I love how God reveals Himself to His children. He knows just how to speak to us in a way that is so personal and intimate that it makes us fall that much more in love with Him.
While listening to a minister teach on the fall of man, the minister made reference to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden and hid themselves. He went through the questions that God was asking in verses 9-13, “Where are you Adam?” “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” “What have you done?” The minister then made this statement, Of course God knew the answers to these questions, He knows everything. He was saying this for Adam’s sake.”
Right after the minister spoke those words, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I don’t always use My foreknowledge.” I must say, that shocked me. However, I knew it was the Lord. I recalled in Genesis 22 how Abraham took his son Isaac to the top of the mountain to sacrifice him and the angel of the Lord stopped him and said, “now I know that you fear God.”
Instead of using His foreknowledge. God, FATHER God, will choose the wonderful discovery process of relationship over His foreknowledge every time. He loves the spontaneity, the anticipation, the surprises of growing in intimacy with His children. Then He spoke this to me,
“I gave man his creativity so I could be surprised at how he loves Me with it.”
We truly are here for His good pleasure. I am thinking of how many times God has surprised me and my family. Now I’m thinking about how I can surprise Him.
Let me first say, I am not attacking any person or ministry I am attacking what I now believe to be a false doctrine that is popular in many Church circles.
My hope is that this will enlighten folks to the truth before it is too late. My own church teaches a pre-trib rapture and I may get some heat for posting this but I am not afraid to challenge teaching that I believe is hurting the ones I love. So, he who has ears to hear, let him hear.
As far as I can tell there are only four passages in the bible that teach us plainly, openly, and directly about the rapture so I am only going to use those four.
The first of these passages is found in Mathew 24.
Now, this is Jesus talking. Red letters in my Bible. I think He is the highest authority qualified to teach about the rapture. Pay attention to the text.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those daysthe sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Look at the opening phrase of verse 29. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…” Jesus is speaking to His disciples, and the Church, about what we will experience and go through before we (the Elect) are gathered from the four winds, or as we like to call it, “raptured.”
Just to make sure we understand what Jesus is referring to when He said, “the tribulation of those days,” we will read everything in chapter 24 leading up to verse 29 so we are clear on what tribulation Jesus is talking about.
As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
I am not sure that I could help by elaborating on the stark clarity of the above text. However, I will make a few comments. In verse 15. The abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel standing in the holy place. This I believe is an obvious reference to the antichrist and his actions after his rise to power. After his rise to power, vs, 21 says there will be great tribulation, and those days being shortened for the elect’s sake. False prophets trying to lead astray the Elect. This sounds like tribulation to me. I know some pre trib doctrine say that the “elect” are the 144 thousand, and that is true but it is also the church He is talking about the ones chosen for the high honor of living in this extraordinary time.
Now concerning the coming of our LordJesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (Note: according to Paul, the “the coming of our Lord, our being gathered to Him, and the day of the Lord” are the same day.)
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. (Note: We are going to see this great falling away and the Anti-Christ and his abomination of desolation with our eyes!)5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
These last two passages speak about a trumpet blast but 1 Corinthians makes it clear WHAT trumpet. Is it the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11? Or is the trump of God different than the seven trumpets in Revelation like many of the pre-trib doctrines try to explain away? It is The LAST trumpet! Meaning there will be NO OTHER TRUMPETS AFTER THIS ONE. PERIOD! So, this is CLEARLY the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11. If it is not, then the trumpet would have to come after the seventh trumpet or it would not be THE LAST.
To even start believing in this foolishness we first had to learn it from another man. Maybe a father or a pastor, or some teacher we trust, we just didn’t learn it from the bible. No matter what theological gymnastics we use we can’t get around this being the Last Trumpet. We can use other
passages of the Bible to imply or infer a pre trib rapture, we can even try and project or convey our interpretation of prophecy onto these text, BUT WE WILL NOT FIND IT IN ANY TEXT!
Here is a letter from Corrie Ten Boom. I think she is uniquely qualified to comment on tribulation and persecution.
“There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.
In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,
“We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes, to stand and not faint.”
I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.
Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, “Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.” Then I write it down and learn it by heart.
When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, “Nothing could be any worse than today.” But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. (1 Peter 4:14-15)
I found myself saying, “Hallelujah! Because I am suffering (for the name of Christ), Jesus is glorified!”
