Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Must We Sin?

Do we have to sin?

That depends if you are speaking of sins we are aware of or things we do that offend God of which we are not aware. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ that his grace covers all things we are blissfully unaware of so the question then is, are we able to avoid sins we do on purpose. The answer to that is, yes.

People mistakenly misuse the scripture where Paul stated what his struggle was with sin before accepting Jesus:

I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. (Romans 7:18-20)

Paul is describing what it is to be a slave to sin, the sin that is revealed by the perfect Law of God. But earlier Paul also wrote:

Don’t you know that you are slaves of anyone you obey? You can be slaves of sin and die, or you can be obedient slaves of God and be acceptable to him. You used to be slaves of sin. But I thank God that with all your heart you obeyed the teaching you received from me. Now you are set free from sin and are slaves who please God. (Romans 6:16-18)

So why is it that so often we fall back into sin? Why is it that we end up so weak? For the answer to that I think we need to consider king David.

In some ways this is comparing apples and oranges because we are now indwelt by the Holy Spirit and David was not. God applied a lot of grace to David in the same way he did to Abraham but today we live in a constant state of grace because of the blood of Jesus. However, there are certain behaviours that are similar that still get us in trouble.

The big difference between David and us is that David had no choice in his sin; he was a slave to it. His best chance was to avoid situations that would cause him to fall. As he stood on the roof top looking down on a bathing Bathsheba, David was a slave to his desires, but he shouldn't have been there. When you read the scriptures you discover that it was the time when kings went off to war, but David was not where he was suppose to be. He sent off his army and he stayed home, bored. Boredom is never a good thing. If David had been fulfilling his duties he would never have sinned and an innocent man would not have had to die.

Too often we decide to sin because we are not where we are suppose to be. And yes, I chose the word "decide"on purpose. In this age of grace, with the indwelling of the Spirit and the broken bonds of sin, we have to make a conscience decision to sin. We know what we are doing and decide to do it any way. It is not as Paul described what it was like before Jesus. We know him, have been freed by him, have the ability to decide for ourselves and are strengthened by the Spirit to do the right thing.

If we are where we are suppose to be in the Spirit, doing what we have been called to do, serving our Lord Jesus, then no temptation could ever overwhelm us. There is no reason why we must give in to sin, but we can make the decision to do it. When we are weak in our relationship temptation is strong. When we are strong in our relationship, temptation is weak.

Are we where we are suppose to be? Are we bored? Are we lending power to temptations? Then turn back as quickly as you can to Jesus. Who the Son has set free is free indeed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Misuse Of God's Gifts

If you are a member of the Body of Christ, you are called, equipped and anointed for the function you have been given. No one can exist in Jesus outside of the Body. Many try due to their lack of maturity. They are too busy looking at the imperfections of other people to understand the grace that has been applied to their own. They use others as an excuse to separate instead of a reason to serve. We are the Body and God has appointed us to our place in it. Verify the truth of the matter in 1 Corinthians 12.

You have been given certain gifts by the Spirit in order to function within the Body. These are not natural to us but are supernatural, given to us supernaturally. We cannot serve God in a way that pleases him in our natural, but he equips us to serve him in the supernatural. The question is, will we use these gifts to faithfully serve his will, or will we use them selfishly for our own gain? Solomon is a good illustration.

King Solomon knew enough to know he was over his head. What he had been called and anointed to do was beyond his own natural ability, and he was wise enough to realize it. So when God asked him what he could give Solomon, this young, wet behind the ears, newly appointed king asked for two things: wisdom and knowledge. But take note of why he wanted these gifts from God:

Lord God, you were always loyal to my father David, and now you have made me king of Israel. I am supposed to rule these people, but there are as many of them as there are specks of dust on the ground. So keep the promise you made to my father and make me wise. Give me the knowledge I’ll need to be the king of this great nation of yours. (2 Chronicles 1:8-10)

Solomon did not ask for his own benefit but so that he could fulfill his calling, the task for which he was anointed, which is why we receive gifts from the Spirit. God was pleased with this and because he asked with this motivation he also provided Solomon with everything else. But Solomon did not stay so pure in his motivation.

