THERE MUST BE FAITHFULNESS FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE…


2 Timothy – 2:1-2 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  NASB

Over the past couple of days, we have considered some aspects of what Paul was telling his son in the faith, Timothy.  The charge was for Timothy to find, teach, train, and impart that which was in his heart, received from the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul.  This was critical to the founding and grounding of the New Testament Church. 

There are Three Critical Areas in which Faithfulness is Key:

  1. Faithfulness to God is Absolutely Essential.
  2. Faithfulness in Relationships is Vital.
  3. Faithfulness in Service is Indispensable.

FAITHFULNESS TO GOD.

This needs little explanation or discussion as most would readily acknowledge the need and essentialness of this.  However, if we are genuinely faithful to God it will be manifest in the other areas or dimensions as well.

FAITHFULNESS IN RELATIONSHIPS.

This is an area that most Christians do not work on and need to give attention to!  Remember Timothy’s mistake or potential mistake – ‘Choosing people who were possibly qualified and influential but Unfaithful! ’

FAITHFULNESS IN SERVICE.

Is absolutely indispensable!  We must learn to be Servants. We must learn and become willing to do what is asked when it is asked and how it is asked even when the flesh rises up and resists or the ego says that is beneath me.  Even when your ego raises its ugly head and declares that is not using my gifts or abilities to the fullest.  Even when you feel that you are not appreciated and recognized as you should be.

God’s way is to first make the man then He releases the ministry.  Tragically, the Church has gotten the cart before the horse too often.  We recognize gifts, charisma, talent, and ability and immediately Send Forth into ministry! 

PERSONAL TESTIMONY.

I was released wrongly but God taught me the necessity of Serving and Servanthood. I was almost immediately sent out because people could see the hand of God on me and God gifted me with passion and ability to convey the message so the response was Go Out!  I should have been sitting and being nurtured but within weeks after my conversion, I was sent out.  I saw in Bible College and have observed it in my 50 years of ministry.

When God calls a person or uses them in some degree or measure of success and instills a vision in their hearts along with His promise are noticeable. As a result, they have the mistaken idea that they immediately should be released to pursue that vision but they are not ready.

  • They are overcome with the Vision.
  • They expect to be Recognized.
  • They become more Spiritual than anyone.
  • They make sure everyone knows they are Anointed, Appointed, Called, and Commissioned.
  • They demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to listen to others without a Critical Attitude believing in their hearts they could do a better job or they just know better.

They have not learned one of the key traits for Leadership or Servanthood. If we do not learn how to Serve we are not qualified to Lead!

God bless you as you go through your day!

WHAT DEPOSIT ARE YOU MAKING IN OTHERS?


2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  NASB

Making disciples as seen in verse two ‘commit to…’ is essentially ‘making a deposit’ in their lives.  It is like putting money in the bank.  You drive alongside or go inside and deposit the money and the money is there when you need it.  But, what about the times when you do that with people and they quit on you, betray you, hurt you, leave you, abandon, you in the time of heated battle?  You say, ‘that deposit didn’t work am I supposed to do it again?’  YES! 

Everyone’s been hurt or will be hurt.  Even if fear grips your heart you dare not go back into isolation and refuse to risk being hurt again.  If you do then the devil’s plan is succeeding.  The temptation is always present to protect your own heart from hurt. When we realize that we cannot if we continue in ministry and fulfill the commission the Lord gave we will persevere and risk. It is important to remember you cannot function in battle alone and be effective.  This is a Body Ministry!  This is an Army!  This is a Family!  This is not a bunch of isolated individuals or body parts trying to be the whole for that is certain defeat!

In the process of making disciples we quickly learn the power and importance of Forgiveness. We must make the determination that we will forgive, forgive, and forgive.  That will prevent a root of Bitterness from springing up in your heart and defiling you and others.  It is necessary to maintain order and keep the battle moving forward.  If we have been abandoned in the war zone we need to be ‘healed’ and ‘restored.’  Refuse to allow wounds to fester and become infected.  Healing comes by allowing the wound to be opened, the blood to flow to it and life to be ministered. 

