Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OBEY - Spiritual Warfare 1

We all fight battles we don’t always see with natural eyes. Not always understanding why the battle even has to take place. Sometimes we must overcome problems bigger even than the problems themselves.
Eph 6:10 – 13 be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the evil one. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand
As I studied this passage I was amazed to find the first thing that is stressed in the lead up to spiritual warfare or authority is the importance of obedience
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may go well for you, and you may live long on the earth. be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Everyone must discover who are the spiritual authorities or parents they are called to obey. If we learn this principle in life we will never lack spiritual inheritance – and position in the kingdom
It goes on to say if you learn to obey then and your days will be long on the earth – this word earth means “your region” or “your territory” which could mean your job – your spiritual position or ministry, or the relationships you are submitted to, the list goes on. Those who can not learn to subordinate them selves to another wont last long in anything they do or in any relationship they find themselves.
How do you have spiritual authority in heavenly places you must learn to submit yourself to spiritual authority in earthly places
Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: that they may lead you “with joy”, and not “with grief” for this would be unprofitable for you.
This has always been the ageless struggle, to yield your will to the will of another – but no one ever bypasses this stage or “university” of authority not even Jesus - Heb 5:8 says Though he was a Son, yet he (Jesus) learned obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Job 36:11 says If you obey and serve, you will spend your days in prosperity, and your years in pleasure.
This is such an important part of our spiritual strength, Elisha received a double portion of the power his spiritual authority Elijah enjoyed. This was because he served him till the end. Elijah said to Elisha, “what do you want from me”, Elisha answered I want double the authority you have. Elijah’s said, “if you see me when I go” (if you serve me till my time is up) you’ll have what your asking for.
Serving is the most powerful principle in the word of God because it is motivated by love and sustained by love. One of Jesus most important statements was the son of man did not come to be served but to serve, or to Obey.

GIVING AUTHORITY - Spiritual Warfare 2

Eph 6:4 And, you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
True Spiritual authority is generational. We have such a responsibility to pass on our spiritual understanding and teach what we know to another generation, each generation models to the next what it means to have spiritual power or authority. Like in the story of Elijah and Elisha, Elisha receives a double portion of every thing his spiritual father Elisha had because it was modeled to him over a life time. I have seen this in happen in many of the largest churches in our nation. Fathers in the faith built significant churches and there sons have gone on to build a number of ministries larger than the fathers that have a greater reach and they do it in a much shorter period of time. This is the power of modeling or giving spiritual authority. Take the time to identify who you can have an input into. This doesn’t always have to be over a life time. One of the men that had an impact on my life, took the time to take three guys from our church on a mountain climbing trip. I’ve never forgotten that trip and all three of us went on to be in ministry. We can all make a difference in someone else’s life. Be a spiritual mom or dad to someone else. All those who have spiritual authority had it modeled to them. Even Adam the first man would walk and talk with God at the end of every day. Elisha had Elijah, Eli had Samuel, Solomon had David, Joshua had Moses, Peter had Jesus, Timothy had Paul and thank God for Barnabas, the great encourager, who reached out to John mark when no one else would. I look back and thank God for the wonderful people who have contributed to my life in this way. Who are you reaching out too? Where are the fathers in the Faith? We should all seek first to teach the kingdom of God - and everything else we need will be added to our lives
Seek to model first the principles and possibilities of heaven in lives of those who look to you. What are people around you learning and catching from you are you spiritually contagious. I love the quote ”if you where put on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you”.
If someone imitated your life what would they become? Paul once said imitate me because I am imitating Christ. Do you raise others up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
This word Admonition means - caution, warning, reprimand and most importantly approval. This is our job description. Take this role seriously when it comes to bringing up others in kingdom principles. Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. Paul says, once we reach a certain age we should all be teachers - but instead He says I still have to teach you, you are such babies, by a certain age you should be giving back. It should no longer just be all about you. The bible says be careful not to call anyone father, let no one call you teacher or leader. Now this obliviously is not saying we don’t teach or act as spiritual fathers because that would contradict what Paul has already said. What this is saying is we have this spiritual responsibility not to teach our ideas and our agenda we should always seek to pass on Gods design and pathways. He knew us before the foundation of the world, He designed us, he knows our destiny. So if we are influencing others we better make certain that his design is what we are modeling and we are taking the time to know it.
The bible says one day I will stand before God and give account for those I have spiritual authority for. I will give account for the state of the lives I watch over, sobering, and so it should be. We need to ask ourselves the question regularly, what can I do, to live as Christ, before my family, my church and those in my world, to lead and guide them into truth, If you devalue the importance of church life and Christian living, what do you think others around you will do with that, most often treat it as nothing. If we want spiritual power we must nurturer that in others, give it to others so they will understand and pass it on also. Spiritual authority is cyclic; it is more a relay race than anything. Take every opportunity to be a father to make disciples of others. Wasn’t that his last command and entirely the conclusion of the “all the authority” given to him.
Pro 27:23 riches are not for ever: and the crown doses not endure to every generation?
It is passed from one generation to the next. Take up the responsibly of modeling spiritual authority to the next Generation.

