you will not be a leader of millions. So you can’t point the finger at a pastor who died with a congregation of only a hundred people and say that he was less faithful to His assignment than the pastor who pastored ten thousand people. We might be surprised in heaven to find out that a pastor of a small congregation from India has more rewards and honor in eternity than the mega-church pastor. Point being: There are some things that the Father has prepared for you and some things are not prepared for you. Your responsibility is to be faithful to the assignment that the Father has prepared for you. Don’t worry about what is outside of your control, but focus your energies on what is under your control- being faithful to what the Father has given you already.
The extensiveness or broadness of your calling is something I believe God the Father decides. So, don’t worry about it. If everyone was a leader of millions what about the leaders of tens? I thank God that when I was young in the Lord, I had a youth pastor who I had a relationship with, because he was a leader of tens. I’m glad I didn’t just have to read his best selling book- which sold 3 million copies. The Father didn’t give everyone five talents (Matthew 25:16). Moses was a leader of millions. God chose Moses even before Moses was born- and therefore set the stage for his life by rescuing him from Pharaoh’s baby killing rampage. Joseph was a leader of millions. God chose Joseph to be in the position of greatness, when He was just a kid- so Joseph dreams of his destiny at a young age. John the Baptist had a huge assignment to do a gigantic task and impact a nation before he even entered the womb. Even today, there are those who are called to impact millions and are doing it- like James Dobson, Benny Hinn, Rick Warren, and Hillsong, Australia. Then, there are those who are called to impact tens or hundreds. They might not be well-known, but to those lives they are shepherding, their impact is incredible!
Your role in the of the Body of Christ is up to God.
We are all part of the Body of Christ, and ”God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each (particular one) of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation” (1 Corinthians 12:18- AMP). Not every part of the body is as visible as another. There are some parts we give more attention to naturally. But, Paul reminds us that who ought to appreciate our unique role and the unique roles of others- just as a foot, a ear, and an eye, all have their unique functions. If you are an eye in the body of Christ, than that is what the Father has prepared for you! He has not prepared you to be a foot, so you cannot change that. That is out of your responsibility! But, how effective and faithful you are as an eye, is your responsibility.
You do however have a big say in the effectiveness of your life! It’s not all up to God! The purity of your life will determine how much God will use you and to what measure.
Your Calling, Gifting, and area of Anointing is up to God.
Samson’s life was prophesied by an angel before he was even born. The Lord had prepared for Samson to be a Nazarite- who would rescue Israel from the Philistines. That wasn’t Samson’s doing! Samson had no say in the “good works prepared beforehand that (he) should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10b). His calling from God brought certain gifting and anointing on His life. Same with us, our calling will attract certain anointing or gifting to accomplish what we are called to do. Samson had gifting and an anointing. Gifting: Samson did have natural gifting in strength, and even when the Spirit didn’t necessarily come on him, he still had incredible natural gifting in strength (Judges 16:3). Anointing: Then there were times He went to another level because the Spirit came on him. That anointing on His life made answered prayers come quickly (Judges 15:18-19). Even for us, when the anointing comes upon us, our natural gifting will hit a whole supernatural level!
Your “Faithfulness to” and your “Fulfillment of” your God-given Calling, Gifting, and Area of anointing, is up to you!
For Samson, having his particular natural gifting and attracting supernatural anointing was, in a way, that was out of Samson’s control, but this is what was in Samson’s control: How focused and faithful would he be to his call? As we know, Samson fell short of his potential. While he did accomplish his purpose to some degree, his lack of character reduced his potential impact. Samson died prematurely.
Our natural gifting and our special anointing are things that God has prepared, we can’t change that and we shouldn’t try. There were certain great prophetic healing evangelists who tried to become Bible Teachers and failed miserably because of it- creating heresies. Jim Baker in his book wrote that while God had called, gifted, and anointed him for Christian television, he wasn’t called, gifted, and anointed to build a Christian Disneyland. The Christian Disneyland is what caused him to go to jail for fraud. We don’t choose our natural gifting or in what God anoints us in. We are responsible for how well we steward these gifts and how much we honor the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Samson didn’t honor or treasure the anointing. What we fail to treasure, we fail to keep.
While God determines the broadness of your calling, You determine how much of the calling you answer!
How greatly God actually wants to use you is determined by God, how greatly God actually can use you, is up to you!
There are a lot of things I want to do, but I can’t do. I want to buy my wife a brand new RV, and a thirty-thousand dollar diamond ring, but I can’t. I want to get my wife flowers too, and I can do that!
We have no idea, how much God wants to use us, and even to what extent. However, even though God wants to do great things with people’s lives, if He doesn’t have the resources to work with, He can’t. What, God can’t? Exactly, Jesus “could not” do many mighty works in Nazareth. Why? Isn’t Jesus all powerful? Yeah, Absolutely! But, He chose not to work if He didn’t have the resources to work with. God wants to use you greatly, but if you don’t give Him the resources to work with: like faith and purity, how much God actually uses you will be far less than how much He wants to use you.
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
The large house speaks of the church. In the church there are some nice furniture that’s used all the time, and then, there are some things that are in not to great shape so they are ignored. For example, picture a beautiful, comfortable, top of the line LAZY BOY recliner! That will be used often! But, what if you have a wooden bench in the house, and it smells like fart, it’s uncomfortable, and it is full of splinters, it probably wouldn’t be used nearly as often. In the church, there are men and women of God who are like that recliner, and then there are men and women who are like the bench. It is not God’s fault that the ugly bench is still an ugly bench! Absolutely not! It’s because they did not cleanse themselves. They chose not to live consecrated lives. They invested their time and energies in worthless entertainment instead of getting washed in the water of God’s Word and they didn’t want to get in the river of God’s Spirit! Notice the verse above tells us that it is our responsibility to keep ourselves clean! It’s not God’s! It is also our responsibility to “discipline yourself for the sake of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). That passage goes on to tell us that how much we discipline ourselves will determine our much we experience in this life and the life to come. Our personal character determines how much of our divine calling we answer. Our character will determine how much of the “good works” which God prepared for beforehand, we actually walk in. There are people who lack character, and they will only walk in about 5% of the good works prepared beforehand.
How much time we spend with God doesn’t determine the essence of His love for us, but it determines the effectiveness of His love in our lives. Our commitment to purity doesn’t determine how much He loves us, but how much He can use us.
You might be asking, “What about those people who God used powerfully, but then, we found out about their secret sins?” They didn’t have purity, yet God still used them. He gave them time to repent, and they didn’t, so their sin snowballed, and was exposed! The fallen men and women of God are never used in the same capacity again! While God can forgive them if they truly repent, people can’t forget. A tarnished reputation follows them. That’s why Solomon wrote: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1) You can work hard and get money back, but when a good reputation is lost, it’s very difficult to regain.
We have to know what is our responsibility and what is God’s. Don’t try to change things that can’t be changed- your calling. But, work to change what can be changed- your character! Pray to see what God has called you to do. Explore to see what He has gifted you in. Be part of a local church, where godly leaders can help you see where you are anointed. Then, it’s up to you to be faithful! Don’t strive to become the next leader of millions! That might not be for you! Focus on being faithful where you are today!
Jesus told His disciples that when He is enthroned, they too would have thrones on which they would judge the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). What an honor right? However, this wasn’t enough for some of them.
One day, James and John’s mom (Salome-that’s her name not biblically, but historically) came to Jesus. She began to worship Him. Jesus never stopped people from worshipping Him. Why? He is God- and worthy of worship. After her attempt to butter Jesus up, she was now ready to take a bite- a big bite! She asked Him if He could make her sons the greatest in His kingdom. She wanted one of them to be His right hand man, and the other to be His left hand man. James and John didn’t stop her, but they came with her, and stood in agreement. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t their idea to start with, and they used their mom as a cover up. Anyhow, Jesus responds by asking them, “Are you guys willing to pay the price? Are you willing to go through what I went through?” They said, “Yes!” Jesus assured them that they would pay the price and follow in His footsteps, but He spoke saying that their desire will not determine their position at the right hand and left hand of Jesus, but it’s up to the Father- whoever the Father prepared it for.
1. Be faithful to your assignment the Father has prepared for you.
According to Jesus, for those whom the Father had ordained and prepared those left and right seats for, were outside of James, John, and Salome’s control. It was up to the Father. Therefore, they don’t have to worry about that or strive for that. They just need to be faithful in what they were ordained for and in doing what was prepared for by God for them.
2. Those who have the same issues, irritate each other.
“But when the ten (other disciples) heard this, they were indignant at the two brothers.” (Matthew 20:24)
The other ten disciples were so ticked off at James and John. Why? James and John were full of ambition, and they were striving to be the greatest. Do you know why the other ten were so angry at James and John? It’s because they were just like them. The person you have issues with, just might have the same issues as you. It’s so fascinating how I could hear someone speak so harshly about someone else and pinpoint the issues in another person’s life, while I’m thinking the whole time, “Please, look in the mirror!”
It’s funny because usually people with the same issues are drawn to each other at first. Negative people like to find other negative people. Bitter people like to find other bitter people. Purposeless people like to hang out with other purposeless people. But then, as they spend a lot of time together, the other person’s issues-which reflects his or her own, bugs the heck out of them!
For some judgmental Christians, they have heard the Holy Spirit convict them of certain issues in their lives, but, they ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and that mustered conviction turns into frustration. When they encounter someone with the similar issues, that piled up frustration turns into accusation! It goes from conviction to frustration to accusation. Do you know what that spells out? Deception.
Instead of spending your time and energy hating and bashing somebody else, why not invest that time and energy into talking to the Lord about your issues. Instead of talking to your trusted brothers or sisters about other people’s issues, why not take that time to talk about your own!
I don’t believe in complaining and talking about your issues more than the promises of God’s Word. However, confessing our sins to one another is Scriptural (James 5:16).
I don’t believe in sharing your issues with someone who has the same issues. I believe we need to find someone who has overcome the area of weakness, and allow them to keep us accountable. Accountability time shouldn’t look like two brothers comparing bruises and feeling better about their own.
3. Ego will bring division.
I’m convinced that the Lord’s will for His people is perfect unity in love. Unity cannot be present if ego is. When selfish ambition and big egos are in a fellowship, there will be clashes, and the church will sound like a nasty clanging symbol- instead of a beautiful symphony. Imagine an orchestra, where everyone wants to make themselves known, and to be greater in volume than another. It will be disgusting. Lost souls won’t be interested in being part of that, they won’t be drawn to that.
4. It’s about being a Servant.
Jesus saw two momma’s boys trying to fight their way to greatness, while offending the other ten who had the exact same ambitions. Jesus sits them down and says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men hold them in subjection (Tyrannizing over them). Not so shall it be among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your slave.” (Matthew 20:26-27)
James and John wanted the other ten to look up to them, after Jesus. Greatness in the worldly sense of having others under you, looking up to you, is not the greatness of the Kingdom of God. Jesus doesn’t want us to wrestle with the question: How can I become great and greater? Jesus wants us to wrestle with the question: How can I serve and be a greater servant? Those who are trying to make others look up to them, aren’t great, they will never be great in the eyes of God and in eternity. Those who are trying to serve however, are already great, and on their way to truly greater greatness.
I never have to worry or work towards getting people to look up to me! That is why I can be real and be myself. If people look up to me, I don’t have to strive to keep that esteem, because I didn’t strive to get it. If I strive for anything, it ought to be to serve others! What I have to work towards is helping people get up to the next level, that’s what Jesus did!
Great leaders aren’t those who are looked up to. Great leaders are those who get under you and put you under their shoulders, so you can see things that he or she could not see. My goal is not to have people look up to me, but to have people outgrow me because I served them the best I could. Someone might say, “If all the people we pour our lives into outgrow us, then they won’t look up to us anymore!” Is that a bad thing? Nope! A bad thing is to have leaders who everyone looks up to too much, that they never venture to outgrow them. A bad thing is leaders who love being looked up to so much, that they will do what they can do to keep things that way, causing the quality of leadership to diminish over time, while their own glory shines brighter and brighter.
Jesus said, “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).” (Matthew 20:28) While Lucifer wanted to be looked up to and will be reduced to nothing, Jesus wanted to serve and will reign as King of Kings and Lord or Lords. Whose disciple are we?
There was a male witch named Simon, and he had incredible supernatural gifting. In fact, he got a lot of people to be his fans. He was drawn to Philip’s ministry, and even became a believer, because Philip had more power than he did. So now, Simon wants the anointing that Philip, Peter, and John have. So now, he is offering money for the anointing…
18When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” (Acts 9:18-23)
Simon’s main issue was bitterness! Bitterness had sunk its deep roots into his heart. Simon was a believer, but he was a bitter believer. Do you know anyone like that?
Here are five things that the root of bitterness will do to a person. Just because you are offended doesn’t mean you are bitter. If you are offended, and you are meditating on that offense, talking about that offense all the time, and not nailing it to the cross, then it turns into bitterness.
5 Things about Bitter People:
What do bitter people need to do?
Peter told Simon to do two things: Repent & Pray.
Bitter people need to forgive and release those who hurt them. God will not forgive for you. He gave you free will, and we must use that free will to forgive and let the love of God in us cover the multitude of sins that were done to us. Then, they need to get into the presence of God, and let Him do surgery in their hearts. They can’t rely on the prayers of others, they need to spend some time with God. However, they won’t want to pray. Prayer is really hard for them because they have Spirit-proofed their hearts. They don’t want to pray, prayer has been hard for them, but that is what they need to do the most, after repentance.
Imagine (A summary of 2 Kings 2)
Imagine, if we were on a motorcycle trip from Los Angeles to Florida, and when we got to Phoenix, I looked at you and said, “You stay here!” You will say, “You’re joking!” And, I say, “Ha ha, no!” Wouldn’t you be offended? By offended, I mean, having your feelings hurt. Well, then, we get to Dallas, and I look to you and say, “Hey, just stay here! I’m not even joking!” Would you be offended? Then, we get to Alabama, and I say to you, “You can stay here, I’m going alone!” Wouldn’t you be offended?
This is what Elijah did to Elisha, his sidekick, his spiritual son. Elisha might have been offended, but he didn’t act according to his hurt feelings! Elisha could have gotten bitter, but didn’t. Elisha could have acted on his hurt feelings and just got on his motorcycle or horse to be more accurate, and went back home, but nope. He toughed it out. I think he had some thick skin. Just say his feelings were hurt, at least he wasn’t led by his hurt feelings, he was led by his hunger for God. He continued with Elijah, and sure enough, when they got to Florida or Jordan to be more Biblical, Elijah asked Elisha, “What do you want for you?” Elisha said, “I want the double portion of your anointing!” Elijah said, “It’s not easy to get it, but you can have it! Make sure to see me when I leave this earth, and you will get it. Elisha gets the double portion anointing, and is used by God in the most incredible ways!
What if Elisha was super sensitive and was led by his hurt feelings?
What if he stormed out when he got to Phoenix? What if he stuck out Phoenix, but go offended in Dallas? What if he made it to Dallas, but got offended in Alabama and snapped? We would have never heard about him. He would have maybe still prophesied here and there, and done little works for God, but he would have never reached his full potential in God! He would have missed God’s best for him!
Learn from Church History
When the Holy Spirit came in (Acts 2) and birthed the Church, there were only 120 people who were used by God. The Bible tells us that they were in one accord, they were united! But, there were more believers than 120, in fact, 500 or more people witnessed the risen Jesus, but only 120 of them were in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. For ten days, the believers waited for the Holy Spirit. If you get a bunch of people in one upper room and you are waiting for something amazing to happen, how many of you know that there would be some drama? I’m sure someone was offended by someone else.
Can’t you see something like this happening? Bertha didn’t like how Erma was talking down her, so she took off and left the fellowship. Betty didn’t like how Franko and Bubba were talking behind her back, so she took off. Thelma was doing all the cleaning, but no one was showing appreciation, but treating her like a maid, so she stormed off with her cleaning supplies. This stuff happens at church all the time by the way. I’m sure when Peter was trying to pick an Apostle through the lottery system, that ticked off Harry and Fred, and they thought that Peter was so immature, so they took off. But the 120 who stuck it out, because they weren’t easily offended and they weren’t led by their hurt feelings but the Word of the Lord, they were united, and they were the ones who got the fire, the anointing, and took the gospel to the ends of the earth.
It’s the same principle as in the story of Elijah and Elisha, those who will be powerful anointed and used by God, have to pass the test. The test is not scantron, or turning in an essay, it’s BEING OFFENDED but not being led by your emotions but by the Lord! Jesus told 500 people to go to Jerusalem and wait together for the Holy Spirit. That’s what Jesus told Bertha, Betty, Thelma, Harry, and Fred, but their emotions told them to leave! Those who followed the voice of the Lord, received the anointing from the Lord, to do the work of the Lord, to glorify the name of the Lord. Those who were led by their emotions, the missed God’s best for their lives! Every time we disobey God, we miss God’s best for our lives. When we are controlled by our emotions, we can get into disobedience.
Have you gotten offended at the church you are currently a part of?
Congratulations for still being there! Of course, if the church gets into heresy or turns immoral, you have the right to leave, but from my observation, I’ve seen so many people leave the church, not because the Lord is sending them out, but because they got offended by someone, and their emotions are driving them out. The Bible doesn’t say, “Those who are led by their sensitive emotions are the sons of God” but, it says, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) Leaving a fellowship that God has connect you to, must be because you are led by the Spirit, not because your emotions were fanned into flame by an offense.
The Holy Spirit will lead you to a church family. Four and half years ago, I heard God speak to me to God to the church I am a part of now. I didn’t really know anybody, it was far from where I was living at the time, and it was very inconvenient. By as I was driving on the 210 Freeway, I heard the Lord and starting coming to my home church every week. Although I was wasn’t expecting it, the pastor asked me to join staff, then, I became a pastor at the church. I’ve been here for over four years. During that time I was offended plenty of times, by plenty of people, some of it was because of their immaturity, most of it was because of mine. But, I refused to leave the church because I had my feelings scraped. I follow the Lord not my fickle feelings! But, I saw others who I knew the Lord had called here, they got offended, and left the church.
Called to Fellowship & Ministry
Every Christian is called to be in fellowship with other believers. Fellowship means the sharing of lives. When I’m in fellowship with a church family, I share my life with them. Paul said to the Thessalonians, I shared not just the gospel with you, I shared my life with you, and you guys have become so dear to me. That’s fellowship! Some people are in a relationship with God, but they are not in fellowship with God. For the last 12 years I’ve been a Christian, I’ve been in relationship with God as His Son. But, there have been times in those 12 years I got out of fellowship with him. Does that make sense to you? God always wants both! And God doesn’t want us to just have a relationship with each other without fellowship. Whether you like it, when you got saved, we became brothers and sisters in Christ- that’s our relationship. But, being related to each other doesn’t mean we have fellowship with each other. Don’t you have relatives that you don’t fellowship with? God’s calling us to not just be related to each other, but to be in fellowship with each other.
Who are you pouring into?
Paul was in fellowship with other believers. Paul was also in ministry to other believers. Every Christian is called to ministry (4:11). What is ministry? Ministry is serving God by serving people. When you live a life a ministry and fellowship you end up pouring into other people. Paul told the Thessalonian church, “Satan’s trying to get in the way, but I really want to fellowship and ministry with you guys again. When Jesus comes back, I want something to show him! I want to present you guys to Him.” (paraphrase of 1 Thessalonians 2:19) On that day Paul saw Jesus, Paul wanted to show Jesus, “Jesus, I did something with this salvation you gave me, I poured into those guys in Thessalonia, I poured into my church family in Rome, I poured into Galatia, and Philippi!” When Jesus comes back what will you show Him? Is there anyone you have poured into? Some pour their lives into getting money, getting more stuff, having more fun, being more entertained, but I want to pour my life into people! Don’t you? That’s why it is so important to part of a church where you can fellowship and minister, because then, you can be like Paul, and when Jesus comes back, you can show Him who you poured into.
Here’s a little heads up though..
If you are in fellowship with people and you are serving people, people will bother you.
Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh
In (2 Cor. 12), Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh that drove him crazy. Paul’s thorn in his flesh was not a physical sickness or illness, it was a demon that was working through people to bug him. Demons need a body to work through. They are puppeteers. Paul wrote that this messenger of Satan was buffeting him. What does that mean? Buffet means “blow after blow”. Satan was sending people to hurt Paul over and over again. In life, and especially when you are living in fellowship and ministry, people will hurt you.
Did Jesus live sick or with a demon on his back? No! Jesus lived in heath and in the glory of God. So did Paul! But, did Jesus have demonized people who were out to offend him, anger him, kill him, and destroy him, absolutely, and so did Paul. It was those demonized people who were Paul’s throne in the flesh.
Paul was jumped 5 times by people, he was stoned and left for dead by people, he was whipped 39 times on 5 different occasions, Paul had to constantly fend off the false teachers who were trying to destroy his churches, he was lied about constantly, and the Jews were having a five hour meeting every day except the Sabbath on how they can kill Paul. How many of you know that Paul knew what it meant to be offended? How many of you know that Paul was tempted to get bitter, probably more than you? Wait, why are you offended again? Why are you bitter again? Is it because your pastor didn’t say “hi” to you or because the music was too loud or the sermon too long?
What do you do when you are constantly having people offend you and you are tempted to get bitter?
What do you do then? Paul prayed about it. If someone gives you a headache and they hurt your feelings, don’t talk to other people about it, go talk to Jesus about it. Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his life. In the Greek, that word “remove” speaks of removing people, not removing things- that’s one more reason I believe the thorn in Paul’s life was people!
He kept talking to God about it, and somewhere in his dealing with all of this, Paul realized that these problem people-who gave him a headache were- there to keep him humble.
These people strengthen the Humility in us
He wrote about it in (2 Corinthians 12) saying that this thorn was given to keep him from exalting himself. A lot of you have prayed for humility. Then, God sends people who give you a headache in answer to your prayer. God uses problematic people to do a humbling work in us. I’m not saying that the Holy Spirit caused people to give Paul a hard time, I believe it was the messenger of Satan or a demon spirit who did that, probably working through bitter people. However, there is something about people who don’t treat you right, that strengthens the humility in you. Muscles grow when they are challenged. When you humility is challenged by knuckleheads who get on your nerves, it’s getting stronger. When humility gets stronger in your life, so does God’s grace! ”God gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)
These Knuckleheads won’t be removed, until you go to heaven
When Paul asked that these knuckleheads would be removed, Jesus said, “Paul, remember my grace is enough for you.” Jesus didn’t say, “I will remove them!” If we are in ministry and fellowship there will always be people who get on our nerves, and Jesus will not remove them. But, here is what He will do: He will remind you of His amazing grace- that saved you, that forgave you, loved you, and is strengthening you. If you are dealing with people who are always tempting you to get bitter, be like Paul, and talk to Jesus about it. Do you know what He will do? He will remind you of His grace. You know why? It will keep us from getting bitter. If we ever get bitter, it’s because we have forgotten His grace. May it never be.
Talk to Jesus about them
How much we pray doesn’t determine God’s love for us, but it does determine our love for him and others. Let’s continue to pray and talk to Jesus, talk to him about the people who give you a headache, and let Him talk to you about grace. Amen. I dare you to go to the people who are a thorn to your flesh, and say, “I just want to thank you, you really have encouraged me to pray more, you’ve singlehandedly intensified my prayer life.” HAHA.
If you don’t deal with those offenses, they can turn into bitterness
Cain was offended, his feelings were hurt, when God took his brother’s BBQ sacrifice but not his Salad sacrifice. He was so offended, that his “countenance fell”. God comes to him and says, “Hey Cain, just repent man, get in fellowship with you brother, trade with him, and offer a blood sacrifice, or else, sin is crouching at your door.”
When we are offended, sin is crouching at our door.
When we don’t deal with the offense in prayer, and let the offense escalade into bitterness, that’s when we open the door. Believe me, sin will jump in!
When you get a cut, you want to treat it immediately, or else it will turn into a nasty infection. Same with an offense, treat it immediately before it turns into bitterness.
Here is what I noticed: When someone is offended by the church God connected them to, he or she can still hang around the fellowship for a while. But, when people get bitter, they can not longer fellowship with the church.
God wants us to get thicker skinned, if you do feel hurt, don’t be led by your hurt feelings, you will miss God if you do, don’t get offended when people offend you, but if you do get offended, go to Jesus, learn grace, give grace. Never let it get to bitterness.
My wife offends me at times, never intentionally. I offend her as well here and there, never intentionally. It’s part of being family. But, we never let it get to bitterness.
The Church of Ephesus
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:5-11)
This passage has radically changed my life. I used to work so hard to be great. I’m like any other human being; I do not want to live a mundane and mediocre life. Therefore, I’ve spent many hours thinking arduously about how I can acquire greatness according to the standards in this world. I thought about how great I was in comparison to others. I thought about which career moves would ensure my greatness. However, as I meditated on this passage, I realize that Jesus was not going after his own greatness while He was on earth. He was just on a mission to be a servant. He never tried to make himself great. Even when Satan tempted him to jump off the temple wall and be exalted by the people, Jesus violently declined. I also really liked being popular, but I realize that Jesus never cared about his popularity either. In fact, at the peak of his popularity, He thins out the crowds by telling them to eat his flesh and drink his blood. I am convinced, that while Jesus was on earth, it wasn’t about greatness, popularity, or being exalted by men. But, Jesus came as a Servant of all.
This reminded me of when Jesus asked the disciples about their conversation/discussion about who was the greatest. They were blushing when Jesus asked them, but then, Jesus goes on to tell them that the greatest is the servant. Therefore, I do not need to ever have internal discussions about how great I am according to the standards of this world and the opinions of people, I need to have this question: How can I serve? The man who is ambitiously asking himself, “How can I become great?” He will not be great. The man who is asking, “How can I serve?” He will be great.
