Category Archives: Church

Wild Voices

People who have not encountered valid expressions of the ministry of prophet have a wide array of responses to the concept of prophecy in the church today. Some people have had no interactions at all, some have had bad experiences, and some have misjudged real encounters.

By the time any consensus had happened among church leaders regarding what should be considered “Scripture” (a few centuries after the ink on the original documents had dried), there still was nothing written there that indicated that the Lord of the church had stopped giving people prophetic ministries. Even today, there is no Scripture that says the work of the prophets is done.

Some prophets, like any other category of ministry worker, are immature. Some are worse than that. Some dress weird, talk weird, or act weird. Some are just mean.

The last prophet of the old order was John, who baptized people to prepare them for the Kingdom ministry that followed his. Jesus said that he was the greatest man born of a woman. He called him “a voice in the wilderness.” He added though, that even the least in the Kingdom was greater than John (Luke 7:24-30).

He wore clothes that were made of the hair of camels, and ate weird stuff. If the greatest prophet ever born up to the year 29AD stepped into one of our Sunday morning meetings, what would our response be? Like the Pharisees in Luke 7:30? Would we be any more likely to recognize a prophet in the new order of prophets?

The Spirit of God knows, and wants to help us know. Ask Him what He’s up to when you are wondering whether someone is really a prophet. Ask Him why you don’t see any prophets if you don’t. Pray for any that aren’t doing a good job yet.

Knowing or Knowing About

When Jesus influenced the woman at the Samaritan well, she went to town and influenced her neighbors. Her influence was only information, though. In order to convert people to the Family of God and to the Kingdom of God, we need to be involved in what the Samaritans experienced after they heard the woman’s testimony:

Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what He said. And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”
(John 4:39-42 Holman Christian Standard Bible ® ©)

How do we take people past the level of informing them to the place of helping them to have encounters with Him? What Paul called “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) is a manifestation of the Person of Jesus that reveal His character through our interactions with people. What he called gifts of the Spirit (Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) are manifestations of the Person of Jesus that reveal His work through our interactions with people.

The Scent of Brokenness

Knowing Jesus in the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:7-11) was a goal that Paul had in his heart at one point in his life.

A lime has a much greater impact on the aroma in a room if you scrape its skin or cut it open. Being bruised by serving Jesus causes us to have the power to change the atmosphere around us if we wear it with humility and love. If all it causes in us is bitterness, that produces a less Christ-like aroma…

I find it hard most of the time to speak in public about the love and sufferings of Jesus on our behalf without being brought to tears. Speaking about the way He has lifted us into positions of honor in His household from being His enemies breaks my heart on days.

I asked Him once when He was going to heal me of that brokenness. I believe that His response was to ask me if I wanted to stop being useful to Him.

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ, and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life. And who is competent for this?
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)

Outside the Camp

The laws that Yahweh gave Israel through Moses included many activities that had to happen outside of their camp. Anyone who became unclean had to spend time outside the camp. Activities that were unclean had to be conducted outside the camp, from disposing of trash and excrement to stoning someone to death.

Being dismissed even temporarily to life outside of the fellowship was something that held a stigma – it indicated a rejection or condemnation. When Jesus was tortured to death on a cross, it happened outside of the gate of the city. As He indicated to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:20, He still experiences being cast outside the acceptable – displaced from His appropriate position of being worshiped and of being honored as our King.

Many of the most devoted believers I know are currently not participating in any of the meetings that happen all around them on Sunday mornings. They all have their own reasons, but they include being done with shallowness, purposelessness, and lack of genuineness that is almost everywhere among congregations.

Being outside because of bitterness is the cause for some people. These are not the people I have anything to say about here.

If you are separated from meetings, be careful not to be separated from relationships with believers. Don’t fear being outside the camp, and don’t be shy about connecting with others – inside or outside. The programs may have no value, but the people all do. When you find someone with whom you can pray and rejoice and worship and work, you are connected to the body in more real ways than some of the most loyal meeting attenders.

Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle do not have a right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy of holies by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace. For here we do not have an enduring city; instead, we seek the one to come. Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. Don’t neglect to do good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.
(Hebrews 13:7-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible ® ©)

 

Inviting or Invading

The two extremes of trying to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth that the Church has proven don’t work are hiding behind stained glass and inviting people to meetings, and attempting to rule the earth from our pulpits. This ranges from rantings against “Washington” by Texas preachers on TV, which no one in “Washington” is listening to, to the “Holy Roman Empire,” which was as guilty of persecuting believers as Stalin and the Islamic State.

In Acts 27-28, Luke described part of the trip from Jerusalem to Rome Paul made after the Jews tried to kill him in the temple area. Paul saw prophetically that the centurion who was in charge of transporting him and some other prisoners to Rome should wait through the winter, because they would face very destructive storms if they went to sea. The centurion did not believe Paul, because the owner and the pilot of the ship they had been traveling in disagreed with him. They set sail.

