Archive for December, 2015

For Unto Us…

A Waiting People

Scripture is full of the anticipation of Christ’s coming. Prophets proclaimed it. Songs announced it. Sacrifices foreshadowed it. Sin required it. God promised it. And then it happened; God came to Earth, fulfilling prophecies and responding to the sighs, groans, tears, and cries of humanity since the fall.

When our family first started celebrating Christmas, we would light Advent candles every Sunday evening, read an appropriate Scripture, pray, and sing. On one of those special nights we would sing this song… it still remains a favorite of mine.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Each of the five stanzas begins with the plea, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. Each ends with the refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel – Shall come to thee, O Israel”. From the plea that seemed so desperate, to the praise that felt so passionate; I found my heart impacted by its sound. Every Christmas now becomes complete when this song has reached my ears, because it pulls me back into the richest application of the season… Jesus coming to a waiting people!

We are still… A Waiting People!

What an amazing sight… it even causes God to lean forward. His eyes are still upon the Earth. Should He not find us still waiting for His return?

The Spirit of Prophecy

“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10)

If you really want to make an impact… then allow God to transform your problems into testimonies! Telling people about the miracles happening in your life makes God more real and believable to the person who is struggling. It causes faith to engage in those who hear what God is doing in you.

Making Him Visible:

People begin to see miracles in their own lives, because of what God does for you. As we watch this process develop in others we begin to discover how the spirit of prophecy actively effects those around us. We rarely consider the fact that we have the authority to release God’s mercy to everyone around us… but it is a Kingdom promise for the child of God.

When we read in the Bible that God is able to do the miraculous, it means He has the power to do it! But when we hear somebody’s testimony, it means God is still doing it! He has the will to do these miracles in the here and now. Its an invitation to believe He will do it for you! The big difference in our perception actually draws us into expectation. We feel invited into the same experiences that we hear about.

Paul said it this way, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17).

Remind yourself that God’s Word is His will for you! Its His testimony. God is able! There is no deficiency in His power. The deficiency may not be in your faith, but in your testimony. Believing that He “can do” what needs to be done in our life is not enough, we must be enforcers of a victory that has already been won. He may work in totally unexpected ways, but He will work with supernatural power and give you something to talk about.

The World is watching your Christianity: Give them something to talk about!

The Prophetic Priority

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18)

God was speaking! New Testament Prophetic Ministry shaped the environment and relational culture of the Church. God is passionate about communicating… and we must make a priority for prophetic gifts in our local churches. The Church’s foundation was laid in the midst of an outpouring that would bear the evidence of a prophetic awakening. He wants us to hear His Voice! No question about it… when you look closely at the Early Church; you see the finger print of the Holy Spirit and the leaders leaning intently upon every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. Should it really be any different today?

Every congregation’s experience was a little different. There was a uniqueness in expression seen among the churches of the New Testament. Consider the different applications of prophecy and prophetic ministry in the following list:

  • The Jerusalem Church had a company of prophets, some of whom traveled, ministering prophetically. (Acts 11:27, Acts 15:32, Acts 21:10) The Prophet Agabus was one of this company. (Acts 11:27-28)
  • In Acts 9, God gives Ananias, who is from the Church in Damascus, prophetic insight into the calling on Saul (later Paul). Its interesting to note that Ananias is not a Prophet, simply a ‘disciple’.
  • In Acts 4, the Jerusalem Church gathers to pray. They are united, praying the purposes of God and boldness against threats that were emerging… a prophetic prayer that God answers.
  • The Church in Philippi was birthed through prophetic guidance. God gave the Apostle Paul a prophetic dream concerning his team’s immediate call to Macedonia. (Acts 16:9)
  • Prophetic guidance was used of God in evangelism, missionary endeavors and the establishment of new churches. (Acts 8:26, 10:9-23, 13:1-3, 16:9-10)
  • Prophets were included in the leadership team of the Church in Antioch. (Acts 13:1) They received revelation from the Holy Spirit when it was time to release Paul and Barnabas into their apostolic calling. This prophetic guidance launched Paul’s Apostolic church-planting ministry.
  • When the Apostle Paul visited the Church at Ephesus, the believers received the Holy Spirit. Each one of them prophesied as they were filled. (Acts 19:6)
  • In the Church in Thessalonica the Apostle Paul exhorted the believers not to quench the Spirit, and not to despise prophecy. (1 Thess. 5:19-20)
  • In the Church in Colossae the Apostle Paul encouraged believers to include prophetic or spiritual songs in their gatherings… there was a value placed upon songs directly given by the Holy Spirit! (Col. 3:16)
  • Among the Roman Christians the Apostle Paul called believers to embrace and use the gifts given by God to serve the body, including the gift of prophecy. (Rom. 12:5-8)
  • In the Church in Corinth the Apostle Paul instructs in the use of spiritual gifts in their gatherings, with particular emphasis on the gift of prophecy. He encourages every member to eagerly seek the gift of prophecy. (1 Cor. 14:1)
  • The Apostle Paul reminds his “son”, Timothy of personal prophecies received during his commissioning from the church elders. (1 Tim. 4:14) This may have been at his sending Church in Lystra. (Acts 16:1-2)

