Stewardship

October 24th, 2014

Stewardship of anything – life, money, possessions, home or community – reflects an understanding of personal responsibility to cooperate with the Lord’s plan and specifically, with His lordship. We see the way some people steward what they have and wonder how they get away with it. And, to be honest, since all we are and have is given by God to complete our calling and mission assignment, we should also admit that observers of our own stewardship of the endowment could question how we justify what clearly is the squandering of our gift(s).

The physical body, for example, is a gift from God. Anyone refusing to make healthy food choices or reduce portion size, or refuses to feed oxygen and nutrients to the body through the discipline of exercise obviously believes negligence is okay. So, again, if we’re honest, from a stewardship perspective, it’s easy to see that people most often are in the condition they’re in because it’s what they’ve chosen. The human body can only take so much abuse. God is not the cause of resulting crises; failed stewardship is.

Recently I read again the story of Harriett Tubman, a female slave responsible for starting the Underground Railroad in America in 1849. In captivity, Harriett experienced unimaginable suffering, her physical scarring from abuse literally changing the skin texture on her body. A Christian, Harriett often retreated to nearby wooded areas to pray, asking God’s help to endure her experience. Eventually she married a free man but Harriet was not free and remained a “carrier” of slavery, doomed to pass slavery on to her children. This crossroads of her struggle drove her to the secret wooded area in prayer, pleading with God for her freedom, Harriett heard the Lord’s voice answer: “Free yourself.” Harriett understood. It was up to her now. The Lord had released her. So Harriett ran. She ran and did not stop. The former slave who came to be called ‘Moses’ and lived to be 92, reached a free state. The rest, as they say, is history.

Free yourself. That’s powerful. The Lord “fearfully and wonderfully” made you. What you do with His creation (you), is your stewardship response to His greatness that is inside you. An slave woman understood freedom’s price and risked everything to be free, not for her only but for all who would follow.

You are able to free yourself. Steward the gift. Obey the Lord. Whatever He tells you . . . do it.

Amen.

Psalm 100:2-3; Psalm 139:13-15

Making Disciples

October 23rd, 2014

We understand the importance of making disciples. Spiritual fathers teach us—mentor us—in this truth, a vital link to personal power, an extension of power to the whole congregation. The believer’s assignment is to “make disciples” and, because believers are prophetic, discipleship builds mature congregations of individuals trained to do according to their gifts and call. Every one—not one or two or some—all!

Each person is uniquely gifted by God—to create both personal benefit and also build the Kingdom of God here, on earth as it is in heaven! The resulting possibility is unique: Philosophies, religions and belief systems abound but none compare to the Christian’s individual worth: Christ in you the hope of glory.

In fact, Gospel opponents struggle with the notion that even they possess a supernatural, divinely gifted, platform for greatness — for them, it can only be about something for which they take full credit rather than about the the Lord’s love gift ready and waiting for them to receive.

Every person is gifted by God; not just some and not just the educated or affluent or positioned ones. God-inspired, wonderfully made, and filled with redemptive potential, every human being is prophetically qualified and destined for excellence according to personal, unique gifts from the Creator God.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

Amen—that’s so good!

Matthew 28:18-20, Colossians 1:27, Verses @ Once

Spiritual Fathers, Prophetic Nature

October 22nd, 2014

Spiritual strength to accomplish the things we know to do is an endowment – a gift that’s multi-faceted and full of God’s Spirit. For disciples, this strength-gift produces leadership as we put on the Lord’s prophetic nature. It’s why many disciples are prophets to those around them. Theirs are voices of the Kingdom, its power and glory. Their spiritual leadership is for such a time as this!

With strength for daily bread and having received this prophetic inclination (an inspiration, a knowing) spiritual fathers are vital. We’ve learned to value those who watch for us, who shepherd and counsel us. They have spiritual depth that we glean from, right down to the smallest detail of what they carry. We are privileged to have these sent ones speak into our lives—fathers, mentors, nurturers in the faith.

Amen.

1 Corinthians 4:15; Galatians 4:1-2, Verses @ Once 

1 Samuel 17

October 21st, 2014

David, the boy shepherd who would one day be king, out-maneuvered opponents, facing down a lion and bear alone with his staff and sling. By the time giant Goliath stood before him, David’s confidence was legend and the appearance of a boy concealed the heart of a man and the wisdom of a king.

Israel’s future was secure in this soon-to-be-king. Faced with threats, he was calculating; in contests, confident. Intimation did not bend him, his style seldom the conventional wisdom. And so it was that Saul’s offer of armor to confront Goliath was wasted on the boy warrior; and judging from Saul’s leadership record, it wasn’t doing Saul much good either.

