Friday, January 9, 2015
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-two (NIV)
Luke 10: 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ 12I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
13“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.b
16“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
17The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
21At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
22“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I’ve been reading a book that explains the difference between power and authority. Power is ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something. For God to have all power means he has all the ability or capability to do whatever he wants. Authority is the right to use power. God has all authority but he can also delegate his authority to whomever he wants.
Here is a little illustration for you: A man, John, owns an electrical construction company. He is the boss. He controls all the money. He therefore has all the power within the company.
He hires a young man Gary to be an electrician. He sends him out on different jobs. Every day Gary has to call in to order materials. John buys the materials and Gary comes by to pick them up.
After a period of time John decides that Gary is trustworthy and gives him a company spending card so he can buy the materials he needs without making the extra trip to the shop to pick them up.
After another period of time John decides to make Gary a superintendent. Now he can buy materials, hire and fire and make budget decisions. His authority has increased
Next John makes Gary a project manager. Now he controls the money for several projects, decides on scheduling, and oversees a larger number of people. His authority and responsibilities have increased even more.
Finally John wants to retire so he makes Gary president of the company. Now Gary is in control of all the power that John has. John has given Gary the authority to be him. The power still belongs to John but Gary is in charge of it. When Gary goes out on a project site all the employees treat him just as if he were John.
John has the power. Gary has the authority to use that power. As far as the employees and clients are concerned when they see Gary, they are seeing John. Got that?
Back to my narrative: God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has all power and shares the authority to use that power as he chooses. In the beginning he gave Adam authority to rule over every living creature on the earth. Satan, who had been cast down to earth, had no power or authority. His plan was to trick Adam into submitting to him so he could take over the authority God gave Adam. The plan worked. Adam followed Satan’s wishes and became a servant to Satan. Satan now had the authority and thus became the “god of this world” as Jesus so described him. Jesus recognized that Satan had the authority and ruled over this world for evil.
God’s plan for redemption was to buy us back [that is what redeem means, to buy back] from the power of Satan and that included getting the authority away from him and restoring it to us.
In Luke 10 above Jesus gave the seventy authority “to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy”. Notice that these men were not the twelve disciples although it may have included them. These were mostly ordinary followers of Jesus, common men who were given the awesome responsibility of using the power of God to draw the people’s attention and then preach the message of the coming Kingdom of God. In verse 3 Jesus says “Go, I am sending you….” And a parallel command in Matthew 28:18 ““All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…” The implication here is that the authority to use all of the power of God has been given to each of us. All Christians have the authority to represent God and in his name they are to go and change the world for Christ. Are we doing that? Are we living and functioning in the authority we were given? Are we using all the power available to us to change the world? When people see us are they seeing Jesus?
The obvious answer for most of us is no, especially in America where many Christian have been trained to be powerless, weak, materialistic Christians. How did we get that way?
The first problem is the lack of knowledge and understanding. The principles are just not taught anywhere and therefore nothing is passed on to new pastors and teachers in our schools and churches.
Second: it is hard to believe that God has given us that much authority to use His power. It just can’t be so. That is unbelief in the Word of God, unbelief in the words of Jesus, plain and simple.
Third: there is a lack of faith. Lack of faith is different from unbelief. I can believe something but I may lack the faith to carry it out. I can believe God wants me to write this message but my lack of faith could prevent from sitting down and writing it out. I can believe God wants my healing but my lack of faith stops me from praying for it. My lack of faith often finds me begging God for something instead of declaring it in power and authority.
Fourth: there is fear. Fear of failure that what we speak won’t happen. That God won’t follow through on His word. This is an internal fear we carry around. Then there is fear of what other people will think. What will my congregation think? What will my denomination think? If I act out of the ordinary people might reject me. My church might reject me. Fear makes frigid Christians.
Did Jesus operate out of fear? No he acted out of faith that the Father would do what He said He would do.
Then there is a fear of responsibility. I taught on the Authority of the Believer years ago but I never fathomed the depth of what it really means. I just recently thought about this, to realize that every word you speak could have everlasting effect. To think that if you got angry at someone and said “damn you” you might watch them disappear into eternity. That every curse word you spoke could actually curse someone or something. Your words have power. That is why Paul talked so much about what we were to think about and the words we spoke.