Jesus is our example of humility. Jesus never strove in the flesh to become great. He was just about His Father’s business and had a heart to serve mankind. Therefore, at the end of his time on earth, He was given greatness beyond measure! Every knee will bow and tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is my example. I believe I do have an innate desire for greatness. However, I don’t have to go out in the efforts of my flesh and fight for it. It just need to be able my Father’s business, fulfilling His will for my life, and have the heart of a servant, and the Lord will meet my desire for greatness! Jesus is humility exemplified. Humble people don’t strive for their own greatness, but they simply focus on serving, and as they do, the Lord will grace their lives with greatness. Proud people, on the other hand, they focus on fighting for their own greatness. They work so hard for it, and they have to work just as hard to defend it. That’s not the best way to live because, “For God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
As I read this passage again, the yearning for humility and the desire for a servant’s heart welled up within me. Never again do I have to plan for, fight for, or defend my own greatness on earth. I just have to wrestle with this question, “Am I a servant like Jesus?” I am overwhelmed with thankfulness as well, because if Jesus didn’t come down from His divinity to come to humanity, where would I be?
“Therefore do not let sin reign, in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” (Romans 6:12)
Some people pray for a financial breakthrough in the name of Jesus, but then they go on complaining about their finances rather than confessing the Word. We cannot just have the stone, but the sword!
Pastors pray for breakthrough in their churches in the name of Jesus, but then they go on complaining about how everyone in their church just sucks, instead of confessing the promises of God.
Wives pray for their husbands in the name of Jesus, then they complain about how he’s such a loser, instead of confessing the promises of God.
Some people pray in the name of Jesus, and ask Him to be their Savior, their Lord, and their strength. That’s the day the Goliath of their old life and nature takes a hit, and they begin a new life with a new nature. But, if they don’t use the sword, they will see their old life and old nature creep back into their lives.
My Stressful Ministry:
If I had to preach or do something spiritual, I would feel like I had to strive to a higher level and become somebody else, to be powerful! So, I’d fast and pray and praise and do everything I could, to hopefully rise to another level, hoping I would minister so powerfully that people would say, “Wow! He’s super anointed! He’s not the same guy we knew before!” I’d work so hard to get to another level and be someone I wasn’t, and after my gig, I’d be exhausted. Talk about stress! It’s stressful trying to be someone you don’t think you.
I remember one time, I was struggling with different things- the main thing being depression, and my friend asked me to lead a big revival for his youth group! I thought about it. I asked myself, “Can I pump myself up to that super level, and charge up to be another man, and do the work of God?” I answered, “nope.” So I called him back, and let him know that I was spiritually struggling, so I couldn’t speak at the revival.
Here is where I missed it:
As a Christian, I don’t need to strive to get to a higher level. Because I’m in Christ, I’m already seated in heavenly places with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). I don’t have to try to be some Mr. Righteous, Mr. Anointed, Mr. Powerful! I already am! I’m righteous in Christ! I’m anointed, because I’m in Jesus Christ the Anointed One! I’m already powerful, because I have the resurrection power on the inside of me! So, all I have to do, is be me! Not the old me- the sinful, un-anointed, and powerless me, he died with Jesus on the cross. I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), I just need to be who I really am. There’s nothing to stress about! It’s restful, easy, and light just being yourself! Jesus promised us rest, and that His yoke was easy, and His burden was light (Matthew 11:28-30). Why? Jesus doesn’t want you to try to be someone else! He will make you a new creation by grace when you come to Him, and after that, you just need to be you. Being you is restful, easy, and light. Trying to be someone your not is stressful.
Sadly, many Christians feel like we need to rise to a higher level and be someone we are not to do God’s work. Instead, we need to feel like we need to debase to a lower level and be someone we are not to sin.
As Christians, if we think sin comes naturally to us, but that is because we have a false identity wrapped around being a sinner. If being righteous comes naturally to us, it’s because we know who we really are in Christ.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Living spiritual lives and doing God’s work should come naturally to us, because we have a new identity as a new creation and we are spiritual beings with the power of the Spirit on our lives to serve God!
My regrets in my preaching ministry:
I used to preach to Christians saying things like: “I know, that offering forgiveness and loving people doesn’t come naturally to us, but we still should do it!” For a non-Christian it doesn’t come naturally, but for a new creation it does! By preaching like that, I tempted Christians settle for a lower identity as a fleshly sinner, when that has all passed away and they are a new creation! For the new creation, forgiveness and love is second nature! So they have this poison in their minds that spiritual things like forgiveness and love don’t come naturally, but they still have to do it. Then, they would try their best to forgive and forgive, and would be burnt out, because they are trying to be someone, they know that they aren’t.
I would preach to Christians saying, “I know it’s not natural for us be humble, but be humble!” For a non-Christian it isn’t. But, for a new creation it is. What’s unnatural for the new creation is being proud. By preaching that, I gave the Christians a lower identity as a fleshly sinner. Pride is part of our old man, and that old man- or the flesh is dead. So here are these Christians, with a lack of revelation that they are a new creation, and they try and try to be humble, but they get tired of it, because they are striving to be someone they believe that they aren’t.
I would counsel fellow Christian brothers and say, “I know it’s natural to have lustful desires over hot women, but don’t!” For a non-Christian is very natural! It was natural for us, but “old things have passed away, and new things have come!” I’d leave them thinking they were “helpless horny little men” and then I’d tack on at the end, “But, we still have to fight those desires!” So these guys would have a self-image of a helpless, horny man whose nature is to lust, and they would have to strive to be someone they didn’t believe that they were- Mr. Holy, and wage war against their natural desires! So, they would try to fight, but, they would get drained, burnt out, and give in again. It’s draining and tiring trying to be someone you don’t believe that you are!
When we are being bitter, proud, and lustful, that is when we are trying to be someone we aren’t, or someone we used to be. But, that guy died with Christ on the cross (Romans 6). Bitterness, pride, and lust is not natural to us. We have a new nature! Forgiveness, love, humility, and purity are part of our new nature in Christ! Paul gives a long list of different kind of sinners, and says, “Such were some of you;…” (1 Corinthians 6:11) I we “were” it, we not longer “are” it! So we can take off the old nature of sin, and put on the new nature that we have in Christ (Col. 3:9-10).
The deception of an identity crisis:
Some men act and dress like women. They’ve been led to believe that that is whom they really are. It’s a deception. So that man, who thinks he’s a woman, and dresses like one, and acts like one, can probably try to act like a man to cover up his feminineness, but that will tire him out- he will get burnt out. Some Christians are so deceived in who they are that when they are righteous, they think that they are sinners, so sinning comes naturally to them, and when they try to act righteous and do righteous things, they get burnt out.
I wonder if the cause of burn out is really from an identity crisis. If this guy knew who he was, then, acting like a guy would be a peace of cake for him. I don’t get burnt out trying to act like a guy. It’s not something I have to strive for. I just live from who I am! I don’t ever question if I’m a woman or not, I have evidence that I’m not a woman and that I am a guy! We too have evidence that we are the righteousness of God in Christ- it’s the Word of God! Your body parts will pass away, but though heaven and earth will pass away, the Word of God will never pass away! (Matthew 24:35)
Where is your faith and focus?
Here’s the problem: too many people have faith in their flesh, rather than in the Word of God. You put your focus and your faith in your flesh- you will release the limited power of the flesh! If you put your focus and your faith in the Word of God- you will release the unlimited power of God!
Some people put their faith in their past experiences: they say, “Oh, you have no idea, back when I was growing up it was so hard for me to forgive my dad! I had so much bitterness! I just couldn’t overcome it! Oh, in the past, I had a drug addiction and a porn addiction, and I couldn’t get free!” Faith in your past, releases the power of your past! Faith in the Word of God, releases to the power of God!
When we really have faith in the Word of God about our identity in Christ, Christian life becomes restful, easy, and light! (Matthew 11:28-30)
Minister from rest, not rest from ministry
For a lot of young people, after a super-spiritual Mission Trip, they say, “I just want to rest- I’m going to watch twenty movies, I’m going to go shopping!” Then, Satan comes to them, during their seventh movie, plants some bad seeds in their heart, and that same guy who was healing the sick and casting out demons, is now spiritually struggling and fighting condemnation. Listen: Jesus wants us to minister from a place of rest, not from stress! He wants us to come back from mission trips rested! God doesn’t want me to preach, and then feel like I have to rest after by watching movies. He wants me to preach from a place of rest! He wants us to minister from rest, not rest from ministry!
Maybe the reason those young people feel like they need to watch movies and shop to get rest, is because they were on the mission field trying to reach a super high level and they were striving to be someone they didn’t think they were. It’s tiring trying to be someone you don’t believe you are. The key to ministering from a place of rest is: Put your faith in the Word of God, and believe who you are in Christ, and then, just be you!
“Well, don’t we have to pray and fast to get charged up before I do ministry?”
Pray and fast because you love God! Pray all the time because you love the Lord! Pray from rest. Knowing the Lord hears you!
“7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8) Jesus is teaching us: don’t pray from a place of striving! Pray from a place of rest. Pray knowing that you have a good Father who cares about you! You can pray passionately, but pray resting in the goodness of your Father, and not thinking it’s all about how hard and long you pray.
Fast when the Lord leads you to! There was a season I was fasting a lot, but it was out of insecurity. The Lord then spoke to me, not to fast anymore! I would have to preach somewhere, and I so wanted to fast, but the Lord said, “STOP IT!” He didn’t want me to find my security from fasting, but from my identity in Christ.
Remember: as a Christian, you don’t need to strive to reach some crazy level, and you don’t need to strive to be someone you aren’t. See what the Word of God says about who you are in Christ, put your faith in the Word, not your flesh or your past, and just be you- and see the power of God released through your life!
28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Some Christians get so weary and burdened trying to follow Jesus. I was one of them. I was trying so hard to become holy, Christlike, blessed, and anointed. I was working so hard, preparing sermons, preaching, evangelizing, praying for the sick, going on mission trips, praying and fasting, etc, that I was weary and burdened. Was that weariness and those burdens from Jesus? No. Jesus gives rest. It was from my doubt and unbelief in the finished work of the cross and my new identity in Christ. I’ll explain.
Jesus didn’t say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I’ll make you more weary and more burdened!” Nope. Jesus promised rest to those who would come to Him. Christian life is about coming to Jesus. Therefore, Christian life must be restful, not stressful.
Jesus said, “Learn from Me, for I am humble and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Therefore, the more we learn from Jesus, we should find more rest! A Christian who lives a life with a rested soul, is the Christian who has learned much from His Master. What Jesus wants to teach all of us is: how to rest!
Religion will teach you how to work for God. Jesus wants to teach you how to rest in God. Religion makes you focus on: what you have to do! Jesus wants us to focus on: What He has done on the cross! If your focus is on what you have to do, guess what that brings? Faith in yourself. Faith in yourself brings stress. If your focus is on what Jesus has done for you, guess what that brings? Faith in God. Faith in God brings rest.
1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3Now we who have believed enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:1-3a)
1) There is promised rest.
2) You can fall short of it.
3) If you don’t have faith in the gospel you will miss the rest
4) If you believe in the gospel, you will receive the rest.
Those who don’t have rest in their souls do not believe in the gospel. Those who do believe in the gospel, we experience the greatest rest. What is the gospel? Is it a message focused on what we have to do? Or, is it a message that focuses on what Jesus has done for us? Of, course it is the second!
Do you believe in the finished work of the cross? In other words, do you believe in the gospel? Let me tell you about the finished work of the cross, it’s not just about how Jesus died and rose again. It’s about how I died to my defeated, sinful, bound life, and I rose to be a new creation in Christ! Do you believe that your sinful old self died with Jesus on the cross, and through His resurrection, you have a new life that is righteous, one with Christ,victorious, and have the Holy Spirit?
If you believe that gospel? Do you have faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you have faith in what He has done for you? If you do there will be rest in your life!
If you don’t have the gospel, and you have a false gospel, about what you have to do in the flesh to get saved, you will not have rest. Muslims can’t receive the rest of Jesus. Hyper religious people can’t receive the rest of Jesus. Only believers in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, can have rest in Jesus. Only believers in the gospel of the grace of God, can have rest.
If you don’t have faith in the gospel, you will not have rest! Rest comes from faith in the gospel!
Let’s talk about the gospel!
THE GOSPEL TELLS US WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR US!!!!
If you see who you are in Christ, you will have rest!
If you see who you are in yourself, you will have stress!
Remember when Jesus called Peter to come walk on the water. (Matthew 14:28-31) When Peter was looking at Jesus, and saw his own reflection in Jesus’ eyes, he was at rest, and He was walking a supernatural life of faith! Then, Peter went to look at the waves washing over his feet, and when he started looking at himself, he started to freak out in fear, and there was no supernatural power released anymore, only the power of the flesh, so Peter started sinking and cried out for help. Do you get it? When Peter was focused on Jesus, and saw who He was in Jesus, he had faith! From faith comes rest. From that rest comes supernatural power! Then, Peter took His eyes off of Jesus, and started to see who he was in the flesh! He started looking at the waves around him, and he had fear! Fear releases the power of the flesh, not God. The flesh always fails.
When you see Jesus, you see yourself, because you are “in Christ”! Did you know the Bible talks about us being “In Christ” ten times more than Jesus being in “us”? Scripture wants us to know that it’s not the Son of God living in our hearts, it’s that our we have been immersed in Christ! “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) This is the gospel! You are dead to the defeated, sinful, bound self, and your life is now hidden with Christ! The creme of the Twinkie is hidden with the bread coating. You cannot see the cream without seeing the bread coating first. Get the picture: If we have faith in the gospel, we should not see ourselves, without seeing Jesus first. My point is this: As people of faith, we must see the ourselves in Jesus! That is who I am! I don’t have to be it, I don’t have to strive for it! I just get to live it by faith! Jesus is the Anointed One! What does that make you? Anointed.
My preaching career started as an extremely stressful experience! I would pray my voice out and fast my fat out and preach my heart out. Afterwards, I was so tired, I would just watch T.V., and the last thing I wanted to do was anything “spiritual.” I would be asked to speak at youth retreats, and I would do the same thing, give it all I got, I’d cry out for the anointing, I really wanted to be anointed, I wanted to be super spiritual and powerful, I would preach, and then I would pray for everyone and be exhausted. After the retreat, I was exhausted, inside and out. My heart was empty. I would backslide a little. The last thing I wanted to do was something spiritual because I was exhausted trying to be spiritual.
I didn’t know how to minister from a place of rest, because I lacked faith in the gospel, so I didn’t really know who I was in Christ. Because I didn’t know who I was, I was trying so hard to be somebody. I was working to be an anointed and spiritual man of God! I was working so hard to be somebody I already was. Do you see what I’m saying? That’s Satan’s trap, he wants us to work hard to become somebody we already are. Satan told Adam and Eve that if they did something, they would become more like God. Here’s the catch: They were already like God! They were made in God’s image. Satan made them work for something they already were. In the process they sinned.
Those who are trying to be who they believe they aren’t get burnt out!
The most tiring job in the world is a job where you have to be someone your not. If you can’t see yourself as a public speaker, a public speaking job will be tiring for you. You can do it, but it will drain you. If you see you are a quiet person, a job requiring you to be super social will be tiring! I’m a quiet person, socializing is tiring for me. I try my best, but afterwards, I get tired. If you believe you are an extraverted, super social person, working in a cubical will be tiring.
Here is my point: So many believers are getting burnt out and growing weary trying to be like Jesus because they don’t see themselves as someone who is already like Jesus, but they see themselves as a fleshly person who is trying to be spiritual. Therefore, they get weary and burdened. They can pull it off a little bit, but they eventual run out of gas. Some Christians are growing weary because they are trying so hard to be anointed, but they believe that they aren’t. Christians get burnt out because they are working so hard to be spiritual, but they define themselves by who they are in the flesh! One of the greatest mistakes I made as a preacher (I’ve been doing this for 10 years now), was getting people to see who they were in their flesh, rather than who they were in Christ! I made them self-conscious, more than Christ conscious! I made them get introspective, instead of fixing their eyes on Jesus, and seeing themselves in His eyes. I preached to them about their sad condition, rather than our glorious position in Christ. I didn’t preach the gospel like I should have.
When I started preaching, I tried and tried to produce anointing, but afterwards, I was exhausted. Stop working to be someone you already are! If a Christian wrongly defines himself by their flesh, they will always have stress from the striving in the flesh. If a Christian rightly defines himself by who they are in Christ, they will always have rest from faith! Again, if you strive in the flesh, you release the power of the flesh. If you have rest from faith, you release the power of God!
Jesus came to give you rest!
As I’ve been growing in my faith in the gospel, I realize that I don’t need to ever minister out of stress to be someone I’m not! I can minister by just being who I already am in Christ! I can be me! Whose me? I’m not the sinner and looser. I’m a new creation in Christ! The Scriptures aren’t demanding for me to be someone I’m not. The Scriptures are demanding me to start being who I already am in Christ! There is a big difference between trying to be Christlike through flesh and just being Christlike through faith. That is why the gospel is good news!
Some Christians think that holiness comes from trying super duper hard! The Bible tells us that holiness comes by believing, trusting, and resting in the promises of God! “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4) This verse sounds like holiness to me! I don’t have try to be righteous, I’m already righteous, I get to claim that promise! I don’t have to try not to sin, I’m already dead to sin, I get to claim that promise!
Should Christians work hard for God?
But, we work from our New Identity in Christ, not for it.
We don’t work with fear and stress. We work from faith and rest.
We don’t work as a fleshly being trying to be spiritual. We work from the revelation that we are spiritual beings in Christ!
We don’t work as a sinner trying to get anointed! We work from the revelation that we are already anointed!
We don’t work as a weak soul trying to be like Christ! We work as more than a conquerer who knows that He is already like Christ!
We don’t work with the focus on what we need to do for God. We work focusing on what God has done for us- the gospel!
We don’t work with stress. We work with rest.
I remember during college I was so stressed, stressed with relationship problems, and school work, and my own struggles with my flesh. Then, this shuttle driver noticed that I was down. She has a big, happy, African American woman. She looked at me and said, “Honey, You too blessed to be stressed!” I was seeing myself through the flesh, she was seeing my through Christ! She was preaching the gospel! I was holding on to religion.
Religion makes people insecure about themselves and life. The gospel makes people secure about themselves and life through faith in Christ. Religion intimidates people and makes them think, “I can’t do this.” The Gospel empowers people, and makes us believe, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Religion makes us people of fear. The gospel makes us people of faith.
Please, listen to the gospel!
1) Focus on what Jesus has done for you!
2) Focus on who you are in Christ, not the flesh!
3) Believe what the gospel says about you!
4) Receive the rest that comes from faith in the Gospel!
5) See the supernatural power released!
WHY IS OUR FAITH IS SO IMPORTANT TO GOD?
“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) We can’t please God without faith. That tells me that faith is important to God. Why is faith so important to God?
1) Our faith in God has to do with our heart, and God cares about our hearts!
Why must change begin within first?
2) For us to enjoy new blessings, we need new training-that training is called: FAITH
WHY IS OUR FAITH SO IMPORTANT TO GOD?
A more accurate question would be, “Why is our faith in God so important to God?”
Faith is so important to God, that He chose faith to be the way we get saved. Here’s a little question to wrestle with. The answers to this little question will give us insight into the answer to the big question: Why is our faith so important to God? Here’s the little question: Why did God choose the means of salvation that He did? I mean, why did God Almighty decide that the way we get saved is through this thing called faith? Why is it not based on good works, even though that’s been popular opinion for ages?
Here are a few Answers from the Bible:
1) As sinners, our works aren’t good enough and pure enough before the eyes of God.
It’s like this: how foolish would it be for a fish to try to live like a human and get out of water? That fish will die trying! Here is a fish, who was born in water, has a nature only thrives on water, and has lived in water his whole life, he cannot try to act like a man. Maybe, he might be able to walk for a little bit. I do some fishing here and there, and I’ve seen fish walk. The fish can try to dance like a human being, and pull it off for a little while, I’ve seen fish dance on land too. But, here’s the point: Like the fish who was born wired in a way to live only in water like a fish, so the sinner was born in sin and has sin wired in his core! The sinner can try to act like righteous man, just like a fish can try to act like a human being. Both will die trying!
A fish trying to act and be human is not impressive! In the same way, a sinful human trying his/her best to be moral and holy is not impressive at all to God. We were born a fish-so to speak, and that is why we need to be born again! We were born sinners, and therefore, we need to come to Jesus and get born again through faith in Him. When we can born again, we get born again into a brand new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Now, as a righteous man (2 Corinthians 5:21), we can act righteous and not kill ourselves doing it, and we can impress God to a point of receiving eternal rewards from Him. Point being: People, we need a new nature before trying new tricks or a new lifestyle! The Father made Jesus that doorway from sinner to righteous, and when people come to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives them a new nature, and the person becomes a child of God, and is now capable of living like God.
2) God didn’t want anyone to boast.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that is not of yourself, it is a gift of God, not the result of works lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8) Trusting God for a breakthrough is different from trying hard for a breakthrough. Those in the second group have faith in themselves, and they are releasing their power, and they should give themselves the glory. Those who trust God have faith in God and God releases His supernatural power, and therefore God deserves the glory!
3) God values relationship with us.
But then, there is another reason why God chose faith as man’s way to be saved. What God values more than morality is relationship. Now, I’m not saying morality is not important, it is! Falling short in holiness and morality will rob us from the life that God desires to bless us with. However, I am convinced that God values relationship over performance.
The Lord created man for relationship with Him, He didn’t create man to be His little moral robots. That is why He gave us free will. That is why after mankind messed up morally or in holiness, the Lord still reached out to them in love! He reached out in the Garden of Eden by preparing clothing, and that was a foreshadow of what He would do by sending His Son to the cross for our sins, so that we may be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus. That is why people like Abraham and David were His favorite, because even through they weren’t the most morally perfect, they had faith in Him. That’s what God wanted from Day 1 He created mankind. He gave a few rules, not because He wanted to make Adam and Eve work for His acceptance, love, and approval! So, He could create a trusting relationship, where He would trust them with many things, and they would trust Him enough to obey what He says. The reason we desire trustful relationships, is because we are made in God’s image.
I’m not saying we ignore morality and shun holiness! Those who grow closer to their relationship with the Holy God, will develop greater holiness in their life! But, our focus isn’t morality, but our relationship with Jesus! Some Christians mess up morally and they feel so condemned that they throw away the relationship! Don’t do that! Jesus is more interested in a relationship with you, than your moral performance before Him. If you fail, go to Him! He will work with you! Our God doesn’t just pant for our presents we offer Him, He longs for our presence! He longs for intimacy with us! He longs for a people to trust and love him like Abraham and David, He doesn’t need pharisees who trust in themselves. Trust God! Have faith in God! God loves faith, because it’s relational, and He is relational, and He longs for relationship with us! Anyone can do it.
4) So anyone can do it.
I believe if Christianity was a moral club, only a few could join. But, because Christianity is a relationship, everyone can join- because we are all relational beings created in the image of a relational God. We all have capacity for relationship! Faith is not rocket science, faith is relationship! Coming to faith in Jesus is all relational! We come to Jesus and talk to Him and say, “I’m sorry for my sin, I believe in you, come into my heart, be the Lord of my life!” That’s so relational! It’s so easy!
5) God wants partnership.
God chose faith as our way to salvation because faith involves partnership. God values partnership with us because He values relationship with us. God doesn’t want to be a performer and let us just watch Him show off. God wants to work with us. He wants a partnership where I have a part and He has a part. This is why faith is a partnership: God has to speak to us, and we need to trust Him. It’s not my job to create ideas to believe in and design opinions to live off of. It’s not my position to determine how I will get saved from hell. That’s God’s job. He sets the rules and the standards. My job is trust Him enough to act according to my trust in Him.
For example, Abraham is a man of faith, because He first had God speak to him and call him out! Then, Abraham responded with enough trust to leave his hometown comforts and follow God. God talks about Abraham as His friend! (James 2:23) A friendship that is any good has the element of trust. God trusted Abe enough to call him out, and Abe trusted God enough to follow. If God didn’t speak to Abraham, and Abraham went off to a distant land, Abraham wouldn’t be the father of faith! He would just be an adventrous dude! If God didn’t want Abe to venture to a distant land, but Abe went anyways, that’s not faith in God, it’s rebellion towards God.
It has happened more than once, where an Assistant Pastor- who are serving under a Senior Pastor, want to be a Senior Pastor, so they go off and start their own church- and some, even take members from their previous church, and some, even start a church within a mile radius of the church they left. That Assistant Pastor might think he’s stepping out in faith, but if God didn’t clearly speak to him, he’s not operating in faith! If God wanted him to serve under the Senior Pastor his whole life, but he was so rash and ambitious that he started his own church- he’s in disobedience, not faith.
When it comes to living by faith, which we who are justified in Christ are called to do (Romans 1:17), we have to partner with God. He has to give the information, the revelation, the direction, and we have to put our trust in what He says! The difference between a man of faith and a man of foolishness, is the man of faith let’s God do His part, and willingly does his own part. The man of foolishness on the other hand just tries to do everything- he wants to set his standards, come up with his own big dreams, design his own ministry, and trust God to bless all that. The man of faith sees what God is doing, and does it, God commands a blessing on him. The man of foolishness does what he wants, and asks God to bless it! It’s a partnership. It’s a relationship.
Some people think that they don’t have to do anything, and God will still bless them! They don’t think they need to study the Word, confess the Word, and pray for or against things. They think that God’s sovereign grace will make everything pan out for good for them. And if they go through crap it’s because the good Lord is leading them to it to teach them a valuable lesson. The Bible says we are co-laborers with Christ! (1 Corinthians 3:9) We have been given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). God has brought us into a partnership, and we have a part to play!
The Partnership of God’s grace and our faith!