The hard call was made and for David it would be natural, this battle over before it began when David’s words prophesied – commanded – the outcome. Authority spoke and destiny slipped into gear as God’s man David advanced. His life on the line and isolated in the struggle, David reached deeply within for proven strength stored in earlier days of preparation to gain another victory as protector of his charge.

Human passion cannot explain David’s win that day though the script reads like a thriller. Rather, it was the Lord who battled and won when his man David delivered the blow. Without the One, would we even know the other?

Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.’ (1 Samuel 17:45)

Amen.

1 Samuel 17 

Spirit Life

October 20th, 2014

Children are a great example of sensitivity to spiritual truth. Their hearts soften to receive from God more than we realize. Young hearts are accepting, their innocence a protection from prejudice. In other words, children respond simply to life in the spirit; they respond “as a little child.”

Children are naturally open to the Holy Spirit because design-wise, creation’s “fearfully and wonderfully made” feature includes capacity to believe and receive divine truth and supernatural expressions from God. Tap into what they hear from the Lord and you’ll be amazed.

The Lord reveals truth through the agent of the Holy Spirit and we receive that revelation in the human spirit. That’s how spirit life works. In the same way, revelation can also be quenched—refused. Sadly, such refusal to yield to the Spirit insulates us from the supernatural.

For example, for many Christians the main reach for – yielding to, and open to receive from – heaven’s supernatural provision comes in a time of crisis. In a crisis, panicked prayers reveal a low estimation of heaven’s supernatural power, expectation is desperate and the habit is to think that way when really, we should know better.

God has more for His disciples than unsure pleading. He gives them life in the Spirit . . . a relationship born and sustained by His deep commitment to bless and our commitment to communicate and receive from him as sons. Christianity is not a cosmic experiment.

In our ministry at SWM, discipleship includes the spirit life. I encourage everyone to teach the Word and then require something of the teaching – expect results. Pray in the Spirit and encourage those you disciple to do the same. Those you disciple are blessed to be taught the spirit life, to receive nourishment for the human spirit to mature spiritually.

I believe, for Christians, the spirit life produces spiritual maturity that is confident regarding matters of the spirit and the supernatural. I also see many counterfeits and substitutes, making our spiritual discernment critical to steady the ship of truth in every home.

“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Corinthians 2:13-14).

Amen!

1 Corinthians 2:13-14

And So, We Lead

October 19th, 2014

God’s people, through the Holy Spirit, represent the Lord’s divine strength on earth. They are empowered by the Spirit to establish His Kingdom in places of human authority. The combination – human authority and God’s authority – brings heaven to earth and gives to men the enviable position of living life on earth as heirs of that eternal Kingdom.

And so, we lead. We set the pace. We challenge. Hopeanchors the soul and the Lord’s joy is our strength.

The Lord who began a work will complete it; with Him, we are more than conquerors and no weapon that is formed against us can ever prosper. We are created in His image to do like works as He and we overcome enemies today by the blood of the Lamb and our spoken testimony. Our portion is not limited but vast, and by His hand we are delivered from darkness into marvelouslight.

We are inheriting an everlasting Kingdom; and so, we lead.

Amen.

Go Therefore

October 18th, 2014

In Matthew 28, verses 18 and 19, authority is the subject. Divine authority from God, imparted to believers, is a distinctive of end-time disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus said all authority, both in heaven and earth, was given to Him and that He therefore sent disciples out with that authority. Disciples are sent. They carry heaven’s authority.

It’s the authority thing—God’s, not yours. You wear it. It’s recognizable to those who oppose the Lord. You’re the target they see. So, yes, a flood is certain but you are a container, ordained to carry His Presence. You are an ark!

More of God’s authority and less fear of man means confidence in His Word permeates your life.  Your level of Holy Spirit leadership attracts opposition from men . . . opposition meant to break your resolve, commitment, and stand. Resist that. Continue to go. Keep going. Soon others will see what you have seen all along.

Amen.

Matthew 28:18-19, Matthew 28 

Passionate Prayer Calling

October 17th, 2014

23 Tishrei, 5775 | Simchat Torah

Passionate prayer fuels the ongoing mission of Jesus Christ – prayer is the universal power tool for rescue and deliverance. Isaiah prophesied the objective of Christian prayer. His words were repeated in the Gospel of Luke, a confirmation of God’s eternal plan.

The whole creation groans for the manifestation of His people and, by the Spirit of the Lord, through passionate prayer, we arise in significant manifestation to comfort all people, all nations. We hear the cry for rescue and ask God to send salvation.

