Kamis, 29 April 2010
THE HOLY SPIRIT is NOT AN "IT"
-by J. Lee Grady.
We charismatics celebrate the Holy Spirit, yet our theology of the
Spirit is often off balance.
Two popular charismatic speakers stood on a stage two years ago
and decided they should demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit.
One guy pretended to throw an imaginary "fireball" at his friend,
who promptly fell over as if he had been zapped by the divine power.
Then, feeling equally playful, the guy on the floor stood to his feet
and threw the "fireball" back at his friend—who fell after the "blob"
of God hit him.
Everybody laughed and had a hilarious time at this outrageous
party. There was just one problem. The Holy Spirit is not a blob,
a fireball or any other form of divine energy that can be thrown,
manipulated, maneuvered or controlled.
This scenario happened in a charismatic church—a place
where the ministry of the Holy Spirit is presumably honored
and understood. It's incredibly sad that many of us who wear
the charismatic label have forgotten what the Scriptures teach
about the third person of the Trinity. At the risk of sounding way
too elementary, I'd like to offer this basic layman's guide to
pneumatology—the study of the Holy Spirit and how He works:
1. He is the Spirit of the Lord. He is not a force (as in Star Wars),
a magical power or an "it." The Holy Spirit is God, and we should
revere Him as God. The concept of the Trinity doesn't make sense
to the human mind. Yet Scripture reveals God as a triune being.
As theologian Norman Geisler writes: "God is one what (nature)
with three whos (persons). This is a mystery but not a
2. He is our Regenerator. Jesus told Nicodemus that we are
born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). True conversion is the
most supernatural thing we will ever experience! When a person
puts his faith in Christ for salvation, it is the Spirit who opens the
heart and quickens divine life. He then indwells us. While this is
an invisible process, it is no less miraculous. When we are
converted our hearts cry out, "Abba! Father" because the Holy
Spirit is "the Spirit of adoption" (Romans 8:15); He gives us
confidence that we are now children of God.
3. He is our Empowerer. When we are baptized in the Holy
Spirit we are "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49,
NASB). The Spirit who already indwells us fills us to the point
of overflowing. Jesus said the Holy Spirit's power would flow
out of us like "rivers of living water" from our innermost being
(John 7:38). This overflow releases supernatural boldness
(Acts 4:31) as well as the anointing for various gifts of the
Spirit including prophecy, speaking in tongues and healing.
4. He is the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit has access to all the
wisdom and knowledge of God. When we abide in Him, He
leads us continually into truth—causing us to grow and
mature spiritually. He wants to fill us with the treasures of
heavenly revelation. We can fully trust Him because He never
does anything to violate the Word of God. As our teacher
(1 John 2:27), He knows the difference between truth and error,
and those who depend on Him will walk in discernment and
avoid deception, pride and carnality.
5. He is our Counselor. This word is also translated "Advocate,"
"Comforter" or "Helper." The Greek word, parakletos, means "one
called alongside to help." It implies that the Spirit comes to our
legal defense when we are accused or troubled; it also means
He is a close friend who offers encouragement, consolation and
direction when we face any difficulty. He is truly a friend who
"sticks closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24).
6. He is our Intercessor. This is probably one of the greatest
miracles of grace. The Spirit who lives inside of us "intercedes
for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26). Even
when we don't know how to pray, the Spirit prays the perfect
will of God. No matter what kind of dark difficulty we face, the
Spirit travails for us until we emerge on the other side.
7. He is our Unifier. Like the master conductor of an orchestra,
the Holy Spirit pulls together each individual Christian—with all
of our diverse gifts—and causes us to flow in synchronization as
one body. The Spirit distributes His gifts to individuals (1 Cor. 12:11)
and He brings about the "fellowship of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 13:14)—
a supernatural, loving harmony among believers that overcomes
jealousy, envy, strife and bitterness.