Solomon allowed his eyes to turn inward. He indulged in the privilege of his position. Instead of serving God by serving God's great nation, Solomon started serving his own selfish desires. How easy it is to turn what God gives us to serve him into something for selfish gain.

As great as Solomon was he could have become more. He seeded things into his children which caused the split in the kingdom. Instead of being a united people for the glory of God, they became spoiled and selfish, requiring the great correction God visited on them. We are not too far from this ourselves, even in the early days of the Church.

When apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, guiding him in the strengthening of the Church in Ephesus, he said something that we need to take note of today:

You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith. (1 Timothy 1:4)

We can never forget the purpose of our calling and the focus we have been given. There should never be anything that we are involved in that does not help us to do God's work. That is the entire focus of our life, to do God's work. It is not a part-time thing. It is not a weekend thing. It is something that we are occupied with every moment of our day, and it is the reason we have been equipped by the Spirit.

It is possible for us to waste the gifts of the Spirit, to use them for ourselves instead of for Jesus in the context of the Body. It is possible but it will prove to be our ruin as it ruined Solomon. We will never reach the heights that God has intended for us and we will seed things that will prove to be the undoing of other people as well. For this we will have to give an account. Don't forget the parable of the talents.

Perhaps it is time to allow the Spirit to take an inventory of where we are with the gifts we have been given, and permit him to remove what is not a help in doing God's work by faith.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Self-Made Or God-Made?

Have you asked Jesus to walk with you or have you accepted to walk with Jesus?

Do you ask Jesus to bless your plans or do you ask to know the Father's will so you can be obedient to it?

Did you ask Jesus to use your talents for his glory or did you ask the Spirit to manifest through you with the anointing of God so that his glory may be revealed?

There is a difference.

But today we don't have time to understand that difference. Everything is a rush. We don't have time to sit in the presence of God, to have his anointing wash over us. We don't have time to meditate on his Word and hear his voice speak his will to our heart. We come to him with our limitations and say "Use me Lord and here is what I mean by 'use'".

Here are the first words to describe Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1:1:

King Solomon, the son of David, was now in complete control of his kingdom, because the Lord God had blessed him and made him a powerful king. (2 Chronicles 1:1)

Solomon had not done anything to accomplish anything. He contributed nothing. He did not fight any great battles. He had won no wars. He did not go out and enslave the world. He had done nothing to warrant any thought that he was a great king. He was what he was and had what he had because God had decided it. God had made Solomon an incredibly powerful king and his fame spread around the world.

On his own Solomon might have been able to survive. He might have been able to accomplish some things, or he might have been conquered and killed in the first week. We don't know but we do know that Solomon was a powerful king because God made him powerful.

Are we a self-made people or a God-made people? Who is in control of your life? Does it matter?

We are not a dumb people.With some hard work we can accomplish a lot. We can at least survive. We can scheme, manipulate, work and accumulate some wealth and reputation. We can even give God credit for all of it, although it was only us who did it.

God does not want credit for what we do in our strength. Jesus does not want you attaching his name to something that has nothing of him in it. If you were a master electrician would you want your name attached to a job completed by an amateur? If you were a well known artist would you want your signature on the finger painting of a two year old? What could we possibly achieve that would give Jesus the same level of glory that he is able to give himself?

What we can accomplish is nothing compared to what God can do through a humble and surrendered child. God does not need us creating glory for him out of our limitations. He wants to reveal his glory as he manifests through us and does his thing in and through us. He does not want our ideas, schemes, or actions. He wants us to be his tool, worked in his hands and all it requires is surrender and obedience. He does not want our opinion or our perspective. He wants our heart, mind, soul and strength given in love every moment of every day.

