Monday, July 12, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father"? Or again,
"I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son"? 6And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
"Let all God's angels worship him." 7In speaking of the angels he says,
"He makes his angels winds,
his servants flames of fire." 8But about the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy." 10He also says,
"In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end." 13To which of the angels did God ever say,
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet"? 14Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Here the writer of the letter is pointing out that it is not even messages from angels that are important anymore, since God has now spoken to us through His Son, Jesus. The Hebrews were very accustomed to receiving messages from angels, this was normal to them. The writer is trying to point to he fact that they need to be listening to Jesus. Granted, angels do come an assist us in ministering as seen in verse 14, but we hear God primarily by the Holy Spirit Whom He has given us. The Holy Spirit is the One Who takes from what belongs to Jesus and makes it known to us.
We must be aware that we don't find ourselves be more captivated by the helpers, that we do by the One Who sent them. We are all able to hear God's inward audible voice for ourselves. Angels come, but I believe they always point us to Jesus. God, I believe, would rather us hear the voice of His Spirit rather that Him have to get our attention through the voice of angels.
In our ministry we have seen had angles minister along side us, they have been in our meetings. One thing I have found that attracts them is when we worship the Lord and when we are preaching Jesus. Another thing I have found that they do, is point us to Jesus and then move out of the way. They will also spend more time telling of what they have seen, rather than preach the gospel or the kingdom.
Colossians 2: 18 - 19
18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
We also need to know that the devil will come as an angel of light. He also knows the scriptures very well and can quote them, but he does not like us to have a clear view of Jesus or hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. I always take note when I hear someone always saying that angels have told them things, but never hear them speak of the Holy Spirit, or Jesus is not often heard of in their message.
As we become more intimate with Jesus and with the Father, we will hear more clearly the voice of the Holy Spirit.
A sure sign that someone is loosing focus of the centrality of Jesus and slipping out of His rest is the following: Frustration, lack of grace for others, anger, strife, striving for things, fear, fear of control, fear of law, selfish living, argumentative, chasing every wind of teaching.
As Paul said:" I claim to know nothing while with you except Christ and Him crucified"
He also says: " If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, The task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace"
We need to keep the focus of Jesus, on His gospel. In Him is the power, in the gospel is the power. If we make every effort to enter His rest, then we will begin to see the supernatural as an automatic consequence of our rest in Him.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."
What does it say next? "All nations will be blessed through you" WOW.
We counter the ways of this world, we counter the system of the ruler of this world. Where people fight against each other, we bring peace. Where people turn away from each other, we turn towards. Where people run, we stand. Where destruction comes, we bring restoration. Where sickness come, we heal. Where demons oppress, we set free. Where people steel, we give. Where there is poverty, we bring abundance. Where there is hate, we bring love.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
1 Corinthians 1:21-23 (New International Version)
21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
There has been something that I have noticed as I have spoken to people and seen on my travels around the world. It is something that is of concern to me. This scripture above has helped me to understand what it is.
There are many believers now who are becoming 'sign junkies'. They live to see the signs of God manifesting. Desiring to see signs is not the problem because signs will follow or accompany the preaching of the Gospel. The early church saw signs, and I myself have seen it many times while ministering. But desiring this signs at the expense of intimacy with Jesus and with the Father, this is a problem.
Like a drug addict these believes hang for a visual sign that pleases them, if no sign is seen the way they expect it to be seen, they leave disappointed. They run around from conference to conference, from speaker to speaker, as a drug addict would run from club to club or from dealer to dealer, looking for the next fix, that will satisfy until the craving starts again. They miss the one who can completely satisfy, Jesus.
According to the scripture above, the Jews ( religious, legalistic people ) where looking for a sign. Jesus wasn't enough for them. They were not satisfied with Him. They needed, in their religious minds, a sign to satisfy. They missed the very one, the giver of the signs. This is happening today, christians all over the world are forfeiting intimacy for a quick fix, pick me up. I have seen God move in a meeting, I have felt the weight of His glory, I have seen people change in the presence, yet many of these brothers leave unsatisfied as they did not get to see what they felt they should have seen. They missed the living God, by His Spirit, walking among us.
