Archive for November, 2016

Until Famine Breaks

There’s a wonderful story in the Bible that exemplifies the power of merging the principles of faith and surrender. During a terrible famine, the Lord told the Prophet Elijah to,“Go to Zarephath… I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” (I Kings 17:9-16).

  • Make a note that the Lord did not command a wealthy businessman to provide for Elijah, but a destitute widow.

We enter the story with the woman facing starvation about to prepare a last meal for herself and her son. Amazingly, even though she is not an Israelite she greets Elijah with faith saying, “As the Lord your God lives. . .” (1 Kings 17:12).

God’s way to activate faith and to bring her into a supernatural provision was to require her to give over the little she had to fulfill the purpose of God. What seemed like an insensitive and even cruel command would become a new beginning, Elijah orders her to feed him first and then make food for herself and son. Although she did not know the plan and provision of God, Elijah knew and urged her into both faith and surrender. As a result a new season would begin for her and her son, God provided for her miraculously:

“The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty” until the famine broke (vs 16).

We must all, at times press into the prophetic promises of God and enter this “until famine breaks” season. Knowing how to set our eyes on God even in the midst of difficult times can release a courage that looks strange to those around us… yet to whom we look is more valuable than how we look. Faith in God and surrendering to the beat of His heart will always bring the breakthrough we desperately need in life (2 Sam 5:20).

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit” (1 Cor 2:9-10).

Gratitude Releases Joy

A common mistake is to think that getting something will make you happy. We tell ourselves, “If only…” but joy and happiness come much more from giving and serving than from getting. The Apostle Paul reminded his listeners that Jesus Christ had taught this very thing: “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” (Acts 20:35, TEV).

In order to grow in joy, we must resist not only self-pity but also attitudes that are self-centered and self-absorbed.

Joy is largely composed of gratitude… which gains its motivation from a nurtured appetite for the things God loves.

Thanksgiving begins with our ability to see the wonderful things God has done for us and His “exceedingly great and precious promises” for our future (2 Pe 1:4).

Gratitude produces joy… like a spring produces fresh water (1 Thess 5:16-18). Jesus even made the declaration that if we would come to Him in our thirst, He would cause rivers of living water to flow from out of our bellies (Jn 7:37-38).  Supreme joy is God’s nature and character!  We see proof everywhere in God’s creation—birds singing, animals leaping, flowers blooming, brooks babbling and the sun shining! Many people would be less depressed if they would spend more time outside. God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17).

Since God is exceedingly joyful, His servants should also be joyful! Sadly, many who claim to be His disciples are depressed, sour and hard. But take note of Luke’s identification of true disciples: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). To be filled with joy is the result of being full of the Holy Spirit. “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [or forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). We have an intimate relationship with the One the psalmist calls “God my exceeding joy” (Ps 43:4). In His presence “is fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11).

God’s Spirit is a tree of life, producing life-giving fruit (Gal 5:22-23). That fruit includes great joy. Jesus prayed for His followers “that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn 17:13). Don’t look to outside influences to replenish your joy; look to the Holy Spirit to re-fuel your tank and begin to speak forth your thankful perceptions of God’s goodness… joy will spring up spontaneously.

Kingdom Ministries

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. …And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 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, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Eph. 4:7 & 11-15)

Notice this phrase: “…for the equipping of the Saints…”

When we talk about ministry that advances the Kingdom of God, we must speak in terms of equipping and empowering people… not just any people – Saints! Saints require mercy and grace. Leaders of Saints then, must have the ability to receive and administer grace… supernatural favor. Its all about cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s character, leadership and timing (Rom 14:17)! God has a plan and purpose for raising up and “growing up” leaders and ministries. The challenge that we face is discernment! The book of Acts has several examples where the Holy Spirit takes the initiative to “call out” and speak to the Body of Christ about sending individuals into their ministries (Acts 13:2). These are amazing moments that offer real guidance.

Commissioning:

Notice, the Apostle Paul and Barnabas prayed and fasted while appointing leaders in the churches they had planted (Acts 14:23). We must not overlook this fact, our ministry to the Lord will always give us a more effective platform for commissioning Kingdom leaders. The reason is simple, our ability to know the will of God is clarified when we know the heart of God. He is looking for worshipers (Jn 4:23-24)… and He is speaking to those with an ear to hear (Rev 3:20).