In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.”
Posted on03/19/2020byJack|Comments Off on Why is it Hard to Read the Bible?
Have you noticed that reading the Bible is actually harder than reading a secular book or magazine? I have picked up a good fiction novel and finished it within a day or two many times. In fact, I have read Christian books about the Bible and have been able to cruise through most of them in a short time as well. However, when I pick up the Bible and determine to read say…5 chapters, by the time I amdone (if I finish) I am exhausted! Why is that!?
When asking the Lord about this He gave me some real insight as to why this happens and I want to share.
First off, the Bible is a LIVING book! God’s Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE, it is full of GRACE and TRUTH!
HEBREWS 4:12For 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.
Anytime we are exposed to the living Word of God it requires spiritual and physical effort. The impact of truth on the carnal man cause the fallen nature to DIE! Your carnal man does not want to die so the flesh resists even opening the Bible, let alone reading multiple chapters.
Consider this passage of scripture in light of these thoughts:
Exodus 33:20-23 But He (GOD) said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 “So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 “Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.
Understand that reading God’s Word is your carnal man’s FACE to FACE encounter with God! To truly die to self you MUST have constant exposure to His Word.
GALATIANS 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
If you maintain a disciplined approach to reading and studying your Bible you will be successful in “Dying to Self.” This is a core message of the Gospel and without the old man dying, you will never experience the fullness of the new man in Christ.
COLOSSIANS 3:10Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
EPHESIANS 4:21-24assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Is the Bible harder to read than other books? YES!
Is it more beneficial than any other book? YES!
Is it spiritual food and nourishment for us? YES!
Is it required to live a successful Christian life? YES!
So be encouraged! The Bible is just as difficult to read for others as it is for you. So discipline yourself to have DAILY exposure to, and INTAKE of God’s Word and put to death that nasty old flesh so the NEW MAN, CHRIST, may live in and through you in fullness!
I am in tears as I write this because the Lord has taught me something that has changed my perspective on everything and everyone. This simple thing, if you apply it to your relationships, will change the hearts of those around you. It is the ministry of goodness.
What is goodness according to the Bible?
Goodness – The state or quality of being good. Moral excellence; virtue. Kindness, generosity, excellence of quality. The best part of anything.
Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
All fruits of the Spirit are expressions of God’s goodness, righteousness and truth.
Ephesians 5:9for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth,
I have a brother that is 18 years younger than I. By the time he was 2, all the other siblings were grown and off to college or the military. My parents were financially secure by then and absolutely spoiled the kid, not giving him the same discipline the other siblings had received. He grew up an entitled and confused child with anger issues and was constantly in trouble.
By the time my little brother was in his early 30’s he had been in jail or prison 12 out of last 13 years. Everyone, including me, had written him off as screw up and had pretty much given up hope on him ever changing. He was a professed atheist and prison had really messed with his mind.
The whole family would continually tell him what he needed to do to “get his act together” and we were all quick to point out his mistakes and explain to him why he made them. I would write him in prison to encourage him and let him know I loved him but the conversation would deteriorate if I mentioned God and he would lash out at me with terrible accusations that made me question his sanity.
Finally, I had given up writing to him in prison because he would write back saying what a fool and a hypocrite I was, bad mouthing God with a language that can only be learned in a super max prison. He read everything he could while in prison to prove that there was not a God just so he would have some ammunition to use in our next conversation. His hatred and accusations toward me and God had hardened my heart towards him. I was done being ridiculed for my faith from a lowlife convict. I’m just being honest, that’s where I was at.
I had been praying for him over the years and I was at the point where I was going to pray one last time and turn him over to the devil. I saw in1 Corinthians 5:5where the apostle Paul delivered such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. I felt like this was my only option and even talked with a few pastors about the situation and they agreed.
As I was contemplating this and asking God if this was the right thing to do, God spoke to me and said, “Show him My goodness.” A few scriptures immediately came to mind when He said that. In Romans it says that the goodness of God leads men to repentance, and in Exodus when Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said “I’ll show you my goodness.”
Romans 2:1-4Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Exodus 33:18-19And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” 19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.
God was showing me that if I wanted my brother to change, to repent from his ways, that ministering goodness was the only thing that would work. My constant judging of him was actually making it worse. I was so conscious of his sins that it made him even more sin conscious of them, perpetuating his wrong behavior. I saw that sin consciousness isn’t just about you being conscious of your own sins, but the sins of others also. In fact, if you are conscious of the sins of others, its a big indicator that you are conscious of your own. But that’s another lesson.