A word of wisdom and warning – “Pick the right friends this time!”  Do not be too quick to lay hands on people.  How do you pick the right ones?  Discernment and testing!  I’ve had people want to be friends and comrades in arms in the battle only to find that they quickly became disillusioned and disappointed.  They had expectations of me that I could not fulfill and therefore they turned on me.  Some have been offended that I would joke, laugh, enjoy recreational sports, etc.  They expected me to be, as they stated different which really meant abnormal or weird.  They had not learned that we are all human and even Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. 

It would be easy to say, “Never again! I won’t risk being hurt!”  That will seal the deal, and make failure a certainty limiting any effectiveness we might have in the kingdom.  Too many lead pastors have allowed the wrong people to be made elders and deacons.  We do that in our churches and our lives too frequently. That is why it is vital that we exercise the discerning of the Spirit. 

Always remember that the qualifications for leadership are not community influence, financial status, charisma, or perceived leadership potential.  It is Commitment! We all have the capacity for a great number of friends but only room for a few close intimate relationships.  You are to deposit a portion of your life into that person or persons and that deposit is precious so guard it with your all.  You are going to war with this individual so you must Know Them! In war, you must Know that your fellow soldiers will stand and do their jobs.  Your life may and probably will depend on it.  I am not talking about preferences I am talking about War!  Once you have committed your life to Jesus you are a candidate for Front Line Duty!

There is nothing more destructive to a local fellowship than misplaced leadership.  Likewise, there is nothing more destructive to an individual life than misplaced friendships or relationships.  1 Corinthians 15:23 tells us that “bad company corrupts good morals.”  Proverbs 25:19 teaches that “confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth or a foot out of joint.”  It is painful and can be quite harmful.

In your enlistment in the Army of God, I pray that God not only equips you for battle but enables you to equip others and to have the spiritual insight and discernment to recognize the right people to stand with.

Blessings as you go through your day!

SPIRITUAL WAR ZONE…


2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  NASB

I know what it is like to be in a War Zone in the natural and in the spiritual.  I’ve had some people say to me, “You don’t sound like a preacher you sound like a soldier.”  Well, in truth, you cannot remove the training and experience in the War Zone from my life.  God has used and is using it to shape me into what I am and what He desires. 

There are things I learned and experience in the natural war zone that has proven to be beneficial in the spiritual war zone.  I acknowledge that virtually all believers get a taste of the ‘Spiritual War Zone’ but all do not Function there or at least not effectively.  It takes fierce determination, an understanding of the strategies of the enemy and an understanding of our weapons and equipping.  It takes that but there is one thing more that is absolutely essential and that is Faithfulness!

Consider what Paul says to his spiritual son Timothy in verse 2 – “The things which you have heard from me…”  In the KJV it is rendered ‘of me’ the Greek word is [pa-ra] = alongside, partnership, side-by-side relationship.  It is the same word used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit in [John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7] The Holy Spirit reveals the heart of the Father as He walks with us and resides in us.  It is a Covenant relationship!  He is the ‘Paraklete’ and there is no one closer to you than Him!

Timothy had been there with Paul in good times and bad.  He had worked alongside the apostle.  Paul reminds him “the things you have learned by virtue of our close, long-standing, side-by-side relationship.  You have been mentored.”  This was not a teacher-student classroom experience with one lecturing and the other taking notes for a test.  This was an actual ministry.  It was the ministry of covenant. It was walking together in good times and bad.  In 2 Timothy 3:10 Paul declares, “But you (Timothy) have Fully Known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience.”  Paul says in verse two above – “what you have learned, commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Simply, “Timothy, you know what I’ve done for you.  Now go and do the same for others.  You have been disciple now it is time for you to disciple.”  This is the principle of reproduction.  God always expects reproduction.  What we receive we are to give.  What we learn we are to demonstrate and teach.  Remember Jesus said in Matthew 10:8 – “…Freely you have received, freely give…”

I was teaching on this once and had someone interrupt me saying, “But Timothy had been hurt!”  I paused and asked, “Was Paul ever hurt?  Was Jesus ever hurt?  How is being hurt a justification for drawing back?”  We are supposed to be pulling down strongholds and taking ground for the kingdom not going into hiding or isolation. 

