Thriving Through Bad Decisions

“Everything happens for a reason” is a phrase I’ve heard more times than I care to remember. It is often stated during times of difficulty from well meaning people who have found themselves as the main character of a bad story. The statement suggests that because God is in control of everything the path that He has chosen for us has led us into a situation that we don’t understand, and really don’t enjoy. That what has happened to us must be the result of God’s sovereign will and therefore if it is His will then there must be some purpose behind it. The statement comes close to painting us as mere creatures of happenstance subject to the winds and waves of life while completely removing ourselves from the consequences of bad decision making.

Certainly there are things we encounter in life that are out of our control. Wether or not it was God’s will is perhaps an article for another time. Outside of those situations there is a present reality that we seem to ignore, or at the very least would like too. That is, that you and I are very capable of making a bad decision, and those bad decisions have consequences. More often than not it is those decisions that lead us into seasons of our lives where we like others before us find ourselves attempting to find some level of comfort by quoting the phrase “everything happens for a reason”. The danger is missing the fact that the real reason for this thing happening is the direct result of a poor choice and in reality has very little to do with God’s will.

I want to be honest with you, I have recently made some bad decisions. Within a six month period I resigned a well paying position, bought a house that needed completely renovated, moved into that house, started a new job, planted a church, and restructured other areas of my life. The result, nearly fatal. I find myself looking back on the situation asking myself: “what was I thinking?” It’s not that any of those decisions were necessarily bad in themselves but the timing of lumping them all together in such a short period was foolish on my part. It has cost me more than I was willing to pay. I will be the first to admit that the reason behind this was not the will of God, but rather my will, and very poor decision making.

The good news is even when we make a bad decision God is still redemptive. Perhaps the reason many believers have quoted the phrase above, and have subscribed to the poor theology behind it is because they have experienced the redemptive work of a gracious God in the midst of a situation that was caused by their own choices. What they actually experienced was God working His goodness into a situation and bringing transformation to it so that they wouldn’t have to reap what they sowed. That even though God didn’t cause it to happen He did and does have the ability to change the end result. It might be better for us to understand that God has the ability to bring reason to everything that happens.

King David made a horrible decision when he chose to commit adultery with Bathsheba and murder her husband. Because of that decision the child who was conceived was lost, and David was rebuked by Nathan the prophet. There was great consequences to the decision David made. David humbly admitted his guilt, repented and was restored. It was after this event that God declared David to be “a man after His own heart.” God brought redemption to a destructive decision. It was Solomon the son who was later born to David and Bathsheba that succeeded David as King and became the greatest, and arguably the most famous of all the kings of Israel. Even though David paid a great price for his poor decision the redemptive work of God was evident and ultimately brought about a gracious result that David’s actions did not warrant.

As one who has made bad decisions, and will possibly make some more in the future I am in need of the redemptive work of God and quite possibly you are as well. I believe that there is some responsibility on our part that is required for the process of redemption to begin.

  • First, we admit that we made a mistake. When we admit our failures we posture ourselves into a place of humility. James 4:6 says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Some define God’s grace as “God giving us what we don’t deserve”. Ultimately we do deserve the swift consequence of our bad decision, but thankfully God’s grace will bring about a different result.
  • Secondly, we ask God for help. We got ourselves into this mess but He is the one who can get us out. Psalms 46:1 says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” We have to trust that when we ask for help He begins the process of impregnating the situation with His goodness so that not only are we free from the effects of the poor decision but actually become recipients of God’s good work in it.
  • Thirdly, we learn. Solomon stated in Proverbs 1: 5 “let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Sometime failure can be the best teacher. It is wisdom to learn from our mistakes and allow the lesson of missing the mark to be a guide for us in the future. Not only do these lessons benefit us in future decision making, but they can become a source of wisdom that we can share with others.

Although we have discovered the path to God’s redemptive work in our lives I do believe that there is also a pathway to making sound decisions whereby we can avoid the potential fallout of poor decision making.

  • We pray. I know it seems so simple but if we were honest we don’t always pray about every decision. In the book of Acts on more than one occasion the disciples would fast and pray before they chose individuals for ministry positions. Also Paul indicates that in 2 Corinthians 6 & 11 that he fasted often. To the early church fasting and prayer was apart of their lifestyle. When we fast and pray we are positioning ourselves at a greater vantage point to hear what God is saying, and to see from His perspective. The result is a clearer perspective from which we can make a better decision.
  • In our prayer we specifically ask for wisdom. James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” At the same time just prior to this verse James states “…you do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:9. Therefore while wisdom is readily available in abundance it is required that we specifically ask for it.
  • We find counsel from others. Many people have already made similar decisions, or at least have some experience in areas that we may be attempting to delve into. It is important to seek them out and gain wisdom from their experiences. Even those who have failed can offer insight and direction into the decisions we are contemplating. It is wise and beneficial to talk to as many as possible and acquire every possible perspective that we can before we make a binding decision. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 NIV.
  • We count the cost. Luke 14:22 Jesus says: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it.” Subjectively we weigh out the results of the decision and the impact it will have on our lives. Every decision comes with a cost the end result may include the desired outcome but there will be a price to pay. we should conclude before hand that we have the necessary inventory emotionally, physically, monetarily , ECT… to carry us through to the place of fruition.

