We hope this Discipleship Course curriculum is usable to you for training and equipping.
FREE DOWNLOAD (document) is available at the end of each lesson.
“Dear seeker of truth, there is great freedom to be found in Jesus Christ… in a life surrendered to His purposes. The crucified life is meant to be a daily adventure of joy and peace, bearing abundant fruit for the glory of your Father in heaven. Simply put, God loving you and you loving God. Your obedience flows from a total abandonment to that love instead of a dutiful adherence to some form of religious activity. Please know that your objective is to know God and to love Him with all of your heart. We are called to pursue holiness and walk in obedience, but if you pursue holiness for the sake of holiness you will become self-conscious and self-righteous, evaluating yourself and comparing yourself to others. You don’t want to go there. Or even worse, you will try to apply some kind of self-effort to make yourself holy. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you understand? It is Christ awareness, not self-awareness that we are called to.
Introspection is profitable at times for course correction, but it can also stimulate self-life. What we are seeking to do is to extinguish self-life. Whether you consider yourself to have achieved a measure of holiness or you are perpetually denigrating yourself, it is still self that is given preeminence. But we are called to die to self, not to constantly evaluate our spiritual progress. Set your mind and your heart on the things above. As you look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, you will lose yourself in Him. Trust in Him to complete the work within you. You are accepted and deeply loved not because of your degree of conformity to Christ’s image, but according to His redemptive work on Calvary. Rest in Him, beloved, you are a beautiful work in progress.” (The Crucifixion Handbook; Peter Whitehouse; Prelude)
This course will cover tough things, exposing dark areas. And the Lord will help you go deeper and farther… bringing you to the place where you will be willing to lay down your life for His Kingdom purposes. Remember, the foundation of everything taught is Grace! Your goal is not to be sin-conscious or self-conscious but to become Christ-conscious. You will look at your motives and will find that all of them aren’t pure. In fact, you will see many things that need to change… and you will allow the Holy Spirit to break, refine and prune you by His grace and power.
Dying to self is usually difficult and sometimes painful. Nevertheless, you are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). You are growing into the full stature of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13) and it is a process! This course will help reveal the truth and help you get rid of the things that hold you back. Learn to say “yes” to God, allowing Him to stretch you. Remember, in your weakness, His strength is made perfect! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Some of the topics we will cover in this class:
This course is designed to be completed within 1 year or less… reading the entire curriculum, the Crucifixion Handbook and completing all assignments. A test will be given at the end of each lesson for those who want to receive a certificate and/or receive credit toward ordination and ministerial credentials.
The Great Commission is to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to make disciples. As a disciple (one who lays down his own life for Jesus’ sake) we, in turn, make disciples. To make disciples we ourselves must be a disciple, be under authority and are willing to be taught. We submit ourselves to those who walk with the Lord daily, have walked through difficult trials, have overcome in certain areas and are one step ahead.
In life, there is a conviction of the Holy Spirit that we have died. It is not we who live, but Christ is alive in us in every situation, leading us into places that we may not want to go (John 21:18). Our own discipline and growth in the Lord will help us to overcome every hindrance, by His grace. We are (positionally) justified and righteous before God because of Christ’s obedience. We are justified in salvation and are purified through sanctification. This is our wilderness journey. The sanctification of our soul (our mind, will and emotions) and most specifically, our hearts. The Lord desires a complete surrender of our hearts and our whole lives to Him.
Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The Lord desires to break us. When our heart is broken, it is pliable. The Lord is able to speak through us and to us. We are called to take up our cross daily and deny ourselves. By the will of the Father and the move of the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves going through various trials and tribulations. There are times we will question God and question His will. It is during these times, if we deny ourselves, abide through the struggle, allow the Lord to do His work and His will in our lives that we find we are broken. As we emerge coming up out of these seasons trusting the Lord, we will find ourselves leaning more on Jesus as we see the victory is not ours, but in Him. Brokenness causes us to cry out “Where can I go Lord, you have the words of eternal life. I can’t go without you. You are with me, no matter where I go.” (Psalm 139:8). Brokenness and denying ourselves is also the beginning of our life, not the end.
Our walk with the Lord is similar to the breaking of a wild horse. God has purchased us with the blood of Jesus, He knows our value and plan for our lives. But, without our willingness to be tested, tried and broken, we will not live up to our fullest potential. Even Jesus, after being baptized by the Holy Spirit and hearing the Father proclaim a blessing to Him as His only Son was led into the wilderness to be tested of the devil by the same Holy Spirit.
Matthew 5:3- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Being poor in spirit is the opposite of proud (standing tall with our chins up). This heart of the poor in spirit cries “Lord I can’t go without you! I can’t make it unless you give me your grace. There is nothing in me that can fulfill all that you have for me by myself”. To bring heaven to earth, we must be poor in spirit.
Matthew 7:13-14 -Enter through the narrow  gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow  the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
A disciple does not live his own life or choose his own way. The journey of a disciple is a narrow road comprised denying oneself, taking up the cross daily and of trouble and tribulation. We seek a homeland in heaven and have surrendered all of our rights desiring to take up our cross. Becoming Christ-like is being transformed by the renewing of our minds and asking God for wisdom in every situation (James 1:5). It is the Lord’s desire for us to lean on Him, seek Him, die to ourselves and be willing to go where he leads.
Luke 14:25-26- Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
If we cannot forsake the opinions, contempt, denouncement of others about our life of faith, about Jesus and follow Him, we are not worthy to be his disciple. This is what Jesus is talking about.
Luke 9:23-25- Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever desires to save his own life will lose it and whoever desires to lose his life, for my sake, will find it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose their very soul?” The world is a nothing but a façade. The enemy wants destroy us (John 10:10). A life surrendered to Jesus will gain a life that cannot be taken.
Ruth 1:16- But, Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” This is our cry to the Lord. Have you reached that place yet? Have you been broken enough by the world up to the point that you see this world has nothing to offer? The secret of a joy-filled life does not lie in the absence of pain. That is a deception. Real joy is not feeling happy because everything is going well. Real joy is feeling His presence in the midst of adversity.
Isaiah 60:2- See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
If we are praying for revival, and are not broken enough to handle the weight of His Glory, it will crush us. Or, we can ruin what the Lord intends to do through us if we have not been trained in our walk with the Lord under his weight, a training in righteousness.
How to embrace the Cross and Live as a Disciple:
3. Embrace simplicity and child-like faith
4. Live and walk by faith– Hebrews 11:1- Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
The necessary requirement of living by faith is to be in lack! God will allow impossible circumstances in our life that cause us to cry out to him to increase our faith.
Real grace is found in weakness! True revival begins with brokenness. John 12:24-25- Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.
The Lord does have times of great blessing for us, however, we will face adversity. But, we can face it with joy. The call to discipleship is not a promised a life of financial prosperity, success or popularity.
The Doctrine of Dying
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, then death is working in us, but life in you.” 2 Cor. 4:8-12
Paul was notified when our Lord first called him that he would suffer greatly… and surely this came to pass. What a difficult ministry: whipped, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, with various perils, weariness and toils, sleeplessness, hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness… Absolutely incredible! But read on; this next line is extremely revealing. Perhaps we are so taken back by Paul’s suffering that we miss the reason for it. This is a key principle of fruitful ministry and the foundation of the doctrine of dying to self.
