Tag Archives: intimacy with God

Spiritual Warfare #6 ~ Love and Intimacy

          Love is at the heart of intimacy. The more we love someone, the closer we desire to be with them, and the closer we allow them to us. We cannot be intimate with a person we don’t love. The more we love someone, the more we trust them and believe in them. This helps us understand why faith only works by love.

Galatians 5:6 (AMP) For [if we are] in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith activated and expressed and working through love.

          Faith in God is based on our love for Him, and our love for Him is expressed through our faith in His word. Jesus is God’s word made flesh.(John 1:14)

         As Jesus was preparing himself for the cross, He was also preparing His disciples for the time when He would not physically be there with them. In John 14 we see a marvelous dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. Pay attention to the emphasis of this chapter.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

John 14:22-23 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

          Judas asked a very important question. “How will You manifest yourself to us and not the world?” Jesus said, “by loving me,” (my paraphrase) Then He told us that love for Him is expressed, through obedience to His word.

          In verse 23 we have an amazing promise that God will make His home in us if we love Him like this. I can’t think of a more powerful promise in the entire Bible.

          Our New Testament command is to love. According to the three verses above. demonstration of our love for God is shown through obedience to His word. It is our greatest act of faith. Without obedience, Jesus said we do not love Him. The Church, for the most part, has not let that sink in.

          Intimacy requires obedience. Obedience is God’s “love language.”

          I remember years ago, in a private time of worship and prayer, I blurted out, “Lord, I love you so much!” He then said to me, “How much do you love me?” Without hesitation, I said, “With all my heart Lord!” He spoke again, “Jack, that is not enough.” It felt like a punch in the gut, but He immediately brought this scripture to mind.

Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

          I then realized that “loving God with all my heart is only 25% of what this verse is commanding me to do.” God was showing me that I was created to love Him like He loves me. With every fiber of my being.

          Honestly, I had to ask the Lord to show me how to love Him with my soul, mind, and strength. If fact, this happened over 25 years ago, and I am still processing this truth.

          The chief expression of love is selfless giving. (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…) We must have the courage to ask ourselves; What are we giving our soul, our emotions, and our mind to? What do we give our strengths, giftings and talents to? What do we give our time and attention to? What we love and worship can be clearly identified by what we give our time and attention to.

John 15:9-14 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 

          Our experience of God’s nearness or distance is not an indication of his actual proximity to us, but of our level of intimacy with Him. The more we love God, the more intimate we will be with Him. When we feel distant from God, it is often due to a lack of intimacy.

          Intimacy is the highest level of communion in any relationship. It requires honesty, humility, vulnerability, and constant communication. Intimacy does not happen in a Church service, a Bible study, or any other public meeting. Intimacy happens behind closed doors. Taking an honest look at how we worship and love the Lord when no one else is around will locate our level of love for the Lord.

          Why is love and intimacy so important in spiritual warfare? Because He is the one we are fighting for. His purpose, His plans, and His strategies for battle become clear when we are intimate with Him. It purifies our motives and clarifies our perspectives. More than any other thing we can do, it strengthens us for battle and gives us a vision for His victory.

          A lifestyle of intimacy with God is characterized by great joy.

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

For more lessons on Spiritual Warfare CLICK HERE.

 Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Warfare #5 ~ The Religious Spirit

Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

           One of Satan’s most deceptive attacks is to pervert the love of God and the expression of the kingdom of God that has been sown in our hearts. One of the ways he does this is through religious spirits.

A religious spirit holds to form, tradition, and the letter of the law, instead of embracing the spirit of the law. We see clear examples of this in the Pharisees and Sadducees. A religious spirit renders the Church weak and powerless by quenching the Holy Spirit’s ministry through believers and replacing it with a works mentality. It promotes a slave/servant mentality instead of a son/daughter mentality. It causes us to serve God FOR approval instead of serving Him from a place OF approval.

Unfortunately, most of the Church is in some form of bondage to these religious spirits.

Knowing God and understanding who we are in Him hinges on our understanding of love.

By twisting our beliefs and perverting our ideas of who and what love is, the devil keeps us from truly knowing God and therefore prevents us from understanding who we are in Him. Satan consistently attacks our identity as sons and daughters of God through attacking our revelation and understanding of who and what Love is. The devil attacks us on this front through religious spirits.

