We are God's Ekklesia!

on 12/20/2014

"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?'  And they said, 'Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.'  He said unto them, 'But whom say you that I am?'  And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'  And Jesus answered and said unto him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in Heaven.  And I say unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  (Matthew 16:13-19)

What an amazing passage which is worthy of our most focused attention.  This is the first time Jesus uses the word "church" and in the Greek the word is "ekklesia."  It is also the first time that "ekklesia" is used in the Bible.  "Ekklesia" refers to the governing body in the Greek city-state.  The ekklesia would be called forth to meet and the ekklesia held the ultimate power in the government.  It was not a small group of people, but virtually all male citizens could participate.  This is the word that Jesus used when describing the institution He was building.  He was not making a physical structure, but rather He was calling out a group of people with power to rule.  We are those people.
Now the rest of the passage makes great sense.  We are God's chosen people with authority from the Kingdom of God, and Jesus gives us the keys to the Kingdom, and nothing shall prevail against us.

What a reality!  Not only are we God's children and joint-heirs with Christ, but we are also governing officials in the Kingdom of God.  We are not just common citizens under the rule of God, but we participate in God's government.  Everyone knows the verse which says "seek ye first the Kingdom of God . . ." but how many of us truly understand what that means.  I know that I have basically equated "Kingdom of God" with my church and Christianity as a whole, and I'm sure in part that is correct, but we've been missing out and not taking our appropriate place in the Kingdom.  We are God's Ekklesia.  God wants to work with us.  God wants us to take our place as His mature sons and daughters.

"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom."  (Matthew 4:23)  That is the first use of the word "gospel" in the Bible.  Jesus never personally referred to the "Gospel of Jesus Christ", but He did refer to the "Gospel of the Kingdom" in Mark 24:14.  You cannot separate the Gospel from the Kingdom of God, and to miss out on your true place in the Kingdom of God is to miss out on an essential part of the Gospel.  Look at the first passage above again.  As soon as Peter received the revelation of Jesus Christ as God's Son, Jesus immediately spoke to Peter about being in the Kingdom of God as a member of Jesus' ekklesia.  He then spoke about the authority and power Peter would walk in as a result of His having the keys to the Kingdom of God.  Glory to God!

Yes we are ambassadors for Christ, ambassadors of the Kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 5:20), but we are also more than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)  We haven't just received citizenship in Heaven and the name "Christian", we have also received the Kingdom's power.

"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."  (Luke 10:19).  The "power" of the enemy is the Greek word "dunamis" which would refer to satan's physical strength.  But the "power" given to us is "exousia" which refers to privilege, jurisdiction and authority.  Whatever strength satan may have, we have authority over it.  Moreover, Jesus told us "we shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon us, and we shall be His witnesses . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth."  (Acts 1:8)  In this passage, "power" is dunamis".  We have been given both the authority and miracle working power of God as ambassadors and conquerors for the Kingdom of God!

Not only do we have God's authority and God's power ,but we also have the mighty name of Jesus, the name which is above every name (Ephesians 1:21).  We are God's ekklesia and we are to go forth to this lost and dying world in the name of Jesus (Mark 16:17, John 14:13).  There are differences between God's ekklesia and the Greek one.  The Greek ekklesia would rule from their assembly, gathered together to exercise power, and then it would disband until called again.  But we are called to stay together forever in an eternal unity which is created by the Spirit of God, and in this unity of love, wisdom and power we are sent to this world to see God's will come to pass.

Whatever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  The gates of hell shall not prevail against us.  Why all of these statements?  Because we have been given the keys.  We can open the gates of hell and take back what the enemy has stolen (people, health, peace, prosperity, etc.).  Moreover we can use those keys to loose and to bind.  We do this in the Name of Jesus and by an exercise of our faith.  "I bind you devil in Jesus" Name . . . I bind that sickness in Jesus Name."  Maybe this sounds crazy, but it will work because God says it will work.  I know people can get goofy in this area, but that doesn't change what God says.  That doesn't change the reality that this is part of our calling in the Kingdom of God.  We pray for God's will, but we must go forth with God's Name, authority and power to work with God to see His Kingdom expanded and His will accomplished in the earth.

