Friday, July 27, 2012

Can you hear me now?

In Mark the 4th chapter Jesus is speaking to the disciples about taking heed to what they hear, and what happens when we don't hold ourselves accountable to what we hear the LORD speaking to us.

To hear means to be able to receive communication from someone, which in turn produces a result in the one, communicated to.  This is important because the LORD speaks and reveals Himself to us based on our ability to hear Him, or receive communication from Him, which should cause a response in us to do and live out that which we heard.  Why this is important is because the more that we show ourselves faithful over what we have heard from the LORD, the more He is willing to speak to us.  

God's willingness to speak and reveal Himself to us, is all based on our willingness to receive His communication, and to then respond or act on that which He has spoken to us through His Spirit that lives in us.  As we walk in what we hear and are accountable to it, God says since I can trust you with that, let me now share this, and the more we take heed, or are alert to what He says, the more He will communicate with us. This in turn grows our faith, and the more our faith grows, the stronger we become in God, and the stronger we become in God, the more God uses us to His glory. The more God uses us to His Glory, the more lives are changed through the message of the Gospel and Kingdom that God has put in you, because you are hearing/ receiving His communication.  

Now that is the positive side of it, the negative side is this, if we don't hear, what we did have we begin to lose (verse 25).  So as we look at our lives some of our struggles could be a direct result of our not hearing what the LORD is saying unto us.  Beloved there is good news, all one has to do is repent of  lack of hearing and commit oneself to hearing from the LORD through Jesus and watch how situations, circumstances change, and make an impact for the Kingdom.  Have a blessed and prosperous day in the LORD and open your ears to hear what the Spirit is saying unto the Church.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Access Granted

In Mark 4:34 we see that as a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ, you are granted access that many others are not.  Jesus when He would speak to those who were not His had to speak in terms that they could understand thus He used parables.  When He would get alone with His disciples (those chosen to follow Jesus to be trained in the ministry of an apostle which means one sent with a message), His conversation would be different, and much more revealing, as intimacy breeds revelation.

As disciples we are privileged to hear from God directly without the means of stories to get us to a place of receiving Him and His Word.  When we walk with God, God just reveals Himself, or makes Himself known to us, it is a direct correlation of how close we are in relationship to Him.  It is just like two friends who are tight, and they are able to know the other so well that they don't have to explain themselves with many words.  This is how our relationship with God ought to be, that God can communicate with us without always having to use many words just to get us to see and understand what He is saying unto us.  The only way this can happen is if we are doing like the disciples and making sure that we are staying close to Jesus daily.

The more time we spend with Jesus the easier it is to understand how He communicates, and how He operates.  Remember because you are saved (chosen of God) you are privileged to know all things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.  Are you taking advantage of your privileged information?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Coming out on Top

Romans 8:37 "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loves us".

Is such an encouragement unto us as believers.  It is a reminder that no matter what, we come out on top.  There is something that God has revealed to me in looking at and meditating on this passage of scripture, and it is this, that our conquering is a direct result of our ability to be prepared for those things which try to separate us. 

As believers we must realize that we come under attack every day in some way.  Some of us try to run and hide, and hope that by quoting scripture we will be victorious, or conquer what is attacking us.  The power of the Word is not just in speaking it, but in applying what is spoken to the life that is actually speaking it (in other words do what you say, and say what you do).  Think of how many times we quote this scripture, but at times have still been defeated even though we have claimed to be more then conquerors.  This is a result of us not being properly prepared for the battles that we face and our unbelief in God's promises.  When we aren't prepared, we are the conquered and not the conqueror. If we are going to be more then Conquerors there are some things we must do.

The first is we must be in Him, in other words our relationship and power must come through the LORD and His Spirit, and not ourselves.  We also must allow the LORD to equip us through the teaching of His Word (which is really following the example of Jesus).  The LORD has not promised to hide us from stuff, but He has promised to protect us from the attacks of the enemy (the Devil).  How the LORD protects us, is by equipping us for the battles that we will face before we even see the battle coming.  We become more then Conquerors when we allow the LORD to train us in the times of peace (when your day starts, during your quiet times of worship, study, meditation, and prayer), but too many times we look to be equipped when the war is already raging and then wonder why we are being defeated, it is because we aren't allowing ourselves to be prepared at the proper time. 

