Kamis, 21 Oktober 2010
HOW We SHORT-CIRCUIT the POWER OF GOD
-J. Lee Grady.
We can't have New Testament power if we don't walk in New
The New Testament church was characterized by exciting miracles
and supernatural anointing, but it was not immune to division. The
earliest churches suffered splits—not only because of doctrine but
also because of bitter personal disputes.
Even the apostle Paul, who modeled Christian affection and
implored his followers to preserve the bond of love, had an
unfortunate disagreement with his close colleague, Barnabas,
early in their ministry partnership.
The exact nature of their argument is a mystery. We only know
that Paul did not want to take John Mark, Barnabas' cousin, on
his second missionary journey because the young disciple had
deserted the team in Pamphylia. Acts 15:39 says: "And there
occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one
another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to Cyprus. (NASB)"
“Many Christians nurse grudges for years; others collect offenses
like packrats. Many people are wounded in one church and then
move to another—carrying their resentment and bitterness with them.”
We can only speculate about what happened. We know that Mark
was Peter's spiritual son (1 Pet. 5:13), and it is possible that Mark
took sides with Peter in his awkward controversy with Paul over
the practice of Jewish traditions. Whatever the case, Paul went
one way from Antioch and Barnabas went another. For at least a
season, an effective ministry team was fragmented.
When we piece the entire story together, however, we discover
that Paul and Mark eventually reconciled. In the letter to Philemon,
Mark is mentioned as part of Paul's team (v. 24). In Colossians 4:10,
Paul says of Mark: "If he comes to you, welcome him." And in
Paul's last epistle, he tells Timothy: "Pick up Mark and bring him
with you, for he is useful to me for service" (2 Tim. 4:11).
To say that Mark was "useful" was an understatement. After all, it
was Mark who, years after he disappointed Paul with his bad
behavior, wrote the gospel that bears his name. Most scholars
believe Mark based his account on Peter's firsthand experiences
The story of Paul and Mark is a dramatic picture of forgiveness,
redemption and second chances. An ugly conflict was resolved. A
bitter dispute was reconciled. And a young man's ministry was
restored after he made an embarrassing mistake.
This is the way New Testament Christianity is supposed to work.
Jesus constantly taught on the primacy of forgiveness, and the
early apostles urged their disciples to keep short accounts.
Paul, especially, asked his followers to soak their lives in love. He
told the Colossians: "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and
forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone...
Beyond all these put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity"
That is the New Testament's gold standard, but what we practice
today falls short. Too often, pastors who parted ways years ago
still don't speak to each other. The necessity of forgiveness is
rarely preached. Many Christians nurse grudges for years; others
collect offenses like packrats. Many people are wounded in one
church and then move to another—carrying their resentment and
bitterness with them.
What we don't realize is that unresolved conflict can short-circuit
the power of God in our lives, and it makes the church weak and
irrelevant. Many of us have prayed that the Holy Spirit would
unleash a fresh wave of revival in our midst. But perhaps we need
to ask these simple questions first:
Am I carrying any personal resentment in my heart toward anyone?
Am I still carrying around baggage from previous conflicts?
Have I judged a person because of their mistakes, and determined
in my heart that they can never change? If they are willing to
repent, am I willing to release them?
Has my love for people—especially other Christians—become cold,
artificial and hypocritical, rather than warm and affectionate? If we
want New Testament power, we must also pursue New Testament
love. We cannot expect to reconcile sinners to God if we have not
practiced reconciliation with each other.
Please comment on this article at the website below-
Jumat, 08 Oktober 2010
WHERE You STAND
In Exodus 33, Moses didn’t know it but God was about to bring him
into a greater revelation of his glory and nature. This revelation would
go far beyond friendship, far beyond intimacy. It’s a revelation God
wants all his hurting people to know.
The Lord told Moses he was going to show him his glory: “I will
make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the
name of the Lord before thee” (Exodus 33:19). Then he said,
“Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me,
and live…. [But] behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt
stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory
passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover
thee with my hand while I pass by” (33:20–22).