Lets use the Israelites as an example. They saw the plagues come upon the Egyptians, they saw the red sea open, they saw the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, they saw manna from heaven and ate of it, they drank water from a rock ( water from a rock, what and amazing thing ), yet they still did not believe in the goodness of God.
Many will say, ' signs show that we have God's favor and that we are believers, they are proof of us being christians.' I would like to point out that no where in the bible does it say that this will be the distinction between non-believers and believers. In fact Jesus says in John 13: 33 - 36
34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
We see here that it is through our love for one another, our brotherly love, that the world will recognize that we are the disciples of Jesus.
In fact, God said to Moses that He would send an angel with the Israelites. How many believers today would be over excited about that. Think about it, we would have an angel with us, manifested for us and others to see. I would want that, and many times we have had angels appear in our meetings, one in our living room while we were in Dubai. We want more of that for sure. But that is not the issue. The issue is taking that instead of something far greater. Moses responded in an amazing way. He said (and I am paraphrasing ) Unless Your presence goes with us, we will not go. WOW. Now lets remember that no one was able to look at God or they would die. So Gods presence going with them meant that no one would actually see Him. They would feel Him, and know that He was there, but they would not see Him. They could have had the angel, and spoken about it and seen it and it would have told them what God wanted them to do, but, they wanted God's presence instead.
We can learn from this. You see it is not those things that we should be captivated with. The bible says that there will be false signs and wonders, so who knows. We want the real. We are to be captivated by Jesus, lost in His presence. When this happens I believe we will become mature, stewards of the glory, and we will see healing, deliverances, signs and wonders. This will be a natural overflow, not a strive, not an imbalanced lifestyle. And the fruit of the Spirit will be evidenced in our lives.
It saddens me at times, to see people in worship of the Father and of Jesus, and the presence and glory of God is in the room, and then I look around and see people looking at their hands for specks of gold or oil. They would leave a place of worship to look for something. Who cares if we are covered in gold, oil running from our hands, feathers falling all over, gems on the floor, if we are in a place of absolute worship of the lover of our soul, the ancient of days, the great I am, why does anything else matter. All else is just a by-product.
Please note, i am all for these amazing signs. I have seen them both through others ministering and through myself ministering, so how can I deny. I also desire to see an increase of these things. But we need to be seekers of the one who gives these things. We can't be junkies for them, conference junkies, looking for a fix. We see the sign and it should point us to the one who gives them. don't be satisfied with the signs, be satisfied with the presence.
Monday, February 1, 2010
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This is an amazing scripture. Not only did God reconcile us to himself but He has given us the ministry of reconciliation. Take a look at verse 19: ' And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.' It is us who point people to Jesus who has reconciled man to God. This is why it is imperative that we are preaching the correct message, we need to be preaching the gospel. It is only by people seeing the grace (favour) of God found in Jesus that people will understand and see the truth that they have been reconciled to God and that access to Him has been opened.When law is brought upon people they are unable to see the door clearly, this does not make clear the reconciliation that has been achieved. This happens because when law is preached, the focus is taken off Jesus and placed on man, man can but only try to perform when faced with the law. The law will activate us into self-effort mode, placing man into a 'works' frenzy, which has no end except failure. But we have been given the amazing task of ministering reconciliation to man. We have the most amazing message, which is the truth, and which places peoples vision on Christ and thus opens the door to new life, a life lived with God and God in us.
Since we have such a great privilege, let us preach the truth and see people reconciled to God.
It is the word of grace that is able to build us up and it also gives us an inheritance among the ‘set apart ones.’ If we want to see believers strengthened and built up into mature believers who walk by the Spirit, then it can only be by the message of Gods unlimited and unmerited favour ( grace ) that this can be achieved.
I have heard it said that “we need to get believers to stop living in sin and be more holy ,and so we need to give them some teaching that will stop them from doing this. They must walk by the Spirit and stop gratifying the sinful nature”.While this is true, the way to get to this victory is not by telling people to stop sinning, for this is impossible, but by giving them revelation of who they are, and getting them to live by the Spirit.
