15 December 2012

The Mystery Revealed


Everyone is fascinated by mysteries...

Mysteries are something that is dark, obscure, a secret, or puzzling to the majority. When a mystery is revealed it inspires and empowers our knowledge. The Greek word is mysterion - a truth hidden from human knowledge or understanding but now disclosed by the revelation of God. Specifically, in Ephesians 3, it is several things hidden since the beginning of time.

1)      The Dispensation of God’s Grace

Ephesians 3:1-4 NKJV - For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)…

The grace of God is a combination of forgiveness, salvation, undeserved kindness and empowerment. Of all these most references in the NT refers to grace as empowerment. This is a supernatural power given to us that transforms our hearts and minds daily. It is God’s sanctifying, renewing, empowering and transforming power that we become more like Christ. Paul’s theme over and over through his letters is this mysterious transformation power received through faith and humility. The best evidence of a real God is a changed life. The sinful nature no longer has control over our lives in addictions, negative emotions, bondage and pain. We can now live in freedom and victory as overcomers through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery

2)      The Salvation of the World

Ephesians 3:5-7 NKJV - which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power…

For thousands of years only the Jewish race of Israel was given the privilege of being God’s people. They were blessed with God’s provision, protection and prosperity when they walked in obedience and faith. As God’s people they had a special covenant of promise. But after thousands of years of separation the unthinkable happened. Through Jesus’ work on the Cross all people around the world now have the invitation to walk and live in relationship with God. To have the privilege and honour of being part of His people – loved and treasured unconditionally. This is the mystery.

3)      Heaven on Earth Channeled through God’s Church

Ephesians 3:9-12 NKJV - to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

Finally, God’s perfect plan from the beginning of time was that believers would gather together in communities of love and fellowship called the Church. It would be a place of unity, serving one another, encouraging and growing together in the knowledge of God. Heaven on earth is no better displayed than when God’s people live and walk in grace towards each other in fellowship. God’s eternal purpose from the beginning of time was that the universe of the heavenly places of His manifold wisdom would be expressed through His Church. This is the mystery.



Paul marveled at the grace given to him which he was called to preach the gospel that makes the mystery a reality. When we consider his life before Christ and life as an apostle, we see that his calling really was all a powerful work of grace. Furthermore, it is indeed amazing that God would take a reformed Pharisee, and a persecutor of the church to be the main minister of the mystery. Bringing the hostile relationship between Jew and Gentile together into one new body called the Church.

In his letters Paul wanted everyone to know, “I’m not making this up. This isn’t my invention. God gave me the revelation and I am only His messenger of this truth.” It cost Paul a lot of persecution and sacrifice to hold on to this mystery, so he could never have made it up himself. He wants everybody to see and share in the fellowship of this mystery - which it precisely was because it was unknowable until God revealed it.

The ancient Greek word for God’s wisdom is polupoikilos, which has the ideas of intricacy, complexity, and great beauty. God’s dream was that the church would shine brightly and be glorious on the earth, in reigning over the nations. For it is through the church that the infinite wisdom of God might be made known.

This explains how God will reveal His wisdom, and to whom He reveals it. He will reveal it by His work in the church, and He will reveal it to angelic beings (principalities and powers) both good and evil. This is God’s eternal purpose in Jesus, that in the fullness of the times, God will gather together and resolve all things in Jesus.

The church appears to be God’s pilot scheme for the reconciled universe of the future, the mystery of God’s will to be administered in the fullness of the times when the things in heaven and the things on earth are brought together in Christ – anonymous.

Now that you understand this mystery, what are you going to do about it?

30 November 2012

Plans vs Purpose

There is a significant difference between plans verses purpose it seems. Proverbs 19:21 says Many are the PLANS in a mans heart; But it is the LORD’s PURPOSE that prevails


1) PLANS
Mans plans are our dreams, ideas, choices and decisions. They come from us, from others and from the influences around us. They can be to get married, buy a house, move cities, change churches ... anything! Generally, they are the big decisions that determine what we do, where we go and who we do them with.

2) PURPOSE

God’s purpose is His intention for what happens in our lives. Purpose is a set direction and a final destination. God’s purpose is His best. His purpose should become our purpose. His Ways are Higher than our Ways. Purpose doesn’t always make sense until you arrive at the destination. You may fight God all the way kicking and screaming, but He will be right all along in the end. If your plans are contrary to God’s purposes, He will orchestrate events so His purpose will prevail within you. Scripture simply abounds on this powerful concept:

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good PURPOSE.

