Posts Tagged ‘story’

Advancing Kingdom Life

Evangelism is the Kingdom of God advanced through our lives!

The Apostle James said, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works’. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jms 2:17-18)

If we only proclaim the Gospel with our lips and not our lives, we are hypocrites and our faith is dead… ineffective. This is why it is so important for Christians to continually live with a vision for Kingdom Advancement. When we daily experience God’s Glory in our lives we begin to be revived and transformed from the inside out. The freedom of having a Kingdom mindset will enable us to joyfully speak of God to those within our sphere of influence. We will end the argument that aims to get people to agree with us and begin to impact the world with a flow of life.

Fear Factor:

The Devil uses intimidation to discourage us from telling our story. I often hear people say, “How can I tell anyone about Jesus when I’m not gifted at evangelism?” At that moment we must stop and apply the Truth of the Gospel to our own soul. The Apostle Paul didn’t hang his head in shame when he was reminded of his own unique history and personal limitations. He spoke to his own soul about the nature of his relationship with Christ. His confidence before kings came from knowing that fruitfulness flowed from his intimacy with God, not his personal eloquence or human wisdom (1 Cor 2:1-5).

No Condemnation… not even a little bit!

“There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). When clumsiness, unworthiness or shame overwhelm our soul we must preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to ourselves. Speak boldly; ”I am in Christ and He has made me righteous by faith in His blood! I take hold of His forgiveness and He washes away all sin and breaks every stronghold. His power works in me and is mine at this very moment. I’m God’s adopted Son! It is Christ who lives in me and I have inherited His boldness, because I carry His Spirit.”

Make the Grace Connection: (Eph 2:8-10)

Remind yourself, its not about “you”. I often pray over myself, under my breath or speak His Name out loud while I am driving. This is my way of staying in the flow of heaven’s resource… Glory (Phil 4:19). I am believing and receiving His grace spontaneously in those moments. It may sound silly, but I believe in laying my hand upon my own head and speaking a blessing over myself or asking God to anoint my head with fresh oil. I desire the overflow of God’s Presence to be seen upon my life, even before I speak a word.

The Holy Spirit:

This discipline has the power to radically change my focus, because it puts the weight of pressure back upon the Holy Spirit. He is My Helper, the Voice of Conviction and Discerner of the Heart. He clothes me in the Father’s Glory. Its the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us that makes us witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8). He is the Spirit of Grace and Truth, but He is also the boldness we need to testify. Welcoming the Holy Spirit’s leadership is essential to any success in the Kingdom, especially evangelism.

Go into the World:

Go for it and proclaim the Kingdom Message to others… remember that someone had to tell you while you were still in the world. That same Kingdom reality that has changed you, has the power to save, deliver and set all men free from sin and intimidation. Speaking the Truth to ourselves; that is our ”soulish man”, sets our perceptions on the love of Christ and releases the anointing for breakthrough in others. Jesus is our source of life, not our eloquence or ability to formulate an argument (1 Cor 1:30). It is Christ in you that reflects God’s Glory (Col 1:27) and it is by His power activated and flowing, that you become effective in destroying the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8).

Jesus is our model: “How 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).

Real Witness

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness.” (Micah 3:8-10)

Your real Christian witness flows from somewhere deeper than your voice. The Prophet Micah attributed the power of his ministry to the Spirit of the Lord. Our power comes from the same source! Out of the belly of a man; filled with the Holy Spirit, rises a testimony of truth and power (Jn. 7:37-39).

You are more than your story – You are His-story!

We cannot stand on our own righteousness… it is Christ in us that speaks of better things than what people see or hear. Indeed, were we to find ourselves reliant upon our strength, our wisdom or our charm, we would find no hope against the onslaught of this world’s trouble. But we are not at all in the clutches of impending doom… for we are not our own. We live as Christ’s Ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). We have been purchased by a blood as pure and holy as the whitest snow (Eph 1:7). We have been offered freedom’s highest position (Eph. 2:6). And we have a voice within ourselves that comes streaming forth like a rushing waterfall (Phil. 4:13). Christ has become our strength, our wisdom and our witness, because He is our peace… our focus and our joy. He is our Righteousness!

The Mystery: Its “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27)

Jesus told His followers they would receive power to witness about Him when the Holy Spirit came on them (Acts. 1:8). You can’t witness effectively by relying on your own strength, because fear will keep you from speaking out for God. You can’t witness effectively by choosing the best sermons or knowing the right words to say. You are not smart enough to outwit the devil. You cannot witness effectively by creating the best atmosphere or offering the most attractive invitation. Only by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit can you live and witness for Him! But with that power comes the promise that signs and wonders will follow those who believe (Mk. 16:17).