Look what Galatians 5:16 says: “ Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (NIV)Note that it does not say “ live by the Spirit and you Must not gratify the sinful nature”, contrary to much teaching today. The Latter way is impossible and brings condemnation and guilt, the former way places the ability on the only one who can liberate and strengthen us, The Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Christ. Who else can help us to attain Christ-likeness but the Spirit of Christ Himself.
You see living by the Spirit is living in faith, it is yielding to Him and and giving up on human effort. It is allowing Him to manifest Jesus in us and through us. Hence Paul is committing the people to the word of Gods grace and to God Himself, who for us here on earth is the Holy Spirit.
False Teachers and Their Destruction
1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.
13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered Him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
This passage of scripture has always been one that has been used by leaders and preachers, including myself years ago, to bring down the hammer on those people who are not walking in ‘ absolute holiness ‘. As I have read over this passage time and time again, it has become more and more clear that he is not addressing people that are struggling with sin, but he is addressing the people and warning them about false teachers. We need to see what makes these men false teachers.
In the days in which this letter was written the biggest problem in the church was religious men forcing people to conform to the traditions of men and laws, rules and regulations.
In verse 1 it says “..., just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them...” We need to note one word here that will help us to understand that these men were not, as some suppose, outright telling people not to believe in Jesus and go out and sin. The word is ‘secretly’! They will secretly introduce destructive heresies. We know that if they had outright denied Jesus as Lord that would not be very secretive.How will they denying Jesus? They will as Paul says, time and time again, cause you to fall from the freedom you have by placing on you a mixture of law, causing you to try and add to what Christ has done on the cross, trying to earn or retain your righteousness by human effort.
“Many will follow their ways and bring the way of truth into disrepute” ( Disrepute- To bring into low esteem in the eyes of others ) The way of truth will be marred. We all know what the truth is, Christ has done it all and we can’t add a thing to it or retain it by our efforts, it is a gift.
“ For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell...” He clearly says that this that these false teachers are doing is ‘sin’. How did the angels sin? They followed satan in his pride, they thought they could be like God, they entered into unbelief. Do you know what happens when we try and add to what Jesus has done? We say that we need to ‘complete’ what He started, it is pride and unbelief. This is sin!
Look later on in verse 5 “ ... But protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness...” God rescued Noah. Noah was not just a righteous man but he was a preacher of righteousness. Like Abraham, Noah believed Gods promises and so he was righteous.
Verse 10 “ This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority...” Sinful nature is unbelief. The sin of unbelief manifests in many different ways- sexual immorality, drunkenness, anger and fits of rage etc. What causes this? 1 Corr 15: 56- “ ... And the power of sin is the law.” Rom 7 in verse 8 “ ... For apart from law sin is dead” Rom 4:15- “ And where there is no law there is no transgression” Rom 6: 14- “For sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace”.
The cause of sin is the preaching the law!! Although the law does not allow sin, but it is holy and perfect, something we cannot attain to.
These false teachers who will lead people astray by their heresies are those who secretly slip bits of law into the church and bring people into a state of unbelief and so they end up living in sin and the sin manifests itself in many different ways.
Peter Goes on to call these men ‘brute beasts’, ‘ Experts in greed’, ‘an accursed brood’, ‘ They have left the straight way’, ‘springs without water’, ‘dogs who return to their vomit’, ‘pigs that go back to the mud’.
Look what he says in verse 19 “ they promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” ( The word for ‘depravity’ in Christian theology in the dictionary is: the innate corruptness of human nature due to the original sin. What was the original sin? The sin of unbelief. God said do not eat, satan said ‘ did God really say’ Eve and Adam ate because they doubted God which is unbelief) Peter says in this verse that ‘a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him’, if the law has mastered him then he will be a slave to the manifestations of sin under the law. But we are slaves to righteousness.