Paul goes on to explain why he was hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. The reason: “… that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So, then death is working in us, but life in you” Do you understand? Paul’s life was crushed; he was made weak, always delivered to death… so that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in his mortal body! “Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor.12: 9,10). Do you see? Death was working in Paul so that life could flow from him to others.
This is not only true for Paul, but a biographical sketch of any fruitful servant of God always reveals trials, sufferings, frailties and failures… death being at work in their mortal bodies, making them strong and powerful in the spirit. Watchman Nee wrote, “It is through your wounds that the Holy Spirit flows out from you.” I know many saints who minister out of their woundedness, weakness and brokenness. They struggle or wrestle, but Spirit-life flows out from them and many are blessed. Conversely, there are those who have it “all together” and act like they are moving in power, but actually demonstrate very little. They are strong, relying upon themselves.
Paul gives us another reason for the intense trials that work death in us: “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead…” (2 Cor. 1:9). We are to be dependent upon God. Most Christians pledge allegiance to this concept but few actually live that way. Complete dependency is the place where faith is grown and power made manifest. Have you ever wondered why Jesus told the twelve when He sent them to the towns and villages of Israel, “Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs…”? (Matt. 10:9,10). The state of total dependency is an incubator for faith… and the subsequent release of spiritual power!
Be encouraged, beloved, the dying process is the work of God and He has been with you every step of the way. He allowed, or perhaps even arranged the circumstances that worked death in Paul. He is doing the same for you. No need to bring it upon yourself. The Lord has seasons for refining, pruning and breaking, to a lesser or greater degree, according to His plans and purpose for you. He will perform it and bring it to completion… to the glory of His name, for the blessing of others.
It is important to note that miracle power can be released through any Christian vessel… for the sake of the hurting masses. Nonetheless, self-reliance and pride are major hindrances to the work of God. Transforming Holy Spirit power flows best through the weak and broken. History clearly reveals these things.
Memorize Philippians 2:5-11:
“Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.” Exodus 27:20 (NIV). The Lord commanded pressed olives for lighting the lamps in the tabernacle. The Lord required the lamps be filled with the best fruits of the olive oil in order for the lamp to burn continually.
Jesus spent much of his quality time with His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. The garden was comprised of a grove of olive trees.
Let’s consider the olive press. During November through December (harvesting season) olives are shaken or scraped from the tree with a rake. This is a violent motion. Olive pressing is described this way:
Because the olives are hard, the first beating of olives in a bowl was required to remove the pulp. Pulp inhibited the oil from being pure and burned in the lampstand. Olives are initially placed in a container and are pressed (or rolled over) with a weighted, heavy rock. When that consistency is ready, the olives are then mashed into a paste. The first step of crushing is ineffective and not complete. (Isaiah 53:5 “…He was crushed for our iniquities…”). The first batch of crushed olives is put within a basket. The baskets are stacked on top of each other. A heavy weight (stone) is then released by a rope pressing down on the baskets one time then released. The second pressing is harder still with more pressure preparing the olives, then a release. The third pressing is the most intense and it is here that the purest form of oil is emitted. This is the only acceptable blend of pure oil that lit the lampstand in the tabernacle. In the garden of Gethsemane (Garden of Olives) we see Jesus (before his crucifixion) praying. Looking at this example symbolically we can see the representation of the three stages of olive pressing. First, He is in the garden of the olive press. He asks his disciples to watch and pray and says “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death”. We could see this symbolically as the first pressing. Second, he goes a distance away from his disciples and falls on His face praying “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me, however, not My will but Your will be done”- the second pressing. The third time that He prayed and “Being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like great drops of blood, falling down upon the ground”- the third and acceptable pressing brought forth the purest sacrifice, great drops of blood. Jesus set the example in the garden. He spent time with his disciples teaching them in this garden. Jesus appeared to John (in Revelation 4:5) in the midst of the lampstand. He represents the light of the world! He is the first fruit! As disciples, we lay down our lives, die to and deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. We decide to follow the narrow road (not my will, but yours be done). We walk through trying and difficult seasons allowing the Lord to crush us so that the light of Jesus will come forth and we offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1). He was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). He is Christ to the Glory of God the Father. Everything we do in our lives is for His glory, for the glory of God the Father. We represent Him.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; So, you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8
The meaning of the Greek word for disciples (Mathetes) is from the verb Manthano (to learn). The root word math suggests thought, with effort put forth. The word disciple has a double implication. A disciple is a learner who follows both the teaching and the teacher. This means that we, as disciples, are learning… but more is required! We are to take what we have learned and apply it to our lives. We are to follow our Master and become like Him… thinking like He thinks, saying what He says and doing what He does.
The Lord calls us to surrender ourselves to Him with complete abandonment, willing to die to ourselves, willing to do whatever it takes to be fruitful. It’s not in our strength, but being completely dependent on Him, that produces fruit. Once we are in a place of dependency on God, then we can say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13).
You are being conformed to the image of your Master, beloved. You should look like Him! “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master…” (Matt. 10:25). This is your goal, dear disciple:
As you may know we are beginning to enter an extraordinary season of revival. Many of God’s servants have been in the crucible… preparing them to carry increased anointing. Nevertheless, the flesh is weak and the enemy is relentless… and there are still wounds that remain unhealed as a result of unforgiveness. You must deal with this now! Here is a teaching that I have used in many nations with powerful results. I have even seen people weeping and forgiving one another during the message… demons fleeing and physical healing made manifest! Dear disciple, use this material for yourself and teach it to the church. May the Lord release a spirit of reconciliation everywhere this message is given.
The Downward Spiral of Unforgiveness:
“If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15
Unforgiveness is a very serious matter, dear believer… and perhaps secondary in importance only to the doctrine of Salvation. There is no option; all Christians must forgive. In fact, the servant of Jesus must become an expert at forgiving. If you wield the axe of forgiveness effectively, bitterness will be destroyed at the root. If not, misery will follow.
Some offenses are major: the results of violence, rape or murder, or perhaps some great loss. Others are less grievous such as being slighted, or embarrassed by another, unmet expectations, etc. In serious cases of unforgiveness, there is usually a progressive downward spiral: You may toss and turn in bed thinking about it. At first, you begin to experience self-pity, followed by critical and judgmental thoughts. Anger and frustration begin to increase tempting even mature Christians to gossip about the offender. At this point, neutral statements made by the offender may be perceived as attacks and your offense increases. If the offense took place in church, you begin to withdraw from church activities. Eventually you leave and begin to talk about the pastor, people, or policies of the place that you once loved.
Regardless of the cause, bitterness, resentment and even hatred can build, making you an ‘open door’ for demonic activity (the tormentors Jesus spoke of in Matt.18). Did you know many addictions have their root in unforgiveness?
All of this has drawn you away from God and perhaps; your very soul is now at stake. Unforgiveness is an extremely serious matter. What will you do about it?
