1 COR 2:2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
Paul is a great example of wisdom revealed and humility lived. Like Moses before him, he felt that his words were not "wise and persuasive", yet he changed the world as we know it. His wisdom was evident to those listening but not to him. Now, there is no doubt that among you readers that there are some with the same self-portrait.
You feel inadequate to what God has told you to do. You cannot see yourselves in the position to affect the world around you, yet God has put a callling into you that you cannot ignore. So, what do you do?
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
First you begin by realizing that what you have to give is going to be ignored by those committed to the world and the world's philosophy. That is, in this day in age, Chrisitanity will be viewed and accepted as an isolationists religion by those who are committed to the wisdom of the rulers of this age. Your words and works are and must be focused on the hungry and given to the desperate. But, how do you find them? By sharing what God gives you to ALL, and letting the hungry come forth from among them!
Your works are given by God and thus the wisdom you share will be beyond your understanding and spoken in simple terms, with power!
PHIL 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
iF YOU CANNOT EXPRESS CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF, EXPRESS CONFIDENCE IN GOD!
God is the author and finisher of your faith. It stands to reason then, that he is the author and finisher of the faith in those you have been called to reach! Every great man of God in the Bible - without exception had human fear, self-doubt and even a touch of rebellion in them. Each one had to overcome the fear that they were not equal to the task! Each one came to the realization that since it was God's work and God's Word that they were sharing - they could remove themselves from the equation when it came to drawing anyone. It was no longer their responsibility to answer for the response (or lack thereof), so long as they did whatever they were commanded to do!
Don't give up! Don't let go! Go the distance in God. speak when he tells you, even if you think you know the crowd He has you speaking to! Even if you receive ridicule, or worse, give God his due! Like the men before you, it is alright to acknowledge your limitations, but it is not alright to allow them to stop what God has begun in you! Walk in faith and favor - and let God do his work through you! Remember, it is not YOU who works, but God who works THROUGH you!
ACTS 4 1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
We find an age old story - Tradition confronting and confining the Contemporary. The apostles were preaching an unprecedented message. They were following a man who excelled at the extraordinary and new. Jesus went into temple, into fields, into homes and did the unexpected and unknown every day! Each thing Jesus did was new and unknown. In the time of Jesus the Word of God was precious and rarely given. Moreover, the Sadducees and Pharisees of the day had "cornered the market", so to speak. They had the laws of Moses down to a science and performed rituals with precision. In the traditional sense of having "church" (if I may be so bold), they were so religious that let anything new and spectacular (contemporary) come in, and we see sudden chaos. Never mind the fact that thousands of people not so steeped in the traditions were converted and saved, traditionalists of the day could not handle the fact that they had not initiated the program, nor had control over its outcome. In fact it was quite a smack in their collective faces that such a revival happened without their approval or direction! Peter answered tradition in v8.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
He rebuked the tradition of the temple as being the killer of the new Word - Jesus Christ. This new foundation and the breaking with tradition was in the Root of Jesse. The growth that was destined to shake this world came through newness of life! But what about our "ancient landmarks"? What about the need for tradition to hold our path?
DEUT. 19:14 Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
Clearly, then, something is to be said for having landmarks. We need markers of our past to keep us steady, show us progress, and help us keep to certain precepts needed for stable growth. But we're not talking about that today. We're talking about a church that lives in a cemetary. We're talking about people who build houses by the markers of the past and refuse to move on. Exploring what lay beyond the landmarks is the best way to determine whether the marker was properly located in the first place. Oftentimes the landmark becomes an anchor that limits our growth, rather than a marker for it. God's blessing is new everyday. His work then was totally and radically different than the temple-ites had come to expect and even REspect. Their handling of the message became stagnant, and immobile. Tradition always seeks to maintain the status quo on some level.
16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
Some of this "new" will be accepted as God-given. But not too far. The traditionalists will still want to lock down on the spread of the new. Punishment followed the admission that God had done something. Tradition rose up and smacked contemporary out of fear. And there is the key. Fear holds so many of our churches down. Fear spreads faster than revival! Want proof? Look at any church which has recently changed pastors. When you watch their services, more often than not you will see them performing services the same way they did with the previous pastor. The program will be the same, the music will be the same, the services times, everything will be the same but the preacher in the pulpit. Why? Because the church is living in a cemetary. Tradition has taken hold over life. Movement is forbidden through the fear of the familiar slipping away; the loss of the old landmarks.