The closer we draw to God the more attentive we are to His Spirit, and His Word.  The more attentive we are the more prepared we are to operate and walk in faith.  When we walk in faith, and are fully armored as the Word declares in Ephesians 6, we are able to then be the Conqueror that has been promised unto us.  When you are more than a Conqueror, it means that you are over or on top of the thing that tried to defeat you, like a young David standing on top of a defeated headless Goliath, he put the attack under his feet which means it was fully subdued unto his authority.  When we walk in the power of God through allowing Him to prepare, and train us we can then begin to be above those issues that attack us, we subdue it to the point that it becomes a stepping stone to our next blessing and breakthrough.  So on today seek to be a conqueror and allow the LORD to train you so that you can subdue your enemies and be a step closer to your blessing and breakthrough.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Growing Stronger

Jude in his epistle gives us the formula to strenghten ourselves in Christ, that we might be able to win every spiritual battle we face.

1.  Realize that your confession of faith in the work of Christ and God has sanctified you (set you apart from the world into the Kingdom of God to use as an ambassador of the Kingdom), and preserved you (keep you until the dday of the Lord's return and judgement).

2.  Due to our relationship with Christ the following things have been greatly increased/multiplied to us which provide us with what we need to be victorious they are:  Mercy, peace, and love.

3.  Build/work on your faith continually.  This is a result of exposing your heart, soul, and mind to the word of God, as faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

4.  Pray in the Spirit.  Your prayer life is to be spirit-led, and spirit spoken through the gift of tongues, and the declaration of the word.

5.  Let love have its perfect work in you, and give love to others in need.

6.  Show forth to others the same mercy that has been given and multiplied towards you from God.

7.  Be and agent of deliverance through love, transparency, and the power of God resting on you.

The Growing Church

Acts 2:41-47

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and the apostles did many wonders and miraculous signs. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone, as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Here in the later part of the second chapter we catch a glimpse of the first fellowship of believers. This is the first worship service of believers. However, it is not described by the order of worship, nor is it described as a ritual. Luke describes it by describing the impact God had made in their hearts. He describes it by describing the actions of the believers as they came together for the first time. It is here that we find another very important ingredient to begin life anew . . . the devoted heartfelt fellowship and worship of believers.

Nowhere do we get a closer look at the nature and character of the first fellowship of believers than in the later part of Acts 2. Here we have a brief but clear description of the fellowship of the first believers. It serves as a model for all believers today.

Devoted To Apostles' Teaching

This new fellowship was focused on the apostles' teaching. The amazing thing about Pentecost is that their attention was not drawn to some man or church doctrine. It was drawn to the apostles' teaching. The fundamental activity of the first fellowship was a firm continued adherence "to the teaching of the apostles". There was an objective basis for their subjective experience of being together. What was happening was thoroughly rooted in the scriptures. It was biblical. The Lord guided them through the teaching and preaching of his word, just as he endeavors to do today.

The importance of the apostles' message was that it revealed the truth about God. The message sought to focus their attention upon God. It was the message that brought them into fellowship. It was the God- centered message upon which fellowship would be sustained and maintained.

There was no church until they responded to God's call of salvation. There was no creed book. Actually, there wasn't even a New Testament. Their preaching was entirely from the Old Testament. The New Testament believers were founded upon the fulfillment of God's promises as revealed through Moses and the prophets. It is troubling to think that at times we think we only need the New Testament. We really can't understand how our faith is undergirded by the power of God until we see it supported by everything that God has done in redemptive the history of the Old Testament.

They were moved and motivated by the Spirit-guided message of the apostles. The original language carries with it the idea of being persistent listeners. They weren't passive listeners; they were active listeners. There is a thirst to hear and learn more about their newfound life of spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ. Our teaching of the Bible has become too static as we formulate our own doctrines. Not so with the first believers, they were active participants in what was being taught by the apostles. What they were being taught was impacting their hearts and lives.