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:6-8)

This is the witness we have in Christ: “That if God be for us, who can stand against us?” (Rom. 8:31)

Keys of Authority

Scripture: “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened. (Jonah 3:5-10)

Thought for Today: “Saving a City”

The Book of Jonah is so often described as the story of a selfish prophet, but it is also the story about a repentant city. Nineveh was on God’s mind for all the wrong reasons. It was a great city; but God was about to release judgement upon it, because of its sinful behavior. The story gets vague for those of us who are so far removed in time and distance, but there is no overlooking the fact that God was interested enough in this Gentile region, to send a prophet. We have no knowledge of the message Jonah carried, but the response of the city is powerful. They contended for their lives through prayer and fasting.

They Believed God!

We could speculate all we want about the sin of a city, throw stones and cast blame, but if there is a believing people, there is always hope. Believing God’s Word stands against all the natural instincts the sinful heart finds reasonable. Yet, God would say “Come let us reason together, though your sin is as scarlet” believe Me “they shall be as white as snow” (Isa 1:18-20). “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

The believing heart, the willing and obedient heart, is transformed when there is hope… and God offers hope to all men, everywhere. Any man, family, city or nation that believes God at His Word and will contend for the life found in Christ, shall be saved!

Proclaiming a Fast!

Nothing uncovers rebellion, like the activity of fasting. When we choose to repent of our sin through setting aside our legitimate appetites of the flesh and seek God; its like the city of Nineveh putting on sackcloth. We feel the guilt and shame… evidence of a heart that has gone astray. We see our rebellion for what it is and uncover its effect upon our family and community.

Yet, we also uncover something more beautiful, the spiritual emptiness that a loving God can fill. Fasting awakens our spiritual hunger, opening the heart to a fresh, clean, satisfying breeze of the breath of heaven.

Keys of Authority:

This is the greatest challenge to the Kingdom of God. Closed doors hinder the advancement of God’s heart into a city or nation. Can a believing people contend for the transformation of a city? Nineveh’s salvation is the story of a king, a throne, a robe and a decree… a transfer of authority.

  • Nineveh’s king held the keys of authority.
  • He arises from his throne! His seat of authority.
  • He lays aside his robe, the covering of superiority and commits to sackcloth and ashes.
  • He relinquishes his ruler-ship and publishes a decree that all the city would cry mightily unto God, perhaps He would relent from the violence in His hands.

Amazing! The idea that a city can be saved in a day… is true! If that city will hand over the keys of authority.

The Saving of a City:

My favorite statement in the book of Jonah: “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented” (Jonah 3:10). This city contended for its life through prayer and fasting. They were heard in heaven and God saved the city of Nineveh.

Could God save our city… were we to believe Him, fast and pray and hand over the keys of authority?

Empowered By Leaders

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established - that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Rom. 1:11-12)

This is a wonderful expression of the Apostle Paul’s desire to empower the believers in Rome. In my own life I have been blessed by the example of many great mentors and friends. People who seemed like heroes of the faith or people who have set the standard of ministry by their skills and devotion to Christ.

Yet, I can count on one hand, the number of leaders who inspired me by their story and gave me the tools to achieve what seemed beyond my reach. At times, observing successful leaders has left me more discouraged than encouraged, more intimidated than empowered. Their impact or success seemed so impressive that it left me feeling it was unattainable.

Perhaps you too have felt this way after leaving conferences, listening to podcasts or reading great books. Why, and how can it be avoided?

I believe it is a heart problem which manifests as “inspiration without impact”. Getting the most out of any leadership requires us to be empowered not simply impressed. I believe it comes down to a balance of two character traits, confidence and humility… “teachability”.

  • Teachability happens when we can hear and communicate with integrity and empower those who listen.

1. Confidence

Part of the problem is me. I want to be inspired and sometimes inspiration is blinding. My initial adrenaline rush feels good after hearing a great teaching or going to a wonderful conference, but it is followed by the inevitable sobering look in the mirror. Rather than empowered, I measure myself by what I see – not what God sees. When the skill level of a leader feels more like a “super-star” to me than authentic, then it has not really changed how I see. “Hype” will cause us to miss the point of a leader’s influence. When in situations where I don’t compare to others, I just try to admit it! I am not them, but this should not lead me to discouragement or disqualification. In fact, that may be why God has this person’s voice in my ear… to shift my thinking, so that I see myself the way God sees me. We must recognize that God has made each person unique and special, and we must tune our ears to hear at the heart level, every time.

Likewise, leaders and communicators also need to be secure. Few things will destroy you faster than insecurity. Leaders or those with a larger platform should exude confidence. I once heard a well known preacher say that he used to vomit every time before he got on stage, because he was so nervous. One key to his overcoming this was recognizing that it wasn’t about him, but about God. To help shift his mentality and his fears, he would take a step forward before getting on the stage and consciously think about stepping into Christ and His strength (Gal. 2:20).

  • Here is the Truth: When any person finds their confidence in themselves rather than in Christ, it leads to confusion rather than empowerment. (Jn. 8:31-36) Truth is reality from God’s perspective!

