A Sense of Promise

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20 NIV)

“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In Him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.” (2 Cor. 1:20 MSG)

The Church that we see spoken of consistently in Scripture is a people of promise. Jesus said the very gates of hell will not prevail against her (Mt. 16:18). She is a people of promise (Lk. 24:49), called out of darkness and established upon a platform of Holy Spirit activity (Acts 2:4) and supernatural love (Col. 1:13-14). She has stood in the midst of persecution and multiplied in the midst of division. Her character has been challenged from every angle and she has advanced in every culture. Yet, she fights her greatest battles from within, from the very people who carry her promise. She will prevail, but not without a people who know how to maintain their sense of promise.

Agreement with God’s Promises: (2 Peter 1:2-4)

  • Brings Miracles: (Acts 3:1-9) In this story, Peter and John were going into the temple together to pray when they met a lame man at the gate. Peter told him to rise up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ and immediately he received his strength and was healed. Your prayers of agreement can bring miracles into your lives also, just as they did for Peter and John.
  • Brings Great Power: (Acts 4:31-33) Here is an account of the Apostles praying together for boldness. After their prayers, the place was shaken and filled with the Holy Spirit. They were of one heart and one soul.
  • Brings Abundance: (Acts 4:34-37) After the Apostles prayed for boldness, and gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus, land and house owners sold their possessions and brought the proceeds to the Apostles and they then distributed to everyone who had need.
  • Brings Freedom: (Acts 12:5-11) These verses tell of Peter when he was in prison. The church prayed to God for him constantly. Peter was bound by chains with guards and soldiers next to him. One night an angel of the Lord came and he released the chains from Peters hands and set him free. These prayers of agreement gave Peter his freedom.
  • Brings Deliverance: (Acts 16:25-26) Here Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Suddenly a great earthquake shook the prison and all the doors opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. (Rom. 15:30-31) Here Paul is asking for prayers that he may be delivered from those in Judea. (2 Cor. 1:8-11) Here is another account of Paul in Asia where the help of others praying together delivered him from a sentence of death.

Silence and Double-mindedness:

  • Offers Nothing: (Heb. 11:6) Remind yourself that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Jms. 1:5-8) The Apostle James emphasizes this point by telling us of the foolishness of doubting, saying that it makes us double-minded and unstable in all of our ways. (Jms. 4:2) He also contends that we have lack and confusion, because we are not even asking or we ask amiss, that we can spend it on our own pleasures.

Contending for the Promises:

When the Church does not contend for the promises of God they are stolen by deception, intimidation or religion. The Christian lifestyle was never meant to be a stroll in the park… We are at war! And we are advancing both the very victory won by Christ and the promises acquired through crushing the enemies hold on society (Col. 1:9-13). The very purpose for Christ’s coming in the flesh was to destroy the works of the devil and render him powerless over the people of promise (1 Jn. 3:8). Every time we stand on a promise of God, hold our peace in the midst of the storm or trust God in the midnight hour… all of heaven leans in to offer its resources. Our “Amen” reverberates in the atmosphere and the devil does not doubt the character of our resolve! For Christ Himself is our Advocate with the Father, making sure that the promise is fulfilled and His people are established in truth.

The Beholding Principle

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

One of the most important spiritual principles of the Bible is the principle that what we continuously behold, will be what we become. If we behold and study God’s fiery love for us, our hearts will become fiery with love for God. When we behold the emotions of God, we receive truths about how God feels about human beings; about you and me individually, about our destinies, our personalities, our likes and dislikes… we find our place in His heart. We can certainly connect with mysteries that are beyond finding out and behold the majesty of God. But when we see Him as He is, we begin to change.

The Key to Transformation:

The Apostle Paul wrote of this spiritual principle as a key to transformation… as we behold the glory of the Lord we are transformed, “from glory to glory”. This very basic principle is foundational to the Biblical theology of heart transformation. It is what made David a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). Simply stated, whatever we behold or understand about God’s heart toward us, is what we become in our hearts toward God. If we behold a mean stingy God, we will become mean and stingy. But if we behold His glory, as the Apostle Paul wrote, the Holy Spirit will transforms us.

Pursue the Heart of God!

By pressing into God’s emotions through study and a personal pursuit of our relationship with Him, we find our place in His heart. We become men and women captured by His heart. If we behold what David beheld about God, we would live as he lived, and we would carry our hearts before God as he did. The things David, Moses or even Adam beheld in God’s heart are still there, available and awe-inspiring; as they have been throughout history. God invites us to behold the very thing these powerful men experienced. We can behold the reality of God’s emotions every time we look into the face of Jesus, our Savior and Friend… He is the glory of the invisible God (2 Cor. 4:6)(Heb. 1:1-3).