• The power of God’s grace and the Holy Spirit are alive in us, transforming us to desire and do God’s great purposes. He gives us a new heart and mind to live for Kingdom assignments and no longer foolish earthly activities


Matthew 8:28 All things work together for good, to those who love God and are called to His PURPOSE.

• Not that all things are good that happen to us. But in heavens eyes anything that strengthens your faith, character and capacity is God’s good purpose to those who love Him

Ephesians 1:11; 3:11 In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the PURPOSE of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will... This was according to the eternal PURPOSE that He has realised in Christ Jesus our Lord.


• God’s great purpose which was once hidden is now revealed to us in Christ. God calls us to consider the greatness of God’s great purpose for the eternal ages to come. He invites us to be part and take our place in His amazing purpose!

Isaiah 14:24; 27 The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have PURPOSED, so it will stand” …. For the LORD Almighty has PURPOSED, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

• Whatever God plans can not be changed or altered. What has been spoken stands as divine and Truth. Once it has been declared it can not be taken back. His Word will not return back void and empty. His purposes are His good plans that will bring Him alone glory. There is simply no wisdom, no insight and no plan that can succeed against our God.



Ultimately, letting go of our plans to take hold of God’s purposes is to be our constant objective. No matter how good or amazing our plans are, they will simple never measure up or exceed God’s perfect purposes. Good is always the enemy of God’s best. For He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask, think or imagine!

16 October 2012

The Significance of Your Legacy


It is a question most of us never really think about...

Or if we do we tend to put it aside and try to ignore it. The big question we have all been asked so many times: What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want to accomplish that will have a lasting impact? That your footsteps mattered and your life counted. In one hundred years time people will still remember your legacy...

Another word for legacy is influence. Influence is any type of positive pressure, control, persuasion, encouragement or inspiration that impacts others to yourself. It is the power affecting a person or course of events produced by influence. All leadership is influence, yet not many know the true power of it.

Like everything, influence can be positive or negative and used for good or evil. Leaders are held to a high standard before God and must give an account of their entire life, influence and legacy (2 Corinthians 5:10).


Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a Christian preacher and theologian who was central to bringing the First Great Awakening. His descendants went on to be influential ministers, college presidents, financiers, surgeons and judges. Compare the lives of Edwards with a standard person of his day...


A Brief Family History of Max Jukes

Max Jukes was an atheist who lived in New York during the 19 century. Of his 560 known descendants:

  • 7 were murderers
  • 60 became thieves
  • 67 reported having syphilis
  • 100 were alcoholics
  • 50% of the women in his family line became prostitutes
  • 300 died prematurely
  
The Family History of Jonathan Edwards

  • 300 were preachers
  • 295 were college graduates
  • 100 were missionaries
  • 100 were lawyers
  • 80 held public office including 1 Vice President of the United States (Aaron Burr), 13 US senators, 1 state governor, 3 big city mayors and 1 US controller
  • 75 military officers
  • 65 college professors including 13 college presidents
  • 56 physicians including 1 Dean of Medical School

Jonathan and his wife Sarah Edwards are among the most notable parents in American history. By 1900, the descendants of their eleven children left a legacy of hundreds of significant and respectable individuals who changed their world. The generational legacy of Edward's children reflects how the influence of a sincere follower of Jesus Christ is passed down through history. 

Why was Jonathan Edwards able to pass on such an incredible legacy? He was a man of prayer. Few know that though he was an incredibly busy man, he was also a very devoted husband and father. Edwards spent at least one hour per day praying for and speaking blessing over each of his eleven children. Because of his commitment to pray for his children on a daily basis God blessed not only them but his entire generational line!

Genesis 22:17-18 -“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.  Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

God is a generational thinker and long range multi-generational planner. He honours the covenant He made with Abraham in order to perpetuate blessing down Abraham’s family line. If you are IN Christ that include you and me.

What legacy do you want to leave?