Some might think, I don’t need all this faith teaching, I don’t need all these faith principles, I don’t want to take away from the grace of God. Here’s the deal. God, by His grace, provided salvation and a whole lot more which Jesus purchased for us on the cross(Eph. 1:3). But, it’s our faith that brings these things into our lives! God provided a means of salvation for every single human being out there! Jesus was the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). However, not everyone will be saved! Was God not gracious? Yes He was and is! But, unless we receive by faith, what God made available by grace, we will go without it! This is one partnership that we have with God: He provides the grace, and We respond with faith! He sent the blessing attachment to your e-mail by grace, now it’s your responsibility to download it by faith. If you don’t download it, you won’t have it!
God has a Kingdom with all these blessings. It’s like if God had a webpage with all these free downloads. We can enter the webpage through Christ. Jesus is the password! Now, God by His grace uploaded everything, so we need to use our faith to download these blessings into our personal computer. Get it? It’s our job to use our faith to download these blessings into our lives. Some just get into the website, but never download anything, thinking that God by grace will download His blessings for them into their computer.
Some like to have theological debates about the different blessings available for download, and they read every book on certain blessings, but they never click and download it into their lives. Some have had these supposed “experts” tell them that they can only download: the eternal heaven blessing, and the peace in the midst of storms blessing. But, they are told to stay away from the healing blessing, the prosperity blessing, the joy blessing, the deliverance blessing, the breakthrough blessing, the Holy Spirit resurrection power blessing, the drunk in the Spirit blessing, the prophetic/hearing from God blessing, just to name a few! It’s all made available by grace!!!!! We get to use our faith to download each and every single one!
A little heads up, website might be a little confusing- b/c it’s very different from the other websites, but we have a private tutor who will help us, His name is the Holy Spirit!!!! We have mentors who have gone ahead of us, and downloaded more than we have, and we can learn from them about all that’s available and how to bring it into our personal lives! Everything is already paid for! Hey, just one more little note: Some blessings take a longer than other blessings to download. Just stay in faith, keep believing, don’t push cancel after already 22% has been downloaded. How do you push cancel? Negativity from doubt and unbelief!
33They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 8:33-35)
Jesus was doing something powerful here: He was telling them to stop arguing with the question, “HOW CAN I BECOME GREAT?” But, replace that question with another one: “HOW CAN I SERVE?”
You don’t ever have to argue this question in your mind, “Am I the greatest?” But, this is the real question Jesus wants you to argue about, “Am I a servant?”
Jesus was never working towards His own greatness. He was never competing with anyone. These kind of conversations never went on in his head, “People are wondering if I’m John the Baptist raised from the dead. Dude, aren’t I a better preacher than John?” ”How can I pastor a larger congregation than Moses?” ”Who did more crazier miracles, Me or Elisha?” ”Am I more anointed than Elijah?” Jesus never worked to become great in worldly standards, but His testimony was “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) He was not asking the question, “How can I be great?” But, “How can I serve?”
Did you know God wants you to be great?
When Satan tempted Jesus with giving Him the kingdoms of the world, that was something that Jesus was already going to get! Satan however, wanted Jesus to go for it NOW instead of in God’s perfect timing. Jesus trusted His Father enough, to know that His greatness was coming in the Father’s time. So, many of God’s kids however do not trust their Father. They think they have to grab their possessions through greed, cheating, and trickery, they think they have to defend and fight for their prestige or greatness through their striving and contending with others, they think they have to grab the opportunities of pleasure now through sexual immorality, overeating, etc. Satan tempted Jesus using: possessions (the kingdoms), prestige (the jump of glory), and pleasure (bread).
Satan tempts us in the same way using these things. However! Here’s the catch: The Father wants to give us all three things! He wants to give us financial blessings on earth and eternal rewards in heaven. He wants to give us prestige and honor us here on earth and in heaven. He wants to give us pleasure here on earth by blessing our marriage bed, and letting us experience His presence on earth and eternity! But like Jesus, we need to trust in our Father’s good heart and wise timing, and we don’t have to be desperate trying to get rich, trying to be popular and influential, trying to get goods, trying to get married!, trying to get food, trying to get prestige, trying to get great! Satan wanted Jesus to get desperate for those things! Jesus didn’t fall for that trap. Why? Jesus overcame through faith. He trusted that His Father would provide for Him these good things in His good time.
1) Possessions: The Kingdoms of the world will soon become the Kingdom of our Lord and Christ.
2) Prestige: Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
3) Pleasure. Of course the sex part is something that Jesus didn’t engage in or will engage in- because sex is temporal and is only here on earth, but the Father provided much pleasure to Jesus through His Bride- me and you. We were the joy set before Him.
Back to talking about: Greatness. God wants to give you greatness in His timing! It might be while you are still on earth that He will honor you! It might be in heaven! It might be both! However, that’s not something you have to worry about. That’s not something you have to “go for”. What you need to “go for” now is, asking and answering this question, “How can I serve?”
A servant asks the Lord, “How can I serve you?”
Don’t ask the Lord to make you like Billy Graham, Benny Hinn, or Joyce Meyer, but just ask the Lord, “How can I serve you?” His calling for you life is different than Billy’s or Benny’s. Maybe He will use you in a very public way, maybe not. You don’t have to worry about that though. The real question you need to wrestle with is, “God, how can I serve you?” If you ask that question, the Lord will speak to you! You don’t have to strive and contend to be great. Don’t worry about making all the right career moves. But, live asking and getting answers to this question, “God, how can I serve you?”
A servant asks the church, “How can I serve?”
When you walk into a room or a church, don’t ask the question, “How can I get recognized and respected?” Ask, “How can I serve?”
Now, being a servant doesn’t mean you have to do everything everyone wants you to do. Some people will suck you dry and steal your destiny in God. You can’t do everything everyone wants you to do and still do everything God wants you do to. We serve God before man! However, a way we serve God is by serving people. There are so many power struggle and divisions in churches because people are asking, “How can I be great?” Instead of, “How can I serve?”
Humans have an innate desire to be great. It’s ok. But, either you will take it into your own hands and zealously fight for it, or you will trust God to take care of it! If you put it into your own hands, that’s called pride and God will oppose you. If you leave it in God’s hands, that’s humility, and God will grace you!
A servant is not afraid of being used!
I had this fear in times of being afraid to be used. I used to be a negative person, so I would expect the worse from people. So if I would help someone out, I’d be wondering, “Will this person screw me over?” This made me very skeptical and careful who I chose to connect with. I isolated myself from a good number of people as a result. I was living in fear! That is not the way Christ has called us to live. We are called to live in love! As people of love, we serve without fear of anything. Even if people do screw us over, so what, at least we got to serve them!
The Lord shared with me that some of His kids are more like merchants rather than servants. Merchants will give up things, only if they are promised something back. So, they will serve others, but they have there hidden motives, they want something in return: whether it’s popularity, acceptance, prestige, a position, some money, etc. Merchants won’t serve those who have nothing. Merchants will only serve those they think they can benefit a lot from. Merchants are always afraid of being screwed over. They are afraid that their client will receive service, but take off without paying. Many people see their friends with a merchant mentality, they are afraid that those friends they poured a lot into will just take off without giving much back. Many pastors have the merchant mentality, they are afraid that those church members that they invested the most into, will take off and leave for another pastor. Merchants aren’t great in the Kingdom, servants are.
Unlike merchants, servants aren’t afraid of being used! I never met a waiter who is buckling at the knees when a customer walks in and is stressing over this thought, “I hope they don’t use me!” ”I’m so afraid of being used!” No, the waiter serves because that’s his or her job. Serving is our job too! Not everyone we serve will treat us the right way and tip us in right proportions, but we have a generous Boss, and He will take good care of us, and He sees your heart and your work, and a fat pay check is on the way!
A servant is not insecure!
The job of a servant is not for the insecure. Insecure people cannot serve another person. Insecure people can only be served! Insecure people can’t drop to a humble place and serve someone else, do a small task, follow instructions, submit to another’s lead, compliment another, and praise other leaders. The reason they can’t serve is that they feel less than someone else if they serve someone else. They are afraid of feeling less than someone else. Why? Insecurity. To be insecure means to be afraid.
It takes a real secure, confident people, who knows who He/She is in Christ, who understands their value and royalty in the Kingdom, who can serve. No one likes to be bossed around. But, the man who is really secure in His identity in the Lord, can be treated unjustly, harshly, and even be humiliated by someone they are serving, and still have a great attitude. A servant can be ordered around by people, but will not be afraid of people.
The insecure person is afraid that people will take away from their dignity. A secure person is confident that his/her dignity is secured in the Kingdom- where our citizenship and position now resides. Difficult people can take away from an insecure person, and keep him from ever serving again. No one can take anything away from a secure person, but he will keep serving the Lord and others until the day he dies.
A secure person is confident that the Lord will take care of his desires for greatness. An insecure person thinks that he has to fetch and fight for his own greatness. The secure person doesn’t work towards greatness, and doesn’t have to defend his greatness. The insecure person gives it his all to get great on earth, and then, gives everything he has to protect his greatness on earth.
Thank God that He is raising up many young people to be powerful preachers- whose words will carry power to set the captives free! Many young people are seeing visions of themselves preaching in front of people. At the age of 13, in a life-defining dream, I saw myself preaching, and then the fire of the Spirit started falling. I know many others have had similar experiences.
A lot of young people want to be powerful preachers and speak in front of people. But, here’s something the Lord shared with me, “If your preaching doesn’t work on you, what makes you think it will work on someone else?”
Here’s the point: We must first get the Word to work in our lives before we get it to work in other people’s lives. Jesus said, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be calledleast in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)
We have to get this: If our preaching and teaching doesn’t work on us, and we are still trying it on other people, we are powerless and poor in the Kingdom of heaven; on the other hand, if our preaching and teaching first works on us, and then we are getting it to work for others, we are powerful and prosperous in the Kingdom of heaven.
My preaching and teaching ministry must work on me, before I try it on anyone else. Do you really want to be great in the Kingdom? Start preaching to yourself and get the Word to work in your life first, and then, use it on others. Do you want to be least in the Kingdom? Preach to change others, when you haven’t preached change in yourself.
“17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17-24)
There are 2 important points from this passage:
1) Preach to yourself!
Paul is writing to the religious teachers, and confronting them of their hypocrisy, asking, “Hey you, you teach others, but do you not teach yourself?” Basically, Paul is saying, “I know you are quick to preach to others, but do you preach to yourself?” I’ll ask the same question: “Do you preach to yourself?” Here’s a similar question: “Do you actually open your mouth and declare the promises of God and the goodness of God to yourself when no one is around?” Every Christian, must master the art of preaching to themselves. If I ever ask you, “Whose your favorite preacher?” You should not be saying, “Bill Johnson, Francis Chan, Dr. Cho, Greg Laurie, T.D. Jakes, etc.” You should say, “ME! I’m my favorite preacher!” This is what I mean by that, “You ought to not depend on other people’s preaching to get you through the day, over the temptation, and full of faith, hope, and love.” We must put the Word of God in our own mouths! I listen to other preachers all the time, but I know that just listening to others won’t get me breakthrough, I need to take the Word, believe it with my heart, and declare it from my own mouth!” I must, like David, learn to, “encourage myself in the Lord.” (1 Samuel 30:6). Preaching is declaring the Word of God. We must all master the art of declaring the Word of God over our lives and our situations, not just in front of people. I’ll further explain why that is so important.
Preaching of Declaring the Word is how we exercise our faith
Preaching to ourselves is how we exercise our faith. “Employ every effort exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence)” (2 Peter 1:5) One of the ways we exercise our faith is through preaching to ourselves the Word of God. As we continue to confess and declare the promises of God despite the resistance of the devil, the flesh, and the world, our faith begins to grow. The devil, the flesh, and the world are the weights, and the muscle we use to lift those weights is our faith. The way we lift the weights to work out our faith is by preaching to ourselves- or declaring the Word of God in the face of opposition. Here’s the sad reality, many Christians have the professionals do all the preaching for them. You know what that looks like in the spirit realm? It looks like the trainer reaching over and lifting the weights for the trainee, and the trainee just watching and saying, “Wow, look how big your muscles are! You’re my favorite weight lifter! You’re the best trainer ever! I’m going to tell all my friends about your gym and your training, do you have a podcast?” As the trainee allows the trainer- the professional preacher- to do all the preaching for him, his muscles never grow, only the Pastor’s/Evangelist’s/Radio Preacher’s/Christian author’s muscle grows. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we all need trainers to equip us for the work of the ministry! (Eph. 4:11) But, they are equippers, they first do the stuff and you just watch, but then, as time progresses, you have to do the stuff, and they watch. Don’t just watch the preachers preach and marvel at their muscular faith. Start preaching to yourself and grow your own faith!
Preaching or Declaring the Word is how we breakthrough
Won’t I sound ridiculous just preaching to myself? Jesus did it! In (Luke 4), He preached the Word of God at the devil’s face. By the way, Satan didn’t come to Jesus in a three piece suit and they didn’t meet at Starbucks, the warfare was going on in Jesus’ soul. But, Jesus spoke outloud the Word of God and Satan was so beat up that Satan left him! Then the angels came and ministered to Him! You can break through from wrestling with Satan, to being ministered to by angels! Don’t think Jesus never had any struggles and cant understand what breakthrough is all about, just because He was the Son of God. Jesus understood the key to breakthrough: Preach the Word, in the midst of your inner struggles!
Won’t people think I’m strange? You don’t have to preach to yourself in public places and be a weirdo Christian who doesn’t have any wisdom. But, to be people of faith means that people of unbelief will often misunderstand you.
Preaching or Declaring the Word is how we become how God sees us
Abraham is our father of faith (Romans 4:12 & 16). The Lord changed Abraham’s name before He changed Abraham’s condition. Father Abraham’s name was originally Abram, but the Lord tells him to change his name to Abraham-which means father of many nations. Abraham or “The Father of Many Nations” was how God saw Abraham. God wanted him to see himself as God saw him. Same with us. God sees us in light of our most glorious destiny, not our temporary struggles. But, here’s the catch: Abraham didn’t have kids when he got his name changed! Here’s the embarrassing, names had significant meaning back in those days, and whenever Abraham meets people, he has to introduce himself as Abraham, but he’s childless! I’m sure some people though it was funny. For example, what if a really fat woman was named Slim? I’d hold in my chuckles if I was introduced to her. But, Abraham kept speaking in faith the Word of God over His life.
Abraham kept referring to himself according to the Lord’s perspective. What was he doing? Preaching to himself! His preaching pays off, and the supernatural power of God is released into his situation, and he brings forth Isaac into the world by faith, and today, he is the father of many nations! The way God sees us in Christ and the way others sees us or how we tend to see ourselves is very different. I don’t want to become the product of how others see me or how I see myself, but how God sees me. Therefore, I will not preach or declare what others have said about me or what I think about me, but what God says about me. In Christ, you have a new name! Preach it to yourself!
I’m sure some who new Abraham from childhood, and didn’t know of His new name change, would have still have referred to him as “Abram.” If he had a friend he didn’t see in five years, the friend might say, “Abram, it’s been a long time my friend!” That’s why Abraham would have to correct his friend, and say, “It’s good to see you too, hey, my name is no longer Abram, but Abraham.” I remember a few years after I got saved, an old friend came up to me and reminded me of how I used to be like before I was saved, “Hey remember how you used to…how you were the best at…etc.” I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “That was someone else!” Don’t let anyone put old labels on you, but, declare that you have a new name, a new nature, and that you are a new creation. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, the old things have passed away, and all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Preaching or Declaring God’s Word is how faith comes
As we continually preach to ourselves, and see ourselves according to God’s Word rather than current circumstance, faith will come, and faith connects heaven’s power to earth. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:7). This passage doesn’t say you have to hear the Word from your favorite preacher. The one you hear the Word of God from, can be and should be you!
Preaching or Declaring God’s Word is how we release our faith to move mountains
Do you know what are the ingredients to Mountain-Moving faith? It’s believing and speaking. “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:22-23) Jesus gave this teaching to explain what He had just done with the fig tree. He saw a fig tree and cursed it because it was not bearing fruit. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? Does He have anger issues? Jesus wasn’t a hot-tempered man, but a Spirit-led man. Can I go around and curse trees, bugs, and animals and expect them to die too? I walked up to a fly not too long ago, and I said, “Die in Jesus name!” The fly kept buzzing. So, I said it with more passion, “I said, ‘DIE! IN THE NAME OF JESUS!” The fly buzzed even closer to me. Could we curse any insects and every plants? Some might think, “Yeah, Jesus did!”
Jesus didn’t curse every plant or any insect, He only cursed one specific fig tree. The reason why Jesus cursed that specific fig tree was because by the Holy Spirit, He knew the Father wanted him to curse the fig tree. (John 5:19): “Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Jesus knew the Father was removing the fig tree, so Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, caught onto what God was doing and saying, and He executed it in heaven. What Jesus saw happening in heaven, He executed it on the earth through declaration. Jesus was so in sync with His Father.
We must first be in Sync w/ God like Jesus was. (also known as intimacy with God). Then, when you are in sync with God, you will begin to have revelation by the Holy Spirit. He will use the Word of God and speak to you by other powerful means, and reveal the Father’s will. He will speak to you about how He wants certain things removed from this earth- like the fig tree. When, you get the revelation of the Father’s will and Word, now, we have to declare it and speak it with absolute boldness. We declare or preach it until it comes to pass. Preach it, “Fantasy you have to go!” Declare it, “Fear you have to go!” Declare it, “Sickness you have to go!” Preach it, “Strife you have to go!” ”Unbelief and doubt, go!” As we preach it/declare it, those mountains will go!
Whatever the Lord reveals to you, declare it, preach it!
The Word of God must go past our ears, and into our hearts, and out of our mouths.
It does take supernatural power to move a mountain doesn’t it? Do you want to see mountains move in your life? Do you want to see the supernatural power of God released? It’s not going to be by just hearing a cute sermon from your favorite preacher! It’s going to be from being in sync with God, hearing from Him, believing the Word of God, and speaking it or preaching it boldly from your own lips! People who have “faith in God” don’t just believe inwardly, but speak outwardly. The person who is full of faith is not the one with the seminary degree or who has listened to 10,000 sermons from their favorite preachers, but the one who has received first hand Words from God, and those words have gone deep in their hearts and they don’t just believe it, but speak it. Before you try to preach and move mountains in everyones life, move your own mountains first. Preaching to yourself and seeing change in your own life is like David killing the lions and bears, it will prepare you for Goliath- public preaching. If your preaching don’t work on us, why are we so anxious to test it out on others?
2) Don’t preach the law, but the grace of God!
In (Romans 2:17-24), Paul was writing to the teachers of the law and legalism, and he was not condoning their preaching at all! I know that preaching to ourselves is so important for Christians, but what is equally as important is preaching the right message. Many Christians preach to themselves, but they preach the law and legalism to themselves. I’ve done it for many years. What does it mean to preach legalism?
Let’s review that Romans passage again, “17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17-24)
What does it mean to preach grace instead of the law?
1. Focus on God’s grace rather than man’s behavior!
For many years, I used to preach to myself all the time, and this is how my preaching went on it my mind, “Don’t do this…don’t do that…you better not do this…you better not do that…no, no, no, don’t do that…” I was always focusing on what not to do.
The focus of my preaching and thinking was my behavior! So many Christian leaders preach to themselves and those under their influence a BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION GOSPEL, which is not gospel (good news) at all. The purpose of the gospel is not to make someone feel like He’s in bondage to rules and regulations, but it is to make him feel more free than ever from the bondage of sin, and now free to live for the glory of His Savior! Now, the gospel does change a persons behavior, but, the gospel doesn’t focus on our behavior, but it focuses on God’s grace! The gospel has changed my behavior not through the power of fear, but the power of love.
If you go to a church and all you hear is about what you can’t do because God will punish you if you violate any of the 101 rules, you will leave overwhelmed and afraid. The preaching of the law brings fear into our hearts: fear of being condemned, rejected, punished by God! The preaching of grace brings God’s perfect love into our hearts: and God’s perfect love casts out fear! God’s love changes our behavior!
Will God say, “Do not fear/ do not be afraid/ fear not” 365 times throughout the Bible if He wanted you to live afraid. Wait, what about the fear of the Lord? Some people think that the fear of the Lord looks like a boy trying so hard to please a grumpy and impersonal father, and trembles when he fails in one little chore.” The picture of the fear of the Lord is in (Revelation 4), when the 24 elders get a glimpse of the holiness of God and they hit the floor and worship, crying, “Holy!” These are two completely different pictures. God wants us to live fear free! He wants us to be totally confident in Him, knowing that we are secure in Him. That kind of security in our identity as a child of God doesn’t become permission to sin, but provides the confidence that we need to defeat sin!
The Law preaching will always leave the Christian insecure thinking, “I have to do more for God or I’m not good enough!” ”I’m never good enough!” ”I have to keep striving and striving, I can’t rest in His love” Grace preaching leaves the Christian feeling secure in God’s love, and confident that they will be victorious, and restful. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!” (Matthew 11:28) Law preaching makes Christians weary and heavy laden, grace preaching makes Christians enter into the rest of Jesus. When we strive, all we have is the work of the flesh. When we learn the rest, and we say, “SHUT UP!” the the flesh that wants to strive and perform for God, then the power of the Holy Spirit is released into our lives! The more of Christ’s rest you experience, the more of the Spirit’s power you will experience. The less of Christ’s rest you experience, the less of the Spirit’s power you will experience.
I know this from personal experience. I remember when I first started pastoring at the age of 19, I was striving in the flesh to be a powerful pastor, and I was so powerless. There is nothing more sad than watching a servant of God trying so hard to be anointed, but the anointing isn’t there. The reason I was striving so hard in the flesh to change lives was that I was insecure in my identity in Christ. Why? The preaching of the law/ the leaven of the Pharisees which is preaching the law but not being able to live it (By the way, no one can preach and live the law perfectly). The more I learned about my identity in Christ by grace, the more rest I found. I began to have a greater faith that the Lord was with me, and that His promises towards me was true, and I began to trust Him more instead of just trying harder, with the new level of rest, came the new level of power! Do you know what really looks good? When a servant of God is really anointed, but isn’t trying to be. That’s God’s will for all of us. He wants us to be restful and powerful at the same time.
This “burning out” phenomenon among pastors and leaders is a bunch of crap! We are burning out because we don’t know who we are in Christ, we have no security in Him, and we are working so hard for Him, but our flesh is getting in the way of His power, so His power isn’t released, so there isn’t much fruit in our ministry, and because we are so insecure, the lack of fruit in our ministry devastates us! This is not God’s will for us! His grace is given to give us confidence which brings rest, and it’s from that place of rest where the power flows supernaturally, not naturally.
2. Focus on what Christ has done for us, rather than what we have to do for God!
It’s not centered on what we have to do, but what Jesus has done! The gospel isn’t a long to do list of DOs and DONTs, but it the declaration of the finished work of Jesus on the cross!
The law preaches, “If, and only if you change your behavior completely are you worthy a relationship with God” Grace preaches, “You have a relationship with God through Christ because of the Cross, so you now have power to change your behavior.” The Law demands holiness from a sinner, without providing the ability. Grace provides the ability, and then, commands holiness into the life of a redeemed child of God. The law says, “Work for your righteousness!” Grace says, “Work from the righteousness you have received through receiving Christ Jesus! The law preaches, “Work for God’s love and acceptance!” Grace preaches, “Work from God’s love and acceptance for you in Christ.” If I have to work for righteousness and God’s love and acceptance, I’m saved by works! The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:8)
If I was saved by the law, I should preach the law. But, because I’m saved by grace, I should preach grace! Grace is not a license to sin, but a license for holiness! Grace is not the license for loose living, but license to believe God for breakthrough out of old sins and into the glory of God, because of what Christ has done for us on the cross!
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” (Galatians 6:14)
What I need to focus on and boast about is not what I’ve done for God, but what He’s done for me on the cross. Because of the grace shown on the cross, I’m now considered dead to sin (of this world) and alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11), and I have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We must preach to ourselves who we have become through the cross and through being in Christ!
Preach to yourself! Preach the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24).
Declare God’s Word so you will get to a place of stronger faith!
Declare God’s Word until Satan leaves, and you breakthrough to the glory realm!
Declare God’s Word until you get confident and secure in who you are in Him!
Declare God’s Word until all fear is gone, and rest comes!
Declare God’s Word over the situations in your life, until the mountains move!
Preach to yourself, it’s the best training for having a powerful preaching ministry to others!
Contrary to popular opinion, memorizing a lot of Bible verse, reading thirty chapters of the Bible everyday, and being in seminary will not get you mountain moving faith. It can, but it doesn’t guarantee faith. You see, it’s not studying a book that will generate faith, it’s hearing from God in the context of intimacy with God. ”Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word (Rhema) of God/Christ.” (Romans 10:7). That word for Word is Rhema, not Logos. Logos speaks of the written Word, while Rhema speaks of the spoken Word. Logos has to do with what God did and said in the past tense. Rhema has to do with what the Lord is doing and saying in present tense- NOW! To have faith, I have to have a NOW relationship with God! To receive mountain moving faith, I have to hear God speak a Word into my life by the Holy Spirit. It’s not by reading a text book. Now, while you read the Bible texts, if your heart is right and the Spirit is moving in your heart, you can have the Rhema word pop out of the Logos word and birth faith in you.
Don’t misunderstand me, studying the Logos Word of God is also important. But, if all you have is the text without a present intimacy with the Lord, faith will not come, instead you will be someone who is puffed up with knowledge and you will have only the form of godliness, but deny the power of it.
