Kamis, 31 Desember 2009

Looking At God!



Looking At God!
By Malcolm Webber www.leadersource.org
Transformational Thinking: Looking at God #1

The first element of transformational thinking is looking at God. The continuous experience of inward union with Christ is the source and center of all other healthy thinking behaviors.

I want to know Christ… (Phil. 3:10)

This was Paul’s cry, his passionate pursuit. To know the Lord Jesus is the greatest prize, far surpassing everything else in this life (Phil. 3:4-9).

Jesus defined “eternal life” the same way: eternal life is to know God.

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

But, what exactly does it mean to “know” Jesus Christ? What does it mean to “know” God?


Knowing God

In the world, there are many ideas about what it means to “know God.” Here are a few:

* To know God is to serve others.
* To know God is to obey moral rules.
* To know God is to perform religious rituals.
* To know God is to have an accurate understanding about Him.
* To know God is to sense the beauty and grandeur of His creation.
* To know God is to feel the passion and depth of the arts.
* To know God is to experience wonderful emotions of peace and joy.
* To know God is to achieve an inward state of freedom from selfish desires.

According to each of these various approaches, if you do this then you “know God.” To do it means to know God.

According to the New Testament, however, none of these definitions is satisfactory. Biblically, knowing Christ is the gift from God of an inward experience of fellowship with Him, by His Spirit and through His Word, which results in the transformation of every aspect of life.

First, it is His gift. We can know Jesus because, by His death on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sins, reconciling us to God.

… since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand… God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom. 5:1-5)

It is the gift of God – and it is always His gift – that we can know Him. We do not earn fellowship with God. He gives Himself to us. Throughout our lives we grow in our union with Christ, but we never earn it – whether by external obedience or inward spiritual exercise.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22)

Second, while knowing God is an experience, it is not an emotional, intellectual or physical one (although it will impact these aspects of life). In our hearts, we look at God, we receive His love, we love Him, we know Him.

And we all, with unveiled face [in our hearts, v. 15], beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18, ESV)

Third, it is by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the Son of God who reveals the Father.

All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:15)

Consequently, through the indwelling Spirit we have the fullness of the Godhead abiding in us!

Fourth, we find inward union with God through His Word. The Word of God reveals Him in truth and power.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

Finally, knowing God results in transformation of all we are and do (Rom. 6:1-4). This will mean peace with God (Rom. 5:1), obedience (John 14:15; 1 John 3:24), holiness (Rom. 8:3-4; 1 John 2:3-6), vision and fruitfulness (John 15:5), endurance with hope in times of suffering (2 Cor. 4:16-18), and love and servanthood toward others (Gal. 5:13-14).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)

In our next Letter, we will begin to look at the practical dynamics of this inward union with Christ – how it “works” – particularly as it relates to Christian leadership.

What A Sight


What A Sight

Brad arrived at work on time as always. As he walked in the door, he was greeted by the secretary of the little company he worked for.

Marla was not a raving beauty, but she sure knew how to make herself look good. Today she was wearing an outfit that really made her figure stand out. Her hair was neatly styled to enhance the shape of her face, and the right balance of powder, eye shadow and lipstick made her look really attractive.

Brad was a happily married man, and he was not in the habit of looking at other women. But the sight of Marla and the way that she presented herself, was something that any normal red- blooded man would notice.

He did not lust after her. He just felt something stir inside of him. He tried to imagine Kathy, his wife, dressed and made up like that. She looked really good when she did. Then, pushing aside the natural male response to a beautiful woman, he walked to his office and sat down to work.

Before long, the tasks of the day began to fill his mind. Phone calls, projects, letters, emails to reply to and all of the usual daily activities kept his mind busy. In the middle of his intense activity, he was interrupted by a knock on the door. It was Betty, a co-worker, needing a file that was on his desk.

He looked up to see her leaning over his desk. She had a lovely smile on her face, but that was not what caught Brad's eyes. She was wearing a low cut dress, and as she leaned down to pick up the file, he could not avoid looking right down the front to see a sight that he should not have seen.

"Pull yourself together Brad " he said to himself ", you should not be affected by other women."

But he was affected, and no matter how much he tried to fight it, he found a strong desire rising up inside of him. He and Kathy had not made love for over a week now. It seemed that they were both living in different worlds at times, and they just did not get time for intimacy.



But now a strong desire was beginning to arise in him to be intimate with a woman. Not just any woman though. As lovely as all these other women were, it was Kathy that he loved. He looked forward to going home to be with her.



Brad shut out of his mind all the pictures that the enemy had started to put there. He was not going to give in to the spirit of lust that was attacking him right how. He thought of his lovely wife. He pictured her in his mind, with her hair brushed and arranged, and her makeup done the way he liked it.

He could see her wearing that red dress he had bought her. She looked so good in it. She was so beautiful when she smiled sweetly. He knew what he was going to do when he got home. He was going to take her right away to the bedroom and express all the love that was burning inside of him.

As the day progressed, it seemed that Brad bumped into one beautiful woman after another. Even when he walked past newsstands on the way to his car at the end of the day, it seemed as though the women on the covers of the magazines were calling out to him.

The journey home seemed to last forever. He could not wait to get home to his lovely wife. She would look so lovely, just to please him. She would greet him with a smile on her face. She would welcome him into her loving arms.

These thoughts were still in his mind as he walked into the front door of his home. He nearly tripped over something that had been left lying on the floor of the hallway, and it soon became apparent that not much had been tidied up in the house today.

“Hi Honey, I’m home!” he shouted

There was no response, so he walked though into the living room to see where his wife was. The sound of the television blaring showed that she was probably watching something. Sure enough, this is where he found her. She was sitting watching TV, and when he walked in and tried to say something, he got an immediate “Ssshhhh, I am busy” from her.

It did not take long for him to see that she had made hardly any effort on her appearance. The dull and faded old top she was wearing was still wrinkled and had probably been lying around un-ironed for some time. Her baggy pants made her look much fatter than she really was and was hardly flattering for her figure. Her plain face contained not a trace of makeup, and her straggly un-brushed hair added to the sloppy appearance.

Brad loved his wife. But any visions of making love to a beautiful woman vanished like smoke in the air. The scowl on her face when he tried to say something to her, made her the most unattractive woman he had seen all day. He thought about Marla, who had looked so good all day at work, and Betty, whose body had stirred him. He thought of all the smiling, beautiful women he had met and talked with during the day.

Walking to the bedroom, he threw down his briefcase, kicked off his shoes, and sat down on the comfortable chair in front of his computer. Perhaps there was something of interest in his email box. There certainly was nothing of interest in his home tonight.

What bothered him the most though, was that Kathy did not consider him important enough to at least make herself look a little more attractive for him. She was more interested in other things. He felt hurt and disappointed.

Selasa, 29 Desember 2009

Your Unique Walk


Your Unique Walk

As footprints in the sand are totally different, so is your walk in the spiritual realm. For indeed some footprints are big; some are small. Some are going one way; others are going in the opposite direction. Some are faint; others are firmly indented in the sand.

My child, just as each footprint is not quite the same as the others, even so your ministry and what I have called you to do are unique! You may be similar to others out there. You may think that you are doing it just the same as someone else. But there is one small thing that will separate you and make you different from each other.

For I have called you to walk on your road, and it is special and unique to me. I have chosen you to walk it, because you are the most qualified to do it. And indeed I have put in you the qualities to do this job.

So do not think that you do not fit in. Do not think that you are a failure and are wasting your time. For where I have placed you, there I will show you how to walk it. All you have to do is take the first step forward and I will help you to walk it out in victory and blessing.

Know that you are special to me, and I desire you to be special to others too. So flow out in love to those around you and let them see that special person that I have called you to be! Then you will be blessed as you pour out, and be blessed back in return by those you minister to.

Sabtu, 26 Desember 2009

Get Out of the Stroller


Get Out of the Stroller

You have been as a young child who has been pushed everywhere in a stroller. But the time must come for the baby to grow up. The time must come for the toddler to walk instead of being carried.

So I have carried you says the Lord, as a mother carries a young child, while that child is too weak to carry itself.

But now the time has come for you to stretch your spiritual legs and stand on your own feet. It is time to step out of the stroller and take the full weight on your own legs.

For I have indeed allowed you a time of rest, because your strength was low, and you needed a time where you would be free of pressure and difficulty. And this time has allowed you to regain your strength.

Now you are strong enough to step out and take a greater load than you have been able to handle until now. You are ready to face greater pressures and engage in higher levels of spiritual warfare.

Do not see this as Me removing My protection and care from you. For I will never leave you nor forsake you. Rather see it as an opportunity to grow and reach out beyond where you have walked up until now.

And as you begin to step out using what I have taught you, your strength will grow rapidly. Just as an athlete trains by increasing the stress applied to the body, so you will grow by facing greater challenges.

But know that I have not taken away My covering from you. And when the going becomes too difficult, you can return any time to the safety of My protection. As a child becomes weary and cries to return to the stroller, so you too can come to Me at any time and I will lift you up and give you a time of rest.

