Category Archives: Church

The Cost of Fullness

In events recorded in what we call the Old Testament, men and women were moved by the Spirit of God for supernatural strength or revelation that were temporary manifestations of being filled by Him or having Him fall on them. It resembled His hand in the earth donning a glove for a job.

Jesus purchased a new way of sending His Spirit on the cross. He then fulfilled “the Promise of the Father” (Luke 24:45-49) by sending the Holy Spirit to fill His brothers and sisters, making us powerful. That power includes making us able to manifest some ability that God has and wants to use through us in the earth to do works. These are individual works, and things that we do together.

It also includes the power to manifest His character. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fullness of faith, gentleness, and self-control.

As we learn to give the Holy Spirit the master bedroom in our hearts, or the steering wheel and gas pedal in our lives, it is costly. It isn’t just when ministry needs to happen because someone near us has a need. It is all the time. It is costly: our entire lives. It is broad – every dimension of our lives. It is long – the rest of our lives.

What could be more awesome?

Fertilizer & Prayer

Leonard Ravenhill made some challenging comments about our preparation for Sunday morning meetings.

The idea he presented was that if we spent at least as much time getting spiritually ready as we did getting dressed up and made up, we would have different meetings, and we would be different after we had them.

If we have a garden, we put fertilizer in it if we want it to do well at producing flowers or fruit. Prayer impacts our lives and our work and our relationships that way too. The more we apply the better the garden grows.

About to Boil

In his first letter to the churches in Corinth, Paul suggested three times that they should do something, and one time that they shouldn’t. The root of the word he was using means to heat up, or to boil. The times he suggested they should do it are in 12:31, 14:1, & 14:39. There, he suggested that they should do it to things that belong to the Spirit of God.

The time he suggested that they should not do it, he was saying not to do it over things that belong to each other (13:4). It means something like being envious, or jealous, or moved with desire. What he said they should want was gifts of the Spirit.

Covet the best gifts“; “desire spiritual gifts“; “covet prophecy“. Be wishing you had a powerful spiritual gift if you don’t already have one.

Built Together

When Christ came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building is being fitted together in Him and is growing into a holy sanctuary in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:17-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible ® ©)

The assembling that the writer to the Hebrews mentioned in 10:25 was like this, I believe – being built together; not just going to meetings. Being joined in relationships. Loving one another.

Red Ink

When Jim Bakker was imprisoned for participating in the abuse of funds that were received for the PTL ministry, he had been preaching what is called a “prosperity gospel” for many years. He had promised riches to people who invested heavily in ministries that preached the proper message.

While he was in jail, he says that he was led to read the Bible a few times. He could tell that something was not right in what he had been preaching, but it was not immediately clear what was wrong. At one point, he felt led to read the words that Jesus was quoted as having said, and to see how much of his previous doctrines were left unspoken by Jesus. He read the red ink. He had a new story to tell when he got done.

We frequently get two things backwards and are then confused. One is that we try to understand Jesus by looking at the Church, instead of trying to understand the Church by getting to know Jesus better. The other is trying to understand the words of Jesus by looking at the rest of the New Testament.

Many unbelievers don’t want Jesus because they don’t like us. Many theologians don’t understand the Kingdom because they won’t read the words of Jesus without separating teaching about the church from teaching about the Kingdom.

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.