The Truth About Forgiveness:
Perhaps the next statement will be a revelation to you; it is to many: Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is an act of your will. So often, after being hurt, you may become angry, upset, out of sorts. You could easily equate these feelings with your ability to forgive. But forgiveness is an act of obedience to God. It is not dependent on how you feel. It is a decision that anyone can make, even when angry. Yes, a difficult choice for some, but a choice nonetheless; and this decision makes the difference between your sins being forgiven or not. That is certainly worth considering. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:15).
This is stated with the utmost love and compassion toward those who have been wounded. God loves you so much. He was probably weeping when you were being violated. He did not want this for you. But, you must go on from here, for your sake, and for the sake of those who love you. God speaks so strongly about unforgiveness because He knows the consequences all too well. Every day He sees hearts fill with bitterness, hatred and revenge. Destruction usually follows.
God loves you; He does not want you to spend your life filled with internal strife. Some think that they will forget, in time, and be healed. But this belies the facts. Unforgiveness remains deep within and may cause emotional and/or physical illness. It has been proven that strong unresolved emotional feelings can cause a malfunction of the self-immune system, digestive problems, bowel problems, bone and joint problems, and even cancer. You can make the right choice today. With God’s grace available to you at this moment, you can choose to forgive. Please do it now.
Lord, I want to obey You. Please help me. By Your grace, I choose to forgive___________ and ___________ and… Please work deep within, causing me to forgive from my heart. Heal me completely. I ask this in the name of Jesus, the One Who has forgiven me. Amen!
The Steps to Freedom:
It is now time to walk through the entire process of forgiveness; ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and give you help and encouragement. This is very important: These steps should be followed whether the offender asks for your forgiveness or not. In less serious cases, when possible, it is good to go to the one who has hurt you with a humble posture and seek reconciliation. Some offenses can easily be resolved with a simple conversation, without involving others. Of course, humility by both parties would make it so much easier, but even if you alone humble yourself and seek reconciliation, God will be pleased.
When it is impossible or unwise to approach the offender, do the following:
Asking for Forgiveness
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
What if YOU are the one who has done the wounding? You must humble yourself, beloved, go to the person you have offended, and say six simple words: “Please forgive me for hurting you.” It does not matter if you were right or wrong. If you were wrong, admit it. “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” If you don’t have the courage to speak with them face to face, then at least write them a note. You are not too proud to do this, are you? It is apparent from this scripture that the Lord is not interested in receiving your offering until after you seek reconciliation. This should be a very sobering thought: your songs, your prayers, and your money are unacceptable to God.
Some “offenders” say nothing and just go about their business thinking that time will heal. Others believe that if they are nice to the person, or tell a joke, that it is the same as asking for forgiveness. Not so. This relieves the tension and permits the relationship to continue; nevertheless, the offense remains and will flare up again. In Jesus’ name, humble yourself, go to the person you have wounded and say, “Please forgive me for hurting you.”
This is well pleasing to our loving and forgiving God. (Note: Don’t say, “If I have hurt you” as this dilutes the apology. Freely acknowledge that you have hurt them.)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
The Presence of the Lord
As we are talking about intimacy with God we are going to talk about His presence and the pleasures of His presence. His presence is with us in the midst of adversity and in our pain and tears. He is present to heal. In His presence there is the fullness of joy! As believers we have the manifestation of His presence, and pleasure of His presence.
In the Psalms, David reports to the hearers that in the presence of God there is great joy!
Psalms 27:6 “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.”
Elsewhere, He testifies that because God leads Him steadily, along in life, he has absolute joy in the Lords presence.
Psalm 16:11- “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
The presence of the Lord brings such extreme pleasure that it’s a joy almost impossible to describe adequately. The more aware we become of His presence, the more a revelation we have that He is delighting in us, as we are delighting in Him.
Zephaniah 3:17- “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
This is a foretaste of eternal pleasures that we will experience everlasting! We see that pleasures are reserved for the upright (us as believers).
Psalm 140:13- “Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.”
We have access to Him!
Psalm 41:12- “Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forevermore.”
Whether in times of pleasure or deep suffering, the trusting believer can experience the presence of the Lord. Believers can encourage one another to praise the Lord with a thankful heart.
Psalms 95:1- “Come let us sing to the Lord. Let us shout praises to our protector who delivers us and let us enter into his presence with thanksgiving…”
Psalm 26:8- “LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.”
David expresses his deep longing to be continually in the courts of the Lord.
Psalm 84:2- “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
This overwhelming desire became intensified when the Psalmist was far from the house of the Lord. Have you felt far away from God? We cry out for the living God when we don’t feel Him. One of the loveliest psalms is, Psalm 63.
“Oh God you are my God my soul yearns for you. In a dry parched land where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:3-8 documents David’s devotion to the Lord—“Because your love [Loving kindness] is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name, I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Where he says, “your love [loving kindness] is better than life itself.” Nothing else matters but the loving kindness of the Lord. He ends with David’s expression in his confidence in God. He is confident of God’s further deliverance. This is a precious psalm.
Psalm 42:1-2- “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
Much like the deer thirsting for water, so the psalmist and us, long for Him, the fountain of living waters. For me, the life I now live, I live by faith by the son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.
Philosophers throughout the ages have pondered the meaning of life, but the answer is not a mystery to those who believe. Here it is: God is love and He desires to be loved. He created the material world to be the staging ground for this divine romantic drama. First consider this: Love is not really love unless it is freely given; it can’t be preprogramed. Therefore, mankind must be given a free will. Imagine an all-knowing God planning this grand masterpiece. Before He ever created angels, He knew Lucifer would rebel. Before creating Adam and Eve He knew they would disobey. He knew and yet created them anyway. He surely must have had a good reason.
Do you see? He used man’s failure to introduce the need for a Savior… and used Satan (God could have sent him directly to hell, but He cast him down to earth.) as an opposing force to test us and prove our love for God. In the midst of temptation, difficulty and failure those who truly love God would continue to choose Him above all else. The Father preparing a bride for Jesus… and Jesus demonstrating His great love for us by His suffering and death… redeeming us from the hand of the enemy.
What is the meaning of life? To become the bride of Jesus Christ… to know God and to truly love Him. Those of us who have trusted in Jesus will be His glorious bride and will spend eternity as the object of His divine affection… ruling and reigning with Him forever!
Foundational Truth: God loves us and He wants us to love Him. The very first commandment states this: “Thou shall love the Lord thy God”.
How do you perceive God? Our perception of God is affected by several things: our parents view of God, former religious teachings, our culture, our relationship with our parents, even our own personality. Because God has revealed Himself in so many ways, I believe that He allows us to understand Him and His nature in a variety of ways. Everyone, of course is to honor and fear God and obediently submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior….
However, you relate to God, (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) there is one sad resounding truth, God deeply loves us and we consistently fail to love Him as He deserves to be loved.
“Lord, Draw me”
Here are a few helps:
Ask God to remind you of His presence and to draw you to be alone with Him. When you are alone play worship music and be quiet …Tell Jesus that you love Him…say it again…say it again. Resisting temptation can become an act of worship. When you are tempted turn to the Lord and say ” I love you more than this person, place or thing. I want you…not what is displeasing to you.
Hindrances to intimacy:
What are your idols? What would you rather do than spend time with God? TV, movies, sports, hobbies, yard work, reading the newspaper, magazines, books, computer, work, family activity etc.