When the ship was destroyed as predicted, the passengers, sailors and soldiers were washed ashore on Malta. There, because they invaded the land of Malta, they were given access to the culture of Malta, and impacted it greatly:

Safely ashore, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The local people showed us extraordinary kindness, for they lit a fire and took us all in, since rain was falling and it was cold. As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself to his hand. When the local people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man is probably a murderer, and though he has escaped the sea, Justice does not allow him to live!” However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. They expected that he would swell up or suddenly drop dead. But after they waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Now in the area around that place was an estate belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that Publius’ father was in bed suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, and praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him. After this, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. So they heaped many honors on us, and when we sailed, they gave us what we needed.
(Acts 28:1-10 Holman Christian Standard Bible ® ©)

Muslims, homosexuals and socialists have discovered how to shape cultures by invading the structures that have the power to influence them. Believers are learning to invade the darkness and dispel it with Light. In the place where you have a voice that is public, use it to declare righteousness and Life.

Better Than Jesus

What could be better than having Jesus around? According to Him, it is better for us to have the Holy Spirit around:

“But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in Me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.
(John 16:5-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Having the Spirit among and in us is what makes our ministry in the earth possible. It is how we will know our God so well that we will reveal to the angels and demons more about His wisdom than they know from their experiences with Him:

This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints!—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. This is according to the purpose of the ages, which He made in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness, access, and confidence through faith in Him.
(Ephesians 3:8-12 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Household of Truth

We are the people who live in Yahweh’s household. We eat at His table. We are welcome at His meetings and gatherings.

I write these things to you, hoping to come to you soon. But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:

He was manifested in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:14-16 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

We are the foundation of truth. Yet, we are so undiscerning of truth that we cannot tell who is lying as we read the news. We cannot tell who is in error as we read books by popular writers who lead the Church.

As we continue to build each other up in love, each part doing our part, we will mature to the point of standing beside our Lord and Husband in a unified manifestation of faith and truth (Ephesians 4). We will stand for nothing but the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.

The path to that place of being a foundation may be painful and costly. Brace up!

Angels Seeing You

Angels who have seen the awesome glory of their Creator, with no veil to shield them, not needing it because they have no earthly flesh from an ancestor like Adam, have seen much!

They have seen more than John saw in the Revelation of Jesus that he received. Some of that was shown to him by angels. They have seen judgement after a great war in Heaven. They have known the positions of authority given to some of them over places in Heaven and places in Earth – powers, principalities, world rulerships.

It must have been an incomprehensible mystery to them to see, after centuries of observing humanity, their Master become a human. Having seen, with a few surprising exceptions, nothing but failure and misery and ungodliness in humans, they watched as their God became one. Then, seeing Him be despised and spit upon and beaten, by the humans He joined in their misery, for their sake, must have made their mouths gape open in astonishment.

Now, His servants see us. They see His sons and daughters. They see, in human frailty and failure, the spirits who were given birth by the Holy One. The One Who overcame in the earth. They see a tide of change – sometimes sweeping, sometimes creeping – spreading through the earth to create a new race of humans. Sons and daughters of the King of Heaven and Earth.

Father, make us able to see at least what your spirit servants see – to recognize the Life of our Father in our brothers and sisters. Make us able to honor You as we honor each other. Make us able to discern Jesus as we receive each other in love.

Letting Jesus In

In the Revelation of Jesus that John received, this was the message Jesus sent to the believers called to be the church in Laodicia:

“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
(Revelation 3:14-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Jesus was not knocking at the door of an unbeliever’s heart, hoping to save her/him. He was knocking at the door of the congregations, or at the home of believers in those congregations in Laodicia, wanting to be welcomed among them. They didn’t know that they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. They thought that they were free of needs.

All of us, to some degree, are suffering from blindness to some of our weaknesses and distractions. We are very sensitive to our financial or health needs, but the more important spiritual needs are difficult to discern. We need to have frequent visits from Jesus, during which we ask Him how we are. Even then, we are in danger of resembling James’ description of seeing our faces in the mirror Jesus holds in front of us and turning away unchanged.

A visit from Jesus is sometimes painful, but always beneficial.

Big Siblings

In families, especially at times when family members worked in family businesses or on farms, as the older children grew, they received increased responsibilities. The new duties were not just related to the business, but to the younger children. They taught them the way to live and work.

Many congregations are so relationship resistant that they are more like orphanages than families. Someone who moves to town and joins a congregation is received like a distant cousin whose parents died and left them needing a place to stay – they aren’t really close family, but we have to put up with them as long as they stay.

God, however, likes to set the solitary in families (Psalm 68:4-6). He sees each believer as a son or daughter, born of His Holy Spirit. I believe that He expects each of us to take some responsibility for the brothers and sisters who are younger than us in Him. We don’t have to have a degree in anything to be a big brother or an older sister to some who need that type of influence.

We all need it, and we all are capable of it if we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Encouragement, correction, teaching regarding a certain ministry or a certain discipline, such as prayer or reading and meditation on Scripture – these are powerful influences that we can offer those with less time or experience in being believers.

The more we mature in character and service, the more we are likely to be drawn to a level of service and sacrifice that resembles parenting. Even a 5 year old can be a good influence on the life of a 3 year old, though. Invest in someone!