If we faint in the time of adversity our strength is small.  In verse one Paul charges Timothy to be “strong in the grace that is Jesus Christ.”  If we do not have a good connection to the flow of ‘supernatural enablement’ we must ask why?  Is it because of our relationship, trust, revelation?  What?  It is imperative that we truly See Jesus to truly Trust Him!

Making disciples is a commission that each of us has been given and that works at all levels of leadership and responsibility in the kingdom and life.  In Matthew 28 our Lord said, “Go therefore and make disciples…”  That is not a suggestion but a commandment.  That commission cannot be fulfilled outside the context of faithfulness through committed covenant relationships.  It is time-consuming to make disciples.  It involves commitment and sacrifice.  It can be and usually is incredibly painful but equally joyous.  It is risk-filled. 

My question is not if you are in the War Zone but are you a committed warrior?  If you are then do not shy away from the task at hand of making disciples.  Jesus instructed us to pray to the Lord of Harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.  The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.  Be a committed warrior making disciples who are or will be committed warriors. 

God bless you as you go through your day!

SEPARATED NOT ISOLATED…


2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ” I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 ” Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 ” And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.”  NASB

I hear more preaching on man than God in the church today and that troubles me.  It is not that I don’t want to help man or believe that we can be far more than we are in this life.  It is that I have learned by experience and from the Word of God that man, left to himself is corrupt and will descend deeper into a state of depravity and selfishness that limits our ability to have a relationship with God or to win the lost.

The Bible teaches us in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, to ‘shun the very appearance of evil.’   We are to be ‘salt and light’ to this world and if we are just like them, where is our saltiness or the light emanating from our lives?  We are epistles know and read of me and if the letter or story of our life is no different from the person outside the Body of Christ, what message are we sending.

I know believers who refuse to associate or do business with ‘non-Christians’ claiming this text as their foundation.  Paul taught, Jesus demonstrated, and the Bible is filled with references telling us that our conduct is to be different, but if we treat the lost as though they were a plague how do we reach them?  Jesus demonstrated love to the lost and even said to His critics that, “It is not the well that needs a physician but the sick.” 

I am not suggesting that we party with the revelers and engage in their debauchery.  I am not suggesting that we approve of their lifestyles and endorse them by failing to give them the truth.  I am suggesting that if we attempt to isolate ourselves and insulate ourselves we will become uninhabited islands and fruitless trees having no value.  If we are to reap the harvest, we must go into the field where the crop is.  If we are to be fishers of men we must go into the sea of humanity and drop our nets. 

I have found that some of those I have reached would never have been reached if I had not been willing to do business with them and even have a meal with them or some other association.  No, I do not drink with them, curse with them, commit acts of immorality with them. I attempt to live before them rightly.  I have had people who are lost call me to pray for them or their family and as a result, won them to Christ.  I do not want to be isolated from the world but in the world, I want to be salt and light, and I want to be a witness through my example. 

The Pharisees, in the Bible, looked down on anyone not following their particular religious beliefs or tenets.  They viewed them as “SINNERS” and would say it with a condescending tone and used it as a word of utter disgust. It was a slur!  They repeatedly attacked Jesus for eating with publicans and sinners.  After all, those people were of such lesser importance and value, the believed Jesus should not even give them the time of day.  Jesus demonstrated the fallacy of that view and sent His disciples and us into the world.  He even prayed that the Father not take us out of the world but protect us in the world.