8. He is our Refiner. The Spirit took the form of a dove at Christ's
baptism, but He is often portrayed in Scripture as a fire. He is
the "refiner's fire" (Mal. 3:2-3) who purifies us of selfishness, pride
and wrong motives. The Holy Spirit is indeed the fire of blazing
holiness, and He can be both grieved (Eph. 4:30) and quenched
(1 Thess. 5:19) when we disobey His promptings.
As we prepare to celebrate the day of Pentecost in less than a
month (it's on May 23), let's meditate on all aspects of the Spirit's
work in our lives—and invite Him to fill us in a fresh way.
-This article is being discussed at- http://www.johnthebaptisttv.com
-J. Lee Grady served as editor of Charisma for 11 years. His newest
book is 'The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale'.
Selasa, 27 April 2010
Some Thoughts About the
Earth and Righteousness
by John Paul Jackson
You start seeing some odd things when you look past the traditional understanding of Scripture and consider it in fresh ways. This passage has been holding my attention:
"So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." Genesis 4:11-12
If Cain's sin caused the Earth not to yield its strength, what does it mean when the Earth does yield its strength?
This concept is not off-handedly mentioned one time in Scripture and then never mentioned again. Perhaps the most notable or well-known reference to it is found in Romans:
The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:20-22
Paul seemed to believe that the Earth is more than inanimate soil, stone, etc. He seemed to believe that the Earth has some sort of ability of choice - that is, some ability of will. Perhaps it is not a "will" as we currently understand will, but clearly, there is something going on in Romans 8 that suggests the Earth expects, feels futility, hopes, groans and desires that something specific comes about.
If the Earth has a will, as Paul apparently thought, does it therefore have a choice about when and how and to whom it yields its strength? If sin caused the Earth not to yield its strength, does righteousness have an opposite effect?
This concept may be somewhat "metaphysical" in nature, but it is time for the Church to really come back to the understanding of the order of creation: how God created us to function, how He created the Earth to function and how the two are meant to function together.
There is a reason God did not simply speak us into existence, as He did the vegetation, the animals, the moon and stars. Instead, He chose to create us out of the Earth. He shaped us with His fingers - from the soil. Why would He do that? Could it be that humans have a relationship with the Earth and the Earth has relationship with us that we don't yet understand? Could it be that just as it was with Cain, our choices affect the Earth?
Walk in Righteousness, Not Sin
Perhaps when we walk not in sin but in righteousness, we will see the Earth "yield its strength" to us. What would that look like? No doubt, the full answer to that question would require much, much more space than I have here, but Abraham's story seems to give a slight understanding.
In Genesis, God told Abraham, "Go to the land I will show you." He didn't tell him where to go or give him directions, but Abraham still somehow ended up right where he was supposed to be. The only trail he apparently followed was the one his flocks and herds took as they sought pasture on the Earth. So the land itself helped Abraham get to where he was going. It yielded to his righteousness, and the result was that he walked in the fullness of his destiny.
We tend to gloss over how creation is supposed to help us follow God's purpose. But as we gain a deeper understanding of how He designed creation to work, the more we will be able to comprehend why He does what He does in our lives and what we can do to cooperate with Him.
John Paul Jackson
Kamis, 15 April 2010
IN the SECRET PLACE
The Holy Ghost came to a godly man living in Damascus named
Ananias. The Spirit instructed Ananias to go to Judas' house on
Straight Street, lay hands on Saul and restore his sight.
Of course, Ananias knew of Saul's reputation and he realized this
was going to be dangerous. Yet, here is how the Holy Spirit
recommended Saul to Ananias: "Behold, he prayeth" (Acts 9:11).
The Lord was saying, in essence, "Ananias, you will find this
man on his knees. He knows you are coming. He even knows
your name, and why you're being sent to him. He wants his eyes
When did Saul receive this inner knowing? How did he receive
this vision, this pure word from God? It came through fervent
prayer and supplication. In fact, I believe the Spirit's words to
Ananias reveal what moved God's heart about Saul: "Behold, he
Saul had been shut in with God for three days, refusing all food
and water. All he wanted was the Lord. So he continued on his
knees all that time, praying and seeking God.