God is good all the time. We shouldn’t credit the product of a bad decision to a God who only intends for us to experience His goodness. It would be more beneficial for us to understand that we are a key player in the outcome of life’s decisions both good and bad and recognize that when we do make a bad decision that costs us more than we can afford to pay we can place our trust in a gracious God. Who at His core is a good Father that will redeem the situation and change the outcome for our benefit.


A Gateway into the Supernatural

From the time a believer is born again they are invited to participate in the supernatural side of God. On a daily basis Jesus demonstrated the supernatural to His disciples. He turned water into wine, multiplied food, walked on water, healed the sick, and produced many miracles. He did this so regularly that John went as far to say that if everything Jesus did had been written down the world would not be able to contain the amount of books required to document every miracle. Jesus demonstrated this supernatural lifestyle to his disciples not so they could just be witnesses but that they would be participants. On occasion Jesus would send them out alone to demonstrate the supernatural side of the Kingdom of God by healing the sick, and casting out demons. Jesus instructed his disciples to then teach others the very same things they had been taught which would have included the supernatural works that they had been producing.

Jesus did not limit these experiences to His disciples only, nor did He restrict them to a particular generation within the church. Often He would make inclusionary statements such as: …”he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” Certainly we see the fulfillment of this verse in the early church. The books of Acts is filled with miracles, angelic visitation, healing, deliverance, signs and wonders, but it is also well documented that these events continued beyond the generation of the church in the book of Acts. St. Augustine as well as many others before him wrote of the sick being healed, blind eyes opening, and the demon possessed being set free. There is a reason that the book of Acts is the only book of the New Testament that does not include a formal ending because the acts that it contains were never meant to end.

The world has a natural hunger for the supernatural. Just look at the most popular movies and television programs. Not only does the world have a hunger for it but there is also great need that often requires supernatural intervention. The church was designed to satisfy that hunger, and meet the need. When Philip traveled to Samaria he demonstrated the supernatural by producing miracles, and casting out demons. The Bible records in Acts chapter 8 that the people listened intently to what he had to say because of the miracles. And as a result the entire city was filled with “great joy”.  Prior to this, their spiritual hunger was fed by witchcraft and sorcery. The world will satisfy its own need for the supernatural even if that means settling for a cheap imitation.

These supernatural experiences can be available to every believer. Jesus listed some of the signs that would follow believers in Mark 16:17-18, He said: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” I believe there is a reason why Jesus lists speaking in other tongues in His short list of the signs.

I know that tongues has been a debated issue in many Christian circles and has some baggage attached. Maybe you are reading this and thinking about that very thing. But what if we saw tongues for what it really is? Would you be willing to hear this topic from a differing perspective? Let me share with you my experience with this gift and all the benefits it has for the believer. Would you take that journey with me?

The Apostle Paul was certainly no stranger to the supernatural. In his letter to the church at Corinth he stated that his desire was that they all would have the gift of tongues (1 Cor 14:5). And later in the chapter he goes on to say: “I thank my God, I speak in tongues more than ye all.” (1 Corinthians 14:18 KJV).

What is also obvious is the emphasis that Paul is placing on praying in the Spirit. In verse 4 Paul states that when we pray in tongues our spirit is being “edified”. The Greek word here means “to build a house”. That is to say that praying in tongues causes your spirit to expand.  Jude writes “But ye, beloved, building up yourself on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” (Jude 1:20). We are spiritual beings living in a human tent. When we pray in tongues the emphasis is placed on the spirit person within us, causing us to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit living in us, and the spirit realm around us. Praying in tongues is itself a spiritual act which positions us to respond to the situations around us in the Spirit, and thus do what the Holy Spirit would do through us.

I believe that a consistent prayer life that is centered around praying in tongues is vital to walking in the supernatural. Paul said that when we pray in tongues our spirit prays directly to God’s spirit, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (1 Cor. 14:2,14, NKJV), and when the Holy Spirit intercedes through us according to Romans 8:27 we are then praying the will of God. Therefore we are praying the perfect will of God right back to God Himself.  Praying in tongues then releases the will of God into us so that we will release His will into the earth.  Walking in the supernatural is simply exchanging the realities of Heaven with the realities that exist in the earth. Being sick with cancer is a reality. However it is also a reality that cancer does not exist in Heaven. When Jesus healed the sick, or performed a miracle He was revealing the will of God for that situation.