Gifts, Grace and Anointing:

The Apostle Paul explains that Christ has given gifts to men, some as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4:11). God gives us a “grace” for the work (Eph 4:7), which means we are to respond from that grace to the ministry by His direction, encouragement and strength. No matter how gifted or popular a person might be, it will always fall upon God to anoint the leader He desires. While we are being equipped, God is refining our character. It is a beautiful work of Holy Spirit transformation, when disciples are released into Kingdom Leadership.

Jesus said “… he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (Jn 14:12).

First Things

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt. 6:33)

When we seek first the Kingdom of God every part of our life is effected. Our values, choices and even our dreams come into alignment by some very significant Truths… Truths that are foundation to a Christlike lifestyle. To place something first means it carries the most influence, weight and authority in our lives. It most often makes the most sense to us and appears first in rank or preference.

The “first thing” is the most important thing!

When we make the decision to follow Christ and put our faith in His power to lead us; we are immediately struck by the reality, that other things will challenge us for the position of “first place”.

First place is the high place!

Devotion and discipline are huge factors in our ability to maintain our goals to serve God with our gifts and honor God with our hearts. Yet it was Jesus’ own promise to us that if we would seek first the Kingdom of God; all the important things we value most, would come after our obedient lifestyle.

Seeking transforms our focus and aligns our desires with His will.

It is a sure thing that our commitment will be tested, but we can trust our Heavenly Father to deliver on the Promises of His Word. Seeking first the Kingdom of God actually releases the Holy Spirit’s Presence in our lives, for discernment and convictions to come to the surface. As we process life on spiritual levels, our hearts are moved and behaviors are adjusted by a sense of the peace of God, which passes our understanding (Phil 4:4-7).

Four things are required in the seeking first model:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always… Praise and Activate Your Trust!
  2. Prayer Maintain Communication with Heaven!
  3. Supplication… Ask and Keep on Asking in Faith!
  4. Thanksgiving… Be Grateful for His Promised Best for You!

Making a lifestyle out of seeking God for the first things in our life will cause us to recognize all those less important things, that tend to release worry and fret. Worry does nothing to change our situation or shape our future for the better. Worry actually is the first thing our spiritual enemy (Satan) will look for to try and bring destruction through lies and fear.

Worry is irresponsible and distracting.

The Apostle Peter said “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:7) Trusting God’s character and faithfulness, is often the biggest test of our heart, but when we press through and renew our courage… we become more tenacious with a testimony on our side. Recognize God is more invested in you coming into your first things, than you are; because He cares for you!

The Kingdom Lifestyle

The Be-attitudes are the Kingdom Lifestyle… the Kingdom Attitudes! (Mt. 5:1-12)

These are the things I’m aiming at… not because I need approval, but because they reflect a transformed reality within! I live from a position of approval!

  1. to be poor in spirit,
  2. sensitive about what touches the heart of God,
  3. embracing a spirit of meekness,
  4. hungering and thirsting for righteousness,
  5. offering mercy,
  6. walking in purity of heart,
  7. being a peacemaker,
  8. and having the courage to stand honorably in the midst of persecution!

Whether people revile me for my convictions or my testimony – I will choose to rejoice and be exceedingly glad. For My Great Reward is in Heaven awaiting me… with arms wide open!

The 8 Beatitudes:

These character traits are the evidence that a person’s life has truly been revived by God. They represent the “blessed” posture… the posture that hits the mark. Some versions translate the blessed posture as the attitude that is “happy” and carries a vibrancy of spirit. Its perhaps the most effective visible sign of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit! Being a “blessed person” – means that I’ve been empowered to succeed and prosper in the Kingdom. Its the key character traits of a disciple of Jesus.

  • It is the Kingdom Lifestyle – because it displays the transformation of the heart… defining love (Jn. 15:9) and spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:11-16).
  • It is the Kingdom Lifestyle – because it characterizes the anointing placed within an ambassador of Christ carrying out their mission… co-laboring with God in the Earth (Mt. 6:10)(Mt. 11:1-19).
  • It is the Kingdom Lifestyle – because it aligns the believing heart with Kingdom purposes… cooperating with God’s Grace (Mt. 5:19 & 48)(Rom. 5:1-5) and power (Acts 1:8).

Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  …and then it was within reach! (Mt. 4:17 & 4:23-25)

Archives