The Best Pattern of the Best Life II

 

Related imageJohn 17:14-19 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

In my last post, we discussed the meaning of holiness and how we begin to walk in character consistently growing in the holiness of Christ. This progressive action, being more and more holy, is what we call sanctification. 

Our passage above reveals a little known truth about Jesus our Savior. Although He was, is and always will be the epitome of the word holy (being the fullness of God in bodily form), He still sanctified Himself so that His disciples (and we through their lives and ministries) would know how we are to sanctify ourselves.

Remembering that we are vessels, for God’s purpose alone, we must keep ourselves in the process God ordained to make us more and more holy. From the passage above, a good beginning in defining sanctification, is revealed in  Jesus praying, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world“.

In this we understand, that the follower of Christ, by faith and the power of the Spirit, are born into the kingdom of heaven and no longer fit within the world system. Therefore, sanctification is to separate ourselves from that which is evil and worldly; the world, the flesh and the devil.

Secondly Jesus says, “Sanctify them by Your truth“. This is not just reading the word of God, but the word of God being illuminated and assimilated into our souls by the Holy Spirit. This is the second part of the meaning of sanctification, which is to be separated unto God and dedicated to His purpose, as revealed by the word of God (as illuminated by the Holy Spirit).

In Jesus life we see five practices, which detail how He sanctified Himself, even though He was and is the definition of holiness. He shows us how to be and stay separate from the world, the flesh and the devil. He also shows us how to be set apart for the Father’s will.

THE BEST EXAMPLE OF THE BEST LIFE

1) (JESUS REFUSED TO EXERCISE ANY SELF-WILL) In John 5:30 Jesus declared that He did not seek His own will, but that of His Father only. This is very important to understand right from the start, for it dictates every and all decisions. We see the Lord’s absolute commitment to His Father’s will in Philippians 2:5-8.

Philippians 2:5-8 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Make no mistake about it, to be a bond servant means one has no will of their own, but lives a life in servitude to another. So great was Jesus’ commitment, He who is God the Living and eternal Word, emptied Himself of reputation, will and prerogative (for a time), in order to accomplish his Father’s plan. This means Jesus exercised self denial as a character trait. Therefore, we must learn to do the same in order to live our best life now.

Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

In prayer ask the Lord to lead you to begin a practice of self-denial when it comes to your will. The next two points will give you some hints.

2) (JESUS SPOKE ONLY WHEN THE FATHER DIRECTED HIM) Controlling our tongues may be one of the most impossible tasks on the planet (James 3). Yet in Jesus we see how a person, who is filled with the Spirit, does control their tongue.

John 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

Jesus only spoke what He was commanded to speak. No wasted words, no idle talk, no course jesting, every word seasoned with grace (even the necessary harsh ones), all spoken with intentional purpose. To be set apart for God’s purpose, we, like our Master, must learn to speak only for the purpose of God. In the family, in which I grew up, everyone believed they were entitled to an opinion. This is also the way  of the world, but the Christian understands that only speaking as led by the Spirit, is necessary and good. Ministers are especially responsible for this.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Here we see that speaking the word of God, without the unction of the Spirit, can be detrimental. By this account many of us should really consider whether or not we are ministering under the unction of the Spirit–whether we are preaching the truth, or our option of it.

3) (JESUS DID ONLY WHAT HE  WAS COMMANDED TO DO) In line with Jesus only speaking what He was commanded too, we also know that He only did the things he was commanded to do; once more never moving to express what He thought was the right thing to do.

John 5:19 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

This is a most remarkable statement, but plainly seen. Recall some of the miracles Jesus performed. Now consider one He did not. In Acts chapter three we meet a man who was lame from His mother’s womb, who had been daily laid at the Temple Gate called Beautiful. We know, due to the age of this man, that Jesus would have passed Him many times on His treks through the temple, over His ministry years.

Why would He not heal this man? Because He was not commanded to do so. We know God’s day of visitation for healing would come thoroughfare faithfulness ministry of the apostles.

There is an old adage that we like to repeat in dealing with the evil of this world “The only thing necessary for evil to win, is for good men to do nothing”. I like this statement, but it is not biblical. There are no good men born into the world, but sinners; and sinners and the redeemed have done lots of good things, yet it still looks like evil is winning. This is also a fallacy for we know that God is the VICTOR and He will set all things right at Christ’s return.

The point is we need to stop doing good things and do what the Holy Spirit commands. This is what it means to be set apart for His purpose. We ought to rather do the one thing He commands and provides power for, than five or five-thousand good things, which will never make an eternal impact upon humanity, nor further God’s will.

