Posts Tagged ‘frustration’

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)

The Working of Faith

“For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love” (Gal 5:6) Amplified Bible.

There was a time in my life when God spoke a specific word to me about the value of compassion and love. It was during a season when I was aggressively seeking Him for more faith. I had fasted and prayed, spent hours in Scripture and even gone to a powerful conference that incredibly blessed and enriched my heart. Yet – I had forgotten this verse, that indicates specifically how love impacts faith! God seemed to be nudging me into a different place… a love place. So reluctantly I pulled away into His Presence.

Here is what He said to me: “When faith rises above love, then we come dangerously close to living in idolatry!”

God has made numerous promises regarding the power of faith. Faith can move mountains. Faith can heal diseases. Faith can receive answers to prayer. Nothing is impossible with faith. But the most valuable truth at that moment… was that “faith works by love”. I wanted to know the power of faith without understanding the governing factors that make faith active. Faith is activated by love, energized by love, expressed by love and works by love. What God seemed to be saying to me is that “faith alone” was not the key to getting the results He wanted for my life and that my continual search would lead me down a dangerous path. Faith was not meant to work on its own, but to be measured and empowered by love… not a feeling, but an activity of loving according to God’s Truth.

Faith works by Love!

Have you ever felt frustration in your ability to trust in God? Is your faith not working the way the Bible promises it should? I will never forget the words of Heidi Baker, who said: “All fruitfulness flows from intimacy.” The problem may have very little to do with your faith, but more with your love. Notice that faith is activated and energized by love.

Many people’s faith is dead and inactive, because they cannot see through the eyes of compassion. If your faith is like a dead battery; unable to produce power, then you must realize that you are deficient of love. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). When you are hearing the message of God’s Word, you are abiding in a supernatural resource that has the ability to transform sight. You are not listening to faith… you are listening to love. Love is the message… its the reality that activates, energizes and empowers us to see and do things we never considered possible – the faith stuff.

Jesus called the message, the Gospel of the Kingdom (Mt 4:23-25) and it stirred the supernatural activities that drew the crowds, because they could feel their pain and see their brokenness. He was activated in His faith by compassion and love; it is what moved Him (Mt 9:35-38). The Good News is that God’s love is realized and experienced when we come to believe… love becomes the encounter that makes faith a reality.

Love gives Faith its Authority!

A good battery may not be able to work, because it has been drained. You don’t throw away a good battery; instead, you recharge it. Your faith may be in great shape, but unable to work. You can recharge it by plugging it into love… you are called to abide in love! Spend time in the Father’s love. Let your life be immersed in the warmth of the Holy Spirit’s embrace and you will find faith moving in spontaneous ways. Stop working it up, and begin to live from an intimate place in the Father’s heart. You will begin to see that love activates faith.

Reclaiming a Miss-directed faith.

I was thinking about this just this morning, and the famous love chapter (1 Cor 13) was brought to my mind: “…if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” This scripture does not say that you cannot move mountains without love; it says that you are nothing without love. Your faith will be of no benefit to you without love, because you stand alone. You might have the faith to move mountains; but without love, you will be nothing and your faith will be hype, miss-directed and unable to accomplish God’s real purposes. And just so we understand; if that faith could function and bring results, we should question the source.

What God wanted me to see is that I could find myself in idolatry, believing that I was doing something by the power of God; when in fact it was flesh, or worse… demonic. Satan loves to masquerade as a purveyor of false gifts and manifestations.

God is love (1 Jn 4:8). God traffics in love and therefore faith that is properly focused from love will set us free, heal us and deliver from all the works of the Devil. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8).

Consecration

Scripture: “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

Thought for Today: “Ministering Angels”

The Christian life is to be a consecrated life, one where we are fully given to God and His plan for our future (Rom 12:1-2). We are called to be Sons of God, which means God father’s us. His fathering is experienced when we listen to the Holy Spirit and yield our hearts in obedient relationship. This can be a spiritual challenge, but prayer and fasting is one of the most effective tools to sharpen our convictions and shape our lives in a way that honors God in any “wilderness” experiences.