Verse 21 is the hard one to interpret “ It would have been better for them to not have known the way of righteousness, than to have know it and then turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” Note that it does not say that they ‘followed’ the way of righteousness. But it says that they have ‘known it’ yet turned their backs on it. They know of righteousness by faith but choose not to believe and turn their backs and try obtain it through the law, their own human efforts. They have rejected the sacred command that was passed on to them. The word for ‘sacred’ in the Greek means: acceptable and pleasing to God. What is acceptable and pleasing to God? FAITH.
The acceptable and pleasing command of God that was given to them is “ Believe in the one I will send, the Christ, Messiah. Believe in Jesus”
Quite simple really - Don’t let false teachers, teachers of the law slip in destructive heresies but keep preaching righteousness through Jesus and people will not fall into sin and manifest the fruit if sin, but people will be liberated and walk by the Spirit and thus the life and love of Jesus will be manifest in them and through them and the kingdom of Heaven will be ushered in through the church into this world.
"1The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."
As I saw this yesterday it suddenly came to me what doctrine of demons is. Doctrine of demons is any teaching that takes the focus off the completed work of Jesus and places focus on anything else, including us. If we are taught to add anything to what Christ has done, by own own human effort, or to even retain what has been given us as a gift, i.e righteousness and justification, by our own ability, good behavior, fasting, prayer, reading of the bible- as good as these this are for us to do- then it takes the focus off Christ's' completed performance.
The ploy of the devil is to sow doubt and unbelief. One of the major ways that he does this is by getting us doubt the fact that there is nothing we need to do to gain or retain our right standing with God, to walk in supernatural power of the anointing in order to minister to people, heal the sick etc. We are made to believe that we need to earn the presence of the Holy Spirit. All these things take the focus off the factual truth that Jesus Christ has performed and completed the task on our behalf. If the focus is taken off Jesus through these teachings then it is not the gospel that is being preached, but may I be bold as to say, that it is lies, it is doctrines of demons.
Of course we need to read the bible, we would be stupid not to, same with fasting, spending time in prayer and meditation of God, but these are desires that come from a place of knowing and being and not out of a place of "earning". If we are taught to earn anything or perform in order to obtain anything, it is human effort, it belittles the work of the cross by making it seem uncompleted, not enough, it is doctrines of demons put in place to take the focus off the King and place it on to anything else, mostly ourselves.
The freeing grace of God compels us to tell others about Him and empowers us to live a life that reflects and demonstrates His glory. How can we hold such a message and be filled with God the Spirit and not be moved to get out into the streets and nations? This message and the power of the kingdom inside of us by the Holy Spirit cannot be held within our walls, it is not for local consumption. If I am so freed by revelation of my position in Christ, surly others need to hear this message as well. We cannot sit around in our churches if we have gained this revealed truth, if we have understood the mystery of the gospel, Christ in us.
I would like to just clear that motivation comes from “the place of already being” and not from a place of “trying to get to”. If there are believers that are motivated by the desire to earn anything from God, be it His love, His pleasure, His blessings, His anointing, His Spirit etc. by going out, then they need to be stopped and taught about the grace of God first so that they do it out of a place of knowing their position and not out of works.
Some may say “Paul never taught that people need to go out preach and demonstrate the kingdom”. To that statement I would like to answer with these two statements: 1. Paul preached grace but he did model going. How would he be able to preach grace and demonstrate with “extra-ordinary miracles” across the then known world if he had not gone beyond the walls. 2. We are disciples of Jesus and Jesus gave us instructions to “GO”. He said in Matt 10: 7-9 “ As you go, preach this message: the kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons”. Matt 28: 18-19 “... All authority has been given to Me. Therefore go...” Mark 16: 15 “ He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news... Verse 17 ... In my name they will drive out demons, they will speak in new tongues,... They will place their hands on sick people and they will get well”. Acts 1: 8 “ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...”Those are just a few scriptures that show that it is on Gods heart that we are a people that go beyond the walls.
