The Lord woke me in the middle of the night and said, “get a pen and paper and write down everything I tell you.” I quietly rolled out of bed, not wanting to wake my wife, and did as He instructed.
As soon as I sat down the Lord began to speak to me about my life and ministry. After a page and a half of correction, instruction, and exhortation, the Lord made this final statement to me,
“Don’t let sin distort your reflection of Me. I will confirm this word with a sign following to seal it in your heart.”
Seven days later while starting my daily routine, I was taking a prayer walk around a nearby lake as the sun came up. As I was walking and fellowshipping with the Lord, He instructed me to go sit on a certain bench that was facing the lake. As I sat down on the bench and looked out across the lake, I was mesmerized by what I saw.
The lake was completely still, not a ripple or a wave of any kind. It was a perfect mirror. Being a fisherman, I have been on many bodies of water early in the morning and seen water so still that you almost didn’t want to touch it and disturb its stillness. This was something more than that.
As I looked across the lake I could see the shoreline on the other side. I saw the rich green grass rising from the edge of the water with huge Live Oaks on the other side topped off by a beautiful blue sky with a few puffy white clouds. As I looked at this scene, I saw that the reflection in the lake was a perfect mirror image of what I was seeing.
As I focused on the reflection in the water I realized that this reflected image is such a perfect representation of the real thing, that if I didn’t know this was a reflection from the lake I would not be able to tell the difference.
As I was having this thought, amazed at this perfect reflection, a tiny fish jumped in the middle of the lake, right in my line of sight. I sat and watched as the ripples from that tiny fish slowly spread over the entire lake, distorting that perfect reflection that I was admiring.
Then the Lord spoke, “Don’t let sin distort your reflection of Me.” This was the sign that sealed the things He spoke to me in my heart.
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.”
For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Sin is not counted where there is no law because without the law there can be no transgression. God did not destroy these people out of anger, He did it because of His great Love and mercy!
They were already completely devoid of spiritual life and since there was no law to show them their condition and point to their need for God, they would have only gotten worse and reproduced more people with the same horrible condition.
So, in God’s great wisdom and mercy, He pushed the reset button and destroyed them all except those on the Ark.
So, where are they now? Still in hell? Heaven? Let’s look at the scripture.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
One of the amazing things Jesus did in the three days between His death and resurrection is go to hell, snatch the keys of death, hell, and the grave, and preach to those who were in prison there. Although this verse only mentions those in Noah’s flood, He preached to ALL those who died without the Law.
death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
How was Adam’s sin different from all those who came after? Because Adam was not born with a sin nature. He had a choice. Everybody else, including you, are born with a fallen sin nature that was no fault of their own.
God knows that it is not your fault that you act the way you do. He knows it wasn’t your choice to be born into sin. That is why He sent Jesus to buy back mankind and give us a choice that would allow us to live under His power and authority while still on earth, tethered to our fallen nature. It is an amazing mystery!
The first Adam made a wrong choice that effected and infected all of mankind. The last Adam, Jesus, never said yes to sin and took back death’s reign over mankind. Death is no longer in control… Unless you choose it.
God is just. His judgements are righteous judgements. Don’t question God’s love and mercy because you misunderstand the mystery.
ALL those who died without the Law are now in heaven.
Posted on01/02/2019byJack|Comments Off on Christian Leadership Development #6
Once we have given our due diligence to skillful listening we enter the arena of communicating grace.
Colossians 4:6Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Grace is one of the most important words in the Bible and can be easily defined as,
“The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”
Grace is God’s influence, not necessarily ours. Keeping in mind that God’s influence, should be palpable in our speech will keep us humble, gentle, and conscious of what is being imparted in our conversations.
Ephesians 4:29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
The word corrupt in the previous passage simply means, “Worthless and of no value.” If our words are not ministering grace to the hearer it shouldn’t be coming out of our mouths. We should constantly be judging our words before we speak, asking ourselves, “Is this going to edify, help, and bless? Am I truly speaking from the Lord’s perspective, or just mine? Is my tone right, are my motives pure?
As leaders, we must understand that God uses us as a mouthpiece to speak to others. God does not take this lightly and neither should we. The Bible is replete with scriptures about the power and significance of words and the effect they have on our lives. What we say and how we say it can literally be ministering death or life into a person’s life or situation.
Proverbs 18:21Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
This reinforces the importance of being a skilled listener, but even more so, the importance of our own intimate relationship with God. Our spiritual condition has a profound effect on our ability to communicate the heart of God.