The Wilderness:

The wilderness was not the place Jesus would go to relax. It was a place that the Holy Spirit “drove Him” while He was in a season of consecration. The 40 days of prayer and fasting allowed Jesus the revelation of His Father’s resources in a time of testing. What we must come to appreciate is that consecration opens our spiritual eyes to revelation that cannot be seen any other way. A wilderness will never be more than a place of frustration until we can see beyond its challenges… and find the Father’s resources.

The Beloved Son:

Jesus is the One God called His beloved Son, yet fathering Jesus was no different than fathering any son. God’s Child needs to be aware of all that is available in times of testing. When Jesus was in the wilderness, He felt the discomfort of hunger and thirst. He had to negotiate the decisions that would offer deliverance from temptation and provide safety from ”wild beasts”. Yet, He was not stumbling over Himself in this experience, because He had access to the Father’s resources. Remember Jesus was not in the wilderness to be defeated, He was in the wilderness to discover resources available to a Son.

The Resource of Angels:

Notice in Mark’s gospel, one of the often overlooked blessings of a fasting lifestyle is the ministry of angels. Ministering Angels are a powerful resource available to the Child of God and I want to encourage our awareness of their presence in seasons of prayer and fasting. I have discovered that angels are attracted to God’s Children when living a consecrated lifestyle. The Apostle James tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (Jms 4:8). I would propose that angels are attracted to the same things as God.

Angelic Ministry:

Nothing should so minister to the heart of God’s Child like the angels. They are God’s ministering spirits sent forth to the heirs of salvation (Heb 1:14). We are told that they accompany us when we walk in love, even without our knowledge (Heb 13:1-2). Great companies of angels are given to watch over our lives and keep us in all of our ways, so that we avoid stumbling and falling into traps often unseen in the wilderness (Ps 91:11-12). Abraham, Daniel, Anna and Cornelius were all visited by angels during seasons of consecration.

Elisha’s Resource:

Remember Elisha’s revelation of the heavenly host of warring angels that assembled around him at all times (2 Kings 6:17). Encourage yourself today in whatever “wilderness” you find yourself driven into. You are not there to be overwhelmed, crushed or defeated! You are there to discover the Father’s resource available to the consecrated Son.

Consecration gives us the eyes to see… and the heart to believe.

The Least of These

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Mt. 25:37-40)

This was one of the last things that Jesus taught His disciples. Jesus identifies Himself with the least of these… He says I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, I was sick, I was in prison. We see it throughout the life of Jesus; He always had time for the least of these. He stopped a meeting to spend time with a broken woman who wanted to anoint His feet. He stopped along His journey to visit with a simple, outcast Samaritan woman. He even ignored the law regarding the Sabbath to heal a man who was born blind.

Revealing the Father’s Heartbeat:

In fact, the miracles of Jesus were designed to manifest the Father’s glory and love (Acts 10:38). He didn’t plan outreach events with the disciples in the same way we watch crusades promoted in our day. He just did what He saw the Father doing (Jn. 5:19), and that was reaching hurting people… loving the least, the lonely and the outcast. Jesus simply could not look upon the multitudes without compassion for them (Mt. 9:36 & 14:14). He identified with our pain and suffering, so that they could identify with His purpose (1 Jn. 3:8). His heart was so full of the love of the Father that He was driven to touch the leper and cast out the unclean spirit.

We must live the same way!

We should be so full of God’s love that rivers of living water flow from our hearts and change lives and atmospheres everywhere we go. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said, “freely you’ve received, freely give” (Mt. 10:8). His command to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons and raise the dead… it was all for love. Freely we receive His love and freely we must pour it out! All of those actions are targeted on “the least of these”. The sick, the dying, the oppressed and the helpless are within our reach and they must be perceived as an invitation, not a frustration!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they might see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)

Training Leaders

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim. 2:2)

Scripture provides numerous examples of discipleship, because every generation thinks and responds differently to the information handed to them. Yet the key is to entrust God’s truth to reliable men and women who will show themselves to be faithful. Just think for a moment about the process involved in teaching some of God’s most notable leaders how to walk in wisdom and integrity.

