Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Introduction: Growing in Christ is the key to growing a church. This is all about being a good and effective witness of who Christ is and what He has called our church to be and do. Following up, teaching, and mentoring new as well as seasoned Christians are the keys to spiritual growth and the replication of the witness.
When a church forsakes discipleship, its people will not grow and thus will not reach out. Many will give up on Christianity while others become confused, calloused, or complacent. Alternatively, they will be swept away by false doctrines and cults because they do not know the difference. When we forsake discipleship, we end up just living for and unto ourselves. We miss out on opportunities, learning experiences, growth, and will exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun.
Why should we grow in Christ? Because, He lived and died on our behalf, willingly giving up His life by paying the penalty for our sin. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also gives us eternal life. Growth will be our response to who Christ is and what He did for us. This is what will either be repulsive or attractive to others as we “fish” for Him.
Romans 3:21-24 “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
What does discipleship mean?
Definition of discipleship: Discipleship means a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower: a disciple of. (Verb (used with object), discipled, discipling.)
Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand when or where He is leading, or when it is unpopular. As we grow in Christ, we have to
keep our eyes on Him. In doing so, we will be of better use to Him and become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character.
The main job Jesus left us to do was to make disciples. (See Matt 28:19) There is a difference between a believer and a disciple. There is no such thing as an instant disciple; it takes discipline.
A pig and a hen sharing the same barnyard heard about a church’s program to feed the hungry. The pig and the hen discussed how they could help. The hen said, “I’ve got it! We’ll provide bacon and eggs for the church to feed the hungry.” The pig thought about the suggestion and said, “There’s only thing wrong with your bacon and eggs idea. For you, it only requires a contribution, but from me, it will mean total consecration!” That’s the cost of discipleship. Total consecration is what is required.
Definition of consecration: ‘Consecrate means to make holy or to dedicate to a higher purpose.’ Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his
brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Matthew 16:24-26 24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace.
He uses us as the tools, but He is the means. We are the display case of His life and work! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We are to obey and reach out, but we cannot lead people anywhere. He is the One who leads!
When we are real and authentic in our Christian living, then we are actually doing effective evangelizing and bringing others to Christ even more powerfully and frequently. God does not ask us to seek converts. He simply asks us to disciple. Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible, mainly prayer, doctrine, and Christian living, which means having an attitude and heart that worships Christ.
The job of a disciple is to become part of the core committed and then move out into the crowd to make more disciples.
Let’s investigate from these two scriptures some marks of a real disciple.
Marks of true Discipleship:
Love Jesus Supremely
To be a disciple, you must love Jesus more than you love anyone else – even family members. Your love for Jesus should be so powerful that in comparison, it seems as if you hate everyone else. It is also true that sometimes your love for Jesus will alienate you from others, even your family. When God calls you, you have to make some difficult decisions, and sometimes your family will not jump up and down and rejoice over your choices. That’s sometimes the first mark of a true disciple.
Out of a real, worship-centered heart will come a church that is also poured out in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care to the world. It will model Christ-like character to the community, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ. However, this is only the beginning. When we are worshiping Christ with our hearts and minds, we are focused on Him and motivated to be His witnesses. Christ’s work in us is what is contagious to others who are seeking Him.
Live like a Dead Person
The image Jesus used is a cross. A real disciple is someone who carries his cross. In the time of Jesus when you saw someone carrying a cross it meant only one thing – they were as good as dead. When a death row prisoner is walking from his cell to the place to be executed, the other prisoners say, “Dead man walking.” He’s alive and walking – but he’s as good as dead. That’s a perfect description of what Jesus meant when He spoke of a disciple carrying his cross. We are dead people.
Galatians 5:24 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and
Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world
has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
That means there is nothing the world has to offer you that interests you – it’s as if the world is dead to you and you are dead to the world.
One of the classic books on discipleship is “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during WWII. Because he opposed Hitler and the Nazis, he was imprisoned where he died before the war ended. He wrote: “The cross is laid on every Christian. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death – we give over our lives to death. The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god -fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” (The Cost of Discipleship, p.99).
Consider the value of a good Finish
Jesus presents the image of a man who plans on building a tower. Before he begins the construction, he must “count the cost” to see if he has enough resources to finish the job. Now this speaks of the cost of discipleship, not the cost of salvation.
Luke 14:28-30 28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”
Jesus is talking about the cost of total commitment. A good finish as a disciple is the key. We have a finishing anointing: We have no escapist-mentality (just waiting for the rapture). The kingdom is ours and we design “the finish” with God. The end will not come as a surprise for those who believe. God reveals it first to His servants (He will surprise the world).
John 4:35-36 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice
If you see the church with the natural eye you’ll get depressed because it will never look like it is going to be established quite the way the Bible explains. You have to see it with a prophetic apostolic insight where we see the white harvest – it is now, and not 4 months to the harvest. It is not the golden harvest of corn, but the white blood washed saints.
We activate spiritual processes in the earth. We have prophetic power to speed up processes. By making apostolic declarations we command the cycles in the earth to speed up. By doing the Word we speed up things.
Is 60:22 “A little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation. I, the Lord, will hasten it
in its time.”
Finishing power comes from breaking the isolation of separate activity. See what you do as part of the eternal plan of God. We are part of His eternal Church. It is a decisive decision to leave a mark –discipleship has intent – a strategy – with the purpose to build God’s Kingdom.
So there needs to be recognition of the length of the journey so that we can sustain our advance for as long as it takes. We must have what it takes – there is no place for running out of gas until it finishes. So we adjust the way we live and pray and act. There is a force within. It is a penetrating momentum within to go forward in God. Therefore we build resources into our life – into relationships, strategies and vision.
Stay pure to preserve Godliness
Salt was very valuable during Jesus’ time. Roman soldiers were paid with salt rations. The Latin phrase “Solarium Argentums” is where we get our word “salary” from. Even today we speak of someone who is “not worth their salt.” Yet the greatest value of salt was in its use as a preservative.
We live in a nation suffering from moral decay at an alarming rate. Our society is getting more rotten by the day. Like salt, we must come in contact with our corrupting culture to slow down the process of decay. This is why discipleship is required.
The problem Jesus identified is that some people have lost their saltiness. The salt used in the time of Jesus came from the Dead Sea. When the water evaporated, it left salt. But the salt was sometimes so mixed with other minerals that although it looked like salt, and poured like salt, it wasn’t salty. When it was placed on food, it was tasteless.
Purified salt never loses its saltiness. That’s why we must stay pure. Jesus warned against the spiritual condition that exists when our lives are not morally pure. When we allow impure thoughts and impure behavior to become mixed in our personality, we lose our saltiness.
If you have lost your saltiness, God can make you pure again! His blood can make you pure, but it is His Word that’ll keep you pure. So remain in the Word.
How to Grow in Faith
Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
To grow means we are to turn from sin, seek Him, be praying, act with humility, seek His righteousness, and practice maturity. We are not to wander from Him or allow our desires to be selfish and sinful. We are to focus on His precepts and allow ourselves to be filled up with Christ. When we call upon our Lord, that call will echo over all those around us.
We grow as we look to and trust in Him, and as we pursue our lives in Christ. That means careful pursuit and continual growth, not a simple look-over, but an in-depth and committed life.
Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Growing is surrendering our will to His. Surrender is the process through which we grow toward Him and His will, and away from our will. Surrender is making Christ the Lord of all of our lives so that worship, discipleship, and growth can happen. For this to truly happen, we must rid ourselves of false presumptions, perceptions, reckless ideas, faulty thinking, and other such things that are barriers to our growth, so we can make room for Him.
This can start by our realizing that Jesus “authors” our faith and teaches us how to run the race according to God’s will for His glory, His worship, and His purpose. Thus, we gain a deeper intimacy with our Lord as our Commander and Friend, as our God and our King, as the provider of Grace, as our Love, and as our reason for being. In His purposes, we find real contentment, joy, and fulfillment. This can be summed up in the adage, “we cannot be doing the work of God unless we are the people of God.” We have to be growing before we can be effective.
Matthew 13:23 “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
In Matthew 13:23, we see two key words that strike at the foundation of our compliancy, Hears and does. He calls us to wake up and do something with our faith, not to just sit in a pew and complain, or
lay on a couch as life drifts by. A call is pronounced. An action must take place to secure that His precepts will cause an impact.
Obedience is Required
We cannot just hear; we have to obey. Obedience is not in words, but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action. This is not about our salvation; it is about our worth and our impact. Our salvation by faith alone may secure us, but what is the impact if we do nothing with it? As His elect, whenever we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire to heed the call and put it into action.
Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Yes, there will be times we do not feel like it. Life is tough; it is full of setbacks and hurts that seem to cripple us. So, we go on permanent disability, unable to hurdle barriers that are really simple to climb.
Did you know all it takes to tie down a horse is a simple leather strap? Did you know a horse could easily break it, like we could break a kite string? A horse does not try to do that because he does not think he is able to do so. You are able to cross any barrier to grow in deeper worship and faith in Christ, because He is there with His healing power.
When we ignore Him, we just end up stagnate in life, continuing to hurt. Yes, we will struggle and hurt and we will need times to recover. However, we must make the determination to recover, not to remain disabled, preventing our abiding in Him. Obedience will override our feelings so that we will remain steadfast and secure.
We are all called to put our faith into practice. We can now take the relationships, mentoring, and learning, and carry them out in daily life.
This is often expressed in service projects and missions, but that is only a small, although necessary aspect of service. Service is how we daily live our lives, modeling His character to those around us.
When we are in ministry, we need to realize, it is not what we do, but whom we can equip that leads to growth. As we practice by reciprocating what we have learned to others, we will also be built up. We are called to build a network of relationships so we can build one another up in the faith through friendship and mentoring.
The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. We cannot lead others to Him when we do not know the way, and, in order to know the way, we must have knowledge.
Learn to hear God speak from an open Bible
Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is that we study His Word which will change our behavior. A Christian, especially a leader in the church, must
have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes him. He must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read them occasionally, like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.
From the character of Christ comes the conduct of Christ if we choose to follow Him. Then, the values of our daily walk, those which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or when you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian, especially a witness.
We are called, not to just visualize faith and discipleship, but to do it, not to just read about it, but to do it, and not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be gathered, prepared, and then eaten. The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, gather, prepare, and then put it all into practice so we partake of His feast.
Disciples are Made, not Born
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest
honor beside God’s throne in heaven.”
The athlete has to accept certain disciplines that no one else has to in order to aim at the highest level of achievement. Here are five main requirements for an athlete to consider:
Training never ceases
I am amazed at how many believers feel discouraged when they have to learn something new. Exasperated they ask: ‘When will the training ever stop?’ They want to arrive at the place where they leave the school of Christ, but if you think like a professional athlete this is not even a consideration.
The moment you stop training you can no longer compete for the prize! The Christian walk is very similar: you are always growing in the knowledge of our Lord and have to continually receive instruction as you progress to higher levels of spiritual life.
We compete according to the rules
2Timothy 2:5 5 “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes
according to the rules.”
Many Christians feel they can be a believer all by themselves. They want to do it ‘My Way’ as Frank Sinatra used to sing. But unfortunately for them you cannot do it your way. You have to compete according to the rules. Athletes who break the rules are disqualified.
Paul says he chastises his body so that he does not become disqualified after having trained and taught others. Popular opinion has given Christians the notion that they can neglect the assembling of themselves together with other saints in a church and be a private Christian. They are deceiving themselves. If you are not part of a body of believers the devil will eventually devour you and shipwreck your faith.
We do not run with uncertainty
James 1:8 “A double minded man is unstable in all his way”
Uncertainty destroys progress: a double-minded person cannot receive anything from God. In sport, if you hesitate, you lose. Especially in cricket: you have 0.432 seconds to play a shot against bowlers that bowl at speeds of 155 kilometers per hour!
When God told Joshua to step into Moses’ position of authority after Moses died he told him not to become discouraged or dismayed. Dismay means ‘temporary hesitation’. Many Christians are so afraid of failure that they rather do nothing! They bury their talents in the sand – but the Lord rebukes those for not multiplying what they have been given.
We press towards the mark
If you do not have a prize in sight, if you cannot see the finishing line there is no motivation to run. Paul says, he pressed towards the goal for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. What are you running for? Is the prize you want worth the effort?
1 Corinthians 9:25 “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it
to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”
Philippians 3:13-14 13 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul adds a command to Timothy: Run the race with patience! Patience is ‘hupomone’ in Greek. It is more than biting your lip and waiting. It is the steadfastness that will help you endure to the end: never swerving from your deliberate purpose, remaining loyal to Christ’s cause even in the greatest tests and trials.
The word Paul chose to use for ‘run’ is ‘trecho’ and it means to spend one’s strength in working in order to attain something. It requires exertion of all one’s efforts to overcome.
Here is something very interesting: ‘race’ in Greek is ‘agon’, the root word of agony or agonize, implying conflict, fight, contending. It is a contest for a prize and there is a battle, a struggle going on. It is not easily obtained.
Coaching is required
Backyard athletes have no coaches, but they do not win any prizes either. Coaching is a necessary element in the race of faith as well. By accepting spiritual coaching (we call it discipleship) we learn to lay aside the weights and sins that so easily beset us and weigh us down. An athlete streamlines his life in order to compete for a prize.
There are four ways to respond to coaching:
Resentment or Anger and
Finally being grateful for the coach and the instruction received.
A demanding coach pushes an athlete to the limit and requires a disciplined life-style. He encourages the athlete to give up anything that hinders their progress.
We have witnesses around us that have finished the race! Hebrews 12:1 talks about a cloud (nephos) of witnesses that surround us. These testimonies tell us about men and women of God who faced great trials of faith and how they overcome.
Their testimonies serve to encourage us and to exhort us to finish the race with patience. Their dependence on God brought ultimate victory. They faced the fire, lions and the Red Sea and passed their test of faith!
Jesus endured the pain and shame of the cross for the joy that was set before Him. If we look at His example we gain courage to run the race set before us.
There is work to be done – get off your religious complacency and ineffectiveness and do that what the spirit of God is instructing you in today. I’m sure God is tired of people who have an aimless Christian walk! We must get beyond attending church to the place of being church.
Questions to Ponder
Why does growing in your faith encompass more than just asking Christ into your life and heart?
What have you done about pursuing your life in Christ?
What do you consider to be the key to finding and developing faith?
