Posts Tagged ‘greatest challenge’

I Am Strong

Biblical Truths often seem backward and contrary to common sense… even crazy. Sometimes this is because they are stated in paradoxical ways, like the parables Jesus taught. Even when these Truths are stated in a straightforward way; they still strike us as odd, because they do not conform to worldly thought patterns we have to negotiate.

Perhaps our greatest challenge as Christians is to understand the Biblical principle of strength being released through weakness… notice the following verses.

“Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no one should boast before God.” (1 Cor 1:26-29)

“(God) has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9-10)

Worldly wisdom says that power is rooted in natural resources like money, good looks and intellegence. Since these resources are limited, true power is always limited to just the few individuals with access and favor.

God’s wisdom says that true power comes from the Holy Spirit and has no correlation with prestige or riches, that are hinged to natural resources. A persons influence in this world is not some kind of license to heavenly influence. True power; as it relates to the Kingdom of God, is accessible to anyone who depends on God. Jesus was the personification of this principle… anointed as the “Christ” or “Messiah”. He was the Prince of Peace; even without religious ordination or title, yet His power was directly connected to His anointing from heaven. His perfect obedience to the Heavenly Father released His influence in the Earth.

The early Church had great power, not because they had access to money or political influences; but because they were filled with the Holy Spirit! It is dependence on God; through faith, that lays hold of real power. We must believe and place our trust in the Holy Spirit to release power into our lives.

God longs for people He can wear like a glove!

Living His life through us, is how the power of heaven comes into the natural realities we so much want to see change. By the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, He demonstrates His power, He transforms culture and makes His Kingdom visible in the Earth.

It might just sound a bit strange to boast in weakness, until you begin to participate in the transformation first hand. Then you begin to see how something as simple as prayer, praise or thankfulness, can tear down walls and crush strongholds of fear. Only when we begin to understand spiritual realities; though unseen, are more powerful than the natural, will we become convinced that… ”when I am weak, then I am strong”.

Seeing Like God

Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” (1 Sam. 16:1-2)

God’s greatest challenge is always to get us to see what He is seeing!

There is a key phrase in the above situation that unlocks some wisdom for us… God says “Samuel, you have to get over your feelings for Saul… if you want to see what I am doing.” When Samuel was able to obey God, “fill his horn with oil and go to Bethlehem”; an amazing plan would become visible. It was actually going to unfold before his very eyes… and go beyond his human perception. In fact, natural sight would limit Samuel’s vision! God had a king of His own choosing, to rule over Israel!

God’s guidance is usually not as discernible in the moment as it is in hindsight. We may not sense what God is doing in our midst of our situations or how God is leading us. Even the great “Prophetic Gift” did not unlock what God was doing. Yet, God did have a plan… a purpose that would gradually become more clear, more discernible and more acceptable to Samuel’s human understanding. That is the story of every Christian Believer… it is a walk of faith, not sight! Thus we must be willing to train ourselves let go of our “perceptions” in order to see what God sees.

Seeing the Big Picture:

“I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.”

This story, as with so much of the Old Testament; demonstrates that God’s “providence” operates beyond the realities in which our seeing operates. But even so… we remain within reach of God… so we can have a participation in the process. Note that God’s “Big Picture” is on the flock and not just the individual sparrow. We have to remember that we are co-laborers… to His plans and purposes. In our “do it myself” age, we tend to individualize so many of the messages of the Bible. Here, it is important to note that it is the community, the people of faith that is under God’s care. Neither Samuel nor Jesse’s household would have understood the way in which God was providing for Israel, but God’s eyes were on the people as a whole and not merely the individuals.

Samuel might have questioned the direction God was sending him… Jesse might have questioned the choices Samuel was making as he turned away all of the older boys… But God was providing for His people, a king of His own criteria! He had seen something, known something and was doing something that was way beyond the limitations of human choice.