You are not more valued by God than the lost, you have simply received His Grace and experienced His mercy in Salvation.  Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  You can’t give from your sanitized ivory tower, so instead of fearing that the world will taint you change it and infect it with your love, His grace, and bring light into their darkness. 

God bless you as you proceed on your pathway of life on this beautiful day He has given us in which to live and enjoy!

WHAT AM I TO PUT AWAY As a Christian?


Ephesians 4:29-32 – “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” NASB

Ephesians 5:1 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  NASB

What do we have to Put Away as Christians?  What are those things that the Holy Spirit identified through the apostle Paul that we, as believers, are responsible for dealing with in our lives?

THE NUMBER ONE THING IS BITTERNESS.

That is numero uno!  It is the big boy of things that we must deal with in our lives if we are to move into the Grace of God and mature as believers.  I would suggest to you that ‘bitterness’ is less about what you Do than what you Do With. Bitterness is a way of being.  It is something that has descended so deeply inside our beings that it is rooted to the core of who we are.  It is a state or a constant that too many either do not know exists or refuse to acknowledge. 

Bitterness can be directly related and connected to an experience. That experience may have happened years earlier and likely did because now the hurt, disappointment, pain has become full blown Bitterness!  Remember that Paul is speaking to believers!  I know that is difficult for some but he is speaking to believers who still have problems. 

He is speaking to people that have brought some ugly baggage with them into the Christian experience.  He could have said, “Hold it!  You brought some things with you that are part of the old life and you are still bitter about them.’  Things that have become such an ingrained part of our being that we often do not even know they are there.  Big or small it was something that you never forgot or let go of and now it has taken root deep inside of who you are and has to be dealt with.   Remember what the Bible says about a ‘root of bitterness’ and it springs up and ‘many are defiled.’

Research has proven that ‘bitterness’ can release poisons into the blood stream that can be measure in a test tube and those poisons can actually bring on sickness and disease.  We expect that of sin or what we identify as sin but do we really understand the danger of bitterness?

Bitterness never remains buried it has a way of being released by the tongue!  We see it in ‘wrath’ – flying off the handle and rage and it comes from a fire that burns deep inside.  We see it in ‘anger’ – you can see it in the eyes, by the body language but they are nice people and don’t let it out but it is there.  We see it in ‘clamor’ – uncontrolled shouting, loud arguing and no control over the tongue.  Those in the clutches of bitterness will beat you up verbally.  We see it in ‘evil speaking’ – deliberately spreading gossip and harmful stories about people to hurt them.  In the Greek it is called ‘blasphemy’.   We see it in ‘malice’ – a settle determination to hurt others.  They may have hurt you and you are ‘getting even.’ 

Paul says and God says – – PUT IT AWAY!  You do not have to be bound by bitterness Jesus died for your victory and freedom!

May God bless you as you go through your day!

I REFUSE TO BE A VICTIM – I am a Christian…


Ephesians 4:29-32 – “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” NSAB

Ephesians 5:1 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  NASB

Yesterday we discussed this a little and I want like for us to move further into consideration of the mindset of ‘victim’ vs. ‘Christian.’  I truly believe that one of the reasons that we fall into that trap is that we fail to understand Grace.

Sometimes it seems like we think Grace is simply God being gracious to us.  I think the schoolmaster ‘The Law’ that brought us to ‘Grace’ has become a problem in that in The Law or any Law says if you behave, I am satisfied.  Grace does not issue that edict but demands more.    The Law simply deals with my behavior but Grace deals with my heart.  I can look the part, act the part, and appear to be Christian but inside be full of filth.  Grace deals with my heart and regardless of how I look on the outside it is working on the inside or The Heart!

Grace is not focused on behavior but the Church largely is.  We fulfill the scripture that ‘man looks on the outward’ to a tee!  Grace deals with our want to and begins the process of change there at the seat of the problem and the core of our being.  Then, when the heart is changed the behavior follows naturally.  Sadly, behavior is too often nothing more than a mask that professors of Christianity wear and hide who they really are from the world but you cannot hide from God!