Sources:
Roberts Liardon, God's Generals: The Revivalists, Whitaker House, 2008, page 131
familylegacyinternational.org/.../Leaving%20a%20Family%20Legacy.doc

27 September 2012

Ramblings of a Roman Soldier


That day was a day I won't forget. I had never seen anything like it. In my time spent with the Legion in Jerusalem, I had helped perform many executions, but this one was different. This day there were three men condemned to die. The sentence proclaimed on each of them had been death by crucifixion. 


At the palace, we tied the large crossbeams of rough hewn wood across the backs of each of the condemned. Their arms were outstretched on the wood demonstrating to everyone throughout the city what was going to happen to them. We took "the parade route" through town. We wound down every street to warn the people that the Roman Empire was serious about crime. Everyone knew where we were headed. There was this hill called "The Skull" where we performed the executions. As we wound down the streets, the weight of the beams dug into their back. Several splinters from the rough wood slivered deep into their skin. 

The first man hollered curses at the crowd. There was no remorse there, only bitterness. I can still hear his angry voice yelling at the top of his lungs. The bitterness came out with his words and hung around him condemning him yet further. He made no appeals for mercy. I guess he was holding onto the only thing he had left. His strength had been robbed from him in the prisons. I had to prod him with my sword several times to keep him moving.

The second man was almost the opposite of the first. In his tears, he cried out for mercy. He mentioned his child and tried to tell a heart-rending story to the crowd. But all they did was jeer back. I had to wonder about the wisdom of killing this repentant man. But mine was not to wonder, mine was to take orders.

As the third man came by, I heard the whispers and murmurs going through the crowd. I overheard that this was Jesus. I figured this must be the guy that had whipped the city into a frenzy and the reason why we were having this execution so quickly. He didn't look like the criminal he was supposed to be. Also on his head, there was a wreath of thorns. Each one had dug deeply into his flesh encircling his head with blood. His olive skin was hanging in strips on his back. He was so badly beaten that the pain had to be unbearable. 

I glanced at him and saw such a peaceful look in his eyes that I couldn't help but stare. This peace didn't make sense. Did he not realise that he was about to die one of the most gruesome deaths possible? Did he know that he would die from lack of air as he started to lack the strength to pull himself up by his nail pierced wrists and finally his lungs would fill with liquid? 



After an eternity of marching, we approached the site of execution. The sound of a hammer hitting a nail into the flesh of the condemed echoed throughout the countryside. As we finished each one we would lift the post up and into the hole in the ground. About three hours later, the entire land went dark. This was an unusual dark. It wasn't like night. It was a stifling darkness. This day was getting weirder and weirder. I just wanted this execution to be over with so I could go my own way. Then about three hours later, the darkness left and I heard Jesus scream out "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani" I wondered who he was screaming at. 

The cry was with such agony that I can still hear it in my ears. It was not merely a physical agony. It went much deeper. It was the agony of a heart breaking. I was used to seeing a sense of desperation from these men watching their life slip away.I was thinking about this when he screamed out his final word, "Tetelestai". It echoed throughout the countryside. It was long and drawn out and painful for him to say. The timing and the tone of his words had me troubled. Tetelestai means something that is utterly and totally complete. That nothing else could possibly be done to add to it. 

My curiosity could take it no longer. I went up to the cross and asked a woman there who this Jesus was. She broke down in tears and I couldn't understand her through her sobs. But the man with her explained to me all the wonderful things he had done. That He was the Messiah. Right then the earth shook and everyone was frozen in fear. The soldiers standing by were silent and had their eyes wide open. Finally I exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 


Source: Inspirational Stories, Ramblings of a Roman Soldier, website: http://www.pointsoftruth.com/inspire/ramblingsofroman.html



31 August 2012

‘Live as Foreigners…’


Currently, as I write this I am overseas far away from home…

When I arrived I had to learn a completely different culture, etiquette and vocabulary. How and where to go for transport, places to visit to eat, where to go and what to do for sightseeing and history landmarks. It was all daunting and at times difficult. All the comforts of home and familiarity of conveniences now a world away. But then, as believers, this is to be expected.


The last 18 months have been especially difficult. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances I have lost my dreams, vision, passions, confidence, hopes, convictions and enthusiasm in my faith. My life had gone upside down and everything I depended on has become nothing. Slowly these are coming back, but at a price.