My experience as I have understood Gods grace in its freedom is that I have got to know my Father and my Lord Jesus in a more intimate way. I have also become more intimate with the Holy Spirit who is in me. I have had revelation of what a wonderfully loving God we have, yet how Holy and Perfect and Righteous He is. But in this revelation I have experienced such freedom and I have experienced the power of God moving through a human being, an unworthy, dirty Bluff boy, that it has compelled me to take this gospel both in proclamation and demonstration into the community, the city and the nations, to tell others about our wonderful God and to model the life of Jesus being manifested in me by the Holy Spirit- “ 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”
This has been resonating in my spirit. I want to take this amazing message of Gods grace and tell others about Him; and with the power of the Holy Spirit, given to us only because of our standing in Christ, heal those who have been oppressed by the devil.
The sign of grace in our lives is that we live free, that we are compelled an empowered by the Holy Spirit to tell others about our God and show others His glory.
This is truly an amazing statement as I look at it over and over again, God did not spare Jesus but cursed Him, His own Son, on the cross for us. Read it again, and again. Because of this He will give us all things. This is not for us to be selfish, its not all about us. Its actually about God. Its never about us but always about His glory, Jesus died for the glory of God, we are saved for the Glory of God, we are made righteous for the glory of God, the Holy Spirit lives in us for the glory of God and we will be glorified for the glory of God.
I have been learning more and more and will continue to learn so much more that when we stand before a circumstance that it is not by anything I can do that is going to change that situation, but it is Jesus who has already at the cross made provision for it to change. Let me use and example: A person we know is very ill, they have an illness that is terminal. We can gather people together to pray and to fast, but this will not change the situation. No amount of prayer or fasting is going to change that situation, not from God's side. Prayer and fasting is essential for us as believers, I am not the best prayer but I love to pray and communicate with God, we need to do these things but they are not essential, I believe, for God to activate. What is essential for God to activate is faith, faith in the finished work of the cross. Faith is what attracts the Holy Spirit who comes and transforms the circumstance or situation.
Our prayer and fasting is a sign of our faith and our love and commitment to the person who is ill, this also builds our faith. But we can have days of prayer and fasting, and if it is done out of a place of " God you see how much we do, how hard we are working for you to move your hand" then we are not acting in faith. (I am not saying we must not pray and fast, please hear me, I am saying the reason we pray and fast, in this particular instance, is the key, it is not to motivate God by our works, it should be out of faith that we activate God, our prayer and fasting is from faith not from works.)
You see God did not spare Jesus, thats the extent of His love. It must have been incredibly difficult for God to place the weight of sin and the curses and punishment of mankind onto His Son. Yet He did it. He is serious about us not trying to do anything in our own strength, because when we do things in our own strength it make light of what happened on the cross, it is a sign of unbelief.
We stand before every situation and believe that it has been atoned for at the cross, there is nothing we can add to the work of the cross and we should not try,we should not expect it of others. When people come to me for help, struggling with issues or sin I always take time to explain to them the finished work of the cross, Gods amazing grace. God will not leave us ' high and dry', He left Jesus ' High and bleeding to death' so He would not have to do that to us. This is the amazing gospel of Gods grace. We just have to believe, believe that we cannot do anything to add to the cross, believe that it has been completed, believe that when Jesus said " it is complete" He was not lying but was telling the truth.
If we live like this we will see more of the kingdom come and more of Gods glory
Why until John? What happened when John came?
The message changed from that of following the law in order to attain righteousness. What did John teach? “repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand”- Repent!! ( to change the way you think and do things)
Once John came he preached the message of “the Kingdom of God is at hand”, Jesus demonstrated that kingdom and then purchased us into that Kingdom. We cannot go digging for water in an old pool in order to quench the thirst of the people and see them change into the image of Jesus, the law and the prophets cannot bring life. We must give them fresh water, the correct message, that of the Kingdom and grace of our God, will activate heaven to break into this realm. “ signs, wonders and miracles will confirm the preaching of the WORD” Jesus is the Word. We must preach Christ in order to activate the Spirit to come and confirm the true message and to bring change and transformation into peoples lives. When the church lives in this place then the kingdom will effortlessly break in through her.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.[a] 3Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,"So I declared on oath in my anger,'They shall never enter my rest.' "[b] And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."[c] 5And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."6It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:"Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts."[d] 8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
I read this scripture as I have many times before but this time something became alive to me. I realised that many believers don’t find rest, they are always trying to do things ‘for God’ and in their trying they are never satisfied and they feel God is never satisfied. With this trail of thought they strive even harder and push those around them harder to ‘please God’, they are looking for rest and satisfaction but never find it.