God blessed and made Solomon a powerful king. What does he want to do with a surrendered you?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Don't Give Satan Power Over You

Have you ever been told to be careful of what you say? Have you been told to watch what you confess with your mouth? Often people say that you will bring life to whatever fear, worry, lust, longing that you speak. Your words give it life. The Word of God is filled with warnings to be careful of what you say. There is a reason for all of this: It is with your words that you either defeat or arm your enemy against you.

So let's understand this: Satan is not God. He is not an equal force fighting against him. He is not arm wrestling with Jesus over souls. Jesus sent Satan packing with a few simple words and, with the authority given to him by the Father, he sent the servants of the enemy scurrying away with the simple command to "Go!" God is God and there is no other. Evil cannot overcome him and there is no foe that can defeat him.

Now understand this: Only God knows your thoughts. No one knows what you are thinking, except for our Creator. He knows our motivations because he knows our mind and our heart. Don't worry; he knows and he has still chosen to love you. That's how great his grace is. The Word tells us:

You know when I am resting
    or when I am working,
    and from heaven
    you discover my thoughts. (Psalm 139:2)

 Don’t say, “I didn’t know it!
    God can read your mind.
He watches each of us
    and knows our thoughts. (Proverbs 24:12)

When king David was preparing his son, Solomon, for the great task that awaited him, he told him:

Solomon, my son, worship God and obey him with all your heart and mind, just as I have done. He knows all your thoughts and your reasons for doing things, and so if you turn to him, he will hear your prayers. (1 Chronicles 28:9)

The problem is when we turn around and credit Satan with the same attributes as God. Satan does not know your thoughts. He cannot hear what you are thinking. He does not know your words before they are on your lips but when they are on your lips he knows, and that`s the point.

Satan is a great student of human behaviour and character. He has servants who watch, take notes, and listen to your words to know your heart. He has no other way to know you then to study your words and actions. It is the reason we are warned:

Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. (1 Peter 5:8)

How does he know who to attack? Is he going to attack those who stand strong in the authority of Jesus; who worship and praise all day long? Is he going to attack those who proclaim the promises in every situation? Is he going to attack those who have developed faith muscles by declaring the goodness of Jesus in the face of all circumstances? Or is he going to attack those who show their weakness by the confession of their mouth? Those who grumble, complain, back bite? Is he going to attack those who confess (not to God but the world) their illnesses, lusts and desires? Is he going to attack those who expose their plans and who curse the good things that God is doing through circumstances?

We have nothing to fear from Satan unless we give him the power over us; unless we leave the pasture of our Shepherd and tell the world of our fears. As long as the Lord is our strength, our sword and our shield, as long as his praise is sweet on our lips, as long as we make sure our words, the confessions of our hearts, are seasoned with his grace and love, the enemy will never be able to touch us. But the moment we start confessing our fears, anxieties, anger, bitterness, hatred, discontent, he will know exactly how to work on us until he succeeds in separating us from the Lover of our Soul. Like a knife in an open wound, he will continue to twist on the nerve of our emotions.

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)

And let your words flow from such things. Even if you are struggling with a wrong attitude, confess it to God but be silent before your enemy. In fact, know what is best for you and despite how you may feel, let the praises of our Lord fill your mouth and the air around you simply because you know he is good. May the atmosphere of where you are change from whatever it is to the sweet awareness of God's presence and may others be blessed by you instead of cursed as a result of your close walk with Jesus.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ordered By God Or Organized By Man

If you were to rate yourself on your organizational skills what grade would you give yourself out of ten? Being organized takes discipline which is a godly thing. Some people think to live by the Spirit is a wild and crazy thing that has nothing to do with being organized. For them, the Spirit is chaotic but our God is not a God of chaos. Neither is he into a useless religious life.

