Pastor’s Blog 3.29.18

Back in about 1984 I had my first “big misunderstanding” with God concerning His voice in my life. I believed with all my heart that He had told me something, and then I discovered it was not His voice. I was devastated! I made inward vows that I would never believe anything I heard in my heart again as being His voice. I vowed I would never tell anyone anything again that I believe the Lord said, unless it was quoting a direct scripture.

For the next year I experienced the chastening of the Lord. I was broken and did not see any way to ever believe I would hear the manifest voice of the Lord in my heart again. I would receive strong unctions in my heart, to the point I felt like I was going to explode! But I refused to speak what I was hearing in my heart for fear of making a mistake, because my greatest fear was to misrepresent God.

This went on for months until I finally came to a breaking point. I was so immature at that time in the things of God. I was exalted and promoted very quickly as a young believer because of the gift God had put within me. I could do things, “in the Spirit” better than so many who were years, and even decades, older than me in the Lord. Finally, I out of a heart of desperation, I demanded to the Lord in prayer that He meet me at one o’clock on the following Saturday. I wanted an explanation for why He allowed me to be deceived.

So at one o’clock that Saturday, I waited in my living room and nothing happened. Devastated, I began to rant and tell the Lord, “I have given you my life and you can’t even explain to me why I was deceived?” I finally just collapsed and literally gave up. It must have been about 2:30 or so and all sudden a presence came in the room that I will never forget. I was so afraid I was going to die!

All of a sudden the Lord began to speak to me, not like I had ever experienced before. He sounded like an angry Father scolding a disobedient child. “I told you to go to Jackson, Ohio to take this city for Me and you will do it My way or you won’t do it at all! I have called you as an Apostle to this nation” “Not so Lord,” I said, “because an Apostle is one who goes where the gospel has not been preached”. Immediately, He said, “No!” “I called you as an Apostle of the Full Gospel to this nation!”

(Before this time I had fully intended to go overseas to live and preach the gospel.)

Instantly light filled my heart and I saw the spiritual pride I had walked in. During a Christmas trip to my hometown a year and a half or so before, the Spirit of God had called me to come to my hometown and plant a Full Gospel Church. At that time I said, “I am not moving back here, I joined the army to get out of this town and I am never coming back!” I then realized I had walked out of God’s authority, and from that moment, out of arrogance, pride and selfish desire, I determined it was my decision what I would do, or where I would go.

Over the last couple weeks I have written about judging in the church. When do we judge? As I have led the local church for the last 32 years, I have watched many gifted young men and women make the same mistake I did. Because of their gifts and abilities, they confuse the voice of the prophetic with their own desire.

This is where we need the Elders in the church. Men and women who have lived long enough in the Spirit to judge the prophetic. Many like myself, out of zeal and desire for God, get exalted in their own thinking. They actually begin to believe almost every thought and inward conversation they have is the voice of God. We call this time “spiritual puberty” and it is a dangerous time in our spiritual development for sure.

Thank God the Apostle Paul had an unction from the Holy Spirit to write the following instruction.

1 Corinthians 14:29-33

29 Let two or three prophets speak , and let the others judge.

30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.

31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. NKJV

This is where I erred as a young prophetic gift. I didn’t submit what I was hearing for judgment, I just assumed since I was the most gifted in the room I was right. Didn’t work out to good. We are all subject to deception, thinking otherwise is the first deception you may experience.

Will continue next week!

Be Blessed!

Pastor’s Blog 3.22.18

This is the third installment of the subject concerning judgment and the believer. Last week, we talked about the necessity of making judgment calls concerning fellow believers who have sinned against us. Let’s now look at some more scripture about judging between good and evil.

1 Corinthians 2:12-16

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. NKJV

Again, we find a common thread that false judgment is when we presume to know the motive of heart behind someone’s actions. True judgment is having a real discernment, not just a suspicion or carnal perception, about someone’s actions or behavior.

Let’s look at a true discernment example of action and motive in the scripture.

Acts 8:9-25. The Sorcerer’s Profession of Faith

9 But there was a certain man called Simon , who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,

10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.”

11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.

13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

14 The Sorcerer’s Sin Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,

15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!

21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.

22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

24 Then Simon answered and said,”Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”

25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. NKJV

It seems to me that the church is so desperate to try to win people to Christ, that there isn’t any discernment as to whether the people they lead to Christ are truly converted, or are looking for “success n life”. It was spiritual discernment or judgment in Peter that questioned this man’s motives for desiring the power of God. The Emerging Church has not only convinced people that there is no absolute truth, but also that there is no Spirit of Truth.

Jesus, help us walk in the truth of your word and Spirit today!

Be blessed!

Increase in Love

We have all heard the scripture Love covers a multitude of sins. I love the way The Passion Translation puts it:
“Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8(TPT)

The commentary goes on to say that the Greek verb echo can also mean to maintain, to possess or keep. To be so closely joined to something that you become its echo – in this case, we join ourselves so closely to God’s love that we “echo” his forgiving, fervent love toward one another.
Peter is saying – be so closely joined to God’s love that we echo Him – and He has fervent love towards us.

Can you imagine what our lives, our churches, our homes and our world would look like if just the Body of Christ would begin to imitate this scripture? What if we truly loved like Jesus loved? I imagine the multitude of sins we would cover would include petty jealousies, offenses, hurts, wounds, anger, etc. Wow, can you imagine a Body of Christ that truly operated in love and when one of us fell short, the other covered their fallen comrade in love? (after all it IS the goodness of God that draws to repentance!)