Here are a few other things that can keep us from intimacy:
A religious concept of God, fear of rejection or punishment, unforgiveness, self-pity, independence, pride… and as mentioned a negative experience with a parent, failure to have your prayer answered etc… busyness!
Song of Solomon 5:2-6 “I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, My sister, My love, My dove, My perfect one; For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.” I have taken off My robe; how can I put it on again? I have washed My feet; how can I defile them? My Beloved put his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for Him. I arose to open for my Beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the lock. I opened for my Beloved, but my Beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when He spoke. I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.”
Now is the time to draw near to the Lord. Don’t put Him off any longer. He is knocking on your door – let Him in. (Rev. 3:20).
“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12
You have earnestly desired to bear much fruit… and to see lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is your key; this is your answer. Spend more time with God. Whatever you do, don’t feel condemned or defeated because you don’t spend time with God. Start with 5 minutes…let that become a part of your life then add an additional 5… and so on. You can begin today, right now.
“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.” Mark 3:27
“…Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.” Daniel 10:12-13
Desperation: A Prerequisite
“Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” Psalm 70:5- “For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy. I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” Isa. 57:15
Have you heard it said?
“So, He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:16-18
So why fast?
Be sure that God is leading you to do this. Check your heart motives.
All through the scriptures you will see God’s people fasting for very specific reasons. “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.“ (Acts 13:2,3)
Just prior to the Revivals of the past, some faithful intercessors were called to extended periods of fasting and prayer.
“…blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” Mark 10:46-47
“Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7) “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication.” (Eph. 6:18) “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) KJV
The Bible remains clear: God has been, is and will continue to be looking for believers who will not give up, no matter how long it takes or what it requires to receive an answer. “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” (1 Chron. 16:11) “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) KJV
Faith is kept alive through persistent prayer. Without it, faith dies. As we mature in the Lord, we learn to trust Him when He is silent. God’s silence is often the sign that we should raise the intensity of our prayers.
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, “Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. (Luke 11:5-8)
So, what is prevailing prayer?
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8)
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1John 5:14-15)
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so, you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7-8)
Ever since God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, He has been revealing His will to man. In the Old Testament, we see God frequently speaking in diverse ways: angel visitation, a burning bush, through His prophets, face to face with Moses, visions and dreams. In the New Testament, supernatural guidance is also frequently mentioned. Especially in the Book of Acts, God directs His servants to go here or not to go there. (Acts 9:11, 10:20, 12:7, 16:7, 18:9, etc.) We are not sure ‘how’ they heard God’s Spirit in some instances, but we do know that these early saints learned to hear God’s voice and obey. The disciple of Jesus Christ must learn to be led by the Spirit of God.
Throughout the ages, man has sought supernatural guidance…. from the earliest soothsayers, mediums and false prophets to every base, corrupt occult practice that is found today… seances, ouija boards, tarot cards, horoscopes, automatic writing, tea leaves, psychics etc. (These are found in America, but each culture has its own occult practices.) We should know by now that these forms of guidance are an abomination to God. (Deut. 18:10-12).
But what about true guidance from God? Do we need to hear God’s voice today? There is no question that God desires to speak to us (John 10:27) and more than ever we need to discern His voice. We should be growing to become spiritually mature and learning to discern the voice of God. Paul considered those at Corinth to be babes too long… even only after a few years after becoming Christians. For by this time he expected them to be spiritual. (I Cor.3:1-3)
Increased spiritual teaching does not necessarily make one more spiritual – sometimes it only reinforces carnality. What we need is an obedient heart that is willing to yield to the Holy Spirit…willing to die to self. Then, and only then will we truly learn to clearly discern God’s voice and to do His will.
Laying the Foundation
The Trinity of Man
Many Christians have come to believe that man consists of 2 parts; body and soul. According to the Scripture, however, man is composed of 3 parts: spirit, soul and body. “Now may the God of Peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thes. 5:23)
The scriptures that differentiate soul and spirit are numerous, (Luke 1:46,47 “my soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”). (Hebrews 4:12) the word of God, like a two edged sword dividing the soul and spirit).
Let us take a quick look at the different functions of the spirit and the soul. The human spirit is comprised of three functions Conscience, Intuition and Communion.
The soul is comprised of three functions as well. The will, mind and emotions.
We desire to do something with good reason (mind). We delight (emotion) in it and finally we decide (will) to do it. This could be something ‘good’ or ‘evil’.
Yet, somehow in the inner sanctuary of our being (our spirit) a soundless voice strongly opposes this action. (We call this a ‘check in our spirit’.)
On the contrary, there are times when we are strongly urged in our spirit to do something that in the natural mind seems unreasonable – or something that we don’t want to do; like giving a large sum of money in the offering or witnessing to someone in the market.
If the believer does not discern his own spirit he will usually substitute the thoughts or emotions of his soul for the working of the spirit and make decisions based on his own will. God communes with our spirit to lead us into His perfect will.
God’s provision for ‘hearing’ His voice is The Holy Spirit. He is our gift (Acts 2:38) and will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The Baptism in the Holy Spirit opens the door to receive and discern God’s guidance.
God speaks as He always has. He never changes! (James 1:17, Heb. 13:8)
Remember all guidance must be subservient to the written Word of God… the Bible.
It is folly to assume that just because you’ve prayed about something we will then have God’s will in the matter. Many have been deceived by their own desires or by the devil. Satan is the master of deception and false guidance. It is tragic that so many have been misled and even do unspeakable horrors saying that God told them to do it. All because they did not know God’s word. Of course, just as many (or more) deceptions come from within our own soul where guidance is complicated by our mixed-up emotions, impure motives, prejudices and old habit patterns.
We can hear 3 ‘voices’ within our self…..God, our own thoughts, and the devil. In addition, there are false prophesies, crazy visions and bad counsel. We may begin to think this is all too complicated. Yes, it takes time and work but it is well worth it. Unfortunately, because of errors, abuses and upsets, some Christians have become more ‘practical’.
So called ‘practical’ Christians have turned their back on supernatural divine guidance and delegate it to the 1st century. They boast that they have their feet firmly planted on the ground and accuse their more mystically inclined brethren of being “so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good”.
Unfortunately, the one who chooses to live entirely in the natural thinks they are safe, but they will never enjoy that intimate walk with God, guided by His Holy Spirit like the Apostles and others through the ages.
Apostle Peter, wanting all that God had for him, jumped out of the boat and literally walked on the water…in the middle of a storm. Yes, he faltered, but he took the risk and trusted Jesus. Eleven ‘careful’ men remained in the boat. Note that he did not jump out before he heard Jesus say ‘come’. Practical Christians would say that Peter was impetuous and foolish for getting out of the boat. Remember – Jesus called him out!
Guidance is a Skill
Guidance is a skill to be learned, it is not a set of methods…but is based on obedience.
Guidance is intensely personal. (Rom. 8:14) says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
When we are trained/disciplined in the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are showing the quality of a mature son/daughter. Those who desire to be led by the Spirit must also desire to please God…Most are self-pleasures, others are men-pleasers.
The choices that we make from day to day usually involve four kinds of things:
Feed the hungry! Forgive one another! Make disciples of all nations!
What shall I wear today? What shall I eat for breakfast?
prevent us from making a serious mistake. (marriage, job, school, ministry?)