The Hebrew word for glory in this passage means “my own self.”
God was telling Moses, “I myself will pass by near you.” One
translation says it this way: “I will hide you in a cavity of the rock,
and I will defend you with the protectiveness of my power until I
have passed by.”
This is what the apostle Paul means when he says that we are
“hid in Christ.” When we fail God—when we sin grievously against
the light—we are not to linger in our fallen condition. Instead,
we’re to quickly run to Jesus, to be hid in the Rock. Paul writes,
“Our fathers…did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank
of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was
Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:1, 4).
What was the great revelation that God gave to Moses about
himself? What is the truth about him that we’re to sanctify in our
hearts? It is this:
“The Lord said unto Moses…be ready in the morning, and come
up in the morning unto mount Sinai…And the Lord descended in
the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of
the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed,
The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and
abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no
means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:1, 2 and 5–7).
Here was the greater revelation, the full picture of who God is. The
Lord told Moses, “Come up to this rock in the morning. I’ll give you
a hope that will keep you. I’ll show you my heart as you’ve never
seen it before.” What was the “glory” that Moses besought of the Lord?
Here is the glory: a God who is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering
and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquities and transgression and sin, and that will by no
means clear the guilty.”
Christ is the full expression of that glory. Indeed, all that is in the
Father is embodied in the Son. And Jesus was sent to earth to
bring that glory to us.
Sabtu, 02 Oktober 2010
Are You God’s Choice Today? by James Ryle
“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry…” (Matthew 12:18-19).
Is it possible that God is even now looking for that man or woman whom He may place His hand of blessing and anointing upon, raising them up in our time of need to serve as a Deliverer, a Judge, a Hero, or a King? And is it possible that it might be you?
Do you have what it takes?
Jesus shows us by His example what a chosen and anointed servant is like. First, He shall not strive, now cry. The word strive means, “to contend, to dispute; to argue with irritating persistence.” This, Jesus never did; nor should we who seek to follow His way. He spoke the truth in love, and what He said stood on its own merits — needing no wrangled argument to attest to its authenticity.
The word cry means, “to make a clamor; to protest insistently and noisily.” You know, it’s that obnoxious and dominating style of pontificating that so often shows up in public debates. In fact, the distinction between striving and crying is the one is private, and the other public.
Striving is how one individual acts when speaking to another individual, particularly if the other disagrees with what is being said. Crying is how an individual acts when speaking to a crowd; using hype and emotion, and force of opinion, as a cover for his lack of truth and substance.
Thomas Carlyle said, “In any controversy, the moment we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves.”
When God puts His Spirit upon a man or woman they will be marked with a composure that sets them apart from the standard fare of public converse and clamor. They will speak in such a manner as to educate, enlighten, engage, and empower those who listen to them.
I pray that you may be such a person — someone whom God would choose to use; in whom He is well-pleased, and upon who He would put His spirit. Someone so anchored in truth and covered with love that there is no need for striving and crying — just serving all who cross your path for the great good of man and the greater glory of God.
Yep…that’s God’s choice today.
Jumat, 01 Oktober 2010
There is much confusion and wrong teaching out there about grace, which in part has led to the behavior mentioned in this week's Charisma magazine email (link to full article at the end of this email):
A group of traveling ministers routinely met for weekend getaways that included wife-swapping The male leader of a "prophetic" church on the West Coast seduced several men in his core leadership team. (The church shut down after the sin was exposed.) A pastor learned that members of his staff were having sexual affairs in the sanctuary of his church, and he did nothing to stop the debauchery. A church in the Southeast hosted a marriage seminar in which Christian couples were encouraged to install poles in their bedrooms so wives could engage in pole dancing prior to sex.
