Supplying Your Part

In Ephesians 4, Paul was describing a mature picture of the church, and gave advice and prophetic announcement about how to get to that position and condition of maturity. In verse 16, he wrote that Jesus is the source of the Life that enables and motivates the Body to growth – building itself up in love as each part does its part.

Every believer has an important ministry. Some don’t seem important in comparison to others, but the place of having grown into maturity that makes the Body able to finally stand as an appropriate Bride for Christ is not just the passage of time and a final explosion into completion. That place is reached by the proper work of each part. If any work is missing, the work will not be completed.

If you don’t know your part yet, yesterday was a good day to check on it. Ask Him. He wants you to know and to be successful at your purpose. He died to make it be within your reach. Just as His work was food and drink to Him, yours will be to you (John 4).

Real Unity

As I listen to the few leaders who are making some noise about unity in the church, it seems that most are just calling for uniformity. Most cries for unity are “Come and be unified! (Under my “covering”)

Unity is not just all the black and white pentecostal congregations being able to tolerate working together on a project. It is groups who have different cultures, different giftings, different assignments from the King, different strategies for similar assignments, and more, finding ways to share information and resources and time and prayer and blessing and honor so that the Body is built up in love as each part does its part, but also that the character and works (and greater works) of Jesus are manifested in the earth. The sons and daughters of God are revealed and He is displayed as the Head.

Love is the supernatural glue that can hold that mismatch of shapes and sizes and colors and directions together and create something beautiful by doing so. That’s how the world will know that we are His disciples.

Pray for it. Look for it. Real-ize it.

Guard Your Supply Lines

Imagine that you were in the rush to steal land from native Americans on April 22, 1889 in the area now called the state of Oklahoma. At noon on that day, thousands of people on foot, horseback, or in wagons were lined at the borders of the territory waiting on that moment to be released into the race to stake a claim on a square mile of land, given freely to those who would file their claims and settle on the plot.

Many “sooners” were illegally already in the territory, camped on the sites they had taken time to find and “pre”claim. The “boomers” were usually unsuccessful in winning disputes with these people, who were mostly US deputy marshals or railroad employees. People generally had two days’ supplies with them: enough to keep them while guarding their property until a claim could be registered, but not so much as to slow them down in the race for the best land plots. After the initial time, more supplies were needed.

When an invading army is passing through an area, they either need supply lines following them or they need to steal or purchase large amounts of supplies from locals. One reason the Roman empire coined money was to facilitate supplying their armies. By requiring that taxes be paid in Roman coins, they motivated locals to trade needed supply items with Roman soldiers in exchange for the coins. The more food and other items could be found locally, the less need for costly supply lines to support troops over difficult distances.

You need spiritual supplies. Remember how Jesus told His disciples that He had food and drink they didn’t know about when they went to town for falafel, leaving Him to talk to the woman at the well. Just as He did, you need food and drink that doesn’t strengthen your flesh, but your spirit.

Supply lines being compromised cost some nations many important battles in World War II. The enemies of your soul are knowledgeable about how to clutter your calendar and clock to the point that you are short on supplies from heaven that come from spending time there in the spirit.

Times of prayer, time spend in studying, memorizing, or meditating on things Yahweh has said, time spent discussing spiritual things with mature believers; these and other disciplines are supply lines that we need to protect in order to keep our spiritual cupboard stocked with items that we need for strength and with materials we need for building or maintaining.

Ministries of Miracles

Who should be doing miracles?

Some other questions that could help answer that one, by finding a pattern: Who should be leading people to Christ? Who should be encouraging other believers? Who should be praying for their city or for the business they work for? Who should be teaching their children the ways of the Lord?

Answers to all of those questions could at least be “anybody.” “Everybody” may even be appropriate, at least when the situation makes it appropriate. Every person doesn’t have every ministry, though. Doing something when the occasion presents itself doesn’t equal doing it as a calling.

The Holy Spirit could use any obedient believer who happened to be standing by to lead someone to faith in Jesus, but that may be the only time that person ever has that particular work to do. It is clear from passages of Scripture like 1 Corinthians 12 that no one person has every gift. Also, it is clear there that every believer has some gift.

So, who should be doing miracles? You, if you need one and don’t have access to a person who has a ministry of miracles at the moment (1 Corinthians 12:10). Every gift has hidden in it the potential for “gift projection” – the imposition on others of a false responsibility for doing a certain work, for which a spiritual gift is required.