Friends, nothing can be further from God's desire. A new pastor means a new vision. Even though the pastor may have been "voted in", he/she is still that person that God selected and infused with his own spirit! Making them perform as an employee of the church kills the church. Holding to tradition in this case will invariably lead to dissolution. You will begin to see those who adhered to the traditional view slip away if new things are chosen, and those looking for life slip away if tradition is maintained. Tradition cannot stand if it is rooted in false doctrine or stagnant truth!
ISA 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Truth and liberty are always forward moving and never stagnant! Jesus came to bring a new life and new vision. Peter confirmed it. Tradition is well and good if it is a good tradition that provides stable growth and acts as a measuring stick of success. But never confuse tradition with God's favor. He knocked the Saduccees and Pharisees out of the equation - calling them "whited sepluchers", and pointing out that their day had come and gone. A new thing was done, with the Old Testament still in effect and supporting the New. We pray today that you will consider this if you or your church is struggling. Are you stuck in the "old" ways, or holding to a prior vision, when God wants to introduce something new to your life? Are you hooked to the landmarks, or using them as a memorial of great things gone by, helping to mold the future? An old vision with new workers never works. Decline and destruction are the result. Let God do a new thing in your life! Let God bring you life and you will value the traditions you hold, but not let them hold you back!
JONAH 1: 1-12 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish . He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. ”This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
Friends, Jonah used ungodly people to pursue his own selfish goals. Despite God's will Jonah had his own agenda. But when the going got rough Jonah knew it was God trying to stop him, to redirect him. So many times in our lives we find our going rough, and like Jonah we recognize that we are in the wrong place. Many of us have grown to recognize the calling and pulling of God on our lives - that little "anxiety" feeling when we are doing what we know is wrong. But somehow, we stay with it - for some reason we convince ourselves that we are in the right - that we know what is best. Often it is because we have made the judgment Jonah did; that others do not deserve what God has for them. The end result is that we lose what God has for us, and place him in a position to have to redirect us.
HEB. 4:1-2 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. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. See, we know what is right having had the truth proclaimed to us - but the message is of no value to those who don't obey it, or mix the message with faith. Many times, however, we end up in the same position they are because we have deemed them unworthy, or that we have received teaching that limits our individuality. That's why when God speaks to us as individuals, it can be tempting to overlook it in lieu of "going with the flow." Sticking with our teachings (what some use as "landmarks") can stop you from becoming a Jonah, a Peter, a Paul! Moving against the grain has to be done carefully and prayerfully, to be sure, but you are to please God rather than man, and sometimes this pulls us out of the boat.
Getting in the wrong ship can have disastrous results for us. Ignoring what God has asked us to do because it doesn't fit the mold of what we think we should do, or more importantly, what we are taught to do, can lead us into storms. Even when the storms are designed to turn us around, as humans we can misinterpret the violence we find ourselves in as devilish turmoil. But the reality is - God has a course for us. Staying in the wrong ship can cause us to miss the mark.
Jonah knew that the only way to avoid fulfilling God's will was to die. He also knew that suicide would never work, so he arranged to have the travelers throw him out. No doubt his philosophy was something like "Well, if they hadn't thrown me out I wouldn't have drown, so really God it's their fault." That's how we sometimes are with God. We look for similar excuses to stay in the ship or use others as the reason we can't do what we should. "Well, if they hadn't hurt me...if they hadn't said that, or done this, then I could fulfill your will." The whole time we are deliberately setting ourselves in a place of excuse. Ulitmately, however, this plan will backfire. They WILL throw you out. As surely as Jonah was tossed for bringing turmoil, you will find yourself on the outside looking in. People don't want someone as openly unstable as you in their midst. When the going gets rough each man looks to his own god, his own corner and when the option is presented, they tossed Jonah out on his ear.
People look for unity. Whether in God or in themselves, people will huddle together in order to survive. God has presented us an opportunity to unify for growth and support, but some unify for personal reasons or because of training/teaching. Don't you know that God wants you to make it? To be with him on this earth and in His heaven? And if he wants you to make it, he will make a way for you to make it? Why would we be so selfish as to align ourselves with a ship going in the wrong direction? After all God has done for you, why pursue your own agenda? Why seek your own goals? It is because you do not truly believe in him and the reality of him that puts you in a place of storms. If you seek God enough you will begin to identify the hesitation that marks that you are on the wrong path. If you are in the midst of storms, try to realize the cause. Most storms are just part of life, but there are those storms designed to change your direction.