4) (JESUS’ JOY AND EMPOWERMENT CAME FROM DOING ONLY GOD’S WILL) As is often the case when we get hooked into a conveyor of good things we ought to do, we begin to lose the vitality of the Spirit, for we are not ministering or living under His leadership. We ought to challenge ourselves often to endeavor to apply Proverbs 3:5-, literally. The reason for this need, is that true ministry for Christ, beyond our human capcity and strength. It will wear is down, for sure, when not led by the Spirit. 

For Jesus, being tired or hungry was never a hindrance to ministry, for His being set apart perfectly for his Father’s purpose (Sanctify Myself), was what gave him sustenance.

John 4:34 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

Jesus sanctified Himself, by being concerned with intentionally finding His joy and sustaining power, in completing the work God sent Him into the world to do. This jibes well with what we know of the power of God’s Spirit in us.

The work of God is beyond our human ability to accomplish, for it is supernatural. This work will tax our physical, emotional and spiritual frame (I Thessalonians 5:23). Yet in this, so long as we rejoice in our infirmities, the power of Christ will rest upon us (II Corinthians 12:9).

Our common humanity lines up more with the world, which wants to bank and add more strength, skill, ability, degrees, and any other thing to call upon, in accomplishing what we want, rather than learn to be led by the Spirit. Will we wait on the Lord until we know He is leading and empowering?

5) (REMEMBER LIKE JESUS OUR LIFE IS NOT OUR OWN, WE’RE BOUGHT) When looking once more at Philippians 2:5-8, we will see one more aspect of how He “sanctified” Himself. 

Jesus “made Himself of no reputation“, “took upon himself the form of a bond-servant“, and “became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross“. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, in human flesh, loved a life that was not His own; He lived a as will-less bond servant.

In this, let us be reminded, OUR LIVES ARE NOT OUR OWN! 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Wow! Did you read that? Your life does not belong to you, nor does mine belong to me. If we are in Christ, we are His bond-slaves! For some this may seem too high a price to pay, but remember the price with which you were bought… HIS Blood was the purchase price (Colossians 1:13).

Re-read Philippians 2:5-8 and understand that His death on the cross was 20 hours of a blood letting that began the prior night, when He prayed in agony, concerning the price He would pay.

His suffering would culminate in the excruciating agony of the cross as detailed in Isaiah 53:5... “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed“.

When reading this passage it is easy to forget, that each of the above words, “wounded’, “bruised”, “chastisement” and “wounds” (more correct rendering is”stripes”), came from blows which makes blood flow, either beneath the surface of the skin or through open wounds. The cost of our redemption of every drop of life, which poured, forth from wounds we deserved, yet He willingly suffered.

This He did to complete the Father’s eternal plan, so we could be forgiven, transformed now and guaranteed eternal life with Him. When considering the high cost of our lives not being our own, think of the cost the King of glory paid for us.

In response, then sanctify yourself, as Jesus did, the BEST LIFE ever, living a pattern that should we follow it, will give us our best life now.

Posted in John 17:14-19, sanctification, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EXTREME PRAYER NEED!

Dear Friends in Christ,

Please read the short communique concerning our persecuted brethren in China. these dear and steadfast saints are only a small group in a nation that is attempting to wipe out our faith across their nation. Please pray for these and all our Chinese brethren who face tribulation we do not yet know- Brother Mike

Mar. 28, 2019 | ChinaHouse Church Members Face Ongoing Persecution

Xu Miaozhuang comforts two of her children after they were evicted.Beleaguered members of the Early Rain Covenant Church have continued to experience persecution since their church was closed and more than 100 members arrested in December 2018. While most of those arrested have been released, several key leaders remain in prison, including Pastor Wang Yi. And now the persecution has expanded to church members’ workplaces and homes. Xu Miaozhuang, wife of one of the church’s imprisoned elders, was evicted from her home in February along with her four children. Another church member, Pan Fei, was fired from his job and forced to sign a resignation form. On the letter of resignation, Fei wrote, “For believing in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God and Savior of mankind, my employment with Yonghui Superstore has been terminated.” Pray for Pastor Wang Yi, Miaozhuang, Fei and the other Early Rain members affected by ongoing persecution.

Posted in China, enduring for the faith, Luke 9:23-26, persecution, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Best Pattern of the Best Life

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In recent years many books have been written concerning how a Christian can live their best life now. Some of these books have some marginally good things to say, but they miss the core of what is the best life for the Christian. What is the best life for the Christian? To live in the center of the will of God, of course!