DOING GOOD - Spiritual Warfare 3

In the lead up to one of the most know and quoted passages on spiritual warfare in E ph 6 is found a number of simple yet powerful principles laid down as foundation for us to recognize and practice. 1 - The power of obedience, 2 - Modeling authority to others and 3rdly the incredibility important principle of Doing Good - assisting those in need. In E ph 6:7 it says, “With good will doing service as to the Lord”. In my book, Isa 1 demonstrates the very heart of God. Verses 11 to 17 says Why this frenzy of sacrifices?” “Quit your worship festivals. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings I can’t stand one more! You’ve worn me out! When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. Clean up your act. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless. Wow, that’s God taking, and he’s making himself real clear; about his heart for the underprivileged and those struggling to help them selves. If your still not convinced take a glimpse into judgment day when Jesus himself separates the sheep from the goats. Now I believe in salvation by grace, not by works, big time, but just listen to God’s take on this. I’ll take it as a real clear statement on the impotence God places on Good will and let you do the theology for yourself. See what you think. It’s found in Mat 25:32 all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much like a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why, because I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty, sick or in prison and came to you? Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me, you did it to me.’ Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me, you failed to do it, to me.’ The message can be as strong or as simple as you want to make it, but one thing is clear, these words “unto the least of these” must haunt us, we must be driven by this same heart. Unfortunately I don’t believe we see enough of this heart reflected in our own. Fortunately though, it is changing. Church’s all over the world are waking up to the power of this important principle and testimonies of communities being transformed and changed by an awakened church are beginning to emerge everywhere. Our church has completed renovations to a school in real need of assistance. This made a very real and lasting change not just on the school but in the communities connected to that school. For those who feel that is out of reach, one of the most effective things I’ve seen, was a family in our Church that took it upon themselves at Halloween celebrations to go to every home in there Neighbourhood with a professionally presented package of sweets with a note saying we believe in giving and adding value to our community, be blessed this Halloween on behalf of our church. The reception was overwhelming, with an opportunity to spend a few moment praying and blessing shut-in’s absolutely petrified by groups going around egging houses. The letters of love and thanks from Their community was one of the greatest responses I’ve ever seen in years of ministry. Next year, we are planning to empower the entire church with gift packages for there area, to add value to the lives of people around them. Jam 1:27 says Pure religion that is undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep yourself unspotted from the world. J John once said “our theology must be reflected in our sociology” and this “How can you live simply so others can simply live” Speaking about sponsoring children, in other words - What we believe must be “believable” Real or Pure spiritual power must be authenticated by action by what we actually do, not by what we say we believe.