In order to see the supernatural invade the natural it is necessary that our minds be renewed. That we don’t think naturally, or even see things through the natural eye, but we think according to the will of God, and see things through God’s perspective. Jesus demonstrated the will of God when: “He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). Before Jesus was able to produce good works, and heal the sick He was first filled with the Holy Spirit and power. While the bible never states that Jesus spoke in tongues it does indicate that believers would as they are baptized with the Holy Spirit and power just as Jesus was. This baptism of the Spirit enables us to undergo the process of having our minds renewed so that we can see another possibility other than the natural circumstances surrounding us and to do just as Jesus did by implanting the “perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2) into impossible situations. I have found that praying in tongues accelerates the process of the renewed mind by allowing us to participate with the Holy Spirit in a prayer language which is itself supernatural and is designed to condition us to think towards the possibilities that exist in the realm of the supernatural.

You and I are seated with Christ Jesus in heavenly places right now, according to Ephesians 2. I’m not waiting to get to heaven I’m already there! And because I exist there I can see, and hear from that place. Tongues is the bridge that connects the language of my spirit to the language of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) with the hope that I will speak on earth what is being spoken in heaven. Our tongue is the most powerful part of our entire being, when I align my speech with His will the result is supernatural! . 


Extending Forgivness

I’ve been in ministry for nearly 20 years, I’ve surrounded myself with christian music, christian books, christian friends, christian leaders, and everything else “christian”. Recently my wife and I set out on a new venture to plant a church. It certianly has it’s challenges, one of them being the area of finances.  In order to supplement our income I took a job with a mowing company which holds some larger government contracts than your average landscaping company. Since that time on a daily basis I’ve been surrounded by non-christians. From the very beginning most of them were aware that I was involved in pastoral ministry. Some of them even warned me about the language and topics that I might encounter while on the job site. To be honest I’ve tried not to shelter myself so much that I completely insulate myself from the world around me. After all these are the very people we are supposed to rub shoulders with and befriend. Jesus wasn’t referred to as “the friend of sinners” for no reason. These were the very people he was around. He ate with them, attended their parties, healed their sick, and ministered to them, but first and foremost He was their friend. Jesus didn’t give them a set of rules that they would have to follow if they desired to be in His presence. They were themselves sinners, they said things sinners say, and they did things sinners do. I’ve heard christians in the past complain about the things they encounter at the work place and I’ve heard christians demand that people tone it down because “that type of language offends me” after all they are christians. I have determined in my heart to not be offended. I’ve heard it all before believe me, but none of it is unfamiliar after all I was in their shoes at one time too. I chose to be their friend regardless of how they viewed me. I engaged them in their conversations even when they were dropping the “F-bomb”, laughed at most of there jokes (not all), and showed concern when they talked about the challenges they face. I never gave them a set of rules they had to abide by in order to be in my presence.

There is a fascinating scripture in John 20:23 where Jesus states: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Over the years I’ve wrestled with this scripture. I’ve been taught, and still believe that repentance is required for salvation.  Although now I understand repentance as a change of mind, and not so much an act where we simply say we are sorry. To be forgiven of sins requires one to accept forgiveness to change the way they think about their sins. Not to say that they continue in sin, but to change the way they think about the sins they are committing. Sinners sin because they don’t know what they are doing. Which is why Jesus declared that very thing from the cross when He asked the Father to forgive them. I think as christians we forget that we are commissioned to be involved in the process of notifying the world around us that they are forgiven. Often times we are too isolated, or too offended to communicate this message. When we walk in offense because of the sinful things going on in our proximity what we are communicating is that they are not forgiven, and in fact their sins are “retained” which means to “continue to hold”. The statement from Jesus above empowers us to make a choice. It’s not an either or, it’s is one or the other. Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that “we have been given the ministry of reconciliation”. Which is to say that we are directly involved in reconnecting the heart of the lost to the heart of our Father. Just before Paul makes that declaration he states that God is “no longer counting people’s sins against the” (NLT). My question is if God isn’t, then why are we?

Recently the foreman on our crew got a screw in a brand new tire of his truck. He was frustrated and let out a verbal assault that would have made a drunken sailor blush. I jumped in and began to do what I could to help fix the tire. We got it patched up and I assured him the plug would hold. Shortly after when no one was around he approached me and said: “Ken, I’m Sorry”. I said: “Your forgiven”. I can tell you he’s never apologized before, and shortly there after he was back to dropping F-bombs, and telling inappropriate stories, but he is forgiven because I chose to not be offended, I chose to be his friend, I chose to love.

“As the Father has sent me, I also send you” – Jesus


Moves Becoming Movements

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My prophetic word for 2016 is that the “Moves” of God will become “Movements“. I believe many of us experienced Moves of God in the previous year and even prior to 2015 our lives were moved by the activity of God that has led us to what is about to occur. The dictionary defines a “Move” as a “change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.” God has been strategically Moving us in order to position us to fulfill His divine purpose in our lives. Some of us have experienced to the letter the very definition of the word Move. Our opinions have changed, we have shifted from one sphere of influence to another, our spiritual state has been transformed, and the desires that drive our activities have been completely rearranged. The fact is that God has Moved us. He has moved us to this point in our history with Him to enable us to make history for Him. The Moves of God in our lives are about to become Movements.