Before you begin to panic over the insertion of the phrase (the will of God), which too often causes unnecessary panic for far too many Christians, let’s look at the scriptures for a moment to see, that knowing God’s will is not nebulous and mysterious…

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

When we zero in on the underlined phrase “not willing” we can clearly see, that God’s will is for all men to be saved (although only those who repent and live by faith in Christ are saved). Simply put, a large portion of the will of God, concerning those who follow Christ, is to speak the truth about Jesus in ways that offer an opportunity for the lost to repent and be saved. Closely related to God’s will, in this endeavor, is the quality of character we are to have while walking in the afore mentioned area of His will…

1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;  that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor

The above passage of scripture is obvious in the way it reveals the will of God for the Christian…

  1. that we be sanctified
  2. that means we are not sexually immoral
  3. that we command ourselves as a vessel for God’s purpose alone

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Simply put, the word sanctification and it’s various forms (sanctify, sanctified) means to be set apart from evil and unto God for His purposes alone. In the context of I Thessalonians 4:3-4, our being called to possess our vessels in sanctification and honor, is a reference with a picture; that picture is the holy vessels of the temple.

Remember these vessels were set a apart for one purpose, no matter if it was the menorah, candlestick, cup, pitcher or basin (among hundreds of others). These vessels were to be used for the only purpose they were created for and when not used they had to be cleaned and prepared to be used. Concerning our sanctification, this means that we are set apart for god’s purposes alone, not to be used for anything other than His will–we are also to be being cleansed from the influence of the world, our flesh and the devil.

The word sanctification and its various forms is intimately connected with a word that also too often causes adverse emotional reactions in American Christians.; the word holy and all its forms. I Peter 1:15-16 gives us further clarity.

1 Peter 1:15-16 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

When examining the Greek words used for both “sanctify” and “holy” we find they are actually of the same root word. The word holy speaks to our position in Christ, based on our being justified by the blood of Christ, as well as our calling to live a life of holiness daily. Two passages of scripture reveal this monumental truth.

2 Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Romans 5:8-11 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

In the shedding of Christ’s blood on our behalf, our sins were washed away, and we for all time and eternity are counted justified or “not guilty” for our sin, so long as we continue in the faith. In this we are holy, as if we have never sinned. This does not mean we will never sin again, but that the basis for our once for all forgiveness has been met in Christ’s once for all sacrifice (I Peter 3:18). We are glad that when we fail in the Christ life, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and so long as we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive them and cleanse us from the unrighteousness. This is the first aspect of our being holy.

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The second aspect of our being holy is the truth communicated in the statement “be holy, for I am holy“. When looking at the words being used, it conveys that the person is not only holy in God’s sight, but is to be practically, progressively more clean and Christ-like with each passing moment. This is where the word sanctification comes into view. As “holy” is to be our positional character, “sanctification” is the process by which holiness becomes our practical character and life expression. God of course has the largest and most supernatural part, for Christ is the Sanctifier (I Thessalonians 5:23), but our part is to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor.

Our best life now is to be holy in character, submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading us into greater and more consistent love, joy, moral purity, peace, power in the Spirit, righteousness and grace. This sounds wonderful, but too often, we want in error to see holiness as a behavior list, only. In this manner many get frustrated and quit.

In the first place this error often degenerates into religious self effort, where we accept “doing the list”, as being righteous. This error is the reason Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Romans 6-8 (especially chapter 7). Let’s always remember, no matter how high the quality of ones moral character, apart from Christ, it means nothing. Our righteousness is not our own, but Christ’s imputed to us by faith. According to Galatians 2:20, the righteous life and actions that come from our lives, are not even ours, but Christ living them in and through us, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.

Secondly this error can degenerate into defeated Christians, who feel they are second class citizens, not being able to overcome. In both cases it leaves out the Holy Spirit as the one who brings our best life now.

This is where we will settle to explore a bit further; finding how to live this best life: one of holiness without which none will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).  In this let us remember that the best example of our best life now, is the life of our Savior Jesus Christ, who shows us how we are to live in complete dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.

JESUS CHRIST, THE MIGHTIEST LEADER AND BEST MODEL TO FOLLOW

To say that our Lord Jesus Christ is holy is to admit the obvious. He is the Holy Anointed One, the Alpha and Omega, the expressed image Person of and brightness of the glory of  God, who is a consuming fire. In the days of His first incarnation, He was the epitome of holiness, which was surprisingly down to earth and drawing to the most vile of sinners. It might surprise you to know that Jesus shows us what it means to be sanctified. This seems contradictory to His holiness but is not at all.