1 Peter 2:11 - Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

Just this week I was walking in Green Park, London seeking God with the hours ticking by like minutes. An overwhelming sense of wandering aimlessly with no direction or vision for my life came upon me.
But then, as believers, this is to be expected.

A pilgrim (traveler or wanderer) is one who travels to a distance from his own country to visit a holy place, or to pay his devotion to his God. The meaning here is, that the Christian has no permanent home on earth; their citizenship is not here; they are mere sojourners, and passing on to their eternal home in the heavens. In more details there true understanding is they should not:

1)      Regard the earth as their home;
2)      Should not seek to acquire permanent possessions here, as if they were to remain here, but should act as travelers do, who merely seek a temporary lodging, without expecting permanently to reside in a place;
3)      Should not allow any such attachments to be formed, or arrangements to be made, as to impede their journey to their final home, as pilgrims seek only a temporary lodging, and steadily pursue their journey;
4)      Even while engaged here in the necessary callings of life - their studies, their farming, their merchandise - their thoughts and affections should be on other things. One in a strange land thinks much of his country and home; a pilgrim, much of the land to which he goes; and even while his time and attention may be necessarily occupied by the arrangements needful for the journey, his thoughts and affections will be far away;
5)      Should not encumber ourselves with much of this world's goods. Many professed Christians get so many worldly things around them, that it is impossible for them to make a journey to heaven. They burden themselves as no traveler would, and they make no progress. A traveler takes along as few things as possible; and a staff is often all that a pilgrim has. We make the most rapid progress in our journey to our final home when we are least encumbered with the things of this world.

1 Peter 1:17 - And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as foreigners in the land.

A pilgrim does not give himself up to the indulgence of sensual appetites, or to the soft pleasures of the soul. All these would hinder his progress, and turn him off from his great design. The word ‘foreigners’ means a sojourner, one without the rights of citizenship, as distinguished from a citizen. Specifically, Christians are not properly citizens of this world, but that their citizenship is in heaven, and that they are here as mere sojourners.

Hebrews 11:8-10 - By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Abraham was in a similar place. He wandered the earth with no real sense of purpose and vision when God called him. He was far away from the comforts of home, probably lost and confused. But he had faith that His God was leading him to a better place. That His best was worth taking the risk of a lifetime. He saw a heavenly city prepared for him long ago. Deep down, he knew he didn’t belong here on earth…


Hebrews 11:13-16 - All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Being strangers and pilgrims we profess to seek a heavenly country, not entangling in the affections with earthly things which are only temporary. Others spend all their time and efforts acquiring earthly wealth at the neglect of the salvation of their souls. But we do not gain the world and lose our soul. The children of God live not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

We have a heavenly city of the New Jerusalem. We have rights and privileges which are heavenly and eternal. Our fellowship is with God the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit, and the spirits of the redeemed mankind of the Church. We have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts; and regard not the body, which we know must perish. We confidently expect we shall be raised from death and be glorified with Christ in heavenly bodies.

Friend, heaven is your home and God is your portion. All kinds of earthly desires, whether those of the flesh or of the eye, or those included in the pride of life, are here comprised in the words fleshly lusts.

Philippians 3:20 - For our citizenship is in heaven.

30 June 2012

Identity

Many things in life give us purpose, meaning and identity…

Identity is what gives you your own unique individuality from those around you. The definition of identity is summed up as “an individual's complete comprehension of themselves. Having a correct and healthy identity is so important as it impacts our value, worth and self-esteem.

Many people base their identity from their appearance, possessions, performance, talents, social status and many others. But time and time again these things become our undoing as they are always unstable and uncertain in life.


Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
- Matthew 7:24-27 NLT

Pretty much nothing is certain in life except God and His Word. When you build your life and identity in Christ you are literally building your house on the rock. When the storms and winds come that house will not fall.

However, the sad truth is most people build their entire life on the sand and never change when their life comes crashing down. History has shown that to build your life and draw your identity on materialism, popularity, money and worldly achievements will never satisfy or last.

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is this: Do you know who you are in Christ?
Do you see yourself as God sees you? And what is the foundation of your identity made up of and is it built on sand or rock?

This is one elementary subject that most Christians still don't fully understand. You simply cannot solve the problems of your world without right relationship with God and walking in the revelation of your true identity. When you find out who Jesus is, you will find out exactly who you are and your purpose in life.

