Archive for February, 2013

Bible Teachers

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  (2 Tim. 2:15)

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (Jms. 3:1)

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Heb. 5:12)

There is an expectation that as Christians, we mature to become teachers of the Word. But we must realize that raising up teachers in the Body of Christ, requires understanding in the things of the Spirit. Teaching; as with anything done for God, must carry an anointing and a testing of character, especially if it is to feed the hungry with Truth. Jesus, praying to His Father said, “Sanctify them by Your Truth. Your Word is Truth” (Jn. 17:17). With maturity comes responsiblity, and with responsibility comes accountability. Without a doubt, the greatest work of the Bible Teacher is to mature the believers so that they correctly and consistently divide God’s Words of Truth for themselves.

The “Sophomore Effect”: (Prov. 18:2) 

The word “sophomore” comes from “sophus” which means wise, and “moros” which means fool (where we get the word “moron”). A sophomore will often feel smarter than they really are. This sophomore effect is a dangerous reality that most recent converts must wrestle with. The Apostle Paul instructs overseers to “not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6). He goes on to say that “they want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (1 Tim. 1:7)

Influence Requires Maturity:

As teaching can have a huge impact on many people, teachers are to be judged more strictly, and not just by God. Teachers need to be scrutinized by the leaders and mature believers around them. They need correction and instruction in their gift, so they become workmen who accurately divide and offer practical instruction in the Truth. God’s Word, is what we are aiming to teach; and while there may always be a variety of methods, there are no real shortcuts. God’s Word must be taught in a way that releases the revelation of God’s heart. 

The Real Issue – “Itching Ears”

Too often people listen to teachers only to affirm what they want to hear, what sounds good to their “itching ears”. Yet, what sounds good; may actually offer no benefit, or worse - it may be harmful to their walk of faith. The Apostle Paul tells us, “the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4) Too many Christians replace the Bible with their own theories and find their lives wandering off the solid paths of Christ. Even teachers who are products of a Bible College education can become mindless drones whose allegiance is to a denomination, religious tradition or worse, a “new revelation” of some sort, rather than the Word of God.

Warning to Teachers - ”Wolves”:

There are reasons why the Bible warnings us to beware of false teachers! Its because they are wolves in sheep’s clothing and have done great damage to the faith of honest believers. The Apostle Peter points out that, “…there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up” (2 Pet. 2:1-3). Even Jesus tried to warn us, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Mt 7:15).

Yet teaching the Word of God in an accurate way, releases abundant joy and spiritual strength into the Body of Christ! (Eph. 4:11-16)

The Love Life

“Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Eph. 5:2)

The first dimension of understanding love is to become aware of God’s love (1 Cor. 13). We do this as we see spiritually and find ways to embrace God’s love for us. We love because He first loved us (Rom. 5:8).

God’s Love Overcomes Fear:

Fear drives our need for self-preservation, our need to prove and to promote ourselves. We are trying to preserve our own life. A true vision of God’s love will overcome our fears. The “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom and understanding. God’s love overcomes the need to be In control! The need to prove, promote, and preserve our own life is a poverty spirit that destroys our sense of safety and security in all of our relationships. Fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7) that has not come from God. It aims to intimidate and terrorize so we live producing its fruit… selfishness, anger, pride and lust. We become like Lucifer; wanting to exalt ourselves to the position of god, when we allow fears to rule our lives. Wanting to be “in control” can become like a drug. We learn subtle ways of getting what we want. We slip into counterfeit spiritual authority and manipulation, which the Bible calls witchcraft. God’s love overcomes the fruit of fear, by first transforming the heart so that it has the potential to see spiritually. Seeing and embracing a revelation of the love of God will break the power of fear.

5 Truths about God’s Love:  

  1. God’s love preserves life. We are kept by the very power of God, a power generated by His love.
  2. God’s love overcomes rejection, the wounds and corruption of sin.
  3. God’s love is the provision and the promise of abundant blessing.
  4. God’s love sustains life by the supply of the Holy Spirit.
  5. God’s love removes all that would separate us from Him, because fellowship is love’s objective.