JONAH 1:17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. It was in the midst of the preparation that God was able to take Jonah in the right direction. If you have been challenged and called to do something you are just not sure of, and have since fallen into a struggle, be alert. God may be pushing you into the belly of his preparation! He may be just about to change your course. You don't need to stay in the wrong ship, nor wait until others forsake you. You can change course now! You can make the decision to serve God as he wants before he decides to shake you up. What am I talking about? Just this: Prayer and fasting will clear your heart. Clarity will open God's work to you and set you on the right path. But if you decide to remain aloof, to stay in the wrong ship, you may have to pay a price you are not prepared for. You may lose those you consider friends, or worse, before you realize there is another path. But it is not necessary. God is not requiring you to suffer needlessly, he is calling you out of the dockyard - out of the people who are not truly yours before you pay that price. Jonah could have avoided the sea altogether had he moved to bring revival to people that he felt didn't deserve it.
Friends we are praying that God will reveal his will to you and that you will know it as your own. We pray that you will move even if it seems it isn't expedient. If you are resisting God we pray that you will find the belly of preparation, and understand God is only doing what he must for your good. No one has the calling you do. No one can reach the people you can. You are unique. Get out of the wrong ship. Start talking and walking in the direction God is calling you and you will fulfill his purpose in more than just your life.
These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. PSALM 42:4
Prepare: Make something ready for use or consideration.
Friends - My wife and I have been priviledged to attend a number of churches in various states. I have been honored to preach for a number of organizations and serve in various capacities over the years. We want to point out a startling and expanding problem in our Apostolic movement; one that is having a direct effect in the success and growth of our churches. That problem is the lack of proper preparation for service to our God. The volume of conversation, the tone and focus of it, is beginning to drown out the moments of reflection, worship and praise that sets the tone for the remainder of the service itself. We are being distracted from God and giving God our best, and it is having a direct impact on our results (growth and spiritual endurance).
While the Bible does urge us to make a joyful noise before the Lord, there is a noise that serves little purpose in the church-house, but it is a noise that is arising separate from the good report, the worship and the spirit that God wants to find in His house. Psalms 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
NOISE: (n.) Loud or continuous talk; general talk or discussion; rumor; report. In so many assemblies we are seeing the social interaction of a church overtaking the preparation of worship and service. Time and again we hear the conversations, the 'catching up' consuming what should be the true focus of our time in pre-service - God. It seems more and more that the time we used to spend worshipping, praying, and focusing has become a time instead to do what we should be doing all week long - checking up on our brothers and sisters. God is shoved into the last two minutes prior to the "service starting", with a hearty "PRAISE THE LORD", which ironically we should have been doing all along. Suddenly there is music and everything falls into place - we shove sudden and unprepared worship at God, expecting that he'll be pleased with our "sacrifice", when all we are doing is performing a ritual of repetition from one Sunday to the next.
PSALM 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. His gates (the doors of the church) should be entered with thanksgiving - his courts (the sanctuary) entered with praise. Be thankful UNTO him and BLESS his name. Ask yourself this: "When you sit silently before the actual service (which we have somehow convinced ourselves is a separate time and event in living for God, rather than an extension of what we do every day), what do you hear?" Listen to what is happening inside the sanctuary, on the inside of the gates, just before service. How much time is being given to God, and how much time is being given to your neighbor? What does the sanctuary sound like? There is such a difference between the sound of corporate worship, and the noise of general conversation.
It's time to remember the art of preparation. 2 CHRON 5:13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD. Working as ONE - making ONE SOUND. What a difference! In preparation for God's house being visited by God Solomon sets his trumpeters and singers in order first. He gets them doing the very thing they are set to do - worshipping. They begin to focus, to zero in on the spirit realm and sure enough God shows up. When they lifted their voice WITH (ALONGSIDE, IN CONCERT WITH, IN UNION WITH) the trumpets, a unified effort got God's attention.