So welcome the opportunities that will arise now, and use them wisely. And soon you will come to a place where you can accomplish far more for My Kingdom and realize far more of your own personal goals and dreams says the Lord.

Minggu, 20 Desember 2009

Things You Should Notice


Things You Should Notice

Do you find that you often get too busy to notice?

Notice what?

- Did you notice that today your wife was wearing something new?

- Did you notice that your husband was trying to be more considerate?

- Did you notice that your wife was trying to get a message across to you without just coming out and saying it? Did you not notice the hints she was dropping?

- Did you notice that your husband was not himself, and was carrying a care deep inside?

You can get so busy with your life and your work that you often are too wrapped up in yourself. When this happens, you tend to neglect the most important person in your life.

If your spouse is like most other spouses this is what will happen. She will start to feel that you do not love her. He will feel that he is not very important to you.

So here is the project I would like to give you for today. It is a very simple one, and will cost you little time and effort. But the results will be worth far more than what it cost you.

1. Try to be aware of what is happening inside your partner. Look carefully at them and see what you can discover.

2. In counseling we call this ‘halo data.’ It is the things that someone says without really saying anything. Some people have called this body language. They say that you can tell what is in a person’s mind from the way they move their body. But as a believer you have more than that. You have the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

3. Say something to show your partner that you have noticed them. If she is wearing a nice dress; if her hair is looking good; if her makeup is done well; anything at all that you can notice. This might be something small, but just saying it can have a wonderful effect on the person.

4. Do not try to point out the negative things. This will make the person feel unhappy and condemned. Rather find something that will make you say, “I really like that.”

If you get into the habit of doing this all the time, you will be amazed what a difference it will make in your relationship. And it is not only women who need this, but the men also. We all have a need for acceptance and recognition at times. And who better to help meet this need than the person who is closest to you?

What if your partner asks your opinion and you have to give an honest answer? What if you wife asks, “What do you think of this dress?” and you think it is really horrible. Do you just tell her the truth.

Yes, you must always tell the truth. You cannot lie. But the Scripture shows us how we should tell the truth.

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in [agape] love, may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, [namely] Christ: (GMR)

There is a way to tell the truth that will bring pain, and there is a way to tell the truth that will encourage and motivate.

If you are mentoring someone, you might have to tell the truth in order to chisel away the stone and expose their inner hearts. But your spouse is not your disciple. He or she is your partner. So when you tell the truth or address a fault, you must realize that you are actually also speaking to yourself.

Your husband or wife are part of you in the Lord. So when you try to fix something, realize that if you hurt your partner, you are also hurting yourself. And realize also that if your partner fails, you have also failed. Because God sees you as one person in Him.

So to end this now, what should you be doing?

A. You should be looking all the time for good things that you can praise.

B. You should be looking for your own failures, and not those of your partner.

C. You should be telling your partner the lovely little things that you have noticed.

We will speak more about all of these things in the days and weeks that lie ahead. But today, why not start noticing your spouse like never before?

I know you are going to experience a wonderful blessing when you do this.

Selasa, 15 Desember 2009

Two Walking As One


Two Walking As One



I remember how fascinated I was many years ago, when I saw a movie which had morphing in it. (For those who do not know it, morphing is when one picture is gradually changed until it becomes another picture. Like turning a man into a woman, or a man into the face of an animal). I thought it was so clever that they could take a character and change them into someone completely different, and make it look as though it was happening in front of your eyes.



Marriage is similar to a morph - but there is a difference here. You are not changing one thing into another. You are morphing two things together to make a completely different picture! You are taking a husband and a wife as two separate people, and you are blending them into one complete, new person.



This is what you should be aiming for, whether you have been married for only a short while, or for many years. The two of you should become so one that you begin to say the same things or think the same things at the same time.



You might be thinking, “Oh boy, how is that possible? We’re completely different!”



Don’t worry, it is very possible! I’ll show you shortly how you can begin to make this happen. It is actually very easy! There is just one way that it will always succeed, and that is for both of you to work at it. So I want to encourage you to both do this, and you will begin to see the oneness starting to happen.



It Can Take Time



There is just one little problem. To change and become one doesn’t happen instantly or overnight. It sometimes takes time for it to happen. There are sometimes little things that stand in the way of you becoming fully one, and the Lord will often have to chip away at these problems bit by bit. It is kind of like the effect that the sea has on sharp rocks. As the water keeps on crashing over the rocks, they begin to bump against each other, and little by little the sharp edges begin to break off.



This is what will begin to happen to you as you both look to the Lord to make you one. He will begin by breaking off the sharp edges or the little things that stand in the way of making you one. Then He will blend you together so that you become like one person – thinking, feeling and acting the same. So don’t be discouraged if it looks like things are actually getting worse rather than better. Keep working at it and desiring to become that one person, and the Lord will make it happen. That is His part and the spiritual side. You can play a part in the natural too.



It Starts with Observation



You can speeden up the process! It starts by being aware of your spouse. Start by being observant. Watch your husband or wife closely and see how they react to certain things, what they like or dislike, what upsets them or makes them happy. You should be like a private investigator who has to pick up important data that other people often miss. Listen carefully to your spouse as they talk, and after a while you will begin to know what they would say and how they would say it.



It amazes me to see some marriages where the husband and wife have no idea what is going on in each other’s lives! They are simply like two people living in the same house, but they are so busy with their own lives they know nothing about their spouse and what they are like. They are two people each on their own agendas who happen to like each other - hopefully. Aside from that, there is no unity and no knowledge of the other person. How are you ever going to become one if you don’t know your husband or wife well?



When Les and I first got married, this was my greatest area of failure. I was so unobservant! I think I was kind of like what Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 8:18:



Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?



I saw things happen to Les and I heard things that he spoke to me, but as fast as what it happened I forgot them, and got side-tracked with other things. It’s as though they didn’t penetrate, because I was too wrapped up in my own world to be aware or become involved with what was happening to him.



It is easy to become like this and I understand how it can happen, but I want to give you a challenge today: You can change! You can become more involved in your spouse’s world. You can become a part of them and what they do, think and desire, and bring about a huge downpour of blessing at the same time. The change must start with you, and then it will flow down to your spouse.



Communicate!



The next thing to do is communicate and share everything! We’ve dealt with this in quite a few studies already, but I want to remind you again and again until it becomes so easy that you will never have a problem with it! If you can get the communication part right then every little problem, blockage or barrier can be removed by the Lord, because nothing will stand in the way! Nothing will be hidden or vague, and you will not have small misunderstandings with your spouse that can cause such big problems.



As Les has shared, you should daily both talk and share everything that is on your heart: things that you desire, your dreams and visions, problems that you are experiencing, even if they seem small. If your spouse is talking – listen! You should be like a sponge that just soaks up every little drop of what they are saying. Then try and remember or be aware of everything that they have said. How else will you know what is happening in your spouse if you don’t take an interest? How else will you be able to meet his or her needs if you don’t do this?



Keys to Becoming One



Now you can join your heart to your husband or wife and stand with them. As you know all the things that your spouse has shared, you can stand on the promise of the Word that says, “Where two or more agree on anything, it shall be done by my Father in heaven.” You will often need that power of agreement with your spouse. You can also begin to flow in faith, hope and love with them. Here is a quick summary of how you can do this:



Faith: Whatever your spouse is desiring or praying about – join him or her in it. Pray for the same things. Agree with them and join your faith with theirs. You can pray together or separately – it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to be praying in the same direction. Then just trust the Lord to bring the answers in His way and His timing.



Hope: You need to expect the answer and not settle for anything less! See the Lord giving your spouse that answer. Imagine it and keep that picture in your mind continually, and it will happen at the right time. Then you can both rejoice and get excited about the answer.



Love: Continue to love your spouse unconditionally, whether they love you back or not. They may be under pressure or going through a hard time, and they may ignore you or snap at you. I know that this is hard to accept if it happens, but it won’t last. Your love will work on your spouse like a sharp sword or a powerful laser beam, and the Lord will bring about the changes that are needed.



So now, what do you have here? You have two people who are both walking along the road as one. They are walking in the same direction, thinking in the same way and desiring the same things. As you are standing with your spouse, remember that he or she is standing with you too in your desires and plans. United in this way, nothing can stand against you and Satan cannot separate you! You will also become a mighty tool that the Lord can use for His Kingdom!



Blessings,



_____________

Daphne Crause

Minggu, 13 Desember 2009

Never, Never, Never Give Up!



Never, Never, Never Give Up!
By Wendy Griffith

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.—Galatians 6:9 (King James Version)
Wendy Griffith

As much as we look forward to the holidays, it can also be one of the toughest times of the year. For me, I often look back at the year and ask, Did I accomplish my goals for this year? Did the things I was believing God for happen this year? If they didn't, it's tempting to let disappointment and despair come in. But, the good news is: God has an answer! Don't give up! Don't lose hope! Don't lose your confidence! The thing you're believing God for could be closer than you think.