           A religious spirit is manifest in many ways, but one of the most obvious is to substitute religious activity for the demonstration of the kingdom of God and the true power of the Holy Spirit. A religious spirit finds its expression in “the leaven” of false teachings and doctrines of devils.

Matthew 16:6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

          Jesus called their teaching “leaven” because it adds no substance, life, or value to the church. Instead, their teachings were puffed up with religious pride, promoting traditions of men and focusing on works and religious activity. It holds to a form of godliness but denies the power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

          Many times, a religious spirit will attach itself to us even though we love God and are zealous for God and His kingdom. Look at what Paul said about his Jewish brothers.

Romans 10:2-4 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

          Just because someone has a religious spirit does not mean they don’t love God. The Jewish people prayed, fasted, and read the scriptures more than anyone. They were zealous for God and the coming Messiah, yet they were so deceived by religious spirits that they did not recognize Jesus when He came. They opposed Him in His ministry and eventually killed him. This gives us an idea of how blinding and deceptive a religious spirit can be.

          Notice in the above passage that their “zeal was not according to knowledge,” and they were ignorant (no knowledge) of the righteousness of God. Ignorance is easily fixed in most cases, but a religious spirit resists any doctrine that challenges them and calls for change and repentance. Those bound by religious spirits are easily offended and quick to defend their doctrinal positions.

          Our imputed righteousness is one of the foundational truths that solidifies our identity in Christ. Without an understanding of righteousness, we will not submit to it. Without submission to righteousness our identity as sons and daughters will never become clear. Satan fights desperately to keep us from this truth. He knows that if we ever find out who we are, we will destroy his works just like Jesus did. (1 John 3:8)

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

          We must BECOME the righteousness of God while being patient with those afflicted with religious spirits, giving them time to gain understanding and repent. This does not mean we should endorse, support, or tolerate their ministry while we are being patient with them. The Lord even gave Jezebel “time to repent” (Revelation 2:20-21) yet He still rebuked the church for tolerating her.

Here are some of the signs that expose a religious spirit:

  1. A belief that our ministry is to expose others and their “false doctrines.”
  2. Pride in our spiritual maturity or our giftings.
  3. Living in condemnation and shame, believing we will never measure up to God’s standards.
  4. A mechanical prayer life or devotional time that goes through the motions without being intimate with Him.
  5. Glorying in what God has done in the past more than what He is doing now.
  6. Doing things so people will notice.
  7. Overreacting to those who are immature in the Lord.
  8. Overreacting to carnality in the church.
  9. Engaging in emotionalism and calling it the Holy Spirit.
  10. Inability to take correction from peers or leaders.
  11. A tendency to reject any manifestation of the Holy Spirit we don’t understand.
  12. Knowing a lot about God, but not knowing Him intimately.

I must confess, I have been guilty of all 12 items on this list. I am grateful the Lord is patient with me, giving me time to repent. It was not until I really humbled myself and sought intimacy with the Lord that freedom came. Intimacy will transform us quicker than anything.

          Without intimacy with God, it can be difficult to break free from a religious spirit and impossible to stay free. A lifestyle of intimacy with Him is the best first step I believe.

          We don’t reproduce without intimacy. If we are not intimate with our Lord, we won’t reproduce the fruit of who He is in our lives. Let us make sure we are cultivating an intimate relationship with God first so we can lead others to do the same.

For more lessons on Spiritual Warfare CLICK HERE.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

The Pruning of the Lord

If it isn’t producing Life it needs to be pruned, and pruning hurts! God prunes us as we incline our hearts toward Him, but HOW does He prune us?

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

        God is the great Vinedresser and His Word is used to help prune us and shape us into His image.

His Word is sharp, cutting clean and deep when we incline our heart to it. It is a discerner of our thoughts and intentions, separating light from darkness, exposing things in us that need change. The Word challenges what we think and believe as it exposes us to God’s will for our lives.

The carnal man’s response is to run from the Vine Dresser and try to heal himself from the cutting…. Because pruning hurts! The New Man’s response is to run to the Father and hide under His wings. We can’t consummate our marriage to Christ while our “old man” is still alive.