The Bible says in John 15:13 “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.” (commentary – willingly lays down his soul for his friends. And we know that the soul is our mind, our will and our emotions)

Wow – The Bible is saying that the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all and is demonstrated when we willingly lay down our own soul; our mind/thoughts, our will/actions and our emotions/feelings. What a picture this paints! People truly laying down their feelings for another!

There is no greater sacrifice in the history of humanity than that of Jesus. We hear a lot about the physical beating He took, and rightly so, but what about the soul He had to lay down? I mean, did He not have a case? He was INNOCENT! He had the right to plead His case. He had the right to call 10,000 angels, but He didn’t. He chose love and chose to obey His Father. He had a right to defend His character, let alone His life! What about all the emotions He was feeling? Can you imagine? He could have established His indignity, His innocence, His anger, the betrayal, the lies, the injustice! Yet, He laid down His right and remained silent. Leaving His fate in His Father’s hands. He was totally left alone to face this battle. None of His friends stayed with Him, none of His disciples, even His family could not fully go with Him. None of us have ever been demanded to lay down all that He did, yet, most of us have trouble laying down even our opinion at times.

This got me to thinking about the love chapter and what it says. As I read it, I thought, what if, instead of focusing on the sin around us, and the negative things going on in this world, and our perceived injustices and rights, what if we turned our focus to the good things? What if we purposed to increase in love – the God kind of love? What if we set ourselves in agreement with the most famous words on love found in 1 Corinthians 13.

Here it is in the Passion Translation:

Love, the Motivation of Our Lives
13 If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
3 And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.

The Bible is saying – it matters not if we have eloquent speech! Is there love behind our words? I used to tell my kids, “You can be right, but if the delivery is wrong, no one will hear you!” Love must be our motive! God’s love! For His love is pure and undefiled. The word is also saying even if we are prophetic and have great understanding, filled with a faith that can move mountains – MOVE MOUNTAINS, if we have not learned to love we are NOTHING. Let’s continue:

4 Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

Let’s break verses 4-7 down:
Do you find yourself short on patience? Increase in love. Do you find yourself harsh and unkind? Increase in love. Do you find it hard to celebrate someone else’s success when you are hoping for the same thing? Increase in love. Do you find yourself always having to talk about what you have achieved? Increase in love. Are you disrespectful, selfish, easily irritated? Do you seek honor or offend easily? Increase in love. Do you celebrate honesty? Find no delight in wrong? If not, Increase in love. Do you celebrate honesty? Find no delight in wrong? If not, Increase in love. Do you have a hard time believing the best for others? When you experience failure, do you accept it as defeat and give up? Increase in love. The answers to all these shortcomings is to INCREASE IN LOVE!

We all may not identify with all of the above, but all of us can identify with some or at least one of the above. Even if for the most part you ARE walking in love, you can never have too much love, if it is the God kind of love!

So, how do we increase our love? Love is a choice. We must choose to crucify our thoughts, our ways, our attitudes, our emotions and march them to the cross of Christ. Wait! That sounds like laying down our life (soul/mind/will/emotions) for our friend doesn’t it? We increase in love, when we decrease of ourselves and prefer others. When we choose to be kind rather than angry or ugly, when we choose grace rather than wrath, we are choosing love! When we deny our flesh a fit of rage, and instead extend grace, we are choosing love! We are laying down our rights for those of another! We are increasing in love!

When situations come that easily irritate us, or would like to offend us, or cause us to be jealous, inferior, disrespectful or selfish, we MUST choose to lay down our right to be right and choose love. Think about it – ONLY Jesus had the right to be right. Only Jesus was sinless. Yet, He gave Himself for us, became our sin, took our punishment and laid down all His rights for us. He chose to die for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He preferred us. He chose love.

Most of us will not have to die physically for our faith, our brothers, sisters, or friends. But, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to die emotionally to a situation. Most of us get that opportunity daily! And of course, Jesus died for us spiritually so we don’t have to! The least we can do is die to our soulish desires!

The last verse in this chapter says, (and I paraphprase) after gifts and words are forgotten – there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.

Let love be the beautiful prize for which you run! Why? Because God is love! (1 John 4:8)

What if we made love our prize daily… What if we get up and say “Today, I will run after love!” What would that look like?

I want to encourage you to take some time and meditate on the love chapter. Ask the Lord to show you areas where you need more love in your life. Purpose in your heart to increase in love. I can’t think of a better way to be like Jesus than to be full of His love. Will you join me in this prayer?

Father, we come before You and we admit and repent that we have not always operated with love as our motive. Lord Jesus, You were tempted in every way, yet without sin, so You know the struggles we face daily! It is not easy to die to emotions and feelings, and desires, yet it is possible. Help us, by the power of Your Holy Spirit to choose love in our daily walk. Help us to prefer others. Help us to lay down our right to be right. Show us ways where we can increase in love. Show us how to show honor and extend grace. Show us how to be Your hands and feet on the earth. Help us to increase in Your love, to choose Your ways. Help us make our world, and the world a better place by increasing in the love of God. And as we stay in You, and in Your word, and pray in the Spirit, I know You will help us and empower us to walk this out! Thank You for first loving us. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!

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