I decided to listen to God and change my approach. I wrote him a letter telling him how much I loved him and believed in him, magnifying all the good qualities in his life, speaking to his potential and not his past. I encouraged him not to give up or be too hard on himself, acknowledging that I too had made some terrible mistakes and that I respected his moral right to believe anything he wished. I apologized for being hard on him and I let him know I was there to love and help him in any way I could.
I didn’t mention God once in that letter, and for the first time in years he responded with sincerity and humility. He acknowledged his own weakness and opened up about some of the struggles he wrestled with. Sure, he used some foul language and made some rash comments that didn’t set well with me, but I didn’t respond to it, I overlooked it. Over the next 19 months, prior to his release, I just continued to love him and be good to him even when he tested it with his accusations, bashing God and badmouthing my faith.
His pattern of behavior for more than 13 years was: Get released from jail or prison, behave for two to three months, and then do something completely off the wall stupid and go right back to being incarcerated. I am happy to say that the pattern has changed.
My brother has been out of maximum security prison for ten months now. He has regained his driver’s license that was lost ten years ago. He is working a steady job, he is starting his final semester of welding school and has already been offered a position at a local company with great pay and benefits. He is a different person and it is obvious to the whole family. He is still a professed atheist but that will soon change. He has already started to make the turn. That’s what repentance means, to turn from something, to something or someone else.
I am thankful for my little brother, and I am thankful that God kept me from giving up on him. I am so grateful that He showed me a better way, a higher way, His way.
1 Timothy 4:4For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;
Preaching the Word means nothing if you don’t live the Word. Instead of telling people about God we should introduce them to Him through our submitted life. The ministry of goodness can be the most powerful evangelistic tool available if sincerely embraced and lived.
Perhaps the most famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi is:
“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”
I think St. Francis had a revelation of what I am talking about. In fact, I am just now catching up with him. Consider the words of Jesus:
Mark 10:18So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”
In this passage even Jesus was acknowledging the fact that all goodness comes from God, the Father. Jesus said, “I only do what I see the Father do.”
John 5:19Then 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.
Acts 10:38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Isn’t it interesting that when Jesus was anointed with the Power of the Spirit the following manifestation was goodness and healing toward all.
Goodness is an expression of love, and God is love.1 John 4:16
I have also used the ministry of goodness on my children to correct wrong behavior and quench a spirit of pride and rebellion. I have applied this to other strained relationships in my family and in the church. Without fail I have seen the fruit of peace, restoration, joy and spiritual growth in every relationship.
God’s way to turn people to Him is a good way. It opens doors of communication, disarming any antagonism and gives you a license to speak into the lives of others and present the Lord to them in reality, not just in word.
Question: Are you living the gospel or merely preaching the gospel?
Question: What ways can you yield to God’s goodness?
Question: Can you describe a sin consciousness?
Question: What relationships in your life could be improved by you being good to them?
Posted on12/03/2018byJack|Comments Off on Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive
Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, perceived success, speaking skills, etc. but the main reason people follow a Christian leader is because of their relationship with the God.
All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuine intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all. The reason Jesus did what He did was to restore man back to intimacy with God. The message of the Gospel is one of reconciliation and restoration of relationship, the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, walking in, and living out this truth, he/she is not qualified to lead others anywhere.
A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with God. 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 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 principles that we see Him practice in the gospels. Intimacy with God.
There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it takes time, discipline, effort and commitment. Intimacy with the Father is the greatest investment you can make in yourself and others.
Gifts are free, but Maturity is expensive.
Intimacy leads to maturity and intimacy is a result of continuous fellowship. Many Christians follow others because of their “Spiritual Gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.
Our identity is not found in our gifting but in our relationship with the Father. Pastor, Teacher, Prophet is not who I am, it is how I serve. We must find our identity in loving and serving, not gifting.
The goal of a leader is to reproduce themselves and nothing is reproduced without intimacy. First priority is relationship with the Father. Jesus 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.
A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace reading the Bible and studying with being alone with God and communing with Him. The problem is, you can only learn about God from reading the Bible and studying. To truly know Him you must spend time with Him, commune with Him, listen to Him.