We must remember this when we decide to attack our own problems with our wisdom and limited experience. God sees the Big Picture and has a plan and purpose in His directives that go far beyond our imagination and skill level. The only way to see like God is to begin with surrendering your sight to the Holy Spirit. You might ask “How?”… and I would tell you that you will never do it by ignoring what you see!

The way to do it is by focusing on the right goal… by looking into the riches of God’s Glory (2 Cor. 4:6)(Heb. 12:1-2).

Look Into the Glory:

As you look into the Glory of God you begin to see what God sees. Inside the human heart is the capacity to see things that are images and visions placed there from the Holy Spirit. What the heart sees is better than what the mind sees, because it has the ability to evaluate and discern where it is leading. God is never seeing life in terms of “snap-shots” or “snippets”, as we see and perceive. His vision is all about spiritual purpose and His awareness is complete with all understanding. He sees the end from the beginning, with a fore-knowledge of the next moment, year or decade.

He sees from a view of Eternity… and that is what He offers those who ask in faith!

Fueled by Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13)

OK, Spirit Filled Believer - the time to evaluate your trust level is now! Joy and peace are the evidence of a healthy faith in God. Its time to get honest and recognize the difference between busy energy and the power of the Holy Spirit. One gives temporary relief, while the other fuels us with the supernatural power of hope. The God of hope wants to fill you up so completely that you overflow with hope!

A Fueling Station:

This is the stuff we talk about endlessly in our Christian huddles, but cannot find when the going gets tough. Remind yourself today that this kind of fruitful lifestyle gets into our lives by pulling upon the power of the Holy Spirit. God has given us a fueling station to plug our hearts into. You cannot work it up or prop it up with flattering words… its only gonna come from soaking in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. You will need some time with God.

Soaking in His Presence:

Emerse yourself in His love and awaken your perception to the flow of mercy and grace from the spiritual realm. Praise God for His kindness to forgive you of your sin and let go of all your concerns about measuring up to some arbitrary standard. Just let it go for a moment and see how different it feels to be accepted without performance… without trying, doing or being anything but yourself. Let God have you, not your sacrifice, service or plans.

God Loves… You!

You are who God loves, completely and unconditionally. Take that in for a moment and let it settle on the busy-ness of your mind. Wait… just wait for a moment until that thought of “God loving you”, gets past your mind and settles your heart. Can you sense God’s heart toward you? You see our greatest challenge is not that we cannot receive the Lord’s discipline, its that we so easily forget how deeply He loves and accepts us as His Child (Heb 12:3-8). That is where the hope is.

Our Father:

The hope is in the fact that He is on our side and will deliver us from all harm. He covers and comforts, watches and waits on us; He listens and comes closer than the breath that we breathe… because He truly is the God of Hope. He is our Father, the defender of the weak and the healer of the broken and His delight is to fuel our lives with hope.

Power of Persuasion: Part 3

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

  • “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:37-39)
  • “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12)


Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jn. 8:31-32)

The Truth shall make you free… free from sin – free from ignorance – free to find a confident place to rest your hope! This Power of Persuasion is the Believer’s platform of reality. In things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, our life is directly tied to a knowledge of the Truth! Remember “Truth” is reality from God’s perspective!

Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge! You cannot live in what you do not know! As the Bible clearly indicates – a knowledge of the love of God and a confident assurance in Christ’s ability to do what He says… brings us deliverance and strength! Ignorance causes all kinds of confusion and division… even destruction among those who are content to live in it. Confusion, division, and disagreement abound… even in religious circles. I would even go as far as to say, Christianity is experiencing its greatest challenge to date… the weak efforts to disciple its followers. The Body of Christ seems unwilling to find its footing on Biblical foundations. God’s people are divided, because they are spiritually blind and Biblically illiterate. The Church promotes hundreds of different denominations, wearing different names, worshiping in different ways and teaching different doctrinal beliefs. It is important that we consider why there is so much confusion, disagreement, and division… because God does not approve of this reality.

