Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Need You

I need you. I am praying for you today because I need you. I need you to be everything Jesus has intended for you to be in him. That is how he designed things to be, that I would need you and you would need me. We call it the Church. Scriptures refer to it as a Body and it is a spiritual thing. We are members and as members we are dependent on each other to be everything we need to be for the glory of Jesus. I need you.

Most of us have a lousy understanding of the Body. Some market it as a commodity to a people they see as customers. Their desire is growth that they manage through various tools of manipulation. That is not Jesus' design and it leads to a distortion that prevents you from understanding how much I need you.

The Body is an amazing living spiritual thing that provides a setting for gifted followers of Jesus Christ to serve as they have been called to serve. I say "gifted" but not in the manner in which you may understand. Gifted, as in possessing a gift or gifts from the Spirit to enable us to serve in the calling we have received. Each of our callings fit together with other believers. No one serves in isolation but our calling and gifts fit together with others to enable us to serve in an overwhelming spiritual manner that brings all glory to Jesus. Read 1 Corinthians 12 for yourself.

The thing is, Jesus also put in place trainers within this body. These are men and women who have been set aside as servants to the members of the Body. The Body does not revolve around these trainers but each member grows up into the head, which is Jesus. Trainers are only there to help people understand their purpose, calling, gifts and to help us understand that we work together, in unity, because we have been designed to need each other. If they take the focus off of Jesus then they have failed in their responsibilities. If they cause disunity and fail to train us to need each other then they have failed. Read this:

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)

He, being Jesus, called these people to be trainers. They are not special, only chosen to be set aside. In order to fulfill their responsibility they must be fully possessed by the Spirit, focused on Jesus to be equipped for this work. And their purpose:

His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. (v. 12-13)

His purpose in setting aside these people was to use them for the equipping of his people, for the work of serving, building up, to the point of obtaining unity of faith and knowledge in Jesus. Amazing, isn't it? And what is Yahweh's goal?

God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (v. 13b)

Maturity. That is Yahweh's goal for us, what all of us are suppose to be moving into. The whole chapter is well worth further study to put this in context but the important thing to understand is that we need these trainers who help us understand that we need each other. They aren't suppose to be our focus, more like the trainers in a gym, there to help us improve. They know stuff we have yet to learn. They are the least, the servants, those who lay down their lives to serve us, and for this we honour them, because it costs them everything. Or it should if they understand who they are in the Body. Not everyone in the position has been called but if you look close enough I think you will find the authentic trainers.

Bottom line: I need you. I am designed to fit with you, so our gifts work together, and in the process we grow together, maturing and reaching the fullness of Jesus. So be well my friend, seek the Lord with all your heart, be dependent on him and allow the Spirit to possess you fully. Be strong in the Lord, because I need you.

Friday, January 30, 2015

With A Demonstration Of The Spirit

We are making Yahweh boring. He wants to show his glory to the world, so people can know him and his love for them. He does that through us but when we limit him to our limitations and say that is all there is to Yahweh then the world yawns and turns the page. Somewhere along the way we decided to chase after respectability in the world and told people that they could not preach, teach or serve Jesus in any public ministry without letters behind their names. As we did this we seemed to have lost the ability to let God be God in us.

There is a reason Jesus called his disciples from common working people such as the fishermen. There wasn't a scholar among them because he needed people who were willing to allow the possibilities to become realities in their lives so the world could look in and be amazed. As much as the sermons have been great throughout the ages, it has been with a demonstration of Yahweh's power that much of the Kingdom has advanced.

Did you notice that when Paul was in Athens, the place of great intellectual pursuit, that he was limited to public debate. No miracles, no signs and wonders, simply an intellectual discussion, as Jesus was limited in some regions due to the unwillingness to believe beyond the flesh. And what was the result:

Some people joined him and came to believe, including Dionysius, a member of the council on Mars Hill, a woman named Damaris, and several others. (Acts 17:34)

Some. Few enough to name. At least a small harvest because Yahweh's word never returns empty, it always produces something, but very little compared to what was produced when Paul was free to demonstrate the gospel with power. Paul remarked that these people were very religious but it never went beyond an intellectual pursuit. Compare this to what happened in Corinth where Paul was able to establish the Church. The difference?

My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. (1 Corinthians 2:4)

The Spirit is never going to take us outside of the Word of God and the Word is incredible but the Lord gave us the Spirit for a reason. Our relationship with Jesus is not an intellectual pursuit any more than is my relationship with my wife. We need to let God be God through us, revealing who he is to a bored world. Will we allow the Miracle Worker work through us for the benefit of the lost?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Peace: The Great Weapon Of War

I was confronted by a thought yesterday that has me still working it out today. Maybe it is something you are well aware of but it is something I had never really thought about, and it has put a smile on my face and a cheer in my heart. And it is simple.