I could add: Christian couples who have lived together for years, even with children, saying they are married in Christ and don't need a minister to make it official. Christians who say their use of marijuana is freedom in Christ and a sin against no one, Christian homosexuals living that lifestyle, Christian businessmen and women caught up in greed and think nothing of lying, cheating, being dishonest in the name of God blessing them with prosperity, etc. (You could probably add your own examples)
These all qualify under what Jude 4 says: "Some turn the grace of God into a license for sin..."
Rather than a license for sin, we'll see that grace is actually empowerment to live a holy life.
Remember that the whole of the New Testament, as mentioned in the past few week's series, is about the fact that we are the temples of God now, not a building: He lives in us, so we have to learn to walk in that grace, a grace that carries God around with us wherever we go, whatever we do.
No gender, no social status, no racial differences - If I'm a temple and you are a temple, then we are equal in every way. In Galatians 3:28 Paul said: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
In II Corinthians 5:16-17 Paul said this is how he lives his life: "From henceforth I will know no man according to fleshly standards, for if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new."
To the Colossians in 2:16-17 he said it this way: "Let no one judge you in food or drink, or in respect to holy days or the new moon or Sabbath day, which are shadows of things to come, the reality however, is found in Christ."
All things flow from this spiritual truth. Because we are equal temples, saved by the same blood of Jesus, the different ways we function in the body of Christ is how we honor one another. We don't wear our call (function) or grace as a badge of honor, rather we walk out the grace given us through service to one another.
The flow of three truths: Equal in Christ, then creation order, then cultural issues
In Christ we are equal, that is the spiritual truth, yet the Lord made Adam first and then Eve rather than making them both at the same time, establishing as Paul noted, an organizational structure in which this truth may function: The husband lays down his life for his wife as Christ did the church, and she in turn honors him as the body of Christ lives for Christ. This mutual submission in love of a husband and wife both equal in Christ, makes a marriage in Christ work. (Eph 5:21-33)
So the highest truth is that we are equal in Christ - no male/female/bond/slave/Jew/Greek - only Christ.
Second to that is the creation order God established by making first Adam and then Eve, so these equal believers, or as Peter said "joint heirs in Christ", can function in marriage which forms the bedrock of all societies.
God did not make Adam and Eve and Betty - not a threesome in the garden. Neither did He make Adam and Larry. He made Adam, and then Eve, and he made them to fit together spiritually, emotionally, and physically, so God established by creation His divine parameters and order.
People mistake freedom in Christ (spiritual truth) for the freedom to violate divine order (creation truth), taking relationships to a level God never intended, and thus end up in the sin outlined in the aforementioned Charisma article (violating cultural truth).
The Holy Spirit only flows within the boundaries of what the Father establishes, and there is great freedom within these boundaries, but to go beyond what He intended relationships to be is to leave Him out of the equation.
Third are the cultural issues that must be observed, and in which we 'equal temples' must live in the divine creation order within various societies, each with local customs and culture.
Being equal in Christ, neither male nor female, and having a marriage in creation order, means nothing if that marriage cannot function in a culture people live in. The same is true of single people; being equal in Christ to anyone else in the body of Christ, and being free to live for Christ alone without concern for a spouse, means nothing unless that person can function in the culture they live. All 3 truths are grace, and must be balanced in their function, and that balance is maintained and flows by love.
If you can learn to pick out the 3 truths when dealing with conflict along these lines in our day, you will be able to rightly divide the Word of truth and live in grace and peace by making right decisions.
Veil issue of Paul's day
See if you can pick out how Paul deals with all three in the following examples. That's why Paul advises wives in I Corinthians 11:2-16 to wear the veils which were the custom of the day in that region.
He plainly states they may pray and prophesy in the (home) church meetings because they are equal in Christ (spiritual truth), but they must consider if they don't wear the veil they dishonor their husbands (creation truth), and 3 times mentions the custom and culture of the veils and that they should judge from that and dress according to the custom (cultural truth).