Going back to my illustration of John and Gary. When Gary was an electrician he probably joined in with the guys doing the normal horseplay, murmuring and complaining about management. When he became a superintendent he had to separate himself a little and act more responsible because of his duties. When he became a manager he then understood many of the management problems and had a different perspective about work. When he became president of the company he had to live differently. He had to have the respect of his men, his community and other businesses. The more authority he had the more responsibly he had to live before others.
To use the authority of others requires responsibility. To operate responsibly in God’s authority your life has to change. It may change in steps but if you truly understand the task that is before you that knowledge itself will begin to change you. The burden and the joy of having the authority and power of the almighty God behind you will change who you are and how you see the world. My prayer is to fully understand it myself so I will operate in full faith and honor of what God has given me. I pray that God will open the eyes of others to see and comprehend and obey. Jesus says “GO” in all of his authority. We are to be Jesus to the world, a complete Jesus, not just part of him.
We are to use the authority God gave us to set the captives free, heal the sick, cast out demons and take authority over the prince and powers of the air that rule over cities, towns, states and countries. A Marxist controlling spirit is trying to overthrow the United States. It is not a man, a single person or group of people. It is a powerful demonic spirit, a principality and all of his demon hordes. Paul said “we wrestle not against flesh and blood”. This is a time and place for Christians to use their spiritual authority and tear down this spirit and destroy his power. We need to take down spirits that rule over families and churches. We need to be vigilant and make sure they do not return ever again. Then begin again to finish the commission Jesus gave us, “make disciples” who understand who they are in Christ and what their authority on earth is.
[End of part I]
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
When I first came to Christ, I was involved in a small group bible study we called Disciple Families. As a part of a large intercity church, the small home Disciple Families grew from an initial fifty participants to about six hundred in one year. The home groups became an active part of the younger church member’s lifestyle.
I often bring up the idea of home study groups (cell groups, life groups, disciple families, etc.) because I believe it has many advantages to building a church body that lasts and helps fulfill what Christ intended for the church. When I speak of enduring, I only have to look at what the underground churches have accomplished in China and during the former Soviet Russia repressive socialist rule. It was and still is the true body of Christ in those countries. Through the small house churches people are coming to Christ and the church is growing despite the persecution and harassment from the government. I remember reading about a Chinese woman who had started over 500 house churches in China. She was pursued by the government and would flee one city to start a church in another city, always running but always serving the body of Christ.
This brings me to the point of my message. The 2012 political conventions are over and it is clear that one party has become the anti-god party. The President, and the government as a whole, has been on a crusade to eliminate religious freedom as our constitution defines it. The number one threat though, to our religious liberty is the national debt. If our economy were to collapse, the constitution would be eliminated. There would be no money for a military to protect us. The progressives would try to assemble a socialist style government and we would all hope we could avoid total anarchy. With no defenses to speak of, who knows what China or Russia and ever Iran would attempt to do. In all of this, the persecution of the church and Christians would become acceptable on any level. Most likely, all the evil that sweeps across the land will be blamed on the Church, Christians and Jews.
The scenario I describe above is not that farfetched. If it were to happen, it would be wise to prepare Christians everywhere in church survival. Just as in China and Russia, the house church will be the single most important factor in maintaining the body of Christ. The house church can fulfill the ministry of Christ where most of American churches fail today. I will list some of the advantages.
1. The house church is an intimate group, more like a family, where each member can have regular fellowship and accountability. With the closeness of a small group, you are more likely to strive to live according the scripture. In a small group, you will have people who can help you to overcome areas in your life that you could hide in a large body of believers.
2. The small group is a perfect place to learn how to love one another. The closeness will test your love and the accountability to other will cause you to follow through to love as Christ Loved.
3. The small group will have awareness of each other needs and can pray for those needs. It is easier to confess you faults one to another if you know and trust the people you are with in a small group.
4. The small group is a perfect climate to grow and develop without the embarrassment of failing in a large church setting.
5. A small group is more likely to share their material things with one another because they can recognize the needs of others as they arise. If one person has an emergency or crisis, it is easier to react and help people you know and trust. The family like bond you develop moves you to meet each other’s needs when they arise.