How does the enemy try to keep us off balance? That is what he is doing because the last thing he wants us to do is get any traction in our relationship with Jesus. He won't stop us from going to church or reading our Bible but he will do what he can to make sure those activities do not have a lasting effect on us. The last thing he wants us to know is our true identity in Jesus.

The tools he loves to use is fear, anxiety and worry. These things will keep our mind distracted and keep us busy trying to rescue ourselves. These things keep us awake at night, effect our health and keep us moving in the opposite direction to Jesus. The he does not want us to understand that the peace of Jesus, a free gift to us, is a great weapon of war.

Yes, that is the thought I was confronted with yesterday: peace is a weapon of war. Seems a bit strange right? As long as we are fearful the enemy is winning. As long as we are worried and anxious about our problems he is dancing about with glee. But the moment that the peace of the Lord is established in us, any foot holds the enemy had are lost and he must flee from the presence of the Lord in us. Powerful:

"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)

This peace cannot be manufactured by us. We don't produce it by happy thoughts or positive thinking. This is a supernatural peace that shields us in all circumstances. It protects our heart, mind, spirit and soul. It protects our relationship in Jesus. It is a shield that the enemy can only throw mud at, he can't overcome it, but he will try to make us let go of it. It frustrates him when we hold on tight.

We have this peace in our relationship with Jesus because ours is a reality not understood by the flesh but dictated by the Spirit:

"I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

This great weapon of warfare defies all human logic and understanding. It goes in the opposite direction of where our natural self wants to go. We have to make the decision that we are people of faith, that we trust Jesus and that we will give all peace-disturbing things over to him:

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Safe! There are no short cuts, no pills to take, no 7 step systems: there is only faith. Faith says I trust Jesus over the obvious reality of this world and I know through him I am already victorious. Faith says I accept your gift Jesus, my Lord and my King. I encourage you to meditate on the truth of Scripture and to defeat the enemy of your soul today: Peace be with you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Truth Must Be Told

It is getting really confusing out there. It seems every day what we knew to be true is being challenged in one way or another. Some people isolate themselves from such going ons in the world but then don't know what to do when they are cornered by it. Others of us who have to wade through this sewage every day often have to take deep showers in the Spirit to keep our equilibrium. In all of this mess one thing is evident, people no longer believe in an absolute truth.

It is even hard to hold a discussion with people any more because they are arguing from their own abstract idea of truth, which seems to be constantly evolving. What is amazing is that we can pretty well convince ourselves that anything is true if we decide that is what we want to believe. This being the case, no one is interested in anything that would challenge their version of reality. Things haven't changed all that much over the millenniums.

Apostle Paul and his team had a great ministry in Asia Minor, headquartered in Ephesus. Then one day, just before he was planning to move on, there was a riot. The cause of the riot was the fact that the truth had been revealed to the people. Here is the accusation against the Christians, specifically Paul:

And you can see and hear that this Paul has convinced and misled a lot of people, not only in Ephesus but also throughout most of the province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands aren’t really gods. (Acts 19:26)

There are many similar things in our age that could be considered like these idols. It is obvious to us that anything that we can make with our hands cannot be all that mighty and powerful, yet we continue to fashion gods after ourselves. The danger comes when we hold up the truth against these false idols in our lives.

No one is interested in the truth because truth accepted changes things, makes us uncomfortable, forces us into a reality we don't want. We would rather live lies that leave us comfortable and unchallenged. This is why the prophets of old were often killed, because people did not want to accept a truth that forced change. That is why the prophets of today are attacked and "killed" in the forum of public opinion. Their message is examined against the perception of the day, cutting out the elements that make it the truth based on a reality beyond the sight of this world. But that does not give us an excuse to remain silent.

Although we have a greater message than the prophets of old, we must develop the same fortitude in presenting the truth. To Ezekiel the Lord said:

Whether they listen or whether they refuse, since they are a household of rebels, they will know that a prophet has been among them. (Ezekiel 2:5)

It is not up to us to make them respond, we are only messengers and must be faithful in sharing the message. People hate the truth and will hate us for telling the truth but the truth must be told.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Closed To The Good News

You can choose not to believe. That is the interesting thing about the human mind, we can convince ourselves of our own reality and no one can convince us otherwise. We believe to be truth what we choose to believe. We can also limit the truth by choosing not to believe. So, many people choose to limit themselves to what they see. What a dull existence if all that exists is what we perceive with our sight.

It is possible to limit Jesus by either choosing not to believe everything the Word tells us or not to believe anything at all. If you choose not to believe in God he will leave you in that non-belief. He has called many of us to fight for you, to pray and to be instruments of his glory and grace so that you can see if you choose to see but if you harden your heart toward him, he will leave you there.