A RIGHT MOTIVE - Spiritual Warefare 4

The fourth principle of spiritual warfare or authority in Eph 6 is found in verse 6 ‘doing service, as to the Lord’. The motive of any service we do must be directed to the Lord. Once you try to touch what you do for God you are in danger of losing any reward for that service or good you do. The question everyone must ask is why you do what you do for God or for others. It’s an interesting and revealing question if you’ll ask it honestly. Is it for the God, or for you? What personal satisfaction do you derive from it? Jesus talked about a religious man who would pray long and elaborate prayers in public pointing out that his motive was only being viewed as spiritual. Jesus stood watching the rich giving gifts of money but highlighted the faith of a widow who gave just a mite, maybe just a few dollars. Here Jesus is pointing out that she was actually giving the most because it was all that she possessed. While the rich where making a great display of there giving, their motive was less honorable than the one who gave the least. On another occasion a man named Simon invited Jesus to his house and put on an elaborate dinner. His motive though, Jesus describes, was not to honor Him at all but to honor himself. This would have been a man with many servants but Jesus reveals that nobody even washed his feet a great dishonor in that time. So the elaborate dinner for Jesus was not actually for Jesus. Jesus was not really the true guest of honor. Clearly the motive of his heart was the prestige and notoriety he’d gain from having Jesus in his home. Alternatively a woman came simply to express the honor she felt for Jesus because of the forgiveness she’d experienced. Simon’s heart was exposed as containing judgment and self interest. The motive of his heart was incorrect even thought the action of putting on a dinner like this could have been mistaken for honor, It was in fact dishonor. In another story a woman who desperately needed God’s forgiveness only found judgment and retribution in the hearts of the religious. You see in there hearts as much sin lay hidden behind a cloak of self righteousness and unforgivness. Jesus points this out by saying “he without sin, cast the first stone”. You see he knew the one that held a right motive and a desire for forgiveness, and those who believed they where in the right, but only really contained a twisted desire to hurt and kill her. It was them who really deserved to be stoned and Jesus knew it. God always looks on the motive of our hearts before anything he sees outwardly. In the earlier part of verse 6 it says, “Don’t do Good with eye service do the will of God from the heart”. Eye service means doing good in order to be seen to be doing good, rather than doing what is good from the heart with a correct motive. God knows the secrets of our hearts. So always remember to make certain what’s in your heart is pure, take the greatest care to ensure your service to the Lord is motivated by what is honorable. John the Baptist grew up knowing the identity of Jesus and his life was dedicated to preparing the way for Jesus and his ministry, heralding Jesus as the coming Messiah. Yet at the end of his life when things where not going the way he expected, after being placed in prison he sends a note to Jesus. In this message he asks the very same question he’d been answering his entire life. Are you the one who should come or should we expect another. So what changed? The motive of his heat changed. The reason for his service had shifted from Jesus to himself. Always maintain a right motive in your heart and you’ll never lose your head. Difficult circumstance can begin to apply the kind of pressure that causes us to place our focus of what our heart is preoccupied with. So it’s vital we always maintain a right motive in our heart and we will never lack Spiritual power.

BEING STRENGTHENED - Spiritual Warfare 5

Eph 6 v 10 says ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might’. The word ‘strong’ here basically means to increase in strength or to be made strong. At any point in our lives we are at a level spiritually, we have a measure of authority. We operate our lives day to day with a certain amount of strength. One of the important secrets of spiritual warfare is to be continually strengthened, to be increasing our personal level of authority. One of my friends in ministry uses the term “he didn’t have enough power to blow the fuzz of a peanut”. If I was to borrow that term I’d apply it to Peter. Peter was, a lot of the time all talk, his view of Jesus was all about his personal approval rating. For example if the story of Jesus was a reality television show, it would go a little like this – vote now, which of the disciples will be going home this week. Peter this week you walked on water, Thomas said, he doubted it, Luke said, there must be some scientific explanation, Judas said, he was interested in forming an alliance with you, Jesus said you are a rock and on this rock I will build my church. Peter your safe for now. Wow, bonus hey guys did you hear that, I’m “the rock” - there’s got to be a movie deal in this for me. The thing to note is that at that point Peter was not the rock. He had to become that rock, he had to grow in strength. His original name was Simon which means, reed something that will stand upright but is prone to bend when the wind blows against it. In John 21 Jesus asks Peter in verses 15 & 16 if his love for him was a love strong enough to be unconditional (agape love) a love prepared to go even as far as death. Peter repeatedly answered him with this response, look my love for you is really not that strong it really is just (phileo love) or affection I’m attached to you, fond of you. Jesus responds to him with this, in verse 17. Peter right now you basically do as you please but the day is coming when your love will be strong enough to stretch out your arms and die for me. Peter did not leave that day as Jesus pronounced him, “the rock” strong enough to deserve that title. He had to become that rock that person who would not be moved who would become stable and dependable. He would need to grow in strength to become the person, Jesus knew he could become. Jesus had no doubt that one day Peter would grow to a level of character able to deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him, no matter what personal sacrifice that meant. The key to strength is to be constantly growing, we all need to identify those areas in our lives we need to be growing in. Everyone of us has areas of lack and weakness we need to be deal with. The question we all need to be asking our selves, where do our lives - need to be growing and strengthened. I love babies up to about 18 months, I love toddlers up to about 5, I love children up to the age of about 13, I love teenagers up to the age of about 19, I love young adults up to the age of about 25 to 30, I love adults up to the age of about 45 but after that it is no longer about the age groups. It’s about the level of maturity and wisdom we have developed over those years. The qualities and areas of real growth and development that identify and define us. Things like our influence and significance, the wisdom and honor we display. In other words we must be constantly becoming stronger every year of our lives, so that when the surface indicators we are addicted to using to define growth are no longer as recognizable. The things that characterize us then are the qualities and values we have developed. These things become the indicators of our strength of character and the authority we carry. What I love about the church is it’s constantly urging and encouraging this growth, change and development in us, I love the thought that the best in our lives is always yet to come. We can always be getting better in our love and benevolence toward others, in our propensity toward evangelism or reaching out to others, in our family values or the way we connect to each other, in our generosity and prosperity, in our sense of personal peace and wellbeing. We should be better than we where before, being strengthened, its powerful. Be strong in the Lord and grow in the power of His Might. If your growing you’ll become stronger, if you don’t grow ever year you’ll be weakened and struggle to achieve any spiritual outcomes. Not moving forward is actually moving backward. Be strengthened or you’ll be weak in your spiritual strength and authority in other words you’ll be spiritually unfit.