In addition, the modern genius of new, improved technologies makes a continuous, up-to-the-minute exchange of information between people and nations increasingly accessible and Christians, whose first priority each morning is prayer, utilize the exchange for practical intelligence to prayer.

That genius of technology comes from God and belongs first to His people to bless the whole world—His creation. We pray for all nations and people, for peace in every heart. We send portions in prayer – for comfort, protection and prosperity of soul and spirit. We stand in prayer, grateful to partner with God in His salvation plan.

Amen. 

Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:18-19, Verses@Once  

The Gifts and Call Remain

October 16th, 2014

22 Tishrei, 5775 / Shemini Atzeret

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. (Romans 11:29, NLT)

Ancient Israel, situated at crossroads of trade and exchange, was blessed with divine favor to live distinctively among all peoples and cultures. God’s plan was for Israel—supernaturally chosen and gifted by God as special, favored, and blessed by Him to live above the norm—to gain distinction as a people in every generation and bring eternal glory to the God they served.

Israel’s distinctiveness attracted the world’s attention for divine purpose, to woo all nations to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The believer’s call and spiritual gifting is like Israel’s – distinctive and designed  by God to mark, favor, and distinguish Christian believers in a display of divine purpose, drawing all men to the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob . . . God of our fathers and our Father, who is in heaven.

Factually however, Israel did not fully respond to the call and, considering how little spiritual gifts have been understood, neither have we. For the believer, like Israel, much of the gift and call is ineffective; despite genesis with a supernatural edge, the Church’s enticement to be like the rest is sufficiently strong to dilute the mission.

Bottom line, we aren’t really sure about what God intends for us. Israel’s lifestyle succumbed to exotic competition from other peoples and their gods and so have we . . . the standard is blurred, the mission compromised, and cultural chaos confusing. Instead of realizing “it is He who has made us and not we ourselves” we run on heights and fall to depths, intoxicated by the rush and acting as though we are in charge.

To recover the lifestyle we’ve lost, we should first clarify who we are, what we are doing, and why. Christian discipleship and worldview are necessary to turn us around and get things straight. So first, Israel will never cease to be God’s plan and the stand we take alongside her must be right. Next, we should clearly identify our gift(s) and calling so that we can get into position, fill the ranks as the Body of our Lord, and advance the mission that draws all men and nations to . . . the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Amen.

Psalm 100:3, Romans 11, Verses @ Once

Medicine Man

October 15th, 2014

21 Tishrei, 5775 | Hoshana Rabbah

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them.      Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverbs 4:20-22, NLT

We typically arrive at the beginning of any crisis suddenly – suddenly, it’s there! At that moment, the level of faith you need to believe God for His promised outcome becomes apparent just as suddenly. And you know, at that moment, if you’re there . . . if your faith is sufficiently strong to confidently make God’s Word your final authority and firm expectation?

In a crisis, we quickly realize where we are, and are not in our faith.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. So when these things happen, think about where you are faith-wise and begin moving forward. Take control. Draw from God’s strength by every means – through people He sends to strengthen you plus every available outside means that can come alongside and strengthen your faith. Most importantly, be sure to “mingle” faith with everything. Confront the crisis, by faith!

When the crisis is a health-related one, don’t panic. Keep the facts straight. God is the true medicine man, so if you have a diagnosis, begin speaking to it from the start. Speak to the root or source, not the symptoms. Your first line of defense in a spiritual problem is spiritual and that means words. Identify the root cause and concentrate your efforts there. When you do symptoms are affected too. But the reverse is not true; you cannot address the spiritual root cause by addressing symptoms. See the difference? Remember the order – spiritual first, then physical.

Prioritize the physical side and the crisis may be a long, hard slog. But llow the spiritual side to take control and you’ll come through on top.

if you need pharmaceutical medicines that’s fine. Pray over them. Talk to them. Release your faith, asking God to use those for your benefit. See? – keep it spiritual—stay in the Spirit. Don’t allow Satan to accuse or condemn you—he is a legalist and will taunt you that, if you “had sufficient faith,” you wouldn’t need the medicine. Ignore him. He’s not the boss!

Until you have a full revelation of your healing – that you are healed now, present tense rather than future tense, that you are going to be healed, implying that your healing is a future possibility, maybe so, maybe not – until you have that knowing, use every weapon available, including medicine. Expect to come out on the other side of this crisis delivered from the sickness!

Then just keep growing in the Lord and meditating daily in His Word to increase your faith. Before your 120 years are complete, you will have grown in faith to confidently speak to every crisis. And crisis will obey you . . . period!

I like that!

Amen.