God has an appointed time, and He says in Galatians 6:9 (AMP): "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage..."

The NIV Bible says it like this: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest if we do not give up."

My friends, that is a promise you can take to the bank. God has an appointed time to bless you. You may think it's long overdue, but God says, "If you don't give up and throw in the towel...I promise...I am going to bless you."

God is Not a Slacker

In 2 Peter 3:9 the Lord says, "I am not slack in the promises I have made toward you, as some men count slackness," but He is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

I love the definition of slack: moving slowly; sluggish; lacking in activity, not busy, loose, not tense or taut, lacking in diligence or due care or concern; negligent as in a slack worker or a slacker.

Friends, God is not a slacker. Especially when it comes to those things that He has promised you. You may be one more hour, one more prayer, one more step of obedience away from your promise. God is faithful! Resist the temptation to doubt, resist the temptation to think the Lord has forgotten you—because deep down inside, you know you are closer than it may look or feel.

Then (Jesus) spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.—Luke 18:1

I want to remind you about a woman in the Bible who knew how to pray and refused to give up until she got her promise. Her name is Hannah, and she was married to a man named Elkanah and He had another wife named Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

In 1 Samuel, Chapter One, it says Hannah was a woman of sorrowful spirit. In fact, it goes on to say she was at the point of grief and bitterness of soul. The other wife had tormented her constantly because of her barrenness, and she just couldn't take it anymore. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you feel you are just hanging on by a thread. Well, hang on brother or sister! This story and your story have a happy ending.

The Bible was clear, Hannah was deeply grieved. 1 Samuel 1:7 says, "She wept and did not eat." Fortunately, Hannah knew what to do. The Bible says she went to church and she prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."

Now, because of her grief, Hannah prayed in her heart, only her lips moved but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli the priest thought she was drunk and said to her, "'How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!' But Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.' Then Eli answered and said, 'Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.' And she said, 'Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.' So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad."

The Waiting is Not in Vain

Did Hannah have her baby yet? No! But the Bible says she was no longer sad. She hadn't conceived the baby in the natural yet, but she had conceived the baby in the spirit. She had the word of the Lord, and she knew that baby was on the way.

Here's the lesson: whatever the burden, whatever that thing is that you've been asking the Lord for year after year after year, be like Hannah. Call on the God of the Universe! Call on the One who can take your barrenness away and give you new life! The One who can give you the desires of your heart. Maybe, like Hannah, you're crying out for a baby; or a husband, a wife, a job, a ministry, a loved one to get saved, or for a healing. God remembered Hannah and at the appointed time, He will remember you too!

Hannah wanted a son, but God wanted a prophet to Israel. Her waiting was not in vain. God had to get her to the point of desperation where she was not only crying out to the Lord for a child, but she was willing to give him up for the Lord's service. She wanted a son, but God needed a prophet. God had to get her to the point where she wanted what God wanted. See, God has a purpose in your waiting.

And here we are, three thousand years later, and we're still talking about Hannah's son Samuel. Hannah's determination, her willingness to never give up, to press in and get her promise, is what makes her still a hero today. God remembered Hannah, my friend. Today, I believe God is remembering you, too. He has a set time, an appointed time.

In Psalm 102:13 God says, "You will arise and have compassion on Zion (put your name here): for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come."

