Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom of God’

Disciple Shift

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” – Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” – Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” – Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Jn. 1:47-49)

Although I have been a Christian for over 30 years, I am still coming to terms with what it means to have a Kingdom perspective. It is not a religious worldview. It is the worldview of being a royal son of God. I want to see myself the way Christ saw Nathanael, as a man without guile or deceit, as a true spiritual disciple waiting for the King. I have come to understand that mental barriers are bigger than natural barriers when it comes to stepping out of the shadows of orphan-hood. Jesus has seen us, knows us and is calling us out of the shadows and into the Kingdom of His love and power. It is time to make the “disciple shift” – and truly learn from Him!

A Disciple Called Nathanael:

I love the story of Nathanael (John 1:43-51). In order for Nathanael to follow Jesus, he had to undergo a change of perspective. He had to shift his thinking from a traditional Jewish worldview to the Kingdom perspective that Jesus demonstrated and taught. Yet, not only was Nathanael successful, but he would experience the greatest move of God of all time. He became a passionate disciple of Christ and Apostle in the Early Church. He listened to the teachings and experienced the ministry of Jesus, watched the healing and participated in the miracles. This was the Kingdom of God with power and it was rushing in to sweep him up into a lifelong commitment of fresh perspectives. I believe that Nathanael’s story can be seen as a prophetic picture of where the Church needs to go today… from religious tradition to Kingdom discipleship.

Four Key Shifts:

  1. From Servants to Sons: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (Jn. 1:12)
  2. From Future to Present Kingdom: “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (Jn. 1:45)
  3. From Human Reasoning to Spiritual Reality: ”Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (Jn. 1:46)
  4. From Broken Dreams to Open Heavens: “Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these. And He said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (Jn. 1:49-51)

A Triumphant Reality:

Shaking ourselves free of the former perceptions of tradition and religiosity causes us to rise from the shadow of Nathanael’s fig tree and become Kingdom Disciples. Jesus tells His Church to once again “Come and See!” We are not of those who shrink back to lame formulas without power, because we are Kingdom People (Heb. 10:39). We have shifted the way we think, because we have experienced the love of God and been washed in the Blood of Christ Jesus. He has made us kings and priests to God the Father (Rev. 1:5-6) and our experience with the Holy Spirit has clothed us in the Glory poured out at Pentecost (Lk. 24:49). We do not need to live with only the dreams of the past or hopes of a future move of God. We can live in a present move of God!

These things are available to Kingdom Disciples. We do not need to wait for revival, but we do need to change the way we think. Revival is here – we live beneath an open heaven! This is our triumphant inheritance through Christ!

Serious Alignment

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!” (Ephesians 6:10)

Thought for Today: “Becoming Armed and Dangerous”

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that we have been given supernatural tools for warring against spiritual forces (Eph. 6:13-18). He first says, “put on the whole armor of God so that you can stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11). We find ourselves wrestling with principalities and powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. I believe we can be armed and dangerous. We can be equipped, shod and gird about with the most impressive sounding weapons God has in His arsenal, but it all works through prayer and fasting. Praying, watching and persevering with all kinds of prayers.

Not by Human Might:

We are ambassadors of Christ with amazing potential to do exploits and achieve the impossible things Jesus did, but it only happens with the help of the Holy Spirit (Zech 4:6). You see, we are battling invisible forces. Spiritual enemies that cannot be seen with our natural eyes. We can see the effects, but never get to the source of the real battle unless we are trained through prayer and fasting.

The Apostle’s Boldness:

Notice how the Apostle Paul writes these words to the Church in Ephesus while he was in prison, saying “I am an ambassador in chains”. He is making the point that his warfare is not fought in the flesh, but in the spiritual realm (Eph 3:10). His boldness was based upon an awareness that God’s grace was flowing through his life (Eph 3:8). Being armed does not necessarily make us dangerous to the devil, unless we are trained in the use of the weapons of our warfare… trained in prayer and sharpened by fasting.

Delegated Authority:

Its all about knowing who you represent! God has chosen you, called you by name and He will work in and through you… but your standard of training is up to you. Jesus was always calling His disciples up higher! He lived with them and taught as one holding the authority, but in a new season, new skills are needed. In John 15 a new season was about to begin. They would no longer be called “servants”. They would begin to discover what their Master was doing (Jn 15:15). As servants, they followed according to commands, but as “friends” they would follow the “heart” of their Master. Jesus was now shifting the relationship, deepening the responsibility and trusting that they would begin to live from what they understood – heart to heart. Friends discover the secrets that give them an advantage in how they walk together. Jesus wanted His disciples to achieve victory in every area of their spiritual journey. Knowing the heart of God is a key to real spiritual trained and impact in the spiritual battles we face. When we know the heart of our friend Jesus, we are able to carry our delegated authority into any challenge. One of the greatest spiritual truths is that your authority gets established through your intimacy with God.