What would it take for you to go from visualizing faith and discipleship to doing it? Not just talking about it, but actually doing it? What are you going to do about this?
Psalm 37:5-7 “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the
LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their
Do you want to move from being a believer that only attends a congregation; to being part of the core of committed disciples? Jesus is looking for a few good men and women: the humble, the pure, the dead and the consecrated. Will you decide today to move from being a mere believer and make being a fully devoted follower of Jesus, your goal?
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself
strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him”
Scripture References:Proverbs 22:6
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Train up a child in the way he should go but be sure you go that way yourself
– C Spurgeon
Introduction: As believers, we’re all part of the family of God or the household of faith. God gave us earthly families as a reflection of His love for us, His children. It is a fact that God created us to live in fellowship and community with one another.
God created all relationship to be a wonderful experience. Relationships are essential to our existence as human beings as we are created in the image of the Creator who live in perfect harmony as Father; Son and Holy Spirit. (Gen 1:26) We are created to have relationship and we need healthy relationships to survive. Without healthy relationships we die emotionally and ultimately spiritually.
The Spiritual design of Godly Families
From the beginning, the family has played a critical role in the outworking of God’s purposes on earth. As the fundamental building block of society, it was designed to provide the context for the nurture and training of each succeeding generation. The family was also designed to reflect and flesh out spiritual truth. (See Rom 8:15-17; Eph 1:11; 3:6; Heb 12:5-11; 1John 3:1) These analogies illustrate the high calling and responsibility which accompanies the Christian Family.
God brought Adam and Eve together and established the basis for the family. This basis is a man and a woman. Even though Adam and Eve did not have parents, God instituted at that time the principle that a man and woman would depart from their parents and family unit to begin a new family unit. Without a man and a woman coming together in marriage, there is no family.
God’s desire for the family is that it reproduces and multiplies.
Genesis 1:27–28: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the
air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
God desires that husbands and wives bring forth offspring. Obviously not everyone is capable of producing children. However, in God’s plan for the family we should be in such a relationship that God could grant us children if He chooses to do so.
The Christian home has been called “a laboratory for the application of biblical truth” It is a training ground for the impartation of values, for learning how to give and receive love, and for the development of relationships.
The Greek definition given for family “Oikos/Household “is: “The Primary people” in our lives.
The Spiritual design for Marriage
God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed
it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God. – Max Lucado
God created marriage and relationship in the midst of paradise (Gen 2:24) and through the centuries God didn’t change that; but man’s actions did.
Marriage is a long term commitment, but there are so many marriages breaking up today, and sad to say, even among Christians and ministers of the Gospel. The question remains: is there no possible solution to the problems married couples face? One of the major reasons why there are break-ups in marriage, I believe is because couples do not discern that a marriage partnership is born out of a spiritual place. There is a heavenly connection created the day we are added together and we need to learn to see each other in the spirit.
The value of Godly relationships is found in the recognition of the gift of Christ in one another. In each individual in a marriage something of Christ is deposited and that gift is specially and uniquely designed by God to become a source of strength for each other.
Couples tend not to live and love out of a spiritual place – we tend to live and love out of a purely soulish place. Love is defined on a soulish level and because we have no understanding of an accurate biblical pattern we try to emulate and copy worldly philosophies and methods. I often speak of trying to love like Hollywood loves or an outside inside way of loving.
If we love out of the five senses of man we will show behavior that will feed only the self-centered nature of man. There has to be a re-think were we start to operate out of the spirit and reprogram the soulish to work on this new spiritual operating system.
In Gen 2:19-20 we read how that God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to name them. But for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.
Gen 2:18 “And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper
comparable to him.”
Comparable carries the meaning: able to be compared; fit to be compared and worth comparing to.
Gen 2:21-22 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept. And He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh underneath. And Jehovah God made the rib (which He had taken from the
man) into a woman. And He brought her to the man.
The crowning moment of creation happened when God brought Adam his suitable helper, the moment when the one became the two; and the two became the one – and marriage was born out of a supernatural act of God.
Mat 19:6 “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let
not man separate.”
We are added one to the other and this did not happen by mere coincidence, it is born out of a supernatural act of God. Like an old testament Jewish father seeks for a suitable wife for his son and an arranged marriage takes place – God our father is intricately involved in the arranging of our marriages.
This is affirmed by God in Gen 2:22 and declared by Moses in Gen 2:24 ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh’.
This is reconfirmed by Jesus in Mark 10:7-8 and acknowledged by Paul in Eph 5:31. Mark even goes further and announces in: Mark 10:9 ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let not man put apart’.
The Sanctity of Marriage (Reference: Prophet Mimie de Jager)
According to Hebrews 13:4 ‘4 Marriage is honorable among all, [that is, regarded as something of great value]. Marriage is a covenant (not merely a contract) with God as the originator. The one who brought it about is also the one who gave birth to it. The one who initiated it is also the mastermind behind it (He has been setting you up for this since forever).
Marriage is therefore a symbol of the mystical union between Christ and His church. Marriage carries the unrevealed; secret; mysterious; concealed; hidden; private; veiled; other-worldly and supernatural aspects of Christ and His church.
It is therefore SACRED: It is dedicated; consecrated; holy; sanctified (set apart); blessed and divinely appointed.
It has a divinely orchestrated DNA where no two covenants are the same. Each union is uniquely joined together. There is no ‘one size fit all’ approach to marriage. Each covenant is set apart for God, yet God has a different journey in mind for each. There is a mystery in each union that is not discernible to everyone.
What God intended to accomplish in marriage was planned and purposed from the beginning. We so like to think that we have a say, but really we don’t. He need our different personalities and giftings to come together to fulfill His purpose through our oneness. NOW it does not really matter whether we
feel like one; He sees us as one. It’s not based on feelings but like faith it is based on scriptural and spiritual truth.
Each marriage stands in the service of God for His Body, the Church. It exists not for us only, but for the benefit of others. It will serve the body in its own unique way. The church (collective body) is not perfect, so how can we expect our own definition of perfection in marriages.
Don’t let us presume to know better than God in dealing with marriages. Don’t let us presumptuously tread on holy ground where we have not been invited to enter. Never overstep by voicing your opinion or offering your limited advice to other married couples where you have not been asked to help.
Don’t let us presumptuously rate our own marriages and those of others by our own standards, likes and dislikes. Don’t let us presume to know better than the very ones God has called together, whom He has entrusted with this union, and with whom He is journeying. But rather, let us stand in awe of the God who is the ORIGINATOR of every covenant between a man and a woman with Him as the head.
Let our conduct towards each marriage be circumspect (cautious, wary) knowing that it is sacred in His eyes and if you touch it, speculate about it, slander and revile it you are likewise speaking of the head of this union who is God. Treat each union with respect knowing that it is God’s work in progress.
Do not barge in, but wait to be invited in. Know that it cannot look like yours, it is God’s own unique mysterious work unfolding. So when invited in, be lead by the Spirit, your opinion has no relevance.
This truth will release married couples from the bondage they are in to conform their oneness walk with God, to please the likes and dislikes (opinions) of those around them. This understanding will release couples into the liberty of knowing that Christ is in the boat with them. He is not bailing out; He is not panicking; He knew beforehand the bumps, mountains and valleys that you would have to cross. He knew beforehand the successes and failures that you would face. He knew beforehand the joy you would experience and the pain you would suffer. He knew beforehand the rejections you would experience and the tears you would cry. And you know what? He is ok with it all.
He was there at the start of the journey. He is there in the middle and He will be there at the end.
The Spiritual design for Children
We see that there were no children in the garden. This is significant in that the woman completes the man and the man completes the woman. We are a completed family as husband and wife, without the children. This implies that by God’s design we do not need kids to complete the family. The husband-wife relationship is the first priority relationship so created by God. The parent-child relationship is dependent upon the husband-wife relationship. This is God’s order/structure and therefore all other relationships are to be subject to this priority assignment.
According to Psalm 127:3-5, children are a gift from the Lord. They are God’s possession, not ours. He has temporarily placed them under our care; in effect, our children are “on loan” from God for the 18 or so years they are under our roof. We have been given the task of raising them up from a state of
complete dependence to a state of complete independence so that we can release them to God by the time they reach maturity.
It is urgent that we as Christian parents recognize this truth. Failure to do so will lead to unbiblical attitudes which can have a devastating impact on the self-image and development of our children. One such attitude is excessive possessiveness. Believing that their children are their own possessions, some parents do not adequately prepare them to leave the home. Because of this attitude, parents become overprotective and fail to give their children the growing independence, skills, and responsibility that they need. As a result, they are not equipped for life in the outside world. Even after they marry they may be psychologically or financially dependent upon their parents, and this hinders their ability to leave, cleave, and establish a one-flesh relationship in marriage.
Another unbiblical attitude is reflected in the problem of parents who build their entire lives and marriages around their children. Too many parents seek to fulfill their own ambitions and dreams by identifying themselves with their children and living their lives through them. This vicarious attempt to find fulfillment always leads to frustration and disappointment because the children rarely meet such expectations and leave home so soon. It also places them under an intolerable demand of performance standards that they are physically, emotionally, or mentally incapable of attaining.
Perhaps the most difficult biblical principle to apply as a parent is the need to accept your children as they are. Your true source of identity is in Christ, not your children. Your child may not be as physically or mentally capable as you would like, but if you realize that he is God’s possession and not yours, you can accept him for who he is. The practice of this truth can liberate your children from the fear of rejection and failure. If you as parents have not formally given your children over to the Lord, why not do it now?
Family Team Dynamics
What are the marks of healthy families? While not every healthy family will exhibit identical characteristics; all have one common trait; all demonstrate INTERDEPENDANCE. It is important to ask: when my children become old enough to select their own friends, will they have any reason to choose us or their sisters and brothers to be in the circle of trust? Do my children consider our family part of their inner circle of most loyal friends?
Family is cultivating a team spirit in your home and team identity can only be established through the principles of interdependence. Interdependent relationships exist when each individual part supports the others in order to create a whole. In the same way, each member of the interdependent family is mutually dependent upon each other.
Sort of sounds like the way that the Bible describes how the church should operate. (See 1 Cor 12:12-27)
This can be further illustrated by a group of people holding hands while in a circle and facing inward. This arrangement is the best possible one for sending and receiving family values.
As a believer, it is better to see oneself as a small part of the whole then to see self as set apart in calling. It is more fruitful to be one of many than to determine to be unique in prominence before others. Bitterness and disappointment awaits the believer who majors on their own destiny instead of
focusing on steadfastness in small things and rejoicing in the destiny of the whole. It is better to live before the eyes of Jesus, where our uniqueness is seen and then just blend in with the whole in the eyes of men. Beautiful is the body of Christ.
Be therefore a significant part of the body and try not to be a prominent part of the body – Prophet
It is every part dependent on every other part, the parts mentioned and the parts not mentioned, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. Only as you accept your part of the family does your part mean anything.
In contrast, an independent family structure means to be free from influence, guidance, or the control of another. It also means to be unaffiliated, alienated, or not committed to one another. In short, we would say it is to stand alone.
The reformational move is built upon interdependence and not independence. We do not stand alone but are part of a much bigger move of God all over the earth.
The interdependent family cultivates a sense of belonging, which leads to allegiance to one another and allegiance to the core values of the family. We grow with a “we-ism” attitude, rather than the selfish “me-ism” attitude that’ll lead to a lonely independence or in short, stand aloneness.
In an independent family structure everyone is caught up in his own prominence and performance, doing his own independent thing striving to become something or someone that God never intended them to be.
On paper, most people would choose the interdependent family. Everyone agrees with 1 Cor 12:12-27 because we want to belong, to be supportive, and to be supported.
But for it to work in real life, it means sacrifice; it means being there for one another, stepping out of the comfort of your independence into the discomfort of being available for others (as a bridge) to walk across into healing, acceptance and breakthrough. Being a significant part of the whole rather than seeking to be a prominent part of the whole will cost you.
Children who receive comfort and approval from the intimate and dependable relationships found in the interdependent family tend to look to those same or similar relationships as they move through adolescence. Also important to note is that within the confines of the interdependent family, parents and not peers, usually have the greatest influence. Teens choose their community identity that is peer friends, only after their family identity is first established and either accepted or rejected.
If the family is accepted as the primary source of values and comfort, then the teen not only identifies with but makes friends from among those possessing similar values. This is why ultimately peer pressure on a child is only as strong as family identity is weak.
That is why we encourage parents to work early on building a strong family identity. Parents can have the same and even greater influence that peers have on children. Parents can experience the same
loyalty given to a peers group. But to reach this level of association parents and the church must take the initiative and move away from an independent lifestyle toward an interdependent lifestyle. Move away from trying to be prominent to being a significant part of the whole. Moving away from a “me-ism” to a “we-ism”. It is responding to the preciousness of those outside of self.
Some practical “how to do this”
Read After Dinner
Allow the Kids to Plan a Family Night
Let the kids Participate in Building Family Memories
Take Walks Together
Participate in the Body/Church Together
Assignments in Relationships
God appointed you to someone to grow and mature you through that relationship. God appoints you to a pastor; or a boss or a friend; your spouse and even your children.
We read in Rth 1:14-16 the story of how that Ruth clung to Naomi. In making a decision to leave Moab and accompany Naomi to Bethlehem, Ruth was making a decision to serve her mother-in-law. Naomi’s experiences in Moab had left her hard, cynical and angry about the death of her husband and sons (see Ruth 1:20-21) When her old friends came out to greet her as she arrived in Bethlehem, they called her name, ‘Naomi’ She said, ‘Don’t call me Naomi – meaning ‘pleasant’. She told them, Call me ‘Mara’ –meaning ‘bitter’. It is not easy to serve a bitter person, but Ruth made that decision because she knew to whom she had been assigned.
Almost no one in today’s world seems to know or accept what it means to be ‘assigned’ to serve another. When you know that you have been assigned by God to serve and learn from someone, you are willing to put up with all kinds of difficulties that come to distract you from that relationship. You are willing to do all kinds of jobs and put up with all kinds of hardships because you know without a doubt that God has called you to that relationship to teach you, prepare you, and ultimately to bless you.
Moab represents your past; Bethlehem represents your future and Boaz the promise of God and to get from your Moab to your Boaz you’ve got to travel with a Naomi. Then God sets people in your life ‘assigned people’ to help you move from your Moab to your Boaz. God then assigns you to this somebody to serve that person and learn from him, willingly; doing it gladly and with joy. Doing it faithfully and with humility for God is maturing you through the assignment.