God is Good and His love is fresh and embracing every time I meditate upon it. Because He is the Lord Most High; He is above only and below no one, His love causes me to sense His triumph in everything I do. He is transcendent and radiant in His Glory. He speaks and acts in order to release His good pleasure. He gives, invites, cares and celebrates our delight in His love. He carries our burdens and establishes His Promises. He has not left me as an orphan or fatherless in any way. He is My Comfort and My Stronghold in the storms that come. He infuses my path with light, strengthens my soul with His counsel, and refreshes my heart with His abiding Presence. This is the life of love and I am captured at the thought of Him… My King – Jesus!

Let Me Tell of His Love…

His love energizes, motivates action and releases the true life of God. His love sets us free. It heals, because He is healing. It binds up wounds, because He has been wounded. It renews our thinking, because His thoughts toward us are all good. Love covers our sin, because mercy is clothing us with the rich robe of Christ’s righteousness. It restores a right heart within us, because God creates in us a brand new heart. His love is pure, peaceable, powerful, more powerful than death itself. He has reached out to connect with us in words, with eyes, with touch and the fragrance of grace. His love is the energy of communion. It is completely sufficient, holy and clean. It is selfless, given by sacrifice and poured out like a waterfall. It has been shed abroad to reach the least or the greatest of humanity. It transforms us. It conforms us into the image of true Sonship. It enables us to take on, not only the Name, but the Nature of Jesus Christ.

The love of God embraced, is like the ocean that overwhelms or the river that reachest to the lowest place. And when released into our world, it becomes a tangible anointing. God loves us tangibly and so it becomes our beauty when it is seen on us. Therefore, the anointing which you have received of God abides in you and it instructs (1 Jn. 2:27). It abides in us- as we abide in Him. Love enables us to behold Him and become what we have been embraced by. God has lavished His love upon us and enabled us to be called the sons of God (1 Jn. 3:1). God’s love causes us to live. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love! We are enabled to love our brothers as He has loved us (1 Jn. 3:10-14). We esteem others as greater than ourselves and forgive our enemies as God has forgiven us. These are the marks that prove His love abides in us, that we love in word and deed and that we see as the Heavenly Father sees… in giving ourselves away.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16) 

Testimony from Lucas Maina

One of my friends from Eldoret, Kenya has the following testimony of praise that I wanted to pass on to my readers!

Lucas Maina

Impartation in Eldoret, Kenya

Praise the Lord!! Praise the Name of the Lord!! The Lord is good!! All things are possible with Him!! He is faithful to the promises He has made, and what? This Covenant is everlasting!! And this grace and mercy are new every morning.

I thank the Lord, the Creator of Heaven and Earth – He is Alpha and Omega – who was, who is and who is coming again! When I look back I see the birthing of a vision… that we are building a sanctuary for worship! We are building a 1000 sitter church building and the work has started. Today we spent time walking in the forest together with the church elders and we got permission to deliver over 200 long posts for building. Hallelujah – These were over 35 ft posts, straight as an arrow, long and strong, like the Cedars of Lebanon, like King Solomon used to build the Temple for this Lord! Tomorrow we shall get permit from the government to deliver that to Eldoret town center and we shall hire a long lorry (trailer) to carry that!

Baptisms in Eldoret

Leading with compassion

We are sure - very soon we shall share with the world what the Lord is doing!! The Lord is good and we declare what He has done and what He is undertaking for us! Thank you friends for your prayers, we say thanks for them who pray for us. Praise the Lord.

Blessings, Pastor Lucas Maina

 My heart rejoices as I hear this testimony… God is doing great things in these leaders. It has been a joy to serve with them and speak into their hearts from time to time. God is Great!

Testing Purifies

If you desire to walk righteously before the Lord, rest assured you will be tested. In fact, the deeper your walk with Christ the more intense your testing will be. The Bible makes this clear: “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits… When they fall, they shall be aided with a little help… And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time” (Dan. 11:32-35).