Love is the license to speak truth
An area I see young leaders often miss it is in their delivery of truth. Truth is received in the manner it is delivered. The Word of God is truth. It is also a sword, a double edged one at that. Truth should never be delivered with the intention of “straightening someone out,” or “correcting someone.” Let me explain:
2 Timothy 3:16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Many times this scripture is used to justify the Bible bashing, finger pointing, and judgmental approach to correcting people in the name of God. Usually it is a self-centered, self-righteous assault on people that comes from not understanding their identity in Christ and opens one up to the influence of religious spirits.
Notice that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.”God is love according to 1 John 4:8. So we can conclude that if the delivery of truth isn’t inspired by Love it is NOT profitable for doctrine, it will NOT reprove, it will NOT correct, it will NOT instruct, it will NOT complete, and it will NOT equip. It just cuts, and it cuts deep. Love is the license to speak truth. If we don’t have genuine love and compassion in our hearts toward the ones we are speaking to, we have lost our license to speak on God’s behalf.
Let’s say you love a perfectly cooked rib-eye steak. It may be your favorite food in the world, but if I serve it to you wrapped in a dirty diaper you aren’t going to eat it. It’s the same with delivering truth. The word of God is so powerful it can change a life but it must be palatable, seasoned with salt, full of grace, and delivered in sincere love for it to be received.
If we are not imparting God’s grace, communicating God’s heart, and being a vessel of God’s love, we should remain silent. If we can’t correct that on the spot we may need to stop and reschedule a time to finish the conversation giving us time to pray or seek council from another leader. Don’t be pressured into speaking when you know your heart isn’t right.
There is a simple rule that will keep us from a myriad of problems if we apply it.
“When we speak, be sure it’s an improvement on silence.”
Following this rule does a few things,
It slows down the conversation and keeps us mindful of the power and purpose of our words.
It diffuses conflict that arises from elevated emotions.
It teaches us the value and power of silence.
It gives us greater control over ourselves and the entire situation.
It allows us time to hear from our heart what the Holy Spirit is saying in the situation.
Personally, I believe this is what was happening in John 8:1-11when Jesus was writing in the sand with His finger while everyone pressed Him for an answer to judge the woman caught in adultery. I think Jesus was simply giving His heart time to tell His mouth what to say.
Not being willing to speak until He heard from the Father is a lesson that every leader should take to heart. There are few worse feelings than knowing we have hurt one of God’s children with our words.
As leaders, we think before we speak, selecting words that nurture and build up rather than tear down and destroy. When faced with hostility we speak gently so as to diffuse anger and emotions rather than feed them. When faced with uncertainty, we are slow to speak, letting silence speak to the person and God speak us.
“Godly communication isn’t merely a skill, it is a discipline.”
Question: What is the definition of grace as it pertains to communication?
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.
One of the hardest things we will ever do in our prayer life is …NOTHING! Ok, nothing isn’t quite the word we are looking for. Silent Waiting is a better way to say it.
Waiting in silence, expecting God to reveal Himself to us, is a powerful and fruitful endeavor. Quietly meditating on who He is and what He has spoken to us in His word or by His Spirit is an amazing exercise of our faith and is very pleasing to our Father.
Psalm 23:2-3He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
The Good Shepherd, by the Holy Spirit, is always trying to lead us to a place of peace and stillness. It is a place of refreshing and restoration. It is a place to find direction and discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 40:31But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Waiting on God renews our strength.
The practice of silent meditation upon God and His word fills up our spiritual gas tanks and empowers us to run well.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
It is in the Stillness that God is known. Reading God’s word and listening to preaching and teaching helps us to know about God, but spending time in His presence is what we need to actually know Him intimately. God is raising up a people in this generation that will live life from the outflow of His presence, rather than merely living by the principles in His word.
“In our stillness before Him, He prepares us to host His presence.”
Psalm 62:1Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:5-6 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
“Silently waiting on God anchors our soul.”
When life throws us a curve ball, when things get tough and it seems like we are pressed on every side with problems, difficulties and even attacks of the enemy. Silently waiting on God and thinking about His goodness, His greatness, His faithfulness and His amazing love for us gives us strength to stand in faith and trust in His tender mercies and his power to deliver us out of all our troubles.
Isaiah 30:15For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not,
Quietness and stillness should be practiced individually and corporately to keep us from trusting in the world and its systems. The Lord is speaking through Isaiah a strong word of correction to His people for trusting in Egypt for their strength and salvation instead of Him. Unfortunately, they would not have it.
In this age of distractions and constant movement it is vitally important that we practice stillness in God’s presence.
“Peace is the frequency of God. We must tune in to this channel of stillness to hear the still small voice of the Spirit.”
Rom. 13:1-7Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
1 Peter 2:13-17Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme. 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
We must settle in our hearts that allgoverning authority comes from God, in whatever form. Not just our spiritual authority that we see in church leadership, (pastors, associate pastors, ministry department leaders, etc.) but the natural governing authorities as well. (Local government, state government, the president, law enforcement, commanding officers, bosses, teachers, parents, landlords, etc.)