Selasa, 01 Desember 2009

The Crisis of a Christless Christianity


The Crisis of a Christless Christianity
Posted on 11. Apr, 2009 by Chip Brogden in Articles & Essays
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him… beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him…” (Colossians 2:6,8,9a)
The Christian life is a life that is lived IN CHRIST. That is to say, to walk IN HIM is to live as a Christian. Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. A Christian is a branch that grows out of the Vine and continually produces abundant fruit for the Husbandman. The Church is the gathering together of all individual branches into one Vineyard (see John 15). In this metaphor we see that Christianity is supposed to be a living phenomenon, an observable reality, not a religious philosophy or set of teachings.
As we first received the Lord Jesus, so we continue to walk in the Lord Jesus. Receiving Christ is the Gate, but walking in Him as we have received Him is the Path. The Gate is an event, while the Path is a process. The Gate is for entering, while the Path is for walking.
Everything God has done, is doing, and will do is aimed at bringing us deeper into Christ, to finish what was begun in us when we first received Him. God is the One Who brings us through the Gate, and God is the One Who leads us along the Path. Everything God has done, is doing, and will do has the same purpose, and that purpose explains everything you have been through, everything you are going through, and everything you will go through.
Jesus is the Alpha from Whom all things in God are initiated, and Jesus is the Omega unto Whom all things of God find their purpose, their meaning, and their reason for being. Everything begins in Christ, and everything ends in Christ. He is the Beginning as well as the End.
Real spiritual growth occurs when we realize that God has only one goal for us, and that is, the full, mature, complete, and experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ. To the extent that we discard “things” and become focused wholly on Christ, to that extent we will make progress.
THE CHALLENGE OF REMAINING CHRIST-CENTERED
Christians should walk in the Lord Jesus as they received Him. We must not allow anything to keep us from growing up in to Him. Spiritual growth in the life of a Christian is determined by the measure of the increase of Christ and the decrease of Self: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). It is not a question of gifts, knowledge, years of experience, or power. If by the end of today there is less of me and more of Jesus then I am growing. Otherwise I am not. Jesus must become greater and greater in my life, and I must become lesser and lesser. This is the Path.
Along this Path towards apprehending Christ as all in all there are many pitfalls, snares, hindrances, and detours. Thus, Paul says we are to be on our guard and let no man spoil us. In this context, the word “spoil” means, “to destroy and strip of one’s possessions; to deprive of something valuable by force.” Every spiritual blessing heaven has to offer is found in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Each believer has an incredible fullness and completeness in the Person of Jesus Christ. Christ is THE Gift of God, the ultimate Gift, and this Gift is precious, valuable, and of great worth.
How then can we be spoiled? According to Paul we are spoiled “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (elements) of the world, and not after Christ.” It matters not if the philosophy is good, right, morally excellent, and praiseworthy. It matters not how well intentioned, meaningful, or helpful the tradition is. It matters not how necessary we think the worldly element to be, or how important it is to society in general. If none of these things are “after Christ”, that is, if they are not of Him, through Him, and unto Him, then they are worthless insofar as God’s Purpose is concerned and must be discarded.
This is what Paul alludes to in Philippians 3. Paul represents the very best that religion, philosophy, and tradition has to offer – education, gravity, intelligence, doctrine, zeal, community service, and so on. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (v. 7,8). To be able to sweep aside all religious upbringing, moral philosophy, and tradition with one wave of the hand and consider it refuse is to know Jesus experientially as Enough. This is what it means to be decreased. God’s Purpose for all believers is to be reduced to Christ, and everything is working to bring us to this final conclusion: “not I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20ff).
The apostolic letters that make up a significant portion of our New Testament, more than anything else, seek to redirect the saints back onto Christ and away from a myriad of things seeking to rob them of their time, energy, attention, focus, and spiritual devotion. Many things competed with Christ and tried to spoil these new believers. These distractions were abundant in the early Church. They became entangled in many things. The whole controversy of Jews and Gentiles; to be circumcised, or not to be circumcised; to marry, or to remain single; to keep the Sabbath, or not to keep the Sabbath; which foods to eat, and which foods not to eat; whether one should follow Peter, or Paul, or Apollos; to speak in tongues, or not to speak in tongues; how men should behave, and how women should behave; what about this, and what about that. On and on it went, and on and on it still goes today.
I have said many times that we do not need more of the Lord, since we are already complete in Christ – we just need less of everything else. There are many things that spoil, hinder, distract, and lead us away from the simplicity of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Many of them are spiritual and religious. The spirit of Antichrist is not necessarily seen in something that is obviously satanic or demonic. Instead, the spirit of Antichrist is revealed in anything that seeks to spoil us by taking our eyes off of Christ – it is anti-Christ, against Christ, antithetical to the great Purpose of God.
How easy it is for us to become distracted into something less than Christ! Are you centered on Christ? Is Jesus your obsession? Is He your focus? Or have you set your sights on something beneath Him? This speaks right to the heart of the crisis we find ourselves in today.
CHRISTLESS EVANGELISM
The crisis of Christless Christianity begins with the way we go about reaching the Lost. Jesus said if He is lifted up then He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). Instead, we lift up religion and draw all men into an institution. Sinners today are presented with a Gospel that is decidedly in their favor. It is marketed and packaged the same way a salesman makes a sales pitch: it must answer the all important, universal question: “What’s in it for me?” And the answer is salvation, the assurance of a home in heaven, deliverance, solutions to problems, peace, blessings from God, and so forth.
The death of Christianity will not be the result of everyone rejecting the Gospel, but the result of everyone accepting a watered-down version of it.
All too often the object of salvation, its very purpose, is overlooked. Why should a sinner repent? Not for what he or she can get out of it, but for what the Lord Jesus gets out of it. Do we reach out to the world based on their own self-serving need, or based on the Lord’s Need? The harvest is for the Lord, not for the workers, and not for the ones who are harvested. The sheep are for the Shepherd.
A sinner ought to repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand. They should be shown that God is gathering together in one “all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10ff), that this is God’s Purpose for all men, and that yielding to Him now is the only reasonable, logical, and life-saving alternative they have. But an easy Gospel begets easy disciples. If our message is easy then many will respond under the impression that they are doing God a big favor by “getting saved”. Thus, God becomes their debtor, and they expect Him to repay them many times over, not merely with a future promise of life in heaven, but with good things for them in their present life on earth. Is it any wonder that the Church is spiritually weak and immature, with “disciples” such as this?
Christless evangelism does not give anyone salvation, it only gives them the false assurance of salvation. The Church is supposed to make disciples for Christ, not record decisions for Christ. A decision does not necessarily make a disciple. Christ must be the object and the focus of all outreach.
CHRISTLESS APOSTLES AND PROPHETS
What is “the ministry”? According to the Scriptures, there is but one ministry, and that is the ministry of directing everyone to Christ as all in all. Now how this ministry functions in each one of us is different according to how God has placed us. There are many operations and many functions, many gifts and many manifestations, but there is only one goal and that goal is Christ.
For example, the purpose of the apostolic ministry is not church planting, or setting churches in order, or taking missionary journeys. The purpose is Christ. Now, they may DO those things. We are not suggesting that Paul did not do all these things; we are simply saying that Paul’s purpose was Christ, and towards that end he labored accordingly. Without God’s End in clear view, all these things become mere activities, religious carryings-on, but there is nothing ultimate about it, nothing that ties it all together or justifies it in terms of furthering God’s Purpose. I have my little work, you have your little work, but there is no harmony, no communion, no relatedness between any of several million projects, ministries, and outreaches. Each one struggles to achieve their own ends, and there is little if any agreement on what exactly that “end” is supposed to be.
The apostle communicates the ultimate Purpose of God, lays the foundation, and then keeps the End before the builders at all times. But many of today’s apostles seem to be presenting themselves as church planting or church growth experts. Is this what the apostolic ministry is becoming? Church growth is not God’s goal. Church planting is not His purpose either. These are merely things: they are not Christ. You can plant churches and grow churches and completely miss Jesus in all of it.
What about the prophetic ministry? The purpose of all prophetic speaking is Christ. “It is the truth concerning JESUS that inspires all prophecy” (Revelation 19:10b, Knox). Those inspired to speak or proclaim something by the Holy Spirit should be helping to direct our attention onto Christ and away from everything that distracts us. The prophetic voice should rise up like a trumpet and bring clarity and direction out of confusion and misunderstanding. It is not just truth stated in an inspirational way, it is the truth concerning JESUS spoken by those who know Him and can lead others to Him. But of all things, the prophetic ministry today does more to distract us from Jesus than to tell us the truth concerning Jesus. In fact, it is difficult to find Jesus at all in most of what is touted today as “prophetic”.
The prophetic word is given to point us to Jesus. Everything the Holy Spirit would speak, reveal, teach, and show us is towards this same end, which is CHRIST. We do not need to mull over every dream, vision, word, or prophecy, trying to exegete its hidden meaning, struggling to extract some spiritual significance where none exists. If what we see and hear does not point us to Jesus then it is not prophetic and should be discarded. This simple test will keep us from distraction.
Apostles must point people to Christ. Prophets must point people to Christ. Evangelists must point people to Christ. Pastors and teachers must point people to Christ. Otherwise they are not fulfilling the purpose for which God placed them in the Church to begin with. Apostolic ministry is not an end unto itself, but is a means to an end. Prophetic ministry is not an end unto itself, but is a means to an end. Evangelistic ministry is not an end unto itself, but is a means to an end. Pastoral and teaching ministries are not ends unto themselves, but are a means to an end. What is the end? What is the purpose? What does it all lead to? It leads to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13b). The fullness of Christ, the full-knowledge of Him – this is God’s Goal and His Ultimate Intention.
CHRISTLESS FELLOWSHIP
We know by now that the actual church building has nothing to do with God’s Eternal Purpose. The church service is a thing created by us and for us – God’s Need is seldom, if ever, considered. If we recognize that the service, ministry, meeting, gathering, or building is not the end, but only a means to an End (which is Christ), then we do well. But when we attach spiritual, emotional, or even superstitious significance to a mere thing, or place, or day, or tradition, or way of doing things, then we will be spoiled through “traditions of men”, and will not walk after Christ Himself.
Even something as good as fellowship with other believers becomes such a distraction from Christ that He cannot trust us with relationships. We hunger and thirst for “like-minded believers”, which is sometimes a code word for “anyone who thinks and believes the same as I do and will always agree with me no matter what!” The end result is we seldom find what we are looking for in other people.
Christians go here and there looking for “fellowship”. They participate in meetings, conferences, seminars, groups, and online discussion lists and email exchanges. To be sure these can be useful tools for bringing Christians together – but not if they are looking for fellowship as a “thing”, instead of the fruit of a Christ-centered life.
If fellowship with others is my focus then I am bypassing the Head and trying to have fellowship on some ground other than Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that “what we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ…if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (I John 1:3,7a).
Fellowship is ordained by God as a means through which the Life of Jesus may be shared: “From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body towards the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16). In other words, we are joined together to experience the Life of the Lord together. This is what makes us of one mind and one accord. Like-mindedness only occurs when we agree to “let this mind be in [us] that was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Life is not in a meeting, or in a gathering, or in a way of doing things – Life is Christ, and Christ is Life. He is the Purpose.
So true fellowship is grounded in Jesus first of all. Fellowship with others on THAT basis is neither forced, nor orchestrated; it is effortless, spontaneous, and full of life. Fellowship naturally occurs because we have all seen and heard the same thing from the Lord – we are walking in the same Path towards Christ as all in all. We are in one accord not because we all look, think, and act just the same, but because we all, in spite of our differences, have God’s End in mind.
If we look to one another for fellowship apart from what we have seen and heard of the Lord then we are limiting ourselves to relationships with people with whom we naturally get along with. If we see fellowship as the reason for our existence as Christians then, ironically, we will never be satisfied. We cannot know one another according to the flesh and find contentment. We cannot properly discern the Body until we establish communion with its Head. Life is given and received as we stand with one another in relationship to Christ.
CHRISTLESS SPIRITUALITY
What is the “deeper Christian life”? It is nothing more and nothing less than Christ Himself. To be deep is to be simple, focused, and devoted to the One Thing that is needed (see Luke 10:41,42). But even here, some believers seek the deeper Christian life as a thing, a teaching, a certain way of acting spiritual. The “deeper life” becomes the goal instead of Christ as Life. They become profoundly mystical and spiritual, but it is death because they do not touch Christ, they touch spirituality. There is no life in spirituality, or mysticism, or religiosity; there is only Life in Christ. Anything less becomes a distraction.
I came to the Lord in the midst of the Charismatic movement. The emphasis was on Spirit-filled living, restoring spiritual gifts, the power of God, and so forth. We find no fault with walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. But what is the purpose of all this fullness? Why tongues, and prophetic words, and other spiritual gifts? Why the manifest power of God? All of these things are given us by the Lord to draw us deeper into Himself; to repeat, they are means to an End, but they are not the end, for the End, the Purpose, and the Reason for all things is Christ.
“When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all Truth [Christ]: for He shall not speak of Himself… He will glorify Me, for He will receive from Me, and will reveal it to you” (John 16:13,14ff). All the gifts, all the power, all the counsel, everything pertaining to the Holy Spirit has the goal of bringing us into a more complete knowing of Jesus Christ. Everything must be in harmony with this.
But just see how the experience of being “filled” or “baptized” or “anointed” or “slain in the Spirit” has replaced Christ! What is the result? Excess, error, and a falling away into the flesh. Today we see only a shadow of what we once saw. How many “Full-Gospel” believers are still living off of the glory that they saw twenty-five years ago! They are still looking for an experience, but if God gives it to them, it is a step backwards. They have not grown one bit; they are simply coasting on the energy of what God was doing twenty or thirty years ago.
It is time for us to leave elementary school and go on to maturity. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man I put away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11). The Lord has a high calling for us, and we are called to “go on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1ff). The spiritual life begins in Christ, is sustained by Christ, and leads us to Christ. We may begin by having some profound spiritual experiences, but maturity is certainly not achieved through them.
CHRISTLESS WARFARE
Out of the Charismatic movement came an intense interest in spiritual warfare. Here is yet another potential distraction from Christ. What is spiritual warfare? It should be the process of demonstrating the preeminence of Christ over all things. It should be bringing all things into conformity to God’s Ultimate Intention and showing that Christ is the Head of all principality and power. It should be learning how to defeat the dragon by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and the denial of Self (cf. Revelation 12:11).
Instead, spiritual warfare has become a weird end unto itself, and Jesus is scarcely seen. The revelation of Christ is seldom found; instead, we are often told to seek the revelation of satan and all his workings. Saints are kept occupied day and night fighting the devil (sometimes only in their imagination), or traveling all over the world to “confront” territorial spirits (which only proves they are warring after the flesh, for there is no distance in the spirit realm), intruding into things they have no business getting into. The backlash is swift and the damage is severe. Why? They have grasped spiritual warfare as a “thing” apart from Christ.
True, we cannot afford to be ignorant of satan’s devices (II Corinthians 2:11b), but neither can we afford to make darkness the focus of our lives. Our focus is not the devil, what the devil is doing, or what the devil is planning to do. Our focus is Christ, and to the extent that we walk in the Light, to that extent the Darkness will be exposed by the Light and will flee.
Victory is not the result of everything we know about spiritual warfare: Victory is a Man. All the formulas, methods, teachings, manuals, and books in the world will not sufficiently prepare us for demonstrating the preeminence of Christ over all things if we do not, in fact, have an abiding relationship with the One Whom we are proclaiming.
What is the focus? Spiritual warfare, or Christ Himself? The first is a thing, the second is a Person. Spiritual warfare, properly carried out, is harmonious with God’s Purpose because it exalts Christ (not the devil) and demonstrates that all things are submitted to Him. But without this foundation we are inviting disaster.
RESTORING CHRIST TO CHRISTIANITY
We are trying to get to the heart of things, down to the very root of these matters. The bottom line is there are many things that are ABOUT Jesus, but are NOT Jesus. Then there is Jesus Himself. When the things about Christ become more important than Christ Himself then we need to revisit who we are and what we are doing.
We live in the Laodicean age that is characterized by insipid lukewarmness and blindness to the truth of our own spiritual condition (cf. Revelation 3:1-19). The picture presented to us is one of Christ standing on the outside of things, knocking at the door, and waiting for someone to open the door to Him (cf. Revelation 3:20). Since this is written to the saints it cannot be construed as an invitation to sinners to “invite Jesus into their heart”; instead, it is the Lord calling upon the church to make Him the center again. The issue was, and still is fellowship, communion, and abiding – maintaining its relationship to the Head.
God’s solution for a lukewarm, tasteless, colorless, odorless church is a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ. He will bring us back to our foundation. He will align us with His Purpose. He will adjust us back to Himself. God will purge, refine, chasten, and conform us to the image of His Son. But we must respond to His invitation and open the door.
O Christian, come back to Christ! Simplify your life, eliminate the “many things”, count them as dung, and cling to the One Thing! Be reduced to Christ!
The Lord says, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Revelation 3:21).

