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.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Acts 10:37,38 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Matthew 3:11-17 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:4-13 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Luke: 15-22 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
John 1:29-34 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and REMAIN is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” NIV
Who and what Jesus had to be
If you ask most Christian how Jesus accomplished all of his miracles, the casting out of demons and healing the sick they would respond “because he was God”. But is this the right answer?
In the Old Testament plan of redemption it was required that a person could only be redeemed by a blood kinsman. This lays the foundation that the redeemer of all mankind had to be another human. In Philippians it tells us that Jesus laid aside his Godly nature and became a servant, a man, a human to pay the price required to redeem us. That price was death on a cross. That was the price of redemption.
So Jesus came as a man, he was still God but he had to lay his God self aside to be 100% man and function as a man. If he operated as God in any way then he would have not been fully human but a God/Man hybrid. A God/Man hybrid would not qualify as our blood kinsman and therefore could not redeem us. Jesus had to be a 100% man, live as a man and operate as a man.
I was listening to a Jewish teacher on the radio the other day and he was saying that Jewish belief was that the messiah would be a man only. Not God or a son of God, just a man. So much of the Old Testament scripture points to the Messiah being a man. Their problem was in not realizing that Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. Jesus had to put his 100% God nature aside so he could fulfill his purpose as a man.
Now back to the question, how did Jesus do all those things if he didn’t use his God nature? Acts 10:37-38 tells us. God the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with Power. In all four gospels it refers to Jesus as the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. But first he is baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove and remained on him just as the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples like tongues of fire and remained on them. That was a baptism of Holy Spirit power. After his baptism he was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. After his baptism he began operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus did no miracles until after his baptism.
This is the part that is so hard to grasp for many people. Jesus had to be a man. He was to be our example. His example to us is that he operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit with unlimited ability. We can operate the same way if we can get past our unbelief (like the disciples had with the demon possessed son), our fears and doubts. If you go through the four gospels you can see where everything Jesus did can be attributed to one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. The working of miracles when feeding the 5000, calming the storm, etc.). The gift of the word of knowledge when he would perceive what others were thinking. The word of wisdom when he was foretelling how the end would come. The spirit of discernment when casting out demons. The gifts of healing and so forth. Jesus did these things so we would know how to do them also. He said “greater works would you do because I go to my father”. He told his disciples and all that were witness to his ascension: GO in His authority and power and teach them all the things I have taught you. What did he teach? He taught them how to use the power and authority of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He told them to wait until they were to receive power from on high, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. So they could be like him.
The gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the Church, the body of Christ. God does not repent of his gifts. Peter said at Pentecost the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise was given to all that the Lord shall call. Not some, not just the disciples, not just the early Church, but all, from the day of Pentecost till now, whoever the Lord called could receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit and learn to operate in the spiritual gifts.
Some people will argue that they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit when they got saved or gave their life to Christ. Then the question remains, are you operating in the same supernatural gifts that Jesus did? Are you receiving supernatural revelations, praying for the sick and seeing them healed, casting out demons and delivering people like Jesus did? If not then you are not doing all that Jesus instructed you to do.
Some people argue that the gift are just heighten natural abilities, like being smarter, wiser, more intuitive than other people. But that is not what the scriptures reveal. Jesus came and operated supernaturally. He taught his disciples to operate supernaturally. The early church, in the book of Acts, operated supernaturally. To fulfill God’s purposes and do everything we are required to do we need to be operating supernaturally. Jesus changed the world. The disciples changed their world. The early church changed their world. When Christians begin to operate supernaturally they change their world. That is the measuring stick. Are we supernaturally changing our world? Are we conquering everywhere our feet will tread or are we treading in place? Are we the overcomers or the overcomed? Are we the victorious army of Christ or POWs in a secular world? Are we all we can be or are we just being enough to get by?
The end time is near. It is time to quit playing religious game, fighting over petty doctrines and start fulfilling the calling of God. The time for lukewarm Christianity is over. The end time’s revival will come only through Christians who are operating supernaturally in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Nothing less will be acceptable to God. God cannot use people who do not use the tools and do not follow what God has instructed them to do. The word says Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Light up the fire and let the burning begin.