Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Common Persuasion

Faith moves mountains; Jesus said so in Mark 11:22-24. If you take a look at the word “faith” in a New Testament dictionary you will find that at its root, possessing faith simply means being convinced or persuaded about something. In the context of Jesus’ statement, mountain-moving faith comes from being persuaded by God that He can do what he says He can do![a]

The Lord, by His Holy Spirit, is working to persuade hearts towards His desired outcomes for this region. As hearts are persuaded, people begin to agree with the Lord and one another. He instills a common and all encompassing vision and His vision is His strategy for the church. It is essential that every believer seek to be persuaded by the Lord and filled with His passion and purpose if we are going to see the mighty move of His Spirit here.

A move of God Is much more than and event, too. It constitutes a literal change in the spiritual landscape of a region! While an event concludes when the chairs are put away and the stage is taken down, the move of God is an ongoing work of His Spirit.

In Matt 21:33-41, Jesus spoke a parable about a conflict that arose between a land owner and a group of workers who leased some of his property. Even though Jesus was referring to the leaders of Israel, the parable provides an important admonition for the church today in response to being stewards of God’s work in the earth.

In the story, the land owner did everything necessary to prepare his property for success; he planted a vineyard, built a wall around it and put in a winepress and tower. The trouble started when the vinedressers decided they didn’t need to give the land owner his just proceeds from the harvest! Whatever their motive for declining to pay, the point here is that the owner required a return on His investment from those to whom He granted a stewardship.[b] God has granted His church a great stewardship of lives in this region. He is providing all the tools necessary to bring in a significant harvest. The Lord does not waste the outpouring of His Spirit; He will require a return on His investment.

The job of tending God’s stewardship is a big one. No single congregation can bring in the entire harvest alone — the Lord has recruited many “vinedressers. Individual congregations cannot get into the rut of thinking they will reach everyone. They must shift the paradigm to believing that everyone will be reached, then do their part in support of the whole! That is why there are different churches and ministries with different strengths established here. It’s like the human body; each part has a purpose and function, all of which are essential to the efficient working of the whole.

God’s passion for souls goes beyond catechisms and doctrinal variations, and His vision is not confined to a particular congregation. If you are called by the name of Christ Jesus, i.e. a Christian, you are responsible to find out what the will of the Lord is, to be persuaded by God about His plans and purposes in this region. As the Apostle Paul stated, “… be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”[c]

Prayer

Lord, I recognize that you are doing a great work in this region; I pray that everyone be reached by your love. I submit my heart to you and place my plans at your feet. I desire to be persuaded by your Spirit and impassioned toward your vision and yours alone. And possessing mountain-moving faith as a result of your persuasion, I pray that I will be found faithful, doing my part as a diligent steward of your outpouring. I thank you for your wisdom and the grace to walk in courageous faith, In Jesus name.


[a] Mark 11:22-24, 1John 5:14-15
[b] Matt 21:41
[c] Eph 5:15-17 NAS

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Agreement, Yes — But Who with Whom?

Amos 3:3 poses one of the most important questions in all of scripture: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (NKJV). The obvious and logical answer to the question is no, two cannot walk together unless they agree. In the context of walking with the Lord, however, the deeper question is who is supposed to agree with whom?

Everyone has desires; they are innate to the human condition. God, the creator of all life, understands the human condition. He also understands that what is innate to us is not necessarily beneficial to us. God, in His great love, seeks only the best for all of His creation. The problems in the world do not exist because of a complacent or passive God, but because of the willfulness of men — believer and unbeliever alike.

God says, “Behold, the LORD's hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). God has taken action to save and bring His blessing to the world through Jesus. Man, however, has made the choice to walk independently of God’s blessed way.

In the context of walking with the Lord, the deeper question is who is supposed to agree with whom?

Furthermore, when we are not in agreement with God we often go the next step of trying to get Him to agree with our plans and ideas. We “lobby” God for His support of our ideas. This mindset is and indicator that we have either forgotten or rejected Christianity 101 as taught by the Lord Jesus:

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 (NASB)

Jesus said that saving causes loss and loss enables finding. It seems counter intuitive; the concept runs contrary to human instinct and logic. But isn’t that just like the Lord? Through the prophet Isaiah God said: “For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden” (Is 29:14b).

According to Colossians 3:3, our real life is hidden or concealed in Jesus; it is unequivocally tied to Him. The key to unlocking that concealed life, according to the previous two verses in Colossians 3, is to be mentally disposed towards the things above, not the things that are on earth. The initial investment of our attention and energy should begin heavenward each day. Then, when our perspective is adjusted to agreeing with God’s perspective, we are propelled into the day fully equipped to address the challenges of life. This is the essence of losing your life; a conscientious decision to focus on the purposes of God rather than the purposes of self.

This is not to say that we become passive towards earthly responsibilities or use the “be heavenly minded” admonition to avoid earthly realities. To the contrary, God is fully aware of our life situations, our needs and our responsibilities. Jesus dealt with the realities of life yet remained perfectly submitted to His Father’s voice and direction. A relationship with the Lord and being heavenly minded equips and encourages the believer to courageously face the issues of life, not to avoid them.

“For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden” (Is 29:14b)

Mankind was created to agree with the Lord but went his own way. Nevertheless, God said “Come, let us reason together; though your sins are as scarlet I will make them white as snow” (Is 1:18). He will not agree with the world but calls the world to agree with Him. This is the essence of the Gospel message; can two walk together if they do not agree? If we are trying to live life as the world does, we cannot be in agreement with God. Even though God has made a way in Jesus for the people of the world to agree and to walk in the life He has provided, our testimony won’t convey that plan effectively until we are in agreement with Him and walking in His way.

Prayer:
Lord, I thank you today for the life you have provided me in Jesus. As I walk in agreement with you, I realize that your life will shine through me and bring blessing to others. Forgive me for seeking to save my life by living my own way. Today I acknowledge your Lordship and prefer your will over my own, in Jesus name.