We see this demonstrated in many places in the Word but the one that stands out for me is found in the history of the beginning of the Church:

Some people had closed their minds, though. They refused to believe and publicly slandered the Way. As a result, Paul left them, took the disciples with him, and continued his daily interactions in Tyrannus’ lecture hall. (Acts 19:9)

Yes, that tends to be the results of people closing their minds to Jesus; they don't just walk away, they attack. Often it is not enough not to believe, people also attack what they choose not to believe to justify their non-belief. Strange how that works. As we see more of society being taken in by the lies of the enemy, choosing not to believe the acts of our loving God, they are becoming hostile toward those who do believe. From their position of imperfection they demand perfection from a people saved, not by their righteousness but, by the grace of Yahweh.

By closing their minds many people are unable to understand the message of Jesus, his actions, the Word or the purpose of the Church. We must not be surprised by their actions toward us because they have closed their mind to understanding. However, that does not excuse us from our responsibility to share the good news of Jesus Christ to anyone who is willing to listen. Like Paul, we must move from the hard soil to the fertile soil leaving the others to the mercy of Yahweh. We need to pray that more minds would be open to receiving the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Remember, we are not in the fight of our lives but of those who have not received Jesus. We are well saved and have received all that we need, but now we are involved in a battle that must put others ahead of ourselves, as inconvenient as that may seem. Apostle Paul encouraged us to work hard for the benefit of others so let's get to it and may those closed minds be opened.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Persistent Influence Of The World System

As Christians we have a real challenge to live the character of Christ in a world that is strangely attractive in the opposite of Christ. We often live the words of Jesus as if they are a law, an external thing trying to conform the internal but as such do not have a lasting effect. We continue to be drawn to the things from which we were saved. That is because the words of Jesus were never intended as a law to conform to but instead a sign of the fruit of a transformed heart.

One of the things we must be aware of is when self-centeredness tries to creep back into our transformed heart. The entire world system is based on it which makes it hard to avoid, yet Jesus' life demonstrates how the life in the Spirit is anything but self-centered. Because of apostle Paul we have words that Jesus spoke that are not recorded in the gospels:

In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

Don't think for a moment that everything Jesus said and did was recorded but the important bits, the bits the Spirit wanted us to hold on to, were. In this case, an important bit, a bit demonstrated by Jesus' life and death, was remembered by Paul for our benefit. But understand the context.

Paul was speaking to church leaders for the last time and he was reminding them of his selfless service. He did not take what was rightfully his but instead he earned his own keep not to be a drain on the church. This was his personal gift to the church and it prevented any problems for the "weak". Some consider the "weak" to be the poor but it is the "weak of spirit", the immature who would bring accusation against Paul and damage the ministry.

Paul laid down his life in many ways, through his hard work for the benefit of those maturing in their faith. That was Paul's great concern, that people would "grow up" in the Spirit, obtaining maturity and here he was explaining to the mature that their calling was to hard work and sacrifice for the benefit of the less mature believers, or the "weak". In other words, they were called as servants to the Body of Christ, as Jesus said they must be. If you know much about Paul's letters various things he has written are already coming to mind to verify what I am saying.

Living according to the world destroys this desire for Christ and selfless living in us and we end up "killing" each other over our impatience and unwillingness to sacrifice for others. Certainly I am free under grace but Paul pointed out that love dictates a willingness to set aside our freedom for the benefit of a fellow believer. Imagine that: people willing to give up freedom for the benefit of other people. Sounds a bit like Jesus to me, who set aside his divinity to take on our flesh.

Transformation is a much higher and demanding calling than conformity. Let us live like the new creation we have become, through the power of Jesus Christ in us, and let us serve one another in love.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Do You Know About The Spirit?

Dear Christian, here is a question for you: What do you know about the Holy Spirit? Most of us know he is part of the Godhead and that we receive him when we receive Jesus but few of us understand the baptism of the Spirit. Few of us have been taught how vital it is. For some reason we stick the testimonies of Acts in a little box and hide it high on the shelf and we struggle because of it.

We need the Spirit to know God. We need the Spirit to understand the Word. We need the Spirit to hear from Jesus. We need the Spirit to witness with power. We need the Spirit for the power of God in us. We need the Spirit to live a victorious walk with Christ. Just one small snippet from the Word:

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul took a route through the interior and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you came to believe?” (Acts 19:1-2)

Paul went on to pray with them and to lay his hands on them. They received the Spirit in power. Paul knew that no Christian can function properly in the Body without the Spirit. Sure, we can try in our flesh and we may convince ourselves we are doing well but we are accomplishing nothing outside of the anointing of Yahweh which comes by the Spirit in us.