1.       Your Identity in Christ is to be forgiven and set free from bondage;
2.       Your Identity in Christ is to be set free from the past and condemnation;
3.       Your Identity in Christ is to have your value, worth and meaning in relationship with Christ;
4.       Your Identity in Christ is to become everything God has for you;
5.       Your Identity in Christ is to be an Overcomer in any and every situation that comes against you;
6.       Your Identity in Christ is to rule in life and be a blessing to all those around you;
7.       Your Identity in Christ is to have an amazing, exciting and fantastic hope and future!


Jesus lived a life of greatness, purpose and victory because His identity was founded on His relationship with the Father. His identity was so essential that when He endured persecution, slander, an unfair trial and finally death by crucifixion, Jesus was untouchable! He lived above His circumstances and saw victory through every challenge. He left us His personal example to follow.

Matthew 3:16-17 says, As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Your revelation is your reality of who you really are before God in the universe.

Simply look at the life of Peter. He was flawed, self-righteous and betrayed the One he promised he would never leave. This was because his identity was based on what he could achieve and trusting in his own strength.

But Peter has a revelation of who Jesus is and his whole world changes. An atomic bomb goes off in his world! He no longer sees things from a worldly point of view, but an eternal one. He no longer sees lack but sees abundance. When Christ was risen and the Holy Spirit was poured out, not even the powers of hell could stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God!

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
- Matthew 18:15-19 NLT

Peter built God’s church on the revelation of who he was in Christ. God uses his greatest shame and turned it into the greatest victory with the day of Pentecost! (Acts 2) Before he was broken, ashamed and quiet. Now he was bold, anointed and empowered, with 3,000 added to the church on one day from his preaching!


I challenge you today: if you do not know who you are in Christ - wipe out everything you have to do this week, push back all schedules and cancel all meetings. Seek God with all your heart and pray fervently until you find who you really are in Christ. I guarantee you, who will be building your life on the rock which will last forever!

31 May 2012

“Your Compliance is Vital”

In the movie Eagle Eye there is an interesting scene that takes place.

Jerry Shaw is a man is on the run from authorities and teams up with a complete stranger, single mum Rachel Holloman. Together they are given orders from a woman’s voice on a phone and if they disobey or fail to comply they will be punished. It later turns out that the voice is in fact a top secret government super-computer called Autonomous Reconnaissance Intelligence Integration Analyst (ARIIA).

ARIIA: Jerry Shaw, you have been activated. Your compliance is vital.


Threatening their lives and family, ARIIA pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations for an important assignment. Using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move, ARIIA helps the pair to avoid the FBI, and remotely controls virtually any networked device to fulfill their assignment, such as traffic lights, mobiles, automated cranes. Even ejecting a pilot mid-air on an F-16!

The scene I am referring too takes place when a third man enters the scene to assist Jerry and Rachel’s mission. When he meets them he refuses to help any further and attempts to run away. He is warned repeatedly to comply but in a fit of rage disobeys orders. Live electricity cables above him fall to the ground and he is instantly killed.

Soon afterwards ARIIA sternly warns Jerry and Rachel, ‘Defection is not an option’. Later on in the movie Jerry also tries to run away and get his normal, yet boring and insignificant, life back. ARIIA reveals itself so he can fully understand the purpose of what his assignment is all about. He comes to his senses and continues to follow instructions.

ARIIA: Jerry Shaw, you are acting in contravention of our programming objectives. You are now classified as an enemy of the state, a crime punishable by death.

Now, what first caught my attention was seeing random strangers coming together by someone greater to achieve a common purpose. The theme of the government being able to see your every move and tap into your life at any time is always a great debate over drinks with friends. However, I couldn’t help but ponder on those words and its implications to the Christian faith for us today – ‘Defection is not an option’.

The illustration is clear: God needs all Christians to be willing and obedient to the assignments He has for us. God desires willing people who will do His will on earth without disobedience. Whose aim is to simply obey and to please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9). Much is at stake and God expects us to be faithful and diligent in our day to day lives.

We have been supernaturally set free and are now children of the God of glory. Just as He has miraculously chosen you, He will likewise provide and guide you into an amazing destiny. Now, thankfully we serve a God who is very forgiving at our mistakes and has grace and mercy when we fail Him. He will not strike us down in anger when our heart might turn away from Him. But where there is much grace and mercy, there is much expectation for faithfulness and obedience.