Basic Principles of Guidance
never lead us contrary to His written word.
“God, should I divorce my husband and marry another?” When you pray like this you open
yourself to deception. Many are deceived or deceive themselves with such prayers.
The Peace of God is a quiet sense of wellbeing deep within us…within our spirit. Even in the midst of doubts, anxieties or upsets about a particular issue the Peace of God will remain. This sense of peace is our umpire to help us discern God’s will. If you lose your peace, you must not proceed.
For example, you are deciding to marry that beautiful woman or handsome man with apparent godly qualities. You have prayed and proceed toward marriage. Yet something deep within does not seem right. Your first reaction is to rationalize and list all of the logical reasons why you should marry this person. Yet deep within you are beginning to believe that this is not God’s will. You have lost our peace. Usually, we will fight this thought and find people who will agree with our desire. Because our emotions, and perhaps lusts, are intensely stirred, it becomes very difficult to be obedient. Please be obedient – God is trying to save you from a great hurt.
If you have earnestly prayed and do not get specific guidance (either positive or negative) begin to move in the direction of your best sanctified judgment. God can direct you, a moving vehicle better than a parked one. You have submitted your will, surrendered your life and asked God to clearly guide you with His peace and/or restrict you.
If you need a job for example, Pray, seek guidance, then start to knock on doors- laziness would say “Ill sit at home waiting on you Lord. God orchestrates circumstances (Providence) to guide us. If you are asking God for ministry direction, move toward that which is on your heart. See if God confirms or closes doors.
Don’t quit too early. Perhaps the enemy is hindering you from pursuing God’s will. Remember, we are not trying to rush ahead of God and kick closed doors down. But wisdom dictates that we try turning a few doorknobs.
It is peaceable and pure, (James 3). There is always a sense of peace deep within when God speaks – even if we don’t like what He said. The voice of urgency is either Satan or from your own human nature, God leads – Satan pushes. The best way to discern between the Voice of God and other voices is by experience. Yes, we will make mistakes, but we will also learn.
Signs may be used by God for guidance, but the heart must be one of belief – If one is a doubter even if they see a sign, they will not believe. Signs are mostly for the unsaved – Signs should follow the believer – the believer should not follow signs.
Perhaps you remember the story of Gideon and his means of guidance. The fleece was wet – the ground dry and then if that was not enough, the fleece was dry and the ground was wet. Putting out a ‘fleece’ is not a divinely ordained means of guidance, but simply God’s accommodation to the weakness of man. Many times, it is an excuse for laziness or cowardice.
Three Necessary Elements of Guidance
When these 3 are in place you can clearly see God’s will…and can proceed with faith. Remember, circumstances are not enough. Does it line up with the Word of God? Is the Peace of God in your heart?
Do you really want to be led by the Holy Spirit? It is up to you. Yes, there are risks and failures, but the rewards and fulfillment are without measure…intimacy with God and fruitful service. Being led by the Holy Spirit is not being reduced to a robot, but becoming a disciplined son/daughter who has learned to live daily to please the Father.
Lord, I surrender my life to you – I give up the right to take the initiative…You lead me.
Bibliography… “Take Another Look at Guidance” by Bob Mumford
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like quitting, or have quit? This is the study of perseverance. Another word for perseverance is endurance!
The significance of Hebrews 10:36 is it is after we have done the will of God we need, now, endurance. There are many doors we walk through in this life as a disciple, through the wilderness, on mountain tops and in the valleys. It is our choice to follow after the Lord and walk with Him wherever He leads. Often, we are put into situations that were clearly an open door, but like Joseph, the door becomes a prison. This can be likened to the various wildernesses the Israelites found themselves hemmed in, up against the raging Red Sea being attacked by the enemy from behind. The purpose of abiding, remaining steadfast and not quitting is to build within every believer endurance and perseverance. These times are for training in righteousness and the testing of our hearts to reveal our inner most self. This is spiritual bench-pressing!
This word Hupomone describes the capacity to bear-up under difficult circumstances not with a passive complacency and is a derivative of Hupomeno (Greek 5278). At times we plead with the Lord under the weight, begging for the removal of the pressure. Abiding and persevering in suffering require endurance to remain under the weight. The Lord does not want us to be complacent. He wants us to have a hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat. Both Hupomone and Hupomeno are used in:
When you’ve passed the test of perseverance and remain under the weight without complaining or complacency, this is grace! No longer will you be sitting down on the inside while standing up on the outside as you recognize that obedience is more than just a sacrifice. It’s the grace in which we stand and it will lead us home. Grace and surrender compel us to stay, and grace cries out “I’ve gone too far to turn backward. I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I’ve gone too far to turn around. I can’t turn to the right or to the left, but not my will be done, but Your will, Lord. Where would I go from here, you alone have the words of eternal life”.
This is adversity. This is perseverance. This is endurance. This is hope being developed within you. Between the adversity and the glory of God, is character development. In these times, we are being tested in our attitude, our mouths our hearts, our actions. The word glory, actually means boast! Let our boast be in the Lord who brought us through the testing of fire and adversity, through the waters that did not drown us and through the fire without smoke. During the adversity and enduring trial our hearts our tested and it is important not to feel sorry for ourselves and not to gossip about others that God has put in your sphere of influence to try you.
For those called to the end time church- Jesus exhorts the believer to “make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves” (Luke 21:14) after warning of wars, rumors of wars, famine, kingdoms rising against kingdom and signs in the heaven and being delivered to the synagogues and prisons.
Luke 21:19 – “In your patience you will possess your souls.”
In the middle of this warning, Jesus warns the listener to “possess your soul” (the very breath of our will and affections). Jesus also warns in Revelation 3:10 “Since you have kept my command to persevere [translation means: the word of my patience] I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.”
The significance of perseverance and endurance is stated by Jesus Himself to the churches in the following:
Hebrews 10:38- But my righteous one will live by faith and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition, but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul.
Prideful ways and the need to be admired and recognized will become a fatal snare. God help us to walk in humility.
“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” 1 Cor 4:9-13
You will probably not like this reading. Flesh seldom enjoys the lower place. What a good word, lowliness; surely it is self-descriptive. The dictionary defines lowliness as the state or quality of being lowly; humility, humbleness of mind. It seems to be a better word than humility, don’t you agree? We have stumbled over that word for years.
Who, in the natural, desires the lowest place…the last in line, the last to be served, the one who gets the leftovers? Doesn’t the Bible say: “And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them” (Deut. 28:13)? We like this passage… and of course it’s true! Heed the commandments of the Lord; be careful to observe them and you will be the head. But what does that mean, beloved, fame, fortune, and power? This is what Jesus taught about being the head: “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt. 23:11-12).
Abraham allowed Lot to choose the fertile Plain of Jordan for grazing his livestock; Abraham humbled himself and took the semi-arid scrublands to the west. Soon after they separated, God gave Abraham all of the land: north, south, east and west… and promised to give him descendants that could not be numbered. The Word of God is filled with examples of humility, followed by great blessing…choosing the lesser and being given the more. Consider the lowliness of Jesus from His humble birth to His shameful death… and what eternal fruit He bore!