The word “Movement” is defined as “a group of people working together to advance their shared ideas.” Not only has God Moved on our lives but He has also Moved on the lives of others that we are connected to. God is bringing together  individuals who have been Moved by Him in order to form Movements. Strategic alliances have been formed between those who have experienced similar Moves so that they will Move as one. This Movement will be powerful because so many will Move together they will become an unstoppable force. The gates of hell will be dramatically pushed back and destroyed in regions where it was never thought possible. There will be pockets of revival that become regions of revival as people join together as one. Entire cities will be filled with joy as they experience the full impact of the Movement of God. The gospel of the Kingdom will be advanced more effectively than ever before as Moves become Movements.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  Ecc 4:12 NLT.

 


Sanctifying a City

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Listen to the message

I started my day with this thought….

If a believing spouse can sanctify a household, then what can a church do for it’s city?

1 Cor 7:14 “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”

Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians was to encourage believers with the knowledge that their entire household would live under the covering of the blessing that was theirs due to being made holy through sanctification. That even though a spouse or child had not yet received salvation they would still be beneficiaries of the blessing that rested on the life of the believer and that the believing spouse would not be in danger of living under the curse of sin because his or her spouse had not yet been saved. Paul says : “otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy”the word “unclean” means to be “ceremonially unclean”  In the Old Testament this simply meant you were not allowed to participate in the giving of offerings and therefore disqualified to be a recipient of the blessing that came as a result of offering a sacrifice in worship to God. Now under the new covenant when one spouse is saved and filled with the Kingdom of God the entire household becomes indirect reciepents of the results that come through a life of sacrifice and worship. Although the entire house may not yet be saved they are made holy (sanctified) and positioned to live under the blessing and favor of God.

When God revealed His plan to Abraham concerning the destruction of Sodom Abraham begins to convince God not to bring destruction upon the city for the sake of the righteous that may be living there. In Genesis 18:26 Abraham begins to ask God not to destroy Sodom for the sake of fifty righteous men, God answers this way: “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” The word “spare” means “to lift up”. God eventually agrees to sparing Sodom for the sake of ten. The reality is that if there had been ten righteous within the walls of the city the entire city would have been “lifted up” and saved from destruction. The righteous lives of a few would have benefited everyone in the city. In the book of Acts Philip travels to the city of Samaria where revival breaks out. Multitudes were being healed and saved and a church was birthed. The result was that there was “great joy in the city”. The city became a recipient of joy because of the release of the Kingdom of God through one believer.

If a believing spouse can sanctify a unbelieving household and validate them as clean and deserving of the blessing and favor of God then how much more can the household of God (the church) sanctify a city and position the city to become recipients of the grace of God? Jesus said that we are “the salt of the earth” salt was used more as a preservative in biblical days than a seasoning. Much of the church attempts to only be a seasoning to the culture around them attempting to only add flavor to their communities. The intention of Jesus for His church is rather that we would be a preserving agent for our city. That because of the presence of the church the society around it would profit from the wisdom, favor, and grace that rests upon the people of God in that city. Thus sanctifying a city and validating it as clean and deserving of the blessing and favor of God.

Romans 2:4 says: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” The word “goodness” here refers to the nature of God, but it literally means “fit for use”. The sanctification process makes one “fit for use”. Through the act of sanctification God deems one “fit for use” and thus begins to demonstrate His goodness to them by placing His grace upon them in the hopes that repentance will take place. Whether it be an individual or a city I believe God is looking for any excuse to render them “fit for use” and allow the blessing that rests upon believers to rest upon anyone around them so that whole communities are preserved by the church and given an opportunity to “taste and see that God is good”.  The city of Samaria experienced sanctification and the result was a supernatural release of Joy that saturated the entire city. If a spouse can sanctify a household, and a church can sanctify a city then perhaps a believing city can sanctify a nation! Be blessed.

 


Unlocking the Greater Gifts

Unlocking the Greater Gifts

Unlocking the Greater Gifts

Unlocking the Greater Gifts

The instruction from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth was that they would “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor 12:31). It appears from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that the church there had already achieved a certain level of experience in the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s challenge to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” indicates that even though they had some experience there was still an even greater level that they could attain to.

No matter what our experience with the Holy Spirit has been up to this point we should always live with the understanding that there is, and always will be more. Even Jesus who produced, and experienced extraordinary miracles challenged his disciples to do “even greater” things than what they had seen first hand with Jesus. There is a pathway to the deeper things of the Spirit, and there are some keys that are necessary to unlock the “greater gifts”.

The Kingdom of God has been referred to as an “upside down Kingdom”. In other words the culture that exists in God’s Kingdom and the culture that exists in this world are polar opposites. God’s Kingdom really isn’t “upside down” it is right side up, the world has been operating upside down since Adam fell. In this world many who climb to the top often do so at the expense of others, but greatness in the Kingdom of God always comes at the expense of self. When Jesus’ disciples we’re arguing as to which was the greatest it’s interesting that Jesus never rebuked them for wanting to be great He instead instructed them on how to achieve greatness by becoming the “servant of all”. Servanthood is key to unlocking the greater gifts and true servanthood is rooted in humility.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 5 ”Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus’ level of exultation was equally matched to his level of humility. Jesus received the highest name because he humbled himself to the lowest place. Paul’s instruction to us is to think just as Jesus thinks. Humility by definition is “the act or posture of lowering oneself in relation to others, or conversely, having a clear perspective and respect for one’s place in context”. It is a unique paradigm that genuine humility gives way to genuine greatness and It is only through humility that we achieve significance in the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 5:6 ”Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”.