6. Small groups will help you to establish trusting relationships even if you have difficulty doing so.
7. The small group leader is pastor to his group and can represent the group and individual needs to the larger body.
8. The small group is flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances where a large body cannot.
I believe the American church has failed to be what Jesus intended it to be is because we have left the small group model in the New Testament and gone the way of Mega church and ‘bigger is better’ model. All the functions of the body of Christ happen in small groups. Very few can happen in a large church where you can attend for many years and nobody knows anything about you. By returning to small group home churches, the body of Christ can function evangelistically and more personally than any other plan. That is why the house church in China is growing exponentially while the church in the United States is shrinking as a percentage of the population.
If American’s economy fails and the worst befalls us then the best preparation any pastor can do right now is to develop small group leaders who will become the pastors of tomorrow in their home church groups. If there were to be war, revolution or anarchy, it will be the small group house church that will be left standing as the big churches are burning and collapsing to the ground.
Friday, September 7, 2012
I have a tree that has many roots. The roots grow just beneath the surface but expose themselves in places where they destroy the walkways and brickwork around the flower gardens. I can destroy just one root. To eliminate all the roots I have to destroy the whole tree. If I cut off one root, there will soon be another to take its places. If I cut off all feeder roots the tree will die.
Within our government, there is now a tree of Marxism. The Hillary/Huma episode (the link above) is just one root of the the Progressive Marxist corruption in high places. We need to destroy enough roots like this so the tree will die or we just kill the tree. We, with God’s help, can destroy roots but only God can ultimately destroy the tree.
The way to destroy the roots (corrupt, Marxist, godless people in places of power) is to become the Church (All of America’s churches) Christ intended for us to be and to win America to Christ as He desired. For years, I have heard the phrase “we are a New Testament Church”. But really, if we compare ourselves to the church Jesus created in the book of Acts, are we really a “new Testament church? I think only a small minority of churches in American even understand what a real New Testament church is. I see churches that sit empty five or six days a week. The New Testament church was meeting daily, worshipping and fellowshipping. They were daily eating together, discipling, growing and changing the world around them. The New Testament church is an active seven-day a week, miracle-working church. That is just the starting point.
To be plain, the American Church as a whole has failed. Failed to be what Christ intended and failed to do what He instructed them to do. To turn American around, we are going to need an “Acts chapter II” revival, a world changing revival. A revival of not just one or two, or ten or twenty people getting saved and filled with the spirit but a revival where there are three to five thousand are getting saved at one time and become fully committed to living the new life in Christ. We must have an Acts 2:42-47 church that changes America and fulfill the plans of Jesus. It is time for people to stop being lukewarm and passive and be what Jesus wants us to be. Jesus did not say, “Sit until I come”. He did not say, “Wait until I come”. He did not say, “Hope for the rapture until I come”. Jesus said in a parable “Occupy until I come”. We are the true “Occupiers”. We are to occupy Wall Street, Main Street and Elm Street. We are to occupy every street in America. We are to go back what Jesus started, the real New Testament Church, a fully power, life changing and world transforming seven days a week church.
We are not restoring America. We are building the Body of Christ as we should in America. We are the body of Christ who lives in America.
The only answer to marxist, socialism, corruptionism is Jesus and Jesus working through his body, the church. That is how we destroy the corruption, its roots and the tree.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”3 And at once, some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house. 8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
Throughout much of the bible the bond between the forgiveness of sin and healing is made clear, Like Psalm 103:
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s
And Isaiah 53
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
And Jesus made it abundantly clear in Matthew 9 when he says “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” Alternatively, put another way for today, which is it easier to say, ‘because Jesus died for you, your sins are forgiven’ or ‘because Jesus died for you, you are healed’. The forgiveness of sin provides for healing, both spiritual and physical. Forgiveness of sin and healing go together like a mother and a daughter. They are bonded together. One comes from the other. The bond cannot be separated.
Many teach that supernatural healing is no longer needed because we now have the bible and that healing was just a temporary thing until the bible was complete (that idea is not in scripture). Some also teach that the gifts of the spirit are no longer needed either.
Some teach that if you are sick and God does not heal you then it must be God’s will for you to be sick. If that were really so then why do you go to the doctor? Trying to get well might be going against God’s will.
Some say our sickness glorifies God. Then we should all pray to get sick.
What does Paul say in Galatians chapter 5 about those who turned away from trusting in faith and tried to keep the law, “a little leaven leavens the whole loaf”. People being taught to trust in keeping the law. They are being taught unbelief. If people are being taught that the bible does not means what it says then they are being taught unbelief and that leaven contaminates everything else.
What happened to America?