Rabu, 25 November 2009

10 Truths to Live By


10 Truths to Live By
By Kent Humphreys www.fcci.org

1. Don’t be religious, but passionately seek to know and love God. Seventy years on this earth will seem but a moment in all eternity.

“Love your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your might” Deuteronomy 6:4, 5

2. Make your family a priority. Love is spelled “T-I-M-E”. Create opportunities to work and play together.

“Husbands love, wives respect, young children obey, and grown children honor” Ephesians 5, 6

3. Have a career that you enjoy and be the best at what you do, both in your company and industry. Never compare yourself to someone else. Balance times of work and rest.

“God will teach him how to choose the best” Psalms 25:12 (L)

4. Love and serve those people around you as you observe, listen, and become available to them. Don’t seek to control others, but unselfishly give your life for them.

“Through love serve one another” Galatians 5:13

5. Build your life on established truths. The latest “opinion polls,” how people “feel,” or current fads are weak foundations on which to build your life.

“I am the Truth” John 14:6 “A wise man who built his house upon a rock” Matthew 7:24

6. Establish a few intimate friendships and become transparent in small groups. True friends are invaluable and necessary during the storms of life.

“A cord of three standards is not quickly torn apart” Ecclesiastes 4:12

7. Keep your word whatever it cost! Be totally honest, trustworthy, and a person of character. Yes, character does matter.

“Who can find a trustworthy man?” Proverbs 20:6

8. Work hard at learning to be a good communicator. Read a lot, learn to speak, to write and to spell. Be an enthusiastic leader, not a dumb sheep following the crowd over the cliff.

“A wise man will then increase in learning” Proverbs 1:5

9. Make money your slave, not your master, save regularly and avoid debt. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

“Whoever loves money will not be satisfied” Ecclesiastes 5:10

10. Persist. Never give up! Know where you are going.

“Trials --> Perseverance --> Character --> Hope” Romans 5:3, 4

Kamis, 19 November 2009

Born of God's Seed

Born of God's Seed
By Bob Mumford

For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

The Seed has the power to produce after its kind. Just as Jesus carried the Father’s DNA, so should we. Jesus lived a life of Agape because of God’s DNA. A more careful reading of this passage regarding the Eternal Seed is helpful:

Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart. You have been regenerated (born again), not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm), but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting Word of God. For all flesh (mankind) is like grass, and all its glory (honor) like [the] flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower drops off.

Peter’s appeal is love (Agape) for one another due to the reception of the Eternal, Incorruptible Seed that was given to us at the time of our New Birth. This Incorruptible Seed must produce “fruit after its kind” according to the laws of creation in Genesis.

The word of God is Christ, Incarnate, Who gave Himself in life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension so that the Eternal Seed could come in spiritual form: “Christ (Himself) dwelling in my heart by faith.” When Christ is fully formed in our person, as Paul prays, we discover that the Eternal Seed produces the fruit of Agape—love, joy, and peace. Father has provided Himself “sons unto glory” – men and women who are able to display His Glory as the seven aspects of His DNA. It is the Father’s intent that just as Jesus carried His DNA, so should we.

THOUGHTS & QUESTIONS
• In what ways can you see Peter’s appeal for Agape in this Scripture?
• At what point does the Eternal Seed begin to produce fruit?
• Why is it important for us to be “sons unto glory”?

Study References

1 Peter 1:23 – NASU
1 Pe 1:22-24 AMP
Eph. 3:17
Galatians 4:19
Galatians 5:22-23

Minggu, 01 November 2009

Being Known and Knowing!

Being Known and Knowing!


Hello Friends
Recently I read an excellent article on the five ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 and began to ask why years of such teaching has produced so little fruit. At times there even seems to be an obsession with finding our ministry gift. The thinking being that if I know what gift I am, I will be that gift. Or worse, if I announce what gift I am, I will be received as such. This leadership by declaration may work in some Christian cultural ghettoes but in the real world nobody cares what title is on your business card.

Certainly knowledge is power to release technological breakthrough after technological break through but it does work that way in the Kingdom of God! You are not an ipod or a computer chip.

There are two principles of knowing mentioned by Jesus. We know by obedience (John 7:17) and we know through revelation based in humility (Matthew 11:25- 30). This is offensive to rationalism and individualism. It is also offensive to most bible schools, seminaries and teaching ministries who want you to buy their books and attend their conferences for more and more teaching! We want to know through the rational exercises of accessing all the information and weighing all the options since that leaves us in control and free of risk. Knowledge through humility/obedience and humility/revelation is knowledge through a living, working relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the Truth that sets free.

How we know is more important than what we know. Do we know through partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Do we know through our intellect and its relationship to information? Or do we know through our love and faith relationship with Jesus, the Tree of Life? Jesus did not start a bible school, hand out study notes and hide behind a podium. He took his disciples to the streets and into the lives of people.

Jesus mentions one principle of being known. We are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:16- 20). Often ministry gifts are defined in such a way that the focus is on performance and stage presence rather than character and transformed lives. It is not the feeling of the moment but the fruit of a lifetime which defines us!

Success is in the grandkids!

If you have fruit it does not matter what people call you or who criticizes you!
If you have no fruit it does not matter what people call you or who praises you!

Every blessing
Steve & Marilyn
_____________________________________________________

www.harvest-now.org

North America
35 Colony Trail Blvd
Holland Landing ON L9N 1C6
+1.905.836.8943

Europe
Hoenderhoeve 23
Houten 3992 XK, NL
+31.30.638.4377

Jumat, 23 Oktober 2009

Man's Hour of Darness is God's hour of power


"MAN's HOUR of DARNESS IS GOD's HOUR OF POWER"

On Oct 11th, David Wilkerson preached an awesome word entitled
"Man's Hour of Darkness is God's Hour of Power!" A must-listen.
Here is the link below-


God bless you all

Minggu, 18 Oktober 2009

"GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN"

"GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN"

Caleb was an old man now. Forty five years earlier he and Joshua were two of the twelve spies sent into Canaan to spy out the land. Both Joshua and Caleb had given a good report and recommended that Israel go up and take the land at once. But the other ten spies gave an evil report that struck fear into the hearts of God's people and as a result they did not have the faith to enter the land God had given them. For forty years Israel wandered
about in the desert under the until that entire generation below the age of 20 died . . . all except Joshua and Caleb.