Just before leaving Jesus told his disciples:

“It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

Most of us have not received that power because we have not understood the place or importance of the Baptism of the Spirit. It is not a design of man but the design of Yahweh. It happened to me with no teaching, no instruction, with no one around. I received that baptism by the hand of Jesus but did not know what it was until years later. It is the power of Jesus in us, his authority to do what he commanded us to do. Certainly we can ignore it, but we will not be able to serve properly without it.

Even if you don't fully understand it, examine the Scriptures for yourself. Read what Jesus said about the Spirit. Read what he did by the Spirit. Understand he came to set us the example of how to live by the Spirit. Read Acts and see what was accomplished when people lived by the Spirit. Understand that nothing has changed and this was the model set for us.

Hearts do not change because we have good ideas. Hearts do not change by our intellectual arguments. Hearts do not change because of our good deeds. Hearts change by the presence of Yahweh and this happens through us; this happens by the Spirit in us when we understand we carry his presence. We need to understand and experience the Baptism of the Spirit. We need the power of Yahweh to return to the people of God.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Is There Ever A Time To Quit?

Pardon me while I think out loud for a moment. There is something from Acts that has me thinking but I am not sure of the answer. Is there ever a time to move away from unproductive ministry? The reason I am asking myself this is not because of my current situation but because of my character. I am stubborn. Some may call it determined but my mom calls it stubborn. Sometimes I wonder if I am too stubborn and stupid to quit, even ignoring the Spirit in order to "stick to it".

The portion of Scripture that provoked this thought is found in Acts 18. Paul was in Corinth waiting for his team to catch up. It says that every Sabbath he would go to the synagogue and try to convince the Jews about Jesus. When his team arrived, he set aside his work and went at the ministry full time. The results weren't great. Scripture says they opposed and slandered him. After a lengthy period of ministry Paul shook the dust from his clothes and stated:

"You are responsible for your own fates! I'm innocent! From now on I'll go to the Gentiles!" (Acts 18:6)

Were the hard hearts Jesus' way of getting Paul to step into his calling to the Gentiles? At the end of the chapter we read about Apollos successfully debating with these same Jews, so was Paul in the way of successful ministry? But here's the thing. When Paul made this decision to shake off the dust, he started meeting with success, or I should say, the Spirit started to produce a harvest through him:

Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household came to believe in the Lord. Many Corinthians believed and were baptized after listening to Paul. (Acts 18:8)

So is it possible that our "determination" could be blocking a harvest where we are at and missing a harvest where we are suppose to be? I already think there is too much self-direction and self-determination in the Church and not enough sensitivity to the Spirit. I find we are too busy pursing wrong stuff to foster and live within a sensitivity to the presence of the Lord, so like Cain, we bring the offering of service we are interested in and expect it to please the Lord. But he is looking for obedience. Already knowing this I now wonder if my "determination" is contributing to the problem.

An interesting question to meditate on today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Keys Of Authority You Have Been Given

We understand very little about who we are in Jesus. We say we are spiritually minded but in effect we believe what we see. We react to our circumstances, to people, to our environment with little or no thought to the spiritual. It is as if we do not know that the spiritual shapes the physical. If we do not understand this then how can we walk with Jesus and fulfill our mission? You are more than you realize.

As the Spirit gives us revelation, deeper understanding, we are given keys of authority in this understanding. Those keys are meant to unlock doors, situations, circumstances that other people are in so that the Kingdom may grow to envelope such things, expanding the borders, and allowing people to serve Jesus with no barriers. Apostle Peter is an example of this.

In Acts we read of Peter's vision about the animals being lowered in front of him and Yahweh telling him to eat. The lesson for Peter was obedience even in the face of known barriers. It was in preparation for his call to Cornelius' home. Normally Peter would have declined because Cornelius was a gentile and Jews did not enter the homes of gentiles. But Jesus had called for him to go and with the vision still clear in his thoughts and with the Spirit's prompting to go, Peter went, despite the barrier.

It wasn't long after arriving that the Spirit came upon the people of Cornelius' home. Peter and the Jews with him were amazed and Peter understood that salvation was not for the Jews alone but Yahweh's grace was for every person of every nationality. What happens next causes me to appreciate Yahweh's perfect timing.

While this was taking place with Peter there was a great move of the Spirit taking place in Antioch, among the gentiles. It was so great that Barnabas had to seek out Saul to help them. Out of this, Barnabas and Paul ended up being sent out to expand the Kingdom in the hearts of people even further, among more gentiles. Meanwhile, there was a challenge to the gentile ministry as some Jews wanted to force these gentile believers to submit to Moses' law. So Paul and Barnabas were dispatched to make inquiry with the Church Council in Jerusalem.