Representing Heaven on Earth:

Becoming a dangerous threat to the devil means you will need some serious alignment with heaven. You are an ambassador for the Kingdom of God… you must represent heaven on earth in a way that makes the devil nervous and demons flee. That is what prayer and fasting will produce in you… the capacity to be armed and dangerous.

Submit to God (through prayer), resist the devil (through fasting) and he will flee from you (Jms 4:7).

Prophetic Preaching

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent Me.” (John 7:16)

Jesus consistently preached under the anointing of God, as we see in the above verse. Yet the key to being prophetic is that Jesus’ message carried the weight of supernatural creativity, breakthrough and fulfillment.  A prophetic preacher may use the gifts of teaching, exhortation and prophecy in a variety of ways; but the power of the message itself, will shift the atmosphere (Rom. 1:16-17). That is what makes it prophetic!

“And take the … sword of the Spirit, which is the word [rhema] of God” (Eph 6:17)

Prophetic Preaching contains a ‘Now’ Word:

The prophetic gift is employed to make known the thoughts, purpose and intent of God. Prophetic preaching has a sense of immediacy. In the New Testament, the Greek word ‘rhema’ primarily refers to the spoken word that carries power in its ‘utterance’, whereas ‘logos’ primarily refers to the written word, the logic of God or His thought process. Prophetic teaching and preaching releases the rhema of God’s “Spirit-breathed”, current Word. It is designed to reveal the Father’s “Now Word”, making known something that if believed would come forth. It answers the question, ‘What is God’s Word to us in this season?’

Example: The Apostle Paul said, “the word is near you even in your mouth and in your heart, that is the word of faith that we preach” (Rom. 10:8). He goes on to say that if you act on it by confessing and believing, you will be saved… You will be transformed!

What happens in prophetic preaching is that we are drawn into an experience by the conviction of the Holy Spirit as well as the will to believe and step into its power. It sets a Kairos moment… the opportune time for change and transformation. Prophetic preaching opens doorways into heavenly blessing, revelation and assignments.

“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” (1 Cor 2:13)

Based on Spiritual Revelation:

Prophetic preaching is inspired by the Holy Spirit through the means of revelation. The word ‘revelation’ in the New Testament Greek, apokalupsis, means an ‘uncovering’ or ‘disclosure’. In other words, God is revealing something by His Spirit that is not known by natural means… its a mystery. There is often a call to action or a need to respond and activate the Word received by the hearer. This is why we place a high priority on seasons of prayer or altar times, to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts when the atmosphere has been shifted in a room or auditorium. This may be to align one’s heart or actions, to pay attention to a timely warning or submit to guidance. When we do not position ourselves for God’s present or future plans, we often miss our opportunity. The consistent results of the prophetic instructions of God are for transformation and breakthrough.

Notice these two examples:

  1. “The children of Issachar, who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel should do… and all their brethren were at their command” (1 Chron. 12:32)
  2. “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Mt. 7:28-29)

Prophetic Preaching Carries Authority:

This authority is not based upon the preacher’s gift, but on the basis of being entrusted with a message from God Himself. Throughout Scripture, the instruction given through a prophet brought breakthrough for God’s people. This included strategic guidance in a time of warfare (2 Chron. 20:14-17), a word of action in crisis (Gen 41:25-46) or a specific declaration of breakthrough (2 Kings 7:1-2). Prophetic preaching is of great value when a shift is needed to bring the Kingdom of God and push back against the darkness that floods our vision.

Empowering the Church:

“Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.”  (Acts 15:32)

The outcome of prophetic preaching, just as with all prophetic ministry, is that the Church and its leadership is built up, strengthened and empowered. (1 Cor 14:3-4)

Anointing and Increase

“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’” (Luke 4:14-19)

“…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38)

Jesus was anointed by God… indeed “God was with Him” in increasing measures by a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. His example is designed to be our model of spiritual discipline. It was Jesus’ experience even as a youth to increase in His favor with God and man (Lk 2:52). Yet even in the transition of Jesus into His Earthly ministry, we can see a direct connection between a lifestyle of prayer and fasting and His increasing anointing (Lk 5:12-13)(Lk 6:12)(Mk 9:29). This reality is both inspiring and instructional.

