Posts Tagged ‘Disciple’

God Shaped

“…but now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isa. 64:8)

According to the experts, clay has to be in the exact center of the potter’s wheel. If not, then the clay will eventually tear apart and become marred in the potter’s hands. The desired result will not be achieved and the beauty in the potter’s imagination cannot be released.

I find it helpful to remind myself often that I, as a believer must stay centered. We are as clay, and God (the ultimate Potter) shapes us into the masterpiece best suited for His purpose. “For we are His workmanship (His masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) We must be in the middle of the Master Potter’s wheel, if we want to become suited for Kingdom success. Our anointing, the touch of God upon our lives and the flow of spiritual influence; is hinged to staying focused on Christ. At the very center of the Potter’s Wheel is the most vulnerable place, and the most wonderful place; to live your life!

Needing a Savior:

The first step of being in the middle of God’s will is to recognize we need a Savior. We have fallen short of God’s original intent and we need someone to lift us up onto the “Potter’s wheel” again (Rom. 3:23-24). That position is where something significant can begin to take place. Being centered in Christ means we live a life of full surrender to what God, the Master Potter, wants to do in our lives. Surrendering to Christ allows Him to remove the most significant barrier – sin, and restore our originally designed relationship between the Potter and His clay. When we accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, He becomes our Savior and everything becomes new… our hearts, our focus and our future (2 Cor. 5:17).

Trusting His Lordship:

The second step is allowing Him to become “lord” and follow Him as His disciple. In order to see the kind of spiritual transformation we need, we have to submit our lives to Him. The Greek word for “lord” is kurios, pronounced koo-rios. In Ephesians  it says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:2). Note that the Apostle Paul recognizes Jesus as our Lord and God as our Father. When Christ is truly Lord in a person’s heart, He becomes supreme in authority and is allowed to govern the heart and mind by grace. Something to remind ourselves, is that grace is a favor that the Holy Spirit opens up to us (2 Cor. 3:17-18) as we learn to walk in humble obedience to the Father’s will and purpose for our lives (Jms. 4:6-10). Through the practices of prayer of reading God’s Word, (the Bible) we are awakened on the inside (our spirit) to the force of God’s shaping hands. This is the power of the Holy Spirit at work transforming and renewing our minds to follow His will for our life.

The Master Potter:

God is the ultimate craftsmen, shaping us with His hands and perfecting us for His Glory. We trust Him to mold us, to shape us into a vessel fit for Kingdom use. It requires faith to believe in something you haven’t seen, but as you process all that God does within you spiritually; there is an assurance that grows and shapes even the way you think. The Bible tells us that there is a renewal of strength (Isa. 40:29-31) and a restoration of heart (Psa. 63:3-7) that comes as we position ourselves before the Father. This is because He loves us with an everlasting and unconditional love. He sees in us something beautiful, something we cannot see, something that He alone will cause to emerge. And emerge it will… to display His pleasure, power and passion!

Remind yourself today that you are: “His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

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.

Accessing Resource

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19)

You have much to say and yet you also have great need… but can I tell you that to become a disciple of Jesus means you will overflow with resources more than words. In our Training we teach you how to use the privileges given to you by God (as a son or daughter) to access heaven and get your needs met and the needs of your ministry met in the Glory Realm.

According to the Apostle Paul we see a bold declaration of Kingdom resources. We know its true, because of how Jesus taught us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all other things that we need, that is correct… all things would be given to us as a “Father’s Blessing” – provision… that is supernatural. There are riches in the Glory Realm of the spirit in Christ Jesus… can you access them? You are supposed to know the provision of the Father as a Kingdom Blessing (Mt. 6:33)… do you know this? This is basic to discipleship! And Jesus taught us to ask, seek and knock… (Mt. 7:7-12) to believe for the provision is a matter of basic family privilege (Jn. 1:12). We are called by Jesus to disciple the nations and to obey Him… not ask for money or rely upon the wealth of others.

All Things in Common:

When a disciple is nurtured in the spirit of generosity… all things come as community “all things in common” and in Communion with the Father! This was the blessing that the Early Church carried (Acts 2:42-46 & 4:32-37), because they made themselves aware of the Glory of God and nurtured themselves in the Apostle’s doctrines… Kingdom Truths. This is the same reality of lifestyle Jesus modeled and taught so often. Give and it will be given to you (Lk. 6:38 & 12:32) …with greater measure – multiplied blessings come when they are filtered through the heart of the Father.

Notice Where Resource is Located: You need to go after it in prayer!

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3)

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.

The Kingdom Results

The Apostle Paul said, “The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17).

God’s Kingdom establishes the Christian heartbeat! Some would say its the heart that produces righteousness, but its the Kingdom. The rule of God, governed by the Holy Spirit, produces God’s righteousness, peace and joy. Some would say peace is the result of things going well for us, but actually peace is the Presence of a Person – the Governor of God, Holy Spirit. Joy is not released by a merry heart as much as it is flowing from a governed heart. If people only understood this, they would make every effort to welcome the Kingdom of God into their lives. They would, in fact seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33).

When Philip the evangelist preached Christ in Samaria, “there was great joy in the city” (Acts 8:8), because the Kingdom was being established.

Today we need such a manifestation of the Kingdom of God in our cities. We need Kingdom results; therefore we, as God’s people must sow Kingdom values. The message of the Kingdom of God was Jesus’ message (Mt. 4:17). It applies not only at the individual level, but also at every level of society. Business, Media, Government, Religion, Education, Family, Arts and Science all represent realms of cultural influence that have become the creative flow of society. The key to transforming our culture is to demonstrate the Kingdom in every sphere of societal influence. It would take the kind of faith that recognizes Jesus Christ as Lord – above all and esteems Him in every sphere of life. But isn’t that what we are called to do!

  • To practice justice, mercy, love, faithfulness, favor and blessing.
  • To disciple, teach and baptize or immerse the culture in Truth.
  • To believe, heal, raise the dead and cast out darkness on every level.

The Church is the habitation of God by His Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:22). Kingdom results come from Kingdom Ambassadors! It takes no building, no choir, no budget; but it does require what Kingdom Ambassadors carry… glory (Col. 1:27), faith (Heb. 11:6) and obedience (Mt. 25:34-36). And the awareness that Christ is always with us even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20)

Kingdom results come from Kingdom Ambassadors!

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