Try to imagine the pioneer spirit of the first settlers in this country as they probed deeper and farther into this vast wilderness. They were seeking new horizons. There was a great excitement in this newfound country. The excitement led them to probe into the deep wilderness. It is here in Acts 2 that we catch a glimpse of the pioneering spirits of our spiritual forefathers. When Peter stood up and proclaimed the possibility of their spiritual freedom, they only had a thirst for more. They were looking for new horizons. The excitement of seeking and finding God was in the air. The excitement of a New World created in the image of the Firstborn was in the air. (Ephesians 2:10)

"Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God; it whets our appetite." ( --Eugene Peterson (quoted in Leadership, Wint 1995) Jesus said, "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear." And he said unto them, "Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. " (Mark 4:23-24)

They were not caught up into the charisma or personalities of the people proclaiming the message. The focus is on God and his message of salvation. Fear came upon them as they beheld the many wonders and signs done by God through the apostles. They never lost sight of God. His message proclaimed their salvation . . . their freedom. The excitement of a new beginning for a new life was in the air.

They were focused on the message of the cross. The breaking of the bread tells us the focus of the apostles' teaching and their fellowship.Breaking bread is a phrase that refers to partaking of the communion that Christ instituted during the Passover. Bread and wine were common fare at a Jewish table. These were the emblems used for the purpose of focusing their minds on Christ. Their focus was on Christ's sacrifice winning the victory for them. This was the central focus of their new life. The apostles presented Jesus as the fulfillment of the messianic promise of the Old Testament. It was God's wisdom and power that made their salvation possible. No more animal sacrifices for them . . . God had made his Son to be sin for them. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Peter had shown them that Jesus was approved of God by the miracles, wonders and signs he did in their midst. It was a fellowship focused on God through the message of the cross.

That's where the possibility of being born again begins for every man, woman and child. It begins by focusing your life on the cross. The first believers were excited because they were focused on building a new life in Christ through the enabling power of God.

All The Believers Were Together

Beginning a new life focused on Christ brought them together in a devoted fellowship. Listen to Luke's simple description of worship. "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone, as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people." (Acts 2:44-47)

Togetherness is important because it is encouraging. Church attendance is often substituted for fellowship. To some fellowship is like a jar full of marbles. The marbles are in the same jar but there is little togetherness. The marbles have little effect on each other as they roll around in a jar. They just bump into one another. But real fellowship is more like a jar of grapes that bleed on one another. Fellowship should allow our faith to rub off on one another. The first believers had real spiritual needs that led them into fellowship with others. As they came into this fellowship of other believers with the same needs, they naturally bled on one another.

Too often church attendance turns us into iceberg Christians where we just float around and bump into one another. One fellow visited a church and gave his description of those in attendance. He said, "I don't want to say that it was a cold church, but the ushers had on ice skates." The first fellowship meeting had little to do with church attendance and everything to do with togetherness. Although fellowship can't be had or be exciting without a bodily presence.

Philip Slater has written that today's enormous technology appears to have made it unnecessary for one human being ever to ask anything of another in the course of his daily activities. He implies that this has increased the tendency of people to live independently. He goes on to say, "Even within the family, Americans are unique in their feeling that each member should have a separate room, a separate telephone, and his own car when economically possible. We seek more and more privacy, but are more alienated and lonely when we get it."

To me, nothing points this out more profoundly than the little computerized Tamagotchi pets of recent. It is a little computerized gadget that tells you when it is hungry, when it needs to go to the bathroom, etc. You can send a kid in his room to play with this computerized pet. It seems to me, to breed more isolation.

There was an intense feeling of responsibility for each other. This is one of the major drawing powers of worship. They were, "Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." These offerings were coming from those who had "glad and sincere" hearts. No one could bear to have too much while others had too little. They are not just giving money; they are giving up their possessions and goods; they are giving  themselves. These offerings were coming from those who had "glad and sincere" hearts. It reveals the heart and core of worship as they responded to God by responding to each other.