A great time of testing is coming upon “those of understanding”. Who are these people to be tested? They are the righteous, those who do exploits for the Lord, who walk with God and have the wisdom of Christ. Perhaps you’ve wondered lately, “Why am I being tested? Why is all this happening to me?”

Go back to your schooldays. When a test is given, it reveals how much you have actually been taught. The Apostle Paul speaks of a different school, one where we are “learning Christ” and are “taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21). If you belong to Jesus, you are in His school. If you have served Him for some years, you may have thought you graduated. But none of us graduate until we are in heaven with Him.

David spoke often of being tested and tried: “I know also, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chron. 29:17). I would suggest that there are at least three tests common to every Christian.

1. We are tested by afflictions and sufferings.

Today there is a mistaken belief that those in covenant with God will never suffer. But all the heroes of the faith mentioned in the Bible suffered stonings, torture and violence (Heb. 11:37). The Apostle Peter explains to us, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). Peter seems to suggest that something of value was being produced and refined in how we experienced our tests… “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Genuine faith is pure and pleasing to God, because it is unhindered by selfish ambition and focused on reflecting a pure expression of what God values.

2. We are tested by delayed answers to prayer.

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It isn’t because He lacks power. He could merely blink an eye or think a thought and the work would be accomplished. And He is willing; even more than we are, to release His purposes in the earth. The answer is found in the fact that we must see the big picture. Jesus said to His disciples, ”…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart”  (Lk. 18:1). The Greek word for “lose heart” means to relax, becoming weak or weary in faith, to faint or give up the struggle. We must learn to contend in our prayers, because our breakthrough is just beyond the testing.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). The Lord is seeking a praying people who will not relax or get weary of coming to Him. These people will wait on Him; they won’t give up until the work is completed. And they will be found waiting when He brings the answer. For most of us, the hardest part of faith is the last half hour, when it looks as if God won’t answer. We’re tempted to give up, put it all behind us and go on to something else. But, that is not what God intends! When you are praying for what is obviously the will of God, you have every right to hold on and never give up until Jesus answers. You must not listen to the devil, the flesh or human reasoning. You are contending for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

You must ask God to plant the faith of Jesus Christ in you (Gal. 2:20), and not give up until you see completion (Heb. 10:35-39). This has happened to me at least a dozen times. I’ve given up and said, “Oh well, this must not have been God’s will”, and almost immediately the answer came! That may be exactly what’s happening with you. You’ve given up, no longer pressing in for your breakthrough. But God is at work in you and your answer is on the way.

3. We are tested by our frailty and failings.

God never wastes an experience, He is consistent in His training. But His training is for reigning! His goal is to strengthen us and cause us to see the way He sees. Christians who are tempted to fall back into old sins or turn back to the world are being tested. I am reminded of the old TV service announcement that would say “This is only a test! If this was a real emergency…” and in fact some do fall and have real emergencies, but God is faithful to provide a way out of every difficult temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). His goal is to train us to look for His hand at work rather than our human frailty.

I believe most Christians have a “sin consciousness” rather than a “righteousness consciousness”. The Christian must be willing to cast off the sin that so easily ensnares and hinders our growth. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Its the Holy Spirit working in us that purifies us and deepens our spiritual convictions for empowerment and renewal. 

Maybe you have fallen short in some way, after years of serving Him. Perhaps you have found yourself surrendering to anger, lust or unbelief. That sin is not your destiny, so you gotta shake yourself free. You gave in for a moment, but God is not through with you. He is showing you something and wanting you to deal with it – by faith and in faith! 

Testing Reveals:

If you are being tested in some area, you may think, you are unworthy and wonder just how much ground has been lost? “Does God still love me?” The good news is that its only a test to prove you and purify your desires. My friend, if you allow God to transform the way you think, then you haven’t lost any ground whatsoever. God puts his loving arms around you and says, “I have brought you through this once again… so you could see what is in your heart”. You are making progress, but it must begin with seeing reality! Walking with God, requires us to let God “father” us and bring discipline that moves us into His perfect will for our lives. 