All of these people are appointed and anointed to fulfil a certain role in the lives of people. Not just Christians, but all people. Whether we agree with that authority or not, it doesn’t change the fact that God put them there for a specific purpose, to fulfil a specific role, and we are to honor that person as God’s representative. His delegated authority. Yes, even the ones that you didn’t vote for, and the ones you think are evil.
Titus 3:1-2Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
In the last 60-70 years we have lost so much concerning honor and respect for authority that in our society today, people have no problem speaking evil about the President, parents, teachers, law enforcement, or anyone else that they don’t agree with. It is pathetic, dishonorable, and shows the absolute depravity of our generation.
It is amazing to me how many “Christians” believe that they have rights. The right to automatic respected, the right to speak any way, about anyone they choose. The fact is, you can be right in your position and sacrifice your righteousness. Being right and being righteous are not always the same.
If you truly give your life to Christ, you lay down your personal rights. It’s no longer about you, it’s about God and others. It’s about Love that never seeks its own benefit or agenda. Being born again means that you were purchased, paid for, redeemed.
If you buy a house and pay for it in full, you have the right to move in and do what you wish with the house. God the Father purchased you with the precious blood of Christ so that He could come and live in. He sent the Holy Spirit to clean up the house and prepare it for His habitation.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Obedience to God’s authority is what enables you to host the presence of God. Look at what Jesus said to His disciples just before the crucifixion.
John 14:21He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he 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 14:23 Jesus answered and said to 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.
FAITH WORKS BY LOVE!
You can’t be completely submitted to Christ and refuse to submit to authority. They go hand in hand. To be submitted to one you must be submitted to the other. If you don’t submit to one, you are not submitted to the other. They are the same.
If we don’t come to this realization we will live a powerless, frustrated Christian life. The measure of Christ’s authority expressed in our life is in direct proportion to the authority we understand and are submitted to. If we are not under authority, we will have no authority.
Submission to authority is not submission to a person. It is submission to God. It is an act of love and honor for God and His appointed/delegated authority, as well as the anointing upon that person. It is an act of faith that shows your trust in God’s way of doing things.
1 Peter 2:18-19Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
Many Christians believe that they are submitted to authority and yet they speak negatively about their President, other government officials, law enforcement, their boss, their pastors or leaders, and think its ok. It is not! When you speak against authority, you speak against God Himself! You actually subvert your own authority when you speak against those over you.
You may say, “I didn’t vote for that person so I don’t recognize their authority.” That just means that you don’t understand submission, you don’t understand authority, and you don’t understand who you are, and who’s you are.
Until you disagree with authority you don’t have the opportunity to practice submission. Submission can only occur when you don’t see things the same way your authority sees them. Disagreement is when submission is tested.
To believe is to obey. Obedience is the act of faith. Disobedience is the act unbelief. Until you submit to authority, you will never have true spiritual authority. That means authority over sickness, devils, poverty, oppression, the elements, nature. Jesus had authority because He was in perfect submission. Even unto death!
God has called us not only to receive life through faith, but also to maintain His authority through obedience. God’s plan for us in the church is for us to submit to His authority and to all the authorities He has established. This covers our home, our government, our school, the church, and so forth. He does not want to specifically mark out whom we should submit to. As long as we have met God’s authority in the Lord, we should learn to submit to authority.
Jesus established God’s Kingdom through submission. Whatever the Lord did on earth was entirely based on submission. He did nothing that opposed God’s authority. Everything was in submission and perfect cooperation with the authority of God. In this way the Lord set up the Kingdom of God and executed His authority. The church today must also allow God’s authority to have its way and manifest His kingdom through our submission.
There is no authority that is not of God. To resist authority is to resist God. God will not overlook this. Those who oppose will bring judgment on themselves according to Romans 13:2.
Faith in God is made evident by honoring His position as creator, His authority as our Lord, and by obedience to His word. When these conditions are met, the power of God becomes readily available, and easily accessible.
Honor releases the power that authority contains!
Authority creates boundaries and establishes identity.
Our submission defines our Authority
Submitting to authority empowers us to thrive.
Willing obedience to the King expands and increases the Kingdom within.
Opposition to ANY authority is opposition to God.
Understanding authority, and functioning within authority enables great faith in God’s authority.
Submission to authority is simply coming into agreement with the authority above us.
All of man’s problems are due to living outside the realm of God’s authority.
Only those who submit to authority will have great faith.
When we disregard, despise, speak against, or deny authority, we sacrifice and subvert our own authority.
If the matter of authority is not settled, all other matters will remain unsettled.
The One above us is now INSIDE us because we declared belief in Christ. If we now refuse to submit to the authority inside us it is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.