A Worship Filled With Awe and Wonder

At The heart of their worship was the celebration of God. It wasn't the design of the service . . . contemporary or traditional . . . it was God.They understood God's love made their worship possible. His love and devotion made possible a new life. It wasn't their behavior; they had just finished nailing God to the cross. Their response in worship was due to the power of God. Hearts were responding to God's presence. Their worship was a result of being drawn to God through the effect of the cross. They were confident that Christ lived and died so they could be free from sin. This was the drawing power of the occasion.

Luke describes the worship service in the simplest terms. "Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common." (Acts 2:42-45)

The first fellowship of believers was made up of those who had a sure knowledge of their salvation through Christ's death and resurrection and were now enjoying his living presence. They were sure of who they were because they were sure of Christ. They were thoroughly convinced, soundly converted, and Holy Spirit-filled believers.

Imagine for a moment, sitting in a packed Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, just as your home team wins. Imagine the excitement in the air as the home team scores the winning touch down in overtime. But imagine for a moment, being the only one seated in that empty stadium when that winning touch down is scored. Would you shout near as loud? Would you be nearly as excited in an empty stadium as you would in a packed stadium? Excitement breeds excitement.

However, the euphoric excitement of your favorite football team winning would pale into significance when compared to the excitement on Pentecost. There is no comparison of me winning vicariously through the men on the field and what I have won through the vicarious death of God's Son. Now, there is a real win! Now there is a brand new life, which can be had each day of my life. When Christ won that victory over Satan on the cross, it was my personal salvation that was won. He won for me a new life filled with glories of God's grace. I wish that every worshipper of God today could restore the excitement of heart seen on Pentecost.

It was an emotional worship filled with fear and awe. A worshipful response was forthcoming as they saw the miracles, wonders and signs that God was doing through the apostles. They have no doubt but what the apostles have God's approval. They were worshipping God because of their experience of God. They had experienced the reality of their salvation. They saw the one behind it all. They never lost sight of God.

"Praising God" was the natural expression of their hearts for the supreme blessing they had found in Christ. What would happen to this church today if we sought to duplicate the spirit of that first assembly? It would probably be scary to most of us today.

An Attractive Fellowship

A sincere fellowship is always attractive. Attractiveness is the natural quality that flows from a genuine fellowship. People want to know the source of it all. That helps church growth more than anything does. There were no outsiders or insiders. No charter members on Pentecost. Everyone was in the "in crowd." They were simply in Christ. They were from different nations, spoke different languages, and I am sure that their cultural dress was much different, but Jesus Christ had broken the barriers. This made the first century believers attractive to outsiders.

There was a great quality of togetherness. Because we are "in Christ," we are reconciled together forever to God. An old tract called "The Seven Togethers" summarizes the completeness of our union with Christ. It says we are:

(1) crucified together with Christ (Gal. 2:20);

(2) dead together with Christ (Col. 2:20);

(3) buried together with Christ (Rom. 6:4);

(4) made alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5);

(5) raised together with Christ (Col. 3:1);

(6) sufferers together with Christ (Rom. 8:17);

(7) glorified together with Christ (Rom. 8:17).

The word together is significant. In that one word we see all the barriers to fellowship removed. This made them attractive to the world. This resulted in God adding to their number daily those that were being saved.

There was a winsome attractiveness about these believers. Luke records that they "praised God and had favor with all the people." There were no arguments over names, formulas, creeds, rituals or tradition; it was just a simple heartfelt response to God and one another. No argument over baptism, church names, or the kind of music, or the order of worship, or the kind of worship . . . contemporary or traditional . . . or which church to join. There wasn't even an argument of whether they should or shouldn't attend the temple gatherings where the blood of daily animal sacrifices continued to flow. There is attractiveness about this spirit. In fact, it was there that others saw the attractiveness of the fellowship of the first believers. It was that attitude that brought others into a relationship with God.

