Posts Tagged ‘Son 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!

Supply Line

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

The goal of the Christian faith is all about connecting to a “supply line”!

God offers all of His people a supernatural flow of grace from Heaven to Earth. I think it is interesting that we so often see the above verse as a promise to eliminate our need, when in fact it is an invitation to God’s Divine flow of grace. If you eliminate the need you also eliminate the flow! As a follower of Christ, I am no less “needy” than any person alive on planet Earth. Yet I have something of significance that is sufficient to calm the storms, heal the wounds and satisfy the thirst of my heart… I have found a Divine flow of grace!

Three points of clarification are made by the Apostle Paul about this supply of grace to meets my need.

  1. First it is a flow from God, not hard work or personal achievement, I cannot get grace by my skill… it comes as a response to my faith in God. He is My Heavenly Father; Jehovah Jireh, “My Provider”! I have chosen to place my trust in Him and the wisdom and power of His guidance in my life has opened up doors that continually meet my need.
  2. Secondly the place of rich grace is in glory. Glory really is a place, different than a natural place, but it is a place that I must go often to get the flow moving on my behalf. Glory is a spiritual realm of rich fellowship where by the faith I spoke of takes me for relationship and worship. I connect to the source of grace… God – Himself.
  3. Third and perhaps most important is that all grace is supplied in and by Christ Jesus. It is Jesus who maintains my covenant privileges before God in Heaven. He is the One who stepped into my place and took my sin at the cross. It was by His blood I was made righteous and became qualified to inherit His promise of grace instead of condemnation.

I have been given power to become a Son of God (Jn 1:12) and power to be His witness (Acts 1:8). By Jesus all things are made new (2 Cor 5:17) and a supply line of grace has been made available in the “glory realm” for me to go get… any time I have need.

Have you ever thought about Jesus’ own words… when He was asked by His disciples to teach them how they should pray? Its important, because it sets the standard pretty high on what we should expect our provision to look like. He said pray like this… “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Mt 6:10). Also, He said …keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking for the Father in Heaven delights in giving good things to His children (Mt 7:11). Grace will flow, if you simply spend time in the glory…  with Your Heavenly Father.

Recognizing your need is the first step to opening up the supply line!

A Waiting People

Scripture is full of the anticipation of Christ’s coming. Prophets proclaimed it. Songs announced it. Sacrifices foreshadowed it. Sin required it. God promised it. And then it happened; God came to Earth, fulfilling prophecies and responding to the sighs, groans, tears, and cries of humanity since the fall.

When our family first started celebrating Christmas, we would light Advent candles every Sunday evening, read an appropriate Scripture, pray, and sing. On one of those special nights we would sing this song… it still remains a favorite of mine.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Each of the five stanzas begins with the plea, “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. Each ends with the refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel – Shall come to thee, O Israel”. From the plea that seemed so desperate, to the praise that felt so passionate; I found my heart impacted by its sound. Every Christmas now becomes complete when this song has reached my ears, because it pulls me back into the richest application of the season… Jesus coming to a waiting people!

We are still… A Waiting People!

What an amazing sight… it even causes God to lean forward. His eyes are still upon the Earth. Should He not find us still waiting for His return?

A Depth of Knowledge

Jesus said, “But when you fast…” (Mt 6:17).

The lifestyle of prayer and fasting was and still remains part of traditional Jewish faith. For example, Yom Kippur is another name for the Day of Atonement and part of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. As one of the most important days of the Jewish year, prayer and fasting is practiced as a means of repentance. What this tells us is that prayer and fasting was as important to the spirituality of the Jew as any other discipline. It was used to challenge the depth of a person’s spiritual strength and evaluate where they found their treasure. That is why Jesus would say, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21).

Its how Jesus would have defined maturity. We see the Son of God grow in strength and favor with God and man as He maintained a sensitivity to the voice of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We must adopt the same disciplines if we want to deepen our spirit and impact our world.

A lifestyle of Prayer and Fasting does 3 things well…

  1. Deepens our roots in the discipline of faith (Acts 10:30)
  2. Deepens our strength in the battles we endure (2 Cor 10:3-6)
  3. Deepens our discernment in the spiritual realm (Acts 13:2)

Deep People:

Let’s take this thought one step further. A church’s greatest treasure is its deep people. I know recent church growth manuals emphasize seekers, young people and programs, but more than any other issue… depth matters! A healthy church is a growing church, yet if there is no core of deep people, its in trouble no matter how big it becomes.