From my experience, as I am praying or worshipping, the Holy Spirit brings remembrance of verses of Scripture, and makes it alive in me! The Holy Spirit speaks those verses so fresh into my heart, that I am cut to heart. Or, the Holy Spirit unlocks a verse to me, and as I get a revelation, I hear the voice of God in present tense. Other times, while I am just relaxing, the Holy Spirit will remind me of a sermon I heard or parts of a book I read, and will breath on it, and speak to me in a very real way. Then, the Holy Spirit speaks to me sometimes in a very fresh way, either through a prophetic word from a brother or sister, or a prophetic word that comes directly to me from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit can speak to us in a variety of ways. One thing is for sure, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, not contradiction, so He will not contradict what He breathed upon in the Bible.
The greatest asset in my life is my ability to hear from God. Without it, I am a lost cause. With it, I can be a man full of faith and victory. The key to faith is hearing the voice of God or receiving direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. The key to hearing the voice of God, is intimacy with Him.
Therefore, if my heart is not tender before the Lord, and there are idols in my heart, I do not like to read 30 chapters of Bible in one setting or read an entire theological book. I like to repent, get my heart clean, cry out for the presence of God, and only when the Spirit is moving on my heart again, will I spend time in the Word. What makes the Word of God powerful, is when it arrive on a heart where the Spirit is moving. Remember the creation account in (Genesis 1)?
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2-3) Because the Holy Spirit was moving upon the earth, when God spoke, the Holy Spirit did a creative work through it. Do you see why it is so important to make sure the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives, before we open up the Bible? So many Christians live life grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, and their hearts are barren. They then turn to Christian books, podcasts, radio, and the Bible to help them out. But, the Word only has form and not power in their lives because the Spirit is not moving in their lives. Therefore, the result of that is their lives for God only have the form without the power. They have so much head knowledge, but are lacking in love. They become religious, instead of powerful. If I know that my heart is crusty and there is unconfessed sin, I put my Bible down, my books down, my laptop down, my journal down, and I repent until the Holy Spirit is moving upon my heart again. Then, my heart is positioned for receiving Rhema from God and when Rhema comes, so does faith! When faith comes, power comes, and with the power comes the victory!
Do you know what are the ingredients to Mountain-Moving faith?
It’s abiding, hearing, speaking with believing, and continuing to believe. I’ll explain.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” (Mark 11:22-23) Jesus gave this teaching to explain what He had just done with the fig tree. He saw a fig tree and cursed it because it was not bearing fruit. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? Does He have anger issues? Jesus wasn’t a hot-tempered man, but a Spirit-led man. Can I go around and curse every trees, any bugs, and all the animals and expect them to die too? No. The reason why Jesus cursed the fig tree was because by the Holy Spirit, He knew the Father wanted Him to curse the fig tree. If you hear from the Father that He wants you to curse the cat, do it! If you want to curse the cat just because you want to see how powerful your faith is, please don’t.
(John 5:19): “Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Jesus knew the Father was removing the fig tree, so Jesus, by the Holy Spirit unveiling or revelation, caught onto what God was doing and saying, and He executed it on the earth. What Jesus saw happening in heaven, He executed it on the earth through declaration. Jesus was so in sync with His Father. That’s the first key to mountain moving faith: Be in Sync w/ God. (also known as intimacy with God).
Then, when you are in sync with God, you will begin to have revelation by the Holy Spirit. He will use the Word of God and speak to you by other powerful means, and reveal the Father’s will. He will speak to you about how He wants certain things removed from this earth- like the fig tree. Or, He might show you how there are certain things that He wants released upon the earth- like Abraham’s descendants. The second key is to receive direct revelation from the Holy Spirit.
When, you get the revelation of the Father’s will and Word, now, we have to declare it with absolute boldness. We declare it until it comes to pass. The third key is to declare the revelation or Word of God with all boldness.
The fig tree didn’t shrivel up and die right away, it died after 24 hours. When we start declaring the will of the Father in faith and boldness, things might not change right away, but we must not doubt what we have declared! ”Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The fourth key is to stay in faith, even though things don’t change in the natural right away. We can’t be speaking in faith one moment, then, disclaim what we declared. We can’t make a declaration in faith after we heard from God, and then, go on speaking contrary. That brings cancelation to our declaration. It brings double-mindedness, and that is the kryptonite to your prayer and faith (James 1:8-9).
4 STEPS to Mountain Moving Faith
1) By in Sync with God
2) Receive Revelation from the Holy Spirit
3) Declare the Revelation or Word from God with all boldness
4) Continue in faith that what you said will come to pass even though it hasn’t manifested yet.
I believe in the “Name it and claim it” gospel, but I believe this is the true interpretation of it: God names it, and then you claim it! If you are a greedy, immoral person- who calls yourself a Christian, but is not in sync with God, and you don’t hear from God but from the idols in your life, and you think you can play the “name it and claim it” game, you are mistaken. Mountain moving faith is not a formula that anyone can use, it is not a formula, but the outworking of deep fellowship with God. You want to get mountain-moving faith working in your life? It’s not by learning a divine formula, it’s through growing in divine fellowship. We can’t expect to operate in the faith Jesus did, if we are willing to have the intimacy Jesus had with the Father.
When we are in this intimate fellowship with God, He will speak to us. He will make His Word comes alive in us and all of a sudden, we will realize that there are certain things on earth which shouldn’t be here, and that there are certain things that should be here. We come to know the will of the Father in a personal way. We must then speak out the revelation (the unveiled truth) that God is giving us!
The list can go on forever. The closer we are to the Lord, the more revelation we will receive from Him. The more Words we receive from the Lord, the more we can claim. Jesus often released the Kingdom power through declaration. He first got a revelation from heaven before He made those declarations on earth.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19) AMP
When Jesus gave us the keys after His resurrection, that means that have authority over what happens on this earth and in our lives. Some people say, “Whatever happens, it was God’s will!” No! I must not think everything will just pan out the way God wills it, I must enforce His will on this earth, we are “ambassadors of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
“Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18) AMP
We are entrusted by the Lord to execute His will on this earth and make earth look more like heaven right? That is what this verse is about isn’t it? There are two important lessons from these verses on binding and loosing:
If something is already forbidden in heaven, we must declare it to be forbidden on earth! Heaven is the realm of God’s perfect will. When the Holy Spirit give you a revelation of heaven or God’s perfect will, you have to declare it! We have to make declarations that certain things must GO and be cast into the sea! When we have the make declarations that certain things must COME and be manifested on the earth! Mountain moving faith makes declarations. Faith declarations releases the power of the Kingdom to remove mountain- or change natural things here on earth!
2) Get acquainted with heaven.
How are we going to know what to declare? We need to get intimate with our Father in Heaven, and through the Holy Spirit, have a first hand revelation of God’s will. We must read the Word of God and see what His will is. Get acquainted with the Word of God, because it reveals heaven’s will.
When it comes to our heavenly position as righteous, victorious, healed, free, seated with Christ, blessed, etc, we must declare it here on this earth! Get acquainted with your heavenly position in Christ, and declare it! You have the right to permit it through declaration because your position in Christ is permitted in heaven already (Eph. 1:3)!
Our God given destinies are already determined in heaven. Jesus was a man who perfectly followed the Father’s course for His life. The way He did it was He got download of it from the Holy Spirit. We must do the same! Then, Jesus declared it! He would say, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18) When you get a heavenly download of your destiny in God, declare it! When you receive insight from the Holy Spirit into God’s specific and perfect will for your life, “declare it!” “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31). Jesus often spoke of the cross. That was His assignment from heaven. Get acquainted with your heavenly assignment, and declare it!
There is so much power in our declarations! Sadly, man Christians make bold declarations which are: contrary to the Word of God, contradictory to their new identity in Christ, and opposite of their God-willed destinies. It must not be. Demon spirits will try to lure us into thinking thoughts contrary to the will of God, and then foolishly declaring them into our lives. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit will lead us into the will of God, and will anoint us to declare the truth over our lives and into this earth.
10 Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD ? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
When Sarah laughed, she laughed in unbelief! Her laughing was her mocking God’s faithfulness. You might have not laughed at God’s face, but have you done anything that mocked God’s faithfulness.
Have you done anything that proved your unbelief in Him and His Word?
We probably can all relate to Sarah’s unbelief. She did something so shameful, that she lied about it. It’s common for people to lie to cover up a shameful act. Humans always want to cover up their shame, and a lie is usually the first tool that is chosen to do the cover up job.
Have you ever felt shameful what something you have done?
We can all relate.
Do you see Sarah’s pattern?
1) She was in unbelief of God’s faithful and Word
2) She acted according to her unbelief,
3) She felt shameful for her actions
4) She tried to cover up the shame, and sinned more in the process.
By the way, just like faith has corresponding actions, so does unbelief. The corresponding actions of our unbelief is often something shameful.
Shame is usually covered up by more sin. When I felt shame, I used to cover it up with lying or access religiosity- neither of them please God. God wants us to be truthful about our shame and depend on His cross of grace for freedom from shame rather than our arrogant, fleshly efforts to make up for our sins.
But, Sarah broke out and broke through!
“By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11)
Sarah went down in the Hebrews 11 chapter as one of the Superstars of Faith. She lost some battles when it came to her faith, but she won the war of faith! It doesn’t matter if you lost some battles before, we all did. What is important is that we-like Sarah win the war of faith. Faith is a fight (1 Timothy 6:12). You might have lost come battles in this fight, but you must win the war!
Even if you doubted God’s faithfulness and fell into sin of unbelief, you can still finish strong as a man or woman of faith. As Sarah, made the transition from unbelief to faith, she received supernatural ability to given birth to her promise. As we walk in faith, we will: 1) Receive SUPERNATURAL power or ability 2) We will give birth to our God-given promises and walk into our ultimate calling. You cannot move in supernatural power by just just being holy, you need faith. You cannot give birth to the promises of God and walk in your calling by trying really hard in your own strength, you need faith for that.
Keys to Sarah’s breakthrough from a woman of unbelief to a woman of faith:
Many Old Testament pictures have New Testament principles. Remember when David threw a stone into the head of Goliath, he didn’t stop there did he? He got the sword and cut off Goliath’s head. The Lord dropped something into my spirit today, and now I have the privilege of articulating it with my mind. It’s like the Lord deposited it as a download, and I’m now opening up the file and speaking of it. The downloads come quickly, but the articulation takes a little more time. I love pulling out of my spirit what the Lord puts in.
The Lord showed me that the key to victory is the stone and the sword. We must not just use the stone, but also the sword!
1) Goliath represents the obstacles that we need to overcome
Goliath is that part of our lives that taunts us, that spirit that brings fear and worry, that sin that mocks God. In Hebrew, the word “giant” speaks of restrictions. Do you have a Goliath to overcome?
2) The stone represents the name of Jesus.
Jesus is the “chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). When we are facing our issues, fears, and our sins, we need the name of Jesus! We pray in the name of Jesus! “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (John 14:13). We need to declare the name of Jesus, because it is powerful! “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons.” (Mark 16:17) “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’” (Acts 3:6) Thank God for the name of Jesus! We have the name of Jesus, and we can use it and declare it over our lives and the lives of others.
3) The sword represents the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)(Hebrews 4:12).
After we have prayed in the name of Jesus against our Goliaths, we need to stand on the Word of God. After we have declared the name of Jesus over evil spirits at work, we need to hold on to the Word of God, and start using it. Just as a sword in not very useful in the sheath, so is the Word of God not very effective if it does not come out of our mouths. Do we speak more of the problems and the work of Goliath, or do we speak more of the Word of God? Victory and defeat starts with our mouths.
Some people pray in the name of Jesus over their sickness, and have others pray for them as well, but then, they just go on complaining to everyone how sick they are, and they are speaking defeatism instead of the Word of God. It’s good that they threw the stone at Goliath, but not they have to use the sword to finish the deal!
I remember when I used to be in bondage to the spirit of fear. A man of God prayed for me in Jesus name, and the anointing hit me so hard! Fear, stress, and worry was the last thing I could do after I got prayer. For three days, I was apparently free from this bondage. However, on the fourth day it came back in full force. What happened? That man of God used the stone on my Goliath, but I had to follow through and use the sword and confess the Word of God, but I didn’t, so even though my Goliath went down for a couple days, because the sword wasn’t used, he came alive again.
Some people pray for a financial breakthrough in the name of Jesus, but then they go on complaining about their problem rather than confessing the Word. We cannot just have the stone, but the sword! Some people pray in the name of Jesus, and ask Him to be their Savior, their Lord, and their strength. That’s the day the Goliath of their old life and nature takes a hit, and they begin a new life with a new nature. But, if they don’t use the sword, they will see their old life and old nature creep back into their lives.
Do you really want victory? Do you want all authority that the enemy has over your life and loved ones to be removed once and for all? Use the stone and the sword!
When I limit God, what I’m really doing is limiting myself. Why would I want to live a limited and restricted life? I cannot image what it would be like to live in prison. One of the things I enjoy doing the most is traveling with my wife. Next week, we get to go to Japan. I even love traveling domestically. I get a good kick out of going to explore new places. However, if I’m in jail, I cannot go pass a one mile radius or sometimes even a ten foot radius. I don’t know how I would handle that kind of restriction. Jesus doesn’t want us to live a restricted and limited life! (Luke 4:18) talks about Jesus came to bring “release to the captives” and “set free the oppressed“. (Gal. 5:1): “It is for freedom sake that Christ has set us free.” Do we get the message of the gospel? Our lives are supposed to be supernaturally limitless instead of full of limitations and restrictions. Jesus came so I would no longer just live in a small radius, but the I could go places I’ve never gone before, and do things I’ve never done before. I was in that small restricted prison cell before, but now, through Jesus who is “the door” I’m free! As a prisoner, I had so many limitations and restrictions. I’m not a prisoner anymore.
Jesus would preach over and over again, about how “with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). I wasn’t always with God. Before I was saved, I was “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But now, I am “with God”. When I was “without God” so many things were impossible. Holiness was impossible, supernatural healing was impossible, heaven on earth living was impossible, prosperity was impossible, having a walking, talking, intimate relationship with God was impossible, having awesome relationships was impossible, being healed of childhood issues was impossible, etc. But, now with God, all things are possible. Without God, some things were possible, but not all things. But, now that I’m with God, all things are possible. Do you see what Jesus is doing to everyone who is with God? He wants to remove the restrictions and limitations in our minds! If we can remove them from our minds, then faith can come, and by faith we can see Mt. Impossible moved!
Why is there the story of Enoch in the Bible? We read about a guy who gets so close to God, He cannot come back to earth. His story is in there so we would come to know that there are NO LIMITS when it comes to how close we can be to God. Why do we read of the dead being raised over and over again? So, we can get it in our minds, “There are NO LIMITS” in God. What is a greater miracle: cancer being healed or the dead being raised? Some Christians are afraid of cancer, they shy away from battling cancer w/ faith, and they are overcome. Stories of dead raising are spread throughout the Bible, so we would not be afraid of any kind of sickness or disease, knowing that our God raises the dead, and there are no limits in Him. Let’s summarize this paragraph: One, I could get as close to God without limits! Two, I could believe for miracles and healings without limits! God uses all kinds of in the Bible, from scholar, to tax collector, to prostitute, to hoe, a prisoner, an artist, a writer, to shepherd, to musician, an uneducated fisherman, someone real tall, Jew, Gentile, someone real short, someone real fat-Eli, and someone real skinny-John the Baptist, to a boy-Samuel, to a teen-David, to an adult-Saul, to a senior citizen- Abraham. Why? God wants you to get this in your heart: “There is no limits when it comes to Him!”
Some unsaved person or wanna-be Christian might think, “Wait, No limits in my life! Does that mean I could get real close to God, be used real powerfully by God, and also sleep around, and sin up a storm? Aren’t all things possible with God?” Anybody who thinks like this is NOT WITH GOD. A true Christian who is w/ God is not crazy about sin, but crazy about getting close to God and being used by Him to help people.
God wants us to break off all limitation thinking when it comes to His born again kids who have new ambitions for their lives such as: knowing God and serving Him! There are so many promises about limitation free, supernatural, and victorious living in the Bible; but those promises don’t apply to those who aren’t w/ God. The promises that apply to those who aren’t w/ God is their damnation!
Those who aren’t with God, are in prison! They might think they are free to sin because they have a dead conscience, but the truth is that they are in prison to their sin, and they will be judged if they don’t repent. There was a well-known pastor from Georgia- who openly justified his pastor friend getting a divorce, saying, “That pastor is so anointed, he’s above the laws on divorce!” That Georgian pastor was later convicted for being an adulterer in his own right, the tests showed that his nephew was really his son. Bizarre. Some so-called Christians think “I have freedom in Christ” there is “No limits to my life” and I’m “above the laws”, so I could live however I want! Let me make something clear: They are not “with God”. If someone is really with God and abiding in Him, there will be fruit from their lives to prove it (John 15).
But, for the Christian, who is “with God” we are invited to a life of “no limits”! The stupidest thing we can do is limit God and ourselves. That is the result of an un-renewed mind. Paul talked about the key to transformation being a renewed mind (Romans 12:2). One of the things we have to renew our minds to is that: There are no limits for me because I’m with God.
God told Moses that He formed His mouth, and God wanted Moses to be free from this “limitation mindset”. But, Moses wouldn’t break out of it. You see, God wanted to heal Moses’ stuttering problem. But, Moses’ kept insisting that He needed Aaron. God didn’t originally intend for Moses to have Aaron, but for Moses to be a powerful orator for God. However, because Moses limited God, he limited himself, and he had to settle for an Aaron, instead of a greater miracle. Could it be that we are setting for humanistic help instead of the supernatural miracles of God because of our un-renewed minds which limit God and ourselves. Let’s take all limits off of God and ourselves because we are in Christ and w/ God.
I CAN BE AS CLOSE TO GOD AS I WANT TO BE.
I CAN BE USED BY GOD BEYOND MY IMAGINATION.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly above all you can ask or think, according to His mighty working power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). Guess what God’s doing, breaking the limitation mindsets. God’s saying, no matter how big you can think, I can do more. “The works that I do, he will do, and greater works he shall do…” (John 14:12) Jesus did a whole lot. But, He wanted us to not limit ourselves to just the miracles that He did. He wanted us to dream big and pray big, without any restrictions in our minds. Why does Jesus mention “greater works”? He’s inviting us to take all limits off of God and ourselves.
If you are without God, discard this message, it doesn’t apply to you. You are more bound than you know, repent, turn to Jesus.
If you are with God, heed this message and apply it! Let’s stop limiting God and ourselves. You limit God, you are limiting yourself. That’s what they did in Nazareth, they plugged up the power of God Jesus could have released in their city. Nazareth limited God, and they limited themselves. You limit yourself, you are limiting God. Remember Moses and the whole Aaron deal. Christians, let’s dream big, pray big, and live big.
Limitation Mindsets that need to be broken:
Let’s get the “cants” and “can nevers” out of our mouths and our minds! “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13). Why does God say “all things”? Easy, He doesn’t want you to ever say, “I can to this, but I can never do that!” God wants to break the limitation mindset that says, “I can do this, but I will never be able to do that.”
Jesus had the Spirit without measure, without limitation, and so should we. Jesus didn’t put limits on how much anointing He could carry. Let’s breakdown all limitations, and believe for the Spirit without measure (limits).
Take the shackles off God. Let Him have a chance to bless mankind without limitation.” -John G. Lake
Satan wanted to be great, but will be reduced to nothing. Jesus wanted to serve, and is exalted to greatness. Who do I want to be more like?
In Genesis 11, we read about the Tower of Babel- a group of people gathered around one vision: they were out to make a name for themselves. When God broke down the tower, they lost everything! All their heart’s passion, life’s ambition, and motivation, was crushed! If you work to build your own name and fame, when it falls, you will have nothing left.
Some are building their ministries because they want to build their own names. They don’t care if they loose touch with God, as long as their ministries grow. If their ministries fall, they will be crushed. Then, there are those who can care less if their name gets out or not or how big their ministry grows, but are obsessed with their relationship with God. If their relationships grow or not, it’s not going to change them. What’s the difference? One finds ministry and fame as their source of life, while the other looks to God to be their source.
4) Do not get so caught up into the book, that you miss Jesus
Human beings cannot focus on everything at once. I’m at my desk right now and as I type, I’m focusing on the screen. Because, I’m focusing on the screen, I cannot focus on my water cup- which is to my left, my books on the self, my feet- which is under the desk, or what’s happening in the window of my office. Why? Our focus is limited.
“39You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)
These people who Jesus was talking about were the ones who were ticked because He healed a guy on the Sabbath day. The were religious, but not compassionate. Anyone who claims to have religion, but lacks compassion has a major problem- they are too focused on the rules and rituals, that they have lost focus on their relationship with God. Trying to follow the religious guidelines in the Bible is important! However, our main focus is our love relationship with the Lord! When we are focused on our relationship with God, compassion is inevitable.
That is why James clarifies and tells us that true religion cannot be separated from compassion, but is taking care of the widows and the orphans (James 1:27). Religious means: “Being devoted to religious beliefs or observances (laws).” If I claim to be a Christian, and I claim to be devoted to Christian beliefs and Biblical teachings, but I’m not walking in compassion and love, something is terribly wrong with me. If I was really devoted to Christian beliefs and Biblical teachings, I’d be a person who takes care of widows and orphans- or at least, has a heart of compassion which drives me to action. These Jews- who hated the fact that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, were people of the LAW, but they were not people of LOVE. But, God is love (1 John 4:19). So these people were people of the LAW, but not people of God! If they were people of God, they would be people of love. That is why Jesus says to them, “But I know you and recognize and understand that you have not the love of God in you.” (John 5:42) If we miss Jesus, we also miss love! When we find a relationship with Jesus, we find love. Many claim to have a relationship with Jesus, but they don’t have love working in their lives, and they are extraordinarily selfish. Maybe, they are focused on the book, but missed the Author. Maybe they crashed into the sign, but never go to their destination. You see, the Bible is a sign, it’s supposed to direct us to a relationship with the Lord- which is our ultimate destination. Sign crashing is a tragedy.
5) Jesus didn’t crave human honor and looked for no mortal fame, we shouldn’t either
“I receive not glory from me (I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame).” (John 5:41)
Unless I come to that same place, and can say what Jesus said, I’m not like Jesus. If I’m growing in Christ-like character, the less we will crave and look for human honor and temporary fame. To Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, the most influential and famous person in the last 2,000 years, He never desired Himself to be great before people. The key to having Christ-like impact, we need to have this Christ-like humility!
A man who is stuffed and satisfied and overflowing from a huge dinner is not craving more food. In the same way, Jesus was so stuffed, satisfied, and overflowing in His relationship with His Father, that He didn’t crave human praise or greatness! May we be the same! In (John 4), Jesus told the woman that as Believers in Christ, our inheritance is that we can be an overflowing spring of living water (John 4:14). If I’m an empty can, people can pour trash in me and I will become a trash can. People can pour candy on me and I’ll be a candy filled can. But, if you pour trash and candy into an overflowing spring, not much will change! The trash won’t sink into it, and the candy will fall out of it. As Believers, our hearts are to be an overflowing spring of God’s presence and love, and even when people trash us with mean words and unfair treatment or candy us up with compliments and accolades, they will not really determine our state of being, but instead, the trash and candy will fall out. A person filled with trash is stinky! A person filled with candy- so to speak- is conceited, big-headed, and deceived. A person with half trash and half candy is schizophrenic. Those who are greatly impacted and nourished by compliments and accolades, are also equally impacted and poisoned by discouragement. A person who is filled and flooding living water knows what it means when Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9) know their Shepherd intimately and their “cups overflow” (Psalm 23:5)
Jesus didn’t spend one minute, thinking to himself, “How can I be the next Moses?” ”How can I be the next Elijah?” “How can I be great?” “How can I be an honorable preacher?” ”What must I do to win the respect of all the people?” ”What do I need to do to leave a legacy?” No way! Jesus didn’t give a rip about any of those things! What Jesus spent time thinking about was, “Father, how can I carry out your will?” ”How can I serve and help suffering humanity whom I love dearly?” I have no business thinking to myself, “How can I become the next Billy Graham?” ”How can I become the next Reinhard Bonnke?” ”How can I become a famous preacher?” ”How can I make a name for myself?” ”How can I advertise myself?” Never! My hearts cry and minds discussion must be: “How can I do the will of my Father?” ”How can I help suffering humanity?” This is huge! If we don’t get this, we don’t get humility, and if we don’t get humility, we don’t experience God’s grace! (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)
I don’t have to impress anyone! I’m don’t have to earn respect from anyone! I don’t have to win myself popularity! I “must be about my Father’s business” and be “moved with compassion” as I see the people “without a Shepherd.” Because I’m satisfied by God alone- people’s praises don’t effect me, and people’s rejection can’t take anything away from Me! If I was living for human honor and mortal fame, for someone to slander me and take that all away, would devastate me. But, if that was never what I was living for, they couldn’t take anything away from me.
The reason why Jesus wept over going to the cross was not because He was afraid of people’s rejection. Jesus was so satisfied in His relationship with His Father, He couldn’t be affected by good or bad treatment from people, He was and is a rock- the Chief Cornerstone! However, Jesus wept in the Garden because He would have to be separated from the One who nourished His soul from eternity past- His Father in Heaven! Because, as all of our sin fell upon Jesus, the Father had to reject His Son on the cross, so we could be accepted as sons and daughters of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). That’s what hurt Jesus the most! It wasn’t because He had to loose His popularity- yes, Jesus was very popular and then lost it all when He went to the cross, because people are fickle! But, that didn’t bother Jesus at all! His Father was His lifeline, not His popularity.
3) A key to hearing God is humility and surrender
30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30)
Jesus was someone who heard the voice of God. While Jesus was on the earth, He was not omniscient. He took on human limitations (Phil. 2). When power went from Him, and He asked, “Who touched me?” He really didn’t know. Jesus said that even He didn’t know the time when the Father has appointed the end of the world. However, Jesus knew a whole lot more than most folks. How did He have such incredible insight into His life and the lives of others, and the will of the Father? He heard the voice of God! How can we hear the voice of God more clearly and frequently?
