Posts Tagged ‘progress’

Change is Coming

Scripture: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Thought for Today: “Welcoming the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance:

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by serving and the worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2).

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chastened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father cherishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

Forgiveness #4: Triumphant

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom. 6:11-14)

You cannot fight sin successfully until you know your sin is forgiven!

Forgiveness is the first step in your battle over the power of sin! The only sin that you can triumph over in practice is the sin that Christ has died for. If He had not died to take away your condemnation, then you could make no progress at all in sanctification. You don’t make yourself holy in order to be justified. You are justified by faith in order to become holy.

Notice the Progress:

  1. A righteousness revealed by faith… (Rom. 1:16-17)
  2. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… (Rom. 3:20-26)
  3. Christ died for your sin… (Rom. 5:8-9)
  4. You died and rose with Christ… (Rom. 6:1-6)
  5. God united you with Christ by faith… (Rom. 6:5)
  6. God justifies you… (2 Cor. 5:21)
  7. You can have peace with God and triumph over sin… (Rom. 5:1-5)

Your triumph over sin in the body follows Christ’s triumph over sin on the cross. Satan wants to defeat you with the hopeless reality of a guilty conscience. But rather than a guilty conscience… you are given a clean slate to begin again – Praise God! What is your hope? Forgiveness! How do you rise triumphant over sin? Faith in Christ… Its the reality of looking by faith on all that He has done – who He is and what He promises to do in you. Your righteousness, is Christ on the inside of you; revealed by faith and received as a free gift… to become the triumphant King in your life.

“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14)

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,  having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:13-15)

The Breakthrough Key

“Most assuredly, I say to you, 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. And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jn. 14:12-14)

The New Testament pattern for Christian Believers in the Book of Acts shows us the incredible influence of the Name of Jesus. It was the key to unlock breakthroughs they needed for the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven. Notice that the disciples used their delegated authority by releasing it in the Name of Jesus.

  • [Acts 3:6] The Apostle Peter said to a lame man… “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” The Bible tells us that as Peter took hold of the man’s hand and lifted him up, instantly his feet and ankles became strong… strong enough to walk, leap and praise God with joyful excitement.
  • [Acts 4:30] The prayer of the church community is “Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” The Spirit came and shook the place and empowered the believers to speak boldly.
  • [Acts 16:18] The Apostle Paul speaks to the demonic spirit in a woman and says to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” And it says, “At that moment” the spirit left her.

Breakthrough Power:

There is supernatural power released when God’s people use the Name of Jesus! The lame walk, the bound are set free, miracles break loose and lives are brought into God’s Kingdom! Its more than a promise, its the reality we are experiencing everywhere we go… the breakthrough key is the Name of Jesus!

“I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” (Mt. 16:19)

Yet, many Christians today have forgotten what they have been called to do. They feel as though they have done their spiritual duty by just showing up on Sunday mornings, putting in their time and trying to grit their teeth in hopes that breakthrough is on the way… someday, maybe. Well it won’t happen, because the Kingdom requires effort – spiritual effort!

“…from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and its the violent that take it by force.” (Mt. 11:12)

How often do we stand in front of a locked “door of impossibility” and feel helpless. Brokenness, sickness and disease, lack or difficult circumstances hinder our progress. But, these were never meant by God to bring us to a place where there are no resources. When you stand at these doors, reach for the key of the Name of Jesus and say, “Door, open now… in Jesus’ Name!”

Everyday, we must learn to live in the delegated authority given to us in Christ, if real breakthrough is going to be acheived. We must pull our resources from heaven and use the key that offers more than just luck, wishful thinking or natural hope. The Name of Jesus is the Promise of spiritual breakthrough in every arena of life!

Access to Power & Authority:

The Name of Jesus gives us access to the realm of heaven, the realm of the miraculous. When we pray in the Name of Jesus, we are not standing in our own authority, but in His power to accomplish His purpose. Its the Name that is above every other name in all the universe (Phil. 2:9-11)! Every knee bows to the Name of Jesus… and no matter where you find yourself, God cares about what you care about. That means that you and I as believers, are specifically anointed by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21) to use the authority of Jesus’ Name to unlock doors, solve mysteries and break out of confined places (Isa. 10:27). We must no longer allow the devil to hinder us from doing what God has called us to do… “the greater things” Jesus said we would do. When we speak forth the Name of Jesus to accomplish these greater things, there is power and authority made available that nothing can stand against. 