Now we are not saying that you don't enjoy the anointing and visitation of God during services in churches where conversation has replaced preparation. But we ARE saying that your visitation could be so much deeper, and so much more anointing could be realized, if we reversed ourselves and got back to PREPARING an atmosphere for God. Atmosphere is the key. JOHN 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. I suspect that God is not in heaven chatting with his angels until moments before he comes to get us, then throwing something together that he can call heaven! It sounds funny, maybe sarcastic, but I expect God is truly making something ready for us! I believe he is focused and establishing something that will be unlike anything we have ever experienced down here. And if he is doing that for us what should we do for him?
Think about the souls of visitors or backslidden or lost folks who will come into the gates with you. Think about the one that needs a miracle, or deliverance, or salvation! What of them? How will they feel the God they need to feel if we don't set the proper atmosphere for him to work? If we continue giving him second-best, back handed worship, how can we expect his best? Are you seeing more or less victories than you used to before the sanctuary became a social networking site? Isn't it easier to pray someone through to the Holy Ghost in an atmosphere of praise and preparation? We think so. More importantly, it is a requirement that we enter with thanksgiving and praise, rather than handshakes and conversation. There is time for that later. Give God his due.
We are in the endtimes, friends. We are fighting distractions on every level. From children running and playing havoc during the preached Word, to adults having their minds wander onto the conversation just prior to service. Shepherd's Flock's motto is "Don't begin your worship here, just perfect it." This means our time before service is reserved for prayer, reflection and worship. I don't allow conversation in the sanctuary until after church. Why? To set the minds of members on God and let God set the pace. Instead of coming in fixed on what has happened over the past week, we are trying to focus on what is going to happen today! Check yourself about this issue. Not controlling our environment is causing many to fall away. It is allowing Satan to get a foothold in our service and forcing God to accept second place in our lives. We urge you today to reconsider how you enter the sanctuary. It has gotten so bad in some services that my wife and I were forced to go into the fellowship halls just to find a place of peace and quiet, where we could clearly hear God and focus our minds. Is this what your church has allowed? Do you recognize this? If so, you can be the one to make the difference. Enter and kneel. Worship and pray. Get your spouse to help, then your friends. Before you know it the church will be with you and on its knees in prayer! God will pay attention, and the spirit will rise.
But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 1 JOHN 2:5
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 2 COR 1:20 niv
The church building is a lot like God (in fact, I believe he designed it just that way)....when you enter a church you see pews, floors, carpet, pulpits, organs and instruments of music, microphones, baptismal tanks, windows, etc........when you enter a church you are surrounded by that church...you cannot get closer to something you are surrounded by. When you walk with God, serve him, you are surrounded by him...He is supposed to be INSIDE of you, before you, around you, leading you, you cannot get closer to him when you are in the center of his will...BUT, you can have access and get closer to the items contained within him and his will for you.
Let's say for the moment, the pews represent the gifts and fruits of the spirit, pulpit is the anointing, instruments are the praise, microphones the voice, the baptismal is the healing, the windows a vision, the floor support, carpet the cushion......ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE CONTAINED IN THE CHURCH...YOU CANNOT GET CLOSER TO THE CHURCH WHEN YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY IT, but you for sure can approach and use and get closer to the items contained in it.
START PRAYING FOR GOD TO MOVE YOU CLOSER TO THAT WHICH WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER SERVANT. Move closer to that healing, that gift, that anointing. This is a touchy thing because I am not advocating that you seek only the THINGS of God, but God himself who has and is all these things. Pray that God will reveal his will to you. Pray that God will release you in your mind to accept the things he has for you in Him. Even when you lay on the floor of the church, you are only closer to the support in the church, not the church itself. I'll say it again, you cannot get closer to something that surrounds you.. you are in the midst of it! Try jumping into a pool then getting closer to the water! You cannot do it. You can get closer to the water toys, the floats, the ladder, but not the water! It surrounds you. The same principal exists here with God!
In God is contained all the principals, power and tools you need to walk an overcoming life! If you have been struggling with issues within yourself or people - then it may be a sign that you have not yet found the overcoming tool, the spiritual basis for your victory! If you have not yet fully submitted to God and his will, you are not yet fully surrounded by him. If you are then all you need is contained within him and you have it because it is ALL IN HIM!
Pray that God will reveal to you that item contained within him that will release you to move in his spirit...to open that spirit to others, to make you what you should be IN THE SURROUNDING HEART of God.
Be well, just think about it, it is not a complete thought, just some food....