Jumat, 25 September 2009
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
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
c.. He was not going to worship another God and sell out for
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.
Kamis, 10 September 2009
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
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
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.
Jumat, 04 September 2009
by Gerald Chester www.strategieswork.com
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15 NIV
Aha—becoming rich! It seems that everyone wants to be rich. We want to get ahead, to be able to do what we want to do, when we want to do it, how we want to do it. And most of all, we want the option of not having to work. Right?
The common view of success is defined as “becoming rich” and is inseparably coupled to money. The maxim is that if you have money, you are a success.
When the obsession with money is so great that everything is compromised for it, we call it greed. The above text warns us against greed—the excessive focus on accumulating money. Jesus made it clear that material assets do not define a person’s life—his or her success and significance.
But most of us don't think like Jesus, we adopt popular perspectives; hence, most of us are driven by money because we think money is probably the greatest indicator of success.
The problem with the common definition of success is that it is inconsistent with reality. We work as if money is eternal, that is, as if it transcends this life and is something that we can accumulate to provide us meaning, purpose, significance, freedom, and standing with God. Money is only temporal, however. It is a tool to be used while we are alive on earth.
The reality is that the universe existed for a long time before we were born and will continue until the return of Christ, which may be well beyond our lifetimes. Furthermore, when we die our money stays here. It can do nothing for us when we die other than buy us a more expensive funeral and potentially bless our heirs.
After we die we will understand more clearly than ever that our Creator is the definer of success in life, not our financial assets. Money is not true riches; money is simply a tool to help us accumulate true riches.
In the bigger scheme, money does not determine our success. So how does a person achieve true eternal success? How does a person use money to accumulate true riches? How does a person become truly rich?
Jesus provided the answer to these questions. He pointed out the futility of living a life based on accumulated material assets (Luke 12:21). The key to success is to become rich toward God.
How does someone become rich toward God? The secret is expressed in Jesus' statement in the Garden of Gethsemane. As he wrestled with his ultimate destiny in this life, he submitted to the will of the Father and uttered the prayer “not my will but your will be done” (Luke 22:42 author's paraphrase).
We become rich as we surrender to the will of God in our lives. To do this we must discover and fulfill the purpose for which we have been created.
For many people this is a confusing concept because, after all, isn't salvation about going to heaven? This is a very common view, but it is incomplete. Salvation has implications both now and for eternity.
One of the clearest texts on this topic is Ephesians 2:8–10. The apostle Paul explained salvation by grace through faith in Christ (verses 8 and 9). Verse 10 reveals one of the key purposes of salvation: to do the specific works—while we are alive on earth—that God created us to do. Since there are specific works that God has ordained we do, this suggests that God does indeed have a plan for each of us; hence, success in life is finding and fulfilling the plan and purpose of God. Success in life is not measured by material assets but by obedience to the will of God.
Here is your business tip. Don’t succumb to the world’s definition of success. Be vigilant about attacking greed in your own life and in the lives of your associates. Model for others the reality that true lasting success is based on obedience to God. Apply this principle both personally and in organizations. In every decision, individually and organizationally, the only question that really matters is the will of God. As you discern the will of God, be totally committed to fulfilling it, no matter the cost. In every situation and every decision, seek to live as Jesus lived when he said to the Heavenly Father, “not my will but your will be done.” This is the only way to become truly rich.