Dear disciple, have you been actively pursuing ways to become lower or are you still aspiring to prominence? Prominence would be a big mistake… unless it was the Lord’s will for you. However, if He should raise you up, you will have been sufficiently trained in lowliness as not to desire recognition – you will shy away from it.
Choosing the lowest place is a work of grace: it is often difficult to do. But dear one, if you desire to be like Jesus… to actually win the race that is set before you, you must be lowly. Find your self-worth not as the world measures success… but in lowliness. Serve in menial ways (wash feet). Be nothing in the eyes of the world… Be great in the eyes of God!
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4
Dear disciple, most of us feel the need to do something of significance. The search for significance seems to be inherent and causes mankind to accomplish and achieve. This is necessary for the development of a society, but usually some aspects of its forward thrust actually hinder the development of the Kingdom of God. As you can see from the teachings of Jesus, God’s ways are contrary to the natural ways of the world. Ambition and the drive to be successful are not welcome in the Kingdom. Humility, submission, and death to self are. Jesus said, “He who is greatest among you must be your servant” (Matt.23: 11). Even the greatest must become the least to truly be great!
Augustine wrote, “For those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second, humility is the third.” The very mention of humility grates against your soul; doesn’t it? In fact, when you began to read this you may have detected a little of resistance. It is a process, my friend, and a long slow death. The fact that you recognize the pride within is a very good sign; this proves that you are advancing. You are maturing to childhood, ascending to obscurity, descending to greatness. You are dying to truly live.
Jesus was our Example of Humility:
Phil. 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
1 Peter 5:5-6 “Likewise younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…”
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Luke 14: 7-11 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
“And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” Luke 16:12
Submit to authority! Sometimes these words cause necks to stiffen. We are a very independent people. Many Christians, when confronted with the issue, will quickly agree to this scriptural mandate. But when put to the test something within emerges. Pride or fear inhibits true submission. And lack of submission hinders the work of the Lord. Everyone must not do what is right in their own eyes. God has given you a leader to help lead you.
The whole issue is not one of control; it is an attitude of heart, a surrender of will. This is the second level of trusting God. Please understand. When you submit to authority, you trust and believe that God can guide you through another. “I can hear God for myself,” you say. Yes, this is correct. And if God is truly directing you to do something, no one should stand in your way. But before you allow this statement to confirm your rebellion, take another look at your heart. Are you teachable? Do you get a little twinge when someone tries to correct you, smiling on the outside, but grumbling within? Dear disciple, you can go no further until you learn to yield. You will never be given true authority until you learn to submit to authority.
There are some who have been wounded by authority, and you have been reluctant to submit yourself for fear of additional wounds. This is certainly understandable, but don’t remain out there by yourself. May God heal you today and enable you to accept the authority of another. If you have been estranged from the Church, allow God to lead you to the right body of believers. He is speaking to you about this again for your protection and spiritual growth. Ask Him to help you place your trust in others once again.
Lord, please forgive my pride and rebellion… and every critical word and judgmental attitude. Teach me to submit. Heal me and help me to accept the frailties and errors of leadership. Cause me to pray for them and help lift their arms.
God’s grace is so awesome. He truly is a good, good Father. For the past several years He has been revealing Himself in this manner and many have been teaching the grace message. This has brought healing to those who were in bondage to guilt and condemnation. Nevertheless, the Lord now wants you to know that in addition to magnifying “grace” you must also learn the fear of God… for your own protection. “Fear” in regards to fearing God is mentioned over 300 times in Old and New Testament. How can we minimize this topic? Read the letters to the 7 churches (Revelations 2 and 3). Jesus is speaking to actual New Testament churches… strongly warning 5 of them. You need to know this side of Jesus too.
The fear of God is like a barb wire fence on the perimeter of your Father’s large ranch. When you are living with your Father in the center of the property, you never think about the fence… you enjoy His companionship and do whatever He asks you to do. “Perfect love casts out fear…
” (1 John 4:18) However, on a dark night, if you should wander in disappointment, discouragement, weariness, boredom, etc. that fence is there to prick you and keep you from the dangerous cliffs and certain destruction lurking on the other side of that fence.
If you are loving and obeying God there is no need to fear Him, but if you continue to do something God has told you not to… or refuse to do something He has you had better fear Him… there will be consequences. Our God is not angry or mean, wanting to punish you for breaking His rules. He is a loving Father who corrects His children so that we will be all that we can be (Heb. 12:5-11). Discipline can be painful; believe me. Ask any true son or daughter… they will tell you. Learn to obey your Father. He loves you so much and has good things planned for you. Dear disciple, learn to fear God and teach others to do the same. This message must be restored to the church… with balance and full of grace. It should not be preached every week, but it must be preached.
Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Acts 5:5 “Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.”
Acts 9:31 “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”
Romans 11:19-22 “You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore, consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.”
1 Peter 2:17 “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
Revelation 14:7 “…saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Hebrews 12:25-29 “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
Regarding the ongoing debate about the fear of God, here is my own personal story: I knew the Lord as a young boy. I would go to church myself, since it was near my house, and talk with God when no one was in the church. I asked Him to make me a fisher of men when I was seven. However, by the time I was fourteen I ran away from Him pursuing the lusts of the flesh… drinking, drugs and sex. I became a 1960s hippie and nearly blew my mind with psychedelic drugs. What did it take for me to return to God? The death of my baby, suicidal depression, psych wards, a state mental hospital, 3 arrests for possession of drugs and the threat of prison, my wife had our marriage annulled, other ruined relationships, the loss of 2 businesses, etc. Throughout these years the Lord sent Christians to me, inviting me to return. I politely listened, allowed them to pray for me and then continued on the path to destruction. My mother prayed for me… and asked others like Oral Roberts and Kathryn Kuhlman to pray. After 7 years and near death I repented and recommitted my life to Christ, but then walked mostly in the ways of the world for the next 7 years. Finally, after a night of sinning, strong conviction of sin fell on me and my heart was pounding as the fear of God overwhelmed me. He clearly said to me, “This is your last chance.” It truly was God’s persistent love that brought me to this point… but it was the fear of God that brought me to genuine repentance. This too is love. As you may know, shortly after this I was gloriously baptized in the Holy Spirit… and have spent the rest of my life serving my Lord in many nations. Far from perfect… but in Christ!
Please understand there are serious consequences for disobedience: Loss of opportunity, closed doors, loss of money, loss of material goods or property… loss of relationships. And if we persist in disobedience we could also lose our freedom (prison), our mental and/or physical health, even our life.
Did God do all of this to me? Of course not! But He did give me over to Satan to buffet my flesh (1Cor.5:5). My terrible choices opened the door for demonic influence and the enemy stepped in to ruin my life. God allowed this knowing it would bring me back to Him. And because He loves me, He worked it for my good. The alternative would have been to simply give me completely over to my own ways that lead to destruction… and if possible, to hell. Thank you, Father, for not doing that!
Please hear me! Your continued sin could open a door for demons to ruin your life. You could lose everything you have worked for. Nevertheless, by His Spirit we have abundance of grace to draw near to Father God through the blood of His son Jesus… and to stay close to Him. In this place of intimacy there is no fear.
“… Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore, consider the goodness and severity of God- on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:20-22).