Humility: the attitude that says, “By myself I can do nothing”. We need to be at a place where we know that our works and our ideas cannot get us to fulfill out God given purpose. God doesn’t want us to beg Him to get on our program. He wants us to hear His voice, and get with His program! Unless He speaks and we hear, we will be on our program. Contrary to popular opinion, a successful life is not defined by how you got a big dream for your life and fulfilled it. A successful life is defined by: did you hear from God, and we what you heard? Unless we hear from God, our life cannot be successful!
Surrender: the attitude that says, “I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me”. If we have all these selfish desires, we will not hear the Spirit’s voice, but the voice of our selfishness. Our selfishness screams like a madman, while many times, the Lord speaks in the still small voice. The best way to hear the voice of God not: reading a book on the voice of God, getting an impartation prayer from a prophet, fasting, or going to a prophetic conference. All those things help. But, the best way to hear the voice of God is: a heart surrendered to pleasing God alone. It doesn’t matter how many books you read on the voice of God and how many sermons or teachings you get on the subject, if you have un-surrendered selfishness, the screams of the voice of selfishness will quite often drown out the sound of the voice of God.
1) It’s not about the place, the season or time, or the man, it’s about Jesus.
Remember the man who was crippled for 38 years, who was sitting by the pool of Bethesda? He was waiting because once a year the waters would stir and the first man who jumped in would be healed. When Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” He replied, “I do not have a man to help me into the pool when the waters are stirred. Then, Jesus spoke a command over his life, “Get up!” He was healed immediately! Then, was able to get up.
Some people are in desperate places, and they are hoping to go to the right place, they are hoping to be in the right time, and they are hoping for the right person. Even today, the church is looking towards being in the: right place at the right time being ministered to by the right man. When rumor started spreading that God was moving in Lakeland, Florida, people hopped on planes and drove overnight to get there. They thought that Lakeland was the right place, and 2008 was the right time, and Todd Bentley was the right man. I’m not saying that something significant wasn’t happening there, I went there myself. But, from this story, Jesus is breaking all these mindsets, because it’s not about getting to the happening place, at the perfect time, being ministered to by the anointed man- it’s about Him! Sometimes, we get too focused on the place, the time, and the man.
I don’t think I have to get on a place and fly to Argentina to get a breakthrough. You know why? Jesus is my breakthrough! Now, if the Lord tells you to go there, you must step out in obedience. Obedience reflects faith, and faith attracts breakthrough. However, the mindset that thinks God is only moving in certain geographic areas must be broken. God everywhere. Better yet, for the Christian, God’s in me! I can get a breakthrough in any part of the world, because of Jesus!
Some Christians give certain geographic locations too much credit. I remember hearing two ministers conversing about one of the ministers recent trips to France. The other minister asked him, “Isn’t it difficult to minister there? There is so much witchcraft, and the spiritual climate is dark.” The other minister replied, “It’s not difficult. It’s easy. My wife and I, we carry our own climate!” It’s not about the location, it’s about the Lord!
I remember growing up in youth group, when we went up to the mountains for a retreat, our faith level soared! We thought that Holy Spirit was on steroids up on the mountains, but was asleep back in church building. If we put God in the box, we put ourselves in a box. Some people put God in the box of a place, a time, and a person. Place: Let’s go to every place God is moving! Time: God doesn’t move supernaturally any more, that was back in the day during Bible times. Person: God is only able to minister to me through a Foursquare pastor!
I’m not saying there aren’t specific places God is moving in a special way, I’m not saying that there weren’t special times where God has moved in powerful ways, and I’m not saying that there aren’t people who are used by God in special ways. The pool of Bethesda was really a place where certain things happened during certain times, and I’m certain that certain people pushed certain sick people into the pool to get them healed! However, the main thing is: Let’s not put God in any box, and let’s look to Jesus who is our breakthrough!
2) Rather than trying to help everyone, help who the Lord directs you to.
We read that at the pool of Bethesda, there was a “great number” of lame, paralyzed, and blind. Why did Jesus pick this man out all of them? Jesus went up to the man to talk to him about his condition, and then healed him. Was it just a random chance? Nope! Jesus didn’t do things randomly, but purposefully, as He was led by the Lord. When Jesus looked at this man, He knew that He was to minister to him.
If Jesus tried to minister to all of the people sick, He would have over exhausted himself. Jesus didn’t fight every fight, but picked His battles as His Father led Him. In the previous chapter, Jesus didn’t do open air preaching to get Samaria saved. He didn’t do door to door evangelism. He didn’t pass out tracks. He just talked to that one person that the Father had willed His Son to talk to. As Jesus walked out in obedience, the woman got saved, and she got the town to listen to Jesus, and the whole town got saved! Talk about efficiency! Talk about strategy! The best way to be efficient and strategic is: Be close enough to hear what the Father is saying, and do what He shows you.
19Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. (John 5:19-20)
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Let’s first talk about: Hope. Hope has to do with optimism. Hope is the opposite of negative thinking. To be people of love we need to be people of hope. To be people of faith, we need to be people of hope. If we think negatively about other people, we are not walking in love. If we are negative towards circumstances, we are not walking in faith! If we are people of love and faith, hope gets taken care of. If we become people of hope- we are people of love “love always hopes” (1 Corinthians 13:7) and “faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1). Let’s get the negativity out, and abide/remain in hope.
Now, I want focus on love and faith.
Usually, people start as people of love. They encounter the Holy Spirit, and they have love in their hearts. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:5) It’s not hard to be people of love, we just need to get blasted by the Holy Spirit! When I was 13, I was baptized by the Holy Spirit, and from that day, I had a strong love for God, and had a new love for people. I could say I was full of love, but I wasn’t full of faith. Or course, I had saving faith- faith for salvation, but I was not full of faith! But, as I started to really commit myself to the Word of God- I started growing in faith. My love for God was strong when I got the Holy Spirit, but my faith became strong when I got a hold of the Word of God.
Some people have great love, but they don’t have great faith.
God wants to take His people from not just being people of great love for Him, but great faith in Him. I’ll explain how they are different. But, (1 Corinthians 13:13), lets us know what we cannot just be people of love, but also people of hope and faith. There are people who love God so much, but they don’t have strong faith. Some people are full of love for God, but they aren’t “full of faith” like Stephen and Barnabas (Acts 6:5, 11:24). I was full of love when I got baptized with the Spirit, but I wasn’t full of faith- I had saving faith, but wasn’t full of faith. God wants to make us people full of love and faith!
Pastor Jerry is a pastor I deeply respect, he tells his story of how when he was a teenager, He loved God with all his heart, but He was bound to lust, and he couldn’t get free. He so wanted to get free, but He couldn’t. He tried so hard to get free, but he was constantly defeated. Then, he got his hands on an audio teaching series, which was about the “righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). As I heard him tell his testimony about what this audio series did for him, tears began to fill his eyes. I’m sure this was the 500th time, he told this story. He told of how the words cut him to heart, and He realized that God loved Him, and saw Him as righteous because of what Jesus did on the cross, and that what He had to do to get free was put His faith, not in His ability to get free, but upon the truth of the Word of God, which declared Him to be righteous! He decided that He was going to be a man of faith! He got the Word of God into Him, and He trusted and believed the Word of God. He would confess the Word of God! He wasn’t going to believe His past or track record, which told him he was a filthy failure, but He was going to believe the unchanging Word of God! As He did, He got free, and stayed free, and has been helping other people get free! Today, he pastors the fastest growing church in my city. He always loved God, he was a man of love. Out of his love for God, he wanted to keep the commandments of God. But, he would find himself defeated, because while he was not lacking in love for God, he was weak in faith!
If you want to overcome the issues in your life, it is going to take more than a sincere love for God, it is going to take faith in God! (1 John 5:4): “This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” It’s faith in God that releases the power of God in our lives. Love is the culture of heaven, but faith is what channels down heaven’s resources to earth.
Jesus told the Leper, “your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:19) Sin is a lot like leprosy, it spreads quickly, is contagious, and brings decay. To be free from sin’s bondage and influence, we need more than a love for Jesus, we need faith in God, His Word, and His Promises!
Peter answered those questioning him about the healing that just happened, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” (Acts 3:16). It wasn’t love for the name of Jesus, but faith in the name of Jesus! God’s will for us is to be completely healed: spirit, soul, and body! It comes through faith in Jesus! When there is faith, there is healing, and all will be able to see it. Faith in Jesus produces results that people can see. Faith pulls down the power of God from the spiritual realm into our earthly realm, and everyone in the earthly realm can “see” the change!
Jesus touched two blind men who were praying for their healing and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Matthew 9:29) It will be done according to our faith! Jesus didn’t say, “It shall be done according to your love.”
The power of God isn’t pulled down by need, or everyone who was a leper would have been healed. Jesus said, “And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27) Naaman had faith! It’s faith that is the channel that connects heaven’s power to our need on earth! If need brought down the power of God, then everyone would receive the saving power of Jesus because everyone needs to be saved! But, no, it’s only those who have faith, who connect with the soul saving power of God and bring it into their lives. Love makes us want to be free! But, faith is what gets us free! When get to a place of being full of faith, and live “walking by faith, not by sight” we will get free and stay free. We will get cleaned up and stay cleaned up.
As we are experiencing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the fire and glory of God is coming, different issues are surfacing. When the glory of God visited Isaiah, his issues surfaced and he was confronted with his deep sins. He cries, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5) As the glory of God comes, our issues will surface. If we are people of love, we will want to be free from our issues, but it will take people of faith to overcome their issues! God doesn’t want to make us people of love, but people of faith!
God wants us to be people who are full of love, but also full of faith!
Love doesn’t equal faith.
God doesn’t want us to just love Him, but to also have faith in Him! You can love someone, but not have faith in them. I could think of about three guys off the top of my head who I love, but I don’t trust what they say, I don’t believe them when they talk, when they make a promise to me- it’s not even worth 5 cents, and if I had a daughter their age, I definitely wouldn’t want her to marry any of them! But, I love these three guys. I pray for them more than anyone besides my family, but I don’t trust them. Some people are that way with God: they love Him, but they don’t have much faith in Him- when He makes promises to them they don’t pay attention, and they don’t believe His Word! If we don’t believe God’s Word, we don’t believe God, because He and His Word are one.
Pastor Jerry loved God as a teenager, but He didn’t really pay attention to His Words and believe His Word! He had the love, but lacked the faith. He remained in love, but wasn’t remaining in faith. He had love for God, but wasn’t full of faith like Stephen and Barnabas. When He made that transition of being a just a man who loved God, to a man of love and a man of faith, that’s when everything changed for him. I don’t care how much a soldier loves His king, if He goes to battle without armor he will die! His love will drive him to the war! But, his lack of armor will make him a casualty! There are Christians who have radical love for Jesus, they would die for Him, but they are missing armor- they lack the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). Without a shield, you can still do some damage against the kingdom of darkness. But, you will not last long. How many people do you know, who were used powerfully by God in the past, but Satan has them in prison today?
Love is the greatest and we cannot out grow love!
In fact, for our faith to work, there must first be love. We are to have “faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6) Love is to be the gasoline for our faith. Love ought to be what powers our faith. We believe and trust God because of love! We have pray in faith for healings and salvations because of our love for people. We don’t pursue great faith so we can have lots of money, lots of fame, a big ministry, or our selfish needs met. We shouldn’t pursue faith just to be healed, but because of our love for God- and so we can serve Him unhindered. We pursue great faith because of great love. The motive of faith should be love for God and people, not the Rolls Royce, the cool stories, or success! What are you believing God for? Is it because of love? Again, love is the gasoline to our vehicle called faith. We need both. What if you just have a tub of gasoline, but you don’t have a car. You probably won’t go anywhere. What if you have gas, but your car has major problems like a broke down engine, slashed tires, and no electricity. You might have gas, but you still aren’t going to go anywhere. Some people have love for God, but their faith is damaged- they aren’t going to get anywhere.
The way we move forward in God is by faith.
“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) How do we move forward? Faith. Some Christians are always going backwards, and they think that God is the problem. They think God is unfair! Nothing is wrong with God, something is wrong with their faith. If they had faith, they’d be moving forward and walking into their destiny!
How can we be people full of faith?
1) Get the Word of God into you
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Pastor Jerry actually took time to listen to those audio tapes that had the Word of God in them. I remember Rick Warren asking his congregation? How many of you believe everything you see on T.V. is true? How many of you believe everything you hear on the radio is true? How many of you believe everything you watch in the movies is true? Not many rose their hands. Then, he asked, “How many of you believe that God’s Word is true?” Many hands went up. He responded passionately by saying, “Why do we spend so much time with things that aren’t true, rather than with the Word of God which is true!”
We can’t force ourselves to be full of faith. Being full of faith isn’t the product of fleshly striving. However, if I position myself in front of the Word, then faith will come. I don’t have to try to squeeze faith out. Faith just comes. If we don’t like our position in life, we can re-position ourselves. The best to place to position ourselves is like Mary- at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Words. We cannot be full of faith is we are not full of the Word. Some people water down the Word of God, so they have watered-down faith.
2) Believe the Word of God
(2 Kings 7:1-3):
Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, five quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver, and ten quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver. The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!” But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!”
When I read that passage, the Lord showed me that there are on-lookers and eaters in the Church. This officer didn’t believe the Word of God, so he saw it come true in other people’s lives, but not in his own. The Word of God is powerful! That’s not the question! The question is whether it is powerful in our lives or not?
There are those who will witness God’s power and glory in third person, then there are those who will experience it or eat of it in first person.
What is the difference between a spectator verses a partaker? What distinguishes the one who eats or experiences the reality of the Word of God in his/her life over the one who just looks on from a distance? Why do millions of Christians just read about or watch on T.V. the miracles that God is doing through Reinhardt Bonnke and Benny Hinn, when Reinhardt Bonnke and Benny Hinn don’t have a Holy Spirit on steroids, but the exact same Holy Spirit we all have? Why do many go through the Christian experience just listening to the stories of great men and women of God, when there are others who have stories to tell?
Answer: Do we hear the Word of God and believe it or doubt it?
The officer in the passage above heard the Word, but doubted it. Therefore, while he was able to see the reality of the Word work in the lives of others, He didn’t experience it for himself. The Word of God that the officer heard was good news. However, he thought the news was too good to be true. That Word proved to be true, but not in or through His life. It still happens all the time today! He ended up dying without being able to eat of the Word. The Word of God is full of good news, if we think it is too good to be true, that’s what it will be in our lives, and we will die without feasting on the blessings of God. If we would just trust God’s Word, we will eat of it!
The Bible wasn’t given so we could hold cute Bible Studies, argue with each other, and have seminaries! The Bible was given so that we would “believe” God’s Word. (John 20:31) says, “But these are written that you may believe…”
What makes it hard to believe the Word of God? Satan. Satan is always attacking the Word of God. Satan hates the Word of God because He hates God. Satan attacked the Word of God in Adam and Eve, striking questions and doubt. Satan attacked the promises of God to the people of Israel, so they doubted that God would led them into the Promise Land, so they missed out- except Caleb and Joshua. Satan attacked the Word of God in Jesus and started tempting him by saying, “If you are the Son of God…” (Luke 4:3&9) Satan is always attacking what the Word of God says about children of God- that we are righteous, justified, and without condemnation, and the Bible tells us that Satan is the “accuser of the brethren.” (Revelation 12:10)
Satan is attacking the Word of God because he’s trying to destroy our faith. Satan is fighting us for our faith. We have to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).
3) Speak the Word of God
The Lord showed me that so many Christians have a sword, but they leave it in their sheath. What does that mean? It means they the Word in their hearts, but they never get it in their mouths. Four times in Revelation do we read of how Jesus has a sword in His mouth and Jesus uses it again the enemy (Revelation 1:16, 2:16, 19:15, 21)! Hey, we are one w/ Christ, so we have a sword in our mouths too! Jesus used His Sword by speaking out loud! A lot of Christians don’t know that for them to use the sword of the Word of God, they have to put it in their mouth and start speaking it. If we want to be full of faith, we have to be full of the Word, and be people who speak the Word. If we want to fight the good fight of faith, we have to speak the Word. If we want to overcome the issues in our lives, we have to speak the Word.
Jesus was our perfect example, when He was tempted by the Devil, He spoke the Word of God. Jesus didn’t think the Word of God, He spoke it! It’s not good enough to just know you are the righteousness of God in Christ. You need to believe it and get it deep in your heart, and let it overflow out of your mouth! “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17) We out to hear the Word of God not just from others, and from our own lips! (1 Samuel 30:6:): “David strengthened himself in the Lord.” David didn’t need others to encourage him. He had the Word of God in him, and he would speak it out, and preached to himself! People full of faith are not just those who preach on the street corners, but those who preach to themselves when they are in warfare! David didn’t go get prayer from the entire ministry team, he had the Word in His mouth! Sometimes, I get frustrated with people who come forward for prayer for the same thing all the time, with no victory. They come with that same victim mentality, like a dog with their tail tucked in! They say, “Pray for me…” The way we get free and stay free is not having an anointed person lay hands on us, but it’s by walking by faith- getting the Word, believing it, and speaking it over and over and over! It’s by using our tongues as a sword! We aren’t supposed to live defeated. A defeated Christian is an oxymoron. The Bible says that we are to “reign in life with Christ Jesus” (Romans 5:17). You might think to yourself, “Come on we are only human!” That is a lie from hell. We are one spirit with Jesus and we have resurrection power on the inside of us. To be a people of love, we just need to know who God is. But, to be a people of faith, we need to know not just who God is, but who we are in Him! We aren’t to just know it, but believe, and speak it! It’s not mind over matter, it’s about trusting God at His Word, and believing that His Word is more true than anything around us!
I remember when I was under the bondage of the spirit of fear. I wouldn’t just have heart murmurs, but I would have these cold chills run down my body when I would get an anxiety attack. I was going through this for about two weeks, and I went to a Bible Study one Monday night. That Monday, the pastor told all the young people to come to the front so he could pray over them. I went, and when he laid his hands on me, I felt electricity and fire! I was on the floor weeping. After that experience, I couldn’t feel anxiety even if I tried. I was walking in the glory cloud for three days! Then, after the third day, I was as depressed as before! Receiving prayer can get us free, and give us a jump start, but unless we learn to walk by faith and fight the good fight of faith, we will not be able to stay free and be victorious. I should have gotten some promises from God’s Word and got them in my heart and started to confess them with my mouth, and then I would have not just gotten free, but stay free.
Victory and defeat starts in our mouths! “The power of life and death is in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21) David defeated Goliath first with His tongue before His sling.
Before the woman with the issue of blood was healed, she was confessing her healing.
Joshua and Caleb first had victory talk in their mouth before they took possession of the promise land.
One encounter with the Holy Spirit, will get you full of love for God (Romans 5:5). But, it’s living a lifestyle of hearing, studying, speaking the Word, and trusting and obeying God, that will get us full of faith!
“3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?5It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.” (Mark 14:3-5)
Notice how people were gossiping about this woman from Bethany. They were speaking words of anger and framing her in a negative light, and they didn’t just murmur among themselves, they went straight to her face and criticized her harshly. Their main complaint against this woman was that she wasted a bottle of perfume that costed about 35,000 dollars in today’s currency. Here is an interesting thought: If she gave the perfume to them, would they have still gossiped about her, and criticized her? What if she sold it, and gave each of the seven critics 5,000 dollars each, would they still have murmured among each other about her? Nope! They’d be her best friend in a flash! Do you see what their problem is? It’s not what she did with the perfume, even though from the surface level it appears so. Their real reason for bitterness against the woman’s act of worship to Jesus was: JEALOUSY. They wanted what she had! They wanted the money to come to them! They were really greedy people whose greed led to jealousy. By the way, if you had no greed, you’d have no jealousy- because greed is the mother of jealousy.
I heard a preacher named Jesse Duplantis talking about his critics. He was saying, “They write all these things about my beautiful house. They go on the radio and they are always talking about my house how a preacher shouldn’t live in such an amazing house. Then, they come up to me and say, ‘I don’t like your house!’ I tell them, ‘No! You like my house! You don’t like your house! You want my house! That’s why you are always talking about it! You’re jealous!” I believe the same dynamic is happening here. They are jealous over this woman’s perfume just being spent on Jesus.
Jealous people express their jealousy in sly ways. They try to cover up their jealousy. These gossipers didn’t say, “I’m so jealous of what Jesus got! I’m so jealous of the money that the woman just wasted! I wish I had that kind of money! If I did, I would have never wasted it like that! Why didn’t God bless me with money, I’d use it in a better way!” These gossiping, bitter-hearted, jealous souls brought the poor into their argument against the woman, when the poor was the furthest thing from their hearts!
They didn’t care about the poor, they cared about the money. They weren’t compassionate about the poor, they were jealous over what had just happened! It reminds me when the Pharisees were scheming about how to kill Jesus . They tell Pilate that Jesus is an enemy of Caesar, and for that reason Pilate shouldn’t let Jesus go, but crucify Him! (John 19:11-13) Dude, I wasn’t born yesterday! The Jewish leaders didn’t give a rip about Caesar, they were jealous over Jesus, and bringing up Caesar was just a candy coated cover up!
Jealous people gossip about the person they are jealous over. Those employees who gossip about their boss when he or she’s not around, are really jealous over his/her position. They talk about how he’s not doing a good job because they think they can do a better job- they coveting his position. They will try to cover it up with strong arguments too, but it’s really just a cover up of what’s really going on in their hearts. Successful people always have jealous people gossiping about them! Once a pastor gets popular and successful, Satan will sow seeds of jealousy in other people’s hearts, and soon, books will be written about why this pastor is a heretic, radio hosts will talk about why this pastor is a fluke, and those books will have many seemingly valid points! Those points are just cover ups of the true intentions of the jealous.
Who do you gossip about? Who do you talk negatively about? Can I suggest that there might be some jealousy in your heart? You might defend yourself saying, “Why would I be jealous over someone I don’t think so highly about?” You don’t need to think highly about someone to be jealous about them. You just need to think poorly about yourself. By the way: No child of God has the right to think poorly about himself or herself! We have Christ in us the hope of glory, we are worth the shed blood of Jesus, we are royalty!”
6“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)
Jealous over her relationship with Jesus
Those who have a radical relationship with Jesus will have other people be jealous of their relationship with Jesus. These gossipers were also jealous of her relationship with Jesus. That was a type of love and sacrifice they had never seen! Jesus was a very popular public figure at this time! Being connected to Jesus meant, props to you! They were jealous over her relationship with Jesus, and that is why they had to let Jesus know how she was in error. They tried to put her down.
Where do I draw that conclusion? Well, Matthew gives more insight into what really happened in Bethany, and he writes, ” When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. ”This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” (Matthew 26:8) Those with the critical spirit were the disciples. The disciples were jealous of her relationship with Jesus.
Do you wonder why prophetic people and those who have healing/deliverance ministries are attacked by those who don’t have the spiritual gifts, supernatural power, and multiplying fruit! Those critics are jealous of the relationship that these men and women of God have with Jesus. They will bash those who have gold dust showing up in their meetings. If gold dust showed up as they preached, they’d have no problem with it- especially if everyone thought they were so anointed! They criticize those who heal the sick, but if people were getting miraculously healed from blindness, deafness, and paralysis under their preaching, they’d have no problem with it! They hate those meetings where people get slain in the Spirit, but if they prayed for people, and resurrection power was released from their hands- instead of just hot air and bad breath, they’d be happy with it! If you see someone with a relationship with Jesus that’s greater than yours, don’t put them down. You don’t have to. You have two options: to get offended with jealousy, or to get excited with faith-knowing that you that so much more is available and you will be next to walk into that greater dimension. Offended and jealous people don’t receive much from the Lord, excited faith people do.
We gossip about those people we never take time to understand. To understand means to stand under, it is an act of humility. That is why proud people can never understand people. These critics never took time to hear this woman from Bethany. They just took one little piece of information, drew many conclusions and criticisms! Have you ever done that? I know I have. They just saw one thing this woman did, and labeled her as a wasteful idiot!
What if they took some time to hear her out?
What if they sat and just listened to share her story? Luke’s account tells us that this woman had lived a sinful life (Luke 7:37). What if they heard tell of how she was sold into prostitution by her mother at the age of 10, and they heard how she went through life thinking she was just a piece of garbage because she grew up in the dumps? What if they heard about how she would cut herself every night because of the self-hatred that had welled up in her from being rejected? What if they heard her speak of how men abused her, and trashed her? What if they heard her story about how she had demons invading her every night for twenty years so she couldn’t ever sleep without fear and nightmare so had a bad case of insomnia for fifteen years? And, what if they heard how one day she heard Jesus preaching, and all the demons fled out of her, and she felt free for the first time in twenty years. What if they heard her testimony of how when she heard the Words of Jesus, and her broken, beat up, dead heart came to life again- and she felt like a woman of dignity for the first time! What if they heard about how it was the man from Nazareth whose Words actually enabled her to hope again, and actually enjoy life again! What if they could hear about how she has a supernatural joy and peace ruling over her heart because of Jesus! If they took time to hear her out, they probably won’t have been as quick to despise and belittle her.
If there is someone you just don’t understand, instead of criticizing that person, first get to know them. Ask them questions about their lives. Humble yourself and seek to understand or stand under that person. I guarantee that if we did that more, we’d attack people less, and we’d love people more.
33They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 8:33-35)
Most Christians don’t verbally argue with other Christians about who is greater, that is just silly. Imagine hearing a conversation with pastors yelling at each other, “I’m more anointed!” ”No, my preaching is more powerful!” ”No, I am healing the sick more than you!” ”I pray more than you!” ”Demons are more afraid of me than you!” ”I love Jesus so much more than you!” ”Well, I’m hungrier for the Holy Spirit” ”Well, I have more compassion for souls!” ”Shut up, I’m more important in the Kingdom than you!” Silly huh?