Maybe we will look weird.  Maybe we will need to step out and operate in a spiritual realm that others can't understand.  But we have no choice.  The alternative is to neglect an essential part of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  We must get over those petty issues and embrace the awesome calling that we have into God's ekklesia.  It's time to take back what the enemy has stolen.  It's time to work with God to help bring His love and freedom to the world.


A Key To Victory

on 10/28/2014

Last weekend my church had a men's retreat, a camping trip.  After my first night ever in a tent, a long, cold night, I woke up early and considered my options.  It was really too early to get going so I thought about life and my relationship with God.  In many ways life has been very good lately.  On the outside people might think everything is perfect in my life and relationship with God.  But on this morning I could sense something wasn't quite right.  I acknowledged this feeling, admitted I needed to figure it out, and God then spoke to me.

God led me straight to 1 Samuel, a book I've read many times.  He showed me something awesome, and I believe this is a master key for any of us looking to progress in our walk with God.

In 1 Samuel chapter four we quickly see that Israel is in "Ebenezer" (meaning "Rock of Hope") and having problems with the Philistines.  They are defeated in battle by the second verse.  They consider their situation, and they decide to get the Ark of the Covenant (symbolizing God's presence) and bring it to the battle.  This was not a surprising move and in theory seems like a good idea.  Furthermore, when the Ark arrived, "all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again."  Then, "the Philistines were afraid, for they said, 'God is come into the camp."

At this point I am betting on Israel.  God's presence is apparently with them.  They have faith in God's ability to deliver them and they are ready to go up boldly into battle.  Even their enemies are afraid.  So what happened? "Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen."  What?  I know I've read this before, but I found it surprising again.  Why did they lose?  Fortunately, God tells us.

Now at some point later (1 Samuel chapter 7), at least seven months, Samuel  (the leader at that time) "spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, 'If you do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth (female fake gods) from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."  Then "the children of Israel did put away (all the fake gods) and served the Lord only."

Israel then gathered together (They are basically at Ebenezer at this time too.), "and when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together . . . (they) went up against Israel.  And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines . . . but the Lord thundered with a great thunder that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel . . . So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel."

You probably see the key here.  You can be a one of God's people.  You can be in church every Sunday.  You can be shouting your praises and even speaking boldly for the Lord, confident in His ability to protect you.  But if you permit false gods, idols and problems to remain in your life, they will hinder your victory and they will weaken your walk with God.  You can even start losing battles.  However, if you take a hard line against such things in your life, and if you get rid of anything that comes between you and God, you will see the mighty hand of the Lord fight for you.

When you put away all of those things that lead you astray, God will thunder for you.  God will deliver you from your enemies.  God will give you peace.  God will even restore your inheritance.  Glory to God.

So this was God's word for me at the men's retreat.  Frankly, the difficult issue for me is identifying these idols.  I don't have an alcohol problem or any other obvious issue.  (I have my issues, believe me, but they aren't always so physically obvious.)  No, I have unseen difficult and dangerous problems, and God hates them just like if I was worshiping idols.  My problem is that I must root out those aspects of the old man that still linger in my soul.  I need to let the Holy Spirit continue to change my temper, to change my desires, to change my thought patterns, energize me, and change every aspect of me so that I can become more fully conformed to the image of Christ.  I have known this for a long time and I have not devoted myself to the prayer, study and time with God necessary for these changes.

"Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us."  (Hebrews 12:1)  My friends, whatever false gods are still in your life, whatever takes your focus from God and His will, whatever weights or sins remain, these we must put away.  We must analyze ourselves even to the discerning between spirit and soul, so that anything not of God can be expelled.  We must return to the Lord with ALL our hearts.  God will honor this and bless us as He did the Israelites who made such changes thousands of years ago.

It's not about your physical location or anything physical that you could do (praising, shouting, running to church, going to the men's retreat, etc.)  Even though those can be good activities, God is fundamentally looking at the condition of your heart.  This principle shows up in this passage and carries through 1 Samuel in a big way when God chooses David who was a man after God's own heart.  We need to learn from this, and we need to be vigilant to love and serve God with all our hearts.

I pray this blesses you today and helps you on your journey into the fullness of God's plans for your life.