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John 17:15-19 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

In our next post, we will explore the ways Jesus Christ our Lord sanctified Himself in being practically powerfully holy, as a model for us to be able to live obeying His command, “be ye holy, for I am holy”, which is the pathway to living our best life now.

Posted in holiness, John 17:15-19, sanctification, Uncategorized, Your Best Life Now | Leave a comment

John Piper on Entertainment Addiction” “tear our your eye” can be applied to devices

01_is_text_neck_a_real_thing_bokan76Below is an article published in the Christian Post by Leah MarieAnn Klett, concerning comments John Piper made dealing with the rise of Christian’s being addicted to entertainment and devices. According to the first-quarter 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. As a pastor it has been my experience that among those I have ministered to, many fall within these numbers. God help us, our addiction is killing our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

John Piper on entertainment addiction: Jesus’ command to ‘tear out your eye’ can be applied to devices

by: Leah MarieAnn Klett

For those seeking to break the cycle of their entertainment addiction, theologian John Piper argued that Jesus’ command to “tear out the eye that causes you to sin” can be applied to devices too.

In a recent podcast, Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, responded to a listener identified as Cesar, who said he cannot break his addiction to video games.

“I am convinced that the short-lived emotions of entertainment do not compare to the pleasures found in a deep life of communion with God,” Cesar said. “But I can play a video game for three hours, and feel my emptiness and dissatisfaction, but the next day my desire for more entertainment is renewed, and this has turned into a horrible, vicious circle. I am very stressed with this situation. I want to grow spiritually. I do not want to waste my life in trifles.”

The pastor began by advising Cesar that he can, in fact, stop playing video games. “You’re not in bondage to that game,” he explained. “You can stop. You can walk away from it. I promise you. With a blowtorch in your face or a million dollars in your pocket, it would be easy. It would be easy to walk away. The fear of pain or the pleasure of money would have instantly replaced your desires for that game.”

Piper went on to point out that Cesar is not actually “convinced” that the pleasures of entertainment do not compare to the joy that can found in communion with God.

“No, Cesar, you’re not convinced of this. You say you are, but these are just words,” he said, adding that Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.”

“The essential thing he meant was that people say many things, feel many things, think many things, but a decisive test is fruit. So three hours on a video game day after day, wasting your precious life, is not a fruit of being convinced that communion with Jesus is better. It’s not.”

Video games, Piper contended, have “re-throned” Jesus in Cesar’s life: “It takes its place as the king of your will. It means that you then take your seat passively at its feet, and you do its bidding like a slave. Two-bit, no-count, low-grade, wasteful video games are beating him up, deceiving him, making him a lackey and a slave.”

Piper applied Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 to devices: “I say to you that everyone that is suckered in by the fluttering eyelashes of a video game commits adultery with the game in his heart. If your right eye causes you for a video game to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to be glued to a video game, cut it off and put a blowtorch to it. For it is better that you lose one of your members than your body be thrown into Hell.”

“Here’s my counsel,” he concluded. “Tear out your eye and cut off your hand. That is, get rid of all the apps that suck you in and make a slave of you. Just tear them right off your phone. Tear them right off. I mean, tearing out your eye surely has an application to your devices.”

“Then turn away from the games and receive the million-dollar gift from Jesus,” he added. “No, no, no, no — that was an understatement. Billions, billions, and billions of dollars worth of reward. Better than anything else.”

According to a 2018 study by market-research group Nielsen, American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media — up from nine hours and 32 minutes just four years ago.

Previously, Piper offered five ways Christians can cultivate a greater love for God than for entertainment in today’s media-dominated culture.

  1. Recognizing it is a huge step in the right direction.
  2. Seek the Lord earnestly about it. Pray like crazy that God would open your eyes to see wondrous things out of His law.
  3. Immerse yourself in the Bible, even when you don’t feel like it, pleading with God to open your eyes to see what’s really there.
  4. Get in a group where you talk about serious things.
  5. Begin to share your faith: “One of the reasons we are not as moved by our own faith as we are is because we almost never talk about it to any unbeliever,” Piper said. “It starts to feel like a kind of hothouse thing and then it starts to have a feeling of unreality about it. And then the powers of entertainment have more sway in our life.”

Christian Post: Klett, Leah MarieAnn (2019, February 28) “John Piper on entertainment addiction: Jesus’ command to ‘tear out your eye’ can be applied to devices”.

Posted in Addicted to devices, Christian Post, John Piper, Matthew 5:27-30, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Time in the Wilderness

Related imageRecently while reading “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, I was awakened to a  Biblical truth I had not considered: The necessity of the wilderness in the life of the believer. The author explained that few people consider that the barren, hostile and inhospitable nature of the wilderness, is actually necessary to the proper formation of the saints. He sighted Deuteronomy 8 as evidence.

