Archive for February, 2014

Bridging the Gap

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4)

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27)

Bridging the Gap between Our Ability and God’s Call:

  • 1. The Anointing of the Holy Spirit

“He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Cor 1:21-22)

The Greek word for anoint is chrio, meaning ‘to smear or rub with oil’… and when used in the New Testament it speaks to the idea of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon and within the believer to achieve great exploits.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18)

Just as Jesus was “anointed” and “sent” to fulfill God’s purpose, we are also anointed and sent to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. With the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we receive God’s power to do the work He has called us to do (Acts 1:8)(Eph 3:16). In the Old Testament, Prophets, Priests and Kings were the classes of people anointed with oil, foreshadowing Jesus the Messiah; and also signifying that the anointing sets God’s people apart for service to Him. In the New Testament, anointing is not a substance or impersonal power, but the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit still sets us apart to do all that would fulfill the Will of God in our generation. We need to highly value and treasure the Spirit and His anointing. This means…

  1. Maintaining an intimate relationship with Him and being filled with the Holy Spirit! (Eph. 5:15-18)
  2. Being sensitive to obey Him and follow His timing! (Acts 13:2)
  3. Valuing accountability and honoring God-given leadership! (Eph. 4:11)
  4. Treating His Presence and anointing with honor and respect! (Eph. 4:30)

As you do this, you can trust His anointing and Presence to be evident and fulfill the call of God in your life. So, if you are wondering how to get the supernatural results God intends for your ministry… remember that the source is not you; but the Presence of Christ and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

  • 2. The Grace of God

If you are unsure where the strength will come from to achieve what God has called you to do? Then you are right where God wants you! Just remember what the Apostle Paul heard from God and how that redirected his focus and his praise.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9)

God’s grace, “charis” in Greek, refers to the undeserved favor of God freely given to us in Jesus Christ. Grace also refers to God’s empowerment in our service for Him:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Cor 15:10)

This enabling grace relates to our specific calling from God:

“Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake.” (Rom 1:5)(1 Cor 3:10)

When the call of God is daunting, remind yourself that you are of God and “the Christ in you” has already overcome the world!

Anointed to Fulfill

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Mt. 5:17)

Have you ever noticed that when God calls people in the Bible, He always gives them a job or ministry to do that is beyond their natural ability? Even Jesus comes to Earth with a task that could never have been accomplished without God’s help! Jesus came to fulfill all of the Old Testament Law and the Prophetic Statements made about Him. He would carry the weight of the task laid upon His shoulders as the “Anointed One” – the “Christ” or “Messiah”. And in like manner, we carry the assignments of heaven in the same way; as Christians, “little anointed ones”… so to speak. We have been anointed by God in the same way that Jesus was anointed by the Father (Acts 10:38). We go about doing good deeds and healing all who are oppressed of the devil, because God is with us (Jn. 14:12)(Mt. 28:18). Amazing, yet quite daunting, when you ponder the ramifications of it… cuz’ really – we can’t do any of it without Him!

Its Bigger that You!

So, that God-sized dream knocking on your heart’s door, or that ridiculous passion that seems like more than you can handle in your own strength; it is probably from Him. And here’s why: because its way bigger than you! God has designed us to partner with the Holy Spirit in our service. He uses weak and feeble, ordinary people so that He gets the glory (1 Cor 1:27). But here’s the good news…

He can handle it and He is with you!

The Stubborn Heart

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” (Mk. 9:23-25)

It has been my experience, that literally thousands of people struggle with unbelief. Real barriers stand between their desire and the reality of God’s Will! Like this father they hear the words that Jesus would love to heal, deliver or bring hope; but they are stuck. They know the truth that if they could just believe, nothing would be impossible… but there is no believing, no receiving and no “heart” at all. There is just the nagging reality of hopeless effort, tears and shameful discouragement. And worse yet for many, they construct a new theological platform of resolve… “I will choose to not believe any longer, because it just leaves me hopeless!”

The Spirit of Unbelief:

The inability to obey the instructions of Jesus and trust in the Promises of God, often leads to this frustration. We want to please the Lord and experience all that God has said, but something in us resists faith. We find we “cannot” believe even when we want to. This can be due to a “spirit of unbelief”. Lies, deception, fears or offenses can find their dwelling in the heart and be controlled by a demonic spirit that paralyzes the heart in unbelief. This spirit is real and dangerous, it is pervasive and advancing across the landscape of Christianity and it lives in the midst of the “Church culture”… where all is not fine in paradise!

Authenticity:

I receive many emails and calls about this issue and I find it a bit shocking that the problem is so wide spread and growing. Yet in my opinion there is a root cause that we must uncover and shine the light of truth upon… people are living superficial lifestyles. They rarely stop and contemplate the meaning of their existence. To ask the simple question, “WHY!” is not blasphemy, nor is it going to lead us into deception. Perhaps it would even offer a lot more authenticity to our journey!

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7… “Ask, seek and knock… and the door will be opened!”

Authentic communication with God – opens the door of relational truth. Things that are difficult for us to understand, come into the light of His wisdom and love. God is a “father”, He knows how to take care of His children and He is faithful. He is anticipating our needs to be vocalized and to come streaming into His Presence (Heb. 4:16). The Apostle Peter, who seemed a lot like us; said you and I need to be “casting all our care upon Him, because He cares for us” (1 Pet. 5:7). He cares for us… and He knows all about our issues of faith. This idea that we can avoid our problems and they will just go away… well – that is the greatest deception of all! They do not go away, in fact they produce the fruit of disappointment, which I spoke of earlier. We tend to create and believe a false perception of God’s heart toward our reality.