We can be doing so much, seeking out the sick, preaching the gospel, looking for the demon possessed, visiting hospitals every week, feeding the poor etc. These are all good things that I believe we as believers should be doing, but even in doing these things we are not satisfied and we find no rest.
The question is: Why do we not find rest?
I believe this scripture has a few keys as to why we do not.
“because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’, the reason for this is because without faith in the finished, atoning sacrifice of Jesus we will inevitably add in some of our own efforts. If we do not believe that it is finished in Christ then we will always be adding in our bit to ‘help’ Him get the job done. If we live trying to assist God to finish that which has already been completed than we will never be at rest.
“...did not go in, because of their disobedience.” The word here for disobedience, in Greek, means unbelief. I think it is because of their disobedience in unbelief that they are not able to enter into the rest that God has for us in Jesus. Let me put it this way: If we do not believe that the work has been completed in Christ, and God has told us not to add any of our flesh ( human effort) to His working, and we do not believe that the work is complete then we will try to add our effort, which is disobedience, since God told us not to. Put another way we could say: That we are disobedient to what God told us, in that it is finished, by adding our efforts, because of our unbelief.
“for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” In order to enter Gods rest we need to rest from our own works, it cant be any more clear than that from this verse.
We need to make only one effort, the effort to enter into Gods rest. I would like to add that Gods rest is not sitting for the rest of our lives on a sofa. In Gods rest we are seeing the sick healed as we are out there laying hands on them, we see people free from demons, we see people come to Jesus as we preach the Gospel etc. We are however not doing this out of us striving from a place of ‘have to’, but out of a place of ‘we can’.
If we are having to force or strongly motivate people to do these things then the chances are they do not understand the incredible grace of God, because in the understanding of Gods grace and our place of rest in Him we are empowered and motivated by the Holy Spirit to function as Jesus did. Jesus said “ as you go, preach the kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons”, the emphasis has to be on “as we go”, as we go do what? As we go about our daily lives, to work, to school, to the shops, to the beach, on holiday etc. As we live in Gods rest, as we live by the Spirit, as we yield to the Spirit, He will open our eyes and ears, He will guide us and show us those around us who need that touch from God.We do it from a place of rest and not a place of human effort or self induced striving.
What happens is that the word "works" is often misunderstood for "performance to please" or "human effort". "works" is not a swearword if we understand grace. The bible speaks of us doing the "works of Christ" and "the Good works that have been set out in advance for us to do". This is not at all motivation under pressure to perform but it is rather a natural reaction of a life lived in grace and most importantly with The Holy Spirit. He is in us and He is manifesting the life of Jesus through us, hence "the works of Christ". There is a natural activation that takes place when we surrender to the Holy Spirit, we can only surrender to the Holy Spirit when we live in a revelation of grace.
Let me just say that there is at times a "sofa-sitting" stage that some believers go through when they first begin to be liberated from performance, human effort and law( not all believers go through this stage but only a small few- that I have seen anyway). This is the stage where they sit around and say "we don't have to do anything because we are under grace", this statement is true because we don't 'have to' do anything, the reality is that they have not yet grown in grace into a place where the 'have to' changes to a 'want to'. The 'want to' stage comes as we mature in grace ( most people I have met, including myself, went straight to this stage). The problem comes when they never get to this stage and they stay critical of everything that is encouragement. Some people even make grace a law and beat each other up with it, you have to always watch what you say around them and as a leader you can never encourage them because you are quickly accused of placing them under law. The only way to get them to mature is to continue to preach true grace to them. I had a guy here under my leadership who was like this, he came out of a very legalistic backround and started to hear us preach on grace and he got set free to some measure ( because he was afraid of law now he wasn't truly free). he would question anything and every encouragement was placing performance on him. I just kept teaching him grace and eventually before long he got it and now he is flying.