Discipline brings with it a release to be free in the Spirit. It means that everything in your life is understood, has a purpose and a place. When needed you know exactly how to call upon what you need.This goes for physical, mental and spiritual things.

On the other hand, a religious mind brings a rigidness. It is more about law than purpose. A religious mind can tell you where something is and what it is for but does not always have the understanding to use it. A religious mind knows how to make things look good but is seldom useful or available to God.

These were my thoughts as I read through the organization of the kingdom of Israel under David in 1 Chronicles 23-24. Everyone had a place, a responsibility, well defined and they operated in it. There was order in the kingdom and it prospered under the divinely directed leadership of David, a man after God's own heart. Everything was as God directed it to be, not as man thought it should be.

The Body of Christ, the Church, does not have a man as the head. All of us, apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, elders, deacons, worship leaders, administrators, healers, all of us in the Body are parts of the Body, functioning members.These places are assigned to us by Jesus through the Spirit in us. These are not functions according to our ability and talents but according to God's anointing. It is his choosing, not ours, and once realized and understood, we must be faithful to it.

Everyone should be in their place, with understanding and power, ready to respond when called upon by the Spirit. The Spirit is the electron that shoots from the head to the part that needs to respond. According to God's will the Body is well ordered, well organized, even if it makes no sense and looks like madness to this world. The problem comes when we try to bring our own definition of order and organization according to our thinking instead of the mind of Christ. There is nothing religiously minded about the Body of Christ and it is Jesus who keeps the Body in good order.

Do you know your place? If not, speak to the elders and pastors of your church. We need you to take your place.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

1 Timothy 1: A Shout Out To The Apostles and Prophets Of This Age

Don't be surprised if there is a great shaking in the Church in the months to follow. I cannot imagine the Lord leaving us in the state we are in. I love the Bride and will defend her to my dying breath but we must also judge ourselves in this matter: we are getting it wrong. There is nothing we can do to correct our situation except humble ourselves and allow the Spirit to bring in correct.

What is wrong?

Consider apostle Paul's words to Timothy, the revelation he had received about his place in the Kingdom:

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This saying is true, and it can be trusted. I was the worst sinner of all! But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus. He did this so that others would put their faith in Christ and have eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Paul understood that he was a trophy of grace. Jesus was not interested in using Paul's intellect or great talents; he desired to use Paul as an example. Paul knew he was the worst of the worse. He had attacked the Church, the Bride. In doing so he had attacked Jesus. He was the cause of a great persecution which resulted in the death and jailing of believers. But Paul had come to understand that he was called to proclaim the gospel of grace, not because of his great intellect or skills but because of who he had been and what God had done.

There are not too many places that would accept Paul today because we have lost the importance of God's grace and anointing. We still judge by the flesh. There are not a lot of people that would accept an uneducated fisherman like Peter over their churches because he has no letters behind his name. What a foolish Church we have become, rejecting the anointed in favour of the educated. Even worse, we take the anointed and educate it out of them.

I consider my apostle a "Peter". He is extremely rough around the edges, educated in the Spirit and only a few course in man. He drives me crazy at times but he is almost always spot on because of the anointing of God. One thing about this man is for sure, the anointing cannot be denied. Yet he is rejected in the "acceptable"Christian circles because they look to his past, they look to his education, they look to the rough edges, and over-look the anointing and his authority as an apostle. Crazy. Stupid. To deny the blessings of the Lord because we can't look past the flesh. And there are many more like him,being denied their rightful place because of man-made standards.

There is a great shaking that is coming, to knock down what belongs to man, and to raise up what is of God. It will be a hard thing but a good thing. Do not mourn but rejoice that the Head is bringing correction to the Body so the glory of the Father will again be revealed to all who have a heart to see it. May the apostles and prophets take their strength in the Lord and be brave enough to take their place despite the plans of the enemy. And in the authority of Jesus we come against those plans and call to the apostles and prophets to rise up in the anointing Jesus has given them.