They had been thinking 'we are free in Christ, we don't have to wear these things anymore" - spiritually true, but they lived in a culture that said they needed to wear the veils, and if they didn't they gave the appearance of their marriages being out of order. (v6, 13, 16)
So spiritually we are equal, but in function God established Adam/Eve order, and lastly we have cultural issues to observe - it works if our underlying foundation is that we are all equal in Christ, and we honor one another according to the grace given each, understanding this freedom mean responsibility, not a license to flaunt freedom in the face of society's customs.
Grace is about being responsible for being a temple of God
In the 1980's when I was an Associate Pastor we had a situation with a prostitute who got saved, and became an enthusiastic member of the church. Though she was thoroughly saved and Spirit-filled, her over- the-top eye make-up, her barely 'over the top' tops, and her very short skirts made more than one church member roll their eyes! Did she have the freedom in Christ to dress like that? Certainly, but she was in a different culture now and needed to be taken aside by some ladies and advised about her clothing.
At another church we had a worship team member who insisted he wear his work jacket, complete with sewn on name tag, and work pants and boots often still with mud or dirt on them, while he led worship on Wednesday nights. Did he have the freedom in Christ to dress like that in church? Certainly, but when he became part of the worship team the 'culture' changed, and he didn't like growing in this area, and quit.
I'll have mine medium-rare, hold the salad, on a Saturday
In Paul's day the issues were meat sacrificed to idols, being a vegetarian or not, and which day to worship on; Saturday (Jewish Sabbath) or Sunday (Resurrection day).
In Romans 14 (all) Paul dealt with this issue, saying those who ate only veggies or considered one day more holy than another were weak in the faith. He makes the point that both those strong in the freedom in Christ and those weak in the faith, do what they do unto the Lord, so honor one another accordingly for "every one shall give account of himself to God." (v13)
The Corinthian church began in Acts 18 with a mix of Jewish, Roman, and Greek members, so there was a tug of war over which day to meet on, the Jewish Sabbath which meant nothing to the Greeks and Romans, or the day that meant something to them, Resurrection day (Sunday).
Since there was no cultural truth to observe, and the creation truth flows from the spiritual truth of what Jesus did on the cross, Paul deferred to the spiritual truth that we are temples carrying Christ around in us in a 24/7 Sabbath rest between us and God, therefore any day worked to choose as a day of rest. (See my article under 'recent posts' on our web site home page for more on the Sabbath rest)
In Corinth another issue was meat that had earlier been sacrificed to an idol offered for sale in restaurants. Some believers were bothered by this, others were not. Both in I Corinthians 8 (all) and 10:23-33 he dealt with the issue saying "...we know that an idol is nothing...to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we by Him (spiritual truth)...however not everyone has this knowledge..." (v4-7)
He speaks of their weaker conscience and how those who walk in liberty need to be sensitive to those who think eating a steak offered to an idol is a sin (cultural truth) - so if someone weak in the faith invites you out, don't order the steak for their conscience sake! (8:10-13; 10:25-28)
You can see confusion in the body of Christ over these 3 elements I shared today: Spiritual equality, creation order, and cultural issues. Many in the name of grace have instead found themselves in the midst of darkness clueless how 'freedom in Christ' and 'grace' could have taken them down this path.
Jesus said "The Father had life in himself, and He gave to the Son to have life in himself." (John 5:26) Have you ever wondered how the Father 'gave birth' to his only born Son, into the very nature of their Father & Son relationship? My new 4-cd series; "I AM; Who Jesus is, where He came from", does just that - link to the right.
External framework of rule & regulations
Last week I laid out how the Father, being a Spirit, created physical beings (us) to be a bridge between His Spirit realm and the physical realm (universe) He created. His plan was that man would be filled with the Holy Spirit, thus by nature walking with God through life in the physical world.
But when Adam sinned, essentially kicking God to the outside looking in, He provided the Mosaic Law and temple/priesthood system as an external framework for fallen man to live by. When you have a world of un-born again people - sinners by nature - they need an external system to corral that nature. Thus He set before them rules for life and the consequences of death, and asked that they choose life. (Deut 30:19)
That external framework included a temple, a priesthood, and a system of rules & regulations governing worship and conduct. The priests told the people what God was saying and what He expected. The temple building and grounds provided a central location for the people to come together to hear what the priests were saying. If you wanted to be where God was or hear what He was saying, you had to go to the temple.