So – here’s the point…

  • Stop living without meaningful communication with God!

Spend time telling God of the frailty of your faith, the brokenness of your heart and the weakness in your perceptions… ask Him “why?!” and then wait… wait… wait… for the doors to open! They will, my friend they will… they will open wide and the King of Glory will come in. Who is this King of Glory… He is the Lord Strong and Mighty! (Psa. 24:7-10)

Responding to Slander

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt. 5:12)

As followers of Christ, we will always feel that this world is not really a good fit. We will long for peace and joy from this world, until we recognize it comes from another place… heaven. And as we grow in Christ, the feeling that this place is not our home; will only grow… not diminish. Life here, will not get easier in terms of comfort. In fact, we may find that we mourn more easily than we used to, that our ability to be merciful is strained, and that our awareness of sin is more keen. We may also find that some people become very uncomfortable with us as we experience greater freedom in Christ, because we are not as easily manipulated and don’t join them in their controlling games. But, the choice is our… we can rejoice and be glad! We do this, because we want the very things Christ is offering… indeed – we are glad that His Kingdom Dominion (Rom. 14:17) is our real inheritance!

“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32)

HOW TO RESPOND TO THOSE WHO SLANDER YOU…

A. Love: Kind, Tenderhearted, Forgiving… even as God in Christ has forgiven you and I. Jesus set the standard very high… He calls us to love one another. By loving people who mistreat us, we demonstrate His love… a love that flows from heaven (Jn. 15:9). The Holy Spirit is our resource (Rom. 5:5), and by having this attitude, we can have impact and minister even to our accusers.

  • “I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you…[as it] is written… They hated Me without a cause.” (Jn. 15:17-25)

B. Bless: Jesus called us to bless and not curse our enemies, even those who slander us. To revile or slander is to share negative reports about someone without cause. We are blessed and anointed with power from heaven to love our enemies or slanderers by our words, deeds and prayers. Jesus modeled it for us (Acts 10:38) and we are promised to have access to the same Kingdom Reality (Jn. 14:12)… the anointing of the Father!

  • “Blessed are you when they revile… you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Mt. 5:11)
  • “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you…” (Lk. 6:22)
  • “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Mt. 5:44)
  • “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 Jn. 4:4-6)

C. Entrusting Ourselves to God: We endure mistreatment by knowing that God will vindicate us in His timing, as we commit the conflict and mistreatment to Him. The challenge is to walk in self control and allow room for God to move on our behalf. We can entrust every situation to God through prayer and believe His promises to respond in His way.

  • “…when He [Jesus] was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…” (1 Pet. 2:23)
  • “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I [God] will destroy; the one who has a haughty look and proud heart, him I will not endure.” (Psa. 101:5)

D. Speak Privately: If someone slanders us, we are to talk to them in private. If we want to win the brother who is accusing or slandering us without a cause, we must talk in private. If we want to win the argument, we will continue to talk in public… and often lose the brother.

  • “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” (Mt 18:15)

Clearing the Air:

When people operate without resolving conflict, they pay a high price in order to protect their pride and selfish ambition. Seeking to win an argument, means we are more willing to devour each other, strain christian fellowship and weaken our testimony before God. The Apostle Paul cautions, “If you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another” (Gal. 5:15). This kind of atmosphere is disastrous to advancing the Message of the Kingdom of God, because it releases a dominion of darkness and corrupt attitudes in environments where people of all types meet and experience our poor behavior. We pay for unresolved anger towards those who slander us and end up undercutting our goals as Christ’s followers.

Freedom & Reconciliation:

Our ministry as ambassadors for Christ… is all about reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21)! The only way to be liberated and walk in freedom is by blessing those who mistreat us and repenting of bitterness when we see it in our hearts. As we act in the opposite spirit, the “spirit of peace”; our heart begins to be healed and we are called the “sons of God” (Mt. 5:9). Jesus said, “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge… and you are thrown into prison. I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Mt. 5:25-26). We must learn how to clear the air of our arguments and discord, because they lead to other sinful behaviors. I believe there is a relationship between harboring bitterness and stumbling in immorality. Anger causes trouble, personally and corporately; but if we can learn to evaluate our conduct in the light of God’s Word we will guard ourselves and find freedom from this spiritual struggle.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Heb. 12:15–16)

Sin’s Progress

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13)

Remind yourself that sin has a progress! It takes you further than you want to go, costs you more than you can pay… and it keeps you longer than you intended to stay. So give it no ground! (Jms. 1:13-16)
· It goes from passing temptation to chosen thought (errors).
· It goes from chosen thought to object of meditation.
· It goes from object of meditation to wished-for fulfillment.
· It goes from wished-for fulfillment to planned action (secret faults).
· It goes from planned action to opportunity sought.
· It goes from opportunity sought to performed act.
· It goes from action to repeated action.
· It goes from repeated action to delight (presumptuous sins).
· It goes from delight to new and various ways.
· It goes from new and various ways to habit. (idolatry)
· It goes from habit to idolatry, demanding to be served.
· It goes from idolatry to sacrifice.
· It goes from sacrifice to slavery. (bondage & dominion over me)

We can fight the good fight of faith: (2 Cor. 10:3-6)(Eph. 6:10-18)
1st) Pull down strongholds of the mind
2nd) Cast down everything that argues with the knowledge of God
3rd) Bring every thought into obedience to Christ
4th) Punish all disobedience, when obedience is achieved

Recognize that you do not have to open the door, when thoughts come knocking at your heart… don’t think about, meditate upon or even entertain evil thoughts, because they aim to rob you of your peace and joy in Christ! Hide the Word of God in your heart! (Psa. 119:11)(Heb. 4:12)

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