When we begin to understand God’s emotions for us, corresponding emotions are quickened in our hearts. The same emotions we gaze upon within His heart come alive in our own hearts, and we reflect them back to Him. For example, when we behold the passion in God’s heart for us, our own heart starts to feel passion toward Him. In the Bible John tells us that we have passion for Him, because we first understood His passion for us (1 Jn. 4:19). We enjoy God more by searching out and convincing ourselves of God’s enjoyment of us. One of the most amazing revelations of my life came when I began to feel God’s embrace of me… to realize that God was not just loving me, but He liked being with me, because He truly liked “me”!

The Unveiled Face:

Think about it for a moment… how do our hearts become alive? How do we get free from the addictions, strongholds and pain of the past? It was the Apostle Paul who taught believers to seek renewal by receiving knowledge of the image of God (Col. 3:10). It was in the face to face encounters that change took place in Moses, David and Isaiah. Spiritual transformation and the renewing of the mind will only happen through revelation knowledge, which is the knowledge of God’s heart bursting into our own hearts. This beholding principle is the miracle God spoke about when He said He would write a new law upon our hearts (Jer. 31:33)… “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.”

Spirit of the Age

You are invited

The word “another” in the New Testament is translated from two different words in the Greek. They are similar and yet very different. One is allos, which expresses merely a numerical difference. It literally means “another of the same kind”. For example… a second apple would be another apple, but it would be the same kind – both are apples. The other Greek word that is translated “another” in the English is heteros. It means “another of a different kind”. An orange; for example, would be another fruit of a different kind from the apple. Its basic nature is different, even though it is in the same group with other fruits.

So what’s the thought here?

Jesus makes a big deal out of this concept when He defines our calling to become His disciples.  “And another of His disciples said unto Him, Lord suffer (wait for) me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, follow Me and let the dead bury their dead.” (Mt 8:21-22)

At first glance this would seem to be a strange reply. A person could come away with the idea that Jesus was a bit demanding. This man was a disciple of Jesus; not one of the twelve, but he certainly had potential… didn’t he? He was called by the Lord to follow, but was unsure in the immediate future that he wanted to see the impact of Christ’s teaching in his own life, family and community. He felt unable to commit to follow the Lord “at once”, or at this “opportune time”. He felt it was more important to bury his father; who many scholars believe, may not have even been close to death yet. His dedication to Jesus Christ was not great enough to walk away from the cultural responsibilities of his personal life. He was not free to commit.

After all, what would the neighbors say about him not being there to bury his father?

James and John walked away from the life they had as fishermen, to begin a new life with Jesus (Mt 4:21-22); but this man could not. He was a disciple of “another” (heteros) kind. He probably felt justified in his reluctance to follow the Lord. His reasoning was bound to his values and those values were set by natural realities, not Jesus’ invitation. He could justify staying at home and fulfill his duties there and still serve the Lord in some way.

He did not realize, he was enslaved by a “spirit”.

What this helps us to see is that often demonic spirits do not work to get you to reject the Lord. What they tend to do is enslave you to a lower level of discipleship than what God has called you to attain. Jesus tells us, “strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk 13:24).

Remember Gates hold authority in Scripture.

The strait gate is the entrance; where a threshold of personal authority and agreement must be stepped over or broken through, in order for us to reach that higher calling… that opportune time in Christ. Many individuals sense their invitation to experience a closer walk with the Lord, but find they are not able to break free from the spirit of the age. Wow, that is an important word, because it tells us of a limitation that is often hidden in our soulish desires and cultural allegiances. The dedication and commitment to the Lordship of Christ will not be great enough to make the transition.

They want to and they seek to enter in, but are unable. They don’t realize a spirit has enslaved them to a lower form of following… “at a distance”.

This “spirit of the age” must be broken.

If we are not guarding our commitment to Christ, stretching our spiritual muscle and growing in our knowledge of Him, we can find ourselves seduced by this spirit of the age. In a media driven nation like America, this is an easier thing to fall into than we would like to believe. I am convinced (as are many) in our conservative Church culture that our lifestyles do not reflect a truly Biblical world view.

The Apostle Paul said this would be based upon the spirit of the age blinding people’s minds through unbelief, so that they do not comprehend the glory in the face of Jesus (2 Cor 4:4-6). Its not a new thing at all; in fact, he also gave this warning to the Church of Galatia, “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another (heteros) gospel” (Gal 1:6).

This “another gospel” carries the seductive spirit of compromise and will cause you to feel you are doing fine on your present level of commitment and growth. You may never hear yourself say “I do not need to grow spiritually”. It may be that you just lose that fire in your belly… the hunger is gone. Maybe you intend to commit more someday, follow through with that call sometime, but right now your life is just too full to earnestly seek after God. This spirit will lull you to sleep and make you unable to follow God’s original call upon your life. And it does become stubborn.

Breaking free requires radical repentance and fasting!

Radical repentance and seasons of fasting are often needed, to reveal the chains and crush their hold around our ankles. In order to believe the Word of God, we must capture every thought and renew the mind with Truths that will set us free to live for Him and commit to Him. This is the Spirit of Life in Christ that brings joy and peace.