Notice how God moves Jesus into His public ministry:

  • He is baptized in the river Jordan, where He is filled with the Holy Spirit and hears the voice of His Father from heaven (Lk 3:21-22).
  • Immediately (it would appear to me) Jesus establishes a posture of prayer and fasting as He is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Mt 4:1-2).
  • While in the wilderness, Jesus feels the challenges of the Devil, the hunger in His body and the threat of wild beasts. He becomes aware of the ministry of angels as well as the strength given by the Words that proceeded from the mouth of God (Mk 1:12-13).
  • He experiences increase in the anointing and breaks through the challenge victorious, because the Devil left Him until a more opportune time (Lk 4:13).
  • Jesus would return to Galilee in the increased anointing and power of the Holy Spirit bearing evidence with signs following, because people give Him glory and praise for His teaching ministry (Lk 4:14-15).
  • Now that the temptation was over His ministry would begin with a journey to Nazareth and an announcement of how He was anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach, heal, bring deliverance and freedom to the captive heart (Lk 4:16-19).

Defining the Anointing:

The anointing is God being “with us” or God’s Glory manifest upon our lives. Glory is defined best as God’s “Weighty” Presence or abiding spiritual power made known through our fellowship with the Holy Spirit. I have often said the anointing is God’s hand of favor upon our lives for the advancing of His activity in the world around us. We see this in how Jesus carried the anointing. He went about the Judean countryside advancing the Kingdom of God, because the anointing was on His life. God was with Him, empowering and leading Him, breaking the grip of the Devil and advancing the activity of His Father’s heart.

Why Prayer and Fasting:

Prayer and fasting increases our ability to know and sense the supernatural Presence of God, by awakening our spiritual senses and diminishing our emphasis on flesh desires. His power and His Glory begin to increase as we meet with God and experience fellowship in an unhindered way. God’s will and His ways become more recognizable when we are sensitive to His heart. I would describe the anointing as an actual physical experience whereby we feel the internal warmth of His Presence upon our body. That is why it increases as we pray and fast. By yielding our hearts in greater measure to the Holy Spirit’s activity we can welcome and value the anointing and make room for increase in our lives. It is like a signal that God sends to us saying that He is with us. He is showing Himself to us and approves of what we are saying or doing (Jn 14:21)(2 Cor 1:21).

There is nothing so important to our Christian walk than our faith in God (Heb 11:6)! It pleases Him when we step out in ways that give Him greater opportunity to reach the world through us. It is my desire to encourage prayer and fasting so that we may increase in the anointing of God and be more effective as Kingdom Agents in the world around us.

We are ambassadors for Christ {The Anointed One} as though God were pleading through us… Be reconciled to God! (2 Cor 5:18-21).

Valiant Laborers

“And the Word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.” (Acts 13:49)

“Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand.” (Ps. 149:5-6)

We mount our assault on the portals of hell and against us they shall not stand! The valiant of heart are those whose laborers are noted by courage, passion and alignment to the Word of God. These marks are the standard where soldiers emerge and warriors take shape. Indeed, the character of heaven is revealed in no better way than when God’s Saints are clothed in the power of the Holy Spirit and accompanied by angels. The advancement of the Kingdom of God is a violent overthrow of the works of the devil! It requires God’s anointing and the character to follow His heart!

No matter how we define a move of God in our day or in the days of the Early Church… we must not miss the prophetic reality of following God’s heart. One of Luke’s purposes in writing the Book of Acts was to tell the real story of the remarkable growth of God’s Kingdom. Amazing things took place in the years that followed the birth of the Church. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit clothed the Apostles with power to become witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8). Although, persecution and struggle shaped their character, never do we hear the cry of retreat. This was the work of God! Humanity’s greatest discovery was how to be filled with the Holy Spirit… and walk as carriers of the Glory of God!

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel (or any servant of God):
“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,”

Says the Lord of hosts. (Zech. 4:6)

A Valiant Vision:

To see entire regions waiting, cultures and people groups ready to be reached with the love and power of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Our call, requires a company of valiant laborers with fresh eyes… with a vision to disciple the nations (Mt. 28:18-20). We must be found teaching and building bridges of opportunity for generations to walk in God’s destiny for their lives. Should we not stand willing and ready to risk it all for the purposes of God’s heart? Yet in order to risk it all, it will require a vision of how God sees and what God wants to accomplish.

The Prophet Habakkuk said it this way: “For the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14)

God is Speaking!

These are New Days in almost every culture of the world, and the sound of a spiritual trumpet has gone forth. Many with an ear to hear have already begun to assemble. To some its a whisper and to others a shout, yet there is no mistaking its purpose in this season. Its God’s invitation that is being proclaimed on the battle field and in the vineyard. Our Father has a voice that echoes on every high place… causing the nations to give birth. He is calling the weary, the lost and forsaken. His sound summons the alien to come sit at His Throne (Heb. 4:16). And from this motley, misguided lot; He will redeem and restore and revive. This is the day of the harvest, a season of in-gathering as in the time of first fruits. And the valiant rejoice in the pleasure of God. They celebrate with heaven in what is witnessed in their generation, because it was birthed in the Father’s heart long ago! (1 Pe 2:9-10)

Father, Your Valiant Laborers Stand Willing & Ready!

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