He Is Enough

on 8/02/2014

Lately I have been studying Godly leadership.  Other than in my home, I'm really not in any position of leadership at this time.  But I try to hear God about my Bible study.  That's really a great practice that you should consider.  It's good to follow Bible reading plans or other set schedules at times, but other times you need to let the Spirit of Truth guide you into all Truth.  Remember that Jesus said God's Word is Truth.  So in reality, Christians have the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of the Word of God, to guide them through the Word of God.

At first when you try to follow God's Spirit in your Bible study you can feel lost and maybe even silly.  You're trying to hear with your spiritual ears a voice that usually only speaks in the spiritual realm, and you want it to tell you what page to read in a book.  But don't worry about that.  Focus instead on God's promise that the Spirit of Truth is inside of you and that He will guide you into all Truth.  Take a minute to pray and then go to the area of the Bible that comes to you (just try it).

As you do this, you may start in a place that seems inapplicable (like me and leadership I suppose), but if you stay in faith and give it a few minutes the Word of God will open to you as perhaps it never has.  This is when God begins speaking directly to you from His Word.  This is when the Holy Spirit begins pouring revelation out from the Word to you.  This is when the Word really comes alive.  It is an awesome thing to know God is speaking to you from His Word.

Back to Godly leadership, God has shown me so much since I felt His leading to that topic.  But it reminds me of when I first studied marriage.  I realized that it wasn't about my wife improving my life, but (as far as I was concerned) it was about me improving hers.  It was about me caring for her, loving her, nourishing her and cherishing her.  I see this now as a key reality of God-ordained leadership.  It's not about the other people supporting what you are doing or about your place above others, it's about God putting you in position to be a blessing and encouragement so that God can bless others through you.

As I studied I realized another aspect of Godly leadership (I mean true, sustained, Spirit-led, God-inspired leadership), it can be extremely lonely and difficult (in the natural).  Now I am generally considering the highest levels of leadership, but I'm sure this is relatively true at any level.

"And it came to pass, when (King) David and his men were come to Ziklag (where they lived) on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire . . . and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives . . .And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved . . .but David encouraged himself in the Lord His God.  And David said to Abiathar the priest, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod (a garment one would wear when inquiring of God), And David inquired at the Lord."  (I Samuel 30:6-7)

Now David is anointed to be the King of Israel, but he is basically living in the middle of nowhere with a band of misfits that had nothing better to do.  (1 Samuel 22:2 - everyone that was in distress, in debt and was discontented gathered themselves to David and he became a captain over them.)  He is their leader, and compared to their lives before David they are probably doing great.  They now have wealth and families.  God has protected them in numerous battles, and they have undoubtedly seen God's hand on David.  But serious opposition has arisen.  Rather than focusing on God and their history of success with David, they immediately blame him and they are ready to kill him.  David has no one but God.  No one encourages him.  No one supports him.  But God stays true.  David focuses on God and God leads him to recover all of the people and great spoil.

This will probably happen to you sooner or later.  Something bad happens.  No one is there to help you.  You can only turn to God.  But praise God, He is enough.  He is the only help you need.  As He did with David, maybe He will bring you someone else to help you.  Maybe He will direct you Himself.  Either way, He will never leave you or forsake you.  If you focus on Him and His promises, He will bring you through any difficult situation.  There are times when God says, "Even if you have no one else, you still have Me."  The question is whether we are going to focus on who we don't have or Who we have.

Look at what the Apostle Paul said, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me . . . Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."  (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

Paul also said, "But what things were gain to me (in my past life), those I counted loss for Christ.  Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ." (Philippians 3:8)

I love that second verse and how it illustrates both sides of the coin.  Yes, Paul gave up probably everything in the natural realm, but he realized that, in reality, they were worthless when compared with Christ.  I'm not saying that God wants us broke so that we can appreciate Him more.  That's crazy.  I am fully persuaded that God wants us to be blessed financially (2 Corinthians 9:11), yes that He wants wealth and riches in our houses (Psalms 112:3), and that He wants us to ride on the high places of the earth (Isaiah 58:14).  But you may be in a place where natural things seem far away.  And you may come to a place where natural things do nothing for you.

I have a burning desire in my heart to do God's will in my life.  If I had a billion dollars, that would not take that desire away.  As you increase in life (as a man or woman of God) the pleasures of this life will most likely hold less and less for you in terms of your inner peace and sense of accomplishment.  But you can't let this diminish your hunger for God's Work.  You can't let this diminish your energy to do what God has called you to do.  You've got to come to the place where He is all you desire and He is all you need.