Different Roles in the Family
The Apostle Paul thinks so highly of the family that he declares it to be a reflection of Christ and His Church (Eph 5:21-32) and goes on to explain the different roles within the family. Each person may fill one or more of the following roles.
The Husband Should Love His Wife: (Ephesians 5:25-31, 33) A man should love his wife as Christ loved the church and as he loves his own body. What can Jesus’ love for the church teach husbands?
Jesus’ love was not a romantic mood or emotion but a choice or commitment. He did not wait till we acted lovingly toward Him but did what we needed even when our conduct was unattractive. This required serious sacrifice for our good.
Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
God commands husbands to love their wife as their own flesh and to lay down their lives for their wives. When men do not love their wives as they should, they are not fulfilling God’s plan for the father of the family.
Just before these verses in Ephesians, God says to wives that they should submit. However, men loving their wife are not conditional on the wife submitting. He should love whether or not she submits. Yet it stands to reason that she is more likely to submit if he will love her as he should.
Love is sacrificial. Love laid down His life for us on the cross and we need to lay down our lives for one another. We cannot expect anything from our partners if we do not first choose to lay down our lives for them.
1Jo 3:16 ‘This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.’
According to Paul this is first expected from the husbands. Love is not a feeling, but an act of your will so for the husband to love in this way is to take the initiative and die to self and his self-centered behavior. This takes leadership and mostly meekness and humility.
Paul says the one should regard/esteem the other higher than himself. This is the way of Godly love.
1Corinthians 13:4-9 tell us more about this kind of love: it is patient and kind and not easily offended.
The Husband Should Work to Provide for the Physical Needs of the Family: Many men leave their wives and children without the necessities of life because they quit their jobs for frivolous reasons or waste their income selfishly.
(Genesis 3:17-19) The man was required to labor despite hardships in order to have food. (Cf. 2 Thess. 3:10.)
(1Timothy 5:8) A man should provide, not just for himself, but for his whole household. The Bible gives many examples of men having occupations or businesses outside the home. Many Bible examples show men employed away from the home in such occupations as shepherd, carpenter, physician, fisherman, merchant, farmer, sailor, preacher, tentmaker, etc. (See also Eph. 5:28,29).
This is the God-given duty of the husband. Man should also not neglect his other responsibilities by over-emphasizing work. Yet one, who neglects working, expecting his wife or other people to provide income for his family, is worse than an infidel.
The Husband Should Be the Head of the Family:
Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike, servant
leadership, protection, and provision in the home. John Piper
Some claim that man should not exercise authority over his wife or that his authority should be limited to just certain areas. In practice, women are often the leaders in making family decisions. But note:
(Ephesians 5:22-24) The husband is head of his wife as Christ is head of the church. Neither his wife nor their parents are the authority in his family (See Gen. 2:24).
Christlikeness will lead a husband to consider the needs and desires of the wife and children. He will make decisions for the good of the whole group, not just to please himself. This requires discussion at times to understand the views of others.
However, the husband does have the final authority, and will give account to God for his decisions. Often this responsibility is not a privilege but a burden. He needs the courage to stand.
If the wife fails to fulfill her duties, this does not justify the husband in failing to fulfill his duties (Romans 12:17-21; Luke 6:27-35)
The Wife Should Love Her Husband: (Genesis 2:18-24) Woman was created to be a companion and helper to man. Mal 2:14 explains that she is your companion and your wife by covenant. The wife is the husbands counterpart; his match (what he lacks – they complete each other) and the one who compliments him.
(Titus 2:4) Young women should be taught to love their husbands and their children. This is something a woman can learn to do. Again, love is a matter of choice (act of your will) and commitment, not primarily a romantic mood/feeling.
It is the job of the wife to nurture and take care of the family. It is to bind up the wounds and to be a restorer of peace. The bible explains the beauty of a wife with a gentile and peaceable spirit.
Prophet Nola Pelser explains that in the modern times women live in, they have experienced both freedom and bondage. Pride, status, anxieties and frustration, have caused women both saved and unsaved to lose the nicest quality a woman can possess, that being of a gentle and peaceful spirit. A woman with a gentle spirit stands out amongst the crowds of women who are unhappy, unloved, self-willed, full of self and assertive. In their pursuit to become recognized, women have lost their femininity.
To restore that which was lost we look to the scripture and find the scripture in Eph 5:22-23. The Wife Should Submit to the Headship of the Husband:
Ephesians 5:22, 23 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the
1Pe 3:3-6 ‘You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewellery you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything’
If we look at this piece of scripture, we see a few things that stand out:
Inner beauty & a
Gentle and quiet/peaceable spirit
Ladies to submit is to understand and support your husband. In submission you are beautify yourself not only for your husband’s, but also for God. To submit is to understand that they (husbands) are created differently. Women are naturally wired to show emotion and love. Woman show how they feel easily wile for the men it is a choice. But for the Ladies the action of love is shown in submission.
The Greeks have a great saying: The Husband may be the head but the wife; she is the neck and she can turn him any way she wants to.
Wives are instructed to submit to their husbands as an act of love. By them submitting to their husbands they are showing a proper relationship to authority. When they submit to and respect authority, it will help children understand their need to submit to the authority over them.
The Wife is the Homemaker: Our society places little value on the work of homemakers. (Titus 2:4, 5; 1 Timothy 5:14) God says the work of mothers is to be a homemaker. They are to manage the household, loving and caring for their family. This work is a blessing and should be valued and appreciated more (see Psalm 113:9).
It follows that the husband and wife have distinct roles. God gave them separate duties and gave each a nature best suited to those duties. To blur these distinctions or to deny they exist is to disobey God. For both the husband and the wife, the greatest satisfaction in marriage comes when they follow God’s plan.
Again, the husband’s failure to properly fulfill his duties does not justify the wife in failing to fulfill her duties (Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Peter 3:1, 2; Luke 6:27-35).
The Parents’ Responsibilities to Their Children:
Children are a blessing from God, not an unwanted burden (Psalm 127:3-5; 128:1-4). Today kids are seen to be a luxury and a “liability”. For the first time in history children have become unnecessary. The result is that children feel no inherent importance or self-worth and they are left vulnerable to exploitation and problem behavior. Kids need purpose and it is the responsibility of the parents to speak into their kids lives so that they would understand their purpose and their belonging.
We start this process by loving our children unconditionally. We learn to love them accurately as we are being loved by our heavenly Father. Parents who love their children will do what is best for them. This requires taking time with children both ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’ time.
It has been said that children spell love T-I-M-E. The quality of the time we spend with them is essential, but we are deceiving ourselves if we make this a substitute for quantity. There is a dangerous tendency in our culture to use material possessions as a surrogate for building intimate relationships with children. They are not so easily bought off. Overindulgence with presents will not make up for a failure to express love by spending time with them.
Pro 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.[ Point
your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.]”
Parents Should Train Their Children to Know and Obey God’s Will: Few children are truly taught to love God. (Ephesians 6:4) Parents should bring children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. This includes bringing the children to all meetings of the church, and also teaching them God’s word at home (Deut. 6:6-9).
Training children is primarily the work of parents, rather than the church. It is a mistake to think moral training is the duty of the Sunday school, or Christian school teacher. It is not!
When children grow up without knowledge of God and His will, the parents will give account. (See also Prov. 22:6; Gen. 18:19; Deut. 4:9, 10; 1 Sam. 2:22-25; 3:13; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15).
The charge to parents is to know the God of moral truth, live His moral truth, and from that experience, teach our children that truth. Spurgeon said that we should train up a child in the way he should go but be sure you go that way yourself.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Moses told the parents of Israel “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
The starting point of moral training is with the parents. Before you diligently teach your children, Moses said “These words shall be in your hearts”. The principle: If moral conduct is not resident in your own heart, you cannot pass them on to your children. By intent or neglect, parents are the greatest moral influence on their children. Not only do parents teach principles of moral conduct, but they validate them in the context of daily living.
Secondly, moral training is to take place during the normal activities of the day. “You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” By implication, moral truth is best communicated in periods of non-conflict. That doesn’t mean we will not teach at times of correction, but it does mean a healthy dose of moral training should take place throughout the day and in moments of non-conflict when the child is not in a position to have to defend his or her actions.
A sign of bad parenting we find in parents who are more preoccupied with suppressing the wrong of a child’s behavior than instilling the moral reason why such behavior is wrong.
Restraining waywardness must be accompanied by instruction in righteousness. (Proverbs 1:1-7, 8:33, 9:9 & Micah 6:8)
It is not enough to teach your children how to act morally; parents must also teach them how to think morally. By this we mean that parents often tell their children what to do, but don’t tell them why they should do it. How to do right and knowing why to do right are definitely two different things. A greater emphasis is placed on the “how-to’s” than the “why-for’s”
This is exactly what Moses taught the people of Israel – It is this biblical response of the parent that we want to see in the church today.
Parents Should Punish and Reward Children When Necessary to Motivate Them to Do Good and Avoid Evil: Spanking and all forms of punishment are opposed by our society. Yet God has spoken:
(Hebrews 12:5-11) The Father in Heaven is an example to parents in chastening children. Why should children be chastised? For their benefit (v10). It causes the child to respect parents and authority in general (v9) and teaches them to act righteously (v11).
(Proverbs 13:24; 23:13, 14) Spanking is not contrary to love. Properly done it is an act of love for the child’s good to teach him to live right. It should never be done because the parent has lost his temper or to satisfy a lust for power. (See also Prov. 22:15; 19:18; Luke 15:20-24.)
Rules and discipline should be consistent. Inconsistency provokes the child to anger (Eph. 6:4). The father and mother should agree and work in harmony (Matt. 12:25).
Children must be treated fairly and justly with no favoritism (James 2:8, 9). Parents should keep their promises, including the promise to punish (James 5:12).
Parents who do not discipline their children will be held accountable by God (1 Sam. 3:13). Instead of following society’s ungodly philosophies about child-rearing, Christians need to fight those concepts with every upright weapon at our disposal. Families that follow God’s will are the ones that will truly be blessed. (See also Col. 3:21; Matt. 23:23).
The Children’s Responsibilities to Their Parents
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent upon the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and
respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wild and impatient of restraint.” – Hestes, the
Greek poet, 800B.C
This observation seems to be true for all generations. When looking at the Christian family and the place children have within family units the core values have not changed although the environment definitely has changed allot. While acknowledging the change one has to cement the core Biblical truths that ring true even today.
Pro 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.[ Point
your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.]”
Exodus 20:12 (AMP) 12 “Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days
may be prolonged in the land the LORD your God gives you.
Ephesians 6:1-3 (AMP) 6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord [that is, accept their guidance and discipline as His representatives], for this is right [for obedience teaches wisdom and self-discipline]. 2
Honor [esteem, value as precious] your father and your mother [and be respectful to them]—this is the first commandment with a promise— 3 so that it may be well with you, and that you may have a
long life on the earth.
Children are to obey and honor their parents. This means that they not only need to obey, but to obey in a respectful way that adds value to the family unit and their parents. While we don’t know exactly how long we are given by God to live, we are told that those who honor their parents will live longer lives than they would if they were disobedient, hateful and disrespectful to their mother and father.
Children Should Listen to Their Parents’ Instruction: Society encourages children to disregard their parents’ teachings and make their own choices. Young people often think their parents are unreasonable or do not understand.
(Proverbs 6:20-23) Listen to the instruction of parents, do not forsake it. Remember that parents are older and more experienced. They may not be perfect (neither are the kids!) yet they are still wiser. (See also Prov. 1:8; 15:5; 23:22).
Children Should Respect Their Parents: Young people today mock, ridicule, and openly flaunt their parents. Such conduct is encouraged by many aspects of society and is ignored by many parents.
(Ephesians 6:2, 3) Parents have God-given authority and have generally done much good for the children. They deserve to receive respectful treatment, including respectful speech and attitudes. (See Matt. 15:4; Prov. 6:20-23; 15:5; 23:22.)
1 Timothy 5:1-8 (MSG) 5 1-2 Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you
would your mother, and the younger women as sisters.
Paul is teaching Timothy, and us, that a family unit behaves with respect towards one another. In the church we are to respect and honor others as we would our own brothers, sisters, parents and extended family.
Obedience is required
Children Should Obey Their Parents: Rebellion is admired and encouraged by many. Acts that parents have disapproved off are yet practiced openly or by deception because “everybody’s doing it” or for a hundred other excuses. Some accept such conduct as inevitable. But all such is disobedience and rebellion.
(Ephesians 6:1) Children are commanded by the Lord to obey their parents. (See also Col. 3:20; 2 Tim. 3:1, 2). (Luke 2:51) Jesus set the example of subjection to his parents. (Romans 1:30, 32) One who refuses to obey his parents is worthy of death, and so are those who approve of such conduct (See Deut. 21:18-21).
1 Sam. 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.
Rebellion keeps you in a constant place of discontentment. You will constantly fight and be tired! Children should obey all parental instructions unless they are told to do something sinful (Acts 5:29).
The fact that the parents may have made some mistakes or even sinned does not justify disobedience by the children (Rom. 12:17-21; Luke 6:27-35; etc.)
Remember your Responsibility
Children Should Care for Elderly Parents: Elderly people today are often neglected or shipped to nursing homes, not because this is really needed for the proper care of the parent, but because the children do not want to be bothered.
(1Timothy 5:4, 8, 16) When children are unwilling to care for their elderly parents, they lack appreciation for what their parents did for them, and they also deny the faith. (See Matt. 15:4-6; Ruth 4:13-15; John 19:25-27.)
Making happy homes is not easy, especially in a corrupt society. But God’s plan is always best, and the homes that accomplish the most good are those that learn and do His will.
The Beauty of Submission (Referenced from Prophet Nola Pelser)
The Greek word for submission is HYPOTASSO – It is military term that means to rank under, to willfully place yourself under someone else’s authority. It implies rank. We often say, don’t pull rank. Why so important? God is a God of order and structure (See 1Co 14:33) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
He has a plan from the beginning. Your part to play is to get into line. If you pull rank it will bring confusion and chaos! The opposite of submission is rebellion: a state in which you want yourself to be seen/ counted. Show off your importance! It creates a breeding ground for aggression and dissatisfaction! This is exactly the opposite of peace, order, inner beauty.