Nearly fifty years ago I graduated from high school. As a young person, you don’t pay much attention to the subtle changes in our culture. On the surface, many seem to be good. The acceptance of new things, new styles and new values appear to benefit everyone, at least it seems to benefit the younger, more liberal group of people. However, looking at America through the long lens of fifty years you realize that that those changes were not good. Those changes were part of the slippery slope to cultural and moral decay, the decay of national pride and patriotic values. We’ve changed from a people who were proud, self reliant and independent to a people who want everything, we want it free if we can get it and instantly if it’s available. We’ve become a people who want the most for the least amount of work. We want perks we didn’t earn. We want wages that pay us way above our abilities and most of all we think we deserve more than we got. We think people who work hard do not deserve what they get.
The long slow decline of America hasn’t been ignored. There have been people who have fought many battles in the culture war, the political wars and the war of principles. We have looked for legal solutions, political solution and media solutions. We have elevated men to the level of little messiahs and then were disappointed when they eventually failed. The spirit of socialism, Marxism, atheism and otherisms now reign supreme over a once great culture that represented the Christian and moral values of America’s core people, the America that won wars to set people free. The America that gave individuals the ability to be what they wanted to be. The America that gave people the freedom to accomplish anything and everything they could dream of. All of that is on the verge of disappearing and sooner rather than later.
With people so willing to do battle on so many fronts why are we losing this war. Why have we ceased to be a Christian nation with a strong culture, high moral values and freedom loving people? The primary reason I believe is the failure of the church, not a particular church, denomination, or group but the American church as a whole, Catholic, protestant and everything in-between. America has not been perfect but it has been blessed. Blessed mostly because we have held Jesus up high and his standards and morals have been our national standards and morals. With so many good people fighting the battles we are still losing the war.
I first blamed the church for America’s failure. I blamed them for not teaching their people about who they were in Christ, what God had done in them and for them. I blamed them for not teaching them the about the power of God that dwells within them. Now, I still blame the church, but for a different reason. In place of the needed teaching about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, the people of America’s churches have been taught unbelief. They have been taught to be powerless against Satan and his devices. They have been taught fear and unbelief and when things get tough. They cry to God hoping he will do something instead of them operating in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Every time the devil kicks our backside we have learned to accept what the he does as God’s will and, instead of fighting in the spirit. We say, “thank you Jesus” for our misery when Jesus had nothing to do with it. America Christians are weak, selfish, materialistic just like the rest of the world because we haven’t been taught what real faith is, what Jesus expects of us and how to do the things he has created us to do.
Unbelief is a form of leaven that will destroy a church, a Christian people or a Christian nation. A little bit of unbelief will contaminate not just a little but everything that is taught, and the contamination will cause us to question everything God has promised to do for us and in us. If I doubt whether it is God’s purpose to heal me when the bible talks so much about healing, then I can question whether he will provide for all my needs. I can doubt whether I am truly crucified in the flesh and have the ability to deal with sin in my life. I can doubt whether his power to work in me to fulfill his will in me and to work out my life “according to his good pleasure”. I can doubt whether he really loves me and has my best interest in his mind. I can doubt whether my salvation is good enough. Unbelief multiplies itself.
Many churches teach that the Holy Spirit does not work today as he did in bible times. They teach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not what the bible says they are. They teach that we are not to expect miracles anymore or God's miraculous intervention in our lives is a rare occurrence. What it means is that many churches teach their people doubt and unbelief. Doubt and unbelief are ingrained in their doctrine.
Someone prayed for healing one day and they were not healed. They concluded that either healing was no longer in effect or it wasn’t God’s will to heal. Certainly, it had nothing to do with their doubt and unbelief. It could not be their lack of faith that caused God not to heal them. Certainly it had to be God, not them, that prevented healing power from flowing. No way could it be them. It must be something God is responsible for, not them.
Many churches and denominations actually interpreted the bible based on their personal experiences. If their experience was lacking then they assumed that is the way God wanted things to be so they entrenched those experiences into their doctrines. They teach them in their universities, Sunday schools and their congregations.
How to stop God
Unbelief was the only thing that prevented Jesus from doing miracles. Unbelief actually stopped Jesus’ healing power from working in his day. If unbelief stopped him then how much more does it stop us today? Look at the scriptures below:
Matthew 17: 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief:
Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen.
