Category Archives: Church

A Social Gospel

Some believers, probably with the gift of evangelism, are very upset over something they call the “Social Gospel.” It upsets them because it is not focused on evangelism. Of course…

Some believers, probably with gifts of teacher or pastor, are upset that the church is seeming to be irrelevant to the culture it encounters in our towns and cities and schools and states and nations and businesses. Even in situations when we are effectively leading people to Christ, we are not changing their lives or the lives of the people in their communities or families.

It isn’t just a problem that is related to the difficulty differently gifted people have of seeing each others’ points of view and value. It is, at its core, a Kingdom / Church issue. My gift may be pastor, but my work (ministry) might be at a high level of a multi-national business. Or, it may be to a congregation in a remote area of Montana, with 21 members in a community of 38.

When we begin to discover that every believer has an important work to do (ministry), we still have the hurdle to jump of the church leaders of the ages pretending that ministry only happens through church leaders in the church. Don’t be mixing with those unclean unbelievers…

When we are properly led, we will be equipped each to do the work we have been ordained to, in the sphere we have been privileged to influence, and we will change our cultures and communities and families. We will be manifesting Jesus – lifting Him up, and He will draw all to Himself who are willing to receive life that can be spent blessing Him.

The Church will be revealing the Kingdom.

There is a Prophet

Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great man in his master’s sight and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a brave warrior, but he had a skin disease.

Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.”

So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.”

So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 changes of clothes. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read: When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease.

When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, “Am I God, killing and giving life that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Think it over and you will see that he is only picking a fight with me.”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel tore his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house.
(2 Kings 5:1-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

We live too often in little pens of our limited imaginations. Our world views are as small as our experiences or they are shrunk by others’ lack of imagination. Even worse are our expectations that there might be someone around whom we could trust to have abilities or wisdom that we need.

Joram, the king of Israel, could only think from his little pen of suspicion and fear when king BenHadad sent him a letter that sought a miracle for his general, Naaman. The servant girl in Naaman’s household had a worldview that stretched far beyond her captivity and limits. Her hope was as big as Yahweh.

Pastors can’t trust prophets without a supernatural dose of the fruit of the Spirit. Evangelists can’t trust pastors or prophets to raise up the new believers they lead to the Lord without a dose of faith from the Spirit that makes them able to see over the fence of their pens.

We will soon begin to grasp that as we work together, trusting each other because we have prayed over each other’s ministries, that God can actually use the rest of His silly people just like He can use us – by transforming us into His likeness.

We will bless each other and expect that when someone comes forth with a need, no matter how great it is, that there is a servant in God’s household who can manifest the Lord of the house and meet that need.

The Ministry of Death

We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ: not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.

Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to look directly at Moses’ face because of the glory from his face—a fading glory— how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness overflows with even more glory. In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious in this case because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.  (2 Corinthians 3:4-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

Your service, your ministry, your spiritual work, is not based on the power or authority of the Scriptures. It gains its strength and authority from the Spirit of the Living God. Satan quotes Scripture, but not with authority. Jesus, when responding to Satan’s quote of Psalm 91 in the wilderness, responded with Scripture that was Spirit-led warfare against the misquote and became victory as Jesus stood on it.

We cannot win warfare with only the knowledge of the written words of God. We must be led by the Spirit and stand as sons and daughters of God. There may be no greater work in the earth than learning to know the voice of our Shepherd. By His direction, we walk in the ministry of the Spirit that raised Him from the dead.

So – learn the Scriptures, and walk in the Spirit. Be awesome!

Your Heritage

“No weapon formed against you will succeed,
and you will refute any accusation
raised against you in court.
This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants,
and their righteousness is from Me.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
(Isaiah 54:17 Holman Christian Standard Bible® © )

Our God has made many promises that have been recorded as part of the Scriptures. Some are for us, some aren’t. Claiming the curses He has promised Moab as pertaining to us is a bad idea. Claiming some of the blessings that He has promised certain people in certain situations may not be appropriate. We can ask for the good stuff, even if He wasn’t talking to us – “Lord, You did that for them, would You do it for me?”, but claiming it as a promise to us is not right if He wasn’t talking to us.

This one, in Isaiah 54, is to us. His servants have this promise by His declaration. Have it! Be covered by His protection and blessing.

Supporting Ministries

Appeals for support of ministries are abundant around us. The range of styles stretches from attempting to make us feel guilty that we are heartless with regard to the suffering of some beneficiaries of the work of a ministry to making us fearful that we will never be blessed again by God if we don’t give Him immediate proof that we trust Him by giving some ministry our last $1000, to genuine opportunities to invest in something that manifests His love and His Kingdom.

As we decide what to do, I suggest that we not look at needs. Jesus knew that there would always be poor people. He focused on Jews and frequently ignored Gentiles. After a night of prayer, He one morning seems to have left Peter’s home, where ministry had been effective and popular for a few days without even announcing that the meetings were over (Luke 4).

I suggest that we ask the Spirit where He wants us to invest what, and to consider the investment to be in the servants who are doing the work, not in the work. If someone asks you to invest in their work, look at the person. Make the investment in the person or the group who are doing the work.

This is a vision of the Body becoming real-ized. As we look at each other, and discern His Body (1 Corinthians 11), we connect in ways that our love for each other manifests Him and His work. Focusing on Him will not make us forget to serve Him. Focusing on serving Him can make us forget to focus on Him.