The principle of mutual submission is important. Eph 5:21 explains we need to submit ourselves to one another in the fear of God. Men submit to your wife when it comes to order issues in the house. They create the house and are responsible for the atmosphere in the house. By submitting to them in some orbits of the daily running of the house, you help to make it possible for them to create the house and to run a tight ship!
Submission raises the level of commitment in your life to yourself, to God’s Word, to the family, to prayer, to authorities and other people. The quickest way to commitment is submission – you’ll speak (make a statement of greater impact) more through submitting to God than doing your own thing. To only do what the father tells me to do!
When you begin to submit in your inner self, your level of trust in God rises. It’s like self-elevation has put up a wall between you and God, and you have trusted only in your own words of permission, than on God’s Word on a certain matter. Turning to a lifestyle of submission will help you to receive healing, answers, guidance and emotional restoration. How you react to various situations will show how much you have submitted to God.
Either we are sheep and need a Shepherd or we are simply wise in our own eyes. It’s like climbing into a boat. Once you’ve submitted to the space in the boat, you’re not on the ground and you have to trust the boat taking you across the water. God’s Word is more solid than a boat.
The attitude of submission brings clarity in your thinking. Why? Because; submission brings rest and peace. Out of a state of rest in your inner-self you will hear the Holy Spirit’s voice more clearly and do what is right for you at the time and place. In my own life I recognize the frustration of areas where I am not yet fully submitted. But thanks to our Heavenly Father, we are growing into it day by day. Submission brings a balance. Submission helps to fulfill function not positions.
Submission makes you see people, situations, and circumstances from God’s perspective, in the light of the Word of God. Submission brings Christ out in you. He must increase, we must decrease. Submission brings God’s plan, purpose and influence into your life.
Intimacy with God and Relationships
When Adam sinned, he not only lost intimacy with God, he also lost intimacy with Eve and their relationship began to deteriorate. By principle intimacy with God is a prerequisite. In other words; do not expect people to meet your deepest needs because only God can meet those needs.
When for example your inner security is dependent upon someone whose action you cannot predict or control you lose that security. Then your ability to give is dependent upon your ability to get. Your life then is filled with disappointment and frustration. Unrealistic expectations of others create a negative atmosphere of tension and pressure that drives people away from you.
Instead trust God to meet your deepest needs. Then your inner security and strength are dependent upon someone who is completely faithful and has unlimited resources. Your ability to give then comes
from the provision of God’s Spirit within you. Even when no one is giving to you, you can still give to others.
Suddenly your life is filled with an atmosphere of satisfaction and optimism because your realistic expectations of others draw them to you.
The importance of the extended family
1Pe 2:4-5 “Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable. Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple/house, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.”
It is a fact that God created us to live in fellowship and community with one another. We are designed to be connected and will die if we are isolated. Right across the world people are born into a family of some sort and no one is exempt of being linked to someone.
The Greek definition given for family or House/oikos is: the “Primary people” in our lives. The reality is that the world and with it our ideas of family/oikos has changed. The concept of fellowship and community has also changed and with it how we relate to one another.
It is therefore important that we will look at the changing world and with it the dynamics that changed within our family existence and how we now relate to one another in the church. We will look at the original design of the church and how us getting back to that design might change the way that we operate in the family.
It is a different world.
There is a loss of Support
The extended household is busy dying. Kids, not too long ago had the opportunity to know grandma and grandpa; uncle’s and aunt’s. In the 60’s 70% of kids grew up knowing a grandpa or a grandma and today only 2% of kids have access to such a relationship. For the first time in history we speak of the nuclear family instead of the extended family. And for the first time it is expected of parents to be alone in raising their kids. In the past there was a bigger support from the extended family.
The result: The family lost their natural support systems.
Mentors [grandma & grandpa] the relationships that God created as a help to parenting no longer exist. Kids had a sense of security in the multitude of influences found in the extended family that disappeared.
The same has happened in the church. There is a loss of support as people isolate themselves from one another.
Another result: The influence of our mentor’s that made kids grow and achieve success is failing.
Parents today do not receive coaching from their parents anymore and most parents are left alone to fight the battle of parenting ALONE!
In the same way fathering, mentoring and couching has been replaced in the church with prosperity driven motivational teachings reinforcing the power of the one or the individual.
Patricia Hersch says: The sickness of our time is “relational deprivation”
With the death of the extended family we see the death of community. In the place of fellowship came individualism. Things like DSTV; Computers; XBOX’s and Playsatation games took the place of family and fellowship. We do not know our neighbors and we became a community of isolated individuals. Kids and parents that live separated lives – alone; including spouses that have separated lives.
The child of the twentieth century is more isolated and more unsupervised than in any other generation.
There is a loss of Place
In the past kids contributed to the family economy. Today kids are seen to be a luxury and a “liability”.
For the first time in history children became unnecessary.
The result: Children feel no inherent importance or self-worth and as a result they are vulnerable to exploitation and problem behavior. Kids need purpose and it is the responsibility of the parents to speak into their kids lives so that they would understand their purpose or their belonging.
In the same way the church no longer operate as a body with members and different functions but rather like an entertainment centre where you go to please the self – to reaffirm and celebrate your individual preferences. We see that people isolate themselves in mass gatherings on Sundays to hide themselves. Church has become a place where we do not care to know one another and pray that others would not come to know the real you. We’ve become a people without support, without fellowship who does not know our purpose and place in the Body of Christ.
We also live in the age of information: More people know more about the world than ever before and with it;
There is a loss of Innocence
Cell phones, Facebook, Mix-it, Twitter and unlimited internet access rob us of our innocence, our time and ultimately fellowship. It’s all gone into cyberspace.
The media also has reached ex-streams in showing programming that has violence; sex; bad language and “adult” themes.
The result: Childhood is disappearing!
There is a loss of heroes
Parents and family are “absent” and there are no role models to imitate.
Christianity has become plastic losing its genuineness and kids are reacting to these moral-less lifestyles.
Money has become the hero.
The fact that this is happening does not change the fact that we have been created for one another. Children and adults alike have a need to be connected to people and many a time if the family unit cannot provide for this need other people/groups fill this need for fellowship and belonging. The reality is that many a time these friends or peer groups may have a negative and even sometimes detrimental influence on us.
WHAT TO DO! What is the answer?
Reform back to God’s original design found in Scripture. It is to reform us back to the original concept of church/ of body. Church is what it is because the family has become what it is.
When sociality have sifted so far away from the original intent found in the Word we, as the body of Christ have to step up and apply the truths of the scriptures. That is why I believe that God is reforming the family back to its original design.
We/the church now become each other’s extended family where we all benefit when:
We become each other’s Support
We live in Community/Fellowship
We find our Place in the body
Where Innocence is restored &
Heroes are born
We excess the wealth of the corporate body when:
The Support system is restored
IE: The understanding of equal care is restored:
The spiritual house of God is not made up of man-made structures and positions. Church is a spiritual entity! If one member suffers, even slightly, the whole body suffers. (1 Cor 12:26) The body is not made up of positions but the functioning of the different parts.
WE ARE PURPOSEFULLY JOINED TO ONE ANOTHER – We are THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST; ONE FLESH (EPH 5:30) THE CHURCH/or we could say: THE FAMILY IS CHRIST’S BODY IN WHICH HE SPEAKS AND ACTS, BY WHICH HE FILLS EVERYTHING WITH HIS PRESENCE and Purpose.
We work together, we are closely knitted (Eph 2:21-22) or fitly framed together and everyone then immediately feels the weight and pressure if one ‘part’ malfunctions. For the body to operate efficiently each person in the group must serve and have equal care for the house of God. (1 Cor 12:25) This implies that we understanding that each one serves according to his/her level of faith, expertise, gifting or grace and so on.
We excess the wealth of the corporate body when:
We live in Community/Fellowship
The Bible calls this togetherness: ‘fellowship’, or communion, companionship, friendship, camaraderie, partnership and association. I’d like to refer to it simply as two fellows in a ship. Two guys each with an ore working in tandem to move the little boat from one end of the lake to the other. Fellowship is more than just coffee and cake. It happens when we suffer together.
Let’s look at the definition of church. The biblical definition of ‘church’ does not derive from the Latin translation of “Kirche” which comes from a root word that can mean circus, as well as assembly or congregation. A more acceptable translation for the word, church, is from the Greek “ecclesia” which, when directly translated means: called-out-ones.
The origin of this word comes from Caesar’s group of specialists who were intentionally called together to fulfill the will of Caesar. So, by definition “church” refers to the collective gathering of individuals with the purpose to fulfill the will of God.
Paul explains the dynamics of church using the metaphor of a human body. Remember that in a body there are no dead parts, no passive inactive members! In a body every part exists for the sake of the other parts. The human body is a magnificent collective genius of parts functioning as one! THE Individual BODY parts are THERE FOR THE corporate BODY. We are not to seek our own interests, but the interests of others. (Phil 2:1-11) We need each other.
Find your Place
1Pe 2:4-5 “Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable. Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple/house, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.”
IE: The Corporate design:
We come to salvation individually, but we cannot grow into our full stature in Christ unless we are joined with other members into ONE FLESH which is HIS BODY.
You cannot be a spiritual body on your own (a body is made up of many parts), nor can you be part of the global body of Christ individually as the global body of Christ is made up of many spiritual bodies and not an individual. It is then to break out of or individuality and embrace the corporateness of our design.
There is no such thing as we do not have to go to church; because we are the church. This idea is born from an isolationist point of view which in itself is not scriptural.
A church that accepts the fivefold ministries into their midst and make room for these gifts to nurture the body of Christ, will experience true spirituality and maturity.
It is easy to hide in a big congregation and to fall into the trap of just attending services. But the growth that the body supplies according to Ephesians 4:16 is seriously lacking in such an environment. People grow spiritually more in smaller groups, because people know one another, and cannot hide and they rely heavily on each other, so there is no passivity.
The practicality of the body illustrated:
IS THERE ONE PART OF THE BODY/family THAT CAN BE REMOVED AND STILL GO ON FUNCTIONING ON ITS OWN? NO
DOES ANY PART OF THE BODY HAVE A FUNCTION OUTSIDE OF THE BODY? NO
IS THERE ONE PART OF THE BODY THAT IS NOT NECESSARY TO THE WHOLE? NO
CAN ONE PART OF THE BODY DECIDE IT IS TIRED OF THE OTHER PARTS AND MOVE TO ANOTHER BODY AT WILL? NO. WHY NOT? THE BODY IS MADE ACCORDING TO GOD’S
DESIGN and in the same way the family unit has been joined and made according to God’s design. You might have a choice when choosing a spouse, you might have a choice when to start a family, but once you have made your choice, God designs the baby and gives it life.
Final tips to consider:
So we see the gap that has come because of the environment that we live in today. As parents – as husbands and wife’s we start by identifying the gap, by keeping a positive attitude and applying scripture to the way we do things.
When we get a grasp of the family structure God has established, we can get a better understanding of how God wants us to interact with one another and with His authority.
The family unit points us to another establishment God has ordained i.e the church. Jesus Christ is the head of the church. He is the authority. The church as a whole is His bride. We as individuals in the church are His children and siblings one with another.
If you have a proper family unit, then your children will have a better understanding of God, His church and His authority. If your children never learn to respect their parents, whom they live with and interact with, then how are they going to learn to respect God whom they cannot see? When parents teach their children that there is authority, responsibility and consequences for wrong actions, the children will much more quickly understand who God is and the authority He has in our lives.
Do your children a favor and establish a family as God defines it and they will grow up with a better understanding of God and the wonderful salvation He offers.
We need to live and love from a new operating system in our relationship world. We live life from a spiritual perspective where you pray for your spouse and pray for your children. Love and you will be loved. Protect and you will be protected. Then relationship is the complete dedication to meet the needs of the other person you’re connected with. This includes your spouse; your children; your family or even your boss. All relationships operate best when we start to value those outside of self more than our self-centered wants and needs.
To define love then is to know who love is, and God is love. Anything that we think is love where God is not the foundation thereof is but a cheap imitation thereof and bound to fail us or is at worst sinful. (1Jn 4:8) We know how to love because we are loved by the Savior.
Lust is selfish and self-centered. Adultery is the fruit of lust. Lust is a demonic power and must not be confused with love. Jesus is love and anything we define as love where Christ is not the center of, is a lie. God will never say we should leave our husband/wife for someone else. Feelings might change but love is not a feeling – it is an act of your will. You chose to fall in love over and over again.
Everything we do or don’t do must be measured against scriptures like Gen 2; Eph 5 and other scriptures as they form the basis of the Christian relationship world. I believe that if we are willing to follow God’s plan for relationship, we can create a wonderful and fulfilling environment for a lifetime of love, friendship and intimacy.
A: FIRST THINGS
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be
added to you. (NKJV) Introduction: On releasing the flow of giving in a local body, I believe one must start with ‘’first things’. ‘First things’ link to much deeper principles than just setting right your priorities. The deeper depths of man’s values must be addressed. Correct prioritising only happens as our values shift
First fruits are a principle of faith that God has established from the beginning. In Hebrew, it is the word ‘bikkurim’, and it literally means ‘a promise to come.’
First fruits mean: the first in priority, order or rank. It is the first and foremost thing. First fruits are the principle of dedicating our ‘first things’ to the Lord, so that everything else can fall into their proper/divine position. It’s about aligning ourselves with God’s order.
The Biblical principle of first fruits can be summed up like this: the ‘first fruits’ establish the pathway for what follows or is yet to come. Though long overlooked by many, this divine establishment of God’s order of things is the root that governs the rest.
When you KEEP FIRST THINGS FIRST through faith and obedience, you turn God’s promise into His PROVISION!
We honour God’s principle of ‘first things’ if we obey. To be in alignment with what God has for us, we must start off as instructed by obeying God’s Holy Principles! God’s Word clearly instructs us on how to conduct ourselves.
Leviticus 23:9-10: “When you come into the land which I gave you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.” (NKJV)
In the Old Testament, Exodus 23:19 says this: “The first of the first fruits of thy land shalt you bring
into the house of the Lord your God.” (NKJV)
Besides these verses, there are several other specific ‘first things’ that God designates as being His in the Old Testament. People were supposed to offer the best of their ‘first things’ to God.