Peter, who is quoting from the Old Testament directly connects humility with promotion.

Consider the life of Moses. Hebrews chapter 11 tells us that Moses purposely chose to remove himself from Pharos’s family to be identified with the Israelites who were living as slaves. It wasn’t until Moses was living as a shepherd tending someone else’s sheep that the call of God comes. Moses is arguably the most influential leader of the old testament  not only does he deliver the Israelites from slavery he also becomes their leader and the representative of God to them for 40 years. God used Moses to perform signs wonders, and miracles. Moses instituted God’s law, and wrote the first five books of the old testament. Moses regularly had face to face encounters with God that were so powerful it caused his skin to glow with the glory of God. All the experiences that Moses had were the result of a decision that Moses made to humble himself.

Numbers 12:3 “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” This verse in Numbers states that Moses was the most humble man on the earth. It was Moses who wrote that. Some Bible scholars have argued that if Moses really was humble he would have never wrote those words. In reality the Holy Spirit wrote those words through a man who was humble enough to allow the Holy Spirit to make that declaration over him. False humility will always cheapen itself to a lower standard in an attempt to look like the real thing. It’s really pride trying to look like humility. Real humility knows who it is and will have the scars to prove it. Moses was the most humble man on the planet at that time, and because of his humility God exalted Moses to the highest position available at that time.

In Romans chapter 12 verse 3 Paul writes that we each have different gifts, and that those gifts come as a result of the work of grace in our lives. The greek word used for gifts in this instance is “charisma” which comes from the greek word “charis” and is translated “grace”. What we refer to as “gifts of the Spirit” in reality might be better understood as “gifts of grace” that come through the Spirit. Grace is the gift, grace is known as “God’s undeserved favor” God gives us grace to enable us to be transformed into the image of His Son. The goal therefore is not to produce “Spiritual gifts” but rather to be like Jesus. That’s not to say that Spiritual gifts are not to be produced, but to understand that the Spirit works through us by the gift of grace to make us look more like Jesus. Jesus worked miracles everyday after the Spirit descended upon Him at the Jordan river and Jesus made it clear that “signs would follow those who believe” and that we would do even “greater works” than Jesus did. What Jesus was describing is impossible without the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on an individual’s life made possible through grace. In Acts chapter 3 Peter and John heal the lame man at the gate Beautiful. When Peter sees that the people are amazed by this miraculous event he responds by saying: “why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” Peter understood that this miracle was produced as a result of the Holy Spirit’s power working through the grace that was on their lives.

1 Peter 5:6 which was quoted earlier indicates that exaltation is directly linked to humility. In Luke 14 Jesus told a parable that further illustrates this. He Said:“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.” We are often inclined to seek higher positions, but the pathway to a higher position starts when we purposefully take the lower position. Promotion is directly related to humility just as Jesus states in Verse 11 when he said: “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Peter and John discovered in Acts chapter 3 that supernatural power draws attention. The question is who will profit from it? We must learn to take the lowest place even while we are displaying the greatest power.  Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 12:7 “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” In this context one person serves all with the manifestation of the Spirit that is on their life. Taking the lower position is using the power of God as a tool to serve others and not as a tool for self promotion. Promotion will come when we allow everyone else to “profit” from our gift.

James 4:6 says: “But He gives more grace. “Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” If the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us through grace then its easy to conclude; The greater the grace, the greater the gift. Therefore “greater gifts” occur when we step into a greater level of grace. 1 Peter 3:18 says “Grow in Grace…” The Greek word here can also be translated “increase”. We step into grace through salvation then it is our job to steward grace in such a way that we receive a continual increase over our lives. As grace increases our gifting’s will expand to new levels which opens the door to even more gifts. Paul’s invitation to unlock the “greater gifts” is made possible when we position ourselves to receive more grace by humbling ourselves with whatever level of grace we currently have remembering that gifts of grace only enable us to serve others. Humility is the key that unlocks the limitless supply of grace from the Father. When He sees that we have handled a gift of grace well then He is most willing to give “more grace”.  Which is why Jesus said in Mark 9:35 “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” As you “eagerly desire greater gifts” let your desire be to operate the gifts of grace out of a true spirit of humility that “does not seek it’s own” but strives to serve others with the gifts you currently posses knowing that greater gifts are being cultivated.

We should not assume that because an individual manifests a gift of the Holy Spirit that they have mastered humility. We never judge by the gift, only by the fruit.