At times He will ask you to step out of our comfort zone and get your hands dirty just to see if you’re listening. At times He will tell you to do strange and insignificant tasks that you won’t understand why until later. And then there will be moments where He will ask you to do what feels like jumping out of a plane without a parachute at 40,000 feet! 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

God is seeking willing and obedient hearts that will fulfill His purposes on earth. God knows where we are at and our measure of capacity, gifting’s, integrity and faith. Throughout our journey He will use people and circumstances to grow and strengthen us so we will measure up to the full stature of Christ to fulfill our assignments (Ephesians 4:13). This process can be painful, challenging and unpopular. However, what is certain is when you make God look good, He will make you look good!


Just like the ARIIA analogy, God sees every area and aspect of our life. He knows when we are willing and ready vessels that He can trust with greater things. He knows when we are obeying out of selfish motives and for personal gain, or to bring Him honour and for His name to be glorified.


God has a way of bringing unruly people into complete restoration. So He brings challenges to keep us sharp and to make sure our heart is in the right place. Ultimately our confidence shouldn’t be in our ability to follow; it should be in His ability to lead us in the path chosen for us to take. While writing this the Holy Spirit spoke to me so clearly and firmly:

All of Heaven holds its breathe waiting on your decision to live CRAZY for Jesus, outrageously in faith. Uncompromising and obedient to whatever He calls you too do, to the very end.

I believe God is saying to you, Christian, that you have been called and chosen to do His will on earth. He has amazing and great plans for your life. You have been predestined since the beginning of time to do good works. Greatness lives in you to rise above your circumstances and live victoriously in faith. Much is at stake and all of heaven is awaiting your decision.

Father God: (Your name here) …………………..  You have been activated. Your compliance is vital.

This is not a casual decision that you believe sounds good and want to join a social club. This decision affects every area of your life! There is no turning back. You do not belong to yourself for you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Because, at the end of the day, ‘Defection is not an option’.


27 April 2012

Enlisting in God’s Army

Imagine with me: You have just signed up to the national armed forces in medieval times...

This is not an army for just anyone. You have to be called and chosen, personally selected by the commander-and-chief himself. After an amazing welcome ceremony and extensive training you are standing alongside a platoon of new recruits. The air is buzzing with excitement. Suddenly a helmet gets put on you, then body armour, belt and shoes. Finally a sword and shield is thrust into your hands. You gaze your eyes over them and notice these are no ordinary weapons. They have amazing detail and have been carefully crafted. You feel amazing!
 

2 Timothy 2:3-7 NIV
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.


Soon you are all transported to an unknown destination. The target is a small castle located on top of a hill. You are told this is new territory that has to be taken. Together with a small company of soldiers in a covert operation at night, your feet hit the ground and you start running. Suddenly the enemy comes out like a flood and all of hell is unleashed against you!

You start fighting back and thrusting your sword. You make some progress, but all of a sudden ten arrows get lodged 100km/h into your shield; and these arrow tips are on fire! The shock scares the living daylights out of you and you step back momentarily. You get hit in the side and you retreat back to the hospital for immediate medical attention.

A few weeks later you are back on the battlefield and the enemy comes right at you. You start fighting one on one – parry… thrust… parry… thrust. You refuse to step back but press forward until the enemy is backed into a wall. You strike him down and on the third blow he is destroyed.


The same happens with other enemies that come at you. You find that your sword and shield is far superior to theirs. You strike them down easier than you had imagined. You and your fellow soldiers take the castle and put up the flag of your kingdom. VICTORY!

Several days later you are back on the battlefield with a platoon of soldiers and leaders fighting with you this time. The general advises everyone of a change in direction. You are ordered to head down a dark path in a forest you are sure is unsafe, riddled with booby traps. Suddenly, the enemy comes out like a flood and has the entire platoon surrounded.

Booby traps go off everywhere and many soldiers are hit by incoming fire. You fight back to back with your officer and make some progress. Suddenly you get hit from behind sure your leader had your back. The call to retreat is sounded and many run but some sadly taken captive. You are heavily wounded but still manage to evade capture.