Deuteronomy 8:2-5 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.

Perhaps the greatest of all lines in a movie comes in the TEN Commandments, when Moses is walking through the wilderness after being exiled from Egypt. In the middle of hot death as far as the eye can see, the narrator says this…

tumblr_nmcp7rgyxl1qetb0ho1_1280“The man who walked with kings, now walks alone… stripped of all rank and wealth, a forsaken man, without a country, without a hope… his soul in turmoil, like the hot winds and raging sands, that lash him with the fury of a task-masters whip. He is driven forward, always forward, by a God unknown and a land unseen. Into the molten wilderness of Sin, where granite sentinels stand as towers of living death, to bar his way. Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness. In the mocking whisper of the wind he hears the echoing voices of the dark. His tortured mind wondering if they call for memory of past triumphs, or wail foreboding of disasters yet to come… He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips, nor shade the scorching fury of the sun; all about is desolation… he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged, for God’s great purpose. Until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came, the metal is ready for the Maker hand”

Poor Charlton Heston… I mean Moses. But in all fairness, if you love Jesus and desire to bless Him, you have experienced times that felt like what was just described, even if you were not actually walking through an actual desert.

We may not like the wilderness but as God had a purpose for Israel in their wilderness wanderings, so He does for us as well. From the passage we discover His purposes.

  1. To teach us how to follow Him not based on material supply, but the words of His mouth (vs. 2)
  2. To humble us, as are tested, that we may see what is really in our hearts, apart from Christ (vs. 2-3); which is the first stage in the progression of sanctification.
  3. To reveal God’s sufficiency and provision (vs. 2-4).
  4. To reveal His love through discipline (vs. 5)

These purposes are all wonderful, but let us get into a wilderness situation for any stretch of time and we see how much we really appreciate the work God intends to do in us in the wilderness. Sadly for most of us, what comes out is the whiny, complaining, selfish impatience, which stand in the way of our being more like Christ.

In addition to God’s purpose in molding and shaping us the desert is also the place where we learn to overcome the devil, in the power of God’s Spirit, just like Jesus Christ the Lord. When this occurs we can walk into more than effective ministry for Christ filled with His Spirit.

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Luke 4:1-21 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

In light of this truth, let me encourage you, no matter why you are in a wilderness situation, know He is with you and should you humble yourself, our Father will accomplish His purposes.

I, myself, have just recently been walking out of a wilderness period in my life. This period has amounted to multiple years, where I have been tested often–seen what is in me apart from Jesus Christ–learned the steady cadence of the leading of the Holy Spirit–learned to trust Christ’s viewpoint of me. The one last thing Christ had done in me, is to confirm what I knew from the beginning of my walk with Jesus… Love not the world, do not partake in its system of thought, recreation, or sufficiency. Live dependent on Him and pursue holiness, because He has made me holy.

I have learned Christians, especially those who will lead, must not dabble in the worldview, which says we Christians need to relax and have fun as well. It amazes me, how the book of Acts, as well as the rest of the New Testament, speaks contrary to our viewpoint of what is allowed in our Christian experience. We spend hours searching for and planning how we will spend our time off, even ministers, looking for good moral ways to waste time.

We often complain that we cannot easily find a media outlet to match our high morals, and then justify anything that we feel is relatively cleaner in its moral content, as approved. Sorry, the Christian movie, music and book industry is fueled by this mentality. So we who are called to “walk circumspectly”, walk right into mine fields, where each encountered darkness, even for a little bit, gives us spiritual PTSD. We who are called to “redeem the time”, waste it on our pursuit of a “good” and “virtuous” way of entertaining ourselves. We who are to not be “unwise, but know what the will of the Lord is”, often are clueless, as to God’s purpose for our life and ministry (Ephesians 5:14-21)

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To assist in seeing this clearly, let’s consider that we who are in Christ are members of the body of Christ. This body of Christ is not only those who you encounter in fellowship on Sunday and Wednesday, but all the hundreds of millions of Christians around the wold. Let’s just take the hours from 7 pm till we go to bed and what we engage in. Now we Americans say I’m not sinning to watch T.V. if its not violent, sexually immoral or perverse (some we can be sure don’t even care about those standards)–we think so long as we are surfing the net, on our phone, tablet, or computer, so long as its not violent, sexually immoral, or perverse, we are fine.