After all, the priests were the ones who spent time in God's presence, for by His choice the Lord made the tribe of Levi His priests and no one else - so they were the font of God's wisdom for the people. Thus the people did what they were told when they gathered in the temple. They had little responsibility for their spiritual lives, and because they were sinners by nature (Eph 2:3), the law could only deal with the actions of a person's life, not the heart. The motives of the heart didn't count under the law, only the act counted.
But the Lord told Jeremiah that a day was coming when He would change the very nature of mankind, that He would make a way for God's law, His ways, to be written on man's heart so man could by nature do what was right, that he by nature could walk and talk with God like Adam did at the start. Things would come full circle, and more than full circle even! People could be born of the Spirit! (Jeremiah 31: 33-34; quoted in Hebrews 10:15-17)
Bye bye temple, hello temples
When the day of Pentecost came, God moved out of the temple in Jerusalem and into people as His temples. Living temples, mobile temples, each one uniquely built and individual, and each having God's laws written, hard wired, into their spirit-man's nature. (I Cor 6:19; Eph 2:20-22, Rom 5:5, Heb 10:16-17)
The change from a central temple location where God's people gathered to be in God's presence in the building, to God's presence being found in individuals, required a change in format, for moving out of a central building made that system not only obsolete, but incompatible with the dynamics of God living in individual people.
For instance Jesus is "meek and lowly in heart" so the new format would by its very nature be one of love and humility and service to one another, rather than all people serving a priesthood via external rules by eye-service.
When God moved into people it meant that motives mattered. No longer would just the act of murder be counted, but the true murder took place when the person was angry with another with no reason. No longer would the physical consummation of adultery be the sin, but the motive of lust was the sin of adultery. It wasn't the flashy public production of prayer/worship that mattered, but the prayer in the 'prayer closet' the Father counted. (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28; 6:5-6)
Now at last, after all these years, the Spirit-Father in His realm, had a living, breathing means by which to manifest Himself in the physical world He had created, by these living temples. Now all the structure was internal instead of external because that is where He lives.
Loving God with all your life, and your neighbor as yourself sums up all that He required, and that ability was placed within mankind when a person is born of the Holy Spirit - so that by nature man could walk with God, naturally, conversationally, without hoops to jump through and hurdles to climb. (Romans 13:8-10)
But here is the rub: Most living temples, the born again people, grew up in or think like the old temple structure. They are trained to go to a temple thinking that is where God lives. They are trained that they know little about God and a trained priest/cleric must be the font of God's word for them. They first want the man of God to give them a word instead of walking in the truth that THEY can hear from God themselves. They are trained to follow rules & regulations, formulas & processes, in order to please God or manipulate Him to want to be moved to do something for them.
But there are people seeking New Testament realities and walking in the ramifications - the consequences - of Christ in them, that they are living temples, now responsible for their own faith and love and walk with God.
But at first, when they first start to truly know New Testament truth makes the mind go 'tilt' like an old pin-ball machine that's been shaken too hard.
The temple-based-mind screams: What about accountability? What about leadership? How do you keep from getting off balance? Who will control me, who will teach me, who will be my covering?
The temple-mind demands external controls (thus it is fear-based), not able to believe that people can truly be 'real people' with God in them, walking in love towards others, in relationship with others in faith, hearing from the head of the body, controlled by His Spirit, and that it all works.
The temple-mind has no means of comparing it to anything its known, therefore all the books and teachings about New Testament realities only bring up arguments against what they have learned (the NT out of the home-based context it was written in). But in truth, you really have to see New Testament relationships in action and be around it if you are too steeped in the temple to fully understand.
The temple-mind cannot grasp that a group of temples meeting in someone's home regularly, would be accountable to one another, keep one another from getting off base, would be connected to the larger body of Christ no matter where and how they meet, honoring the gifts as they function within their midst rather than honoring an 'office' of this or that above the others. That's so foreign to the temple-mind.