Again, I am well aware of the importance of relationships, and I am well aware of God's desire to bless us materially.  But my point is you must come to the place that to continue growing, to continue fighting, to continue striving for everything God has called you to do, you don't NEED any other person, and you don't NEED any other thing.  God (His love, His presence, His Spirit, His approval and His companionship) must be enough.

When He is enough, then He is all you need.  When He is enough for you then you will go after Him and His will regardless of any natural circumstance.  You won't regard the cares of others, the cares of things, or any other care of any kind.  And in spite of any natural circumstance, you will still have your peace, your joy and your fire because you have Him. This is where we must go.


The Presence of God

on 6/09/2014

If you go to church then you have probably heard people talk about the presence of God.  People talk about God being in the church (especially when the music is good) or God being in various places at various times.  They might say things like, "the presence of God was so strong" or "you can feel the presence of God here" or something like that.  While there is no question that God does show up physically in various places (especially in the Old Testament) this can become a fuzzy, goofy question for the flesh that ends up removing the actual benefits and possibilities of God's presence.

Let's try to get rid of some of the mystery about God's presence and learn how we can be constantly in God's presence with its resulting benefits.  That's right, you aren't just in God's presence when you feel goose bumps during a good worship song, as a Christian you can (and do) live in God's presence.  When we understand the reality of God's presence we can quickly grow closer to God, improve our communication with Him, and begin experiencing the benefits of His presence immediately. 

It's true that many years ago God's presence was to be respected with a reverent fear.  You've probably heard that if a priest approached God's presence (in the temple) and the priest had sin then the priest would die instantly.  You may also remember the guy who touched the Ark (trying to keep it from falling) and he died.  The Ark was the place for God's presence in the Old Testament, like the temple was.  God would also show up from time to time and speak with people (Moses, for example) and they had to respect God's holiness or risk death.  Finally, God told the Israelites that none of them should touch His holy mountain because they would die, and His voice scared them all so bad they didn't want to hear it anymore.  

So, yes, when we read the Old Testament, we can be a bit scared of God's presence.  We might wonder if we are worthy, and we might fear His presence if we doubt our redemption in Christ.  But that precious redemption, including the forgiveness and cleansing of our sins that comes from the blood of Christ, gives us full access to God's presence without fear of rejection, punishment or anything negative.  In fact, when we are "perfected forever" by the sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:14), God makes our bodies an actual temple for Himself, and He then dwells inside of us.  I realize that sounds pretty crazy, but I will show you this from the Scripture.  

Furthermore, now that God is literally inside of us all the time, and His very presence is within us, we don't need to wait for the right song or the right prayer meeting to feel like we are in God's presence.  We know that we are constantly in God's presence, even physically.  We have direct access to God 24/7, and Christians, it's time we start using it.

"Flee fornication.  Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.  What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own."  (1 Corinthians 6:18-19)

"For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."  (2 Corinthians 6:16)

Praise God!  The Bible makes it crystal clear, God has made our bodies into the literal temple of the Holy Ghost.  We are the temples of God and God is inside of us right now.  I'm sitting at my desk in Tampa, FL, and I am right in the presence of God.  There is no worship music and no prayer leaders, just me and God sitting together at this computer.

Again, we want to remove doubt, mystery and spookiness from this reality so you can benefit from it.  The Bible even tells us specifically that God's Spirit dwells in our belly.

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."  (John 7:38-39)

"The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly."  (Proverbs 20:27)

Let's not get too crazy about this point either with arguments about the literal Greek and Hebrew of "belly" - the point is that God is in our flesh, and our spirit is right there with Him.  Our spirit man, the true man inside of you that will live forever, is inside of you and is right there with God's Spirit.  Don't you see, you are literally and physically in God's presence all the time.

Now that we know we actually are always in God's presence.  It's time to think about it and enjoy it.  We are always in His presence physically and spiritually, but we aren't always in His presence mentally.  Even though God is right inside of me, wanting fellowship and communication, my mind is usually a million miles away.  I need to focus on Him.