Matthew 13: 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Matthew 14: 29 And he said, “Come”. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me”.31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
What we see above is that unbelief can and will limit what God can do in individuals lives. Unbelief limited the disciples in their ministry. For whatever reason, in Matthew 17, perhaps because they had seen this boy with the demon like this for many years, they did not have the ability to cast out that demon. Unbelief interfered with their ability to what they should be able to do. Unbelief limits us in what we think we should be doing for God and believing that we have the power to do it.
After his resurrection, Jesus chastised the disciples on their unbelief because they did not believe the message when God did what he said he was going to do.
In Matthew 13 Jesus was limited by unbelief. The people were too familiar with him to accept what he was saying. They first knew him as an ordinary person. Now he was different. Now he has been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Now he can do miracles. The unbelief they had put a wet blanket on Jesus ministry. He could do no might works. Unbelief steals from the power of faith. Unbelief will destroy faith and leave you wondering why God abandoned you when actually through your unbelief you abandoned him.
The solution today is probably the same as the Israelites in the desert; those who had unbelief were not allowed to enter into the promise land. God gave them forty years to figure it out and still they didn’t get it. Today’s American churches and denominations who are ingrained with unbelief will probably not get it either. What will happen is God will simply allow them to die in the desert of America’s once promising land. The land will also be turned to spiritual dust. The storms coming over the horizon, economic storms, political storms and moral storms will destroy the America we once knew and the Christians who have true faith, without any unbelief, will stand in the test and trials while the churches of former days pass away. It will take a people of pure faith who will stand. Finally, a church that is good enough to be the bride of Christ. When we see the last American church of unbelief fail then possibly we will see the return of Christ.
Luke 18: 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
When the Lord returns he will be looking for a people full of faith. His plan was to have a church full of New Testament faith, full of Holy Spirit power changing the world around them, not a bunch of Christians hiding under a rock waiting for the Rapture to take them away.
Some people believe that before Jesus died he empowered a few disciples and a few others. After they all died that was it, game over, no more power. However, Jesus’ going away was to spread the power. He went away and left the Holy Spirit to empower all of us so He would be manifested all over the world. The works that Jesus did, did not die with him. He was just the beginning. We, as Jesus’ representatives, would go into all the world doing all the same things that Jesus did, displaying all the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, drawing people to him and winning them to Christ. Jesus’ dying was not an end of his works but the beginning. The book of Acts is not a history book; it is a living action plan for changing the world. When Jesus returns will he find this kind of church on the earth, one full of faith? Or will he find something else.
Consider this: God’s structure for the church is very clear. He set first Apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers to guide the church. It was a spiritual relationship, a bonding relationship, like a family, spiritual brothers and sisters working together for the good of the family.
What has man done to God’s structure? They have replaced it with boards, committees, president, CEO’s and all other kind of structures and plans. God’s plan has become outdated in their mind. They have a better idea as to how to organize a church, one where men are in power and authority over other men, just like the world’s business and political systems. Instead of servants we have rulers.
Where are the apostles, the prophets and evangelist? Where the men who lead by spiritual authority given by God? Where are the men who are to edify the body of Christ and bring us into the unity of the faith, the fullness and maturity of stature of Christ? Instead of unity, we have men who divide, compete, insult, accuse and ridicule others. This is not the true church of Christ. This is not what Jesus had in mind when sent the disciples out in all of his power and authority.
Will Jesus find faith on the earth? Only when the old worldly church systems, man’s systems and teachings, pass away.
I often hear the quote “America, the last best hope for the world”. The problem with that statement is that the reason America was, and still can be the last best hope, was its people. Even in the worst of times, the America people were rooted in a biblical foundation, a moral and religious people as a whole. That is no longer the case. The American churches have failed. The world must look for a new kind of church, a new church based on the true New Testament model. The new best hope of the world is not a country; it is a church fulfilling the call of the bride of Christ. The old churches filled with the leaven of the world and unbelief will have to pass away. They only stand in the way of true churches of faith. The churches that think they are part of the “in” crowd may find themselves on the outside looking in at Jesus’ return.
The question is, when Jesus returns, will he find faith on the earth? Will you be one of the ones he will find full of faith?
Hebrews 3 12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Mark 6 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Leviticus 19 (New Living Translation) 9 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 23:22 (New Living Translation) 22 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.”