5 Flowing into 1

Ephesians 4: 11 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith…”

I believe in what is referred to as the five-fold ministry. Paul makes a specific distinction between the five ministry offices that are given to the church from Christ Himself. I once heard a great analogy that paints a good picture of the purpose of these five. Each of your hands has five fingers. Your pinky is symbolic of the Teacher. If you make a fist and strike it on a table the pinky is the first to hit. The Teacher is the foundation on which the other four rest. The Pastor is represented by the ring finger. The ring finger symbolizes the relational covenant. The Pastor carries the heart of Christ for His church. It is the Pastor who cares for, and tends to the bride of Christ. The Evangelist is likened to the middle finger because it has the longest reach of any of the others. The Evangelist is called to reach out and gather in. The first finger is also known as the “pointer finger”. The Prophet likewise is a prophetic voice to the church that points the way. The Apostle is like the thumb He empowers the others to do something that they never could on their own. He carries a commission, and imparts that commission to others. They are all in place to work together to accomplish a common purpose.

These ministry offices are given to the church by Jesus Himself. There are specific assignments for each of them but there is one factor that is necessary for them to achieve all that they are designed for. Let us discover what that is.

In the fifth chapter of the book of John there is an intriguing event that takes place at the pool of Bethesda. John records it this way:

“1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda,[a] having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.[b] 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.” (NKJV)

Bethesda Is known to mean “House of Mercy” it is also translated “Flowing Water”.
Here at this location we are told that there are “Five Porches” these porches were simply coverings in which an individual could find shelter. It is under the shelter of these porches that a “great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed” laid waiting for a supernatural event to occur. The angel was only able to stir up the water enough for one to be healed. Their hope was that they would be the first to enter into the water to be the one healed at the stirring of the pool. It is apparent that there existed among the sick a spirit of competition. Instead of coming to the aid of one another they each look out for themselves. Everyone there is expecting to be healed, but as the sick man stated to Jesus “there is no man to put me into the pool”. The atmosphere that existed at Bethesda reminds me of a large portion of the church today we have expectation without experience. Perhaps the only reason Bethesda became a gathering place for the sick was due to the expectation of a supernatural occurrence that would immediately change their life, unfortunately only very few would enjoy the experience. When Jesus arrives at the pool He is unknown to the people. They did not know what we now do, which is that Jesus had the ability to heal them all. We know He could have done that instead His attention is drawn to only one. One man who has waited thirty eight years for an experience that would supernaturally change him would now discover that there were limitations under the five porches but there are no limitations in Christ. Jesus heals the one man with one simple command “rise, take up your bed and walk”.
I find myself asking the question “why only one?” most likely there were hundreds if not thousands of people who needed what Jesus had. Jesus only heals one. Could it be that Jesus was afraid of what a mob of sick people might do if they discovered in that moment that He was the healer? In a story that seems to have many multiples there seems to be a greater emphasis on the singulars. There are five porches and a great multitude, but only one angel who heals one person at a time, and one sick man who is healed by Jesus. What if instead of trying to figure out all the questions we have about this encounter we look at the imagery that is created by this story. Before we do that lets look at another similar event.
Acts 5:12 “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” (NKJV)