Keith Green, a musician and evangelist produced by the “Jesus Movement,” was an example of projecting the responsibility that came with his supernatural ability to lead people to Christ on people who did not have that gift. During his concerts, part of his time was spent preaching for salvation, and part was spent convicting believers who weren’t leading people to salvation of sin for not doing so. For the people who did have the gift of evangelism, it was an effective prompt to be about it with great faith. For everyone else, it was condemnation for failure to please God by fulfilling Keith’s calling.

The Word of Faith Movement was begun by people who I expect had the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9). Because it was easy (supernaturally easy – spiritual gift style) to perform miracles or have impossible prayers answered, they became convinced that “anybody could do it,” and therefore began to teach that “everybody should do it.” Much failure on behalf of people who didn’t have the proper level of faith (spiritual gift level – not fruit of the Spirit level) to see miracles on demand caused much disappointment and disillusionment in many people whose responses ranged from condemning the leaders for having false ministries to followers feeling condemned because they didn’t “have enough faith.”

Pray for all of the gifts mentioned in the Bible, and for all the ones we haven’t seen yet, to bear much fruit in the earth as each believer learns what their call and purpose is. Pray for relationships that will make what you need from the Body to be available to you and your family and your community.

Singing and Dancing

Whether we appreciate music or not is a cultural statement about what we like or what we value. It is further a cultural declaration when we vote for the kind of music we like. Dancing is expression of culture, too.

Some believers are convinced that if they like something, it is certain that Yahweh likes it even more. Of course, the inverse is also true – if they don’t like something, Yahweh hates it perfectly. Great theological rhetoric is foamed up to support the reasoning for the “other” style being evil and a virtual tool in the hands of the devil. What tempo, which instruments, how loud, and much cetera are all parts of the arguments.

Yahweh seems to love being worshiped. It seems to please Him whether it is whispered, shouted, sung, danced to, accompanied by drum, guitar, harmonica or philharmonic.

It is much more important that you are frequently worshiping Him than what the medium of that worship is. Having my worship limited to singing a few songs “in church” once a week is as pitiful as sitting across the table from your family at 15 – 20 meals a week, but only talking to them during one of those opportunities.

Telling your awesome God frequently why you love Him, how full you are of wonder at how good He is, or how impressed you are that His love working in you so moves you to bless others, or how you marvel at His wisdom, and a billion ceteras, is very appropriate.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul! All that is within me bless His holy and wonderful name! Bless the LORD!

The Fellowship of Misery

But the things that used to be advantages for me, I have, because of the Messiah, come to consider a disadvantage. Not only that, but I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Yeshua as my Lord. It was because of him that I gave up everything and regard it all as garbage, in order to gain the Messiah and be found in union with him, not having any righteousness of my own based on legalism, but having that righteousness which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness, the righteousness from God based on trust. Yes, I gave it all up in order to know him, that is, to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings as I am being conformed to his death, so that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead.
Philippians 3:7-11 Complete Jewish Bible

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NKJV

The fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus is a tribal connection; it is the camaraderie of being in a place of misery and seeing someone you love and who loves you in that same place, and making eye contact that acknowledges each other’s price and pain, and thanks the other for caring about our own; it is the communion of hope and faith and love that creates holy community immediately with any believers anywhere on the planet; it is the place where we count it a privilege to be thrown outside the camp with Jesus, or inside the furnace with Him, because being with Him is more than all else of value or comfort or life.

The hope of being raised into His presence is so valuable that any path to that bright blessing will not seem too costly for the prize when we are held by Him in welcome.

Increasing Faith

When His disciples asked Him to increase their faith one day, Jesus answered with 3 descriptions of the relationship of faith to authority and obedience to that authority (Luke 17:6-10). The answer was not a “7 Steps to Increased Faith” series, available for a one-time gift of $25 or more. It was a description of faith at work with authority.

When a centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant one day, Jesus agreed to come to his home and heal him. The centurion, grasping the connection of faith and authority, caused Jesus to marvel when he replied something like, “You don’t have to go there – just speak to him from here and he will be healed. You have the authority to do it.”

When Jesus answered the request for increased faith, He described to them the garden in which faith grows. It is a place where things need to be managed and ordered. He didn’t give them the steps to putting the puzzle together – He just showed them the picture on the front of the box. “This is what it will look like when you get the pieces together.”