It was in this meeting that we find Peter to be the first to speak. He drew upon what happened earlier and he used the key of authority given him to unlock the barrier to the gentiles:

God, who knows people’s deepest thoughts and desires, confirmed this by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, but purified their deepest thoughts and desires through faith. Why then are you now challenging God by placing a burden on the shoulders of these disciples that neither we nor our ancestors could bear? On the contrary, we believe that we and they are saved in the same way, by the grace of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 15:8-11) 

Boom! Peter applied the key and knocked the door right off it's hing. It was given to Peter to open the door so that Paul and Barnabas could walk through and complete the work.

Many of us have been given keys of authority to remove barriers so other people can walk through but we must know who we are in Christ and we need to know the authority we have been given. We can't operate by what we see, limiting Jesus in our lives and environment. The Spirit has walked us through situations in our lives, taught us how to overcome, so that we may understand our authority to assist others in similar situations. Like Peter, we are advanced troops, meant to clear the way for others to follow.

It's time to pick yourself up, stop fooling around, and get serious about your responsibilities. Ask the Spirit to give you understanding for the keys you have been given and start stepping out to open those doors for people. Let us see the Kingdom of God expanding in the hearts of people.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Experiencing The Holy Spirit

The premise is simple.

There has to be change in order for change to happen.

If things remain the same then change is denied.

The old must go in order to allow the new to enter in.

Many of us do not experience Jesus because, at the heart of it, we do not want to change. But when Jesus possesses, things change. He told us, as he told Nicodemus, that there must be a second birth, a moving from the state we are in to a new state. He calls us a new creation. But it can't be new if we are doing what we have always done, thinking as we have always thought, and valuing what we have always considered to have value.

Most of us want all the good stuff Jesus promised but we want to limit the cost. Some would say there is no cost as Jesus paid the cost but Jesus said it will cost us everything and we would be glad to pay that cost if we understood what we would possess, or what would possess us. If you know the Word then there are all kinds of verses that Jesus spoke that are just now flooding your thoughts via the Holy Spirit and what you have hidden in your heart.


"Because of the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the disciples were overflowing with happiness." (Acts 13:52)

This was penned concerning Paul and Barnabas as they were just ejected from a town. There was no confusion in them; no distractions; no philosophies pounding at them through movies, music, news, television. They had a mission and everything they did was focused on that mission and because they did not try to fit other things in, they had the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit, and that made them happy. Imagine that.

The one thing we all say we want to experience, the overwhelming presence of the Lord, is available to us, if only we would let go of the old. If only we would be absorbed by the new. If only we didn't try to live a dual life. If only we understood carnality and rejected it while understanding our mission. If only we could understand that Jesus did not rebirth us to live a life of duplicity.

But is it too late for us? Are we too far gone to understand? Is it possible to silence the other voices? Is it possible to experience the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in this age? The Church seems to have multiple personalities on this subject but I know what Jesus said and I have decide to trust his words and his words alone as he declares to even this generation:

“It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.” (Matthew 19:26)

If you really want to experience the presence of God, he will help you silence those voices. You will have to make some decisions to simplify your life but he will empower you to do it. After all, Father's great desire is fellowship with you. Be still and know that he is God.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just Another Philosophy?

Does Christianity have a place in society today? Is Jesus Christ relevant? Are Christians what Jesus intended them to be in the world in the year 2015? These are questions we need to be sure we have the answers to because the foundation upon which we have based our life has been shacking for a while and if it is not rock solid then we may find ourselves drowning in doubts.

I think what we should be concerned about is what we have reduced faith, the Church and Yahweh to in this dying world. What does the Church have to offer? What impact does it have? All most people can see is that the Church is a place people go to to feel good about life. It does some good in the community but so do a lot of other groups. It is fine for those who need that sort of thing but many people get the same benefit from hiking, fishing, golfing or going out for breakfast with some friends. If friendship and a sense of welling being is all the Church has to offer it is useless to Jesus.

The Church and her members were always meant to be outlets of Yahweh's glory. It is more than the meager things you can do in your own ability. It has always been more than just words. Jesus came with powerful, life changing words but he also came with compassionate power. It didn't end with him, he baptized his followers with the same Holy Spirit, the source of the power. As we read of the actions of these followers we discover that it was a combination of words and power that convinced people that Jesus and his offering was real. One of many examples is found with Philip in Samaria. We read this:

After they came to believe Philip, who preached the good news about God’s kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Even Simon himself came to believe and was baptized. Afterward, he became one of Philip’s supporters. As he saw firsthand the signs and great miracles that were happening, he was astonished. (Acts 8:12-13)

There was life here. It wasn't the signs and great miracles that brought about salvation in this case but these things encouraged and strengthened hearts. In other cases we hear apostles stating they did not come with great words but with signs and wonders so that people would not believe in philosophies but in Jesus Christ.