I heard a great speaker say that God whispers because He wants us close to Him.  If you want to hear from God, you must focus on Him and listen closely.  Church and prayer meetings help to focus our senses and concentrate our minds on God, but we must learn to do this in our everyday lives.  Sure, God may do something that arrests you spirit, soul and body so that you will focus on Him and hear Him clearly.  But that's not the norm.  I believe God is a fountain of blessing, information and revelation, and He wants us to drink freely.  But we drink by communication and fellowship with His Spirit.  This just doesn't happen if you aren't focused on Him.

Remember that we have boldness and access to God with confidence by our faith in Christ (Ephesians 3:12).  Remember that God tells us to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  (Hebrews 4:16)

What an awesome God we serve!  God sits on a throne of grace!  All of God's grace, wisdom, blessing and every other wonderful aspect of God are right there inside of us in Him.  We don't need to shrink back in fear, we can be "having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus."  (Hebrews 10:19).  We should "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith."  (Hebrews 10:22) Let's do it right now, individually and together.

Close your eyes (after reading this of course).  Focus your mind.  Picture God on His throne right inside your belly.  Picture your spirit man walking right up to the throne.  No matter what you have done, God greets you with a look of love and acceptance.  Now put yourself there.  You are there.  You are right with God and you can speak freely.  Let Him speak.  Where does He lead your mind?  Yes, some of this will be your mind, but you are with God and now you are in His presence mentally.  Focus, concentrate on God and the things of God.  Give it time.  Soon you will recognize something that did not come from your mind.  Again, be patient.  Perhaps it's a voice, perhaps an image, perhaps you just instantly know something (this is what I describe below).

As I was doing this (which led me to write this) I thought about the verse - "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (with Him)."  (1 Corinthians 6:17)  I thought about what a wonderful verse this was.  I marveled that God would unite Himself to me.  As I considered these things with my mind, I heard God's Spirit.   I didn't hear God in a voice, but He spoke and revealed something directly to me, like He imparted something directly to mind.  You see, I have real problems with worrying about my day to day needs.  In an instant He showed me that He has joined Himself to me and that He has wonderful intentions for our relationship.  He said that my day to day needs will absolutely be provided for and that this is no effort at all, not even a consideration for Him.  For He has these great intentions for our union, and He wants me to focus on that.  It was like He said, how can you even worry about such things, seeing all that I have done and all I have planned. (I know He is saying that same thing to you all too!)

My friends, "in (God's) presence is fulness of Joy; at (His) right hand there are pleasures for evermore."  (Psalms 16:11)  It's time to focus on God.  It's time to understand His presence and remember that He is always with us.  It's time to come boldly into His presence with every aspect of our being, so that we can receive Him and all He has for us.  Practice the presence of God.  Spend time with Him.  Cut out every distraction and be with Him.  He will speak, He will reveal, and He will bless.


To The End

on 4/06/2014

"I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." (Revelation 22:13)

A few years ago I witnessed to a close friend about Jesus Christ.  He liked the ideas of salvation and a relationship with God, but I could tell he didn't like the idea of being a "born again Christian."  He had heard the stereotypes.  He had watched Ned Flanders on The Simpsons, and he couldn't imagine himself being a nerdy, no-fun religious zealot that was mocked openly in the popular culture he had adopted.  It was hard to tell him that it wasn't like that.  "Can I still party?"  "No."  "Can I still get with girls?" "No."  "What can I do."  "You can go to church and read the Bible." 

I didn't know what a Christian was supposed to look like.  I was a Christian, but I was worse than Ned Flanders.  They make him out to be a nice guy.  I was the jerk version.  I couldn't see what God had for me to be.  But who I am supposed to be is right in front of me.  It's right in front of us all as we study the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.  As we study Him, He looks back at us.  His Spirit draws us closer, His Spirit unites us with Him, and His Spirit changes us into His image.  All of this is so we become like Him.  He is the End.  He is the fulfillment of our potential.  He is the Height that we can reach.  He is the pinnacle of humanity, and we can reach Him.

We will reach Him eventually.  We will be completely conformed to His image one day.  But we can't wait.  We must start believing and working for this now.  This is one of God's most important (if not the most important) goals for our life, and we can start now.

I feel that I must digress so that you don't fear this conformity.  We will retain our individuality.  We will all still be unique.  Even when we are completely conformed to the image of Christ, there will never be another person just like you.  God formed you, and God adores every detail that is only yours.  I believe the world has conformed us.  The world represses our Godly individuality.  As we are conformed to the image of Christ, our God-given traits will spring forth.  We will love them, and so will others.  "When He (God) talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever."  (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)

No, it's not a negative conformity that will destroy us.  It's a positive change that will free us.  As you become like Christ, you will become the person God created you to be.  Christ is your end and your beginning.

