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Establishing A Culture Of Prophecy

“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”  1 Corinthians 14:1

Prophecy is the most beneficial of all spiritual gifts God gives to His saints.  Why?  Because the “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10 NKJV)  When we prophesy, we engage directly with the creator of the universe and the savior of our souls.  There’s nothing more powerful than to fellowship with Jesus on an intimate enough level to actually hear His voice in one way or another.

God longs to speak to us and there’s nothing so powerful and encouraging to our spirit than to know that God is real and that He actually knows us and cares about us.

In Acts 2, Peter says that we have entered the “end times” and that the prophecy in Joel 2 is now ours to have.  Joel 2 tells us that “all flesh” will prophesy.  This is a fulfillment of what Moses tells Joshua in Numbers 11:29.  He desired that all Israel would prophesy.

Read 1 Corinthians 14 & Joel 2:28-29

Prophecy can take many forms.  It happens mostly through “impressions.”  Impressions are those quiet little thoughts we have that are almost indistinguishable from our own thoughts.  They take time and practice to discern whether they are God or our own thoughts.

Read 1 Kings 19:11-12

Prophecy can also come in the form of more sure communication.  It can come through dreams, visions and someone else clearly telling us what God has said.  When another person tells us what God has said, it is our duty to discern whether it is truly from God or not and not to blindly believe a world because a “prophet has spoken.”  (1 Corinthians 14:28-33)

We must be careful, though, because the prophetic ministry is very subjective and can be very intimidating and manipulating.  We must take care that we handle it with great humility and courage.  Manipulation through prophecy is wrong and can be very detrimental and hurtful.  It is better to use language like “I feel like the Lord said” than to say “thus saith the Lord” or “the Lord told me.”  And, as a rule, we must stay away from prophetic words about manipulative and emotionally charged subjects like marriage, finances, etc.

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Establishing A Culture Of Holiness

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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

There is nothing so defiling to our spirits and our daily lives than sin.  Sin is what makes us feel as though we’re not free.  We feel in bondage to the wrong things we do.  When Jesus came, He came to set us free from the bondage of sin. (Galatians 5:1)  But we must do our part and stand firm against sin.

Read Galatians 5:1

Many people have a misunderstanding of what the Bible means when it references “sin” most of the time.  First, let’s be clear that “sin” is doing wrong.  It literally means “to be guilty.”  When Jesus died for our sins, He died for all of them, small and great.  But when the Bible speaks of “righteousness” or “sin,” it often speaks of something different than just being guilty of some kind of wrong.

Much of what the Bible talks about when it speaks of sin is that of perpetuating, unrepentant sin.  There’s nothing so defiling to our spirits than to continue in a sin or a sinful lifestyle.  As we knowingly persist in a sin, we sear our conscience with justifications and excuses and make the sin easier every day.

Read Romans 1:18-32

We’re all weak creatures, and God understands that.  We stumble and fall often; every day.  Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”  1 John 1:8-10 tells us that we call Jesus a liar if we say we’re not sinners, so it’s no surprise to God when we sin.  But when we choose to continue sinning instead of repenting, that’s when we open to the door to all types of things in our lives we don’t want.

Holiness is simply saying no to sin in every possible way we can, especially habitual sin.  When we sin once, it opens the door to more sin, but when we continue to say yes to sin it clouds our judgement and defiles us and steals our freedom.  Paul tells us that it subjects us back to the bondage of sin we once knew before we trusted in Jesus.

As a church, we must uphold the highest standard of holiness while understanding that weak people will stumble in sin.  What that equates to is that we can never make excuses or accept sin, but we should expect it to happen.  When it does we must hold ourselves and others accountable to it and seek repentance.  Stopping and turning away from sin (repentance) is the thing that restores our freedom and conscience before God.  When we walk clean and free before the Lord, we have so much more power and joy as believers.  By our imitation of Jesus in that way will we show the world true love: love that allows us to live free from the bondage of sin.

We must follow Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:3-5 to purge the sin from our lives and the lives of our brothers in Christ.

Read Matthew 7:3-5

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Establishing A Culture Of Evangelism

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  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, 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.  Matthew 28:18-20

The last thing that Jesus tells us to do is of no small importance.  Many Christians have never witnessed (evangelized) to a friend, family member or a stranger.  I’ve known many people in my life who believed that their “religion was a private matter.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We must have an eye on eternity to properly engage those around us now.  I don’t know anyone who has a problem talking about the things they like or their activities.  Everyone loves to talk about their latest gadget or product that’s changed their lives, but so many believers are timid about sharing their faith.  Why?

We’ve believed the lie that our faith is private.  Jesus tells us clearly that it can’t be.  How then do we overcome the hindrances to sharing the gospel?  How can we make evangelism part of our daily experience?

  1. Passion for God
    When we become intimately familiar with the one who gave us this command, it becomes remarkably easier.  When we feel the emotions of His heart, we can carry out such a command.  It’s very difficult to accomplish large tasks like this with no emotional involvement.  God desires intimacy with us.  The greatest commandment is to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul mind and strength.”  (Deuteronomy 6:5)
  2. Love for others
    When we begin to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39), the commandment second in line to the greatest; then we can see them as God does.  They are lost for eternity with no hope.  If we saw someone drowning facedown in 6 inches of water, wouldn’t we help them?  In the same way, our only job is to tell people about Jesus in such a way that they can tell others.  Being able to tell a message is not a hard task unless it’s not part of our lifestyle.
  3. Lifestyle lived for Jesus
    If most of the thoughts and activities that fill our minds and time are not centered on God, we will have an increasingly difficult time telling others about Him.  The reason: we don’t think about Him much!  We have to fill our minds and our time with the Lord or we won’t be thinking about how to use our opportunities before others well.  Remember, if we’re extremely healthy we’ll live 100 years.  We’ll be with the Lord for billions.  It makes more sense now to fill our lives with the Lord.