This means that we believe that we are allowed to live with a bit of selfishness and unintentionality, because after all we’re not Jesus, right? Yet we are called to walk circumspectly, redeem the time, and know God’s will, which never takes time off.  Let us now consider, being members in the world-wide body of Christ, that while we are watching, reading, vegging or relaxing with our favorite things, around the world there is a member of the body of Christ (or multiple) who are…

  1. Suffering persecution to the point of injury or death
  2. Alone in a prison cell for their faith
  3. Afflicted with disease, needing Christ the Healer
  4. Walking through temptation
  5. Needing comfort for personal loss or failure
  6. Needing answers to prayer
  7. Needing encouragement
  8. Needing prayer for all of the above

My time in the wilderness has reaffirmed that all of my time is His time, for His offspring are too numerous to count, and He has called us to be our brothers and sisters keepers and supporters, whether we see each other this side of heaven. God forgive me for all the time I have wasted sowing to my flesh, in ways that are not seen as overtly wicked, but waste the precious time You have allotted me. Thank You for delivering me from the corruption that sowing to the flesh produces. Thank You, galvanizing what you placed in my heart all those many years ago. Have mercy on your church in America, especially ministers who have fallen prey to walking through mine-fields of pursuit of preference and hobbies, where we waste time, and step out of the will of God.

Ephesians 5:14-21 “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Walk in Wisdom 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

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All Hail the Power of Jesus Name V: How We Get in the Way

Image result for there is power in the name of JesusActs 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Over the course of the last month, we have looked deeply into the implications of the passage above. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ or Yeshua Hamaschiah or however His name, which is above all names, is spoke in one’s native tongue; so long as it is proclaimed in faith. The power in His name means He is present with us, do perform all the promises of His word; and the word of God never so much as gives any inkling of that power being diminished over time. In fact scripture indicates otherwise.

John 14:12-14 “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.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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Therefore in any nation anywhere in the world, Christ’s followers ought to expect the same expression and outpouring of power encountered when exercising faith in Jesus’ name. The problem for those of us who dwell in a nation of every kind of cure, product, program or diversion, is we tend to justify the use of these things over God’s prescribed means (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:2-3; Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:4, 8), because of convenience, impatience or even a lack of faith. When this occurs we tend to behave as though God affirms whatever we do, in an effort to get rid of our discomfort. This attitude is in error.

What we fail to grasp is that all true transformation (‘spirit, soul or body” I Thessalonians 5:23) comes through our encountering His presence, with us by the Holy Spirit.  As the woman with the issue of blood, who tried all other means till exhausted, we must walk by faith through hindrance, in order to encounter His presence and touch the hem of His garment. It is our seeking to touch our Savior and bringing other people to believe they can trust Him alone, that releases the power that is inherent in Jesus’ name. Our choices, concerning the exercises of faith in the power of Jesus’ name, affect all areas of encounter with God, including the conviction of sin, repentance and faith in ministering to the lost–including deliverance from the demonic, healing and signs and wonders in Jesus’ name–and the life of Christ for the physical body of the believer.

Outside of what is referred to as developed nations of the west (America, Australia, Great Britain, Europe), where we have a drought concerning these truths, we find regular occurrences that could have been written in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Why is it such a struggle in our geography and culture?