The Greek word for "end" in the Revelation verse is "telos."  Here is the definition from the Greek dictionary I use (Strong's from E-Sword): to set out for a definite point or goal, properly the point aimed at as a limit, the conclusion of an act or state, termination, result.  Complete conformity to Christ is our goal.  This is a definite point, something we can strive to.  He is our conclusion, our purpose, the result of His salvation life in us.

God will bring you to Him.

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."  (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

God is going to sanctify (consecrate, make holy) you wholly.  "Wholly" is, at its root, a combination of two words: "holos" and "telos."  "Holos" is whole, complete, all.  God is going to purify you wholly, to the complete purification to the level of Christ (completely to the End).  You will be purified, inside and out.  As Christ is sanctified, so is God going to sanctify you.  God is going to make you holy to the level of Christ's purification.

"Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."  (Hebrews 7:25)

"Save" in the Greek is "sozo," meaning save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, and make whole.  This passage in Hebrews deals with sacrifice and cleansing from sin.  Christ, through His sacrifice and eternal intercession for us, saves us to the very core of our being.  Uttermost here is the combination of "pas" and "telos."  "Pas" is all, any, every, whole.  God is going to save every part of you.  God is going to heal every part of you.  God is going to change every part of you.  Just as we saw in Thessalonians, God isn't going to leave any part of you untouched.

God raised Christ from the dead.  God saved Christ from hell.  God is going to do the same for you, and to the same extent.

"Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6 KJV)

God has begun a good work in you.  What is this good work, conforming you to the image of Christ in every way (which puts you in position so God can do good works through you).

God will develop you in love, joy, peace, compassion, and every other fruit of the Spirit.  God will develop your individual ministry so that you are a blessing to others.  God will develop you internally in every Christian attribute, and the superman God has created in you will come alive to do His work and change your world.  This is what it means to rise and shine.

This will happen as you spend time with God and learn about Him.  As you learn about God, He reveals Himself to you.  The revelation of God is (gulp) the revelation of who you were created to be.  And again, your individual expression of God can never be duplicated.  You are meant to be an expression of God's love, power and personality to the world.  The more you see of God, the more you will love Him, and the more you will want to be like Him.  And He will answer your heart's cry and make you like Him (you will feel this as you see Him clearly).  You will become like Him and yourself, and you will grow in this love bond with Him, and you will love yourself, and you will love others.

"Perform" is "epiteleo" - a combination of "epi" and "teleo," "teleo" coming from the word "telos."  The basic definition of "perform" is to fulfill further or completely, execute, terminate, accomplish.  In other words, "bring to the end."  God has started you on the journey and He will completely perform His work in you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  But we must start working with Him, not against Him.

God will complete His mission in you.  God will accomplish His work.  God will bring you to the End that is Jesus Christ in you and through you.

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2)

Let me leave you with this final thought - you have to let Him do it.  I've shown you clearly here, and in my other post on being conformed to the image of Christ, that God wants to change you.  This is for your good, for your blessing, and for you to be a blessing to the world.  But He won't force you to change.  I wish He would frankly, that would be so much easier.  But that's not how it works.

He presents change.  He shows you change in His word and shows you the benefits.  As you read the Word, faith that makes change possible builds in you.  Then you have a thought, "I can change."  "I can do this."  It's a great, empowering feeling that comes straight from the Spirit of God.  You feel God's power to change your life so that you can live His perfect will.  But you must answer the call.  You must embrace the opportunity.  God will not force you to rise and shine.  You must do it yourself, and all of Heaven is behind you to change and bless this world.

The Spirit of God gives you the revelation that true change is possible in your life.  But you must walk through the door, and it starts with your mind making good choices.  Of course you don't walk alone.  God will be with you every step of the way, to bring you to the End.  This is your destiny.  This is God's plan for your life.  Yes, there are external plans, but this is His internal plan for us all.  Now let's get going. 