Faith is increased like most strengths: in the arena where you work a muscle or a nerve or a joint and it grows. Faith grows in the garden of things broken or missing or contending against success. If you use the faith you have, you will get more.

Grace Works Faith

He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning Him and exclaimed, “This was the One of whom I said, ‘The One coming after me has surpassed me, because He existed before me.'”) Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness, for although the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:10-17      (Holman Christian Standard Bible® © Holman Bible Publishers)

Some buzzwords in the arguments about grace and works that have been produced by not sorting identity issues (church) from citizenship issues (Kingdom) are, “cheap grace,” “legalism,” “greasy grace,” “eternal security versus losing salvation,” “saved by grace,” “saved by works,” “saved by faith,” “saved by baptism,” and “repentance is changed behavior.”

If you were born in Greece, and your name is Elena Alejandro, if you become a citizen of the US, your name is still Elena Alejandro. Your identity didn’t change when your citizenship changed. When you were born of God (born again), your identity and your citizenship changed. Now, you are a daughter or son of Yahweh. Jesus is your first-born Brother. Also, you were translated into the Kingdom of His marvelous light (Colossians 1).

You maintain your sonship through relationship. You don’t lose your relationship without changing your identity.

You maintain your citizenship through obedience. Your inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven is initiated by your relationship, but it is maintained by your obedience.

Your inheritance is not your identity.

Why and How we Change

Two conditions that promote or provoke change are vision and pain.

Vision – the idea that something is happening that shouldn’t, or that something isn’t happening that should, awakens the person it can influence with a desire to pay the cost of changing themselves so that the vision can come to pass as other things change.

Pain can force change even with no target for improvement – sometimes we just leave the current situation we are being hurt in without a plan for how things will improve beyond just getting out of range of the cause or source of the pain.

The Egyptian slaves who were moved to leave Egypt under the leadership of Moses were only initially influenced by pain. The purposes of the trip to the land that was controlled by descendants of Canaan being the path through the desert included Yahweh’s intention of helping them shift from being motivated by pain to being motivated by vision.

Three things He tried to shift in their minds were the understandings of His identity and nature, His perspective of their identities, and His desire for them having purpose in the place He was taking them. When confronted with the cost of changes produced by submission to vision, millions of people preferred returning to the pain, and being influenced to change by neither vision nor pain. They wanted to return to Egypt rather than face the scary future created through the flames of change.

If you are being drawn from the comforts of life as it has been, into the terrors of Life as it could be, let the presence of Yahweh in the desert conform you to His will and His purpose. Be transformed by letting Him renew your mind in the place of disorder and danger. When you let Him finish that work, the promises of the Promised Land enter the land when you do.

The Word of the Lord

Recently, we looked at the impact the “word of the Lord” had on Samuel at various points of his life and work. The more he interacted with and submitted himself to the word of the Lord, the more he advanced in revelation, character, and power.

You may not have much you could point to in terms of direct revelation about your identity or purpose that the Spirit of God has spoken, either to you or about you to someone else. If you have, we will get back to it in a moment…

If you haven’t, there is still enough generic blessing of your identity and purpose in the Book to start you on or keep you in an awesome life and ministry. To begin accessing those words and sort them out for the ones that you want to wear and live  by, you really don’t need any more faith than Gideon had when an angel appeared to him and greeted him with, “Hail, valiant warrior!” I imagine him turning to see who was behind him whom the angel could be talking to.

Look for the declarations in the Book that are made over all of God’s people, or His sons, or those whom He has called. Looking at every promise made by God in the Bible is likely to be misleading. You don’t want to connect with the end promised to unclean spirits who fought against Michael and his angels, for example. The curses promised to those who don’t obey the entire law perfectly are as connected to obedience to the laws given through Moses as the blessings are, for another example. Stay away from those promises.

Matthew 5:10 is a word of the Lord that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia (3:27-29) that those who were baptized into Christ have clothed themselves with Christ. If we are Christ’s, we are descendants of Abraham, and therefore, we will inherit the things Abraham left in his estate. There are many more.

If you do have more specific words, they should be preserved in writing or some method, and prayed over and expected. Become who they say you are. Be prepared to do what they say are your purposes. Submit yourself to the word of the Lord and let it make you into who He says you are. Don’t leave the earth before it is complete.