Nurturing Depth:

Deep people do not just happen; they are cultivated and nurtured by a lifestyle of commitment to maturity. Spiritual depth is nurtured with the oversight of the Holy Spirit… from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:17-18). Maturity must be understood much like a farmer would understand his crop. Unless the seeds of faith are planted deeply, fertilized and nurtured, those seeds will not produce the type of harvest desired. Good farmers define their harvest by its fruitful plants not by its beautiful field. A strong harvest relies upon deep roots and strong plants.

Prayer and Fasting deepens the believing heart for larger people and larger Kingdom impact. Its time that we lift up out eyes and begin to see the harvest (Jn 4:35).

The Reality of War

Christians need to recognize the reality of spiritual conflict and warfare. We are born into conflict — against the world, against our carnal desires, and against the devil. If you do not know the nature of your enemy; if you do not know who your foes are, you cannot fight… much less walk in victory. It’s only when you realize what you’re up against that you can be victorious.

Christian Soldiers are Called to War:

The Bible says we must stand against our spiritual enemies as Christian soldiers (2 Tim. 2:4). When God calls you to Kingdom responsibility, you become part of the army of God. You can truthfully sing, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war”, because you are at war and you have a target on your back. You need to remember that if you’re living for Jesus Christ, the powers of darkness are aligned against you. You are on Satan’s hit list!

Get Equipped:

Becoming equipped is more than gaining knowledge or taking a stance. It requires a transformed mind and a well developed character. You must become a person of faith and valor… a person who is equipped in the realities of war! Jesus, Himself said that the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12). I want to offer four principles to help you be victorious in spiritual warfare as a Christian Soldier.

1st) Learn to Endure Hardship.

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim. 2:3)

If you want to be a soldier, you need to get in shape. You can’t go out and fight hand-to-hand combat when you are little more than a fat little baby in Christ. While you’re sitting around in your diapers, the enemy is going to have you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You need to strengthen your spiritual muscles and gear up for spiritual realities. You need to be able to respond. If you can’t respond in physical combat, you die. It’s as simple as that. Likewise, you must learn to respond in spiritual ways, or you will become spiritually wounded.

A key to strengthening spiritual muscles and enduring hardship is finding strength in the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Never forget this: ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of the Lord Jesus Christ. And ignorance of Christ is ignorance of your own defenses. You can’t defend yourself unless you are walking in the Light of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

2nd) Be Self-Controlled and Alert.

You must learn to “be self-controlled and alert” for “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

He is looking for you! There’s no such thing as a sleepy, successful soldier. Sleepy soldiers — soldiers who are not alert — have one thing in common. They’re all dead! God says if you want to succeed in spiritual war, you must be self-controlled and alert. Being self-controlled is a fruit of the Spirit and it offers you the means to know what to do and the strength to do it. Only then will you be able to spiritually discern and resist the enemy’s subtle attacks.

3rd) Build Your Faith in Christ.

“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5:4-5).

Faith is your victory! Its absolutely critical in spiritual conflict that you walk by faith, because it is an unseen war. Our faith is in the Ultimate Conqueror – Jesus Christ – who admonishes His followers: “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Christ imparts the capacity to conquer every single day and all we have to do is believe in Him. You need to get up in the morning and say, “Lord Jesus, I believe You have conquered the world! Conquer today through me! I believe in you! Give me the capacity to see as You see. I am a person of faith and valor… remove my doubts and fill me with the boldness of faith that is necessary for victory today.”

4th) Put On Spiritual Armor.

“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11)

Are you catching this? You can stand against Satan’s schemes and attacks. You can be victorious! Ephesians 6:10-20 speaks of the various pieces of spiritual armor God has provided. Nobody goes out to war in their pajamas; no, you go out with 30 or 40 pounds of equipment. Yet, I see so many immature Christians running around in their spiritual underwear, trying to do warfare against a powerful enemy. And they don’t understand why the flaming arrows of the wicked one are sticking out of their spiritual derrieres.

You must put on the whole armor of God… the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness to preach the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And Pray… with all kinds of prayers! These are God’s tools for taking spiritual dominion and reigning in all that He has promised.

Note that every piece of armor in Ephesians 6 is for the front of the body. There isn’t a single piece for your backside. Do you know why? Because soldiers do not turn around in the middle of combat, they move forward. The reason many believers are weak and ineffective is that in the midst of battle, they fail to rely upon the armor God has made available in Christ. Fearing the enemy’s threats; they back away from their convictions, because they lack the faith and valor of Spiritual Soldiers.

Take this to heart, my friend… Jesus Christ is the Exalted One! Its His Name that is above every name and His authority that is established as supreme over all. He is Our King… listen to Him, listen to the Holy Spirit and walk in the love of the Father. You will be strong and do great exploits by His power at work in you! (Dan. 11:32)

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