You Are A Champion

on 2/24/2014

Some time ago I was listening to Christian radio and the speaker talked about Caleb in Joshua Chapter 14.  You'll remember that Caleb and Joshua were the two spies of the Promised Land who brought back a good report of the land.  They were the only two men from that generation who lived to see the land.  After some time, Caleb came to Joshua to claim his portion of the land and this is what he said:

"Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heard in that day how the Anakims (giants) were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said."  (Joshua 14:12)

The speaker paraphrased Caleb's statement this way, "give me the mountain, where the giants dwell."  Caleb was ready to claim what God had promised him some forty years before.  Caleb was full of faith and Caleb knew that if God was for him then no man could stand against him.  He didn't want the easy land, he wanted the specific land God promised.  He was ready to take the hard land.

Later that night I was walking my dog and God spoke to me.  He showed me that I was faithless.  I haven't always been that way and that statement may surprise some of you who know me.  But it was true.  Somehow, despite living in great times of prosperity, despite living with the greatest examples of God's love and grace (my wife and children) and despite seeing God doing miraculous things in my life, I had grown faithless.  I would love to tell you that God spoke gently and comforted me, but I was rebuked, and I couldn't argue.

Let me show you why I was rebuked.  Let me show you why I am an overcomer (and should act like it) and you are too.  As Caleb knew, it's not me or my strength, it's God.  I don't care what you are facing, you can say like Caleb did when he first saw the land, "Let us go up at once, and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it."

You can do anything and everything that God wants you to do.  You can overcome any obstacle that is put in your way.  You can defeat any enemy.  You can break any barrier.  You can obtain any promise.  You can show this world what God's strength and power look like.  You are a champion, a king, the child of the Most High God.  You are full of God's wisdom.  You are full of God's love.  You are anointed with God's Spirit and power. Nothing can stop you.  Nothing can defeat you.  You have everything you will ever need and more to live as God's champion on the earth, going forth to further His kingdom in your life and the lives of others.

I know we don't always feel this way.  I know it's hard when we look at our natural circumstances.  But it's time that we arise and shine.  It's time that we live in the reality of our redemption and anointing.  It's time that we stand up and overcome.  Forget what you've heard that has condemned you.  Forget the circumstances that have crushed your hope, your belief and your faith.  I am telling you Biblical truth and you must let the Word of God replace anything in your mind that keeps you from living the results of God's championship victory over sin and the devil.

"In all things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."  (Romans 8:37)

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."  (Philippians 4:13)

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

"With God all things are possible."  (Matthew 19:26)

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place." (2 Corinthians 2:14)

"For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:23-24)

"For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet. For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not. Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets." (Psalms 18:28-42)

Your problems, your enemies (spiritual, we don't war against flesh and blood), your obstacles, your difficulties, your bonds, everything that holds you back or stands in your way, is nothing but dust under your feet when you approach it with God.  Your problems are nothing to God.

A few weeks ago I was praying about a house and God said, "A house is nothing to Me."  He didn't mean that He didn't care, but that what I see as a major problem is nothing with the power of God.  Then I started thinking about closing costs, you can imagine what He said about that!

Let's go back to Joshua and Caleb.  Remember that ten of the twelve spies were scared.  "And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not." (Numbers 14:6-9)

Your problems are dust.  They are your bread.  They are nothing when compared with God's power.  Only fear them not, and focus on God.  Don't you see the theme in these verses.  If God be for us, nothing can be against us.  The key is being with God and operating with His ability.

We must spend time in God's presence to learn His will.  He won't give you the easy land where nobody dwells.  He wants to give you the awesome mountain where the giants dwell.  You can't do it on your own.  That's the point.  In the natural it's not supposed to be easy.  But with God you can win every time.  God doesn't want you to do it without Him.  He wants you to do it with Him so you can see His love and power and grow closer to Him every time.

You are called to be a champion.  You are called to victory and conquest.  Look again at 2 Corinthians 2:14.  God you wants you to triumph always, so that others will always see His power and love in your life.  When they see it in your life, the will want it in theirs.  God wants us as examples of His glory and grace.

Now rise and shine.  Your Light has come.  The glory of God is on you, and you can do all things through Christ.  Lift up your head.  You are redeemed, justified, sanctified and made righteous.  You are now God's perfect Child, in Christ deserving of all God's promises.  Fill your mind with God's empowering and encouraging Word.  God is with you, and you are well able to overcome.