Our great fear of letting go of control and allowing the Spirit to work through us is dulling the Church, allowing Christianity to become one of many philosophies. Instead of being the only way, Jesus is considered to be one of many ways. For whatever reason, we fear the Spirit, we fear the power, we fear other Christians who have become dull to the Spirit and preach against him. But have we read the Word? Have we read what Jesus said? Have we read the birth of the Church? Power alone won't do it. Words alone won't do it. But when the words come with power, no doubt remains standing, all arguments are silenced and people discover life in Jesus.

There is nothing "astonishing" in our palaces of good works and philosophy. Nothing will change until we realize that Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit because we need the Holy Spirit as he needed him and as the disciples needed him. We are not a business to be managed. We are not a social club to encourage. We are not an entertainment hub to enjoy. We are not a school of social workers to do powerless good deeds. We are the Church, the Body of Christ, filled with power, hope and love. Don't reduce Jesus to mere words; let the power of the Spirit to freely flow through you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning To Serve

All I hear these days is about leadership in the Church. One would have to be a millionaire to attend all the various seminars and conferences on developing leaders. Leaders, leaders, leaders. What about learning to be a disciple, one who follows?

Jesus spent a bit of time on leadership, only he taught us that the Kingdom does not function like the world. In fact, he turned our idea of a leader on it's ear. My little blog is not adequate to deal with all the scripture so I am going to choose one as an example.

“The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant." (Luke 22:24-26)

It is strange how we have managed to hold on to these words while doing the complete opposite. We quote the world's standards when it comes to what is owed to our leaders, while shutting off our brains. I am not saying we should not trust the leaders only that we should understand the Kingdom character of leadership.

Servanthood sounds so "sexy" according to what is taught today but the life of a servant was void of any personal needs. It was all about the one being served. We look at this and consider that it is God we are serving but that is not what Jesus was saying. Leaders in the Kingdom set aside their personal affairs to serve the people:

So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:27)

I love how Jesus pointed out that we set the example for those called to leadership. Yes, called. Leaders do not make that decision themselves but instead are selected by the Spirit, called out as the apostles were, to lay down their lives in service to the members of the Body of Christ.

It is not the leaders who sit at the table but the members of the Body. Servants get abused, taken advantage of, some are even killed. That is the position and consequences of being a servant, a lowly one. It is not employment, a job or a career. It is a responsibility to which people are assigned. If you are in this position, do you think you should be better respected, better treated, better paid? Wow! There is so much wrong with that mental picture. Just the pay aspect. Who is our provider? Yes, Scripture tell people to support those who serve them but does that mean you stop serving if they don't? If this is your mentality you aren't really paying attention to the example Jesus set and what we did to him.

Today's blog is only to point you in a direction I believe it is worthwhile investigating. Take a closer look at what Jesus instructed was the position and responsibility to which some of us are called. Maybe fewer of us would volunteer if we knew the full price.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Is It Possible There Is More Than One Way To God?

As followers of Jesus we believe that every member of the human race is broken. This brokenness has left us in a state of rebellion, self-centeredness, and the thought we are in control of our destiny. It has also left us constantly, longing, searching, needing something more than ourselves.

No one wants to believe that our destiny has already been decided on and it doesn't look good. We know that Jesus was sent as a solution to all this and that it is through him that restoration of relationship with our Creator is possible for everyone. This is what we believe from what Jesus told us and now through our own experience.

The enemy of your soul is not content that this news is known, but unable to keep it from spreading, he has tried to muddy the waters. This is why we hear so many teachers talking about there being more than one way or that all religions lead back to the same god. Followers of Jesus cannot abide by this because Jesus told us differently, as did the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said:

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (Luke 14:6)

I am not telling you anything you don't already know but in the face of the onslaught of false teaching, we must remind each other of Jesus' words. We don't live according to opinion but according to truth, which is Jesus. The Spirit also reminded us of this fact through the anointed words of Peter:

Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

These were not the words of Peter but of the Spirit who was speaking through him:

Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered ... (4:8)

Peter was responding to the question of who's authority were they healing people. This was the truth that the Spirit wanted this authority to understand.

I state the obvious because we need the reminder in our daily lives that we are involved in real power. But in order to operate in that power we must be absolutely convinced of the truth that there is only one way and his name is Jesus. We make no apologies for this and we do not set the truth aside in the hopes of reconciling with man. If we did then we would be nullifying the mission of Jesus, the purpose of his death, and the answer to the ills of creation. Humanity cannot afford for us to hide the truth from them.