I was studying the topic of a redeemer and read the book of Ruth to get some insight on the subject. I saw where Boaz, Ruth’s redeemer, directed his harvesters not only to leave what God instructed them to do per Deuteronomy and Leviticus but told them to leave extra grain for her to pick up. At the end of the day, she had gathered a full basket to take home to her mother-in-law Naomi.
What I see in this story in Ruth is that it is the fulfilling of the Lord’s command to leave provisions for the poor, the orphaned and the foreigner. God wants his people to share with the less fortunate and the foreigners or strangers in the land who might not have food or work.
The straight and simple is God had made provision for all of us. The provision is already there it is up to us to find it and gather it. God made provisions but each person still had to go out and gather it. They still had to do something. They had to work for it. As the saying goes: “there is no free lunch”. Many Christians are sitting around waiting for “the check in the mail” or gold to fall from the sky or to win the lottery. It is not going to happen. There may be a few cases of free money but often the person who received laid the groundwork to receive that money. They have given and paid the price that causes them to receive that “free” money. In the end, it really was not free. The rule always applies “You reap what you sow”.
All my life when I prayed for more money I usually had to work for it. The opportunity to work overtime would offer itself. A side job would be there just when I needed it. The message I want to share today is that we, Christians, will always have to earn what we need. If you lack what you need, look around, the provision is there somewhere.
I remember a story I read years ago about a priest in a small church that needed money to provide for his poor parishioners. He prayed and prayed but nothing came. He was getting desperate when the Lord finally got through to him and said, “I’ve already provided for you, look around you”. The priest got up and looked around the little plot of land on which the church stood. They built the church in an old pecan orchard and it was full of pecans that were just falling to the ground. People usually just picked up what they wanted for themselves but nobody gave thought to gathering them and selling them. The priest got some parishioners to join him and between them, they gather a number of baskets to sell in the market. Strangely, the money they received was just enough to meet their needs.
So it is with us. Nothing is actually free. That is part of the American ideal. You get to work as hard as you want, make all you want to make and keep it. God said, “If you don’t work you don’t eat”. Many people in American, Christians included, want a free ticket, a free meal or a handout from either God or the government, or a winning lottery ticket. Instead, you need to look around. Maybe you are standing in your orchard. Maybe what you have been praying for is right beneath your feet or just above your head. God has instructed the world to leave provision for His children. We still have to harvest it. Look around you; find out where God wants you so you can bring in your harvest. It is there, waiting for you.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Picture the following scenario. You are going to build a new church building from the ground up. You need to hire an architect. Cost is not a consideration so you are not looking to “go cheap”. You could choose a veteran architect with twenty plus years experience or you could choose a young architect right out school who has no experience but he has studied the latest trends and architectural theories. Whom would you pick?
Likewise, if during the construction a problem arises with a structural issue, who are you going allow to instruct your contractor as how to proceed, a young trainee right out of school or an experienced seasoned structural engineer who has solved many problems like this? Whom would you choose?
In each case, a person with reasonable common sense would choose an experience person over someone that has only studied and practiced from a book, which brings me to the place of my immediate concern. I listen to sermons and teaching downloads when my work does not require most of my attention. I listened to a recording today about gifts of the Holy Spirit, a teaching on I Corinthians 12. Before I start I want to say I have been functioning in the gifts of the Holy Spirit for more than thirty years and I am aware there are many problems with different teachings on the Gifts.
My concern today is there are many people who teach about the Gifts and the spiritual applications when they have never functioned in the supernatural operations of the Holy Spirit. Most have learned their Holy Spirit doctrines in college and have never progressed beyond those teachings. In effect, we have people who teach in churches, schools and universities, propagating the same ideas to their student, which amounts to teaching them not to use the gifts of the spirit. They are teaching their students unbelief. To teach that the gifts no longer function or to minimize the Holy Spirit gifts (teach that the gifts are just enhanced natural abilities) is to teach unbelief.
If someone says the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not in operation today he is probable correct. They are not operational in him because he lives in unbelief. He receives what he believes. The sad part is he teaches that unbelief to others. Just as Jesus could not heal many in His hometown because of their unbelief the Holy Spirit cannot work through those who accept teachings of unbelief.
Read the four gospels. Jesus operated in the spiritual gifts. He taught his disciples how to operate in the spiritual gifts. He taught the seventy how to operate in the spiritual gifts. Then before He ascended, He told His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit, which would endow then with the supernatural power, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He told them to teach others what He had taught them. Then the church continued to grow and operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Allow the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and truly see what the bible says. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth. Let Him.
