Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Getting out of Midian

This is not our destiny!

Midian is not our destiny!

There is a powerful story in Scripture about Moses running to the land of Midian. It happens after he kills an Egyptian who had abused one of his Hebrew brethren (Ex. 2:11-15). In this circumstance Moses expresses a common feeling… what most of us feel in the midst of injustice.

In verse 12 it states the problem… “He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand”. The spirit of strife arose inside of Moses to such a degree that it blinded his heart… forsaking the command of God in regards to murder.

Choices are the fruit of a heart’s focus!

Raised an Egyptian and coming to grips with the Hebrew heartbeat was like standing in an intersection and not knowing which way to turn. Moses’ wrong choice released the confusion that resided in his heart and created an enormous backlash among his brethren. The next day he went out to find two Hebrew men fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: “Why are you hitting your neighbor?” The man shot back: “Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?” Then Moses panics… “oh no, word’s gotten out; people know about this”. Secrets are often difficult to shake free from. Pharaoh hears about it and tries to kill Moses, but Moses gets away to the land of Midian. He sits down by a well with his confusion and there receives the call to be the “hand” of deliverance for God’s people (Ex. 3:1-4).

Midian is not the place Moses chose to go…

But God would meet Him there. Interestingly the word Midian means “striving” or “habit” and the Midianites were the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son from another season of bad choices. Oddly enough its very rare that one generation’s poor choices do not become a crucible for our life later, but that is another blog topic. Yet now, in order to escape punishment for killing the Egyptian, Moses runs away to Midian, a place of habitual strife. He finds himself face-to-face with… “himself”.

Sounds like God’s intervention…

Running away takes Moses to a burning bush… with a broken heart.  Moses became a stranger in a strange land, separated from his home and family… and he needed a new identity. It took many years after this incident for Moses to be ready to serve God. The good news is that Moses did trust God (Heb. 11:27) and leave Midian. Moses found the God who transforms our identity!

We must recognize the God who transforms us as quickly as possible and allow His priorities to shape our life choices. If not, we may find ourselves visiting the land of strife. Leaving Midian can only happen when we have felt the crushing reality of God’s intervention in our character. Yet it must happen if we expect God to use us, bless us, or prosper us.

Character transformation is the defining reality of what makes a leader attractive to those who follow.

When I find myself on edge, offended or bitter toward others, there is a good chance that I am hanging out in “Midian, the land of strife”. There are spiritual realities that effect my thought life, choices and behavior patterns. God takes us into places that test us and show us what resides within our hearts. He does this for our good, as His way of chastening His children.

God chastens those whom He loves and accepts! (Heb 12:4-11)

The Christian attitude toward anger and strife should be consistent with God’s heart. There is just no room for angry outbursts or strife ridden behavior in the processing of Christian relationships. We should call it sin and repent of it or we give place to confusion. Like Moses, we could wind up in the land of Midian until it gets burned out of us.

Here is what the Bible says: (Ps. 37:8)(Prov. 19:19)(Prov. 27:4)(Eccl. 7:9)(Gal. 5:19-20)(Eph. 4:31).

Living in Midian is like living next door to a volcano that only explodes once every couple of months. I believe many folks live in Midian, a land cursed by a spirit of strife and although the erruptions only occur every few months; life is lived in confusion and fear, waiting for when and how destructive the next outburst will be. This must not be our legacy, because it is most certainly not our destiny.

Getting out of Midian is as easy as recognizing the sinful behavior and repenting of it. Ask the Holy Spirit to deliver, then begin to rest upon the Truth that God is faithful to meet you in Midian with the power to transform your heart.

Loose the Heavens

“And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven”  (Matthew 16:19a)

This morning I spoke to the leaders about “keys”... keys to unlocking gates, offer access and loose the heavens!

Once God opens the heavens, there is wonderful Kingdom influence. There will be “arguments” that Satan has set up to keep you from moving forward. One example is forgiveness. Forgiving someone opens up many doors, its a key to the Kingdom of Heaven! But there will be arguments in your mind… “why should I forgive? That person does not deserve forgiveness?” So once you go through a door God has opened, be very aware of the arguments, the enemy will set up. Your freedom is just beyond the threshold where Christ has made a way for you to break into new territory.

A Season in Kenya where the heavens were loosed!

There had been awesome times of worship in the morning where I could “see” the heavens open… the veil was thin and our hearts abiding in the glory of God. So many had been to the altar weeping and receiving healing for their heart. And I was calling the pastors and leadership forward to share testimonies of the great things God was doing. I still remember one African pastor’s testimony as to what he could “see” in the spiritual realm. He got up and said that he saw “heaven shaking things all over the earth”.

“Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire.”   (Hebrews 12:28)

One pastor calls me “the man who brings rain”- wafula – in Swahili.  This is because the day I arrived in Kenya it began to rain.  The interesting thing is that it only rains during the morning, and afternoon… and stops for the evening crusades. God is so good, when the heavens are open. As soon as everyone is packed up and leaving, the rain comes again!!  Strange things happen when you hold the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven in your hands. Thank you Lord for the “former and the latter rain”.

Breakthrough Comes:

I recall an evening meeting that brought in another 400 people, so there were about 1000 men, women and children crowded around the small platform… another 800 along the shops and toward the back of the meeting place (the African village courtyard). There was so much mud due to all the rain!! I spoke of God’s desire to set them completely free… that freedom was the reward of our surrendered lives in Christ! This same Jesus, who brought freedom to the oppressed came to break off chains and any bondage of the enemy. It was the story of Paul and Silas… angels opening the door of their prison cell… and how praise gets God’s ear every time. Breakthrough came like a rushing river. Praise broke out and many experienced the touch of heaven as the Holy Spirit moved in their midst. Signs and wonders were easy and many found themselves healed and saved in those precious moments.

Freedom in an African Courtyard!

I remember calling up the musicians and telling them “it’s times to dance, and give God something to inhabit”. The children immediately began to dance and then dancing broke out everywhere. As we quieted everyone down and began call people forward to receive the joy that only Jesus can bring… at least 150 more people ran forward to receive Christ. After that they all began to dance once more!!

Freedom is the sight – when heaven is loosed!

Grace Platforms

The Ministry of Christ is a ministry of grace! His message was the Good News of a Kingdom of grace flowing from Heaven into Earth. It would bring forgiveness, peace and freedom from sin. Yet the deliverance and freedom experienced in the life of a disciple can only be attained and measured by the transformed mind. Real Kingdom mysteries require us to change the way we think about everything pertaining to God, Church and life on this planet (Mt. 4:17). Jesus has stepped into our natural reality and He brought His world with Him!

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6-7)

Ministry on Christ’s Shoulder:

The five-fold ministry gifts are examples of how “grace has been given” as Christ distributes (Eph. 4:7). All ministry is simply the manifestation of Christ expressed through the believer by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, as the “Christ” is our Apostle (Heb. 3:1), Prophet (Lk. 24:19), Evangelist (Mt. 9:35), Pastor (1 Pet. 5:2-4) and Teacher (Jn. 3:2). He emulated these offices and distributes the mantles for individuals to function in them, so that the Church carries His anointing for ministry (Jn. 14:12).

“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So…they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3)

Selected and Sent:

The five-fold leaders are not self-appointed, nor are they simply pastors of a local church. They are clearly defined ministries that have an impact on the Church as a whole and its witness in the world. By nature, their scope of ministry is wider than the local church. They are grace ministries of Christ to the Church at large. Whether its from inner city pulpits or in the bush lands of Africa, the heartbeat of 5-fold ministry is the discipling of the nations… its our Great Commission! (Mt. 28:18-20).

Two things are required for a five-fold ministry gift to come into its own: 1) Recognition by the wider Body of Christ and 2) Functional Ministry to the wider Body of Christ. Jesus said that the fruit of a person’s life is the best way to recognize their identity, character and anointing. Prior to these two conditions being met, someone may potentially have a five-fold ministry gift, but will not yet be moving in the scope and authority of that gift. Jesus gives the grace for each gift to be released into the Church.

“…God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19-20).

Foundations:

The foundation of the Church is Jesus… the revelation of “Christ – the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:16). And yet there is this unique platform of the apostle and the prophet team (Eph. 3:4-5). This platform carries the role of unveiling the mysteries hidden down through the ages, yet revealed in Christ and by the Holy Spirit to the sons and daughters of men. I believe these two mantle gifts still serve that ministry role (Eph. 4:12-13), so it is vital for us to understand how this works in leading the Body of Christ. We must remember that proper buildings are held up by proper foundations. I would propose; that when grace flows into ministry and functions properly, under the headship of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, it will result in the growth and supernatural health of the Church worldwide. It is the will of God to set this in order and accomplish it through His apostle and prophet teams (Isa. 9:7)… by grace.

The Key of Humility:

The Apostle James and the Apostle Peter wrote specifically about how to receive grace (Jms. 4:6 & 1 Pet. 5:5-6). The humble person receives grace and more grace even as they maintain their humility in the midst of difficult circumstances. Jesus said “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:3). The humble person; who lives selflessly in ministry, will receive a flow of resource from heaven according to the gift Christ has given them. Their anointing will be in proportion to their faith, assignment and their need.

The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). The ministry teams made up of Apostle and Prophets like Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Timothy served to accomplish great things in advancing the Kingdom of God. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2), helped in the midnight hour (Acts 16:25-26) and anointed to do incredible miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching of the Word of God (Acts 19:11-12).