HINDRANCES

  1. In the United States of America we live out our faith in a Christian culture largely devoid of the biblical paradigm of the power of God present and evidenced by supernatural works. One need only consider evangelistic events in relation to America and the country of India. In our evangelistic idea the responsibility is placed largely on men, who preach in stadiums, with great music and kindly counselors to dot every “I” and cross every “T” concerning the question of Christ. Great effort is made to not come off as kind and not judgmental.  In India, evangelism is lead and modeled by leaders and taken up by the rank and file of believers. Miracles, signs and wonders are expected as a means of displaying God’s Almighty power over the very real demonic personages, which had held millions in bondage. Consider this is the case almost across the board regardless of country. In one southeastern Asian country, Christians were kicked out of their village, having their homes confiscated, and being forced to flee to a neighboring village. They were allowed to stay in a filed where sick , injured and undesirable people lived. They began to pray for the sick and afflicted and God healed in Jesus’ name supernaturally. Many others came to faith in Christ.
  2. Related imageSaving faith is misrepresented in American Christian culture. In our educated and “enlightened”culture, we treat matters of faith, as matters of intellect that leads to transformation of behavior. This is not only an error, but a great and semantic change in what faith in Christ is. Biblical and saving faith is not mere assent to biblical truth concerning Jesus Christ’s death, resurrection and implications of those truths, anymore than it was for Abraham. Real saving faith is first seen in true immediate repentance, a necessary implication to the truth of Christ’s atonement on our behalf, because our faith calls us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Saving faith is seen in beginning the walk out, as He conveys us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13-14). With acting upon this understanding, because we believe that if you “believe and confess” you are in,  we stifle God’s power to transform us as truly new creations in Christ. This leaves an incomplete sanctification and no true resurrection power to minister in Jesus’ name.
  3. In this culture we categorize two accepted classes of Christian’s, the “carnal” and the “spiritual”, because we assume Paul’s intentions in the Book of I Corinthians. God does not accept two categories of Christians. To be a carnally minded Christian means you are in enemy status in your behavior towards God (Romans 8:7). Some have taken this error as far as to produce separate terminology for the “carnal” and the “spiritual”. The “carnal” is said to be “saved” and “accepted Jesus:, while the “spiritual” has “made Jesus Christ Lord”. WOW, how dangerous. A mere cursory reading of Roman’s 10:9-10 declares that for the saved, Christ is and must be both Lord and Savior”. Once more the reason behind this is to accommodate the rebellious and unrepentant. This leaves countless without the ability to be transformed, by thinking they can remain master of their own lives. This error also grieves the Holy Spirit, and diminishes the spiritual power of the church in ministering the gospel.
  4. A lack of consecration to Christ, by coming apart and being separated to God alone, arises from the above error (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1). We certainly do not lack for effort in trying to minister the gospel, but  with little effect. We must remember that our life is not our own, we are to redeem the time, know what the will of the Lord is and not to love the world. we are also called to deny ourselves continually and love God with all our heart, expressing this love in loving our neighbors. This takes one who is a willing bond-servant, not looking to meet their own desires, and needs. In essence this is what it means to be sanctified, or consecrated to God alone as a sacred vessel (I Thessalonians 4:1-3). No matter how great our faith in Jesus’ name is, He will not fill a vessel, which is holding other contents.
  5. We lack operational faith in the power of His name and are merely giving “lip service” to the truth of Christ and it’s implications. We all have to admit that we are masterful in saying something with great confidence in profession, but denying it by how we walk after we have spoken. This is hypocrisy and we are all being cleansed from it. So long as we are aware and not letting ourselves off the hook, we will grow to great operational faith in Jesus’ name. It is when we begin to justify not walking in nor ministering according to a biblical pattern, that we become “lip service” Christians; where we hinder the power inherent in Jesus’ name.

If you have not read the first four parts of this series please click the links below.

“lip service”… All Hail the Power of Jesus Name!!!

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name II

All Hail the Power in Jesus Name III

All Hail the Power in Jesus Name IV

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All the Hail the Power of Jesus Name IV

Related image(Acts 3:16)  And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

After three posts examining God’s power in the name of Jesus Christ, we will now focus our attention on how this power was manifested, in the miracle chronicled in the third chapter of Acts of the Apostles.

I realize some of the readers are skittish concerning miracles, signs and wonders, as testifying elements of the veracity of the gospel message (Mark 16:15-20). Sadly, here are those who have damaged the message of Christ, as they extend a hand and use His name a magic incantation to attain what’s needed. With their other hand they fleece the flock of God. These are heretics and hucksters, God will give them their just desserts whe

Despite the damage done, we must not feel free to change the words and intentions of the Savior, because we are uncomfortable with the possibility of error, or because they do not fit our modern and American Christian mind. Jesus was clear in what will occur when men believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God…

Mark 16:15-18 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Above I underlined and placed in bold type the word “will”The reason I did this, is that Jesus never indicated, nor do any of the epistles, that miracles (n His name) would end after the apostolic age. In fact, beyond the apostolic age, through the age of the church fathers, in recorded revival history up to the full gospel movements in England and America, we see miracles, signs and wonders testify to the truth of the gospel message. This continues throughout the world today, largely outside of westernized Christianity, when and where the gospel is preached.

It is for this reason, we need to digest the operational aspect of laying hold of the power of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, as we walk in relationship to Him. Let us begin with Acts 3:16.

As Peter explains, the lame man at Beautiful Gate, was made well “through faith in His (Jesus Christ) name“. He further elaborates “Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all“. This is very revealing, especially to those who question whether they can conjure enough faith to pray or pronounce a person healed in Jesus name; or like the apostles exercise enough faith to believe to be healed for themselves.

The phrase “Yes, the faith which comes through Him” reveals the awesome nature of faith and where it comes from. Let’s look at Galatians 2:20, a very well know and often quoted passage.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by (the) faith in (of) the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

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You’ll note I added (the) and (of) next to “in“. The reason is that this is what is reads in the KJV Bible “by the faith of the Son of God”. This translation is actually the most accurate Greek translation into English, and reveals that our faith to believe for salvation is not our’s–nor is our faith to be healed because of Jesus’ Name–nor is our faith to believe for our sanctification or whatever other promise God has given us in Christ; the faith is given to us by Jesus. It is His faith.