When I was growing up, my preacher father taught me, "God
always makes a way for a praying man." There have been
periods in my life when the Lord has provided indisputable
evidence of this. I was called to preach at eight years of age,
when the Holy Spirit came upon me. I wept and prayed, crying
out, "Fill me, Lord Jesus." Later as a teenager I prayed until
the Spirit came upon me in divine intensity.
As a young pastor a deep hunger rose up in me that caused me
to pray diligently. Something in my heart told me, "There's more
to serving Jesus than what I am doing." So I spent months on my
knees - weeping and praying for hours at a time - when finally the
Lord called me to go to New York City to minister to gangs and
I was also on my knees twenty years ago, seeking God with tears
and loud crying, when he called me back to New York to start a
church in Times Square.
If I have ever heard from God - if I have any revelation of Christ,
any measure of the mind of Christ - it came not through Bible
study alone. It came through prayer. It came from seeking God
in the secret place.
SOURCE - http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/8275
(c) 2010 World Challenge, Inc.
Minggu, 11 April 2010
The Law of Spiritual Riches
By David Orton www.lifemessenger.org
"Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth (mammon), who will entrust the true riches to you?” Luke 16:11
The law of spiritual riches is a non-negotiable principle of the kingdom of God.
There is an unbreakable connection between our relationship to money and the release of the Spirit. If we have not been faithful in regard to natural wealth, how will God entrust to us spiritual riches?
Not about ‘stewardship’
Before we go any further, a warning. This is not about so-called ‘stewardship programs’ – your church giving, or support of a ministry.
‘Stewardship’ (Giving etc) has been domesticated for too long by reducing it to fund-raising for missions or the church. This is not to deny the primary purpose of giving as the support of apostolic ministry for the spread of the gospel. However, for this to happen in such proportions to bring the fullness of the kingdom to earth the invisible and insidious control of Mammon over believers must be exposed. No attempt to raise funds for missions or ministry will achieve world-changing dimensions without the subtle power of Mammon being exposed and broken. It is one of the major principalities ruling the world and the church, blocking a world-transforming move of God. In fact, it is at the root of the church’s chronic spiritual poverty.
The meaning and significance of the word ‘Mammon’ goes deeper into the human psyche than you may be willing to recognise. This is far more threatening than any spontaneous or planned giving, no matter how sincere, even if it is ten percent.
If therefore we are desirous of spiritual wealth, of entering the fullness of the kingdom we must understand what “faithfulness in unrighteous wealth (mammon)” is. Failure to recognise this law hinders true spiritual progress. Conversely, to recognise and obey it removes an invisible spiritual ceiling, resulting in an open heaven over our life.
What does it mean, therefore, to be “faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth (mammon)”?
Fussing in the basement of our soul
First, as just stated, we must understand that this is not primarily about good ‘stewardship’.
Rather than merely dealing with Christian finance principles, the full import of the word ‘Mammon’ delves into the human psyche, fussing deep into the basement of our soul, our sense of who we are, locating where we derive our significance and security.
To fully appreciate this we must understand the word Mammon. While ‘Mammon’ is used to refer to riches or wealth, it goes deeper, with the original root meaning ‘to be firm, reliable’. Mammon is therefore something reliable upon which we depend for our life. Thus, the workings of Mammon within us, rooted in self-reliance, may range from finding material and emotional sustenance in money, to status and reputation, to human systems, possessions, career success, or relationships; in fact any created thing. Deriving life from anything less than the uncreated God is ‘Mammon’, and by definition idolatry. In essence therefore Mammon is the rule of self. This then gives ground to the spiritual principality of Mammon.