He wants all of our heart and will allow us to be tested until He has it all.

Offenses

Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Mt. 18:7)

Three Realities About Offenses:

1. Offenses are Inevitable:

According to the dictionary, “woe” means, “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble”. Anyone who has been offended understands woe. And from my experience; I can tell you, it will not get easier with age! But as Jesus points out, offenses must come. People offend each other; by what they do and say - or don’t say, and most of the time they do not even realize it. Either way, life affords us daily opportunities to be offended. What surprises me is the reality Jesus points out, “offenses must come”.

To understand this we must first recognize what an offense is. The word “offense” actually comes from the same root word as the word “scandal”. A scandal is stirred up by the belief that some hidden motive is behind an unexplained event, and an offense is often the same thing. It requires us to believe or imagine something (that may or may not be true), simply based on a tone of voice or an attitude in someones actions. Note that while offenses may be inevitable, Jesus does not let the offender off the hook anymore than the offended. Both are accountable and will experience their own level of woe.

2. Offenses Reveal Issues:

This is a hard reality to embrace. Yet, in the midst of an offense, lays a bit of reality that might need attention. I find it difficult to believe any good could come from the feelings that emerge from being offended, but just like any painful feeling… there is a source, a hurt or some forgotten baggage. God might have a bigger purpose in mind. Consider the following two examples from the Bible, Joseph and David.

Consider how Joseph was ridiculed, kidnapped and sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was later falsely accused of trying to seduce the wife of a high-ranking, Egyptian official. He spent several years in prison and it was quite a while before he was vindicated. He could have been very angry with his brothers. Years later; when he is in a position of power and could easily have had his revenge, they are now face to face. Joseph had learned something and said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Gen. 50:19–20)

Consider King David, in the latter part of his life, was chased out of Jerusalem by his treasonous son, Absalom. If that weren’t bad enough, a character named Shimei meets him on the road and starts throwing rocks at him. He curses David and reminds him of all his sins. He says, “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!” (2 Sam. 16:7-8). Abishai, one of King David’s servants, said, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!” But David responded: “Let him alone, and let him curse… It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” (2 Sam. 16:11-12).

It’s easy to resent those who offend us. But what if God has a deep and important purpose for sending them… something that He intends for our good, because He truly loves us (Rom. 8:28). The offense never feels good at the time, but God has a plan beyond the wound… beyond us and our feelings.

3. Staying Offended is a Choice:

Every leader should memorize this verse: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11)

There are certainly times when it is legitimate to be angry. The Apostle Paul says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). Anger can be a valid response to something that is wrong. But it can quickly become toxic; not only for those to whom we direct it, but also for ourselves. This is why the Apostle James admonishes us to be “slow to anger” (Jas. 1:19-20).

Between the offense and the response is the power of choice. This is what God put in us when He created us in His image, likeness and gave us dominion of the Garden of Eden. What makes us unique in the universe is our human will. We don’t have to respond; in fact, we do not even have to “hear” the offense - by choosing to ignore its invitation to let it stir our emotions. How many times have you ignored the phone when its a sales call or changed the tone of your voice in an instance depending upon who you are talking with. This is the reality of choice.

Choices are made by our ability to evaluate how our responses will benefit us at the moment. Those benefits are keys that unlock our understanding of authority and power. He who holds our heart, will rule our choices. The greatest leaders I know are not easily offended. Instead, they practice the habit of overlooking offenses.

Great leaders take the high road, give the offender the benefit of the doubt, and move on with the benefit of peace.

It requires character and a certain amount of skill in listening to what people say, rather than how they say it. I remind myself that offense will come, but I also recognize my choice is to find my identity in God’s pleasure rather than the approval of others or personal glory. I think that this is what the Apostle Paul meant by choosing rather to “glory in the cross” than look for personal justification (Gal. 6:14). A mutual crucifixion has occurred between myself and the world, I am dead to it and it is dead to me… which means I must not allow it to move me emotionally.

My freedom to reach God’s destiny is hinged to my ability to stay free from offenses!

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