If I read your biography I can learn a lot about you but I can’t honestly say that I know you. I can only know you by spending time with you. It is the same with God. When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading and studying takes on a whole new dimension and bears much more fruit. While reading the written word you see them through His divine nature, you look at them with eyes and a heart of love that makes you more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures really begin to comealive.
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 and she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor, I have been offered ordination and refused it because I am not a Pastor.” The Lord then spoke to me 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 I am, He does. I was limiting His expression through my life because my words were stout against Him and I had a limited idea of who I am.
Who you think you are must come second to who He wants to be in you at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the fivefold ministry and if I will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through me and touch lives in a way that I could never do through my own strength and ability.
Ephesians 4:11-16And 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 (P)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.
Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.
This is an amazing formula for faith, and a great example of the faith principle in Romans 4 of “calling things that are not as though they were.”
Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead andcalls those things which do not exist as though they did;
The quotation inRomans 4:17refers toGenesis 17:5. God spoke this over Abram when He was 99 years old and childless. At the same time God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. In changing the names, God forced them to say the same thing about themselves that He had just said about them. Abraham means, (“Father of a multitude,” Sarah means, “Mother of nations.”) In the name change, God was showing Abraham and all who would follow after him, the principle of faith that God Himself operates by. He speaks things into existence.
Let’s apply this to the good and bad tree.
If you see a tree that has apples and avocados growing on it, what would you call it? An apple tree? An avocado tree? A hybrid? Would you just make up a name? The truth is, you wouldn’t know what to call it.
The Bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that we are “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.”
When we look at ourselves and behold the fruit of our lives, we see our mistakes, our bad habits, our inconsistencies, our failures, our secret sins, and we think “I must be a bad tree.” But then we look closer and say, “Wait a minute, not all the fruit in my life is bad. I help people, I am faithful to my church family, I serve in different areas in the ministry, I love people, I am generous with my time and resources, so not all the fruit in my life is bad. I am confused! What kind of tree am I?”
We see the good and bad fruit in our lives and gravitate towards walking by sight and living by feelings. The Bible says that we are NOT to live our lives this way.
We cannot allow our physical senses to dictate our identity. We must set ourselves in agreement with what God has spoken about us and not be moved by our feelings and our fallen experience. What we see, feel and experience must never be a consideration in light of what God has said about us. Abraham, the father of faith, has set the example for us.
Romans 4:19-22 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Abraham refused to consider the weakness in his flesh, but was fully convinced that what God said about him, God would bring to pass.
So the question is:What has God said about us?
Romans 5:17For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
God says that He has made us righteous, holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Although we may not look like that in our sight we must not consider what we see and believe what He said about us is true.
How we refer to ourselves, the words we say about ourselves should align in agreement with what God says about us. When we begin to speak what God says about us, the grace of God is released in our lives to transform us into what He has spoken. When we align our words with His words, the fruit of what He said will start growing in our life. This is how we make our tree good. This is how we fight the good fight of faith. This is what produces transformation in our life.
The Old Testament is full of stories about natural battles. We must look at those physical battles and learn how to apply them spiritually to our lives. For the most part, we see two ways that God calls his people to battle.
He gives His people specific instruction on what, when and how to conquer the enemy. When Gods people follow the instruction, He is with them in battle and the victory comes easy.
He tells His people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He fights the battle for us and the victory is ours.
When fighting to be free from our sin nature, to live righteous and holy, we tend to try and do this by our own works. We struggle against our sin, our bad habits, wrong thinking and destructive cycles of failure and disappointment. This type of behavior will only produce a sin consciousness that insures failure. The Old Testament has already proved that no one can become righteous by works.
Submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us places us in a powerful position to be transformed and overcome the sin nature. We must call ourselves righteous and holy, believing that He is at work in us to bring that to pass. We follow Abraham’s example and call things that are not manifest as though they were.
Confess that you are righteous, confess that you are holy. Thank God for freeing you from sin and transforming you into His image. And if you stumble and fall, run to God and say “I am sorry Father that is not me! That is certainly not You in me! I thank You for the Spirit of grace that is transforming me and shaping me into Your image, removing that junk from my life and molding me into everything You have created me to be. Thank You for fathering me! Thank you for loving me, for believing in me, for being patient with me. Thank you for completing the work that you began in me. Where would I be if You didn’t father me.”