2. Humility

As a disciple or ”learner” it’s easy to feel the delight of being inspired and impressed by powerful leaders. Yet, its honesty and authenticity that empowers us to achieve the goals of God’s Kingdom on Earth. I try to listen with a personal need to gain instruction, rather than feel like I’m getting material to teach to others. Humility is what causes teaching to become training, information to become revelation and testimony to become empowerment. I cannot just “listen” – I must “hear” with spiritual ears what a leader is communicating. My life is my testimony, not just my words.

The great temptation for leaders and followers alike is to avoid talking about weaknesses and flaws. But every strength is susceptible to be a weakness when it is not tempered by humility. There is a subtle fear in all of us that if we let others see who we really are that we will loose credibility and shrink our influence. But leadership is only influential when it is honest and humble. We have all seen what hype can do! There is nothing wrong with “putting your best food forward”, but don’t present an illusion of reality. Walk in integrity and present the real you.

Here is the Truth: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”  (Jms. 4:6). When you feel God’s resistence, there is a reason. Stop and address it and God will give you ears to hear and a heart of understanding (Prov. 3:34).

Christ, Real Confidence & Humility:

Christ modeled this so beautifully. Unlike you and I, He actually had it all together. He was flawless and perfect. God - in skin and dwelling among us. Yet, “He humbled himself, taking on the very form of a servant and coming in the likeness of men”  (Phil 2:5-8). While on earth, He obeyed the words of His parents and in His ministry He listened to the voice of His Father in Heaven (Jn. 5:19). He modeled the confidence and humility that empowered His disciples and now by the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to have the same mind and the same character.

Be Yourself:

You don’t have to be in the spotlight or emphasize your achievements, to have influence and empower others. My advice: do your best and be secure with your calling in Christ. More opportunities will come as you do your best in your current position. Don’t allow shame or pride to poison your heart from receiving from those who are ahead of you or achieving what seems impossible.

Its Christ in you that is the hope of Glory! He is the One we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Col. 1:27-28) Hallelujah!

Shocking Violence

The story you are about to read is not an unfamiliar part of the African Culture. There is a limited police force in the slums and often the practice of dealing with a thief is immediate and violent. I have seen with my own eyes violent mobs stoning young people who were caught stealing things from the market. I have come to feel such a burden for these pastors as their ministries are facing great challenges. This dear Brother Lucas Maina is one of our partnering pastors in Eldoret and I have written about him before. He is a faithful brother and our relationship was begun by his participation in one of our pastor’s conferences. The ripples of this event have touched our hearts deeply and I felt you would pray for their ministry to remain strong in the midst of this recent incident.

“Two of our pastors in Mombasa, Kenya were burnt beyond recognition as they were doing door to door evangelism.” (writes Pastor Lucas Maina)

We are very shocked today at the news that our two brothers were killed in Mombasa! Please pray for our nation, because our hearts are troubled. We have chosen to withdraw for a day or two to pray and seek the Lord! Two of our pastors in Mombasa, Kenya were burnt beyond recognition as they were doing door to door evangelism. It has affected us deeply. There is still an ongoing investigation, but the pastors were said to have gone to witness to a witch doctor and he accused them of being thieves! It has been reported to us that the witch doctor raised an alarm and called for a mob. Our two brothers were doused with gasoline and set a blaze. They are faithful brothers and one was a close friend, Pastor Jackson Kioko. The other is Pastor Juma of Nyali Baptist Church. Although Kenya police are still at work investigating the cause of why two clergymen were lynched - it is yet unknown. We have become very affected by this loss of two pastors in door to door evangelism.

We have been in touch with Pastor Jackson’s family. Just last week he called me and we shared much on soul winning, because we have similar mission works in Eldoret and Mombasa. Although we are independent ministries, we have much in common and we love each other as brothers. Our hearts are set on reaching and winning souls to Jesus!

It is not uncommon for us to see struggles and press on, even as the witch doctors practice in our region. We find the strength and wisdom to speak openly as God leads us. We have managed to reach 5 witch doctors in Langas area! Hundreds have been reached by the Gospel of the Kingdom and our church building is full of new believers. We give all the glory to Jesus! 

We thank the Lord for the prayers of the saints all over the world! Though we too have seen such violence, the Lord has been able to deliver us. One day on our mission a Muslim man open his dogs upon us. Again, we were threatened by a witch doctor after we removed some of her crafts. Once we were chased with a sharp panga (large knife) by a man believed to be a thief, who found us praying for his family. Realize it is not easy to reach out in the slums. We covet your prayers.

In the case of these two pastors, we do not understand. How can they be confused for thieves? We are told that the witch doctor shouted that they were thieves after they witnessed to him! How can two pastors with their Bibles and Gospel literature in their hands, be confused for thieves? The people who did this were ones who hated the Christian faith and had no understanding of the God who loves them so much! Please pray for our leaders, pray for their courage and the protection of their families as we press forward in the work of God. Thank you Pastor Ron, we love you and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Link to News Video (May 9, 2012): http://youtu.be/zSWuvRht4k4

Link to News Video (follow-up): http://youtu.be/J1zDnIkjosg

Link to News Video (Police Inquiry): http://youtu.be/Dct0Cwog5fE

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