The temple-mind cannot grasp a leadership that is humble, approachable, seeks others above itself, eschews attention to itself, because the temple-mind exalts a caste of priests who are the font of God's voice, like the focus on them, and should therefore be exalted accordingly. The living-temple reality is that one plants, another waters, God is the One who gives the increase, so we are all equal. (I Cor 3:1-10)
It takes time to rearrange the temple-mind into the New Testament mind of being living temples. In Acts 2:46 right after Pentecost it says the people were daily in the temple and also in each other's homes. They had 1 foot (and 1/2 their thinking) in the temple and 1/2 in New Testament living-temple realities for about 18 months. That transition between temple-mind and living temple reality lasted about 18-24 months, for Acts 8:1 says Saul of Tarsus so persecuted the disciples they all left Jerusalem except the apostles. Even after Saul met the Lord in Acts 9, you never again see people returning en mass to the temple - they were now fully renewed to THEY are the temples of God.
Today we often see that same 18-24 month time frame needed for people to renew their minds from temple-building thinking to living-temple thinking of the New Testament.
When God moved out of the central temple building in Jerusalem and into people, instead of making them come to Him, it meant God could now meet with people where they lived, in their homes, in their work, in the marketplace and streets. God the Father, this Spirit-Father from another realm, could now have what He always wanted, what He had back in the day with Adam - He could walk and talk with people in their own gardens, in their homes, where they live! Thus home became a convenient place to meet, though the point isn't the home, it's the people, the church, the living temples that is the focus.
Thus when we say "where is (the) church" we point to a group of people meeting - THERE is the church!
Think of it like this...
This past Sunday in our house church meeting south of Mounds, Oklahoma, our hosts Jeff & Mary, brought up these analogies and I think it's great - we had fun drawing out the parallels. Have fun with this, we did.
The temple-based system of thinking is like computers at work before the Internet. Back then at work all the computers were connected to a massive IBM mainframe in a big room in the building, but cut off from others outside that building. All the computers at work were in offices in 1 building, and they could communicate within that building only, and back in the days of cobalt language there were cards to be punched and holes to align - you had to work hard to please the mainframe computer and its attendants who alone knew how to work the computer.
When people would go to lunch or outside the central building they could talk to other people who worked in other buildings and each of them had their work computers too - like various church people meeting other church people, but each person was tied to their own work computer and limited accordingly.
That was before Pentecost, during temple times, but illustrates the temple-mentality that still exists today.
The realities of the New Testament however can be compared this way: Each person is connected to the world via the Internet, each person has Wifi, each person is connected to the Super Computer individually and also at the same time wired to every other computer in the world.
Each person is now able to download information as they wish - they don't have to go to a central building to connect to a main frame and line up all the holes in the cards just right for the computer or attendants.
Each person can download wirelessly even, from the Super Computer - and also talk to other computers on their own, as they wish. But each other computer has to be willing to 'speak up' and participate or they don't become part of the larger network.
Each person therefore downloads different parts from the Super Computer - so that what you have is valid and what I have is valid, and we have to love and appreciate the different parts each of us have experienced and 'downloaded' from the Super Computer.
And finally...even through your 'computer' is full of viruses, you can still download 'clean' information from the Super Computer. Your hard drive has no viruses because the Super Computer Himself made you of His workmanship, but over the years you've collected other programs with viruses in them that make receiving from the Super Computer seem cumbersome and complicated - but over time He cleans up all that defective software so your hard drive is in flawless communication with Him.
God doesn't live in a temple made with hands...for in Him we live, and breathe, and have our being. (Acts 17: 24-27) That's New Testament reality. Now make your thoughts line up with God's truth instead of trying to make NT truth line up with a temple context and thinking.
Next week, details about how to walk in balance and fullness as a New Testament living temple...
Blessings, (remember if you want to write to me directly write to firstname.lastname@example.org)