Nowhere is the pure pristine spirit of fellowship more eloquently described. The early believers were walking as the Spirit gave them enabling power. They were following the Spirit-guided teaching of the apostles.

It was here that we see the first believers unified, magnified and multiplied. It was a powerful testimony to the unsaved. The risen Lord continued his ministry from heaven and people continued to be saved.

It was the continued searching, learning and worship of those who believed that made a new beginning for each of them possible. It was in their fellowship that they received the instruction, encouragement and power to begin life anew.


They were not even called Christians at this early date. In fact, at this early date this body of believers doesn't even have a name. They were simply described as those " . . . who received his word" and as "those who were being saved." The King James Version does use the word church in this context, " . . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." (Acts 2:47) Yet, the translators in 1611 were looking in retrospect as they were translating. In retrospect it is an accurate description of what was happening, but it was not a precise translation. They had no official name, no creed book, or organization. They were simply believers who received the truth-saving message of salvation, which set them on a new road headed straight for their new life in Christ.

These verses do not close with the establishment of the church, they really only show us the beginning of the church. It was here that the transformation of life on planet earth begins. It is where it begins for each of us. It is here that the all-powerful Spirit of creation sets about the work of recreating life anew for each of us.

It was here that their minds were enabled by the Spirit of God to know the unlimited wisdom to maximize the thought of the mind for the purpose of developing their God-given potential.

That is where it begins with each of us. Essentially, it begins as we make the same responses they made when God harvested their souls during the greatest harvest festival of all on Pentecost.

It all begins when we are willing to personally experience the seven togethers: When we are willing to

(1) become crucified together with Christ (Gal. 2:20);

(2) become dead together with Christ (Col. 2:20);

(3) be buried together with Christ (Rom. 6:4);

(4) be made alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5);

(5) be raised together with Christ (Col. 3:1);

(6) become sufferers together with Christ (Rom. 8:17);

(7) become glorified together with Christ (Rom. 8:17).

Their final concluding commitment to togetherness began at baptism. Now that they have buried the old me, they are beginning to discover the new me through the Spirit's enabling message and through the mutual encouragement of those of like precious faith.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Call

The call of God, is when God taps us on the shoulder by placing a passion in our heart for people and for service, as ministry simply means to serve.  One does not have to be a minister to do ministry, one does need to be called.  The call is always initiated by a word from God, as God's word is what establishes everything in life and brings all things into fruition.  Many get excited over just the fact that God tapped them on the the shoulder to join in the working of His will of being blessed to bless others, when truth is that it is something to get excited about, but there is more to this then just thinking you should have a mic in your hand telling people about the goodness of the Lord.  The call of God provides specific instructions as to what and who we are to reach which can be defined as the purpose of our ministry/service to others.  It also has a commission in other words a mandate by which we are to do our best to fulfill day by day, and lastly we are to be responsible for how we represent God in fulfilling the call.  When we say yes to the call we are accepting all that comes with it the joys, the victories, the sorrows, and the persectution knowing that through it all God will give us the strength, power, and wisdom to fulfill the call.  The encouraging thing in all of this is that our fulfillment of the call is a direct result of our ability to be faithful to the uniqueness of the call of God.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Becoming the extraordinary is about walking, and working out the process that God has you in to mature you in your relationship with Him, and to bring you closer to obtaining the destiny and call He has for you.  To be extraordinary is to be more then ordinary, it is to be highly unusual, remarkable, and a standard above others.  We as believers are called not to be ordinary in our lives, but to be more then what the world says we can be. 

God has called us to greater then what we are right now, and the way to become the extraordinary is to allow the Word of God to have its rightful place in our lives by dwelling in us richly, in order that we may be able to use it properly in aiding us to fulfill the will of God for our lives.  So as we continue to align ourselves with and work out God’s will, ask yourself have I positioned the Word of God in its rightful place in my life, which is in our hearts, that we may become the extraordinary.  So as we walk together let us rekindle the flame for the Lord and become sacrificial servants for His glory.