When we live in maturity of grace we can not go back under law and so we do not live afraid. Even if I visit a church and the preacher starts to preach a strong mixture of law and grace, he starts to place heavy guilt driven motivation to give to the poor ( if you love Jesus you should be giving to the poor etc ) and then he takes up an offering for a poor community somewhere, I will happily give because I will myself be giving under grace and would want to give to the poor because I live in a revelation of Gods love, I don't agree with the way it was done by the preacher but it does not have effect on me,I don't have to give but I want to give, I know who I am and I will give out of that place ( I hope everyone understands what I'm trying to get across, I just used giving to the poor as and example). This goes with every area of our lives, while the ultimate need might be correct, the way in which it is presented is based on human effort and striving to perform and earn, but we will not be brought under that kind of living because we are truly free and no person can take that away. We meet the need (eg: pray for the sick, giving to the poor etc ) out of a place of our revelation of who we are in God and not out of motivation from the preacher. We don't throw our hands in the air and say " no, I'm not giving, this guy is trying to place law on me" thats immature thinking, why should we let ourselves be effected by legalistic people.
If people are walking afraid of law then they are not truly understanding their freedom. We need to keep preaching grace to them so that they can come to a mature understanding of it and not live in fear of going back under law or performance and human effort.
These are just some of the people I have come across that I thought I would share with you. maybe some others have seen this, maybe I am wrong. I believe it is our role, in partnership with the Spirit, as leaders to bring people through into freedom and maturity so that they can fly with the Spirit.
This statement rings true, but is often brought across even more subtle and creeps into the hearts of the believers and cripples them. I have never heard christians refute the fact that we are saved by grace and not by our own works and that our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. Where I have found the biggest problem is once the person is saved, they are made to feel that they need to outwork their salvation in their own effort trying to obey the laws of God, when in fact we are dead to the law. The believers are made to believe that if they want to now approach God they need to make sure they are holy, when they actually are holy since Christ made them holy. The believers are placed under performance indicators by their leaders and are constantly being assessed and corrected when they don’t match up to the standards set by the leaders.
Another sad truth is that Christians are made to believe that they can access the anointing through works/ performance. I have heard from a friend that it was preached in his church that if you want to see cancers healed then you need to spend hours in Gods presence, this is a lie, yet this is what gets preached in churches. There is no biblical evidence to back up such a statement and this places the believer under a works based lifestyle ( law ) and makes them feel condemned for not being able live up to such high expectations.
Many leaders will say they don’t preach law, and while they might not preach old covenant law outright from the pulpit, by not preaching grace they are keeping their people confused, so they neither preach law nor grace, which is actually a mixture, and this is “no Gospel at all”. I believe that some leaders do this out of lack of revelation or ignorance, yet some do it knowingly, this breads control.
They become police instead of fathers. Police are always on the lookout for those who are not obeying the law and very quick to strike them ( often explained by them as holding you accountable, when in fact it is control masking itself as accountability, it is not true accountability ). Fathers allow their children to make mistakes and don’t wait for them to fail, and when mistakes are made they still give them more opportunities. Police who masquerade claiming to be fathers keep the believers in a place of confusion, they don’t preach law outright but they also don’t preach pure grace, thus placing the expectation on their people that they need to live striving to obey the law or else, when in fact they are wanting the people to obey them, to fulfill their vision so that their church is built and they look good.
Too many churches are crippled by this and they very rarely experience the freedom of living in the glory of God and partnering with the Holy Spirit, they are introspective egg shell walkers, afraid to move at all for fear of the police. Fathers will discipline their children but they do it graciously, not crushing them, they honour their children and want to bring them through into freedom. A real father doesn’t have to keep telling the people he is a father because he is recognized as one by his actions.
Let us bring freedom to Gods people by helping them to lift their eyes to see their position in Christ and thus encourage them to launch into greater things with God.