What a display of power! The New Testament church is thriving and amazing things are taking place. I believe that the experiences of Acts chapter 5 should also be our experience today. That just as they were impacting a city as well as the surrounding region so too the church should be experiencing that today only now at an even greater level. However for the most part it is not. The church today has much in common with those who gathered under the five porches of Bethesda. We have multitudes who are in need of a supernatural encounter but very few who have experienced it. We are still living under the covering of the five porches.
The Pool of Bethesda consisted of two pools surrounded by five covered porches, or colonnades. There were four around the perimeter and one through the middle separating the two pools. They were all there but they were separated much like the ministry offices of Ephesians 4 are today. At the moment we exist under a structure that does not support the fluency for them all to function as one. At Bethesda every man was by himself and for himself. Just as the sick man pointed out “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” (NKJV) This is the reason that at Bethesda we see the singular attitude that lead to so few encountering the power of God. There was one angel, one stirring, and one individual healed. When Jesus who was known for healing “all” arrives even He only heals one. My simple observation is this “That the more singular the ministry offices of the church are the more singular our results will be.”
Paul wrote in Ephesians four that it was “He Himself who gave” Therefore we must understand that these ministry offices are given to us out of who Jesus is. Jesus is the Apostle (Hebrews 3:1) He is the Prophet (Luke 24:19) He is the Evangelist (Luke 4:18) He is the Pastor (John 10:11) and He is the teacher (John 3:2). The five fold ministry positions represent the fullness of who Jesus is. They are meant to represent and reproduce the whole Jesus to the body of Christ. Just as Paul stated in verse 13 the purpose for the five who are given from “Himself” is that we attain to “the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. It would be difficult to understand the “fullness” of Christ without a full view of who He is. The five belong together just as every finger on your hand belongs there. And the body of Christ needs to be touched and ministered to by the five not just one, or three but the fullness of the five.
I’d like to propose that the five porches of Bethesda represent the five-fold ministry offices of Ephesians four and that the imagery we draw from the events occurring at the pool is that when the five-fold ministry offices are structured in such a way that there is no direct interaction between them we are then drawing from an inferior model that cannot reproduce the level of supernatural ministry that we see in Acts five and therefore will not impact cities and regions with the full demonstration of the power of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. I’m certainly not saying that a church cannot experience the supernatural without the five. I am curious however as to what we may be missing out on when the five are out of place.
When the spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost the Bible states in Acts 2: “1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (KJV) I cannot tell you how many times over the years that I have heard this verse recited as the primary reason for the release of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. That they were all finally unified enough for Him to come. We often neglect to include the events of chapter one with the outpouring of chapter two. It is in the first chapter of Acts that Peter recognizes a piece missing from the puzzle. That is an Apostle is missing from his place. After already praying, and already being in “one accord” Peter has a revelation that the position left vacant by Judas needed to be filled. They draw straws and choose Matthias. I would argue that the outpouring came because of positioning and not because of agreement. After all according to verse 14 of chapter 1 they were already in agreement. It wasn’t until the twelve were assembled together and in their proper place that the greatest move of the Holy Spirit mankind had ever experienced was released.
I have had the privilege of being in full-time ministry for nearly fifteen years. Over the last few years I had seen some of the greatest miracles and moves of God than at any other time in my life. In those moves of God I have noticed one reoccurring theme. When there are multiple ministers ministering in one place there is a greater level of anointing, and a greater release of the supernatural. One of the most powerful meetings that I have ever been a part of occurred at the church I was pastoring. I had invited two evangelists to come minister for the weekend, as well as another pastor who was a friend of mine. One of the evangelists that were coming was bringing a friend of his who is a prophet. We had five services together over a weekend. I’ll never forget the Saturday night service. My pastor friend was scheduled to speak and during the course of the evening the other evangelist shared for a minute, as well as the prophet, and then I closed the service. As I stood the presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room so strongly I knew some great things were about to happen. That night we saw several healed, but I’ll never forget the level of prophecy that was in operation. That night I gave some of the most accurate prophetic words that I have ever given. When the dust settled and all of us who were ministering compared notes we were all taken back by the level of anointing that entered the room that night. In fact one of the ministers remarked “I think we all got an upgrade tonight”. The Apostle John wrote In Revelation 19:10 “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. If this is true and if the five-fold ministry offices of Ephesians four represent the “fullness” of Christ then wouldn’t it be safe to say that they are also the “testimony” of who He is. When the testimony of Jesus is present it releases the prophetic utterance necessary to build up the body of Christ. This is one of the main purposes of the five-fold ministry. Just as Paul wrote in Ephesians they are given by Jesus “…for the edifying (building up) of the body of Christ”. Since that time of ministry I have continued to notice that when there is more than one ministering there is always a greater level. This is why even if I’m the only minister I always make sure to have my wife beside me when we are ministering to an individual. I’m not saying God won’t move through one person. I am saying I’ve seen what He will do with two or more!

Bethesda means “flowing water” I believe God’s desire is that the five porches of Bethesda flow into the one porch represented in Acts 5. “And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.” They were all in place and because of this the city and region were witnessing the greatest move of God on the earth up to that time. At the pool of Bethesda under the five porches only one was healed. Here under Solomon’s porch “All” were healed “16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”
The five must flow together. This is how they were designed, and this is how they function best. I believe that we are in a season when not only is God strategically placing people in locations, but He is also bringing together strategic alliances that know how to bring heaven to earth.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour” Ecc 4:9


Blessed are the persecuted

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Righteousness is much more than just doing right. Righteousness is the nature and character of the Father. Righteousness is living out of the heart of God. When our actions are righteous it is only because we are doing what the Father would do. When Jesus declared that He could only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19) He was revealing to us what true righteousness looks like. When Jesus healed the blind, He did it because that’s what the Father would have done in that moment. When Jesus had mercy on the woman caught in adultery, He did it because He was responding from the righteousness of His Father. When Jesus fashioned a whip and drove the merchants from the temple, It was the appropriate righteous response. When Jesus knowing He would be rejected declared in His own home town that He was the anointed one, He did it because it was righteous to do so. Jesus was not persecuted because He was doing what was right. He was persecuted because He was producing the heart of the Father in whatever situation was put before Him.
Wherever the heart of God is reproduced the Kingdom of God will be manifested. When the Kingdom is manifested the results are often supernatural. The Pharisees did not hate Jesus just because He did good things, they hated Him because the good things that Jesus did were producing supernatural results. Jesus instructed us to seek first God’s Kingdom, and God’s Righteousness knowing that that the manifestation of those two things would lead to persecution. But the persecution is for our benefit because when the righteous are persecuted it produces a violent resolve to live from His nature and see His Kingdom manifested.


Contending for Breakthrough

If you’ve ever prayed for the sick and they were NOT healed, if you’ve spoke to a mountain and it did NOT move, if you’ve ever prayed and did NOT receive an answer then this message is for you!