“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us… was not Yes and No, but in Him was YES (it has always been YES). For all the promises of God in Him are ’YES’, and in Him “AMEN”, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:19-20)

Testing Purifies

If you desire to walk righteously before the Lord, rest assured you will be tested. In fact, the deeper your walk with Christ the more intense your testing will be. The Bible makes this clear: “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits… When they fall, they shall be aided with a little help… And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time” (Dan. 11:32-35).

A great time of testing is coming upon “those of understanding”. Who are these people to be tested? They are the righteous, those who do exploits for the Lord, who walk with God and have the wisdom of Christ. Perhaps you’ve wondered lately, “Why am I being tested? Why is all this happening to me?”

Go back to your schooldays. When a test is given, it reveals how much you have actually been taught. The Apostle Paul speaks of a different school, one where we are “learning Christ” and are “taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:20-21). If you belong to Jesus, you are in His school. If you have served Him for some years, you may have thought you graduated. But none of us graduate until we are in heaven with Him.

David spoke often of being tested and tried: “I know also, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chron. 29:17). I would suggest that there are at least three tests common to every Christian.

1. We are tested by afflictions and sufferings.

Today there is a mistaken belief that those in covenant with God will never suffer. But all the heroes of the faith mentioned in the Bible suffered stonings, torture and violence (Heb. 11:37). The Apostle Peter explains to us, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13). Peter seems to suggest that something of value was being produced and refined in how we experienced our tests… “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Genuine faith is pure and pleasing to God, because it is unhindered by selfish ambition and focused on reflecting a pure expression of what God values.

2. We are tested by delayed answers to prayer.

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It isn’t because He lacks power. He could merely blink an eye or think a thought and the work would be accomplished. And He is willing; even more than we are, to release His purposes in the earth. The answer is found in the fact that we must see the big picture. Jesus said to His disciples, ”…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart”  (Lk. 18:1). The Greek word for “lose heart” means to relax, becoming weak or weary in faith, to faint or give up the struggle. We must learn to contend in our prayers, because our breakthrough is just beyond the testing.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). The Lord is seeking a praying people who will not relax or get weary of coming to Him. These people will wait on Him; they won’t give up until the work is completed. And they will be found waiting when He brings the answer. For most of us, the hardest part of faith is the last half hour, when it looks as if God won’t answer. We’re tempted to give up, put it all behind us and go on to something else. But, that is not what God intends! When you are praying for what is obviously the will of God, you have every right to hold on and never give up until Jesus answers. You must not listen to the devil, the flesh or human reasoning. You are contending for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

You must ask God to plant the faith of Jesus Christ in you (Gal. 2:20), and not give up until you see completion (Heb. 10:35-39). This has happened to me at least a dozen times. I’ve given up and said, “Oh well, this must not have been God’s will”, and almost immediately the answer came! That may be exactly what’s happening with you. You’ve given up, no longer pressing in for your breakthrough. But God is at work in you and your answer is on the way.

3. We are tested by our frailty and failings.

God never wastes an experience, He is consistent in His training. But His training is for reigning! His goal is to strengthen us and cause us to see the way He sees. Christians who are tempted to fall back into old sins or turn back to the world are being tested. I am reminded of the old TV service announcement that would say “This is only a test! If this was a real emergency…” and in fact some do fall and have real emergencies, but God is faithful to provide a way out of every difficult temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). His goal is to train us to look for His hand at work rather than our human frailty.

I believe most Christians have a “sin consciousness” rather than a “righteousness consciousness”. The Christian must be willing to cast off the sin that so easily ensnares and hinders our growth. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Its the Holy Spirit working in us that purifies us and deepens our spiritual convictions for empowerment and renewal. 

Maybe you have fallen short in some way, after years of serving Him. Perhaps you have found yourself surrendering to anger, lust or unbelief. That sin is not your destiny, so you gotta shake yourself free. You gave in for a moment, but God is not through with you. He is showing you something and wanting you to deal with it – by faith and in faith! 

Testing Reveals:

If you are being tested in some area, you may think, you are unworthy and wonder just how much ground has been lost? “Does God still love me?” The good news is that its only a test to prove you and purify your desires. My friend, if you allow God to transform the way you think, then you haven’t lost any ground whatsoever. God puts his loving arms around you and says, “I have brought you through this once again… so you could see what is in your heart”. You are making progress, but it must begin with seeing reality! Walking with God, requires us to let God “father” us and bring discipline that moves us into His perfect will for our lives. 

He wants all of our heart and will allow us to be tested until He has it all.

In the Crucible

Today is day 9 in our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Scripture: Psalm 139:23-24
Thought for Today: “In the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of our heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet, we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the heated crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance: 

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by the serving and worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2). 

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chasened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father charishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

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