God’s intention was to convey the message to humanity that the first of every significant thing must be devoted to Him, so that everything to follow would be blessed.
Proverbs 3:9: “Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your increase.” (NKJV)
God claims the first fruits of anything and everything! It rightfully belongs to Him in His divine order. When we apply the principle of first fruits – First Things First – in our lives, we begin to see that all firsts should be given to the Lord:
The first part of the day
The first day of the week and
The first of our harvest; be it the wages for the first hour, the first day, the first week, or the month.
The best of our time
The best of our energy
The best of our giftedness
The best of our ability
The best of our money
Matthew 6:33 “Jesus declared, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness… all these things
will be added to you” (NKJV)
God adds the “things” to you when the correct foundation is in place to be built upon.
Remember that ‘the Old Testament is the New concealed, and the New Testament is the Old revealed.’ Most of what we see in the Old Testament is a ‘type and shadow’ of what was to come in the New Testament. What came in the New Testament?
Jesus Christ’s Lordship &
The Kingdom of God.
In the Old Testament, God was preparing and priming humanity for the entrance of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The New Testament tears away the veil to reveal the full measure of the principles of ‘first things’.
The principle of first fruits is therefore a ‘type and shadow’ that has been fulfilled in Jesus’ arrival on earth.
1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (NKJV)
Adam was the first person who God created. When he became contaminated with sin, everyone else became contaminated, too.
Romans 5:1 “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.”
The first man, Adam, was a template or a pattern of everyone else to come. Remember the definition again of first fruits? First fruits are the principle of dedicating our ‘first things’ to the Lord, so that everything else can fall into their proper position and cause a blessing for us.
So we learn that the manner in which you govern ‘first things’ in your life sets a pattern for how the rest of those things will flow or come to fruition.
Ever since Adam fell into death, death reigned until a new first fruit was sent and a New Covenant was made. The New covenant came in the person of Christ Jesus.
The Old Testament vaguely pointed to Him, but the New Testament proclaims about Him!
In Romans 8:29, the Bible declares: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (NKJV)
Jesus is the firstborn, or first fruit, among many brethren.
Jesus is our pattern now. We no longer live under the failure and shame of Adam; we have the victory and confidence of Christ!
Jesus is our pattern and template, not Adam anymore. We are destined to be conformed to His image. He is our pattern and instead of death, life has come!
In Amos, God says, “Stop your songs. Stop your offerings. I will not accept them because your hearts aren’t right with me.” “The sacrifices of God,” says the Psalmist “are a broken spirit and a contrite heart,” these are the sacrifices that God accepts.
We offer up ourselves to God by giving Him our best in every area of life: at work, in relationships, in trials and in sufferings, in the mornings, in prayer and in our giving. This might seem unto death but it is a sacrifice given unto a glorious promise of life.
If we are to be used by God, we need to put first things first. I therefore challenge you to put FIRST THINGS FIRST and HONOR GOD! Start activating the Word by offering God your LIFE as a seed towards the harvest that He has prepared for you.
B: AN APOSTOLIC PERSPECTIVE ON GIVING
Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (NKJV)
The perspective that Paul taught
As New Testament believers, we are the offering and the sacrifice, it is because we have surrendered ourselves, that we can give all that we own to God. Paul gave himself and his possessions.
2 Corinthians 12:15 “But I will most gladly spend [myself] and be utterly spent for your souls. If I
love you exceedingly, am I to be loved [by you] the less?” (AMP) Paul taught us the principle: Spend and be spent
I believe the problem we have in the church with people who do not tithe is that we are asking people who have not yet given themselves completely to the Lord to tithe. When you understand giving and giving yourself to the Lord, you live beyond tithing – you then become the tithe.
Romans 3:31 “Do we then by [this] faith make the Law of no effect, overthrow it or make it a dead letter? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law.” (AMP)
In this context, every aspect of the law is fulfilled in us. When you give yourself to the Lord you move beyond the keeping of the law to being the fulfilment of the law. The Jews tithed; we will do better.
Matthew 5:20 ”For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of
The Jew/scribe/Pharisee could bring his tithe, but could not sacrifice himself to God – He gave, but still loved his tithe – his possessions, etc. In Jesus, we are owned by God. This position of death to self releases a grace into our lives whereby we can give completely and receive without measure or restriction. The beginning of our provision lies in the moment when we give ourselves, then God begins to work in and through us.
Galatians 2:20 ” I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave
Himself up for me.” (AMP)
Self denial is the key to understanding how to give. The just shall live by faith!
Hebrews 10:38 “But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.” (AMP)
Philippians 2:13 ” [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good
pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” (AMP)
When God truly starts to work in you, you cease to exist in legalism. Only then we can be Spirit-led (See Rom 8:14). You now are no longer looking for a blessing, you become the blessing. This moves us beyond the open windows of heaven found in Malachi 3.
We no longer live under an open window, but an open heaven
Scripture Reference: Acts 7:55-60
Stephen saw heavens open because he gave himself. John on the Isle of Patmos saw heaven open because he denied himself for the sake of the gospel. (See Rev 4:1). When Jesus denied himself before John the Baptist we see the heavens open. (See Matt 3:13-16).
When Christ gave himself on the cross the heavens were opened for us for all eternity, never to close again. We no longer only live under an open window that can be closed – but if we truly surrender our lives to Him, the heavens are opened over our lives.
We are no longer under the law with regards to tithing. Do we still tithe? Yes, we do – not because of the law, but in response to the principles and patterns of giving that we find in both the Old and New Testament.
Through ourselves giving sacrificially and denying ourselves, we start to tap into not just an open window (as under the law) but into an open heaven.
We must decide to become the tithe, offering and sacrifice in order to do great exploits for the Lord in this move. The life we live then becomes a demonstration of the abundant provisions of God.
We are to be living sacrifices. No man can be of any use to God unless he has learnt the skill to die to his own self.
C: HOW TO DEAL WITH FINANCIAL LACK
The way we deal with money is different than the way this world deals with it. Our worth as human beings are not determined by the amount of money we have but by who Jesus says we are. Our values are different and therefore our evaluation of circumstances is also different. It is not money that makes the world turn; realistically, it is God that sustains us and creation. Our dependency is not upon man and his institutions, but we are being upheld by God. He is our source and He is our reward.
So how do we deal with the lack of finances?
Our Perspective changes (We are a prosperous people)
We do not operate from lack. We operate from the innumerable riches of Christ. Money does not determine our position of prosperity but our connection to Christ determines our position. The Bible says that the righteous prosper in all their ways. We are a prosperous people!
The Way of the Righteous
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper. (NKJV)
In Hebrew, the word for prosper is ‘tsalakh’ and it refers to: succeeding as God succeeded with His plan of redemption. (See Isaiah 53:10). The picture of prosperity in the Hebrew mind is ‘wading through a river on a camel’s back’. (See II Samuel 19:18) You make it to the other side! You finish happily! You prosper!
When you make it to the end of the day, the end of the week, you are prosperous! It may not look like prosperity to others who judge according to worldly standards, but you made it! You waded through the river!
So, we should not be ashamed of our prosperity. Others may scoff at it and despise it, but it is precious to us! My God delights in my prosperity, why would I not delight in it as well?
My Heavenly Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills! All the silver and the gold belong to Him. He is prosperous and I am His child! I will wade through the river of circumstances and make it to the other side on the back of my faith in Him!
We tend to think of prosperity in a purely materialistic way. We think that if we have all the money we want, we can buy what we want and that is prosperity, but true prosperity means you are able to meet the demands of life and wade through to the other side!
The reason why we never think we are prosperous is because we have a false sense of prosperity. That is why prosperity becomes a carrot in front of the horse’s nose that it can never reach. We are waiting for something that might never happen and we frustrate the grace of God that is sufficient for us.
So, we never rejoice because we have false expectations from God and for ourselves. Once we get the true perspective on prosperity, we became grateful and thank God for our level of prosperity that helps us through every single day of our lives. Only once we accept our prosperity, does it begin to increase!
We break Covetousness (Covetousness is the fear of not having enough)
Jesus taught often on finances, yet we note that He emphasized and warned the most against the spiritual danger of covetousness. He did not emphasise the many biblical principles on how to manage money. He focused on stewarding money with the right spirit, which includes not loving it, hoarding it, or trusting in it.
We refute both the spirits of poverty and over-indulgence.
2I pray that you prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John:2) (NKJV)
Jesus taught that God gives to us in proportion to the measure of our giving. Covetousness is the fear of not having enough. It is a spiritual condition that opposes faith and limits Godly provision.
38Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38) (NKJV)
The measure in which we act against fear and covetousness, by operating in the opposite spirit of faith and generosity, determines some of the measure in which God intervenes in our finances.
The best antidote against covetousness is tithing and giving!
We live in a new way (embracing voluntary weakness)
The Sermon on the Mount lifestyle, also referred to as the fasted lifestyle, is a call to embrace voluntary weakness. Jesus spoke of the paradox in Paul’s life of embracing weakness so as to experience more strength in the Spirit (2 Cor. 12:9). He was not referring to moral weakness, but to Paul’s Godly choices to embrace voluntary weaknesses.
9My grace [power] is sufficient for you [Paul], for My strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) (AMP)
There are many types of “fasting” in the fasted lifestyle (See Mt. 6:1-18). We fast time, energy, money, and words by giving, serving, praying, blessing our enemies and fasting food. Each is a form of fasting, in which we voluntarily embrace weakness to experience more of God’s strength.
In giving, we fast our money and financial strength. In serving and prayer, we fast our time and energy, investing it in others and in intercession. In giving up food, we fast our physical and emotional strength. Blessing our enemies requires that we fast our words and reputation.
Possibly the greatest enemy of the fasted lifestyle among believers is the false notion that fasting is radical Christianity and is optional for healthy Christianity – It is not. Fasting is normal and basic to the Christian life—it is ]Christianity 101.’ It is not possible to live biblical Christianity without being committed to a lifestyle of praying, fasting, giving, serving and blessing our enemies.
We are called to serve and give (charitable deeds: service and/or money (Mt. 6:1-4, 19-21). Charitable deeds refer to acts of servanthood and financial giving. They include more than ministry to the poor, but encompass an investment of time or money to serve people in God’s will.
So how do we deal with the lack of finances?
Our Perspective change and we believe that we are prosperous based on God’s opinion, not man’s.
We break Covetousness (fear of not having enough) by stewarding money with the right spirit; which includes not loving it, hoarding it, or trusting in it. Tithing and giving has been appointed by God as an antidote to covetousness.
We live in a new way by voluntarily embracing weakness. In giving, we fast our money and financial strength and we know that when we are weak we are actually strong.
Looking at the things that stand in the way of total consecration regarding giving I want to address the following:
D: THE DANGER OF ENTITLEMENT
Entitlement creates an inward, self focused, self-centered person. The sheer nature of the message is the importance, rights and benefits YOU deserve. We become the focus and the means to the end. God is reduced to someone who helps me get what I believe I am entitled to. This is an alarming reality.
This ‘spiritual entitlement’ leads us to believe that God owes us something – that He is in some way compelled to give us what we want. We have a right to material abundance, comfort, zero problems, the nice house and all the other things our culture of entitlement tells us we deserve.
Within church culture, entitlement can be expressed with these sayings, “I deserve to be a part of this ministry”, “I have a right to this platform”, “I am entitled to this position”. Some believe they are entitled based on tenure, money and/or ministry experience. Regardless, living the Christian life with feelings of what is owed to us, what we deserve and what we have a right to, puts us in harm’s way.
Why many walk away from the Lord
Many people leave the faith because “God/Church didn’t come through for them”. For many, the reason God/Church didn’t work is because God was never made Lord of their lives. He was a means to get what they felt they were entitled to. When this didn’t happen it was a simple decision to move on to the next thing.
Though I believe God gives us gifts and wants to meet our needs, the heart of the salvation message is the fact that we stand guilty before a holy God. Our sin has separated us from our heavenly Father.
Provision has been made on the cross by Jesus to save us from our sin and remove our guilt. He will rescue us, redeem us and save us if we simply invite Him to be Lord of our lives.
What we deserve is to be eternally separated from God but now we enjoy knowing God our Creator, Father and friend based on the finished work of Christ on the cross. There is much to be grateful for.
God owes us nothing
God owes us nothing. God is not entitled, obligated to or in any way relegated to give us anything. He is God. He gives because He wants to, not because He has to.
He is the center of all things and we are not. All things exist for His good pleasure.
The Good News is that even though God owes us nothing, out of His great love He will give us what we need and even things we desire. Yet, He is never entitled to give us a thing. It’s from unconditional love by grace that He gives.
The problem with entitlement is that it creates an attitude that puts a selfish demand on God’s generosity and creates conditions in the relationship that are unhealthy and I would dare say, deadly.
The dark side of entitlement
If we believe that God owes us something then the measure of our thankfulness is now based on God’s performance and the entitlements we expect from Him. When we sense we have a right to something we distance ourselves from grace and ultimately, God.
To the extent that we fall into an entitlement trap we become more deserving in our own eyes and
God’s grace gets less and less amazing in our estimation.
Before we know it, gratitude and thanksgiving are slowly replaced with bitterness, pride and envy.
Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (NKJV)
If we become ungrateful and cease to give honor to the Lord, our thinking becomes futile and our hearts grow dark.
Now the opposite is true. The more we honor and give thanks to God, the mind becomes fruitful and our hearts become filled with light.
Five ways to loosen entitlements’ grip on our lives
As Christians, how can we minimize the traffic that entitlement brings? How can we stay free from its message?
Give Thanks – Giving thanks to God in all things is the antidote to entitlement, as well as worry. Thanksgiving is the barometer of the heart – when thanksgiving is strong, entitlement is weak. Entitlement cannot stick to a grateful heart.
1Th. 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)
Remember Grace – Remember what God saved you from and recall often how His love, grace and mercy reached you when you could’ve cared less.
When we remember how utterly blind we were, how completely lost we were, how hopeless we were, how sin sentenced us to life forever without God and when we had zero desire to pursue Him, He died for us. When we remember these things, praise fills our mouths for all the Lord has done and entitlements soon become distant thoughts.
Titus 3:3-7 “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Think Eternally – Live with eternity in mind. (An eternal perspective)
This life is but a flicker compared to what lies ahead. Try setting your mind in heavenly places. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:9).” What we receive in the next life blows away anything we can imagine right now. Live through the lens of eternity and not the temporal.