Exalted Bondservants

Frank Bartleman was the resident intercessor in the Azusa Street Revival, which was a beginning of the Pentecostal movement in 1906. On May 1, 1904, he was present at the Lake Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in Pasadena California when a revival began to break forth there. People had been praying that God would visit Pasadena.

That night, Bartleman wrote, “God has always sought a humble people. He can use no other… There is always much need for heart preparation, in humility and separation, before God can consistently come. The depth of any revival will be determined exactly by the spirit of repentance that is obtained. In fact, this is the key to every true revival born of God.” 1

The other leader in the Azusa Street Revival was a young black man named William Seymour. Born the son of two slaves, he had braved much insult and humiliation to learn to read and to preach the Scriptures, including having to sit in the hall and listen through a partly open door in Charles Parham’s Bible school in Topeka. Having been blinded in one eye by smallpox, it is prophetic that his name was “Seymour.”

These two humble agents became lightning rods through which power came to the Church from the throne of God. Humble yourself before God and He will exalt you into His service. 

1 (from The Power to Change the World, Copyright © 2006 by Rick Joyner)

The Kingdom In Heaven

Peter was preaching to a crowd that had gathered when he and John healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate when he told them that Jesus would be in Heaven until “the restitution of all things.’ (Acts 3:21 KJV). Revival is a word that means “bring back to life.” Restitution means something was paid for, or repaid after theft, or restored to an original condition.

Some of the gifts and works of the Church in the earth had hardly begun at that point in time. Many gifts and works were stolen from the Church at a later time, during the days of Constantine and other misleaders. Some of the restitution has begun to be made; it is not just adding water to something that was dried out, though. It is a bringing forth of things of old that are becoming more than they ever were, by becoming now what they are meant to be.

The Scriptures were restored when Martin Luther and others began to translate them into languages that people spoke and understood. This precipitated the restitution of the gift of teacher. In the days of John Wesley and George Whitfield, the gift of evangelist was revived. In the 1990’s, the gift of prophet was brought back to strength and function. Around the turn of this century, people began to grasp that the Spirit was telling them that they are apostles, and started discovering what that meant they should be doing.

Paul, in his letter to the Churches at Ephesus, wrote that those 5 leadership gifts were given to the Church by Jesus to equip the rest of the Church to do the works of serving Him (Ephesians 4:7-16). I have been sensing that to mean the next restitution would be the ministries of all of the believers. I believe that what will follow that (and both are already in motion) will be the restitution of the works of spirits who serve God in heaven.

Many of these beings we call “angels,” which can be translated to English as “good messengers.” Many others are very different in their work from simply carrying messages. Some, people who have seen cannot even gather words to describe. Four of the servants who are so close to God that they surround His throne, John could only describe by saying they were made by God, and they are alive and they look partly like a man and three animals (Revelation 4).

Praying for Figs

Unconverted human nature is much more likely than our new nature to provoke us to accusation than to intercession. Our new nature should be even more “more likely” to provoke us to intercession when we see failure than when we used to be accusers. Our behavior is not yet perfected, though…

In Luke 13:6-8, Jesus described a fruitless fig tree. “A man” in the story was the tree owner, who was annoyed that he had come to the tree for three years and been disappointed by a lack of fruit. His servant asked him for one more year of patience before cutting the tree down when he discovered that the man wanted it removed.

When your leaders are not producing fruit from God of good leadership, good teaching, and good examples of servanthood, the proper response may be to intercede that they would be led by His Spirit to bear much fruit, and that their fruit should remain (John 15:16).

The job of accuser has been filled. Many positions for intercessors are open. Apply within.

Only God

Jude 24
Now, to the One who is able to guard you from stumbling and to place you before the presence of His glory faultless in great rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority before all time, both now and forever. Amen.
(from The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest Copyright © 1961 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.)

Only our God can keep us from stumbling, and only He can make us able to stand in His glory.

Much praise and much glory and endless thanks to Him!

Help From Artaxerxes

Artaxerxes was a title of a few Persian kings. It meant “ruler from truth.” One of these kings gave the Hebrew Ezra a letter that authorized him to resume the work of rebuilding the temple of Yahweh, which had been originally authorized by his predecessor Cyrus.

The work had been stopped because of the complaints of some rulers near Jerusalem who were jealous of the Jews, who were being blessed with freedom and provision to restore the temple. Artaxerxes authorized that continuation of the project would be funded by gifts from wealthy people in his kingdom and from his treasury.

Believers have had much confusion about whether to accept gifts or liberties from governments or from individuals who are unbelievers. Some of the confusion is sourced in the problems that have been created when people who ruled over the church attempted to rule over their governments, and when people who ruled in governments have attempted to rule over the church.

Only recently has the idea begun to be recognized as normal in the Kingdom of God that neither of those arrangements is proper, but that what is proper is to have individual believers to whom God has assigned the authority and gifts to rule in the affairs of humans standing in places of earthly authority.

Many times in situations described in the Bible, provision has been given to the works of the Lord by unbelievers. In this case, Artaxerxes made his authorization clear that he imposed no requirements over priests or sacrifices or the process of building or maintaining the temple. He left the leadership to those chosen by Yahweh to do His work.

When there is the witchcraft of hoping to control the work by contributing to it, the assistance should be avoided, whether the contributor is a believer or not. Otherwise, receiving benefit from any source is proper.