These scriptures regarding the election of Israel were written to Christians. I understand this may collide with some of your doctrines, nevertheless it says what it says. God is good and very loving. He is also severe. Remain in Him… or there will be serious consequences (John 15: 2,6). I would much rather speak of the love and mercy of God but sometimes it is necessary to be reminded of the fear of God.
Throughout nearly 40 years of ministry my heart has burned with a love for Jesus… and for His bride, the church. He has called me to prepare His bride for her Bridegroom and has taken me all over the world to make true disciples. Having said this, I am very concerned about some of the current teachings that say God is love and God is good (Of course this is absolutely true!) but then teaches He doesn’t allow bad things to happen to His children to test, prune or refine them… and He doesn’t chasten. This is so unscriptural and completely removes the concept of the fear of God and the serious consequences of sin. This teaching only gives room for the nice, affirming and comforting words and minimizes or eliminates strong exhortations and serious warnings.
I understand that many were raised by imperfect, abusive parents and perhaps this teaching is meant to help them see God as a loving Father (He is a loving Father) but I believe it will do more harm than good and help perpetuate this current season of permissiveness. We must teach the full truth of God’s word.
If you need proof, read the scriptures: Before Peter denied Christ (the defining moment that crushed and humbled Peter) Jesus told him that Satan asked to sift him like wheat (Luke 22:31-34). Who did Satan ask? Obviously, he asked God… and God allowed Satan to do it. The Father knew that this breaking would prepare Peter for leadership.
Jesus seriously rebuked and warned the churches in Revelations 2 and 3. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:16,19)
Dear disciple, let us not be naïve. Our God is love! He is also a consuming fire. It was not the comforting love of God that brought me to repentance… it was the heart pounding fear of God that finally did. This too is love.
There has been much debate about teaching grace vs. the fear of God. Let me make it clear- both are correct. For those suffering guilt and condemnation from past sins, the grace message is a healing balm. For those tempted by sin, the fear of God is a warning that should be a deterrent. A loving father disciplines his children. He also quickly forgives and comforts the child who admits doing wrong. Nevertheless, if you are listening to a teacher who makes you feel comfortable to continue sinning, you had better find another teacher. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19).
“I want you to be aware of what I am doing in this season, says the Lord. I am calling backsliders to come home and some are now coming. Even so, many are not… and need to be warned of the consequences of their sins. Some are already experiencing those consequences. Know I am at work in the midst of all of this… drawing them back to Me. I have also been preparing preachers of righteousness. They’ve been purged from self-righteousness and pride and can now carry My message of repentance. They will be powerful tools in My hand… in this coming hour. Conviction of sin with the gift of repentance is the doorway to the revival you’ve been waiting for. Hear what I am saying and do what I am doing, says the Lord.
In this hour when an entire generation has grown complacent about the things of God, a revelation of the fear of God will be given. Open your eyes; this is now in progress. Shakings, disciplines and judgments are coming upon the earth. Glean some wisdom and know the ways of the Almighty. Our God is loving, merciful and kind… slow to anger and abounding in mercy. His grace is abundant, Jesus’ blood sufficient to cover all sin. Nevertheless, He is also holy, righteous and just. God will not be mocked. How foolish to think the Lord does not bring judgment. The Word of God is full of His warnings and judgments… sometimes intensely severe. Does this mean He is not love? Of course not! A loving father disciplines, even scourges his favored sons. God’s discipline is usually painful, but this is also love. The intention is to correct and to set one’s feet on the right path… that we may know and love the Lord and fulfill our destiny.
What about the wrath of God, His fierce anger and righteous punishment? It is coming, beloved. It has come and will come again. Take note of this New Testament text, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). “His wrath IS revealed” a present activity… not merely delegated to the Old Testament. It will surely come at the end of the age, but the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was prophesied by Jesus Himself.
A quick review of world history reveals God’s mercy and longsuffering toward the nations. However, eventually judgment comes to those who refuse to repent: calamity, decline, destruction and sometimes obliteration. This has occurred many times. In fact, more than twenty-five great civilizations have declined or have been completely destroyed during the course of human events.
I believe the 20th Century destruction of Germany, the bombardments and fire bombings and the killing of so many, was the judgment of God unfurled against a nation that started two world wars and murdered six million of His chosen people. This judgment was delivered through the allied forces. God’s judgment often-times came to Israel via an advancing army. Hurricane Katrina was also a judgment. New Orleans, a city that literally invites people to come and commit perversions and debauchery in her streets was flooded with mud, sewage and even corpses when graveyards were unearthed by the flood waters. Did you know that Katrina means “pure”? Unfortunately, there has been little or no repentance!
Then there are personal judgments noted in the New Testament: The judgment of weakness, sickness, even death for receiving Holy Communion in an unworthy manner: “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself” (1Cor. 11:29). There is also a judgment for not forgiving someone who has offended you: “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So, My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matt.18:34-35).
And consider Jesus’ warning to the New Testament church at Thyatira, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed, I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts…” (Rev. 2:21-23).
You must fear God, beloved… and obey Him. Our nation must fear God. What judgment is stored up for a nation that has killed millions of babies for the sake of convenience, flaunts sexual perversion and thrives on materialistic idolatry?
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matt. 5:29)
Very Important: The fear of God, the consequences of sin, and the message of repentance are all absolutely necessary but they should not be preached every Sunday. The church would soon be crushed under the weight of guilt and condemnation. People need to be encouraged and hear of God’s love and mercy. I hope you understand. There must be a balance.
Have you ever viewed a corporate management flow chart? You will note that the Chairman of the Board is placed at the top of the chart just above the officers and Board of Directors; from there it pyramids down to the middle management, department heads, and so on. If the profile were extended, it would finally flow to the factory worker and building maintenance. This is the way the world perceives leadership, beloved. Unfortunately, the Church is not much different.
Jesus showed us a different way… the way of servanthood. “And He said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called `benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.’” Luke 22:25-27
You must never forget this; the fruitfulness of your work depends upon it. Lead in this fashion and the Lord will bless you… and the people will gladly go with you. Lord over the people and you will have to strive, cajole and manipulate to get them to follow.
Consider this: In God’s kingdom, the management pyramid is inverted…with the leadership point on the bottom. The leader is holding the others up in prayer… lifting them up, building them up… serving, encouraging, correcting and washing feet. The leader becomes less; the people become more… learning to do it better than you do. This is your goal, dear servant leader: Lay down your life for those whom you lead… become a rung in their ladder to success. How the Kingdom would benefit from one such as this! Will you be that one?
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:13-17
Dear disciple, do you realize how vital and powerful the truth is? Are you walking in the truth? God’s word is TRUTH. How often do you deceive yourself… choosing the easier way? How often do you justify your actions, your anger and your selfishness? As we prepare ourselves for this season of glory, the dazzling brightness of His drawing near will expose the hidden flaws of character… TRUTH being most important. You are sinning when you lie… and you will remain in darkness if you believe the lies you tell yourself. Allow the Lord to expose every lie you speak… and every lie you believe. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).