Hebrews 11:25-26 — “[Moses] chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
Cut back on Media – The voices of entitlement travel through media. Folks are cutting back on television, web-surfing, movies and other forms of media to help them clear the clutter in their minds. It’s much easier to detach ourselves from the entitlement message when we control the gates of our ears and eyes.
Understand your Purpose – We live not just for ourselves but our lives impact and impart the mysteries of Christ to our generation. Live for others and understand that some are called in this life to suffer some things on behalf of others.
Conclusion: Entitlement does not mean that we cannot ask things from God. The Bible clearly says to ask, seek and knock. Bring your requests to God. Believe Him for provision, healing, deliverance, even that promotion. But always remember, He never “owes it” to you. He gives because He loves.
E: THE SPIRIT OF POVERTY
“The goal of the spirit of poverty is not just to keep things from us, but to keep us from the will of God. To do this, Satan may even give us great riches, but our lives will nevertheless be just as empty and full of worries as if we were destitute.” Rick Joyner
Ephesians 1:19-23 (MSG) 15-19 That’s why [Ephesians’], when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! 20-23 All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
Introduction: When we are born again, we were redeemed from the curse of the law. The curse of the law is poverty, sickness and spiritual death. We have been redeemed from the curse and now live under the New Covenant. (See Galatians 3:8-14)
Yet still we are all daily in a spiritual battle [not a war without knowledge of the outcome]; but a battle where the enemy of our faith will attempt to defeat and destroy our faith. Remember that the battle is to rob us of our faith. The only battle we therefore fight is the good fight of faith – to keep our faith. (See 1 Tim 6:12 and 2 Tim 4:7)
One of these evil spirits we face in our daily battle is the spirit of poverty which you’ll see in this teaching has very little to do with money.
Stronghold of Discontentment
The Spirit of Poverty will bind the believer in a stronghold called discontentment that Satan uses to keep the Church in bondage. Every church and every believer must overcome this enemy in order to walk in the purposes for which they are called. This Stronghold is one of the enemy’s most successful weapons against us, but by overcoming it we gain a place of Spiritual Authority FROM WHICH WE CAN BE USED TO MEET SOME OF THE WORLD’S PRESSING NEEDS.
Wherever this stronghold is overthrown, it is like casting off the darkness of the most terrible spiritual Winter and seeing the world blossom into Spring again.
When we think of poverty, we usually think of money or economics, but the spirit of poverty may or may not have anything to do with these. The SPIRIT OF POVERTY WILL establish a STRONGHOLD OF DISCONTENTMENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF KEEPING US FROM WALKING IN THE FULLNESS OF THE VICTORY GAINED FOR US AT THE CROSS, OR THE BLESSINGS OF OUR INHERITANCE IN CHRIST.
This can relate to everything from the quality of our marriages to the anointing we have for ministry, our stewardship regarding finances, as well as any other resources that we need for what we have been called to do.
The main goal of the spirit of poverty is not just to keep things from us, but to keep us from the will of God for our lives. To do this, Satan may even give us great riches, but our lives will nevertheless be just as full of worries and fear as if we were broke and destitute.
The constant struggle to live full and purposeful lives has got little to do with the amount of money we need or have; but more so the level of discontentment by which we live.
Satan, the prince of darkness
Satan is called ”The prince of darkness” because darkness is his domain. His main strategy is to keep us from seeing the light of God’s Word. Therefore, whenever the light of understanding shines on something, his authority over it is broken. Why? Because Satan can only rule where there is darkness, or ignorance of the truth of God.
Truth breaks Satan’s power. This is why the Lord said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
The truth according to our scripture reference is: God raised him [Jesus] from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all and has the final word on everything.
Jesus, the Light of the World
Note that both the Lord Jesus and the Church are called:”The light of the world” (See John 8:12 and Mathew 5:14) Jesus came to”Destroy the works of the devil.” (See 1 John 3:8), and the way that He did this was by shining light into the darkness. Therefore when we walk in the light as He did we will also destroy the enemy’s works?
1 John 1:5-7 (NKJV) 5This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
GET THIS! Principalities will not flee just because we command them to. We must push them out by walking in the light that exposes them. Truth demonstrated by accurate living is the most powerful spiritual weapon there is, and we have been entrusted with it.
Our goal for being free from the spirit of poverty is not so that we can have things that we need or want, but so that we can do the will of God, without hindrance from either physical or spiritual depravity.
According to our scripture reference Paul explains it like this: He says; I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasping
the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
When the world witnesses our freedom, it will start asking for answers that we have. When we are free from the yoke of the spirit of poverty, our freedom will be manifested in the natural as well as the spiritual.
Know the will of God for your Life
Evidence that we have been truly freed from the yoke of the spirit of poverty is that we are able to make decisions based on what the will of the Lord is and not on how much money we have or do not have. I know that this statement is foreign to most believers but it’s the truth anyway.
So, what is the will of God? Well to start, know that it is God’s will that we have enough to fulfill his will and any given instruction. God gives the perfect measure of grace to meet every demand in every season.
Whenever God calls you to do something, He always supply the perfect measure of grace to get the job done. God will never lead you where His promises cannot keep you.
2 Corinthians 9:8 (MSG) 8-11 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
Secondly, know that it is imperative that we set a goal for being financially independent, (get out of debt) because that is His will for any of His Children. It is not His will for any of His to be bound by the yokes of this world.
We must therefore seek financial independence, but always keep in mind that it is a means and not the end in itself. To be financially independent without knowing our purpose in God would be like getting all dressed up with no place to go.
The Key to Contentment
Like Paul, we can be content if we are either abased or abounding, as long as we are walking in the will of God for us. That is the key phrase: “walking in the will of God for us”. We don’t want to be either abased or abounding if we are not living in His will.
The key for liberation from any evil stronghold in our life is to do God’s Will and for this to happen obedience is required.
Philippians 4:11-13 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)
Conclusion: The purpose of getting free from this stronghold is to enable us to do His will. We must live our lives with the goal to “have as much as needed to fulfil the will of God in our lives; not to live in comfort, or be able to retire early or have a large house or expensive car.
We should not run the world’s race. We rather choose to run God’s race and it is not about us! It is all about God and His goals!
My prayer for you is that you receive this word and understand that there is a very real spiritual battle waged against your life, from the kingdom of darkness – Go through to the other side, because your promotion is on the other side of your obedience.
F: THE ART OF RECEIVING
Any army has a supply line. Without a supply line the armies at the forefront will be cut off from their provision and will have to withdraw. Every local body needs a supply line.
Luke 6:38 “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be
measured back to you.”
Because of your greatest need, you need to give your greatest gift in order to set the law of giving and receiving into motion! Let it be an act of your deepest love and strongest faith. Give as sacrificially as God gave. God’s reward system works: Souls are being saved because God gave His best and expects to receive! Jesus is our pattern for giving and receiving!
It is more blessed to give than to receive according to Jesus, but just how many people can really receive in a way that pleases the Master? We need to understand receiving the way He taught it in order to enjoy what He has to give. Many people can take, but few can receive. There is an art in receiving that is lost in modern society where everyone feels the world owes them something!
It takes humility to receive. Giving can make you proud. Giving is so gratifying that you complement yourself and remind others of what you have given them. It is so hard for the self to die, but learning to receive is a humbling experience. Pride cannot receive because it never admits that it needs anything.
There is a grace in giving and there is a grace in receiving. When you give, your right hand should not know what your left hand is doing and in receiving you should receive from the Lord through the vessel He chose to bless you with and be thankful so that the cycle of giving and receiving can end with thanksgiving towards the Lord who started the cycle in the first place!
Mike Wood, simply says: “Money circulates!” In Luke 6 Jesus taught his disciples a few principles on giving and receiving. Note that giving and receiving is not just about money and provision. Your capacity to be able to give and your capacity to be able to receive have a lot to do with how you give and receive.
Luke 6:37-38 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (38) Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same
measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.
(38) ‘Didomi’ – GIVE in Greek describes the act of giving something to someone else’s advantage. It also indicates that you give something of worth or value from yourself; in other words, to give is equal to you letting it go – “no strings attached!” Therefore, you cannot tell that person what to
do with the gift you have given. Once you have given, it belongs to someone else and they can do with it what they want to. There is no prescribed giving involved here. You commission your gift away from yourself to go and be a blessing to someone else.
‘Metron’ – GOOD MEASURE is the Greek word Luke uses to explain the good measure used to receive the rewards of your giving. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure…”
It speaks of a measuring rod or the standard by which things are measured. There is a limit to what you can receive. Your vessel to receive or your measure to receive is determined by how much you are willing to give, or your metron determines it. Your metron determines the extent of what you can receive. There is a set portion that belongs to you, it is called your metron or good measure.
The way you measure to give is also the extent of the measure of how you will receive. The manner with which you measure out a gift for others will be anti-measured back to you! Anti is a prefix telling you the reason why. If you used that specific measure to give to others, that same measure will be used for you when it is time for you to receive. This is God’s law of giving and receiving in any area of your life. We have to learn this principle before anything will change in our giving and receiving.
“Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom”
Conclusion: Receiving only begins as you set your heart on giving
2 Cor 9:7 “Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous “prompt to do it”)
giver [whose heart is in his giving].” (AMP)
(“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (NKJV)
Your heart must be set on giving and not on receiving. Let us give with a giving heart, a cheerful heart – God loves a cheerful giver. People who give out of their heart decide before Sunday how much to give. God isn’t prepared to do without a purposeful and a cheerful giver, a people who gives out of their hearts.
2 Corinthians 9:9 “As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; his
righteousness endures forever.”
Let us break free – let us disperse abroad! Don’t just think of yourself – think outside of yourself. Life becomes worthwhile when you live for others. Realise that the seed you sow in giving out is not just staying here.
Remember: We live to better the lives of others.
Scripture References: Ephesians 5:25-27 & 32
Dick Hillis said: Every heart with Christ, a missionary; every heart without Christ, a
Introduction: The church is missionary by nature because God has sent it on a mission in the world under the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is to bear witness to God’s redemptive reign. Just as God is a missionary God, so the church is to be a missionary church.
It is no wonder that two thirds of the gospel message is centered on going. (Reference Apostle Andre Pelser) Even the word ‘gospel’ starts with the word – go. In today’s society though we like things easy (comfortable) and most of our postmodern preaching have centered on themes on how good things will come to us. We have become spoiled in a sense and very self-centered in our thinking and theology.
As long as self is celebrated missions will not be a focus because giving is at the centre of going. Today God is reforming the church away from self-centeredness in order to realign our theology and methodology with the accuracy of scripture.
John Bevere recently said that we shouldn’t read into scripture what we believe. We should believe what we read in scripture.
The psalmist wrote in Psalms 119:89: ‘Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven’. God’s Word is forever settled. It will never change. In Hebrew the word used for ‘settled’ is natsab (naw-tsab); meaning literally to set as a boundary. This means that God has set His Word as a boundary beyond which no Christian should go.
Believing the simplicity of the Word gives us the ability to do exactly what scripture tells us to do.
Reforming the idea of missions
Now let’s look at the word missions. This is a term not found in the Bible and derivatives of it were never used in the same way as modern man is using it today. Today we understand it as being a missionary who operate out of a local Antioch type church going to the lost nations of the earth.
In the Bible the word in Greek; [Apostolos] was used: meaning; “send one or send by God”. Today God is restoring to the church the ministry NOT of missions but of the apostolic. And apostolic ministry has a much broader meaning to it than the misconception of mission we sometimes have. We, the whole company of believers i.e the church are an apostolic people with government placed upon us; called out of the comfort of our local churches to rise up with the message of the kingdom; to go into all the earth and to live there in a new way. The message is not only to look at Jesus, but we need to move into Jesus. We need to live the message we preach whether inside or outside of the walls of the local church.
Mat 24:14 ‘And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the earth for a testimony to all the nations, and
then will come the end.’
I believe that with the restoration of the apostolic God is also restoring true worship. Worship is more than a song or an event; it is a lifestyle. We live life differently than the rest of the world. We do not fall into the same
stresses and anxieties because we are wholly centred on Christ. A new and living way has been opened for us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (See Hebrews 10:19-20)
Missions (the old understanding off it) exist because worship doesn’t – (I am referencing from the book ‘Desiring God’; written by John Piper)
Missions like it has been known to the church in recent history are not the ultimate goal of the church. A living; loving and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is the ultimate goal. Missions (in the way we know it today) exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate because relationship is ultimate. Missions cannot be the end goal, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity, but our relationship with Jesus abides forever.
Where passion for God is weak, zeal for apostolic work will be weak. Churches that are not centred on the exaltation of the majesty and beauty of God will scarcely kindle a fervent desire to declare his glory among the nations.
Psa 96:1-10 ‘Sing a new song to the LORD! Sing to the LORD, all the world! Sing to the LORD, and praise him! Proclaim every day the good news that he has saved us. Proclaim his glory to the nations, his mighty deeds to all peoples. The LORD is great and is to be highly praised; he is to be honoured more than all the gods. The gods of all other nations are only idols, but the LORD created the heavens. Glory and majesty surround him; power and beauty fill his Temple. Praise the LORD, all people on earth; praise his glory and might. Praise the LORD’s glorious name; bring an offering and come into his Temple. Bow down before the Holy One when he appears; tremble before him, all the earth! Say to all the nations, “The LORD is king! The earth is set firmly in place and cannot be
moved; he will judge the peoples with justice.’
Worship, i.e a lifestyle of worship is the fuel and goal of all ministry activities. It is the goal because we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory and presence. The new understanding of the concept of missions therefore should be that we are all called to be ‘sent ones’. Sent into a diversity of different environments to bring the nations of the world into the beauty of a living and vibrant relationship with Jesus our Lord.
The goal of missions is the gladness of the people in the greatness of God
Psa 67:3-4 ‘May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May the nations be glad and sing for joy, because you judge the peoples with justice and guide every nation on earth’
Relationship demands attention and ultimately affection; and without relationship the word is lifeless history and philosophy of man instead of being a personality.
Joh 1:14-16 ‘The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son. John spoke about him. He cried out, This is the one I was talking about when I said, He comes after me, but he is greater than I am, because he existed before I was born. Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.’