Satan Knows How To Destroy You

The enemy of your soul wishes to destroy you today. He won't be in your face about it but instead will use the natural weakness of your flesh against you. He will initiate something that you will continue with and he is good enough at it to make you think it is God's will. Consider Eve.

Eve's big mistake was answering the serpent but she did handle herself well. When you read this passage realize that Eve responded to the serpent's twisted truth in the same manner as Jesus did, with the exact words of God. But little did Eve know that by continuing to entertain the serpent she had already started down the slippery slope. I am sure the serpent had studied Eve and knew that her weakness was her curiosity which he worked on to overcome her obedience to God. All Satan had to do was nudge Eve's curiosity enough to get her to look at the fruit, then Eve did the rest. This is what Satan did to King David.

Often we consider David's biggest sin was his sexual sin with Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband but there was another sin that resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people. It started off with Satan:

Satan decided to cause trouble for Israel by making David think it was a good idea to find out how many people there were in Israel and Judah. (1 Chronicles 21:1)

It is only natural that a king would want to know the strength of his army. All it took was a little nudge from Satan to push David in that direction. But God had ordered from long ago that Israel was never to take a census of its strength. The reason is a simple one: the strength of the army was never what the king of Israel was to rely upon. His true strength was found in his relationship with God, who is the defender of Israel. David did wrong and thousands of people paid the price.

Satan hasn't changed. He still uses his little bag of dirty tricks because they still work. He is very good at separating us from dependence on God. He is very good at working on our weaknesses. He is very good at nudging us in the direction of relying on our "armies" instead of God, and it keeps us weak. He does it in such a way that we think it is normal, natural. After all, it is only natural that we would keep a census of our wealth. It would be crazy not to. How else would we know what we need to pay our bills?

Yet Jesus told us to have nothing to do with fear or worry. He said not to chase after the values of this world as the people of this world do. In other words, we do not conduct business with the same set of values as the world; we have Kingdom values. We do not use the same wisdom or approach; we have God's wisdom. Whatever we have that comes from this world we give it away so we can receive Kingdom riches. We rejoice when we look weak in our finances and health because God is about to glorify himself in our weakness. We are a crazy bunch according to the principles and practices of this world, and that is what Satan wants to prevent. He does not want us discovering the Kingdom principles. He does not want Jesus to be our strength.
It comes down to this one basic truth: Your strength is found in your relationship with God. Anything else is a lie and will end up being your death. You will die on the riches of this world. Your bank account will be a dry twig and when you lean on it, it will snap. Your health is like the mist, a strong breeze will blow it away. Your family will be scattered with one simple crisis. The only true strength you have is Jesus Christ and that strength preserves finances, health and family. Without him you have nothing and you are nothing.

If the enemy of your soul comes whispering today rebuke him with the Word of God and press in to Jesus.

My body and mind may fail,
    but you are my strength
    and my choice forever. (Psalm 73:26)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Needed: Risk Takers

Are you a risk taker? The question crossed my mind as I was reading in 1 Chronicles some of king David's battles. God was very good to him and David knew it. He knew that the battle was not his but the Lord's and as he dealt with his enemy neighbours David did not doubt the faithfulness of God. David knew he was nothing but a shepherd boy whom God had taken from the pasture and made king over God's nation. David did nothing to deserve it. He wasn't educated or qualified in any manner except one; he loved God with all his heart.

As I read some of the various battles I could imagine the kingdom of Israel growing. David had quite a lot of land and a diverse people to govern but it seemed David was destined to always be at war. Even when he tried to be a kind king he ended up in a war.

The Ammonite king had died and David sent officials to comfort the new king but the new king was advised that David's officials had come to spy. The new king decided to teach David a lesson and shamed the officials. Not a great move and when he realized what he had done, he hired some armies from other places. It made for a sizable force, larger than Israel's army. So why would David risk it? Why take the chance? Why not be satisfied with what Israel had accomplished and leave it at that? Because David knew better.