There is only one way, and Jesus is it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why Are You Looking For Living Things Among Dead Things

There is nothing new under the sun. Everything we experience has been experienced by other people; the same struggles, victories and insights. The solutions are often obvious. We know what we need to do but we don't do it. It could be fear, laziness, or simply a lack of discipline that prevents us from getting there but it really just boils down to whether we want it bad enough. I am going to state something obvious now.

When the women went to the tomb to take care of Jesus' body they were confused when they found the tomb empty:

When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord[a] Jesus, and they did not know what to think. (Luke 24:2-4a)

Who could blame them? Was the body stolen? Did the officials move him? What was up with this? Except we can blame them because they had already been told what had happened before it had happened. The angels reminded them:

“Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, ’The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.’ “ (Luke 24:5-7)

The women were confused because they did not remember what Jesus had said. Now I am about to state that obvious thing that I said I would state by stretching this scripture a bit to cover us. Followers of Jesus today get confused because we don't remember what Jesus said. I told you it was obvious.

I don't know why we do it but it seems we are caught up in what everyone else has to say Jesus said instead of knowing what he said for ourselves. But it is more than just knowing. It is also trusting that what he said is the truth and doing it. The words of Jesus are useless statements unless we are going to live them.

Trying to follow Jesus without doing what he told us to do is just going to lead to a lot of confusion. Forgetting what Jesus said is going to leave us with a bunch of dead ends. "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?" There is more to those words than what you might realize. Reflect on them a bit and let the Spirit take you deeper.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Too Polluted To Care

There is a huge difference between serving the Lord in our strength and desire, and serving him according to his direction. Too many of us fail to understand the difference and fall short of our potential in the Lord but think we are doing great. Part of our problem is not being able to hear the Lord through all the noise pollution that we surround ourselves with. So to get where we need to in our relationship with him we need to start tuning things out and tuning in to him. We have a great example of this in Daniel.

Daniel chose not to be distracted by the extravagance of the king. He and his friends kept it simple. The results were spectacular:

And God gave knowledge, mastery of all literature, and wisdom to these four men. Daniel himself gained understanding of every type of vision and dream. (Daniel 1:17)

Unlike others, I don't think it was the result of the type of diet but the simple act of concentrating on the Lord, of fasting the distractions to hear clearly. During this time the Lord equipped them for how he would use them in the coming years in this land of captivity. They would be his voice, his representatives to a people he had used to bring correction to his people:

When the time came to review the young men as the king had ordered, the chief official brought them before Nebuchadnezzar. When the king spoke with them, he found no one as good as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they took their place in the king’s service. (1:18-19)

Jesus also made it clear that to be useful servants in this foreign land we would have to avoid distraction. He told us that our love for him must be superior to any other. He told us that once our hand is to the plow not to be looking back. He told us to trust Father for provision as we concentrate on the things of the Kingdom. He told us that the only way we could follow his example is to deny ourselves and take up our cross. He said we cannot serve two masters.

So are we living up to our potential in the Lord or have we allowed the "king's" rich food to distract us? It is a rather easy question to answer but the real question is what to do about it. I gain awareness of my distractions, allow correction to come in, respond and then slowly get distracted again. Those who keep their focus are the ones who understand of the relationship, fast the distractions, live the importance of their mission and responsibility, and maintain their love for the Lord. Is Jesus, our mission and responsibility important enough for us to deny the distractions, to deny ourselves and follow him? Consider what is polluting you.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Living The Old Testament

I would never be one to tell people to ignore the Old Testament of their Bibles but it is important that we no longer live there. It is important to study to discover Father's heart throughout the Bible and to understand the root of what got us to where we are now. It is important for us to see Father's plan from beginning to end but we no longer live under the old covenant. People don't seem to understand this as they try to live according to the old.

One simple example is king David. I have seen a lot of teaching on this man and his relationship with Yahweh but some of the most damaging teaching is concerning the application of grace. I have read books concerning David's sin with the adultery with Uriah's wife and the eventual murder of Uriah. Yahweh called David out on this hidden sin but applied grace at David's repentance. It is here that we can find fallacy in application of the lesson.

David was under the old covenant. He was pre-Jesus. The blood of Christ did not cover him and he had not received this incredible forgiveness by grace. He was not part of the new creation. This is what some teachers seem to forget when they use David as an excuse to remove men and women of God from their calling when they fail. They point out that David's leadership went downhill after this forgiveness, his child died and he faced new enemies. He was forgiven but his authority suffered. People apply this to leaders today as an excuse to rob them of their calling.