After Moses left the scene and Joshua had led Israel into Canaan, where for five years they won victory after victory, one day Caleb approached Joshua and said, "You know what the Lord said to Moses concerning me at Kedesh-Barnea after we had spied out the land. And now God has kept me alive these forty-five years, and Moses gave me a word at that time that God would surely give me the land upon which my feet had trod. Therefore give me this mountain. For the Lord will surely strengthen me to drive out the inhabitants thereof." (Joshua 14)

There are seven things about this story that stood out to me and impacted my life:

First, here was a man of God who at the age of 85 was holding on to a word he had received 45 years earlier. Has God spoken a word to you that will require the same tenacity and courage to bring it to pass, even though the years have passed over you and the word you received seems to have died out there on the desert somewhere?

Second, the mountain Caleb had in his heart to possess was something his feet had already walked upon, the word of the Lord had only confirmed what was already in his heart concerning that mountain when Moses said, "Surely the land whereon your feet have trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever because you have wholly followed the Lord my God." The faith to possess that mountain came to Caleb by seeing and touching the land and by hearing the word of the Lord concerning what he
had seen and touched. True faith is not arbitrarily choosing a goal and then trying to speak it into being. It is only as we see it in the spirit and know that it is the will of God that we will have the faith to receive it, or to declare it, or to achieve it, or to just wait for it in quietness and in confidence.

Third, this mountain was given to Caleb because of one single act of obedience. He had fully obeyed God in one particular instance and it secured to him a reward that would not be denied to him though it did not come to him for forty-five long years. Many of the blessings that we now enjoy are the rewards of certain acts of obedience that we fulfilled in the past. A very big door will swing on very small hinges. The seemingly insignificant
little acts of obedience we do from day to day may be the hinges that govern the outcome of important and weighty matters in the future. This was the case when Abraham offered Isaac on the altar. Once that was done it never had to be done again. Abraham passed the test and the blessing was pronounced that would never be nullified. You may be right on the verge of entering into blessings that are rewards for some act of obedience
completed years ago, or you may be in a test today that will yield benefits later if you will obey now.

Fourth, Caleb realized that he would have a part in bringing the promise to fulfillment. He had to go out and take the land that had been promised him. He went, he warred and he won! It is a rare thing for God to bring to us a ready-made victory that does not require of us some act of faith. Most of the time we find ourselves in the boat with a word from the Lord like Peter heard that stormy night . . . "Come." Jesus bid him step out of the boat and walk on the water with Him. Peter had to get down out of the boat and walk on the water by his own faith. It was not Jesus' faith, otherwise Peter would not have sunk into the sea.

Has the Lord called on you to leave the comfort zone of your boat and do something that will require miracles to accomplish? If he says, "Come!" it is safe to get out of the boat. Even if you do sink, he is there to rescue you and get you back to safety. The only way you will ever walk on water is to take the risk of getting wet. Peter did get wet, but he also walked on water.

Fifth, Caleb did not allow his age to become a negative factor. "Lo, I am this day 85 years old, but I am as strong this day as I was the day Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now . . . " Many spiritual giants in the Body of Christ down through the years did not get started in their life's calling until they were well past their youth. Smith Wigglesworth started his worldwide miracle healing ministry at age 55. Overholtser was past 50 when he started Child Evangelism Fellowship. Moses was 80 when he received the call to go to Egypt. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when Isaac the son of promise, was born.

God will use you without regard to your age. He is calling men and women of all ages to step out of their comfort zone and walk on water with Him to help disciple the nations. Do you hear the call?

Sixth, Caleb's obedience brought blessing upon his children unto many generations. None of us know how many of the good things we now enjoy are the direct result of some act of obedience on the part of our fathers or forefathers. Conversely, many of the hang ups and bondages we struggle with may be because of some act of disobedience on their part?

Seventh, Caleb served with his brothers to secure the land of Canaan for the entire nation before he made mention of his own individual portion. His example speaks for itself. God wants us to concentrate on how we can be a blessing to others and not always to be thinking about our own things. As we do this, God will secure to us our mountain and fulfill our dreams, and in the process will bless our children and their children unto a thousand generations.

Kamis, 01 Oktober 2009

THE SEEDS of APOSTASY


THE SEEDS of APOSTASY
-by Paul Holdren.

John Wesley recounted that within every revival were the seeds
of apostasy. By this he meant that with revival came righteousness,
with righteousness came favor, with favor came prosperity, and with
prosperity came the temptation to self-reliance. The temptation of
self-reliance is the first step away from God. It is sad that people
are willing to serve the illusion of prosperity by means of self-reliance.

As Americans we can definitely see how this insight fits our country.
Our land was birthed with the ideal that a nation should have the
freedom to worship the true and living God according to one’s
conscience. The Almighty had blessed our nation with righteousness.
With righteousness came national favor, with favor came prosperity,
and now we, as a nation, bear the burdens of decline resulting from
our own self-reliance. As American Christians we can see how the
Spirit of the Lord could speak of a church that sees itself as
“increased of goods and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17).

When idolatry’s seed of self-reliance yields its crop of perversion,
poverty, and struggle—many who claim to be worshippers of
Almighty God will turn to other gods. These gods are the gods
which originate in the satanically manipulated carnal heart. These
gods are conceived in the human imagination and constructed by
human hands. These gods of imagery are bombarding Americans
now, seducing us in a downward spiral of the media’s ongoing
promotion of abomination against God.

Our present “it’s the economy” or “it’s health care” politicians have
replaced Jeremiah’s prosperity prophets, giving us a false sense of
security by proclaiming blessing and peace upon the land. Our
“soft-sell” preachers are proclaiming health and wealth, while the
glory is preparing to depart from our places of worship. “Change
that makes a difference” will not come by the hands of men.
“Change that will make a difference” will only come when we cast
our idols down at the foot of the cross.

Where are the believers like Ezekiel today? Where are the watchmen
on the wall of a nation’s destiny—crying out that the enemy is
coming, that the glory is lifting, and that God is turning His back?
Political correctness tells us not to speak in such a manner.
Religious convenience tells us not to prophecy such, for the people
have ears that need to be tickled (II Tim 4:3). As passionate believers,
we cannot help but speak a word of warning. As passionate oracles
of the truth, we must speak the promise of restoration grace in
order that many may be given the opportunity to cast down their
idols and return to the God of our fathers.

-Paul Holdren,
www.sermonaudio.com/theezekielproject

Jumat, 25 September 2009

JOURNEY TO THE FATHER


Journey to the Father

By Bob Mumford www.lifechangers.org


I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jesus’ job description is to lead us into an intimate love relationship with God. At the same time, God, the Father, is reaching for us through His Son–Jesus Christ. Ponder for a moment an inconceivable thought–God, Himself, passionately desires an intimate relationship with each of us! The path that leads to an open connection with God is called the Agape Road. It is a path of Love He laid out to bring us to Himself, one that Jesus pioneered during His earthly life. He invites us to journey this path to knowing and loving God as Father, but the choice is ours. It is important to understand that heaven is not the goal.
If you are a Christian and you die, you have to go to heaven, there is no place else to go! The goal is knowing the Father Himself!
When we choose to follow Jesus and we give our hearts to Him, we do experience some intimacy with God. However, it is often sporadic and inconsistent. Let me illustrate this from my own life. I was sitting on my back porch when I heard God clearly say to me, I want you to love Me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and I want you to love others. This will require spontaneity and risk.
The more I thought about God asking me to love others, the more I felt resentment, discomfort, and anger. I felt it was unfair for God to ask me to do what I could not do and, really, did not even want to do! I believed I might be able to love God—but not His kids! I was simply too immature to know how to receive or give love on God’s terms.
Without realizing it, I was initially attracted to God as Father because I wanted to use Him for my own comfort and success. Essentially, I wanted Him to do what I wanted, not have a free hand to do what He wanted with me. When you think about this, it summarizes most people’s initial experience with God. As I began to realize how much of my prayer life was centered on getting things from God, I was devastated. I found that I did not even know how to pray without attempting to control God. When my prayer life crashed, I took a pendulum swing to the other extreme and became afraid that if I really loved God and opened to Him, He would send me to some forgotten backwater to rot. In an effort to please Him, I basically lied to Him—I vowed, committed, and promised what I knew I could not give Him—my whole heart. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, I ran, hid, and shifted blame—the essence of sin. Eventually, discouragement made me feel like Peter who said to the Lord, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” But, Jesus was faithful to take me up the Agape Road where I found the grace to say, “Abide with me for I am sinful man.”
When God tells us to love, the ability to give and receive love begins to grow. As we discover our real motives and attitudes and come to terms with the “real” us, Jesus will begin to walk us up the Agape Road toward genuine Love.
QUESTIONS & THOUGHTS
• In what ways has your intimacy with God been sporadic or interrupted?
• How do you feel about developing an intimate relationship with God?
• In what ways are your prayers aimed at getting God to do what you want?

Kamis, 17 September 2009

THE PURPOSE OF THE WILDERNESS


THE PURPOSE of THE WILDERNESS
by Glen Riddick.