This is a good example of biblical confession. This type of confession sets you in agreement with His work and His plan for your life. This will produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness in your life.
In the battle for our identity we are supposed to follow the example of our father Abraham and set ourselves in agreement with His word, letting the Spirit of grace shape us and mold us into His image. We are not to consider the weakness of our flesh, but stand strong in faith, trusting that God is able to bring His word to pass in our lives.
So hold fast to the confession of who you are in Him and trust that He will complete the work that he began in your life.
Philippians 1:6being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Posted on07/23/2018byJack|Comments Off on Sacrificing Your Authority In Prayer
I learned a very valuable lesson about authority in prayer and I would like to share it with you.
During a prayer meeting at our church a faithful member of the prayer team came forward with a typed out prayer for our president that she said the Lord gave her the day before. She was allowed to read the prayer and we agreed with her. It was a very moving, scripture based prayer that was loving, considerate, compassionate and powerful. It immediately got the nod of approval of all in the room. It was a prayer that inspired confidence and faith in all who prayed it. This lady had obviously heard from the Lord.
As those in the group were commenting about how powerful it was, the Lord spoke to me directly and said, “Why didn’t you pray for your previous president in this manner?” I immediately knew what the Lord was talking about. I remembered the many times we lifted this former leader up in “prayer” and I was reminded of some of the opinionated requests, the tone, the attitude, and the complete disregard for this man as an individual. We weren’t praying out of love for our president, or even love for our country. We were praying against him, not out of love, but out of selfishness and self righteousness. Our motives were wrong, our heart was wrong.
I shared what the Lord had showed me and the entire prayer group received it and we all repented before God.
When praying for yourself, or others, its important to consider your motives for praying. This may seem overly simple, however there are some areas in our thinking and believing that can be ever so slightly off kilter, and therefore making our prayers ineffective.
Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’13And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is a powerful example of sacrificing authority because of selfish pride. The Pharisee presented himself as better than “other men.” Notice in verse 11 that “he prayed thus with himself”. In other words God is not even listening, he is praying to sound spiritual and be heard by others.
Although this sounds terrible, it gets much worse!
James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
When we pray from a place of bitterness, envy, and selfishness we become a landing strip for every evil work. We actually invite demonic activity into our life and have absolutely no effect on what we are praying for.
Lets look at the rest of this passage in James to see where our heart needs to be when we pray.
James 3:17-18But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Prayer that is made from a place of love, mercy and compassion is a prayer that is heard and answered by God. Prayer made from a place of selfishness is not heard by God, but is an invitation to demonic influence.
Pray for people, never pray “against” people. Praying against a person is an invitation to confusion, demons, and every evil work. It is earthly wisdom learned from the fall of man and perpetuates the enemy’s agenda.
If we check our hearts and motives before we approach God with prayer and make sure we are praying from a healthy place of love for the person, we can be confident that our prayers are effective.
Posted on07/19/2018byJack|Comments Off on Where does the Supply Of The Spirit come from? (you may be surprised)
The supply of the Spirit is largely governed by the relationships with other Christians in our local assembly.
Ephesians 4:16talks about the body being knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working of every part.
Take note that it is the joint that brings the supply, not the body part. Think about a joint in a physical body. The joint is the relationship between the parts. The place where two or more body parts meet. When the joint is healthy, and the adjoining parts are healthy (doing their part) it dramatically increases the overall abilities of every part.
When Christians give themselves completely to the betterment of the other parts. It enables the Holy Spirit to come alongside and make you exceedingly more than the sum of all the parts.
Colossians 2:18-19Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
The level of supply, nourishment and unity experienced through horizontal relationships, is a reflection of our vertical relationship. If we don’t have a healthy growing relationship with our Father, we won’t have healthy relationships with others. It is imperative we spend time with our Father, beholding Him so we can be more like Him.
We are instructed in the Bible how to behave toward others so that spiritual empowerment would be available to all parties. We know from scripture that natural things must come before spiritual things.
1 Corinthians 15:46However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
Spiritual supply comes from natural behavior.
Imagine all the body parts are sharing their strengths and abilities with all the adjoining parts, bringing their supply if you will. There is something in that exchange that honors God and invites the Holy Spirit’s involvement.