 In Exodus 33:20 God said to Moses, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

        Our carnal, fallen nature (“old man”) cannot look into the face of God and live.

          Spending time with our Father and His Word is our Old Man’s face to face encounter with Him. It is the surest way for dead things to get pruned out of our life. 

          If we are constantly in His Word and don’t practice intimacy, we will try to DO the Word in our own strength instead of becoming the Word by His grace.

           Embracing intimacy will always lead to a healthy dose of the Word, and develop a Father consciousness. The more we see Him as a Father, the more we see ourselves as sons. When we have intimacy, coupled with the Word, our perspective changes about everything and everyone, including ourselves. Our identity is formed in intimacy. Without intimacy we will never bear the fruit of who He is.

          Our perspective of the Word will change as we pursue intimacy with God. We will find ourselves “reading” the Word less but digesting it more. The Word will become so alive it will be as if one phrase is speaking volumes and we will naturally, purposely slow down to thoroughly digest it, letting it cut us deep and clean, knowing that His embrace causes it to be less painful. The cutting is for our good, the pruning is needed for growth and health.

          Long-term exposure to only the Word without an intimate relationship will produce self-consciousness and self-righteousness. Exposure to only the Word cuts us and cuts us and cuts us, with no relief in sight. The cutting exposes darkness, weakness, and sin. Intimacy is one way God becomes strong in our weakness.

           Cutting off those things in our life that aren’t producing good fruit is HIS responsibility in this relationship, not ours. He is the Vinedresser, we are the vine. Vines NEVER prune themselves. He is the great potter and we are the clay. Clay NEVER shaped itself into anything, but that is exactly what we will gravitate to if we have only God’s Word in our life with little or no intimacy.

           Knowledge of the Father without intimacy will puff us up and make us think we know what to do and try to please Him with our own human efforts to “do better.” Without intimacy we become legalistic, frustrated, and sin conscious.

Sin consciousness is the fruit of being exposed to the Word of God and not pursuing intimacy with God. Sin consciousness is easy to identify. If we are constantly seeing sin in others and judging them, thinking about what they need to change, what they should do, and how they should behave, this indicates knowledge of God’s Word but ignorance of who we are. We must not try to do what we learn without learning who He is. Our identity is formed in intimacy. Without intimacy we will gravitate toward Old Testament law and never fully understand or embrace New Testament grace.

We are in the last days and we we all need to aspire to become everything Jesus paid for. We must embrace the pruning and the correction of the Lord in this season.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, etc. The reason most people follow a Christian leader is because of the relationship with God that is evident in their life. All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuine intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all.
The reason God sent Jesus was to restore man back to intimate relationship with Himself. The message of the Gospel is one of redemption, reconciliation and restoration of relationship, the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. Jesus is our peacemaker. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, and living out this truth, he/she is not qualified to lead others anywhere.

Ephesians 2:13-16 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with the Father. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first, and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. You can’t lead anyone to a place you’ve never been. Jesus said of Himself; “I am the way, the truth, and the life… John 14:6

If we don’t know “The Way,” we can’t show the way.
Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principle that we see Him practice in the gospels. Intimacy with God.
There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it costs time, discipline, effort, devotion, and commitment. Above all, it requires a love for Him. Pursuing intimacy with the Father is the greatest indication of our love for God, and the greatest investment we can make in ourselves and others. Our faith will only rise to level of our love for Him.

Jesus paid the price to restore our relationship with the Father. Are we paying the price to nurture and develop that relationship? This is a question we all must answer for ourselves.
Intimacy leads to maturity. Many Christians follow others because of their “Spiritual Gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

Spiritual gifts are free, but maturity is expensive.

Our identity is not found in our gifting, or our calling, but in our relationship with the Father. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher is not who we are, it is how we serve. We must find our identity in loving and serving, not gifting.
Disciples are made when people willingly follow you, and your living example. If you make disciples apart from intimacy with the Father, what are you reproducing? Do we really need two or more like you?
Our first priority should be intimate relationship with the Father. We should be cautious of having followers if there are any other priorities above that.
A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace reading the Bible and going to church with being alone with God and communing with Him. We can only learn about God from reading and studying the Bible. To truly know Him, we must spend time with Him, commune with Him, listen to Him.
Jesus set our greatest example. He only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable, but it is always necessary.
If you read my biography, you can learn a lot about me, but you can’t honestly say that you know me. You may “feel like you know me,” but to truly know me, you must spend time with me, ask me questions, listen to my responses, spend time with me. It is the same with God.
When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading the Bible takes on new dimensions and bears much more fruit in our lives. We begin to view His written word through His divine nature, we see it with an unveiled face and a heart of love that makes us more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures really begins to come alive for us.