While those conversations aren’t verbally expressed, those conversations do go through the minds of many Christians. We are thinking about how we compare to that person, we sometimes get into this competitive mode with our own teammates.
I love what Jesus does in this passage. He confronts them about their arguments. Now, the disciples were arguing out loud, have you ever had arguments going on in your heart about how great you are in comparison with another brother or sister, or how inferior you are in comparison to another?
Here is Jesus’ response to those arguments: Don’t focus on those things! Jesus shifts their focus! What you need to be focusing on is being a servant! Don’t focus on building a large ministry, don’t focus on trying to be a great preacher, don’t focus on being more anointed, don’t focus on how great this other person is in comparison to you, don’t focus on how holy you are in comparison to another, don’t focus on how great your influence is are isn’t, don’t compare how hungry you are for God or how compassionate you are for people, don’t count score of all that you accomplished, but really focus on how you can help people as a servant!
The focus is never PERSONAL GREATNESS, the focus is HELPING PEOPLE.
Those who seek after being GREAT, will not be.
Those who seek after HELPING PEOPLE, will be great.
You can choose whether you will be GREAT in God’s Kingdom or LEAST. If you want to be LEAST, seek after being GREAT. If you want to be GREAT, seek after how you can help people. Many in the Body of Christ want to be great, but how many of them really want to help?
42Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
What is a servant? A servant is someone who is QUICK TO HELP! A servant is others focused. A servant is on a mission to make LIFE BETTER FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Lots of Christians have this attitude: “How can I be blessed?” How many Christians have this attitude: “How can I bless him or her today?” Some of the most selfish people I have ever met were professing Christians. That’s not the way it should be. Jesus was a Servant, He was always looking for ways to help people.
A servant has a different way of seeing and hearing. They are quick to see ways they can help, and they are quick to hear how they can help. This is the question in the heart of the servant: HOW CAN I HELP? They walk into a room, and that question arises within them. They meet with people, and that question arises within them.
There is a world that is in need of help! However, if our eyes are only on ourselves, we will not be able to help.
A Christian can be working hard doing the work of the ministry, but he is motivated by one of the two: a focus on personal greatness or a focus on helping people.
I used to be somebody who hated being used by other people. I hated it so much, that it became a phobia. Naturally, isn’t that not a great feeling? It’s not a good feeling when a “friend” borrows money from you, but never pays you back. It’s not a good feeling when people just want to be your friend because they have another hidden selfish agenda. I used to be afraid of being used by other people, so I would try my best to keep myself from being used by other people. But, you know what? That’s something the Lord wants all of us to give up if we want to become great. To be great means we are going to be a servant of all. Servants aren’t afraid of being used! People are afraid of being used by others because they feel like they are not important when that happens. However, a servant doesn’t care if he feels important or not, a servant cares about helping people…period. Servants aren’t those who will only serve if they can get a whole lot back in return. That’s a merchant, not a servant. A servant serves to serve. Jesus died for every single soul ever born on the cross. What if His attitude was: I hate being used by people, unless I know for sure that everyone will give me appreciation and make me feel important by receiving me as Lord and Savior, I’m not going to go to the cross! Jesus went to the cross, knowing that most people wouldn’t give Him anything in return, but He did it because He wanted to help people- He’s a real Servant.
“And He taught and said to them, ‘Is it not written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.” (Mark 11:17)
The Church is Jesus’ house (1 Peter 2:5)(Ephesians 2:20). The Believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we as Believers are Jesus’ house too (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Are we a house of prayer for all nations of are we a den of thieves?
A house of prayer is connected to God. A den of thieves is connected to greed.
A house of prayer is a people who offer up prayers- or giving. A den of thieves is a people who are not giving, but taking.
A house of prayer is a company of people who give prayer/blessings to others for free. A den of thieves are a company who just want to free-load (take a load of free stuff without giving to others)
A house of prayer is a house of servants. A den of thieves is a house of tyrants.
A house of prayer is selfless. A den of thieves is selfish.
A house of prayer is a bless-them club. A den of thieves is a bless-me club.
A house of prayer just wants to help people. A den of thieves just wants to get more greatness to themselves.
As individuals and as the body of Christ, may we truly be servants, may we truly be a house of prayer.
1. TO HEAR FROM GOD, WE MUST HAVE FAITH THAT IT WILL HAPPEN
One of the greatest deceptions that Satan is spreading among God’s children is that they are not worthy enough to hear from God. Many Christians can probably name one person that they believe hears from God. However, when it comes to them personally hearing from God, they aren’t too confident. If asked about whether Christians hear from God today or not, most Christians will say, “yes.” However, deep in their hearts, they don’t believe that they can. Because they don’t believe they can, they don’t even try, and they go through life making decisions based upon the opinions of others, or their emotions, or what they call an “open door”. Not everything people say is from God to you. Not everything you feel or think is directly from God. Contrary to popular opinion, not every open door is from God. That is why the Lord says, “Incline your hearts to the Words of My mouth.” (Psalm 78:1)
Many people don’t take the time to incline their hearts to hear from God, because they don’t have faith in their hearts that God wants to speak to them. For a long time, I didn’t have faith to believe that I could hear God’s voice in a personal way. I thought that was for only super holy people, which made me unqualified. So, as I listened to the condemnation of the Devil, I labeled myself as someone who couldn’t hear clearly, specifically, and often from God. So, I would make personal decisions based on what I thought was best. I was a youth pastor at the time, and I would make all my ministry decisions based on what worked for others, and I was trying to recreate the youth group that I was touched in, instead of hearing from the Boss, what He specifically wanted to do with the youth group.
Then, I started getting around these prophetic ministries and prophetic people. What I mean by that is: people who really and clearly hear from God! Then, I put myself in a tiny box by saying something so foolish and anti-Bible: “I’m not very prophetic!” I was talking out of the overflow of the unbelief that was in my heart. But, what I was really doing was saying, “Jesus! You are a liar!” Why? Well this is what Jesus said:
“He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8:47)
What God made available through grace, we enter in through our faith. For example, by grace, God made salvation available! But, it’s by our faith that we enter into salvation. God made heaven available for us by His grace, but it’s by our faith we enter it. God made abundant life available through His Son, but it’s by our faith that we enter it. God made the promise land available by His grace for Israel, but those without faith couldn’t tap into that grace, but only Joshua and Caleb used their faith to enter into that grace. Hearing God is such a grace! We enter into that grace by faith! Faith believes with the heart and confesses with the mouth (Romans 10:7-10). Please say this out loud and loudly: “I am God’s, so I hear His voice!” Don’t say something as stupid as “I’m not prophetic.” You may have not experienced hearing God’s voice in time past, but our aim is not to lower God’s Word to the place of our experiences or lack of, but our aim is to raise our experiences to the the standard of God’s Word through faith in God’s Word.
2. TO HEAR FROM GOD, WE MUST HAVE DESIRE TO HEAR FROM GOD
What is the right heart? It’s the heart that longs to hear Him because they love Him and desire His Words! Jesus repeatedly said in (Revelation 2-3), “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying…” What does that mean when Jesus says, “He who has an ear”? Don’t most people have ears? Jesus isn’t talking about physical ears, but He’s addressing the condition of people’s hearts. Not everyone has a heart that is desiring to hear and obey the Holy Spirit. Jesus is saying that if someone has a desire to hear, let that person hear.
3. TO HEAR FROM GOD, WE HAVE TO TREASURE HIS WORD
“And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure (of thought and study) you give (to the truth you hear) will be the measure (of virtue and knowledge) that comes back to you- and more (besides) will be given to you who hear. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has nothing even what he was will be taken away (by force)” (Mark 4:24-25)- amplified Bible
Two people can hear the same sermon, read the same Christian book, and study the same Bible but one will receive so much wisdom, revelation, power, and anointing from it, while another will receive very little. It always depends on the heart of the listener, not the power of the Word. The Word is powerful no matter what, but how powerful it will be in your life is dependent on your heart towards the Word.
Those who love the Word of God enough to study it and meditate on it, will receive more virtue and knowledge. Those who love God will love His Word, and those who love His Word will put much thought and study into it. Speed reading the Bible is not the key to great revelation. I honestly don’t think speed reading the Bible is good for anything expect bragging rights of how many times you read the Bible. What’s more important than how many times we read the Bible, is how much time have we spent praying through, meditating on, and wrestling with the Word. Those who really dig in the Word with a heart that is in love with God and hungry to know His ways, will receive more virtue and knowledge from the Holy Spirit than the speed reader. Again, it’s always about the heart.
Those people who treasure God’s written Word, preached Word, and taught Word, end up getting more of God’s spoken Word to them. According to the verse above, if I have a heart that really treasures God’s Word, He will unfold more Word to me. So many people want to hear God, but the real question is: how was your heart towards the last time He spoke to you? So many people want God to speak to them audibly, but the real question is: how is your heart towards the written Word- the Bible? So many people want a new revelation from God’s Word, but the real question is: how was your heart towards the last revelation you received? Some want God to speak new prophetic Words or give more Words of knowledge and wisdom, but the real question is: How did your heart respond the last time you heard from God?
When God sees His Word alive and well in you, He will give you more. “To him who has more will be given” (Mark 4:25) Again, if you look at the context of this verse, Jesus is talking about the man who has the Word treasured in him, will get more! Let’s ask ourselves: Am I being a good steward of His Word? The man who has the Word of God treasured in Him will have more Word given to him. The Lord can see if His Word is in you or not. If He sees that it is: He will invest more and more. If He sees that you squandered the Word of God, He will not give more revelation, and even if that man goes to church and hears a sermon, the sermon will have no effect in his life, because Satan will always take the Word away by force. Why? The man gave Satan access, by not guarding the Word. Satan hates the Word, and will attack the Word, but He cannot steal the Word from a man who treasures the Word. Satan can’t stop God from giving more Word to him either.
The prophetic anointing- or the ability to hear from God is there or it isn’t- it is growing like a snow ball, or it’s diminishing like vapor. The prophetic anointing always grows like a snow ball to the man who treasures the Word. The Lord pours more and more Word in, and soon, the man’s prophetic revelation- which was only an inch high ball, is now as big as a Bel-Air Mansion. “For to him who has more will be given…” (Mark 4:25)
I really want to treasure the Word of God. When it comes to the Word, we either love it or we loose it.
4. TO HEAR FROM GOD, WE HAVE TO BE FREE FROM IDOLS
To hear from God, we have to be free from idols in our hearts. Why? Because if you have idols screaming in your soul, you will not hear the whisper of God. “Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the LORD came to me: ”Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?” (Ezekiel 14:1-3) The Lord goes on to assure Ezekiel that those who have idols in their hearts will not hear what God really wants to say to them.
Hearing about our God-given destiny is a good Word. However, if we are inquiring the Lord about our destiny in God, but have all these idols, we will not be able to hear clearly. The key to hearing from God is a surrendered heart. A pure heart is good soil for God to plant His seed or speak. If you had idols in your heart, even if God did speak a good Word to you that was full of life giving potential, that seed will get chocked out by the idols anyways, or that seed will bring instant joy, but then dry up because it couldn’t go deep into your heart because of the the rock hard idols. (Remember the Parable of the Soil). Hearing God is about the soil- the heart. I can read books on hearing God, and attend seminars and conferences, but ultimately, it’s about having the right soil.
When we hear from God, it brings a harvest of blessings!
The Word of God is depicted as a seed in the parable of the sower. The Word is the seed to our harvest. Harvest of what? Blessings.
When we hear from God, that Word will be producing a powerful harvest, producing supernatural results, being a creative force, bringing heaven to earth, and giving birth our lives.
My greatest asset in life is hearing God. The greatest asset to hearing God is a right heart. Let’s protect our hearts because hearing God is about the heart. Seeing His powerful Word be powerful in our lives is based upon our hearts. A good heart can harvest 1 billion different seeds. If that happens in someone’s life, he will be truly successful, fulfilled, have led an exciting life of bringing the Kingdom down to earth! A bad heart can have 2 billion seeds planted, but none harvested. It’s about the right heart. The right heart is one that loves God and treasures His Word.
As sure as there is an earthly realm, there is a spirit realm. Those two realms influence each other. What happens in one realm has its affects in the other:
1) Demon possessions happened in the spirit realm, but they showed in the natural realm. Remember the man who lived naked among the tombs, screaming and cutting himself, because he was the host of 2,000 demons? (Mark 5:1-11). Those demons in the spirit realm were affecting his behavior in the natural realm.
2) When Jesus casted out demons which were in the Spirit realm, people’s behaviors and conditions changed in the natural or earthly realm. The man who hosted a legion of demons was in his right mind for the first time in a long time after Jesus set him free.
3) Jesus talked to His disciples about binding and loosing on earth and in heaven. “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18) What we decide to do on earth influences what happens in the spirit realm either to restrain or release.
4) Faith of a person living in the natural realm, released the power in the spirit realm. The woman with the issue of blood pulled the power of God out of Jesus’ clothe and she was healed. The power of God is not something earthly, but heavenly and spiritual. Yes, it can be manifested and demonstrated here on earth, but it is from another kingdom- another realm. (Mark 5:25-34)
5) The spiritual forces of evil keep people from believing and seeing the truth in the earthly realm. “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
6) Daniel’s prayer in the natural realm caused angels to move in the Spirit realm. In (Daniel 10), Daniel’s prayers released angels in the spirit realm, but there was warfare in the spirit realm as evil principalities (prince demons) were trying to keep the angels from bringing Daniel the message which could potentially smash their kingdom, but after 21 days, the angels broke through.
7) Giving our finances in the natural realm causes heavens to be opened in the spiritual realm. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:10)
Those are just a few examples of how the spirit realm and the natural realm affect each other. As we can see from the following points, the two realms aren’t far from each other. I said all that to set the stage for this next statement: WHAT WE DO AND SAY IN THE NATURAL REALM ATTRACTS THINGS IN THE SPIRIT REALM, AND WHAT WE ATTRACT IN THE SPIRIT REALM WILL HAVE POWERFUL EFFECTS IN THE NATURAL REALM. In other words, what we do in the natural world, causes a shift in the spiritual world, and that shift has repercussions in the natural.
1) What we do and say in the natural realm attracts things in the spirit realm.
Some people think they can do and say whatever they want, and it not be a big deal. However, what they are blind to see is that what we “do and say “attracts either evil spirits or the Holy Spirit, the power of darkness or the power of God, the kingdom of darkness or the Kingdom of God.
We addressed ways of how what we say and do can attract the Holy Spirit. Now, there are ways we can actually quench the Holy Spirit instead of attracting His presence:
(1 Thess. 5:12-22)- NIV:
12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire (do not quench the Holy Spirit -NAS); 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good.22Avoid every kind of evil.”
How do we quench the Holy Spirit? I suggest we read the verses that comes before and after that verse 19 and apply them.
1) Lack of honor, love, and respect for spiritual leaders
2) Lack of peace and harmony among the brethren
3) Being lazy
4) Being timid
5) Not helping the weak or being patient with people
6) Getting revenge
7) Not being kind and loving towards people
8) Failing to rejoice
9) Neglecting prayer
10) Having an unthankful heart and mouth
11) Despising the prophetic
12) Not being discerning
If you think I’m stretching the teaching of Scripture by suggesting that we look around verse 19 to find out how we quench the Spirit, then please tell me that you’ve met a self-proclaimed Christian who really attracts the Holy Spirit while being: rebellious towards spiritual leaders, bashes his/her pastor, is too lazy to do anything for others, too timid to try anything for God, makes fun of weak people instead of helping them, has a short fuse, is always needing to have the last word and get someone back, is rude, is depressed and depressing, never prays, is always complaining, calls the gifts of the Spirit the New Age, and doesn’t have the willingness to discern situations by studying the Scripture.
But, just as we can attract the Holy Spirit with what we do and say, we can also attract evil spirits through our choice of actions and words!
Just as sharks are attracted to blood in the water, there are certain actions that people do, which can quickly attract evil spirits. Just like how flies are attracted to a fresh pile of dog poop, there are fresh words that come out of people’s lips which attracts demons like flies.
2) What I’ve attracted in the spirit realm, will affect my natural realm
If you attract spirits, it’s like attracting a bad disease. It will affect you every single day until it’s casted out. A flu affect you every single day until it’s broken off by a superior reality- the white blood cells. However, until you are delivered, you will have symptoms every single day. Those who have caught bad spirits will show symptoms! Just like a bad disease, having bad spirits means you are carrying something contagious. Evil spirits affect thought patterns, behaviors, relationships, and destinies. Evil spirits are commissioned by Satan to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
Our words and deeds are so important because they affects the spirit world! The spirits will keep us from our destiny, the Spirit will lead us to our destiny. James talked about how our tongues were a like a rudder to a ship. The rudder determines the destiny or destination or the entire ship (James 3:4). Our tongues attract spirits that will stir us in the right way or the wrong way. Some people get shipwrecked in life, and they blame God, when they have practiced no control over their rudder, and have attracted evil spirits- who set them up for the wreck.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) By our words, we can either attract the spirit of death or the Spirit of life. Something we have to remember is that demon spirits are “seeking rest” (Matthew 12:43) Same with the Spirit of the Lord, He too is looking for a place to rest (Isaiah 66:1). Who are we attracting? You might ask, “Why do I have to attract the Holy Spirit? I already have Him living in me.” Yes, the Holy Spirit indwells all believers, but He doesn’t overshadow or come upon all believers. He only overshadows those who attract Him. Jesus was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, because Jesus attracted Him. Jesus said, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED…” Only when the Spirit comes upon us and overshadows us, can we live a life of power.
There is so much diversity in the body of Christ. Some are avid practicers of the gifts of the Spirit, while others shy from them, then some are in between. Some worship very expressively in dance while others are stiff and stoic, and of course, there are those in between. Some pastors preach only expository sermons- which is an in-depth study verse by verse and usually chapter by chapter. Other pastors- use videos, dramas, stories, and only use a few Scripture references. Some churches promote abundant and prosperous living, while other churches believe that Christians ought to be so occupied with the pouring into the poor, that living in a big house with fancy cars are considered un-Christlike. Some churches take communion every meeting. Some churches are gigantic and they are building larger buildings, while other churches are meeting in homes and believing that the House Church- not the Mega Church is authentic Christianity of the book of Acts. Oh yeah, then there are the Amish. I’ve met believers and pastors of all the previous persuasions. There are genuine, sincere believers in the different categories of Christian denominations, persuasions of Scripture, and philosophies of ministry.
There are believers who love the Lord so much, and they fast very often. There are other believers who never fast. There are believers who pray an hour a day. There are other believers who pray conversationally. There are believers who pray loudly! There are believers who pray silently.
There is much diversity in the body of Christ. Now, just as a disclaimer, I must say: I don’t consider cults- who deny the deity of Christ, and self-proclaimed “Christian” groups- who deny the very fundamental doctrines of Scriptures, as part of the body of Christ. I do not consider them teammates, but those who need the love, the ministry, and the witness of the body of Christ. However, among the body of Christ, we have a variety of teammates. What are we to make of all this?
I’ve heard Charismatic Christians bash the Conservative Baptists, and vise-versa. I’ve heard the prosperity preachers bash those who believe in living poor, and vise-versa. I’ve heard those who believe sickness is a gift from God for the pious purpose of purifying character, bash those who preach and practice healing, and vise-versa. I’ve heard those who preach expository sermons bash those other pastors who sound more like motivational speakers. I’ve heard one nationally known church pastor who has 10,000 members in his church, boldly say, “Small churches are where small people with small visions come together to accomplish small things!” Then, I’ve heard those advocates of the house church model talk about why the Mega Church movement is not of God. What are we to make of all this?
This is nothing new. Even in Paul’s time, the church was divided among their differences. Some believed they could eat anything, but others believed that they had to abstain from certain foods, because those foods were sacrificed to idols. Some who were under influence of the Mosaic law, avoided pork, while others, had their pork ribs and hot dogs. Paul addresses these issues clearly in (Romans 14). Remember, what was dividing them was not views of fundamental Christian doctrine or issues of permitting sin or gay bishops, but regarding something that wasn’t too clear to them at the time- eating certain foods or abstaining, and about certain holy days. Paul had a clear message to bring to them. I believe the same message applies to those in the Body of Christ- who differ in Church denominations, Scriptural persuasions, and philosophies of ministry.
1AS FOR the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions.
2One [man's faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables.
3Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him.
4Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand.
5One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike [sacred]. Let everyone be fully convinced (satisfied) in his own mind.
6He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Many Charismatic churches that practice the gifts of the Spirit every Sunday in their services are doing it to honor the Lord and use the gifts with a thankful heart. Then, there are those who don’t practice the gifts in the public worship settings, but they do it with the motive to honor the Lord and have thankful hearts. For example, I know Calvary Chapel believes in the gifts of the Spirit, but are persuaded that it is not God’s will that they practice the gifts of the Spirit in the main Sunday Services, but in another setting with only believers, and in the large gatherings, they teach the Word. Calvary Chapel’s motive it to honor the Lord.
Now, it would be lame if Calvary Chapel criticizes and despises the Charismatic churches and judge them saying, “They practice the gifts to show off!” It would be equally wrong if the Charismatic churches criticized and despised Calvary Chapel and judged them saying, “Calvary Chapel is full of the fear of man!” The Charismatic pastor and the Calvary pastor are both servants of the Lord, and God knows if their motive is to really honor Him.
“Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:10)
“Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13)
Paul then talks about how what is important is edifying one another and “walking in love” (Romans 14:15).
“15But if your brother is being pained or his feelings hurt or if he is being injured by what you eat, [then] you are no longer walking in love. [You have ceased to be living and conducting yourself by the standard of love toward him.] Do not let what you eat hurt or cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died!
If a Charismatic Pastor of a large church-who believed in prosperity and health, was invited to speak in a small, conservative, Baptist church that believed in giving all their money to the poor, and took the pulpit and starting speaking in tongues, blinding the small audience with His diamond rings and rolex watch, and starting preaching saying, “Small churches are where small people with small visions gather around to do small things.” That would pain and hurt the feelings of the Baptist congregation member. That guest speaker is no longer walking in love. If he was walking in love, he’d be more sensitive.
If you are from a Spirit-filled church that always dances and shouts, but you are visiting your Mom’s church- where they practice a less expressive worship, and they discourage people from dancing, because they believe it draws too much attention to individuals and distracts from the worship, then should you still do your cartwheels and shout in the front of the church? No. That is not walking in love.
16Do not therefore let what seems good to you be considered an evil thing [by someone else]. [In other words, do not give occasion for others to criticize that which is justifiable for you.]“
Should the Charismatic Pastor have no longer believe and practice spiritual gifts, prosperity, healing, and church growth? No. If those things seem good to him, he is still living by faith as long as it is his motive to honor God.
Should the dancing worshipper stop expressing himself/herself whole-heartedly to God? No.
Here is the breakdown:
Regarding the revelation that God has given you:
1) Don’t criticize or despise others in the body of Christ (Romans 14:13)
“Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13)
2) Don’t purposefully try to offend those who are in the body of Christ (Romans 14:15)(Romans 14:21)
“But if your brother is being pained or his feelings hurt or if he is being injured by what you eat, [then] you are no longer walking in love. [You have ceased to be living and conducting yourself by the standard of love toward him.] Do not let what you eat hurt or cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died!” (Romans 14:15)
“The right thing is to eat no meat or drink no wine (at all), or (do anything else) if it makes your brother stumble or hurts his conscience or offends or weakens him.” (Romans 14:21)
3) Don’t compromise your personal convictions either because of the differences of opinion. (Romans 14:16)(Romans 4:22)(Romans 4:23)
“Do not therefore let what seems good to you be considered an evil thing [by someone else]. [In other words, do not give occasion for others to criticize that which is justifiable for you.]” (Romans 14:16)
“Your personal convictions (on such matters)- exercise (them) as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself (striving only to know the truth and obey His will). Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves (who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do).” (Romans 14:22)
23But the man who has doubts (misgivings, an uneasy conscience) about eating, and then eats [perhaps because of you], stands condemned [before God], because he is not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful]. (Romans 4:23)
4) Work towards unity and in the body (Romans 14:19)
“So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (Edificaion and development) of one another.” (Romans 14:19)
Regarding which church to join, which denomination to be a part of, which persuasions of Scripture to hold regarding debatable issues, and which philosophy of ministry to work from, search the Scriptures and pray about them, until they are clear to you and you have strong convictions. Then, go for it! However, remember to walk in love and don’t despise those who might not have the same convictions and revelation as you. If you really believe that your way is true, then pray for the others to see what God showed you, instead of preying on them.
The following is from an e-mail response I wrote to a friend who had a question asking me: Why God would command the kings in the Old Testament to murder so many people?
Regarding the kings in the Old Testament, we have to see it in the context of the Old Testament. Reading the first half of a novel will give you a limited understanding of the main characters in the novel. Often in novels, you don’t find out everything about a character right away. Similar to the Bible.
The Old Testament reveals a God of justice and a God who hates sin. The New Testament reveals a God of grace and love. Are there two Gods? No. But, this is so important to catch: The Bible speaks of the New Testament gospel as a mystery unveiled and a revelation. (I attached the supporting verses below)
A mystery is not new information but hidden information. A revelation is not new information, but information that was always there. Revelation means: unveiling. So, it’s not that God was mean in the Old Testament, but He got born again, and got a new nature and became merciful and gracious. No, He always was merciful and gracious, but it was veiled until He could reveal it through His Son. Why was it veiled until the time of Christ? God couldn’t reveal His love and grace more perfectly than in the flesh of His own Son.
The Old Testament is very significant though. It reveals a side of God! He is still a God of justice and He hates sin. There were sinful people and God raised up kings to execute His judgment upon them. God is a God of judgment. However, because He is a God of love and mercy as well, He sent His Son to be punished and judged for our sins. Seeing the bloody cross reminds us of how much God hates sin, yet how He loves us so much.