No “One Size Fits All” Approach:

Some churches sent itinerant prophetic ministers; others received them. Some churches, such as in Corinth; placed a high value upon prophetic gifts and ministry. However, there does not seem to be a standard or uniform approach to prophetic ministry in the early church. Leaders were open to prophetic revelation, but did not rely on it all the time. It was initiated by God and resulted from their relationship with the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean for us today?

For those of us who are gifted in prophecy, it means not placing expectations on our local church leaders on what particular expressions of prophetic ministry should be operating in our church or meetings. Being prophetic is not about performance, but following the Holy Spirit’s unique direction for our church. For those who lead ministries and churches, it encourages us to have the freedom to explore our own unique expression of prophetic ministry. And most of all – to appreciate and rejoice in the fresh flow of creative expression, as God’s heart is revealed to the Body of Christ.

Great & Mighty Things

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jer. 33:3)

Too often we settle for much less than what God wants to do through us. When God tells us that He is able to do, beyond all that we ask or imagine… and asks the question, “Is anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). We answer, “No Lord… nothing is impossible for You!” Yet, when we face difficult situations we begin to qualify our belief in God and lower our expectations of what God will do. It is one thing to believe God could perform a miracle in the Bible; it is quite another matter to believe when a friend is standing before you with a belly full of cancer. “Can do” is easier to say than “will do”… when someone is waiting.

Read this carefully: “…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)

Can I just point out that it is God doing the work… and its for His pleasure – not yours. Ministry has never been about you, your ability or your reputation… its about God’s pleasure! When we fail to take God at His Word, simply because it seems unreasonable; we are not pleasing anybody. God’s Word is not open to a negotiation with the devil, it is Truth… reality from God’s point of view! When God speaks to us, what we do next proves what we believe about Him, regardless of what we say.

The Example of Moses:

God revealed to Moses His plan to orchestrate the greatest exodus in human history, and He wanted to use Moses to accomplish it. Moses responded by arguing with God… not because Moses thought God was powerless, but he simply did not believe God would do His miraculous work through his life. Moses’ argument with God was not about the ministry, it was about courage to become a conduit of God’s power (Ex. 4:13–17). Moses says things like, “who am I” or “suppose they do not believe me”, “Oh Lord I am not eloquent” or “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”… “Please send someone else”.

God was not asking Moses to do the miracles, just to be His mouth piece!

What is He asking you? That is how it is with God… He wants to work in and through us to offer a voice of hope to a broken and wounded people. To tell that friend with a belly full of cancer that God is able to heal, is not wishful thinking it is the will of a wonderful Savior. If Jesus will cleanse the Leper (Mk. 1:40-42), why would He not cleanse the friend with cancer? It is up to God to work in and through us… through the effectual fervent prayer offered in faith by the “righteous man” (Jms. 5:16). You are that righteous man!

Do you sense there may be more that God wants to do through your life? Ask God to show you, then be prepared to respond in faith and obey what He tells you.

The only way to do greater things for God, is to raise your expectations! (Jn. 14:12)

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