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The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am, and I would like to share it with you.
I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day, she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor,” The Lord then spoke to me in the middle of this phone conversation and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”
God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who we are, He does. Many times we limit His expression through our life because our words and beliefs are not aligned with His heart. It gives us a twisted view of our identity. Intimacy with God not only gives us an understanding of who He is, it shapes our beliefs and gives us an understanding of who we are in Him.maturty3.jpg

Who we think we are, must come second to who He wants us to be at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the five-fold ministry and if we will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through us and touch lives in ways that we could never do through our own strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Without intimacy. we will not produce the fruit of who He is in our lives. May we grow in this wonderful relationship until we love like He loves.

As we seek Him, we will find Him. As we draw close to Him. He draws close to us. As we embrace Him, He will embrace us. We love Him, because He first loved us. He proved His love by laying down His life for us. May we lay down our lives for Him. He is worthy

He is worthy of our attention, our affection, our life, and He is worthy of our death should it be required. He is worthy!

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC

Maintaining an Awareness of God

awareness

          Have you looked back on your life and realized that there were times that you felt closer to God than others? The anointing was stronger, God seemed to be moving more in your life and you were noticeably more focused on Him? I have experienced this myself and questioned God about it. His answer was simple, yet profound. He said: “At those times you were more aware of Me, more conscious of Me.”

          I began to see the importance of maintaining a “God Awareness.” Furthermore, I realized that the responsibility of maintaining that awareness fell to me. With that realization I began to think about what produces and awareness of God and what pulls me out of that awareness.

          2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The principle is this: “WE BECOME WHAT WE BEHOLD.”

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Matthew 6:22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, (single, clear) your whole body will be full of light. 

          What we continually look at has a profound effect on our lives. We must be particular about what we allow ourselves to behold. Our perspective determines the amount of light we have, how bright we shine, and how full of light we really are.

Presence vs. Principle

          Another trick the enemy uses is to get us to substitute knowing God, for knowing about God.

1 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

          The word “knowledge” in the above verse indicates an intimate knowledge that unites you with the object or person it is talking about. It indicates a personal experience with instead of merely knowing about. There is a huge difference.

          If we read a biography on the life of any given person, we can acquire a great deal of knowledge about that person, but unless we actually spend time with the person, we can’t honestly say that we know them.

          As a people, Christians have been duped into believing that knowledge of God’s word is the equivalent of knowing Him personally. We understand the principles and grasp the concepts of faith but we don’t really know God because we don’t spend time in intimacy with Him. Talking to Him, asking questions, listening for His response, being still before Him and quietly meditating on who He are all roads that lead to intimacy with Him. We can’t begin to wrap our head around who He is by only reading His word. We must also spend time in the light of His presence. Both are needed to mature, and both are needed to effectively live and walk by faith.

          We learn the principles of God’s amazing Word and then we try to live by these principles in our own strength. If we spend as much time with God as we do learning about God our awareness of His abiding presence will produce a walk of faith that keeps us living and abiding in holiness. Instant obedience becomes natural and resisting temptation becomes effortless.

          If Jesus appeared to us physically, and was with us every minute of every day, would we have a problem resisting sin? Would we have a problem obeying His word? We would be so acutely aware of our every action and word  that we would only do and say those things that pleased Him. This is how Jesus lived His life. He set the example for us to follow.

John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 

John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

John 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

awareness exper.jpg          The more time we spend alone with our Heavenly Father, the more awareness of His presence we will walk in throughout our day.

          Awareness of God births the character of God, the nature of God, and the faith of God within us. Awareness of His abiding presence makes us more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading. Awareness of God helps us to see others how God sees them and therefore opens the door for us to minister Christ to them more effectively.

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

JC