If the pursuit of God’s glory is not ordered above the pursuit of man’s glory, man will not be well served and God will not be duly honoured. I am pleading for a magnifying of God in all forms of ministry.
Joh 3:30 ‘This is the assigned moment for Him (Jesus) to move into the centre; while I slip off to the sidelines.’
Where passion for God is weak, zeal for the lost will be weak. When the flame of true worship burns; the light of missions will shine to the most remote peoples on the earth. The problem of a lack of missionary thrust lies not
with the lack of programs in local churches to support the modern idea of missions. At its heart the issue is a heart issue.
It has to do with the fact that those who truly love God should also have a passionate desire to see Him loved and worshiped by all peoples. I talk to others about Jesus because of the things that He is doing in my life. Our testimonies are a present tense experience that flows spontaneously from somewhere within. It is worship.
To do the work of an evangelist should not be burdensome; mechanized and a heavy joke to bear. No; to speak of the wonder and awe of God is a necessity born from a living fountain that flows from within.
Right at the start then we have to deal with one great misconception that is that the church exists for the sake of the lost. Many believe that the church exists for the unsaved and this understanding drives their every behavior. While a very noble thought, it is not exactly Biblical.
The Church exists for Christ sake
Ephesians 5:25-27 & 32 (NKJV) 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Colossians 1:16 (NKJV) 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for
Christ sanctifies the church that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. This He does because all things have been created by Him and for Him. Ministry and ultimately then also missions exist for Christ sake and not for mans sake.
If we say the church (which is the body of Christ, Colossians 1:24) exists for the world outside its walls, we reverse the roles of the Creator and the creation, essentially saying the Potter exists for the clay. No; according to the Bible the clay exists for the Potter. (See Jeremiah 18-19:3; Isaiah 64)
The person of Christ must always remain the central reality and focus of all aspects of our existence and our ministry. Therefore we might say;
Existing for Christ must be marked with accepting the divine invitation to a holy preoccupation with the person of Jesus. This remains the foundation of our existence and mission on earth. Every ministry activity inside and outside the walls of church must flow from our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Then existing for Christ must also be marked with intentional cooperation with Jesus in His work of sanctifying the church “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (See Ephesians 5:27).
Cooperation with Jesus in His work of sanctifying the church
The Greek word translated “sanctification” (hagiasmos [aJgiasmov”]) means “holiness” or “to make proper.” To sanctify means “to make holy” and/or to get to “the state of proper functioning.” To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose. The church is sanctified when it operates according to God’s design and purpose. Our cooperation with Jesus in the process of practical sanctification ultimately will propel us into “a state of proper functioning”.
The church existing for Christ must, therefore, have a heightened sense of awareness of what Christ already is doing both inside and outside the walls of the local church, and honor this divine movement of the Spirit by living lives according to God’s design and purpose.
It is not the local church that will change the world; it is Jesus in the local church. Mere attendance on Sundays does not transform lives; Jesus within our hearts is what changes people. Christ’s strategy then is to scatter His people throughout the world between Sundays, penetrating society’s structure from within. They are the true ministers/ambassadors of Jesus Christ in the world.
Rightly understood, every believer is in full-time service for Jesus Christ. This movement is a lay movement, and the church’s impact is equal to laity’s impact as they carry out their common tasks between Sundays. It is the job of the fivefold to equip the body for this exact task. (See Ephesians 4:11-16)
Jesus was the first apostle. He was sent by his Father. He, in turn, sent the Twelve. They went to people who would then take the gospel to the rest of the world. Whoever received it would understand that they, too, had been sent.
The apostolic nature of church
With the gospel being what it is, (two thirds focused on the going part) the church as bearer of the gospel is bound to be apostolic. The calling of the church in every culture is to be apostolic. That is, the work of the church is not to be an agent or servant of the culture. The churches’ business is not to maintain freedom or to promote wealth or to help a political party or to serve as the moral guide to culture. The church’s mission is to be the presence of the kingdom on earth from Sunday to Sunday.
The church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when communities of people live under the reign of God. The apostolic church, then, is a sent church. It is a going church, a movement of God through his people, sent to bring healing and reconciliation to a broken and sin ridden world. We are the salt of the earth. (See Matthew 5:13-16)
Important then is for us to return to our first love and then to stir up the gifts that is within. (See 2 Timothy 1:6-7)
In so doing we give stature to Christ in our midst.
Remember that the fivefold is given for the perfecting of the saints: ministering gifts are given to mature the saints. It says in Ephesians 4:7-11 that we receive a measure according to the gifts, which are now no longer in Jesus, but in these fivefold ministry gifts. Therefore we are exposed to these ministries in order to gain the measure of the stature of the man – Christ Jesus.
In other words, we will once again have the fullness of the measure of the Spirit in earth according to the gifts we are exposed to.
The only reason for ministries to exist is to transfer His dimension of grace back to His Body, so that that which was in one body nl. Christ Jesus could then now be in the many-membered body – the church, and again have His corporate anointing on earth. That is what we call the manifestation of the Sons and daughters of God.
Since Jesus Christ is the owner of his Church and thus all of its local expressions, we do not get to dream up the mission for our individual congregations. We already have but one mission called the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:16-20 (NKJV) 6 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Clear as day our mission is to go and make disciples of all nations (all ethnic groups), to baptize them and to teach them. When the church ceases to reach out to all people, it ceases to be church. This is why the Great Commission is a controlling and central command given by the head of the church Jesus Christ. All these metaphors and commands spring out of one profound reality: the church is already a result of and a participant in the mission of God. This is the essence of being apostolic – we get the job done.
What is the job? The job is not to get decisions. It’s not about how many come to Christ, but how many are discipled. We are to make disciples not converts.
Before we can go and get the job done of establishing His kingdom here on earth we need to understand that ALL authority has been given to Him/Jesus, both in heaven and earth. This scripture says that ALL authority belongs to Him. ALL!
The devil has none! Wrongly many say that the devil has no authority except the authority that we give to him. This would make this scripture a lie. It is clear; ALL authority belongs to God and to Him alone. The reason for this argument is that the devil seems to be able to attack us from all sides. We go through many a trail and obstacle and surely this would be sufficient proof that the devil has authority to attack and steal form us?
No, Jesus came that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly. Jesus explains that the devil is a liar who comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. He’s a liar right from the beginning. (See John 8:44) What makes a man a thief is the fact that he takes something that he has no authority to take.
John 10:10 (NKJV) 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they
may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Many are convinced that the devil has authority in their lives regarding sickness; sin; addictions etc and subsequently they can do nothing about it. Being oppressed constantly never having any spiritual energy left to be able to do anything significant for the Lord.
It is time we resist the devil and his lies. He has no authority. Believing this will put the enemy to flight and release you from all kinds of bondages. Know this that until you start to resist; he will not flee. The attack will persist.
Whatever the devil is doing in your life trying to steal; rob or destroy – he has no permission to do. All authority has been given to Jesus both in heaven and on earth. Once you decide to believe this you will be able to give resistance. You have to decide to agree with God’s Word. You cannot give him authority because according to the Word – he has none and if God has all authority we also have none.
If we believe even for a moment that the devil has some form of authority over our lives we weaken our faith, we will not be able to give resistance and we become unable to stand in faith against him. We need to get back to the basic’s regarding scripture. Basic’s makes you win. As we peel away all that religiosity has added to the gospel we might begin to look like the church God gave this all encompassing commission to.
James gives us the instruction that before we can resist the devil, we need to learn to submit to God. (See James 4:7). Submission is a total yielding oneself to Christ.
Now if we then confess to be believers we cannot give authority away. Why? The Bible tells us that we are not our own for we were bought at a price. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) We are His possession.
Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The only one that can give the devil authority is Jesus; not us and we know that Jesus will never do this. We have no authority – none. It’s all given to Jesus and Jesus would never go against scripture (that which he already said). If we had any authority off our own we would not do things in the name of Jesus. We would do it in our own names. We have delegated authority – yes, but still understand that it is all His.
It is when the ordinary believer starts to go and do, that wonderful things happen. Power is available to those who believe and these signs will follow the Bible explains: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. (See Mark 16:17-18)
The Old Testament commanded Gods people to offer the best of their “first things” to God in a basic, rudimentary ways. But in our new agreement with God, we can offer God the best of ourselves in a fuller and more complete way.
The way we do this now is summed up in Romans 12:1: “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.”
When we offer up our lives as a rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship, we offer Him the best of everything, in a greater, fuller way than Gods people ever did in the Old Testament. We offer ourselves to God just as Jesus did – as living sacrifices.
Then they offered unto death but now we offer unto life! Priests were offering dead sacrifices, not living sacrifices. They were offering dead sacrifices that pointed towards the sacrifice of Christ in death, paying the penalty for our sin. Today we’re called on not to offer dead sacrifices, or dead works anymore.
It’s you, and it’s me. We are to place ourselves on the altar before God as an offering to Him. In our laying down of our lives we actually offer and give onto life.
So that leads me to say the Christian life is based not on what you can get from God. You’ve already received everything you need in your salvation. It’s based on what you give to God.
In Amos, God says, “Stop your songs. Stop your offerings. I will not accept them because your hearts aren’t right with me.” “The sacrifices of God,” says the Psalmist “are a broken spirit and a contrite heart.” Those are the sacrifices that God accepts. (See Psalms 51:7)
We offer up ourselves to God church by giving Him our best in every area of life: at work, in relationships, in trials and in sufferings, in the mornings, in prayer and also in our giving. This might seem unto death but actually it is a sacrifice given unto a glorious promise of life.
In order to be used by God as his sent ones/ambassadors to this earth; we need to live like a living sacrifice. We are to be living sacrifices. No man can be of any use to God unless first he has learnt the skill to die to his own self.
Our response to what God has and is doing in our lives
John 4:23 ‘But the time is coming and is already here, when by the power of God’s Spirit people will worship the
Father as he really is, offering him the true worship that he wants’
Worship in essence is our response to God. Now the question is how we respond to God, not only in our Sunday worship service, but in our daily lives? Worship is a lifestyle. Is our response at all in line with the measure of greatness and awe that God really deserves?
The opposite of righteousness is to value and enjoy what is NOT valuable or rewarding. This is why people are called unrighteous in Rom 1:18. They suppress the truth of God’s value and exchange God for created things. So they belittle God and discredit His worth through the lives they live. This is called an unrighteous life.
Righteousness is the opposite. It means that we recognize true value for what it is and esteem it and enjoy it in proportion to its true worth. Righteousness is recognizing and welcoming and loving and upholding what is truly valuable, and that is that we are in right standing with Him! Not based on our efforts but based on what Jesus had done on our behalf. This is then called living a righteous life.
Eph 3:10 ‘He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom’ And so the people of God will conquer what is left of the land of Edom.
Amos 9:12 ‘That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name,’
God’s passion and delight is to display and uphold his infinitely valuable glory and to possess in so doing the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by His name. This He does through our righteous living.
Isaiah 48:9-11 (NKJV) 9 “For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, And for My praise I will restrain it from you, So that I do not cut you off. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not
give My glory to another.”
What this text hammers home to us is the centrality of God in his own affections. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name through our lives.
God is calling us above all else to be the kind of people whose theme and passion is the supremacy of God in all of life. This includes ministry both inside and outside the walls of the local church.
God is pursuing a worldwide purpose of gathering worshipers for himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and for the sake of His name let us renounce the quest for worldly comfort, and join His global commission.
To understand the commission a bit better we might say that it is first to delight yourself in the Lord (See Ps 37:4) and then to declare: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy (See Ps 67:4) through our righteous living.
In this way God will be glorified from beginning to end!
Scripture Ref: Philippians 3:8-10
Dr Reuben Archer Torrey said, “Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of the pray-er (the person who prays). But we must use the key. Prayer can do anything that God can do, and as God can do anything, prayer is omnipotent.”
Introduction: To the born again believer, prayer is as essential as breathing, and to neglect it will result in weakness and defeat. It is not only important that Christians should pray, but it is of supreme importance. C. H. Spurgeon said that, “The heart of prayer is the prayer of the heart.”
We see in Philippians 3:8-10 that Paul wanted Jesus more than anything. This cry was in his heart day and night. What did this mean to Paul? It brought Jesus to him. When one gets this cry in the soul, placed there by the Spirit of God, then all of life becomes unified in this cry. Life then has one aim – the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, our Lord.
If our praying issues from any other source that a pure and sincere love for the Lord Jesus, it will be praying “amiss”! A great persevering, constant, loving prayer to love God for His own worth, to love Jesus because that will satisfy His great love, which led Him to die to win your love; this prayer will be the true foundation for all praying. How can we pray for others with love and compassion without the love of Jesus burning within?
The first great prayer of every life must be to know Jesus. Now we must not think that this prayer is confined to certain times and places. In truth, no prayer is. We can pray at all times and in all places. It is so easy, during our working hours to stop for a few seconds and tell Jesus that we love Him. Every time we tell Him of our love, He does something for us, making us love Him more. This is prayer in its deepest sense. Anyone can do this. Divine love is as vast as the universe and as available as air and sunshine.
We learn to pray by praying
You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. The same can be said about prayer; we learn to pray by praying.
Prayer is one of the greatest art forms in the world. It needs to be learned. We go at everything in our life with some definite plan and likewise, we should have a plan for our prayer life – God’s plan though is not found in a 7 step training manual; it is born from our relationship with Him.
The more we need to pray, the less we want to pray. The apostles had to make a decision, a far-reaching one, at the beginning of their ministries. The press of duties began to claim more of their time than they felt necessary. They made the decision to give time to prayer. “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (See Acts 6:4). Prayer is not a sideline; it is the mainline along with the “ministry of the word.” Significantly, prayer comes first.
When we look at the inner life of the church at Antioch (See Acts 13:2), we find the workers, apostles and prophets in fasting and praying. Christians in the early church took time to pray. That was the reason for their phenomenal
power. Today we again must give time to prayer. We take the first step by making time and then putting to action our good intentions to actually pray.
Jesus is our example
The Gospel of Luke, which presents Jesus as the Son of man, tells us over and over again that Jesus was away praying. “And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16). A literal rendering from the Greek text gives us this: “And He withdrew Himself constantly into the deserts and was praying”. The point of the Greek verb is that the “withdrawing” was habitual; he did it all the time, it was a habit.