Whether you believe it or not, there is a purpose of the Wilderness.
In the Old Testament, many of us have heard preachers and teachers
of the Word of God mention that this 40 year ordeal of wandering in
the wilderness could have been just a few week journey, but they
never go into detail of the specific purpose of the Wilderness.

If we look at the scriptures in Deuteronomy 8:2, "And thou shalt
remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these
forty years in the wilderness, to "humble thee", and to "prove thee", to "know what was in thine heart", whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not."

3 major things were mentioned:

a.. to humble thee
b.. to prove thee
c.. to know what was in thine heart
So as we examine the scriptures, the specific purpose of the wilder-
ness was a mere 'proving ground'. In the wilderness, one is supposed
to die to the flesh (your ideas, your ways) and hearken to the Word of GOD.

Because the Children of Israel did not do these specific "3" things
(they murmured and complained and never changed ) they died in
the wilderness. They were SAVED from the hands of Pharoah and
the Egyptians, but they still died without obtaining the promised
land that was given to them by God. Only Caleb and Joshua along
with the next generation were ever able to crossover and possess
the land .....are you getting this? You can be SAVED, but not have
what is promised!!

God is saying: you will die in the wilderness if you do not allow God to humble you, prove you and reveal to you the issues that are in your heart. The Lord is saying that you think that you are ready for the masses and packed out stadiums and churches, but really you are not.

This 'proving ground' is where we must stay until we get right with
God and then He allows us to truly possess the Promised Land.

If we fast forward and look at the life of Jesus, we see that after He was baptized in the river Jordan, the Spirit of God came upon Him.
Immediately the Spirit of God drove him in the wilderness to be
tempted, tested and tried ( i.e. the proving ground ).

Saints of God, do you see the pattern??? Jesus was in the wilder-
ness just like the children of Israel, but instead of 40 years, it was only 40 days! Glory to God!

When Jesus was in the wilderness, He passed every test!

a.. He did not exalt himself because He was the Son of God.
b.. He did not misuse the Power of God that was within Him and
remained humble.
c.. He was not going to worship another God and sell out for
worldly possessions!

After GOD examined his heart and he passed the tests, the
scriptures tell us that Jesus came out of the wilderness (i.e. the
proving ground ) in the POWER of the SPIRIT and began to possess
the Land. Wherever he went there were signs, wonders and miracles
and there was victory!!

I must be blunt and to the point today Child of God, please stop
acting like the children of Israel in the wilderness, it will only cause death! You will die in the wilderness. Although God will take care of you to some degree, it is second best! I am tired of second best, aren't you??

I really do want to reach the masses! I really do want to flow in the Holy Ghost! I want to be just like Jesus and come out of the wilderness in the Power of the Spirit and then be able to say WATCH
OUT DEVIL, I am COMING IN THE NAME of THE LORD!!

Here is the reason you are in the wilderness:

a.. Some of you are so lifted up in pride, that is the exact reason why you are in the wilderness.
b.. Some of you are failing every single trial and test, so that is why you are in the wilderness, you cannot get past the proving process.
c.. Some of you when you open your mouth, you can clearly see
why you are in the wilderness because, "out of the abundance of
your heart, the mouth speaketh".

Don’t ever think that the people that are being used mightily of God
in our day and time have not paid a dear price for it!!

People that are reaching out and making a difference (I am not
talking about people that are in emotionalism or people that have
learned to work a crowd) that are getting BIBLE RESULTS.... they
have paid a great price to go all the way with God. Are you willing
to pay that price? Are you willing to give it all up like the disciples?
If not, you cannot be Jesus' disciple. Search the scriptures....this
type of believer does not need advertisement.... GOD is their advertisement!

In conclusion, God wants you to come out of the wilderness. God
wants you to eat the good of the land. God wants us to be just like
Jesus! If we are just like Jesus, churches will not be empty, if we
are just like Jesus, people would have faith in God. If we are just
like Jesus, we will be able to do the greater works that he talked
about and will not waste time talking of what God used to do, but
we will begin to talk about what he is doing right now! Glory to God!!

Please do not die in the wilderness.... you have been there too long.

Blessings,

Glen Riddick.

Kamis, 10 September 2009

HOW MUCH LIKE JESUS ARE WE ANYHOW?


HOW MUCH LIKE JESUS ARE WE ANYHOW?
As Spirit filled followers of Jesus we are more like Him than we think we are!
And Jesus was more like us than we think He was!


Consider the following:
Jesus was born of the Spirit at His conception for Mary was impregnated supernaturally by the Holy Spirit.
So when He was born naturally He was already born of the Spirit.
We are born naturally as He was and when we receive Him as our Savior, we too are born of the Spirit.
Jesus received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the age of thirty when he was baptised by John in the Jordan.
When we receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit it is the same baptism and the same anointing Jesus had.
Jesus was a man filled with the Holy Spirit and did all those miracles through Holy Spirit anointing, just like we do.
Jesus was a man in every sense and not Almighty God in His earth walk. We are the same as He was.
He got hungry, tired and sleepy just like us. He even had to go to the bathroom and do number one and number two!
Paul says in Romans that He was the firstborn of many others like Him. He was talking about you and me!
So if we are like Jesus except in His being the Lamb of God and the King of Kings, what does that mean?
It means we can live like He lived, think like He thought and do the things He did for the glory of God and the good of man!
Peter says we have been made partakers of the divine nature. Can you say "Amen" to that amazing truth?
You are more like Jesus than you may think you are and He was more like you than you may think He was!

Selasa, 08 September 2009

Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever


Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever

By Lee Grady www.themordecaiproject.com


Don't let the sensationalism of eschatology distract you from the priority of evangelism.
You might remember Edgar Whisenant. He wrote a best-selling book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988—and a much less popular sequel, The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. The second book said Jesus didn't come back in 1988 because the author, who was a former NASA engineer (!), missed his mathematical calculations by a year.
The mood of the 1980s was uneasy. After Ronald Reagan was elected president, some Christians began to surmise that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was the Antichrist. When he died they gave the title to the next Soviet leader, Yury Andropov, and then to his successor, Konstantin Chernenko. When Chernenko died unexpectedly, people were certain that Mikhail Gorbachev was the Antichrist because he had that awful red birthmark on his forehead.
"If you study the great Christian revivals of the past you will find that none were triggered by date-setting, rapture fever or Bible prophecy seminars.""
But Jesus didn't return during Gorbachev's tenure. In fact the Soviet system crumbled and Christian missionary activity began to blossom all over the cold Russian landscape. The people who expected the sky to fall any minute found someone else to fill the Antichrist's shoes. First it was Bill Gates, then Osama bin Laden. Today it's a toss-up between Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan despot Hugo Chávez.
Through the years there have been gloomy rumors about computer chips and global conspiracy. I remember one story warning us that JCPenney credit cards carried the mark of the beast. Today if you believe everything you read on the Internet, that same evil mark is on President Barack Obama's birth certificate.
All this date-setting and foolish prognostication bothers me because Jesus said it is strictly off-limits. He told His disciples before His ascension, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority" (Acts 1:7, NASB). That means we don't have the right to predict the date of His return or to make guesses about the timeline of final judgment.
The apostle Paul also warned the early church to stay away from date-setting. He told Timothy: "But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels" (2 Tim. 2:23). Paul wanted his followers to keep their focus on the main thing—the spreading of the gospel—so they wouldn't get sidetracked.
Christians hold different views of the last days. Pre-millennialists focus on the imminent rapture of the church—an event that is described in the New Testament. Post-millennialists focus on the triumph of Christ through history—something that is also reinforced in the book of Revelation. Preterists emphasize the ever-increasing government of God—which Isaiah and other prophets spoke of.
I am not writing here to push a particular view of the end times. When people ask me about my eschatological position I tell them I am a "pan-millennialist"—as in: "It will all pan out in the end." I know Jesus will return in triumph. But we can't figure out these things beforehand. Anyone who claims to be an "expert" in the mysteries of Christ's return has forgotten that Jesus Himself said, "Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matt. 24:36).
What concerns me most about an unhealthy focus on eschatology is that it distracts us from the ultimate priority of evangelism.
People who get carried away by rapture fever can become escapists. I've met Christians who want Jesus to come back tomorrow even though they know there are entire tribes and people groups in Asia and Africa that have never heard the gospel. On the other hand, I've known smug post-millennialists who were so happy that God's kingdom is advancing that they felt no personal responsibility to reach the lost. I also know people who are so focused on what God is doing in Israel that they forget He has a plan for Nigeria, Bolivia or Indonesia.
In all these cases a wrong emphasis on eschatology caused Christians to lose sight of the Great Commission.
If you study the great Christian revivals of the past you find that none were triggered by date-setting, rapture fever or Bible prophecy seminars. We must preach the cross. Of course we tell the world that Christ is returning. But we do not have permission to muddle our message with nonsense about dates and global conspiracies.
John Wesley and George Whitefield preached repentance, the atonement of Christ and the reality of hell. William and Catherine Booth wept for souls and preached the message of salvation throughout England. Evan Roberts begged God to close the gates of hell in Wales for a year so that he could preach the simple gospel of a perfect redeemer. In all these cases genuine revival was the result. How I wish we could adopt this passionate focus on what really matters.
British revivalist Charles Spurgeon rebuked the preachers of his day for their eschatological speculations. He wrote in Lectures to My Students:
"O that Christ crucified were the universal burden of men of God. Your guess at the number of the beast ... your conjectures concerning a personal Antichrist—forgive me, I count them but mere bones for dogs; while men are dying, and hell is filling, it seems to me the veriest drivel to be muttering about an Armageddon ... and peeping between the folded leaves of destiny to discover the fate of Germany. I would sooner pluck one single brand from the burning than explain all mysteries."
If only the American church would leave this drivel behind. I pray we will reconsider our priorities and embrace a fresh anointing for evangelism.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady.