Jesus perfectly walked in the Spirit, by walking in faith. This is why He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Remember in Christ’s self-emptying, though He is fully God, He chose to lay aside His right or prerogative to express His character as God, unless led by the Holy Spirit to do so.

Therefore we can understand a passage like “for the joy set before Him, he endured the cross...” (Hebrews12:2). The joy set before Him was resurrection, reuniting with the disciples, ascending to His Father, the salvation of all who would believe on the cross. These were all future events that were promised. Despite this joy, he still needed to die a horrible death. Therefore His endurance was by faith “the substance of things hoped for… the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1).

Our great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who provides each man a measure of faith, and in critical encounters (like the one we are looking at in Acts 3:16), He provides faith to believe and act upon what is seen, in His name. In our case “the faith which comes through Him” is seen in both the lame man and the ministering apostles.

The lame man was expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5), upon Peter’s insistence that he look at them. What did he expect to receive? Did he recognize Peter and John as men who had been with Jesus and expect soemthing supernatural? We don’t know. It’s possible at first he simply thought he would receive some alms. What we do know is that when the man heard the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth something clicked.

At first we see Peter kind of took his hand and lifted him up, but after standing, we read in verses 8-9, that he did some additional things in faith, without Peter (leaped, stood, walked, went walking in the temple, leaping and praising God). These things he did by faith. It was the faith in Peter and John to stand him up, but it was his faith in Christ, by which he attained the rest.

This man had been laying there for decades. He most likely knew of Jesus’ ministry, which over the course of three and half years had many stops at the temple. Perhaps he had seen Jesus and wanted to be healed or hoping for an opportunity that never came. Whether he knew Peter and John is a moot point, because when he heard the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Holy Spirit gave him the needed faith to move. Once up on his feet, it was up to him to put one foot in front of the other.

This is why Peter declared to the amazed onlookers “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all“.  So healing does take faith in the one receiving, but God be praised, in His mercy He provides the faith. Therefore, little faith is not the key issue the issue, but unbelief , when there is a delay to healing(but that is for another time).

Despite this revelation, there would have been no miracle, had the apostles not first acted with faith in the power that is in Jesus’ name. Their actions reveal a little understood truth, that in cases of miracles which lead too or testify to evangelistic efforts, the operation of faith is a gift of the Spirit. What we are about to discuss is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

In Pentecostal circles, the manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit (detailed in I Corinthians 12:1-11), are mostly relegated to congregational gatherings. This is a grievous error, as the gifts are to operate wherever the church gathers in Jesus’ name, for the kingdom purposes. The lack of the full complement of the gifts of the Spirit, in many Pentecostal settings, ought to reveal these gatherings are not forwarding kingdom purposes. Consider where the gifts of faith, healing, miracles, discerning of spirits, word of wisdom, or word of knowledge mostly took place, in the Book of Acts… where two or more believers were ministering in Christ’s name.

Full gospel people, must not settle for a trickle of kingdom power in the places we gather for worship. We must walk outside the sanctuary, expecting God to manifest the gifts of the Spirit, in our efforts to declare the good news. This is exactly what happened in Acts 3. Between Peter and John the gifts of the Spirit were in operation, such as, the gift of a word of wisdom, the gift of faith and the gifts of healing.

It is the gift of faith which leads Peter to declare “Look at us” and subsequently, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:4-6).

For those who find this a bit strange to consider, consider what took place with Paul and Barnabas in Lystra in Acts 14:8-10…

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Acts 14:8-10 8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Here we see Paul, with the a gift of knowledge “Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed“. How did Paul see faith in a man who was sitting and listening to him preach, but by a gift of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. This gift was coupled with faith and the gift of miracles. In response to this the man had faith to get up and then “he leaped and walked“.

This process and endowment of faith in the name of Jesus, beyond the measure of faith given in salvation, ought to set many at ease as to who is producing miracles, signs, wonders and bringing transformation power… The Holy Spirit! He also supplies the faith in the moment of need. We simply must believe for the power that is in His name and obey His leading. For there is power in the name of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever felt the prompting of God’s Spirit, to declare a miracle, lay hands on the sick, pronounce a word of wisdom, knowledge or seomthing prophetic? How did you respond and if this has not occured, what could be hindering? Let us remember God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He equipped His saints in Acts of the Apostles, He will continue to do so, for all who follow Christ, even until He comes.

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