You are my rock

Psalms 18:1

1 I will love you, LORD, you are my strength.
2 You are my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; Your my God, my strength, I will trust in you; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies.
4 The sorrows of death encompassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.
5 The sorrows of hell encompassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

I just love this scripture. Beginning from a position of love and living a life in touch with God, we are able to acknowledge that He is indeed the very strength and security of our lives no matter what the temperature and circumstance of our lives may be. This word ‘strength’ means He is our help, He is there to help us with the circumstances of our lives. ‘You’re my fortress, deliverer, my strength’. Much of the language used here is about an impenetrable net of protection God places around all those who love him. It refers to being lifted to a high place of security that cannot be reached by any enemy. Another picture the original language paints is that of being carried and positioned by God in this place of protection and security. One example is the word ‘buckler’ and this word means a shield covered with the scaly skin of a crocodile, in other words, to be covered with layers of impenetrable protection or to be totally armed against an emery attack. Then it goes on to say from this safe position I am able to call on the Lord. The idea here is of a person accosting someone. This description leaves no doubt what the intention here is, to get hold of God, to make certain we have gripped upon or firmly secured Gods attention. That we have grabbed hold of God a little like Jacob wrestling with God, until we are blessed, until we are safe from attack, until we have seen the answer we seek.
Hosea 10:12 ‘it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you’. The word ‘come’ means to attain, besiege, to lay hold upon and to possess. The word ‘righteousness’ means equity or prosperity, in other words to have equity with God and to lay hold of and possess securely prosperity though prayer.
Then it says God is worthy to be praised. ‘Praised’ here means to shine; to make a show of yourself, to boast or to clamorously rave foolishly about how good God is.
Sometimes you haven’t really got the attention of God till you make an outward show of the trust and the faith and the love you say you have for God. Until you somehow, make it know out loud! Later on it says I cried out to God, which also means to make a loud public noise.
Christianity and your relationship with God is not a private affair. Out of that secret place where we find security and safety, from within that safe place God has positioned us. We cry out loud to God. It’s then that God takes serious notice. He listens and he hears our cry. This word ‘hears’ means He perceives it and obeys, He is obedient to the cry of our heart, when it’s loud, public, clamorous or celebrative.
God doesn’t hear until we find him in that place of security and out of this place we make that unmistakable cry to God that He responds to and obeys.
What a powerful relationship, in fact earlier it says you are the horn of my salvation, which actually means the power of my salvation
God I declare it! You’re my strength and I determine not to stay silent about the security confidence and protection you have always been to me no matter what the situation.