Tongues and the Supernatural

tongues

From the time a believer is born again they are invited to participate in the supernatural side of God. On a daily basis Jesus demonstrated the supernatural to His disciples. He turned water into wine, multiplied food, walked on water, healed the sick, and produced many miracles. He did this so regularly that John went as far to say that if everything Jesus did had been written down the world would not be able to contain the amount of books required to document every miracle. Jesus demonstrated this supernatural lifestyle to his disciples not so they could just be witnesses but that they would be participants. On occasion Jesus would send them out alone to demonstrate the supernatural side of the Kingdom of God by healing the sick, and casting out demons. Jesus instructed his disciples to then teach others the very same things they had been taught which would have included the supernatural works that they had been producing.

Jesus did not limit these experiences to His disciples only, nor did He restrict them to a particular generation within the church. Often He would make inclusionary statements such as: …”he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” Certainly we see the fulfillment of this verse in the early church. The books of Acts is filled with miracles, angelic visitation, healing, deliverance, signs and wonders, but it is also well documented that these events continued beyond the generation of the church in the book of Acts. St. Augustine as well as many others before him wrote of the sick being healed, blind eyes opening, and the demon possessed being set free.  There is a reason that the book of Acts is the only book of the New Testament that does not include a formal ending. Because the acts that it contains were never meant to end.

The world has a natural hunger for the supernatural. Just look at the most popular movies and television programs. Not only does the world have a hunger for it but there is also great need that often requires supernatural intervention. The church was designed to satisfy that hunger, and meet the need. When Philip traveled to Samaria He demonstrated the supernatural by producing miracles, and casting out demons. The Bible records in Acts chapter 8 that the people listened intently to what he had to say because of the miracles. and as a result the entire city was filled with “great joy”.  Prior to this their spiritual hunger was fed by witchcraft and sorcery. The world will satisfy their own need for the supernatural even if that means settling for a cheap imitation.

These supernatural experiences are available to every believer. Jesus listed some of the signs that would follow believers in Mark 16, He said: 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” I believe there is a reason why Jesus lists speaking in other tongues in His short list of the signs.

The Apostle Paul was certainly no stranger to the supernatural. In his letter to the church at Corinth he stated that his desire was that they all would have the gift of tongues (1 Cor 14:5). And later in the chapter he goes on to say: “I thank my God, I speak in tongues more than ye all.” 1 Corinthians 14:18 KJV.

It’s obvious that the Apostle Paul was a southerner.

What is also obvious is the emphasis that Paul is placing on praying in the Spirit. In verse 4 Paul states that when we pray in tongues our spirit is being “edified”. The Greek word here means “to build a house”. That is to say that praying in tongues causes your spirit to expand.  Jude writes “But ye, beloved, building up yourself on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” Jude 1:20. We are spiritual beings living in a human tent. When we pray in tongues the emphasis is placed on the spirit person within us, causing us to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit living in us, and the spirit realm around us. Praying in tongues is itself a spiritual act which positions us to respond to the situations around us in the Spirit, and thus do what the Holy Spirit would do through us.

I believe that a consistent prayer life that is centered around praying in tongues is vital to walking in the supernatural.  Paul said that when we pray in tongues we pray directly to God “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (1 Cor. 14:2,14, NKJV),  and when the Holy Spirit intercedes through us according to Romans 8:27 we are then praying the will of God. Therefore we are praying the perfect will of God right back to God Himself.  Praying in tongues then releases the will of God into us so that we will release His will into the earth.  Walking in the supernatural is simply exchanging the realities of Heaven with the realities that exist in the earth. Being sick with cancer is a reality. However it is also a reality that cancer does not exist in Heaven. When Jesus healed the sick, or performed a miracle He was revealing the will of God for that situation.

In order to see the supernatural invade the natural it is necessary that our minds be renewed. That we don’t think naturally, or even see things through the natural eye, but we think according to the will of God, and see things through God’s perspective. Jesus demonstrated the will of God when: “He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil” Act 10:38. Before Jesus was able to produce good works, and heal the sick He was first filled with the Holy Spirit and Power. While the bible never states that Jesus spoke in tongues it does indicate that believers would as they are baptized with the Holy Spirit and power just as Jesus was. This baptism of the Spirit enables us to undergo the process of having our minds renewed so that we can see another possibility other than the natural circumstances surrounding us and to do just as Jesus did by implanting the “perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2) into impossible situations. Praying in tongues accelerates the process of the renewed mind by allowing us to participate with the Holy Spirit in a prayer language which is itself supernatural and is designed to condition us to think towards the possibilities that exist in the realm of the supernatural.

You and I according to Ephesians 2 are seated with Christ Jesus in heavenly places right now. I’m not waiting to get to heaven I’m already there! And because I exist there I can see, and hear from that place. Tongues is the bridge that connects the language of my spirit to the language of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) with the hope that I will speak in the earth what is being spoken in heaven. Our tongue is the most powerful part of our entire being, when I align my speech with His will the result is supernatural!