When we live our lives on purpose for God we put ourselves in the place to be good evangelists.  If we’re constantly engaged in asking the Lord what He thinks about people and situations, we’ll be much better situated to fulfill the great commission.  Only then can it be a daily part of our lives.

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Establishing A Culture Of Humility & Honor

Leadership in any sphere of life is difficult to walk out in a humble way.  All too often leadership is worn as a badge of honor that has been earned.  No matter what the context, leadership that has a sense of being earned will always result in abuse.  In the marketplace we see CEO’s everyday who have a sense of entitlement to their absurd salaries and “golden parachutes” who do nothing for their companies and take millions even in their leaving.  We see governmental leaders who abuse their authority because either they feel like they can get away with it or because they feel they’ve earned the right to what their power can get them.

It’s human nature to act this way.  In fact, when people in the world act differently than this it should raise questions of “what’s different about them?”  The church is called to live that different life.  Leaders in the body of Christ are mandated to live in humility according to the Spirit of God, not in presumption according to the flesh.

  1. Humility’s Call (1 Corinthians 1:19-31)
    1. Paul tells us that the Lord calls the foolish things of the world to put shame to the wise.  He goes on to explain that the Lord loves to use people who were not necessarily wise, strong or noble to do His will.
    2. The Lord chooses to do this so “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” v.28.  We are so prone to exalt ourselves for our leadership and accomplishments that God has called us in opposition to the spirit that lifts up ourselves.  He desires that we lift Him up so that if we glory, “we glory in the Lord.” v.31
    3. Without the Lord granting us humility we will certainly take honor for ourselves.  When we take honor for ourselves we steal the honor that the Lord is due.  Humility, then, is absolutely necessary to honor the Lord.
  1. Choosing Humility (Matthew 5:1-12)
    1. Humility is not something that we choose on accident and it doesn’t come natural to us.  We must make a conscious choice toward humility and we must do it daily or we’ll stray from it.
    2. Jesus, in the Beatitudes, teaches us the heart conditions that keep us in humility.  When we voluntarily choose to live out these 8 things we voluntarily place ourselves in the way of living humbly.
    3. It’s difficult to choose to mourn over evil without seeing the evil in ourselves.  It’s hard to ask the Lord to make us meek without looking inward at the ways we seek our own desires.  It’s nearly impossible to be a peacemaker and truly serve only our own will and desires.  Jesus gave us the manual on humility here.
  1. The Place For Honor (Matthew 20:20-28)
    1. 1 Timothy 5:17 says that elders (leaders in the body of Christ) should be “counted worthy of double honor.”  This is definitely true, but not from the perspective that leaders themselves should demand their own honor, but that people in the church should hold their leaders in respect.  Any leader who demands his own honor has then stolen that honor away from the Lord.
    2. In Matthew 20:20-28 Jesus deals with two of His disciples trying to exalt themselves over the others.  James and John got their mother to ask Jesus to seat them in honor with Him.  It made the rest of the disciples angry, and rightly so.
    3. Jesus told them that the leaders of this world lord their authority over others, “yet it shall not be so among you.”  We are commanded by Jesus not to lord over each other our leadership.  Jesus tells us that if we want to be great, we must choose to serve.  Jesus gave us the greatest example of this.  Who was more worthy of being served than Jesus, yet He came and served mankind and was even tortured and killed for our sake.  We, then, have no right to claim our own privilege or authority.
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Articles Prayer & Fasting Written Word

Establishing A Culture Of Devotion

Our devotional life before God is the most important aspect of our Christian walk.  The greatest commandment in scripture is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37)

To love the Lord like that, we must know Him and know Him well.  To be able to know Him we first must understand the truth that God loves us.  Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).  When we truly consider this, we realize that God really, really likes us.  It’s impossible to maintain a devotional life of prayer without truly believing that God is happy with us and loves us.

The two most important aspects to a devotional life with God are prayer and studying the Word of God (the Bible).  There are other ways to encounter the Lord, but these are the two main ways God designed for us to know Him by.

Let’s look at Acts 6:1-7

  1. Cultivating a Culture of Prayer
    1. Establishing Corporate Prayer
      1. Corporate prayer is the primary tool by which we learn to engage God
    2. Establishing Private Prayer
      1. Private prayer births intimacy with Jesus
    3. Understanding the Need for Prayer
      1. Our heart’s hardness requires a consistent life of prayer
      2. Our flesh’s weakness requires a consistent life of prayer

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  1. Cultivating a People of the Word
    1. All scripture is God-Breathed 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5
      1. We can’t properly hear God’s voice if we don’t have God’s Word embedded in our hearts.  When we fill our minds with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will teach us everything we need to know for contemporary situations–our everyday lives.

Two of my favorite people who have written extensively on the power of the relationship between the Word of God and prayer are Madame Jeanne Guyon and Archbishop Fenelon.  They were 17th century contemporaries and have influenced my prayer life tremendously.  Guyon taught that if we take a small part of God’s Word, read it and then pray it back to God that we would receive way more than if we just read large quantities of scripture.  I can attest that she’s right!

There is a place for studying the Word where we read larger quantities to gain understanding of context, etc., but there’s no better way to gain “revelation” of scripture than taking small chunks (less than 10 verses) and pray or sing them back to God.  We can ask God what He means by certain passages and even engage God in dialogue.  It’s a very powerful tool for our prayer lives.