Posts Tagged ‘Heart’

At the Core, Love

Open and enjoy

Open with joy

There is a lot of confusion among people today, about the true essence of Christianity. Is Christianity a set of biblical teachings we are to follow? Is it just another world religion, that calls upon a god that cannot be known? Is it a philosophical view of the world that engages the weak and simple minded? Could it be more than just a set of beliefs, rituals and doctrines designed to get us into heaven someday after we die? Just what is the Christian faith and what key thoughts are at the core of a biblical worldview?

At the core of Christianity is a relationship.

Jesus said, ”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39)

Jesus was saying; Christianity is about who you are and how you relate to God… its about love!

According to the Bible, living in relationship with God defines all other relationships. Our most significant Christian Truth is that God designed us from the beginning for relationship with Him. We were created in His image and for His purpose. We have been made to become carriers of both His love and His promise, as His dear children.

Therefore, it is crucial that we know how God intends for us to see Him… as a loving Father.

Loving Him is where it all begins for the Christian. At the core of this relationship is the awareness that He first has loved us and revealed that love in tangible ways. Like a hug feels warm and embracing to the person receiving it; so also there are things God has revealed to us that we can see and receive as signs of His love for us.

God wants us to see and feel His love for us (Jn 14:21).

The most important sign is that God sent His only Son into the Earth to die upon a cross, in order to forgive us of all of our sin. His desire was to remove any barrier to the clear revelation that God, as a Father loves and delights in humanity. There would be no question of His heart toward us, if man could just see the gift offered freely and receive it with joyful appreciation.

God did not send Jesus to condemn us! (Jn 3:17)

His love is not revealed to us in this way to condemn or punish, but to communicate a willingness to receive us as sons and daughters no matter how far away from ”home” we have strayed (Lk 15:21-24)(Jn 1:12). God’s embrace is given with a promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5); that He wants to give us life abundant and restore what has been stolen by brokenness and confusion. He stays with us and walks it out within our hearts through the person of the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5).

Beholding love, stirs us to love (1 Jn 3:1).

These are the amazing truths that enable us to respond to God as a Father and live with Him as sons and daughters. They compel us to embrace His heart and love Him back, in responsive relationship. Christianity is a life worth living, because at its core.. is love.

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).

Desperation

“Then they came to Jericho. And as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-47)

Bartimaeus was a desperate, blind, beggar in Jericho. He could not see on many levels. Everyday he went to the same location and sat on the same corner begging and calling out to the same people, hoping for someone to give him something. No doubt everyone knew him. He had a reputation. He was called “Blind Bartimaeus”.

Desperation & Hearing:

Now it happened on a certain day that a large crowd entered Jericho. Blind Bartimaeus could hear it, a commotion along the road and excitement in the air, there was a spiritual shift in the atmosphere. It was Jesus passing through town… and the road was going to bring him right by where he sat. He had heard about Jesus. The stories of people being healed. Lame men walking. Deaf ears hearing. Mouths that never knew how to talk, speaking the praises of God. Lepers made clean. And He was passing this way!

Desperation & Hope:

I believe it was at that moment that hope arose in the heart of Bartimaeus. He was quick to make up his mind that He was not going to let Jesus pass without touching him. Hope is like that, its the platform for which faith is birthed (Heb. 11:1). The desperate move quickly, because they have an unusual sensitivity to hope. In a desperate cry this blind, beggar began to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Desperation & Our Voice:

Blindness is no reason for shame. He was not ashamed. Desperate people will do desperate things, but only if shame is dealt with first. Shame silences the desperate, but hope opens the mouth! Hear the words of Bartimaeus, “Have mercy on me” and then ask yourself - how often is this your plea? Nothing was going to stop him from getting the Lord’s attention. How often are we too ashamed to speak up? Jesus was passing through and there was no way that Bartimaeus was going to let Him pass without making his need known.

Those who are truly desperate find their voice!

Gifted Leadership

“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’. Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:1-3)

There is such a reality as “Kingdom Leadership”!

When we talk about the Kingdom of God, we must speak in terms of the Holy Spirit’s leadership and timing (Rom 14:17). God has a plan and purpose for raising up leaders and ministries. Yet the greatest challenge that we face is discernment… how will we know the most effective ways to reach new territory? Prayer and fasting has become one of the most effective disciplines in raising up ministries and leaders. Because the early Church valued this discipline, the book of Acts offers us several examples where the Holy Spirit takes the initiative by calling and anointing leaders that establish new territory… offering new opportunities for the Kingdom of God to advance. When we, as the Body of Christ minister to the Lord first and position our hearts to hear His voice, amazing things begin to happen (Acts 13:2).

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 the 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 becomes more clear the more we know the heart of God. Our Father is looking for worshipers (Jn 4:23-24) and speaking to those with an ear to hear (Rev 3:20).

Gifts, Grace and Anointing: Unlocked & Unleashed by the Holy Spirit!

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 the Holy Spirit… a miracle of 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).

Labor Pains

“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal 4:19)

The Apostle Paul likened his relationship with the Galatians to that of a mother having a baby. He went into labor, so to speak; at the time of their deliverance from bondage, their first steps into the Kingdom and their discipleship process. Now he was in the labor room again, in reference to their Christian growth. He wanted these Galatian converts to grow in grace and he was so concerned for them that he went into “labor” for them.

Labor Room Ministry:

This is an amazing concept to ponder. Intercession is a labor room ministry and we must see prayer and descipleship as effective tools for pushing the young Christian through their tight places. Becoming concerned about the newly saved Christian is part of the Great Commission in the respect that we are called to teach them to observe and obey all that Christ commanded (Mt 28:18-20). Notice the context of the discipleship process is relational. Jesus says, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Going into labor on behalf of those you say you love is significant to their sense of growth and spiritual development. If you hear yourself saying “I don’t want to intrude” or find yourself feeling critical of their actions… then you are ignoring the labor room ministry that God has for you. Get over yourself! Hear the heart of the Apostle Paul and find your position in the labor room.

Spiritual Nurturing:

I would suggest we beef up our accountability and become people who pray and speak into the lives of others. We need spiritual nurturing, fathers and mothers in the Body of Christ today, just like the days of the early Church. We have teachers and pastors who inspire and teach principles, but we need people who carry us to the very Throne of Grace (Heb 4:16).

Modeling Maturity:

Babies need milk and infants need lots of love and attention. Where else are we going to find character modeled in front of us. Those who have walked at length with Christ are the nurturers that offer a wealth of spiritual depth and testimony. When we began to walk with Christ we were in need of milk, but now we should be nurturing and getting deeper revelations to stir up love and good works among the immature. It is my belief that every Christian has several young believers within reach that they could nurture.

This Generation:

There is a generation coming forth that is looking for the fathers and mothers to encourage, equip and exhort them with Kingdom wisdom. They are looking for the House of God to be a Family of Saints, without jealousy, envy or suspicion. We as the mature in Christ, must find ourselves doing more than teaching doctrine and singing campfire songs. We must gain an ear for the labor room and re-establish some platforms for discipleship that help this generation experience the heart of the Father, the ministry of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

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