When the parts share in the work of ministry, something supernatural occurs in the relationships between the parts, inviting the Holy Spirit to provide what is needed for growth and edification. Sounds a lot like Grace doesn’t it?
Think about an knee joint. If the joint is healthy it helps the entire body walk, run, carry heavy loads, etc. But if that joint is hurt or strained, it hinders the mobility, progress, and overall function of the rest of the body. Relationships in our Church are the very same way.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
This passage describes the Christian’s model for existence: LOVE! A life free of selfish behavior toward others. All Human behavior is either an act of love, or a cry of need for love.(selfishness)
Spiritual supply comes from natural behavior. So…..
Posted on07/18/2018byJack|Comments Off on Your Sovereignty, Free Will, and Saying NO to God
GREEK: Exousia ~ THE RIGHT TO INFLUENCE, COMMAND, CONTROL AND DELEGATE.
When man was created, God established His authority over the earth and delegated it to Adam for a season. Adam was God’s steward over the earth, and He gave Adam specific instructions for his stewardship. We find Adam’s instructions in Genesis 1 and 2.
Genesis 1:27-28So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2:15-17Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
When God created Adam, He made him a sovereign being giving Adam His own personal authority to use in making decisions and fulfilling God’s instructions for His stewardship. This sovereign authority is called FREE WILL.
Sovereignty – thequality or state of beingsovereign, or of havingsupremepower or authority. The status, dominion, power, or authority of a sovereign; royal rank or position; royalty. Supreme power, especially over a body politic, freedom from external control, autonomy
Free will was given to man so he could willingly choose, without any coercion or pressure, how he would serve his creator. Free will allowed man to express himself freely and creatively as he learned and grew in knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, it also gave man the power, and the right, to say NO to God. this makes man sovereign.
Free will can potentially be the most destructive thing to the Kingdom of God, as well as your life! Exercising your free will in saying NO to God will limit God’s influence and power in your life.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD, or THE KINGDOM OF ME?
The Kingdom of God has boundaries. Operating within those boundaries enables God’s influence and power to flow into your life to meet your needs and the needs of others. You violate authority when your choices don’t align with the will of the authority you are under. When you violate authority it cuts off the influence and power of that authority. Not just in your own life, but in the lives of those you are involved with.
We must walk in HIS ways, not OUR ways if we want the promises of God, and the power of God to be a reality in our life. God’s power only flows under the covering of his authority. His authority can only be exercised within the confines of His Kingdom. When you exit the covering of the Kingdom, you exit the flow of power. When you say NO to God, in essence, you establish another kingdom, I call it: The Kingdom of ME.
The Kingdom of Me is established when selfishness rears its ugly head and provokes you to willfully say no to God.
Saying “NO” to your Lord means that He is not your Lord in that area of your life, and if He is not Lord in one area, He is not Lord in any. Being Lord of your life means that He is the Master of ALL areas of your life. God will not invade and overthrow your kingdom, it is out of His jurisdiction. It would be a violation of your free will. If you say no to Him in any area, you are declaring that YOU are the master of that area….and you cannot serve twomasters.
Luke 6:46“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
Matthew 6:24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Say “NO” to God, and you’ve set up boundaries to keep God out of your kingdom. It is your own free will that determines the boundaries for both the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of Me. How you steward your will determines the basis of authority that you operate from.
HONOR RELEASES THE POWER THAT AUTHORITY CONTAINS.
Eternal salvation comes from your Savior, but the power to live this life, and the authority to subdue and conquer it comes from your Lord. When you honor Jesus Christ as your Lord, all of His authority is released into your life. If you fail to honor His authority as Lord, His power stays contained. Honoring authority releases the power that authority contains.
The extent of Kingdom authority in your life is determined by your stewardship of free will. If your will is completely submitted to God, you have truly laid down your life, you have denied yourself, your old man has died and you can now truly walk in the highest authority in the universe, the authority of God. This is your original design and purpose. This is what was lost at the fall of Adam. This is what Jesus Christ paid for you to become.
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom
“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” C. H. Spurgeon
Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” – Martin Luther
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Prayer is simply talking to God like a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.” – Joyce Meyer
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” – Mother Teresa
“To get the nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.” – Billy Graham
“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Andrew Murray
“The fewer the word the better the prayer.” – Martin Luther
And when you pray,do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.For they think that they will be heard for their many words. – Matthew 6:7 (NKJV)