Notice Paul says, “The Grace has come to you….”  In other words, it has invaded who you are.  Now it is up to us to cooperate with the Spirit of God and allow change to be effected in our lives on the inside.  Grace did not just bring us deliverance from the world of sin it brings us Salvation that takes place every day of our lives.  It brings us daily wholeness! 

The Grace of God makes us ‘spiritually healthy’ and ‘whole.’  There is a truth that I won’t get into here but sometimes we are sick in our bodies because we are sick in our heads and hearts.  I have heard medical doctors claim that upwards of 90% of all diseases are psychosomatic.  I don’t know that I would go that far but I do know that our attitudes can affect our health.  Please do not assume that I am saying if you were right spiritually you would not battle any physical ailment.  I did not and do not say that!

Paul tells us that there are some things that we must do as believers.  There are some things that we do not just pray about but take ownership of and act on.  We are to put away – malice, bitterness, and evil speaking.  That is pretty radical but the Holy Spirit emphasized the Put Away which in the Greek means ‘make a decisive choice.’  It is like saying, ‘Do it man!  Make it happen!  Don’t pray about it!  Don’t say I will try!  JUST DO IT!’

I want us to look at what we are to Put Away but time and space won’t permit adequate examination so I will stop here and pick this up in a later devotional.

God bless you as you go through your day!

STOP BEING VICTIMS – – We are Christians…


Ephesians 4:29-32 – “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” NASB

Ephesians 5:1 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  NASB

The more I read and study the writings of the apostle, Paul, the more I am convinced that he saw a life that most professing believers either never see or do not believe is possible.  Paul repeatedly speaks of leaving the “old” – world, way, man and everything that belongs to the realm of sin and the fallen race of Adam and moving into the new creation, self, man, birth and encouraged his followers to  Act Out or Live Out the Christian experience through their new source of Life – Jesus!   His message was one that continually called for those who experienced the ‘new birth’ to Become who they really are in Christ!

The new birth is about the process that happens after the experience of salvation.  In the new birth, we were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.  We were not and are not the finished product but are in the process of becoming!  So for the rest of our mortal existence on earth, we are moving from one experience to another and being transformed into something!  We are no longer what we were and are not yet what we will be but we are moving toward that goal.  It is time that we allow the newness of the Life in Christ to permeate every crevice of our lives and touch every facet and dimension of our being.  It is a passage from the ‘old’ to the ‘new’. From ‘sin’ to ‘total transformation.’  It Is Salvation!

Tragically, far too many have the cart before the horse and are trying to change, shape up, get better, turn over a new leaf, and try harder or something.  It is the incredible need of humanity to earn something and deserve something.  God repeatedly says, “No thanks!  I accept you just as you are, where you are, and who you are because of Jesus!”  So, it is time that we comprehend and get our heads and hearts around the truth that We Are Accepted! It is in that state of acceptance that God steps in and begins the process of changing us or transforming us into His Image.

When we come to Christ we essentially have to relearn life because we have the mindset of Sin in us.  That is one of the reasons that Jesus spoke of becoming like little children.  We have to develop a new way of thinking and a new way of living.  For that to become reality we have to be schooled or trained and that is the work of the Holy Spirit and those under whose tutelage we are maturing.  

Far too many people simply add Sunday to their schedule when they accept Christ but Christianity is not that.  It truthfully is Relearning how to live every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year!  It is allowing all the distortion that is in us to be purged.  It is to allow the ‘bentness’ that is inherent in our DNA to be transformed by God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace!  It is literally having our Minds Renewed!

That is the only possible way that we can move from the human mindset of ‘victimization’ to God’s mindset of “Christian.”  We have to Relearn Life and Live that life that we have learned in Jesus!  You are a “Child of the King of Kings” not just a man or a woman.  You are God’s children and are heirs to everything that God is and has, so live like it!

May God be with you as you go through your day!  We will consider this more tomorrow!