It was always God who was giving the victory no matter the size of the opposition and even David's commanders understood this. As the commander and his brother were going into the battle, the commander stated:

Be brave and fight hard to protect our people and the towns of our Lord God. I pray he will do whatever pleases him. (1 Chronicles 19:13)

They won of course.

What is the one thing that we know for sure that our Father desires? That everyone would be saved. Jesus did not say he came to save a select few but instead whoever makes the choice to believe him. So just like David heading into battle, we can be confident that our Father wants us to win. He wants us to be engaged in the fight for lost souls. Is it worth the risk of sticking our necks out and testifying about Jesus? It certainly is and you will be surprised who is receptive to your testimony.

Some may sit on the bus and wonder if they should speak to the person next to them and decide not to because the person might not think well of them. Some don't speak to their customers afraid they may damage their business. There are all kinds of levels of risk when it comes to "sticking our neck out" for Jesus. But if it is the Father's will that everyone would be saved, how can be not be engaged in the battle?

The Kingdom is not about the status qua. It isn't about reaching a certain level and maintaining. It is about seeding what we have been entrusted with so that it will grow. The Kingdom is about growth and there is nothing wrong with that because it is the Father's will. What's wrong is when we are not growing, increasing, taking risks, walking in faith, trusting, obeying, sharing our testimony with everyone who will listen.

You can't win if you don't fight. You can't grow if you are not going forward. You can't be faithful to the Father's will if you are content to maintain. What some would call risk Jesus calls faith and he is the one who provides the faith that is needed but we have to trust him for it.

Am I a risk taker? Maybe not as much as I would like to be but I am determined to get there.

Monday, October 7, 2013

1 Timothy : None Of Me, All Of You

What are you praising Jesus for today? Do you actually have to think about the answer? Jesus told us that the person who is forgiven much loves much. The more you realize the significance of what Jesus has done for you, the more you understand what kind of enemy you were to God, the more you realize how much you were a stench to him, then the more your love will be for him. If you don't realize what you were and what he has saved you from, your love won't be so much.

This is the point apostle Paul is making to Timothy as he continues to write. First he tells Timothy that he is thankful. It is the only proper position from which to serve Jesus, a heart overflowing with thanksgiving:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord. (v. 12)

What's the first thing he is thankful for:

He has given me the strength for my work because he knew that he could trust me. (v. 12b)

Can we serve Jesus with our own resources, our own intelligence, our own determination, our own strength? Go ahead and try if you want and then you and I will sit down in a couple of months and see where you are. I will save you the time and tell you where you will be: You will be dead spiritually. We can't do anything for God with our own resources. We can only serve him when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Without him we can do nothing; with him we can do anything. Paul knew this and thanked Jesus for the strength he gave him to serve him. But what is this thing about trust?

Paul writes that Jesus knew he could trust him. Sounds arrogant but Paul knew who he was in Jesus and he knew what he had been saved from and he knew that the love of Jesus would always compel him to move forward, to never go back, to never go back to what he had been:

I used to say terrible and insulting things about him, and I was cruel. But he had mercy on me because I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had not yet put my faith in him. Christ Jesus our Lord was very kind to me. He has greatly blessed my life with faith and love just like his own. (v. 13-14)

There is something here that Paul had that most of us miss today. Paul had nothing to offer Jesus and he knew it. Today we ask the Lord to use our talents, our riches, our fame, our intellect, as if needs them. Jesus doesn't want any of it. Do you understand that? You have nothing to offer Jesus except your love and your obedience. Look at Paul's words again:

Christ Jesus our Lord was very kind to me. He has greatly blessed my life with faith and love just like his own.

He had greatly blessed his life with faith and love, just like Jesus'. Jesus does not want you to use your faith. You can't manage to generate the faith he desires you to have. He just wants you to die to yourself so he can fill you with everything you need, like his supernatural faith, the faith that allows the power of God to flow so you can speak to the dead to rise and the mountains to leap.