Love Unlocks Joy

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 Jn. 1:1-4)

Behold what manner [quality] of love the Father has bestowed on us… (1 Jn. 3:1)

We are to behold the heart of God in order to understand the quality of the Father’s love! It was a love for Jesus and for us. Love empowered the disciples… and as they began to behold it more and more, they found ways to abide in it and feel joy growing on the inside. The Apostle John is overwhelmed by the fellowship he experienced with Jesus… and it was the best reality he could offer to mankind! He was saying – this is what we declare and shout from the rooftop – “Come, experience this fellowship with us!”

To behold God’s love is to stay focused on it and not neglect it as we pursue other things. We should study the Scripture through the paradigm of love, because it promises incredible joy. It will not just establish our understanding, but abiding in the Father’s love will fill us with joy in believing, trusting and obeying (1 Jn. 5:3).

Transforming Joy: Inexpressible & Full of Glory (1 Pe. 1:8)

As we behold the heart of God, and experience His love; we feel joy! Joy is that deep sense of well-being that empowers us with confidence. It can make all the difference in the face of disappointment, temptation, and persecution. In fact, Jesus spoke about love at the most difficult times in order to empower His disciples. Nothing so fills the heart with joy and transforms our perception of reality – like knowing and abiding in love.

Note: There are four foundational truths related to experiencing God’s love in John 15:9-10!

  1. The Truth of Father’s passionate love for Jesus… “As the Father loved Me”!
  2. The Truth of Jesus’ intense and active love for us… “I also have loved you!”
  3. The Truth of Abiding in this supernatural substance… “abide in My love!”
  4. The Truth that joy is the reward of walking it out… “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love… These things I have spoken to you, that…your joy may be full.”

Sustained by Joy:

This joy empowered the disciples to walk in victory no matter what they faced! Even after the devastating experiences that surrounded the cross. They suffered the shock of Jesus’ sudden death, the deep shame of betraying Him, and the threat of death and imprisonment from political authorities. They needed joy to face crisis and handle even the normal temptations in life. When love is the abiding truth, then joy is sustaining! We are called to experience a transforming joy that is based on beholding and abiding in God’s love.

We must never be content with a silly, giddy, superficial substitute! Be filled with the Holy Spirit! (Eph. 5:15-21)

Look & Believe

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor 4:3-4)

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6)

Just keep looking into the face of Jesus Christ!

At the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Jesus stood up and cried out with a loud voice, “Is anyone thirsty? Let him come to Me and drink, because believing will release in you rivers of living water!” (Jn 7:37-39) Not reasoning, doctrinal traditions or church programs… believing will do this. Yet its not just any believing it is believing that is moved by the Spirit as we look into the face of Jesus Christ.

Looking into things:

When we look into things, they reveal their glory. They reveal the nature of their design and their purpose. As a youth I can recall buying Hot Wheel toy cars and spending hours just looking at their unique style, color and cool features. Some were very tough looking and I could imagine driving wilderness roads and crashing through any obstacles in my path. As I played, my mother would often shout from the other room, “It sounds like an amazing adventure in there!” Whereby I would feel embarrassed by my intensity as the discoverer of the “glory” of my new car.

God’s Amazing Adventure:

When God created Adam, He made a powerful decision. He asks Adam to name the animals. In doing this He was teaching Adam a basic principle about glory. He was teaching Adam that when you look into the nature of something it will eventually reveal its character and purpose. When these things are discovered, “naming” it becomes simple. But it also creates a platform for relationship with the animal being named. Adam would need to discover how a porcupine was unique to the elephant, lion or bear.

The Point:

In this process God was making Himself vulnerable to the desire of Adam, because the training would serve to help him value the Glory of God. Adam would sin and fall short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23) and all would be lost except the memory of God’s heart toward Adam. As God returns to the Garden of Eden to find the man hiding himself, it was not man who could not find God… it was God who could not find man. Oh, God knew where he was, but his sin now created separation because of the Glory that stood as a barrier between the perfect and the fallen. God calls man to Himself and clothes the man with the garment of a lamb, shedding blood and forever revealing the pattern of recovering a lost Glory.

The Nature of Our Father:

This is what a Father does, he creates avenues back into relational Glory. He restores, redeems and invites the son or daughter back into relationship even when the requirements for reconciliation have changed forever. And change they did! There would never again be access to the Garden on the same level of relationship. Adam and Eve would need to set their eyes upon a new Tree of Life… the Cross!

2000 Years Later:

The Lamb of God would come and take away the sin of the world and the same God who commanded light to shine in the darkness would shine in the hearts of those who believe. The light would reveal a knowledge like no other, it was the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Note: the knowledge of the Glory is not the Glory, but the Glory itself is found in His face. Look into the face of Jesus Christ and believe that what you behold is your destiny… and you will see what nothing on this Earth can offer – abundant life.

Just keep looking into His beautiful face… and see the Glory of God!

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