Jesus began his ministry by praying. He was standing in the river with John when “Jesus also being baptized and praying, the heaven was opened” (Luke 3:21). He continued His praying, as we have seen in the fifth chapter of Luke. In chapter six of the same gospel, we find Him in the mountains praying. He “continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). The next day, He chose the apostles, but first a night of prayer was necessary. When Jesus did things, he prayed. In the ninth chapter of Luke, we find Jesus “alone praying” (Luke 9:18). He did not seem to notice the many tasks to be done.
How often one ceases to pray when success makes many duties. Not so with Jesus. He had to pray.
Luke 11:1 again notes that Jesus “was praying in a certain place.” It was then that the disciples, amazed at the prayer life of their Master, asked Him to teach them. That’s all Jesus is waiting for – an invitation to begin the lessons. God’s command is “continue in prayer.” God’s example is in His Son; we see Him always alone praying.
We show what value we put on prayer by the time we spend in its exercise. You cannot hide from God or man what you think prayer means to you in the world. May God help us to see that time we should dedicate to “praying in the Holy Ghost” which will keep us “in the love of God” (Jude 20).
The greatest need in the church today is prevailing prayer, the kind of prayer that keeps on praying until the answer comes. Jesus tells us about this in a parable that He once preached concerning the unjust judge and the little woman that came and knocked constantly until she got the answer. (See Luke 18:1-8) Jesus prefaces that with this particular statement: Luke 18:1 “that men ought always to pray and not to faint/loose heart.” That means pray and keep right on praying until you get the answer or the breakthrough. This is the kind of prayer that we need in the church today.
When I look at that phrase I see a choice – either pray or lose heart. If I pray as Jesus taught I should, in His name and with an obedient faith that guides my life, not lose heart! To express the other end of this, if I lose heart I must not be praying in the manner taught by Christ. Which will it be? Will you pray or lose heart? In the story, Jesus gives a reason why we should always pray. We should pray because God will give relief to those who appeal to Him as a righteous Judge.
This story involves three parties: a judge, a widow and an adversary. There was this judge who “did not fear God nor regard man.” We know there were such men in Palestine then, and we believe there are such men in positions of judicial authority today. They have the position, but they do not have the godly character, compassion and sense of justice that should qualify a man to be a judge. Jesus says that this man “did not fear God nor regard man.”
The widow came to the judge to plea for relief from her adversary. The Lord said that “for a while” the judge would not respond; he would not do anything. Then the judge thought, “This widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people, I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.”
The point is, if an evil judge will eventually give relief to those who appeal to him, how much more will God (who is perfectly just) give relief to His own elect! This is like the teaching of Christ earlier (in Luke 11:1-13, note the expression “how much more”). God’s people should always pray and not “give up” or “lose heart” because we are appealing to a perfectly just and righteous Judge. One way faith expresses itself is in the persistent, fervent practice of prayer.
Prayer should not be like a “fire extinguisher.” This equipment hangs on the wall and you may pay little attention to it until there is an emergency. Then you want it! Some treat prayer the same way. If there is no “emergency” in life, they don’t use it. But in time of crisis they want God to listen and respond at once! The teaching of Christ is exceedingly plain – we ought to pray regularly, “always,” knowing that God is perfectly just and will answer according to His wisdom.
The problem of Prayerlessness
A little careful observation of oneself will disclose that all that is not born of prayer bears the marks of self, not the marks of the Holy Spirit. To try to work for Christ and not pray is foolishness. It is self-delusion. We must pray or attempt nothing for God.
Prayerlessness is the mark of a spiritual disease. It shows that one is not interested in God and why then should one try to serve Him in whom he is not interested? When one loves Jesus, he longs to pray. Prayer is his daily bread, the air he breathes. Prayerlessness points to broken fellowship – a fellowship that should first be restored before work is attempted.
Failing to pray is an indicator of a lack of love for the Lord. Prayer, at its heart, is communicating with God. What does it say to Him when we fail to find time to talk with Him? Do we say by our lack of prayer that we are not at all interested in spending time with the Lord or hearing anything from Him? When we do not pray, we move away from any possibility of intimacy with Christ.
Prayerlessness is a declaration that we do not need God. Ronnie Floyd, in his book, “How to pray”, said there are two critical statements about prayer that we must understand: “Prayer occurs when you depend on God” and “Prayerlessness occurs when you depend on yourself.”
When prayerlessness is prevalent in our lives, we are also guilty of failure to love one another. There is scarcely any greater way to demonstrate love than to pray for someone. In godly intercession, we lift the needs of another to God and watch as He moves to meet needs and provide for the one we are praying for. Through prayer, bodies are healed, families are knit together, individuals are saved, and churches are revived. When we withhold prayer on behalf of others, we demonstrate hardened hearts and a failure to love them enough to bring their needs before a loving Father.
Failing to pray is an indicator of our lack of concern for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. Throughout Scripture and church history, spiritual breakthroughs occurred when the Lord’s people got serious about prayer. When we refuse to pray, and that is what prayerlessness is, we turn our backs on what God desires to do on planet earth in our day.
Why should we pray?
Prayer is important because of the importance it is given in the Word of God. The Bible is full of the subject of prayer. Imagine what a mutilated book we should have if every reference to prayer were taken out of it. The fact of the emphasis on this subject of prayer which is made in the Word of God indicates to us the importance placed upon it by the Holy Spirit who is the Author of the book (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
Prayer is important because of the teaching of our Lord. Here again, imagine the four Gospels with every reference to prayer cut out of them. Over and over again Jesus stressed the importance of prayer, gave wonderful promises in relation to prayer and encouraged His disciples (and us) to pray –- look up Matthew 18:19, 21:22; Mark 11:24 and John 14:13-14. He, in fact, is our great example in prayer –- look up Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18 and 28; 11:1 and 22:41-42.
Prayer is important because it is the first instinct of the new life. Just as the first instinct of a newly-born babe is to cry, and in so doing to use its lungs, so the first instinct of the newly-converted soul is to cry –- look up Romans 8:15, and notice the illustration of this simple truth in Acts 9:11, where we read of Saul, immediately after his vision of the ascended Lord, praying.
Prayer is important because it is the Christian’s vital breath. The Christian life is a new life –- His life, the life of the risen Lord Jesus implanted in us by the Holy Spirit –- look up 1 John 5:13-14. This new life can only be sustained by prayer, and only by prayer can we develop into robust, healthy Christians; without prayer we shall be anemic, lifeless and ineffective. This means that we should pray privately (Matthew 6:6), frequently (Psalm 55:17), regularly (Daniel 6:10); in times of trouble (Psalm 50:15) –- in fact, without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Prayer is important because it is such a glorious privilege to pray. The Christian life is full of privileges, but can you imagine any greater privilege than to enter into the holiest of all, into the throne room of the King, and to bow in humble worship at His feet, to speak with Him face to face and as friend with friend? How great is this privilege! – See Hebrews 4:14-16 and 10:19-22.
Prayer is important because of all it can accomplish in supplying every need. For the believer, prayer is the divine method for supplying every need –- look up Philippians 4:19; and the reason we do not have is because we do not ask –- look up James 4:2. If only we would ask, we would receive –- look up Luke 11:9-10.
Prayer is important because only through prayer can God’s will be accomplished. His working depends upon our asking – look up James 5:17. He waits to yield to our pleas – look up Ezekiel 36:37. This is how he has ordained it. The purpose of prayer is not to make God alter His will, but to provide Him with a channel through which He may accomplish His will.
The life behind the prayers
The “life” that prays is of fundamental importance, for the kind of “life” behind the prayers is greater than the prayers themselves.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth/accomplishes much” (See James 5:16b). The word “righteous” must not be left out of our consideration. It is the key word of the verse. It tells us that the kind of praying that one does is conditioned by the kind of person he is.
Now James 5:17-18 refers to the praying of the prophet Elijah. James reminds us of the time when Elijah prayed for drought in Israel and then relief from that drought. He prayed first for drought and it did not rain in Israel for three years and six months. He then prayed for rain after the drought and God sent abundant rain.
As amazing as these events were, perhaps the greatest miracle was God’s use of Elijah. God used these prayers of Elijah to bring about miraculous works. Elijah prayed with power and effectiveness.
“Why was that such a great miracle?” James writes, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17). Elijah was a common, ordinary man. He was not different from you and me; he was like you and me – a sinful man saved by God’s grace. He had his ups and downs in his relationship with God. He struggled to trust God at times just like us.
The Bible reveals that these characters, like Elijah, were just like you and me. They weren’t super stars that live above the daily realities of our own lives. They were flawed people who loved God and walked with Him. God’s purpose in recording this is to encourage you. He wants you to know that powerful and effective praying is not out of your reach. It’s not just for super stars.
What kind of a person do you have to be to pray with power and effectiveness? We must be righteous. How does one become righteous? We become righteous by believing God’s promise of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. One must accept this truth through faith in Jesus before you can pray with power and effectiveness.
To come to the Father in effective prayer, you must first come to Jesus by faith (John 14:6). Rejoice in the truth that God accepts you through His Son; ask God to help you rest in this and that this truth will fuel your praying before Him. We pray from a position of being accepted by the Father.
This leads us to state emphatically, again, that the kind of praying you do depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of life you live. If we look at prayer as an instrument by which God works out His plans in this world of sin and chaos, we see that a great deal depends on the channel through which the prayer passes. He chooses ordinary people like you and me who have been made the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. Not through our own effort but based on the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross. (See 2Corinthians 5:21; Rom 3:22; Rom 5:1)
We therefore must have confidence in God when we pray. The Bible tells us that Elijah, the ordinary man prayed fervently and earnestly. Why did he pray this way? He understood that only the Lord God of Israel could do what he asked. When do we pray with power and effectiveness? It takes place when we come to the end of ourselves. It happens when our confidence is in God and God alone to answer and intervene and not lean on our own dead works.
Sin in our lives will interfere with our prayer life. Worldliness will hinder us as we try to pray. Why? Sin interferes with our relationship with God and prayer flow from our intimacy with God. That is why the Bible teaches us that if we confess our sins, he will be faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (See 1JoHn 1:9)
The consecration to pray will free God to do His mighty works. It is in the prayers of His people that God works. When this vision reaches our inner consciousness, that God waits for our prayers to accomplish His will, we shall cease our trifling and self-efforts and come to His feet to be trained in effective prayer.
Pray according to the will of God
Prayer begins in the heart. It does not come from your understanding or your thoughts or the mind of man. Prayer offered to the Lord from your mind simply would not be adequate because of the limitations of the mind. Your own efforts at praying will become less and less as Christ gains complete control, as you yield to God’s working in you. He will then lead you and show you what to pray. Prayer comes from within.
The attitude of your heart in praying should be to seek nothing for yourself but only to seek Christ and to do His will. To love Him just because you love Him and not for what He can give. We must understand that once you have given your life to God you cannot take the gift back again. The gift of your life authorizes God to let His will be done in your life. A surrendered life is a matter of great importance if you are to make progress in exploring the Lord’s mysteries. Abandonment is the key to the inward spiritual man.
God is like a magnet. The longer you continue to turn within the closer you’ll come to God and the more firmly you’ll cling to Him. The closer you come to God the farther removed you are from your natural man who is very opposed to your drawing nearer to God.
When you are established in turning inward to God you’ll find it easy to live before God and pray continuously.
So first the prayer becomes His presence, now His presence becomes the prayer. In the beginning you were led into His presence by prayer, but now, as prayer continues, the presence actually becomes what you pray. Now experiencing His presence is prayer. It is no longer the prayer that continues but it is His presence that continues. The continuous experience of His presence is continuous prayer – prayer without ceasing. The awareness of His presence is prayer that now prays His will into existence.
As soon as you turn inwards towards Christ and towards His presence so you are enveloped in prayer. It is here that you start to experience an internal conversation with the Lord. When you are turned inward, being in His presence, being in prayer, conversing with Him no outward circumstance can interrupt your prayer.
It is at this point where sin is furthest removed from you and where you are the least aware of sin. It is here where it feels like the soul no longer lives but that Christ lives in your soul.
Continuing in this kind of prayer you discover that it becomes more difficult to make prayers of request simply because the Lord is the focal point and your concern is with Christ. It is now the Holy Spirit that prays and makes intercession for us, helping us in our weaknesses. (See Romans 8:26-27)
Let God do in you what He wants to do. Give up your own prayers (soulish prayers), your own desires, and your own requests. Live a life in which there is nothing that you want. In so doing the Lord adds to your life what you really need. Real prayer has the giving up of self as its foundation. Prayer is like incense whose smoke ascends to God. (See Revelations 8:3-4)
Prayer is a dissolving of self and an uplifting of Jesus Christ. Prayer becomes a fire of love for God. It’s in our dying that He lives. The soul should yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit within. The soul should wait and be faithful to act only when the Spirit moves. The soul exalts self but the Spirit never exalts the self nature. Therefore let the soul do nothing of itself in prayer. The soul’s effort in prayer is always that of anxiety and striving. When the soul is responding to the Spirit the action is free, easy and natural. Hold your soul at peace.
If a canvas is unsteady the artist is unable to paint an accurate picture on it. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Every movement of self produces error. Self activity interrupts and defeats the design which Christ wants to engrave upon us. We must be led by the Spirit. Such activity can only take place with our consent. Cease to live so that Christ can be your life.
This begins by turning inward to God, being drawn by Him, having a desire to explore the unsearchable riches and mysteries of Christ, yielding yourself to God and being led by the Spirit. (Romans 8:27) The Spirit utters in prayer only what the will of God is. When we pray according to the will of God He hears us and does whatever we ask because it is according to His will.
Outward actions that are a result of inward motivation have spiritual value. We need to give more attention to
activities taking place internally. These are the activities of the Spirit. The Spirit is inward not outward.
Conclusion: The young believer may need to simply begin a regular daily time of prayer, even if just for five minutes a day. The believer who has walked with the Lord for 50 years should far exceed this mark, simply because of a deepened level of intimacy with Jesus. The issue for most of us is to take another step forward along the journey of prayer. Whether it is adding several minutes a day, or beginning to pray for those you have never considered praying for, you can begin to respond to the stirring of the Holy Spirit within you to become a person of prayer.
Ultimately, God is calling us all to a life of prayer. It is a life lived in close proximity to God. We learn to “pray as we go,” whether we are driving a car or studying in school. As we learn to live out the truth of Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” we will begin to understand more how the Apostle could command us to “pray without ceasing.”