We go on a lot about loving our neighbour, loving the lost, loving the Body but if you try it with your love, which is second rate at best, you will fail and you may actually kill someone. We need his love. We need Jesus to bless our life with love, just like his. This is why Paul was as thankful because he knew that Jesus was working through him. On his own he was a hateful man, a blasphemer and murderer, but empowered by Jesus, Paul had become the great apostle to the Gentiles, a lover of God, the carrier of the revelation of the Body, and champion of Grace.

Imagine what we could become if we would allow the Spirit to change our mind on this matter. Imagine if instead of trying to serve Jesus with our pitiful resources, we actually lived in Jesus and allowed him to manifest himself through us.

Oh Lord, break me; melt me; mold me; fill me. None of me. None of my emotions. None of my ideas. None of my desires. All of you. All of your power. All of your faith. All of your love. May we be obedient to the Father's will as you were, empowered by the Spirit to serve all of our days.

A Note To My Church: Will We Embrace Our Destiny?

It is exciting to see the great outpouring of God's blessings on our church here in Montreal, but it is God who is doing it. It is great to see old friends renewing relationships and new souls coming to the Lord, but it is God who is doing it. It is great to see revival taking root in God's children and the freedom that is being given to the Spirit to move in our hearts, but it is God who is doing it. Unless he calls us we cannot answer. Unless he invites us in, we cannot go. Unless he seeks us we would never desire to seek him. So we rejoice in his love, goodness, joy and blessings. It is a wonderful thing to serve him. But now what?

Do we just sit back and hope there are more blessings? After all, it is God who is doing it.

When God rescued Israel from Egypt and called them his people, his nation, his children, he also put a structure in place so he could glorify himself through them. When God rescued us sinners from slavery and called us his people, his nation, his children, he also put a structure in place so he could glorify himself through us. It is called the Church, the Body of Christ, of which we are functioning members, called to a specific purpose. It is time to walk fully in this function.

Each of us has a destiny to fulfill and the last thing we want to do is fail to enter into it. King Solomon had a great destiny but failed to walk in it. 1 Chronicles 17 has a recording of the destiny God had planned for David's son:

I’ll choose one of your sons to be king when you reach the end of your life and are buried beside your ancestors. I’ll make him a strong ruler, and no one will be able to take his kingdom away from him. He will be the one to build a temple for me. I will be like a father to him, and he will be like a son to me. I will never put an end to my agreement with him, as I put an end to my agreement with Saul, who was king before you. I will make sure that your son and his descendants will rule my people and my kingdom forever. (1 Chronicles 17:11-14)

Now God kept his promise to David about always having a son on the throne but note what he said about Solomon: "I will be like a father to him, and he will be like a son to me." What an incredible promise and Solomon started off well in it. God gave him wisdom to be a great King. He subdued all his enemies. There was peace in the land and Solomon had a great relationship with God. But Solomon got distracted. He allowed his head to be filled with other people's ideas and opinions. He lost sight of his destiny, of his relationship with God. He lost his purpose, not as king, but as a child of God.

It is possible for us to walk in a shadow of our responsibility and miss our destiny. It is possible to go through all the motions, use the right vocabulary, to look the part but fail in the most important thing; our relationship with God. Our destiny is for him to be our Father and we his children. If that is in place and our greatest desire is to love him with our entire being, then everything else about our destiny will fall in place. Obedience becomes an easy thing, and his equipping for his chosen task for us flows without fail.

In our church we must submit ourselves to the truth of what Jesus taught: Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. The first part is all about relationship, living only through Jesus and denying our selfish motives and desires; living his will and his purpose. The second is to step into our calling, responsibility, task, purpose. We have to take it up, bear it, operate in it, embrace it. The last part is to follow Jesus'example, our teacher, the first born of the many who would follow (you and me). This is where we need to go, to become, our destiny, which is great and glorious because it is how Jesus will be glorified through us. No one is unimportant. No one is permitted to be a spectator. No one gets to decide for themselves. No one gets to retire.