And so, when Jesus declares that we cannot serve God and Mammon (Mtt 6:24) he is not placing a prohibition on money or wealth, rather, he is showing the impossibility of finding sustenance from God and self (Mammon) simultaneously – it is either one or the other. This brings us to the ‘deceitfulness of riches’.
Recognising the ‘deceitfulness of riches’
Secondly, if we are to obey the law of spiritual riches we will need to recognise the “deceitfulness of riches” (Mtt 13:22).
How are riches deceitful? In that we genuinely believe we are serving God, when in fact we are not – we are unwittingly serving Mammon.
How does this deception occur? Through the insidious intrusion of the ‘cares and anxieties of this life’ – the pressure of making our way in life, and the ‘desire for other things’, for more – the new model vehicle, better employment conditions, more influence for our ministry, greater success or the recognition of our peers. This way the seed of the kingdom is smothered (Mk 4:19). Even so, we maintain religious behaviours, believing that through these we maintain a relationship with God.
Thus, the difficulty, as Jesus underlined, for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God (Mk 10:23-25). The intrusion of anxiety and self-reliance prohibits us from authentic kingdom life – from experiencing “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). We are found with a form of religion, but void of inner reality.
Rather than enjoying the deep internal resonance of the Father’s love with the assurance of his covenant fidelity and providential care, we are burdened by anxiety – by the cares of this world.
However, anxiety, if recognised, then serves as a barometer, warning us of change in the spiritual atmosphere of our lives.
Dealing with anxiety
Thirdly, to obey the law of spiritual riches requires our dealing with anxiety.
Anxiety either drives us to the Lord or to Mammon. It presents us with the clear choice of either finding comfort in Mammon or in God. Resolve and progress in the kingdom is only found by obeying the clear injunction to not be anxious. The choice is ours, to trust in the Lord or rely on our own understanding (Prv 3:5-6).
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Mt 6:25–34 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6–7 (NIV)
This is the rub in the law of spiritual riches.
Anxiety will either press us into the Lord or into relying on ourselves. By leaning on our own understanding, we rationalise our self-reliance, and thus find our own life. In contrast, trusting in the Lord requires that we lose our life:
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mt 10:39 (NIV)
The word used for “life” here is psuche, referring to our soul life – our mind, will, and emotions. And so, to “lose our life” demands the laying down of our soul-realm – that is what we feel, think, or want in the face of life threatening circumstances. I warned you this would fuss with you in the basement of your soul! Compared to the sanitised teaching of the institutional church on stewardship Jesus’ call to follow him is deeply threatening.
“If the Lord wants us in Canada he’ll sell the home at the best price possible!”
I recall vividly Jenny and me as a young married couple hearing the call of God. We had just designed and built our first home. One of our pastors at the time suggested we attend a certain Bible College in Canada, my response being far from positive in that we had done college some years before – my pride was offended – we had already been in ministry and were beyond this. However, God didn’t leave it there. On our Christmas holidays I was visited by a dream, awakening the next morning knowing that Canada and Bible College were in the will of God for us. This meant selling our dream home to fund the call. So being the spiritual giant I was I responded, “OK, if the Lord wants us in Canada he’ll sell the home at the best price possible!” So on our return home the house went immediately onto the market at a top price. After many weeks without any serious lookers and the deadline for moving to Canada looming I was reviewing the situation with my pastor when he said, “David, what price have you put on the call of God?” Instantaneously, I knew the figure the house was meant to sell for – $67,500. Unfortunately, this was $10,000 less than our asking price! I immediately notified the agent of the new price and the very next day the house sold to a cash buyer. The sobering thing was I had unwittingly put a $10,000 value on the call of God. I had been willing to sell out for a few moth-eaten dollars!