The lesson I heard today from a well-known teacher was more interested in protecting and defending his doctrine and opinions than he was searching for and finding the truth. I could sense a feeling of anger as he opposes theological straw men and their supposed "wrong" views on the Holy Spirit and the Gifts. He was more concerned with showing how right he was than understanding that God gave us the gifts of the Spirit so we could spread His love to the world.
The love chapter is sandwiched right in the middle of two chapters about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts are about love, they are the tools God gave us to show His love, the love that reveals Christ. Take the three chapters in I Corinthians (12, 13, and 14) very seriously. They are not for self-aggrandizing or self-exaltation. Through the gifts, we are able to be true ambassadors for Christ doing the same things He did.
If I were a student of the bible, I would want to hear all there is about the Holy Spirit and His Gifts and lets the Spirit Himself guide me into all truth. For one thing, I would find a teacher who has operated in the Gifts and see what he has to say. I would ask him to take all the points from the theological schoolteacher as questions and explain with scripture his viewpoint and why the difference. I would certainly want to know if the gifts and powers of the Holy Spirit are operating today as they did in the early church. Most of all if they are just available today as they were in the book of Acts, I would want somebody with experience to teach me about them so I become experienced in all that God has and use all the tools of love He made available.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I Cor 16:14 Let all you do be done with love.
There are many scriptures that support the idea that everything we do must be done in love. Our overall and underlying purpose in life is to be a vessel of God’s love to the world, a lost and dying world. Everything that Jesus did was to show forth God’s love to the world to the point of dying for the creation he himself created. We are now the living Christ (Christ in us) and as the body of Christ and as individuals, we, the body as a whole are to continue to show that Christ like love to the world. Picture yourself as Jesus. You are Jesus to the people living on this earth. Everything He did was based on love. Every act, every word and every thought was based on His love for each and every individual on the face of the earth. He love everyone. The sick, the feeble, the poor, the rich, the smart and the not so smart, the despised, the oppressed and the downtrodden. He loved them all. To truly fulfill your purpose you must love them too.
When I wake in the morning if I have any questions as to why am I here and what is my purpose today then there is one simple answer: I am here to love somebody as Christ loved them and to make that love known. So the greatest answer to the question of “What would Jesus do?” is: love them. Love individuals, love your neighbor, Love your God and love yourself. When I encounter the unlikable people that God puts in my path they are there to remind me that they need an encounter with the love of Christ. I am that Christ in their life and Christ would do nothing less than love them unconditionally.
When we reach that level where we have learned to love everyone as Christ did then we have achieved the fullness of being Christ like. No matter what else I accomplish in life or in ministry it amounts to nothing if I did not do it in love. I can be rich or famous, I can achieve great ministry goals and win thousands of souls for Christ, but if I did not do it in love I have failed in my true purpose in life. Whatever task I think God has called me to do, without love, it has no meaning.
Friday, January 28, 2011
When the government takes our money and spends it that is only moving money from one side of the U.S. economy bucket to the other side. It does nothing to stimulate the economy. It adds nothing to create or increase productivity. Rather than me spending my money on what I want or need the government takes it and spends it what they want. I get nothing out of it.
I have heard numerous time that there is approximately two trillion dollars sitting in banks and other accounts not doing anything because the cost and uncertainties of doing business in the United States is too great. That is two trillion dollars that if invested in the United States would triple to six trillion dollars over a few years. That is the kind of stimulus we need that would not only pay off the debt but would give us the flexibility to fix medicare, social security
I have an idea. Rather than taking away our money and funneling it through the government cash register, lets find ways to stimulate the economy in the private sector. If we lowered the corporate income tax to eighteen percent or less (down from 35%) that would be a great incentive to invest all those dollars in the united states.
If we removed all the taxes on money that US companies make overseas then that money will return to create more jobs here in the US.
If we removed all the unnecessary regulations, excluding safety and health, that would free business to do more creative development and expand the system through innovation.
Finally we can set minimum guidelines (not laws) for wages, retirement and benefits so there would be no need for unions to promote and get above average agreements on contracts and everyone else have to pay for them when they are earning less. The public sector and union employees can get wages and benefits at the same level the rest of us do.