It is time for us to accept and understand the structure God has put in for the Church, to allow him to reveal our place in it. It is all laid out for us, to accept and to grow in it. The question is church, will we embrace our destiny?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

1 Timothy: The Law Is Good, If It Is Used Right

Without the Word of God we have nothing. Well, allow me to build on that: Without the Word of God and the Spirit we have nothing. The Bible by itself is nothing more that a document filled with stories, poetry, and good thoughts. It is only when we are possessed and empowered by the Spirit of God that the Word comes alive in us. There is no salvation that comes by the Word alone, unless it is inspired by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This we must understand if we are going to be effective workmen.

Apostle Paul was very serious about getting it right when it came to the correct doctrine. Remember, the foundation of teaching is laid by the Apostles and Prophets. There are those of us who build on that foundation but anything that is built on any other foundation will only cause people to fall. There is no other revelation of God other than what is revealed to us by the Spirit, lining up with the Word of God. Anything else is a lie; a waste of time.

Paul wanted Timothy to work against the teaching of those who thought they knew but who were building on a false foundation:

They want to be teachers of the Law of Moses. But they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they think they do. (1 Timothy 1:7)

A lot of people think they know but the Word says that they do not know as they aught to know. Does it surprise you to know that Paul wrote these words:

We know that the Law is good, if it is used in the right way. (v. 8)

It really is hard to teach grace because we always fear that people will abuse it so we find it easier to teach the Law, to insist on the Ten Commandments. We teach from a place of punishment instead of love. We teach conformity instead of transformation. We do not use the Law in the right way and we kill those who are no longer under the Law but under grace. We are grace killers because we do not know as we aught to know and we build on a wrong foundation.

Read carefully what Paul wrote to Timothy and what the Spirit was writing to us today:

We also understand that it wasn’t given to control people who please God, but to control lawbreakers, criminals, godless people, and sinners. It is for wicked and evil people, and for murderers, who would even kill their own parents. (v. 9)

It is not the Law that controls God's children but love. The Law is for those who do not please God, who live as his enemies, who reject him even while they think they are accepting him. It is for wicked, evil people, for murderers. Ready for the next bit?

The Law was written for people who are sexual perverts or who live as homosexuals or are kidnappers or liars or won’t tell the truth in court. (v.10)

I know a lot of people who think they know but don't know as they aught to know, who would rather not see this part. They want to excuse it away. They want to ignore it. They do so at their own peril. There is no sense arguing this point. Only the conviction of the Spirit can bring them to a point of repentance. We pray for them and it is all we can do because salvation belongs to our God. But, as Paul writes, the Spirit makes sure that everything is covered through this revelation of the Law and God's grace:

It is for anything else that opposes the correct teaching of the good news that the glorious and wonderful God has given me. (v. 10b-11)

That is the proper use of the Law: Not against those under grace but to show the rebellious how it is that they are rebellious. We are so hard on each other even though we walk as creatures of grace. We hold each other up against the Law but we are walking around as forgiven law-breakers. For every sin of a brother or sister we hold up against the law, there are a hundred of our own being held up there with it. What foolish people we are. If the Law could have saved us Jesus would not have had to die.

Instead, we should be able to freely love and accept one another, trusting that the Spirit is doing what the Spirit does. We should be lifting up our brothers and sisters in Christ instead of defending the world. There are those in the Body who have been given the responsibility to correct and they do so under the direction of the Spirit. As for us, we need to love in the manner that we have been loved; we need to forgive in the manner we have been forgiven; we need to show mercy and compassion in the manner in which they have been shown to us. Let's just make sure that we are being built on the right foundation, as has been laid down by the apostles and prophets.