The call of God is never convenient – it cuts across our ways and our thoughts – and so, human reasoning and pride must give way to God. I had to lay down my pride to return to Bible College – “Surely I was already a graduate with experience in ministry. How could this be God?” I was also required to lay down my natural reasoning that argued, “We are sons of the king – if this is God the house should sell for the best price!” I could have also argued, “Selling the home is irresponsible – doesn’t the bible say that those who don’t provide are worse than infidels?” You might also respond, “Well that’s OK for David, he has a call to ministry. God would never require me to do something like that.” Wouldn’t he? Are we not all ministers and disciples? No one is exempt from the call to follow Jesus and to sell all. Are we not also all sons of God? And so, cannot the Spirit of God lead us all? And if he leads you to some kind of radical obedience you too will enjoy the promise that any who forsake houses, lands, wives, husbands, or children for his sake and the gospels will receive a hundred-fold in this life, with sufferings (Mtt 19:28; Mk 10:29-30).
Breaking the strength of the natural man
The law of spiritual riches demands our soul – our psuche – what we want, feel, and think. It brings down pride and the false god of Mammon in obedience to the supremacy of God in Christ. Only as we allow God to break the strength of the natural (psuche) man, our soul-realm, is Mammon defeated and only then are we entrusted with spiritual wealth.
Our refusal to allow this process, by ‘toughing it out’, renders us impervious to the Spirit and the wisdom of God – the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). As long as we cling to our tattered garments of self-reliance we can never be clothed with the riches of God’s power and wisdom – we disqualify ourselves from receiving greater revelation of God and withhold his visitation to the earth. As long as we settle for some castrated version of ‘stewardship’, fussing as to percentages and whether its before or after income tax, instead of radically abandoning ourselves to the Lord, we deceive ourselves that we are rich and visionary while in reality we are poor and blind.
Now is the time to recognise our plight and true condition. Only the poor in spirit are given the kingdom (Mtt 5:3). It is time to humble ourselves, and in due time we will be exalted. We have traded the majesty and terror of Christ the King demanding our soul and our all for our token giving. He is standing at the door knocking, commanding the doors to Zion be swung open. As surely as we respond the king of glory shall enter and sup with us.
And we shall arise and rule with him if we overcome.
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Rev 3:17-21 (NIV)
Minggu, 04 April 2010
Cultivating the Seed in Ourselves
By Bob Mumford www.lifechangers.org
And those sown on the good (well-adapted) soil are the ones who hear the Word and receive and accept and welcome it and bear fruit—some thirty times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some [even] a hundred times as much.
Mark understood the principle of Kingdom fruitfulness. Cultivating the Seed of Agape in ourselves involves three measurable steps:
First, we discover the internal desire to do others good. We were created for good works. Our activities and responses, however, are not human “works” but a fulfillment of that which was spoken of our Lord Jesus Christ:
…God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him.
When we recognize and respond to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to do good, however elementary and immature, we are on our way to bringing forth the fruit of the Kingdom. Our good works are not the result of our own human effort but the co-operation and expression of the Eternal Seed of the Kingdom. When we respond to the Eternal Seed, our human spirit comes alive and we become one with the giving, resurrected Christ who dwells within us.
Then we recognize that this desire does not originate within ourselves but is the result of the insemination of Agape as the Eternal Seed received at our new birth. When we soak ourselves in the water of God’s Word, we nourish and strengthen our ability to see, hear, respond, and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s admonition was that those who are led of the Spirit are God’s maturing children “bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God.” As we respond to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we cultivate the Eternal Seed and as it grows, it crowds out every other seed that is not Agape.
Finally, we seek opportunities or occasions to do others good. This is not religious effort but an expression of the new life within us. Doing others good involves spontaneity and risk and the results are pure joy. Following Jesus involves seeking occasions and opportunities to give expression to others of that great and unlimited love that has entered our own life by means of the new birth.
It is important to grasp that we are now becoming who we already are: sons and daughters of the living God. This is living in the prophetic perfect.
THOUGHTS & QUESTIONS
• In what ways can you see the three measurable steps in your own life?
• How can we know we are maturing and producing fruit?
• What is one of the ways we cultivate or nourish the Eternal Seed in ourselves?