Restoration is needed: In order for the Church to see what God is after today, our impact must set the captives free! We must rely upon the flow of ministry grace… like the dry ground soaks up the rain.

Encountering Love

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18)

We have all watched loving adults bend low or kneel down, making themselves small so they can be face-to-face with a child. Parents do this instinctively out of a desire to connect and be present with the child. Out of loving desire to relate to small ones, big people make themselves temporarily small. This is how God reasons with us…

Face-to-Face: (Exod. 33:11) “…as a man speaks to his friend”

Our God loves us – and likes us! He desires to be face-to-face with us, longing to express love directly… seeking close relationship with us. God became small, taking the form of a man and becoming a servant (Phil. 2:6-8)… offering us forgiveness for all of our sin. This is the Christian story. God, coming to us as a baby, a child, a humble man. God coming to us in Jesus. The astonishing claim Jesus made was that if we have encountered Him… we have seen the Father. To encounter Jesus is to discover the Father’s heart… the One who made us, and loves us more than we could wrap our mind around. Jesus was our face-to-face encounter… and it begins with compassion, mercy and forgiveness!

Encountering Love that Forgives:

Jesus came to show us the love of the Father. But Jesus was not well received. People did not expect to see such love. Instead, they expected to see what we often expect to see in God… rigidity, harshness and stern enforcement of the rules… judgement, distance, rejection and exclusion. Instead, in Jesus, they encountered radical love… love that revealed the answer to a sin problem – forgiveness!

…in Jesus, we encounter radical love…

Jesus embodied God’s incredible love… love that included the outcast, that honored women, that respected and blessed children, that embraced enemies, that touched the contagious and healed the diseased, that extended hope to the rejected and confronted abusive religious hypocrisy. He revealed a love that valued relationship over rigid rule keeping and lived among the sinner, rather than a castle or mansion. Jesus told stories of God “the-waiting-Father” who runs like a servant to welcome us home and who sweeps like a woman to unearth her lost treasure. What was He searching for? Gold? No – someone to receive His love!

The Encounter:

Jesus had encounters with people in all sorts of odd places… like beaches or rivers, hill sides or gardens, in grave yards or vineyards, at wells or pools of Bethesda. Meeting was for encountering something bigger than belief systems… it was for transforming the heart. Imagine the impact of Jesus, time and time again… His love reflected the heart of the Father in ways that deeply moved the poor, weak and broken. Forgiving Love is revolutionary, it heals the heart, delivers the soul and changes the way a person thinks about themselves and others. Its uniquely God’s heart, because it is so… counter-culture, other worldly… and supernatural.

The Apostle John said it best in this statement: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on (or given to) us, that we should be called the Children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 Jn. 3:1). Incredibly… in the encounter of beholding love… we come to know Him! We come to see His mercy and unyielding passion toward us. We experience love, by feeling the lifting of a burden we could never have been free of on our own. This is forgiveness… and it is truly the encounter of a lifetime.

  • Forgiveness is an encounter of love… by the only One worthy to be called – “Savior”!

…Can I introduce you to My Savior?
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (Jn. 3:17)

Trust His Results

The Apostle Paul writes: “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” (Eph 1:19-20, NLT)

If you want to walk in the fullness of God and experience the power of the Holy Spirit… you will need to learn how to trust God for the results. Doing what Jesus did takes more than just a knowledge of your spiritual identity. You need to know how to draw upon the inexhaustible resources of God’s love, wisdom, forgiveness, and abundant grace; without feeling like you are the one who must produce the results. You and I have such a limited strength in our “self”… that is, our own understanding and experience. We must rest totally upon the hand of God to release His explosive power through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus stresses the importance of drawing your strength from Him: Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:4-5 NLT).

Co-Laboring:

The responsibility for fruitful ministry is a shared reality between ourselves and the Holy Spirit. Its God, the Holy Spirit who works in and through us producing fruit and changing the lives of individuals. Our role is to trust God and obey Him! Success in ministry is simply offering the love of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.

Quick Testimony:

An example comes to mind as this past week I felt lead to pray for a man who was deaf from years as part of a rock-n-roll band. My hope was to release the power of God and see this man completely whole; but nothing happened. Again I prayed with similar results. Wow I thought … this is really hard! But, to truly trust God means leaving the results to Him! My responsibility was to obey the mandate of advancing His Kingdom.

Let me repeat that word… “My responsibility is to obey the mandate of advancing His Kingdom!”

Staying connected to the Vine is always the greatest challenge when power seems limited. Its a mystery that remains until further revelation comes. And, we must never allow our perceived limitations to undermine our trust in Him.

Its Christ alone who sets men free!

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