Minggu, 06 September 2009

He Must Increase


He Must Increase
by Chip Brogden
“He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).”
These seven words found in John 3:30 contain the entire mystery of God’s dealings with man from ages past to eternity future. “He [Christ] must increase.” All of God’s works are towards this end of increasing Christ. In other words, everything God has done, is doing, and will do is related towards revealing His Son and bringing us into the full-knowledge (epignosis) of Him. The goal is for Christ to have the preeminence in all things, beginning with us individually as disciples, then with the Church, and finally with all creation, “that He may be All in All.”
He MUST increase. Isaiah tells us that there will be no end of the increase of His government and peace. In the beginning was the Word, and we can see how God has worked steadily from the beginning to increase Christ. From types and shadows in the Old Testament we see Christ coming into view. Then the Word is made flesh and dwells among us, and Christ is increased yet again. Next He comes to dwell within us, and this is a major increase. Finally, He begins to conform us to His own image through the indwelling Life. If we are growing up into Him then He is increasing daily. Eventually every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Beyond this, we are told that God will continue to reveal His Son in the ages to come, bringing us into depths and dimensions of Christ that we cannot fathom.
God is not moving backward, but in the Son and through the Son, He moves steadily forward. Christ MUST increase. This is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Just as we cannot have gravity without having the law of gravity, so it is impossible to have the Life of the Lord but not have the Law of that Life. And the Law of Life is that Christ must increase.
“But I must decrease.” Why doesn’t God reveal His Son to us, in all His glory, all at once? What prevents Christ from filling all things and having the preeminence now? Why do we not yet see all things submitted to Him? Because we must be decreased. If He is to become greater then I must become lesser. When Paul says, “Not I, but Christ,” he is saying “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Just as all things are working together towards God’s purpose of increasing Christ, so all things are working together towards decreasing us. It does not matter if we understand it or comprehend it. It does not matter if you believe in it or agree with it. You are being decreased just the same, and Christ is being increased. It MUST be so, therefore it IS so. Scientists call this decreasing “entropy”, and it means, “inevitable and steady deterioration”. We can observe this in creation. The present things are groaning and travailing in pain, deteriorating in order to make way for a new heaven and a new earth. We begin to die as soon as we are born. We can look in our own bodies for evidence of “inevitable and steady deterioration” as we move towards a redeemed body. But more importantly, WE, the “I”, the “Self”, is being decreased that Christ may fill us.
How are we decreased? Let us say right away that it is not your duty to decrease yourself, to become an ascetic, and crawl around in the dirt in abject poverty. It is not an outward decreasing, but an inward decreasing, a coming to the end of ourselves. The Kingdom of God belongs to the poor in spirit. Earlier, John said, “A man can have nothing except he receive it from heaven.” Now we may have quite a bit, but if we obtained it from a source other than Christ, it amounts to nothing. Only those sufficiently decreased, the poor in spirit, can see this. This poverty cannot be achieved through self-effort. In fact, part of the decreasing process is the realization that I can do nothing of myself, including decreasing myself. Just as I cannot commit suicide by crucifixion, so I cannot crucify my flesh. The only way to learn this is to fail hundreds, even thousands of times. Then we will learn to say, “I have no confidence in the flesh.”
In the world we will experience temptations, testings, and trials. We will experience persecution, tribulation, and afflictions of soul and body. We will experience mistreatment and misunderstanding. It is not a question of God allowing or not allowing things to happen. It is part of living. Some things we do to ourselves, other things we do to each other. Our Father knows about every bird which falls to the ground, but He does not always prevent it from falling.
What are we to learn from this? That our response to what happens is more important than what happens. Here is a mystery: one man’s experience drives him to curse God, while another man’s identical experience drives him to bless God. Your response to what happens is more important than what happens.
If we see that offenses are bound to come, that there is no way to live in the world apart from what happens, then we must see that the difference between overcoming and not overcoming lies in our response to what happens.
Paul did not pray to be weak so that he could be strong. Naturally speaking, we despise weakness. We prefer strength. But human strength is an illusion. It is not true strength. The Lord shows us His grace is made perfect (or, is matured) through our weakness. Now, Paul rejoices in his weakness, in his being decreased: for “when I am weak, then I am strong.” To the degree that we accept the decrease of ourselves, to that degree will we experience the increasing of Christ.
We cannot walk the narrow path until we have entered the narrow gate. But we cannot assume that because we have entered the narrow gate we are now finished. Most people lay stress on the gate, and their goal is to get people just far enough through the gate that they can claim salvation. That is where most of the Church sits today, just inside the narrow gate, rejoicing in a future salvation, a future heaven, a future return of Christ, and a future reward. But the narrow gate is only the beginning. The narrow gate only opens the door to the narrow way. It is the narrow way which leads to Life, and few find it. Fewer still walk to the end of it.
Now what we are discussing is an event as well as a process. There is a once-and-for-all decision to follow Christ, but we have to keep on following. Entering the gate is a once-and-for-all event, but walking the path is a process. We gain everything when we enter the gate, but we must walk the path in order to now live out of what we have. We are new creations, but we are being changed daily into the image of Christ. We died with Christ once: yet we die daily. We were crucified with Him once: yet we take up the cross daily. We were raised with Him once: yet we experience His Life daily. We were ascended with Him and we were seated with Him in the heavenlies once: but we live out the heavenly position in our daily walk, daily ascending above the earth, above the natural, to sit with Him in His throne as overcomers.
God wills that “all men would be saved (narrow gate) and would come to the full-knowledge [epignosis] of Truth (narrow way).” Those who merely enter the narrow gate have yet to satisfy God’s heart. There is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents, but as Arthur Katz has said, “Many are saved, but few are converted.” It is God’s will, His desire, that we come to the end of ourselves so that Christ may have the preeminence in us. Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Hebrews tells us that Christ is the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image (or exact representation) of His person. Likewise, God’s purpose for us as disciples (and by extension, the Church) is “if you have seen a disciple, you have seen Jesus.” The Christian is to be the brightness of Christ’s glory, and the exact representation of His person. I lack the vocabulary to express this adequately, but I trust the Lord will show us.
This is beyond “mere salvation”, this is conversion, this is conformity to the very image of Christ. He most certainly does not have the preeminence in us now, thus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
We have emphasized the Church for so long that we have lost sight of the individual disciples of which the Church consists. If one member lacks, the entire Body goes lacking. It is not so much a problem with the Church failing to apprehend its fullness as it is the individual disciples of the Lord failing to count the cost, suffer all as loss, and progress down the narrow way towards Christ as All in All. As the disciples go, so goes the Church. If Christ does not have the preeminence in the Church, it is because He does not have the preeminence in us as disciples.
If we have truly entered the gate and are walking the path, if we have truly yielded our lives to Him and long to know Him, then everything we experience is working to increase Christ and decrease us. On the positive side, the Holy Spirit is working to bring us into a more perfect knowledge of Christ. The Spirit is increasing Him, leading us into “all Truth”, towards epignosis. On the negative side, the principle of the Cross is working to decrease us, to bring us to the end of ourselves, to reduce us to nothing. Eastern mysticism has long been aware of this positive and negative at work, it has simply misunderstood what it means and misappropriated it towards an end other than Christ. They have observed a principle but lack the Truth to explain the principle.
We must see that for every decrease of Self, Christ is increased. Even in our discussions we groan inwardly about having to die daily, having to give up our way and our will. We ought instead to be excited about Christ being increased, and how much He stands to gain in us and through us. He MUST increase, but you MUST decrease. It is better to relinquish everything now, on a voluntary basis, and lose our lives in order to gain our real Life. It is more glorious to enter the Kingdom out of a desire to give Christ the preeminence than to enter kicking and screaming and crying because we love ourselves too much. Make no mistake, if it is the Kingdom you seek, the Kingdom you will find, but you must be changed in order to enter therein. If you seek power from God you will have to accept weakness in yourself. If you want to rule with Him you must suffer with Him. If you want His Life you must give up your life. You can have either one you want, but you cannot have both. There is no increase without decrease, and there is no decrease without increase.
May the Son be increased through these words. Amen.