I’m thankful for the Old Testament, because it becomes the dark backdrop that causes the fireworks of God’s love and grace in the New Testament to stand out even more. (We just celebrated the fourth of july here). Through the cross, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world has a medicine for the SIN PROBLEM. Before the cross, there was no real medicine. Those Jews who got circumcisions and tried to obey the law were putting bandages on a cancerous tumor, but they needed more than that. Anyways, so the only way to combat evil was to kill off evil!
But now in the New Testament, our battle is no longer against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). Now, the way we combat evil in the world is by the Gospel of the Jesus Christ, the Power of the Holy Spirit, and the Love of God. Before, there were no weapons against evil but the weapons of war. Now, “the weapons of our warfare are not of this world, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4). Before in the Old Testament, the kings killed people to lessen the evil in the world. For example, Jehu was used by God to kill Jezebel. That was a day of great victory against evil. But as you could see, Jehu couldn’t do spiritual warfare, because he had no spiritual authority or weapons. Satan had spiritual authority over the earth, because he had stolen it from Adam. But, Jesus took it back and gave it to the church (Matthew 28:18): “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations….” God couldn’t just take the authority back, because He gave it to a man named Adam. The earth was given to mankind. Therefore, it was the man Christ Jesus who took back the authority, and then gave it to us because we are one with Him (Eph 2:15).
Now, we don’t have to settle for killing Jezebel. We can intercede for Jezebel and bind the spirits that have bound her. We have authority and the weapons to do that. We can show Jezebel the love of God and the power of the Spirit. We can preach the Jezebel the good news. And if Jezebel turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be totally free and a woman who used to be a stronghold of Satan’s kingdom will become an embassy of the Kingdom of God.
In the Old Testament, they combated evil by killing people off. In the New Testament, we combat the kingdom of darkness and the evil in the world, by spiritual weapons of: the Spirit, the Word, and love, and we can actually pull down strongholds instead of just killing off an evil person or wiping out an evil nation.
Before, in the Old Testament, and evil person was like an infected finger that needed to be cut off or humanity would be in even worse shape. But, now, and evil person is still like an infected finger, but we don’t need to amputate them (even though I sometimes think that Kim Jung Ill being cut off from the land of the living would be a good thing), but now our primary mission is to share the good news in the power of the Spirit and the love of God, and if they would believe and receive Christ, they become a brand new finger- or “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We don’t have to put on religious bandages anymore, but we have the cancer of sin crucified with Christ, and we are now ambassadors of the Kingdom of God- which is a spiritual kingdom- and we engage in spiritual warfare w/ spiritual weapons and the spiritual authority that we have received in Christ. We don’t have to war in the physical realm, but in the spiritual realm. Good news: What we do in the spirit realm shows up here in the physical realm. Thank God we are no longer living in the Old Testament. We have a greater revelation of who God is, and we have greater methods of destroying the evil in the world.
What is more important than being a good moral person is being in relationship with God. Christianity cannot be reduced to a morality club- even though a lot of people think that Christianity is nothing more than a list of dos and don’t. Christianity can however be reduced to a relationship with Christ. I’m not saying that morality isn’t important. It is. However, what’s more important is a relationship with God- and from that relationship with God comes morality, righteousness, and holiness as the overflow. There was a time, I was more focused on being a holy person, than really just loving and growing in my relationship with God. Therefore, holiness/morality/righteousness became idols in my life! During that time, I was passionate and determined, I was not very happy. In fact, I was not very holy either, because holiness doesn’t come from chasing it. Holiness comes as the byproduct of chasing God! Let’s get the order right: It’s not chase holiness and God comes! It’s chase God and holiness comes! It’s about a relationship! As we grow in relationship with Jesus, we learn to love- and then we grow in love, and love is holiness!
To God, me being in relationship with Him is even more important than me being perfectly moral. That might sound weird. I’ll prove it from the Bible however. Think about this with me:
David was a murderer and an adulterer. The average pharisee never committed those sins. However, David goes down an anointed man of God who served the purposes of God in His generation- and God blesses the decendants of David and even has the Messiah come from David’s branch- so one of Jesus’ names is the son of David! The good moral pharisee dies fruitless and unfulfilled, but here’s this murderer/this horn dog who dies fruitful and fulfilled! Interesting.
What about Abraham. The guy lies! Lying is not very moral. However, he gets chicken and tells the king that his wife is his sister, to protect his own life. He does this twice! The average Pharisee didn’t lie. But, Abraham is the one who is the father of nations, and Abraham dies fruitful and fulfilled. However, the pharisee, who never lied dies unfruitful and unfulfilled!
What’s my point?
What’s more important to God than morality is relationship. David was far from moral, but David had a relationship with God. Yes, he backslid and got into a mess and paid heavy consequences for his sins, but his life was one of a worshipper of God- he had a deep love relationship with God. You know what: That meant the world to God. God blessed David incredibly, not because He was perfect, but David had a relationship with Him. If God blessed only on the basis of moral track record- the pharisee should of had the blessings- but nope. Let’s talk about Abraham- he made some mistakes here and there, but at the end of the day- he was a friend of God and he trusted the God he had a deep relationship with. Abraham experienced a downpour of blessing upon his life. The Pharisee who never lied didn’t get a drop. What’s my point: What’s more important to God than moral perfection is relationship. God wants relationship! He sent His Son to die on a bloody cross and suffer the greatest humilation in human history, not because He wanted perfectly moral religious robots- He wanted friends! He wanted kids! When I have kids- I know already that they won’t be perfect, but I know that I will have a loving relationship with them.
The ultimate proof of my statement: What’s more important to God than morality is relationship, comes from the Bible’s teaching on salvation. How is a person saved from an eternal hell and a life separated from God? Is it by getting perfect? Or, is it by trusting/believing in Jesus? The first is a moral thing. The second is a relational thing. It’s the second that gets people saved and into heaven. We aren’t saved because we did something moral, but we did something relational.
I must re-state this: I’m not saying morality is not important! I’m not saying that all of us start lying like Abraham and murder and sleep around like David! No! No! No! However, I’m saying that having the focus of our lives be: not lying, not killing/hating/law breaking, and being sexually pure, is putting the cart before the horse. The focus of our lives as Christians must be a relationship with Jesus. We must focus on growing in that relationship: to love and worship like David and trust like Abraham. Then, from the relationship will come purity as the overflow- or the beautiful byproduct! If our passion in life is living moral, morality will be an idol in our lives, and we will be a Pharisee who will experience barely a sprinkle of God’s blessings- and die unfruitful and unfulfilled.
God is moral, righteous, and holy! These things are important to Him. However, He doesn’t want us to focus on those things, but to focus on Him. He doesn’t want us to love these things more than Him.
If you happen to sin as a Christian, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t spend all your energies regretting and all your time soaking in shame. Some Christians feel so bad about their sin, they ditch their relationship with Jesus. Never do that! God is more concerned about your relationship with Him than your moral track record. Just come to the God you love, worship, and trust, and confess that sin, and from where you are at- just continue to focus on Jesus, and with all your heart seek Him. Not holiness. Seek Him. Holiness comes when you seek Him. However, He doesn’t come just because you seek holiness (that’s why the Pharisees never got to know Him).
It’s about a relationship. It’s been said: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing is: a love relationship with Jesus! You can simplify Christianity to that! It’s from that abiding relationship where much fruit comes (John 15), you will leave an impact on this earth like David and Abraham- and die fruitful and fulfilled. Oh, one of the fruits is holiness/or righteousness/or morality. One more thing: this holiness is not a miserable holiness, but a happy holiness born out of a happy relationship with a happy God.
Is God quick to spit?
“So because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)
The lukewarm in the church will be spit out of the mouth of God. Some of you might be thinking, “Wow, God is so mean!” Others of you might be thinking, “God is vicious and unloving!” “God is quick to spit!” “God has an anger problem!” In my high school speech class, I gave a speech on how God is love according to the Bible. A classmate came and showed me a verse similar to “I will spit you out” and challenged me saying, “How can you say God is love, read this!” It’s possible for us to question God’s love and goodness after reading this verse (Revelation 3:16).
But, that is why we have to read the Bible in context of the Bible. If you keep reading this whole section of Scripture, you will see that Jesus is writing this letter, in hopes that they would repent and He wouldn’t have to spit them out. Yes, Jesus is rebuking them and giving them a disciplinary word, but at the end He says, “Those I love, I rebuke and discipline!’
God’s heart is not to punish His people. His heart is to restore and bless His people. “His anger lasts a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime” (Psalm 30:5). How long is a lifetime? Maybe 80 years? How long is a moment? Maybe 80 seconds? Get the picture? Just as a year is so much greater than a second, so much more so is God’s desire to favor us with blessings than spit us out with anger. (2 Peter 3:9): “God wills that none perish, but that all come to repentance…” If you read just the verse about angry God wanting to spit out lukewarm humanity, you will get the wrong idea, and an innaccurate picture of God.
The greatest picture of that is shown at the cross, when God the Father punished His only begotten Son on the cross, so our sins could be paid for, so that the punishment we deserved could be made void, and that those who put their faith in the Son of God could live BLESSED in time and for eternity.
If we think that God is trigger happy, and quick tempered, and always out to pound us upon every mistake, we will never come to know the reality of God’s love. We will only become worker bees who have lukewarm hearts. How can we have a passionate love for a being- who is quick to punish based upon our performance? In Iraq, the olympic atheletes rejoiced the day Saddam Hussein was removed from power, because he would be quick to punish them based upon their performance. Some Christians subconsciously think that God is the same way, and think if they blow it once, that God just wants to spit them out! But, ironically they keep blowing it, and never live in victory, because they don’t know the God who has unrelenting love, they only know a God who is quick to spit!
I had a friend who started coming out to early morning prayer with me. He can for about two weeks straight. Then, one Saturday, he missed a day- he couldn’t wake up. That was the day we decided to go fishing on the pier. So a group of us were fishing, and his fishing pole get pulled into the ocean by a fish, and he was upset! This is what he said, “It’s because I missed morning prayer today that this happened! God’s punishing me!” Was God really punishing him, or was it that he happened not to be paying attention to his rod when the fish bit- and that fish happened to be a bigger one? I don’t think God was trying to punish him and play a mean trick, but he was just not paying attention to the pole! God gets blamed for way too much! That friend started falling away from the Lord, he became a lukewarm Christian, then fell away from the faith. We can’t stay on fire for a God who we think is quick to spit, out to punish, and has a short fuse. Remember: God is good always!
God is not quick to spit! God’s heart to bless and restore is so much greater than His desire to punish! God punished His Son on the cross, and Jesus took on our curse on the cross, so God could restore mankind to a relationship with Him and so we could be blessed! He is a good God!
Yes, God is all good and all love, but there are consequences for sin
Something we have to recognize from this passage is that there are consequences for sin. I paid 350 dollars recently for a traffic ticket, which reminded me, there are consequences for breaking the rules. In like manner, there are consequences for breaking God’s commands.
Being lukewarm is a sin, and there are consequences for it. The consequence for being and staying lukewarm is that you will be spit out of the mouth of God. What does that mean? I share one thing that it means through this illustration. Just say I had a gummy bear in my mouth. Because it was lukewarm, I spit it out of my mouth. I could spit pretty far, imagine what God can do. Anyhow, what happened to the gummy bear, it went from being so close to me, to being far from me. Here’s the point: A church that is living in the sin of being lukewarm, will suffer the consequence of being far from God- living without the intimacy with God- that we were created for and our souls long for. We can’t expect to be intimate with God and have a lukewarm heart. If we aren’t intimate with God, our lives will always be unfruitful and unfulfilled.
History tells us that the church in Laodecia failed to answer the beckoning call of Jesus in (Revelation 3), and the church eventually died out- unfruitful and unfulfilled. There are consequences for sin.
Am I lukewarm when it comes to my relationship with God?
That is an easy question to answer.
Jesus says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)
It’s easy to know whether or not we are lukewarm: our works. Jesus didn’t say, “I know your words and your feelings: you are neither cold nor hot.” No, Jesus said, “I know your works.” The way we can see whether we are hot, cold, or lukewarm, is by what we actually do, not our intents, not our emotions, not our claims, but our deeds.
Intentions are important, and emotions are a beautiful part of our relationship with God, but what we do is what is important. We will be rewarded for what we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10).
We can see whether we are lukewarm by seeing what we are doing or not doing. If a person is hot for God, their actions will prove it, their lifestyles will confirm it, their bank accounts will endorse it, their schedules will support it, and what comes out of their mouths will overflow it.
Now, a person can be full of religious activities, but still have a cold heart. The Pharisees were passionate about doing religious activities, but they were the furthest from God than anyone. Just because we do a lot of good things, doesn’t mean we have a deep relationship with God. What’s more important than living morally, is being in relationship with God. Christianity is not a morality club, it’s a relationship with God. As we grow in this relationship with God, holiness, righteousness, morality comes as the overflow. There was a time, I focused more on living righteously, than really loving God and growing in relationship with Him. That only made me proud and religous. I had it all backwards. When focus on loving God and growing in our relationship with Him, and then everything about us changes!
So good moral works doesn’t guarentee that we having burning love for God (even some athiests pull off some morality). However, a person cannot be full of the burning love of God, and not have it permeate in what they do- in their works.
Remember, it’s what we do for God which will translate into our rewards from God (2 Corinthians 5:10). I want to have good works that I take with me to eternity. I want to have done something significant with my life. The key to having a lot of good works, is cultivating a burning heart- because a burning heart will always translate into radical works for God. Remember, if we have a burning heart for God, it will show in our schedules, our bank accounts, our actions, our words, our lifestyle, our “works”.
I’ve been convicted of the lukewarm state of my heart, which is seen in my lack of radical works for God. So what do I do know?
Let’s see that the Root Causes of a Lukewarm Heart really is:
According to Jesus, this is the confession of the lukewarm, “For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing’…” (Revelation 3:17a)
To be delivered from a lukewarm lifestyle, I must be delivered from that confession. This apathetic attitude must go! This arrogance must be crucified. If I start thinking I have attained it, I’ve arrived, I’ve maxed out, and get self-sufficient, and loose my hunger and desperation for God, I’m in big trouble!
We ought to always be crying out to God for more! Paul was probably the boldest man for God in the history of the world, but He still coveted prayers for boldness towards the end of his life (Ephesians 6:19). To no longer contend for more is telling God, “I don’t think you have more to offer! I don’t think you have made any more available at the cross!” Because so much was made available at the cross, and we have a God who is able to do exceedingly above all we can ask or think, we must be praying and contending always for more.
I know that there is a temptation for young men and women who were once so desperate for God, to arrive at a place of ministry, and loose that hunger and desperation for God because they now think they arrived. Then, they start seeing compromises in their lives, and some of them fall into more blatant sins.
If I ever have the attitude “I arrived” that means I’ve fallen so far away from where God wants me. If I ever have the attitude “I know a lot” that means I’ve become a lot stupider than I realize. I’m at a place right now where I feel more strongly than ever, “GOD, I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING! I’M DESPERATE FOR YOU TO COME TEACH ME! MAKE YOUR WORD ALIVE AND MANIFESTED IN ME! I KNOW THERE IS SO MUCH MORE THAT YOU MADE AVAILABLE THAT I WANT TO WALK IN!”
The lukewarm man says, “I have need of nothing.” That attitude will keep a man from praying, because he’s thinking he’s got it all; it will keep a woman from studying the Word- thinking she understands it all. If we stop praying and studying the Word, in essence, what we are telling God is, “I have need of nothing.” Scary thought.
That attitude of “I have need of nothing” will cause a person to have a spiritual life that can be described in these five words: “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)
What is worse than having cancer, is not knowing you have it. What is worse than being spiritually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked? I’ll tell you what’s worse. It’s being those things, but not realizing it. Jesus says in His letter, “You say, ‘I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)
People in the church are lukewarm because they do not realize their true spiritual condition. May our prayer be: Lord, open my eyes to see the true condition of my heart. David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:33-34)
Now What? Buy!
Jesus goes on to say, ” I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes so you can see.” (Revelation 3:18)
What is it to buy?
To buy means you will give up something you have, and you will get something in return. You would rather have that which you would get in return, than keep the thing you have to give up. For example, if you would rather have a new laptop than the 1000 dollars in your bank account, than you will probably make a transaction! Here is the message to the lukewarm: Jesus wants to make a transaction with you! Thoughout all the Bible here is one of the clearest principles: Jesus asks us to give up things for him, because He wants to give us something better in exchange! I know without a shadow of a doubt that what I just said is true.
Notice the three things that Jesus wants to give to the lukewarm:
He wants to give you true riches, true confidence, and true vision! Jesus has a lot of great things to offer. His supply is endless as well! What do you have to give Him in exchange for the goods that he’s offering?
I’ll dare to say this: He doesn’t want your money, He doesn’t want your time, He doesn’t want your talents, He wants your heart. He wants your love! He wants your worship! (John 4:23) (By the way, if you give Him your heart and your love, your money/time/talents will all be used for His glory). If you give Him your love and your heart, He will give you precious gold refined in the fire, beautiful white garments which deliver you from shame, and eye salve so you can see life clearly.
Jesus wants to give us true RICHES: Jesus wants us to give Him our greed over cheap success and worldy riches, so He can give us true success and real prosperity.
Jesus wants to give us true CONFIDENCE: Jesus wants us to give Him our shame and our idols we find security in, so He can give us true security in His unrelenting love.
Jesus wants to give us true VISION: Jesus wants us to give Him our deceptions, and all those lustful images and lame fantasies that keep us from seeing, so He can give us true spiritual wisdom and revelation to see.
I think everyone wants true riches (beyond what money can buy), true confidence (which doesn’t teeter totter), and true vision (understanding beyond their years). Do you want those thing? I know who is offering those things.
We need to come to Jesus!
In this passage, Jesus is the vendor. If you want to make a transaction you have to come to the vendor! Which vendor doesn’t want to give His goods away? God wants to give His goods away to us so badly. Jesus is saying, “come to Me!”-“Buy from me.” The place you receive deliverance from a lukewarm heart is at the feet of Jesus.
Only when we come to the feet of Jesus do things change! Starring at our sins won’t change anything, soaking in our failures won’t do too much, swimming in regret won’t get us anywhere, complaining about our issues and doing the blame game will only make us more depressed and angry, but it’s when we come to the feet of Jesus that everything changes! When we come to Him, and surrender our lives, and in exchange He gives us something better- He gives us the God-kind of life- the blessed life- because He loves us so much!
Why don’t people go there? Some avoid Him because they think He’s upset with them and just wanting to punish them, which is not the case as we already established.
One more thing about buying from God:
The Lord wants to give us what is pure!
Gold refined in the fire, speaks of something that is pure!
God is the vendor of purity! He wants us to come to Him and make an exchange/ make a transaction/ “buy”! His goods are PURE- like gold refined in the fire.
He wants to give us a pure heart, pure relationships, a pure sex life, a pure thought life, pure joy, pure peace, pure love, and He wants to give us purity! Does He offer those things? Absolutely. Is He willing to give us those things? More than we know. The real question is: Will you come to Him to buy? Will you come to Jesus?
Jesus wrote this letter to the Church in Laodicea. They were lukewarm, but Jesus’ heart was still burning hot for them. That is why He says, “Those who I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:19) Who is Jesus rebuking in this passage? The lukewarm. Who does Jesus rebuke? Those He loves. Who does He love? The lukewarm.
Jesus loves those in every condition, He loves the filthy sinners, He loves the godly and holy saints, but He also loves those who have divided/lukewarm hearts, and will continue to speak to them, and beckon them to come to Him and make transactions. We must never forget that, because from experience I know that one of the fastest ways to go from an on fire Christian to a lukewarm one, is to despise the lukewarm in pride. Jesus loves the lukewarm, and so should we.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21-22)
It’s all about relationship isn’t it! Jesus doesn’t want religous robots who are programmed to do good and say good. Jesus wants friends whom he can have fellowship with. Christianity is a relationship, it’s not rocket science. Only a small minority can handle rocket science, but everyone can participate in a relationship because are relational beings- created in the image of a relational God- with desires to love and be loved. Because we are relational beings, the greatest form of torture in the prison system is solitary confinement- where the inmate is isolated completely from every person. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, so I believe therefore it is for everyone! If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He’s knocking on your heart, would you invite Him into your life today. If you do know Jesus, but you are lukewarm, come to Jesus the vendor- and make some transactions today.
Being a Christian is about being intimate with God. Christianity is not rocket-science. Rocket-science is only for a small minority of people with incredible brain power and discipline. Christianity is a relationship. A relationship is something every human being has capacity for because we were made in the image of God- who is relational. Jesus didn’t say my yoke is rocket-science. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Again, that’s because we are relational beings, we all have capacity for relationship.
Sometimes, I think I have to figure out everything. I think I have to learn all the keys, all the principles, all the doctrines, and beat myself silly unto holiness. However, Christianity isn’t Med. School and it isn’t the Military. Now, there is a place for studying and discipline, however, Christianity cannot be reduced to those things. However, Christianity can be summed up in a love relationship with Jesus Christ.
I don’t know if we all have the brains for Med. School or what it takes for the Military, but as relational beings- we all have a longing to love and loved, and being a Christian is about just that. That is why Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. However, if we forget that as Christians our primary pursuit is growing in relationship, that’s when Christianity gets tough. The moment I forget that it’s all about a relationship with Jesus, we have tossed aside the yoke of Christianity and taken on the yoke of religion. If we whip ourselves for being so stupid, so shortcoming, and so sinful, we have made ourselves the focus.
Religion is about humans reaching God, but humanity is the centrality- or the focus. Christianity is about God reaching humanity, so His divinity is the centrality-the focus. That’s why we are told to “(fix) our eyes on Jesus-the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). When Peter shifted focus from Jesus to himself, he began to sink in the waves. When we get so introspective and self-centered, in place of being worshipful and Christ-centered, we begin to sink in the ocean of religion. When we focus on Jesus, rather than our performance, perfection, and mistakes, we will walk supernaturally.
Christianity is not a morality club. Should Christians live moral? Absolutely. But, morality is not our Savior, so it shouldn’t be our Lord. If it’s not our Lord it shouldn’t be our obsession. The truth is that because we all fell short of God’s moral standard, Jesus is our Savior; therefore, He ought to be our Lord; and moreover, our obsession. Christians aren’t morality club members. We are to be lovers of Jesus, morality is just the by-product.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) The focus of this passage is: LOVE JESUS! It’s not: KEEP the COMMANDMENTS! Why? One follows the other. If we just do the first part, the second part gets automatically taken care of. Keeping all that Jesus commanded and taught seems burdensome and intimidating. But, loving my Savior seems so easy, so light. Exactly. How often we get the cart before the horse.
For too long, I’ve spent so much time focusing on me in the name of Christianity. I’ve spent more time pondering on the question, “What have I done for God?” Rather than, “What has He done for me?” I’ve spent more time depressed over all that I didn’t do for God, rather than rejoicing over what He didn’t do for me (which is that He didn’t punish me for my sins). I’ve spent so much time, worrying about my sins, rather than just worshipping Jesus for who He has been to me.
Wait, did Jesus die on the cross so that we would worry about sin more or less? Less! Than why are Christians more worried and stressed out about their sin than non-believers? As Christians, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). Jesus took care of the sin issue on the cross! Now, we don’t have to waste our emotional,mental, and spiritual energies stressing about our sins, but loving on Jesus and worshipping God.
It’s like this: A secretary serves the Pastor, so he could focus on fulfilling the call of God and in communion with God. Thank God for secretaries who answer phone calls, and take care of paper work, and stuff, so that pastors can be more efficient! But, what if the Pastor had some real trust issues, so he ended up trying to do the secretary’s work for her! First, that’s an insult to the secretary. It shows a lack of trust! Ultimately, He will not be efficient or effective in his life and ministry.
Like the secretary, Jesus also came so serve us (Mark 10:45). He is saying to us, “Man of God/Woman of God, I’m going to take care of the sin issue, so you don’t have to worry about it, but you can focus on fulfilling the call of God and being in communion with God! Trust me! You are in good hands!” However, if we are spending so much time worrying about sin, listening to the accusations of the enemy, swimming in condemnation, than we are not only insulting Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross, we are also lacking trust in the Word of God, and we will not be nearly as efficient and effective as we can be! Like the secretary, Jesus came to free us up! (John 8:36). Let Jesus do His job! Trust Him! He took care of our sins! Now, we are forgiven (Col 1:14) and dead to sin (Romans 6:11) Now, we don’t have to focus on our sins and ourselves. We can focus on doing the work of God and more importantly, loving Him! I’m freed up by Jesus, so I can be a more effective and efficient lover of God! Which is what Christianity is all about!
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-31)
Jesus is telling us, “don’t invest so much here on earth, because you will be disappointed!” Jesus is letting us know that investing so much of our treasure and heart in the things of this momentary life will surely backfire and burn you. Why? We live in a fallen world where:
Nature is fallen (evidenced by moth and rust), and people are fallen (evidenced by thieves). This world is like quick sand, whatever we invest here, we will see it for a short while, but it will sink and disappear forever.
People invest into their face, their finances, their flesh, and their fame.
Our fallen nature will not allow us to eternally enjoy those fallen things.
Either we will die or those things will die, but either way, all of our stuff, our success, and even our body are decaying as we speak. Everyday, we take a step closer to death in this short life, and entrance into our eternity. Another reason we aren’t able to enjoy the things on this earth is that there are fallen people who are out to take from us. Greedy people surround us like piranas and are out to take our money. Jealous and ambitious people want to suck out your position and reputation like leeches. Gossipers and slanders want to snatch away your friends. We live in a fallen world with fallen people. Why invest so much in this world? When there is another world that awaits us. For those in Christ Jesus, we already have our citizenship there- in heaven. For those who know the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, we already had a taste of the air in heaven. For those who have experienced the joy, love, and kindness of the Lord, we already had a taste of the culture in heaven. For those who have come to know wonderful Jesus personally, we already have had a taste of the King of Heaven. But, we’ve only had a foretaste!
Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, your heart is.” In other words, “Where your investment is, your affections are.”
A pastor who has invested so much blood, sweat, and tears into the life of his/her church members, have their affections with the church members. God the Father invested so much in us, He gave us His own Son- the best He had, therefore, His affections burn for us. Jesus invested so much in us, and therefore Paul says to the Church that he’s invested his life in, “For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:8). Two things to note from that verse: One, Paul had his affections where his investments were. Two, Jesus has affections for us. That touches me. Jesus isn’t just obligated to be with me. He’s affectionate towards me. Why wouldn’t He be? He invested 33 years, in humble flesh, enduring humiliation, suffered on the cross, had His back torn, had His hands and feet pierced, had His skull tormented, and endured the unspeakable pain of being forsaken by His Father on the cross, to invest in a fallen man like me.
What are we investing our lives in? This world or heaven?
What are we investing our time in? This life or the next?
Where our investments are, our affections will be!
Jesus wants our affections to be for the things above, for the world to come, for Him, not this fallen world.
Do you want to have greater affections for heaven and the King of Heaven, and less affections for the fallen things of this fallen world?
Start investing into heaven.
Invest into heavenly rewards by being a servant here on earth.
Invest into heavenly rewards by prayer and fasting in secret.
Invest in heavenly rewards by making sacrifices for the cause of Christ!
Paul invested so much in heaven by His service to Christ, He wanted to go to heaven so badly.
Some of us aren’t looking forward to heaven too much, because we haven’t invested much into heaven.
May we invest into heaven from today, because heaven is not fallen and fading away, but our heaven is our eternity.
We can enter heaven because our King invested in us.
Can’t we invest in our King and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33)?
God doesn’t need to get Himself ready for intimacy with us. He doesn’t have to talk Himself into giving us His glorious presence. He doesn’t have to psych Himself into blessing us. He doesn’t even need to be buttered up or butt kissed.
He definitely loves us. He’s made provision for real intimacy with us through the cross. He’s chosen us, and His love for us never fades or fails.
Therefore…If I’m not intimate with God, the deficiency is on my end.
What I have to ask myself is not: “How can I talk God into drawing near to me? How can I pump up His affections for me?”
What I need to ask myself is:
How I often forget…
Jesus doesn’t want to give me a religion, but a relationship.
Jesus doesn’t want slaves, but friends
Jesus is not drawn to beggars, but brides
Jesus came to find lovers, not workers
Being a Christian is not about being on a religious high, it’s not slavery, it’s not about begging God, it’s not about working for God until burn out. Being a Christian is about a two way relationship, it’s about a friendship with God, it’s about rejoicing in the beautiful white garments of righteousness- which was purchased by the groom for His bride, and it’s about simply loving a Person, not a system, not a book, not an organization, not a counter culture, not activities, but a Person. God is a personal God because He is a person. Therefore Christianity is not an art, a science, a contest, a platform, or a religion, but a relationship. That’s all so basic, but how I often forget that.
How I often forget…
God is not searching for scholars, but worshippers
God is not raising up professional speakers, but pastoral shepherds
How I often forget…
How it’s not so much about what I do for God, than what He has done for me! (The Cross of Christ is something that He has done for me)
My focus ought not to even be on regretting what I’ve not done for God because of my humanity; but thankfully focusing on what He has not done for me because of His humility (which is not pouring at His Wrath on me for all of my sins).
But, I want to be reminded today… God is personal, Christianity is a relationship, and it’s all about Jesus!
Throughout the ages, the Church has had a hard time swallowing prosperity. The Church has equated money as the root of all evil, when the Word of God clearly says that it is the love of money, or greed, which is root of all evil. Having greed is evil, but having money is not evil. Jesus also taught against serving Mammon- or the god of money. The last of the 10 Commandments is that we should not covet- which again speaks of greed.
Is greed a sin? Absolutely. Is having money a sin? Absolutely not.
Does God desire to bless His people financially? When you study the Old Testament, the Lord always promised financial blessing to His people who would follow Him, not money, wholeheartedly. Starting with Abraham, and Abraham was loaded. However, even though Abraham had money, money didn’t have him, God had him. Abraham was willing to offer even his own son. Most right-minded fathers would give all their money to spare their son. Abraham didn’t even hold back his own son from God. Another episode in Abraham’s life that proved that you can have money without money having you is: remember when he was willing to give Lot the better looking land? Abraham wasn’t out to scrap for every last dollar. He wasn’t chasing money. He was chasing God. But, it seemed like money was chasing him. Interesting enough, the difference between Abraham and born again believers is that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit inside of us, not just that but we have a clearer revelation of God’s love manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. How much more can we walk in the reality of: Possessing money without money possessing us.
When the Law was given to the children of Israel, the Lord spent a lot of time promising them many material blessings if they would just follow the Lord wholeheartedly. God didn’t just tell them to follow Him and promise only spiritual blessings. He included physical blessings as well. The last I read, we are under a better covenant that what Israel had. Some would argue, 1) that the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant are what makes the New Covenant better. 2) And, it seems like the early church didn’t celebrate mansions, but celebrated martyrdom. To counter that, the Word of God teaches us that our God doesn’t change. The same God who desired His people to be financially blessed in the Old Covenant, has not changed in the New Covenant. When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t die to abolish the blessings of obeying the Law. He came to abolish the curses from disobeying the Law! Secondly, if it wasn’t for the mansions, and rich believers, the church wouldn’t have had places to meet. Historically, they met in large homes! Jesus displayed the Father as one who loves to give good things to His Children! Then, Jesus taught His disciples to pray that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven! There is prosperity, not poverty in heaven! Therefore, God’s perfect will for His people is prosperity, not poverty!
Yes, Martyrdom did take place often in the early church. Yes, persecution was rampant! Persecution is promised by Jesus! I’m not saying that persecution is non-existent in today’s world, and it should be something we ought to never expect. But, you know what: what really propelled the persecution, was the jealousy of the religious & insecure leaders. Maybe, we aren’t be persecuted as much, because we aren’t prospering as much! Hitler persecuted the Jews because of how successful they were, if they were poor peasants, he wouldn’t have to bother. If they were his slaves, he wouldn’t have to bother.
Another thing about persecution is: I believe that what our forefathers fought for, we have the right to enjoy. Because of what Martin Luther King fought for in the civil rights movement, I don’t have to fight the same battles, because He fought and won. Our forefathers who shed their blood, fought for a cause, and because of the price they paid, I don’t have to pay the same price, but their ceiling is my floor. In Korea, many missionaries shed their blood as Martyrs. Today, if you go to Korea, you will see the world’s largest churches, you will hear the greatest preachers in the world, you will see millions of believers, and you won’t be killed for it. A price was paid. Regardless of his policies, having an African American president in office is mind-blowing thought. However, if Martin Luther King was alive today, he wouldn’t want His people fighting the same battles, but he would be so proud of having an African America as the U.S. President! What the early church fought for was heaven on earth! There is a lot more heaven on earth in Korea than before! Because they raised the “heaven on earth” percentage, there is no persecution! Now, there are places in the Middle-East, where the “heaven on earth” percentage is really low, so believers are being persecuted and martyred, but we must fight and pray for heaven’s percentage to grow!
The problem that many Christians have with prosperity comes from a: Scarcity Mentality. They believe that there are not enough resources on earth for everyone to live blessed, so if a pastor is driving a nice car, that means that many children in Africa are starving! They think that if a Christian is living in a mansion, that means that ten thousand Haitians will go to sleep homeless! This is saying that there are not enough natural resources! Haiti & Africa however are full of natural resources! In fact, before Haiti made it’s covenant with Voodoo, it was one of the most prosperous nations in the whole Caribbean. The reason people in Haiti & Africa & other third world countries are suffering from poverty is not because Americans are living luxuriously! (Hosea 4:2-4): “All this cussing and lying and killing, theft and loose sex, sheer anarchy, one murder after another! And because of all this, the very land itself weeps and everything in it is grief-stricken—
animals in the fields and birds on the wing, even the fish in the sea are listless, lifeless. “But don’t look for someone to blame. No finger pointing! You, priest, are the one in the dock.”
The Bible tells us that God delights in the prosperity of his servant! If I am serving God, I believe that there should be prosperity in my life! Prosperity is spiritual, relational, and physical! Jesus said that if we would seek first the kingdom, that all these things would be added unto us. I notice that Jesus didn’t preface the word “things” by saying, “only spiritual things.” We seek after the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be added to us as God’s people! I believe that any third world country, will see a change in their economy, not by getting foreign aid! But, by getting heaven’s aid! By turning to the Lord! By repentance! By truly serving God! By praying! Remember, the Word of God tells us that “If My people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.” That’s a promise for revival! However, notice that revival doesn’t just involve spiritual blessings (the forgiveness of sins), but physical blessings as well (the healing of their land). I believe this is a key to spiritual & physical prosperity, and because it is a key from the Word of God, it will work anywhere! The Word of God doesn’t just work in America, it works anywhere, anytime, to anyone, who will work it properly!
Some would attack the prosperity message by saying, “What about all those evil people who are prosperous? Are they blessed by God?”
1) True prosperity is not just having a lot of money. If someone is a slave to Satan, and they are a walking billionaire, they are still not prosperous!
2) David too pondered this question, and he expressed his confusion in the Psalms. However, their prosperity is very short-lived. David’s prosperity however was eternal (by the way, as a servant of God, he did walk in prosperity).
3) Satan is the god of this world. But, there is a new kingdom on the scene! Satan’s puppets should have be having all the money in the world! But, there must be a wealth transfer! The Kingdom ambassadors are the ones who need to be taking the finances away from the drug dealers, the mafia, the adult industry, etc. The Church must arise! Again our prayer must be that heaven comes down to earth. In heaven, it’s the saints who are prospering, not the evil-doers who are in the business of Satan! The reason why Jesus told us to pray this is because it is our battle to see heaven come to earth!
When believers are living prosperous lives, for us to hate on them, is like a pastor of a small church hating on all the mega-church pastors, saying that the reason his church is small is because all the other mega-churches in his area. First of all, there are plenty of fish in the sea who need to be brought in! The harvest is plentiful! There are countless number of souls that ought to be coming into that small church and get saved so that church becomes a mega church as well! Just like there are plenty of souls that need harvesting, our God has plenty of resources to bless His people. Secondly, the Kingdom of God needs every small church to become a mega-church because of a massive revival hitting the land! In the same way, every believer ought to become prosperous! Why? Thirdly, Mega-churches can do a lot more than struggling small churches! They can build huge buildings! Take real-estate from the kingdom of darkness! They can send more money into other nations to spread the gospel. They can invade the airwaves for the Kingdom of God through television! A prosperous Christian can do a lot more than a Christian who is struggling financially! If you are a hater of prospering Christians, I would like to ask you to stop hating and start participating! Instead of judging the prosperous believers, I’d like to humble myself to learn from them, and apply the same keys that they applied from the Word of God.
When we go into these other nations that are poor and struggling, should we go down to their level, or call them up to our level! As I was in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, I was convinced that this was not the perfect will of God for His people. A man we met there told us his story of how he escaped Haiti and came to the United States illegally to make a living and support his family back home in Haiti, with hopes that he would make money and even be able to move his family out. When he was deported back to Haiti, his family wept, because he was their only hope! In Haiti, they know that there is greener grass on the other side! They know that their nation is in shambles! It’s full of crime, pollution, poverty, and the life-span is really low! Is this heaven on earth? It sounds more like hell on earth!
It is Scriptural, that God wants his people so blessed, that others will turn to God out of a jealousy. This is what Paul prophesied would happen with the Gentile Church and the Jews. That the Gentile Church would be so glorious, that the Jews would be jealous. If the Gentile Church dropped to the level of the Jews and embraced religion, etc. That wouldn’t bring the Jews to jealousy and ultimately to the Lord! Again, are we called to drop to the level of a poor, struggling nation, or are we to call them up to where we are? Regarding stirring up the jealousy of the Jews, there’s not many things that can stir up their jealousy like financial prosperity upon the Gentile Church! Of course, just financial prosperity is not what will win them over, but it could be one of the factors!
Could a pastor really call his flock to a higher level if he comes down to their level? What if he just talks about how he feels and acts just like they do? It might make the congregation feel better about their own sins, but it won’t call them up to a higher level of holiness and power! The pastor must be at another level of holiness, intimacy with God, and character, and then call the flock to his level! If a believer has broken out of poverty and is living in financial prosperity, shouldn’t he or she be an example and call others to break out of poverty and live in financial prosperity as well?
Some people think poor people are holy and rich people are contaminated. That is an overstatement! That is an ignorant statement! Traditionally, churches have kept their pastors dirt poor, and carried the mentality, “we will keep the pastor holy and humble through poverty!” They equated poverty to holiness! Yes, the Bible says that the poor of this world are rich in faith. Being rich in faith is the greater blessing than being rich in money. But, that verse didn’t command people to be poor. It was a passage that warned people of despising the poor! That was the main purpose of that verse! It wasn’t telling everyone to be poor and stay poor! It was telling you how to relate to the poor. That same book (James), talked about taking care of orphans and widows, it gave instructions on how to relate to these people, it didn’t command you to become one of them!
Just say the owner of Chick-Fil-A gave you a branch in New York City. Now, He is still the founder and owner of Chick-Fil-A, but by his grace, your family has been given authority over that one promising restaurant. The first day you step into that restaurant, hope bubbles forth and overflows from your heart, and excitement to see this restaurant prosper surges through your system! But, along with authority comes responsibility, so your family is now responsible for taking care of that Chick-Fil-A branch in the Big Apple. Your family has a huge role to play in the success or failure of that specific extension of the gracious owner’s vision.
Now, let’s say you start off by doing a first-class job as the manager over that restaurant. You are in constant communication with the owner, tapping into his priceless wisdom and getting more acquainted with his perfected vision for Chick-Fil-A. You are leading this restaurant into rapid increase. People are raving about it! Things are running smoothly. You look around the restaurant and all you see are sunny, smily faces!
But, one day, a burglar walks through the doors. Now, he’s not your typical burglar who comes in with a pistol, mask, and a trench coat. He’s wearing a three piece suit, sporting a rolex, has his wavy hair styled, and teeth that are un-naturally white. Undoubtably, charisma exudes from him, but at the same time, you sense that something is not right with this man.
He walks right into the kitchen, and starts ordering all you around. When you confront him about what he’s trying to pull, he confidently tells you that he has a better way for you to run the restaurant, and if you follow his pointers, it’s going to make you richer and more powerful than even the owner. Instead of calling the cops, or commanding the burglar to leave, your family decides to let him order everyone around. The burglar is now the puppeteer and you and your family are being controlled and manipulated as this intruder is pulling the strings. Now, with all this going on, are you still the manager of the restaurant? No. Should you be? Yes. Why? Because from Day 1 of the restaurant, you were given the authority by the owner.
Now, when the burglar came in, and you let him take the stirring wheel of the restaurant, he started ordering the workers to start putting rat poison in the chicken sandwiches and laxatives in the sodas. He has dictated that you make all the sandwiches free, and the workers have to work merciless twenty hour days. Your restaurant has now become a dysfunctional hellhole!
Consequently, the way your restaurant is running, is so far from the original will of the owner. People are falling dead in your store. People are lining up in droves to use the bathrooms, while holding their tummies, with faces that have “birth pangs” written all over it. The workers don’t have warm smiles, but look like zombies. This was not the vision of the owner!
Now, in the back corner of your restaurant, a woman just witnessed her husband foam at the mouth and drop dead because of the rat poison. As she wails for her husband of twenty years, she turns her face and sees a picture of the owner, hanging next to her on the wall, and she hysterically curses the owner of Chick-Fil-A, calling him names that aren’t appropriate to include in a Christian book. Other’s catch on to her fire, and in concert, they begin saying vicious things about the owner, while throwing their drinks, ketchup, fries, and sandwiches at his picture.
Wait a minute! Stop and think objectively with me. Whose responsible for all this mayhem? Whose responsible for this restaurant going from an excellent, well-kept business, to a horror movie? Is it the owner? Or, is it you- the manager’s fault, for allowing the burglar free access and obeying the burglar mindlessly? Objectively-speaking, should direct our wrath towards the owner or the burglar- who is the one achieving his three-fold purpose to kill, steal, and destroy lives and the restaurant?
Now, let’s translate this story into spiritual reality. The Biblical truth is that God is the owner. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Psalm 24:1)(Corinthians 10:26). In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Who did He appoint to be the manager or the one in authority over the earth? Well, He gave it to the family of mankind, specifically to Adam (Genesis 1:26)(Psalm 115:16). Who is the burglar? It’s Satan (John 10:10). Satan came into the restaurant called earth, and deceived Adam and Eve. He started commanding them around, telling them to run their lives on earth not according to the will of the Owner, but in a different way, and tricked them into doing by promising that they would become more powerful as the result, even to the level of God. Satan tricked them by saying, that conformity to the Owner’s plan was actually depriving them of a more prosperous life and business. As we know the story, Adam and Eve sadly switched allegiance, and turned their back on the God- who gave them the earth, and they turned to obey Satan- who is a thief, a liar, and a destroyer.
Does Satan own the earth? Nope. Is Satan the rightful manager? No, we- the family of Adam are. But, is Satan in charge? Unfortunately and illegitimately, yes. Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and according to Jesus, Satan is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). How did Satan get to be in charge like this? He made Adam and Eve his servants by obeying him because here is a definite spiritual law: Who you obey is your master (Romans 6:16).
Now people on earth are dying left and right. And the people are blaming the Owner, but it’s not his fault. Why doesn’t the Owner just come in and take over the earth, and drive out the burglar? Isn’t God a good Owner? Isn’t God an all-powerful Owner? Yes! But, He is a God who chooses not to lie. Liars don’t honor their words. They flippantly claim one thing, but act in totally contradiction. God is not like that. He is a God of integrity. If we were at Pizza Hut, and I gave you my slice, and when you went to use the bathroom, I invaded it and devoured it myself before you got back, would that make me a trustworthy man of my word? God gave the earth to the family of man, mankind has been given the rightful authority to the earth by God. Therefore, even though He created the earth, He doesn’t not just butt into the affairs of the earth, but when He moves on the earth, He moves through the permission of man. Why? Here is another definite spiritual law: God does not lie, for He is a God of integrity- who honors His Word.
So, how would this world get back on track to the Owner’s original plan? God would become a man in the person of Jesus Christ…
How was Adam and Eve supposed to take dominion over the earth? It was through their words. They were made in the likeness of God, and God releases His power through His words. When Satan came to the garden through the serpent, Adam should have exercised his authority and rebuked the serpent and the devil and commanded it to leave him and his wife. Adam was given dominion. Why? Perhaps it was God’s love that just wanted to bless Adam and Eve and humanity with something beautiful. Why was Adam given dominion? Perhaps God knew that there would be an evil creature in the garden named Satan who needed to be shut up and casted out. No human being loves living dominated. Why? We were not created to be dominated, but to dominate. Not in the sense of suppressing people, but reigning in life and victorious/glorious kings and queens. We know the story, Adam failed to exercise his authority, and Satan exercised his trickery and Adam obeyed Satan and therefore became a slave the Satan, and Satan became the illegitimate God of this world. By obeying Satan’s petition, Adam delivered the kingdoms of the earth to Satan. Now, the rightful manager is without much power, and the illegitimate manager is running the show.
So how is God going to get mankind back on track.? He’s not going to just bombard the earth again and snatch it back. He’s going to still honor His Word. Satan thought he had God in the perfect trap, because Satan knew that God gave the earth to man, and that God doesn’t lie. So, Satan knew that he was now the god of this world. Satan knew that the heavens were God’s territory, but the earth was the territory that God gave to man, and God wouldn’t act upon the earth unless man gave him permission. But, now man was under the choke hold of Satan. But, after the sin, God comes to Adam, Eve, and Satan, and gives a prophetic word saying that the seed of the woman will crush the head of the Serpent/Satan. The only way Satan can loose his grip on the earth is if a man gets a grip on God and invites God to intervene on His behalf. God was aware of this reality as well, but in His wisdom, He was not intimidated by it at all.
God needs man’s permission to execute His will on the earth. But, because Satan has such a strong grip on people, they are all living in such gross sin. They are so far from God. Satan wants people disconnected from God, so they cannot invite God to execute His will on the earth. But, God finds someone named Noah. Noah starts speaking on behalf of God as a prophet. Noah declares the judgment is coming. Noah’s declarations of faith, gives God permission to unleash the flood on the earth. Noah is a rightful family member of Adam, and the earth was given to Adam’s family by God.
Still Satan has a strong grip on people because humans have received a sin nature after the fall. That sin nature is Satan’s leash that He uses to control people. Again, mankind has sunk low into sin. But, God finds a man named Abraham, and Abraham is a man who is willing to obey God. Another spiritual law: Agreement brings access. When Adam came into agreement with Satan, he gave Satan access into his family. When Abraham came into agreement with God, he gave God access into his family. Abraham and God come into a blood covenant. That is a relationship of the closest degree. A covenant is a binding agreement. A covenant is the most serious agreement. With that covenant, Abraham gave God access into the earth again. What happens when God is given access? Blessing! Abraham’s life is blessed in every way. What happens when you come into agreement with God and give Him full access? A blessed life! God promises that through Abraham, His covenant partner, a special seed would come forth, and that seed would bring blessing upon the whole earth. How? He was going to bring people into agreement with God again. He was going to bring people into a covenant with God again. Wherever and whenever Satan was given access, curses fell on the earth and humanity. But, God promised Abraham that there would come a channel of God’s blessing to the world through His seed. Of course, God was thinking about sending His Son to become a man, to join Adam’s family, so He could rightfully kick out the devil and bring order and restoration to the earth.
Abraham and his descendants needed to give God permission to bring forth His Son. How? Their words. So, God leads prophet after prophet to prophesy or speak words about Jesus. Just as Noah’s words brought forth the flood. The words of the prophets brought forth Jesus. When we speak, we give God permission and access. Just as God’s words brought the earth into creation. As humans created in the will of God, our words bring a creative work on the earth. Two important facts about humans: One, we are the rightful heirs of the earth, so we have received authority from God over this earth; two, we are made in the image of God so our words carry power. God finds a very special woman named Mary, who would also come into agreement with God and give Him access to fulfill the prophetic words spoken about the Messiah through her womb.
Jesus comes to the earth, God is here, but He is here legally. He has not broken integrity. He’s given the earth to man, and guess what, He’s now a man in the person of His Son Jesus. So a family member comes in, but this family member is different from all the others. The others have been controlled so long that they didn’t know how to take authority over the enemy/intruder. Not Jesus. He’s casting out demons. He’s exercising authority, and He refuses to obey Satan, so Satan has no access into his life. He’s totally walking in obedience to God, so He gives God full access through His life, and everywhere He goes, people get blessed! He speaks to the people about the Kingdom of God- which means that the rightful owner is not going to tolerate this tyranny and illegitimate ruler to rule anymore. He declares that He came to seek and save that which was lost. He is getting those who obey Him, to do what He does, and preach the Kingdom and bless people.
Before, the burglars troops used to enslave and control people, but this man Jesus is binding them and ordering them around. All the others from Adam’s family notice that something is different about this man. He preaches, but his message has demonstration of authority. One day, while Jesus is in the wilderness, the burglar offers to him the entire store. Satan had control over the earth. But, if Jesus bowed down to Satan, he would have fell under Satan’s authority just like Adam. This was a trap you see! Jesus saw right through it. He was after taking back the earth all right, but it’s not going to be by obeying the burglar, but the Owner. Jesus preached the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of God. Heaven is God’s domain, it’s where God’s will is done. The earth was supposed to be heaven on earth, through Adam’s submission and partnership with God. It fell from that original purpose. Jesus came to restore it. The Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed was near, was that the Owner is coming back on the scene and instituting His will and dominion again! How is that possible? Didn’t God give the earth to man? Yes. But, Jesus-the Son of God, had become a man so had complete legal access to restore order. Jesus is teaching those in the store who have been brainwashed and controlled so long by the illegitimate ruler, and He teaches them how the store is supposed to operate- we have the sermon on the mouth and the law of love. He modeled how life was supposed to be on the earth according to the design of the owner. He taught and trained people how to release the Owner’s will into the store again. Jesus had a supernatural weapon. Demons, sicknesses, sorrows, poverty, hopelessness trembled and left at the release of this weapon. This weapon is called the anointing. That weapon would be given to everyone who confesses the Lord Jesus.
The burglars needed to find a way destroy this man who was destroying them. They hated the Owner and wanted to destroy His work. The burglar saw an open invitation from a man named Judas, who had been obeying him and stealing here and there. Then the burglar saw an open invitation in the religious leaders. That door was named jealousy and hatred. He orchestrated a plan to kill Jesus through them. Sure enough the plan succeeds. Jesus is hanging on the cross. Demons and the devil are rejoicing! It looks like Jesus is going to die. What Satan didn’t know was that He would die taking upon Him all the sins and sicknesses of humanity as a substitute. He dies. Not just Jesus, but the power of sin died. Today, people don’t go to hell because of their great sins, but their rejection of Jesus. But, that’s not the end of Him. When He dies, He goes to the place where Abraham and those like Him were locked up. He frees them and they can follow His lead to heaven. No man was able to go into heaven. No man knew the way or could make the way. Their sin disqualified them. But, Jesus was qualified. He knew the way and made the way.
Now, those who say yes to Jesus, who broke out of Satan’s system, can also break out of Satan’s system. It’s called salvation. They get that secret weapon that Jesus had. They can go back to the words and ways of Jesus revealed in the Gospels and learn the ways of the Owner and how to extend the Owners will into the earth. Now, God is so pleased, because His will is being accomplished. Mankind is managing the earth while being in right relationship with Him.