  • Adam and Eve walking with God in the Garden of Eden, 
  • Abraham and Lot recovering from Sodom and Gamorah,
  • Jethro and  Moses administrating in the wilderness,
  • Samuel and David processing a leadership shift, 
  • Peter and James receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,
  • Paul and Timothy planting churches across a new frontier.

We find ourselves in good company, pulled in by our convictions about God and our call to the Great Commission. The Bible; however, does not direct us to any certain program of how leaders are to be developed. The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit is more concerned about the process than the structure of our training - as long as it does not violate Scripture. Ministries have the freedom to design a training program that is “most effective” for its leaders. The structure may be different, but training takes place when hearts are united with God’s vision for spiritual growth.

4 Key Leadership Components:

  1. character …who a leader is. 
  2. knowledge …what a leader knows.
  3. skill …what a leader does.
  4. emotion …how a leader responds.

While good leaders are strong in these four areas, all leaders need to grow and develop. The mark of good leadership is a teachable heart, but the challenge is always our ability to measure maturity. If we can break down our experience by these 4 components, we will begin to see where our hearts really are developing and where we are stuck in leadership ruts.

  • 1st Character:

Christ-likeness and integrity of heart best describe what we mean by character. It reflects the heart and soul of the leader and answers the question we all have asked: “Who must leaders be?” In order to lead effectively, God expects us to reflect His heart and mind in all that is done and taught. We need to expose poor character and build quality into our leaders so they reflect the excellence expected from men and women of God. 

I often tell leaders; that although their gifts will make room for them and offer them the opportunity to lead, it is their character that will maintain their platform and give them a people who follow their leadership. I have watched many gifted people come and go, leaving their ministries in frustration over the process of character development. Its important for leaders to face the facts… it is the process that shapes our character – No Pain, No Gain! Here are some good Scripture guidelines that offer general character requirements for leadership.

  1. The Elder - equivalent to today’s 5-fold ministry leaders (Eph. 4:11);(1 Tim. 3:1-7), (Titus 1:6-9), (1 Pet. 5:2).
  2. The Deacon – those who serve tables; (1 Tim. 3:8-13)(Acts 6:1-6).
  3. The Apostle Paul offers the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). 
  4.  The Apostle Peter lists qualities for all Christians (2 Pet. 1:3-9).
  5. Other necessary character qualities are competence, trustworthiness, and teachability (2 Tim. 2:2).
  • 2nd Knowledge:

Leaders know something that not everyone understands. Leaders have “secrets” that open doors and create opportunity for others, as well as themselves. What they know sets them apart as uniquely qualified to instruct and teach. Leaders offer us the ability to see things through new lenses and enjoy the adventure of accomplishing something.

  • 3rd Skill:

Obviously, a leaders’ skills depend a little bit upon the ministry he or she is engaged in, but there are some common realities that help all leaders stay sharp and effective. Vision, decision making, communication and problem solving, are just four of the many common qualities of a leader that every team must see growing in the person they follow. A leader needs to inspire and motivate others so they believe they can achieve their goals.  Support may be as simple as words of encouragement or a specific tool needed to perform a task. Strong listening skills provide a leader with key information that can help break barriers and give appropriate spiritual counsel.

  • 4th Emotion:

Problems come in all shapes and sizes, from those related to the people in your care, to those of a more strategic nature.  A good leader will not be afraid of problems and will carry the emotional stability that earns the trust and respect of their followers. We must not be afraid to discuss problems or potential problems. My father used to always say, “Son, with a positive attitude, problems can become opportunities for promotion”. As with anything in life, things do not always go according to plan and leadership is no exception. The direction a leader takes in order to realize God’s vision is likely to change. Strong leaders embrace change and can adapt quickly and efficiently to new situations since they learn to balance opportunity and risk while being aware of their strengths and weaknesses… as well as that of the team they lead.

Better Caught than Taught!

My final word is simple… the best leaders are those who have served under great leaders, because they have been watching and catching more that they were ever taught through books. Jesus enlisted twelve disciples to walk along side of Him for 3 years - Modeling Ministry and Imparting Leadership!

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