The Words of Jesus have not changed. He said, “I will build My Church” upon Himself – the Rock of Revelation… that is that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:18). Jesus is seeking a people who will become “one” in spiritual knowledge and unity (Jn. 17:20-23) and once again walk in the Glory of God!

So What’s Going On Today?

Does the Bible contradict itself? Is it impossible to understand? Do people fail to study diligently enough, resulting in ignorance? Are the problems caused by following man-made creeds and authority instead of following the Bible? The answer to all these questions is… What did Jesus say?

  1. The Key is to Know Him: To become persuaded requires an encounter and some experience with God and His Son Jesus, the Christ! (Jn. 17:3)
  2. Next Make Room for His Words: To become persuaded means there must be a renewing of our mind! (1 Cor. 2:6-16)
  3. Finally Willingly Trust in God: To become persuaded takes an enormous amount of faith – faith comes by hearing …the Words of Christ! (Rom. 10:17)

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col. 2:8)

We need to understand that its not a new problem! Even in Christ’s day, the People of Israel had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:1-3)… and the Sadducee crowd found themselves in error, because they did not know the Scriptures (Mt. 22:29). Its amazing how passionate we can become and be completely wrong in the arena of knowledge. We must know Him and have a knowledge of the Truth, in order to exhibit the kind of character that pleases God and the kind of power that makes a difference in the world. We must be continually growing in our knowledge of the Truth so faith will increase and the Holy Spirit will feel welcome to guide our steps.

Here is the Apostle Paul’s word: “I Press Toward the Goal”

Because there is a Prize… “And it becomes the Power of Persuasion”

Its God’s voice calling me upward in Christ Jesus!

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Phil. 3:12-16)

Spiritual Identity

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 power of the Holy Spirit, you need to know your spiritual identity! You will need to read the words of Jesus very carefully… meditate on who you are and begin to believe it until you see it manifest on the outside. Get some fruit on those branches!

Jesus stresses the importance of fruitfulness and 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:

You need to know how to draw upon the inexhaustible resources of heaven… God’s love, power, wisdom and abundant grace. These things are available when you remain in Jesus! You and I have such a limited strength in our “self”… that is, our own understanding and experience. We must rest totally upon the mighty, explosive power of God through His Holy Spirit. 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 as co-laborers. Success in ministry is simply offering the love of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.

An example comes to mind as about 5 years ago I remember praying for a man who was almost completely 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 healed, but nothing happened. Again I prayed with similar results. To truly trust God means leaving the results to Him… my responsibility was to obey the mandate of advancing His Kingdom.

Hear that once more: “Obey the Kingdom mandate and leave the results to Him!”

Your Identity Emerges from Within:

Your spiritual identity does not come from your results, but from your obedience to the principles Jesus spoke of and demonstrated. In the Great Commission, Jesus instructed His followers saying, “Go, make disciples… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you… and I will be with you, always” (Mt. 28:18-20). Its the “principle of beholding” – what you continue to look into; listening and studying and believing… becomes your resource. Don’t keep trying to give what you do not have… instead go after His fruit by going after His heart. Ask yourself: “What do you see when you look into His Words?”

  • Do you see His heart?
  • Do you see His eyes on fire for the purposes of the Kingdom?
  • Do you see your life as an extension of His love?

The Apostle James said it was like looking into a mirror (Jms. 1:21-24). We must never forget what kind of man we see, when we look into the mirror of God’s Word! You have to lay aside everything you see in the natural and gain a vision of what is spiritually real and spiritually effective for breakthrough. Staying “connected to”, and staying “focused on” the Vine is always the greatest challenge.  When the power of God seems obstructed or unable to flow, then there is a deeper, clearer revelation awaiting us. Its a mystery that remains… and further revelation will come, if we wait for it with hungry hearts. We must never allow our perceived limitations to undermine our trust in Him.

Its from our observation of Christ… that we bear fruit and people are set free!

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