The pain this time is unbearable. You lose all rational thoughts of thinking and feel terribly insecure. Trust in those above you has been broken. Others who were fighting alongside you also got wounded, everyone except the leaders. Some you started out with leave the army and encourage you to do the same. But you press on, there’s no turning back. You have come too far. There is too much at stake. You reason there is nothing worth going back to anyway. Besides, you have been chosen by the commander-and-chief himself, and you don’t want to let him down.

A few months later you are back on the same battlefield with the platoon and the enemy comes right at you. You’re a different man now; more resilient, stronger, wiser, experienced. Attacks don’t surprise you anymore. In a matter of moments the enemy is defeated, one after the other after the other.

You take new ground and are at a place you have never been before. You come across the POW camp and release the prisoners, declaring freedom to the captives. Later you are promoted to a platoon of soldiers for excellence in bravery and overcoming against the odds. You put up the flag of your kingdom. VICTORY!


You feel invincible. The following week there is another castle still to be captured. It is deep in unchartered territory but you reason victory is achievable. Against orders you venture out in a covert operation with a few chosen soldiers, trusted and experienced in battle. You are full of destiny and vision but pride and ego have now set in. You don’t want to admit so you conveniently ignore it. You set out and your unit is ambushed by the enemy. You fight well for a time but you get hit with your shield not proving to withstand the onslaught of fiery arrows. You retreat back to the medical hospital questioning all the way just what went wrong…


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The Fight of Faith

Welcome to the battlefield Christian. What did you expect? A walk in the park? Strolling through tulips and roses?  Faith isn’t casually heading down a path leading to heaven without any problems. The truth is there is a spiritual war raging all around you against your soul.

When you give your life to Christ you automatically enlist into God’s end time army. Opposition and battles come your way as a by-product. Being a Christian is warfare on a galactic scale. Heaven knows you and hell knows you. You have unlimited potential to take much ground and achieve greatness for the Kingdom of God. You are a massive threat, so all the enemy’s forces will stop at nothing to take you out.

The enemy is very cunning and scheming. He has had centuries of experience and knows human nature very well. He has no new tricks because the ones he uses are always effective. His weapons are only lies of discouragement, disappointment, fear and intimidation. We are the ones who choose to believe them and let them lead us astray or not.


Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


Much is at stake and God needs more than conquerors in His army. The fight of faith is to be bold, dedicated and strong in the day of trial and temptation. It is also to be incredibly surrendered and humbled. To have childlike faith, a pure heart and clean mind. To be shrewd as snakes but as innocent as doves.


The fight of faith is similar to castles and domains that you need to take. Battles can be against areas of strongholds, temptations to overcome, difficult people and physical places. Hardship handled correctly is greatly beneficial and profitable. Always know that the enemy is never people – it is the devil and the kingdom of darkness.

Capturing fortresses, mountains and castles is your objective. Every battle you go through you only get stronger in your authority. When you beat that castle you beat that area in your life! It is okay you will make mistakes along the way. We will all fall at some point – ourselves and others. If you get wounded church is our hospital for restoration, healing, guidance and strength in our time of need. We learn greatest by making one major mistake over 100 successes any day.


Ephesians 6:13 NIV
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.


Take heart today Christian. The enemy is fighting a losing war. You are on the winning side, victory has already been declared. Our role is to simply be faithful and go where the Holy Spirit guides and leads us. When you’re going through a battle, always remember at the end of the day… we win!!

30 March 2012

Chess and the Kingdom of God

Life in the Christian faith is very similar to chess…

Chess is a game of ultimate patience, planning and with one main objective – to gain territory and checkmate the king. It requires aggressive tactics, cunning strategies, and always thinking ten moves ahead. The end goal is everything. It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters.

Chess is a fascinating game on so many levels. It is a game for Kings with everything at stake and the game in balance with just several key moves. Choices and decisions can have significant implications. You need to be always thinking several moves ahead and always putting the enemy on the defensive.
It is a game that teaches you about yourself and your opponent. You can learn a great deal about somebody by watching them. It is an opportunity to teach your enemy what you want them to learn about you. For them to think that your weaknesses are really your strengths.

Likewise, the Kingdom of God is intense spiritual warfare. The souls of billions lie in the balance and when captured can never be recovered. The world is one MASSIVE chess board with much territory to be taken! God’s aim is to slowly check mate the devil and He uses us as His chosen instruments. We have been drafted into his army to fight for the King and His Kingdom – Jesus Christ.