It is terrible when leaders fall as it affects so many people. There are natural consequences to such sin and much healing needs to be sought but healing is possible through Jesus. It is also true that all sin has been forgiven, past, present and future. This applies to leaders as well. As long as we confess our sins, healing and restoration is available for all. It is a fundamental difference between the new and old. Everyone sins and through the blood of Jesus everyone is forgiven and restored. We do not live under the constant threat of judgement.

I have yet to meet a perfect Christian so why would we be surprised when leaders fail? The only true failure is the failure to seek restoration through repentance. What hypocrites we are to seek restoration for ourselves but to deny it for our leaders. We are only forcing a make-believe false reality when we try to apply things like perfection on clay vessels.

Yes, our God is a God of justice. However, he has made it clear that he desires restoration over justice. This is the fantastic news Jesus brought to us. When we read about Church correction we need to see that the whole purpose is restoration not punishment. Rejection only comes with a lack of repentance which is true of our relationship with Yahweh.

We need to lose the Old Testament mentality toward judgement and apply the forgiveness, mercy and grace we have received under Jesus. We need to allow the Spirit to convict and restore according to the heart of the Father. We need to tear down such walls and allow people to confess in the freedom of grace and forgiveness, creating churches of healing and transformation by the power of the blood of Christ.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Don't Go Without The Spirit

Being spiritually minded does not mean the same thing as being Spirit-filled. I find it hard to understand Christians who love the Lord but deny his power in them. They will deal with everything within their limited understanding and refuse to allow Yahweh to be the God of "everything is possible". People look at Jesus and say, "But that was Jesus, Son of God". They fail to understand that Jesus also set for us an example of what it is to live by the Spirit. Read this:

Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Luke 4:1)

Jesus was fully God and fully man, having set aside his divinity, and operated in the same manner we have been given to operate; by the Holy Spirit. Jesus did nothing in his divinity but relied on the Spirit for all things. He did not take on the enemy in his own strength but entered the desert full of the Holy Spirit. He was led by the Holy Spirit. So what makes us think we don't need the Holy Spirit and that we are wise within ourselves or that our human strength will carry the day? But it goes beyond even this.

Every day we deny the power of Jesus in us to carry out his work. We decide what we will do according to our abilities, limiting him to those abilities, not stepping out in faith because we have barely even begun to understand what faith means. We serve by what we know, not by the promises. Yet, how did Jesus minister and teach?

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. (Luke 4:14-15)

Why do we ignore the obvious? Is it simply because we are uncomfortable losing control? Is it because we are afraid to let him be Lord in case he takes us places we don't want to go, to do things we don't want to do? Do we really think he needs our wisdom, our intelligence or our talents? He does not want us to serve him in our limitations but in his possibilities.

Let's stop teaching, preaching, and serving in our own strength and start seeking his anointing through the Spirit to do his work through us. The world doesn't need to hear what we think or to see what we can do. The world needs to see Jesus in us so we need to let him take us beyond ourselves. Let us learn to walk in the Spirit for the sake of the world.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Be So Much More In 2015 And Beyond

As we look back at the year 2014 would you say that it was a year of spiritual growth for you? What would be the three top highlights in your relationship with Jesus? Would you say that you are further along in your journey, having grown and changed over the previous year? Or would you say that you managed to stumble through, you maintained, you did mediocre?

Most of us would like to see ourselves as giants of faith, trusting the Lord and pushing through the barriers to our living for Jesus. Unfortunately most of us can be seen as a foolish person who makes it through rough patches by the grace of God rather than by any act of faith on our part. Much of this past year would have to fall under the category of "by the grace of God", as we panicked from crisis to crisis with the Lord always plucking us out because of his grace not our faith. But we have been called to greater things than "stumbling through".

A life of faith is not a "close your eyes and hope you make it" situation. Faith is not blind. Faith is how we live based upon us trusting the promises of Jesus Christ. It is knowing those promises and living according to them. A faith life is a purposeful life, understanding that the promises are to see us through our mission. It is knowing those promises so we can apply them to our situation. It is going from "glory to glory", growing, maturing, learning deeper things about the Promise Keeper, and becoming more through him.

If you have had it with "getting by" or "squeezing through" it is time for you to step into a true life of faith, a walking by the Spirit and not by what you see. Those who walk by faith are never overcome or discouraged by what they see because what they know in the promises give them greater vision and power.

Christians are neither weak nor discouraged by what we see around us. We are more than these things because the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. Whatever challenges are ahead of us have purpose in our mission so we trust that we will be equipped to face them and overcome them because Jesus has already overcome the world. This year is a year of victory because yesterday was a day of victory, as is today, as will be tomorrow because of Jesus in us.

Today, be determined to know the promises by which we live and the one who made those promises. You are so much more than you could possibly think or imagine because of the one who is living in you.