Consider the following:
• Chess has an obvious theme in the traditional White against Black sides, good versus evil. White always moves first.
• The pawn represents the frontline foot soldier that can only move forward. They begin side by side and are essential to the kings success.
• They can be promoted to another piece at the masters choice (Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen) if it advances all the way to the opposite side of the board (proves itself faithful, fights the good fight of faith).
• Connected pawns which are diagonally adjacent form a chain that protects the one on front, are essential at protecting the more valuable pieces.
• The only difference with chess and God is He never sacrifices one piece for another of greater value, and the game has already been won!

Pieces:
King - The Leader and the most important piece on the board
Queen - All the King's secular forces combined into a powerful tool of his administration. Starts at his side, to show His dominance. Straight and Diagonal movement shows the ability to apply to all problems and situations.
Bishops - liaison between man and God, the administration of the House of the Lord on Earth. Keeps to one color, to show that the church has limitations in its applicability, but there are two Bishops, one for the Church, one for the congregation, and between the two of them, they can get anywhere.
Knights - The Special Forces, able to attack from unseen angles, and retreat across obstacles. This 90-degree component is seen by many to symbolise the duality of God's might and man's will.
Rooks - Portrayed as a castle, examination of early structures lead many to conclude it is actually a church. Usually exemplifies a building made of stone, and ‘on this rock I shall build my church’.
Pawns - All the multitudes of man, serving God best by stepping boldly forward in Faith!


If you allow it chess can teach you to make better decisions in life and the absoluteness of your actions. As your options narrow and you are left with only sacrifices to make, you understand more about how the best decision to make may not be one that you want.

In chess you learn to maximise your take downs and make every move count. God's plan for our lives is VERY STRATEGIC - never more like a game of chess. He has planned out every move here on earth and has divine assignments for us to fulfill. When you are moving where God leads you in life your labor is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Chess as a game is very much an end-state oriented operation. The rules of play in chess decree that the sole goal of the procedure is to bring the opponent's king into checkmate. Only moves that contribute to that end are ‘good moves’ they are good only to the degree they do so contribute.

How many other men I capture, how many of my own men I manage to protect, how soon I get one of my men into his king row, how quickly I make my moves, how many different pieces I use, how much my play impresses the spectators - these have zero significance if they do not contribute to my checkmating his king.

Notice that, although material considerations are very important in chess thinking, one doesn't win by having the most pieces. All that matters is delivering the final checkmate. The end is the measure for everything that happens within the game itself, from first move to last. This is precisely how God deals with us.

God Can’t Lose and the Devil Can’t Win!

This is true whether devils and man believe it or not. The only reason the enemy is still existing now is for God's use as tools for our processing and education to grow in Faith. The PLAN is to erase them and the ‘chess board’ (the earth) permanently by fire (Matthew 23:33, 25:41). For the world and its evil desires will pass away but whoever does the will of God will live forever (1 John 2:17).

Only two things in this world are eternal - the Word and people. It only makes sense to build your life around these two things that will last forever. Think about it: God’s Word will last forever - people last forever - everything else disappears.

In light of this reality how should we live? We should live our life backwards from the judgment seat of Christ and ask, “What difference will my life make in 10,000 years?” Most of the things we work for or worry about won’t matter in three weeks, let alone three months or three years. We focus on the trivial and forget to pursue the eternal. But 10,000 times 10,000 years from now, you’ll still be glad you invested your life for Jesus Christ and spread the gospel in your world in influence.

Of course, the black side has the same pieces and represents the devils forces. The Dark One has his followers and his Bishops which are the false religions he deceives man into believing. Satan is our opponent. His ‘pieces’ are all his evil spirits who attack, possess, and control men in the wickedness of their roles as black pieces (John 9:24; Romans 7:15-25). When he captures pieces they are effectively lost forever.

God has been playing a chess game with vindictive and ignorant demons using them as tools for His greater purposes. They are the objects of humour for heaven as they try to defeat God (Psalm 2:4, 37:13).


Have perspective today Christian, the game has already been won. Stay faithful, obedient and strong in Faith to the very end. Because at the end of the day - we win!