Truth with humility works hand in hand to bring genuine repentance… and this will bring freedom and healing. Take another look at the things you have been blaming others for. Remember, God is in control of everything. Why has He allowed this difficult situation? See what He has been trying to expose – those things hidden within you. Is it pride, selfishness, jealousy, self-pity? It is time to embrace the truth, repent, and be healed.
“What is Truth?” Pilate asked this question of Jesus (John 18:38). It is well worth asking again today, especially in this hour of deception. Society has believed the lie that there are no moral absolutes; good and evil are relative. Situational ethics are taught in school… and sin abounds. Of course, God’s word is TRUTH.
Dear disciple, as you plunge to the depths of Jesus, the following question begs an answer: Are you truthful? Do you realize that those who practice lies will have no part in the Kingdom? This is a very serious matter. Truth can be painful and humbling. You may have sought to protect yourself with a lie or to build yourself up in the eyes of others. This is displeasing to your Lord. Truth is essential; there is no option.
Self-deception has also run rampant in our society. There are so many who are willing to deceive themselves in order to perpetuate their disobedience to God. Don’t be one of these. Self-deception conflicts with reality and sooner or later the house of cards will come crashing down. Why can’t you admit that you were wrong? Truth is the only remedy. Admit the truth, ask God and others for forgiveness, forgive yourself, and move on. You can go no deeper, no farther in Christ, without the truth lighting your path.
“Behold, you desire truth in the inner parts and in the hidden parts You will make me to know wisdom” (Ps. 51:6).
Do you love truth? You should, beloved; you must! Every servant of God must walk in the light of truth if they are to mature. Truth is absolutely foundational. Why then do most people lie? The sin of lying and self-deception has reached pandemic proportions. Very few will admit their faults or take responsibility for their actions. They deceive themselves and blame others. Some lie to keep out of trouble, others to save face. It is common to lie for personal gain and many hope to appear to be more than they really are. Do you lie / exaggerate?
Several cultures consider lying to be quite acceptable; some even admire it. But God sees nothing admirable about lying. He is very serious about truth, Christian. Jesus described Himself as “The Truth.” How can your sins be forgiven if you refuse to admit to yourself that you have sinned? You are responsible for everything you say and do. You must be painfully honest with yourself, with God, and with others. Don’t be afraid; your loving Father is merciful and gracious. He already knows your sins. However, you must humble yourself and acknowledge them.
Don’t rebel against the truth – love the truth. Truth will bring you freedom and peace. Isn’t that what you’ve been looking for? Invite the penetrating light of the Holy Spirit to search your heart today. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). “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” (1John 1:7).
I’m sure you know you have at least a few blind spots, don’t you? We’re speaking of those areas of your life that you can’t see, but those close to you can. Like that small section of highway along the side of your car that can’t be seen in the side view mirror, there are habitual patterns, hidden attitudes and motives you are not aware of. If you are not careful, those things you can’t see will eventually hurt you.
Perhaps, in the past, you have had a glimpse of some of these concealed things, but you were either too busy, or they were too painful to examine. Now, you must look at them. God will permit you to go no further until you do. These un-dealt-with limitations are hindering you from fulfilling your destiny. You must be willing to lay down who you are (who you think you are), and what you do, so that you can become all that God wants you to be. You must be willing to take a good, honest look at yourself.
If your life is motivated by trying to satisfy your unmet needs, or you are constantly performing to gain acceptance or affirmation, you can hardly admit this to yourself. Workaholics, for instance, easily justify their dysfunction by pointing to their accomplishments. They are oblivious to the pain they cause their family. Servant of God, there are deeper places and purer motives than being driven by inner needs. The Lord will show you these things.
Wait upon the Lord and allow Him to reveal “truth in the inward parts.” He wants to show you what lies in your blind spot. Allow Him to heal the wounds that have been buried under your fervent activity and other escape mechanisms.
In the past, you pressed into God but didn’t seem to go any further. You have sought the Lord numerous times, asking Him to make you more fruitful. You have asked Him to do whatever is necessary to reach that end. Dear disciple, He is now doing that very thing. There are hidden areas in need of transformation, located at the very core of your being. Don’t lose heart; He will complete the work He has begun… and will bring you to a rich fulfillment. This is His promise. Please, continue to trust Him.
“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6
What you believe to be definitely true may not be the truth! “For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:12). After all, we only “know in part.” Do you understand that your perception of truth is influenced by several factors? Hopefully, Holy Spirit is gaining the most sway, but there are also personal experiences, prior teachings, parents, culture, even your personality. All of these factors clearly shape who you are and what you believe, both in the natural and the spiritual.
It is essential that you realize this: Only a percentage of what you believe to be true is absolute TRUTH. There is a period of time during your spiritual development when you are vulnerable to assimilating non-truth. You believe your parents, pastor and teachers without question, even if the doctrine being taught has been faulty for hundreds of years, handed down from one generation to another.
Indeed, the Bible is the standard of truth; nonetheless, there are few who wholeheartedly agree with each other’s interpretation. Leaders of various Christian backgrounds, all born of the Spirit, all knowing Hebrew and Greek will arrive at different conclusions when researching the same passage. How can this be? Someone must be incorrect.
Make no mistake about it, doctrine is very important. You need to know what to believe for salvation, holiness, and victorious living, etc. Even so, are you able to hold peripheral doctrines in an open hand, enabling you to receive something more? I am certainly not suggesting compromise: Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sin is absolute Truth… salvation by grace, through faith – not works. And those things in the New Testament that are said to be sinful… you can be sure they are sinful. But will you continue to fight and divide over eschatology, how to baptize or eternal security? It is time to grow-up, saint.
Has this reading disturbed you? Perhaps your faith is mostly built upon doctrine. This is not good. Like a house of cards, remove a doctrine and you are fearful the whole house will collapse. If your faith leans too heavily upon doctrine, you may be threatened by change or may become dogmatic and legalistic. A doctrinal ‘purist’ may even isolate from others for fear of contamination. This is actually very weak faith.
Jesus IS truth, disciple. Your faith must be built upon a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth. Come to Him once again as a child, with child-like faith, and relearn His truth.
“This 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. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So far, we have learned:
1) Embrace the Cross, Count the Cost, Deny Self,
Die to Self
2) Forgiving One Another and Asking for Forgiveness,
Who is a Disciple? The Olive Press
3) The Meaning of Life, Intimacy with God,
Prayer and Fruitfulness, The Presence of God
4) Perseverance, Humility and Humbling Yourself
5) Submission to Authority, The Fear of God,
The Judgement of God
6) Servant Leadership, The Truth, Preparation of a Leader
Joseph as an example of fruitfulness in affliction as aptly stated by his father in the blessing of his son “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him”. (Genesis 49:22-23)
Joseph is one of two sons of Jacob’s favored wife, Rachel. His heart was so knit to Joseph he prepared for him a “coat of many colors”, which made his half-brothers envious. This coat (tunic) is the Hebrew word “Kethoneth”- meaning an under garment usually of linen. This same Hebrew word is used for Aaron’s tunic as a high priest, for the Levites, used by Tamar, King David’s daughter. Joseph’s brothers consisted of sons to concubines (female servants) Bilhah and Zilpah and Rachel’s sister Leah. Deception centered around the marriage of Jacob to Leah as he was promised marriage to his beloved Rachel by her father (of which waited and worked for her for 7 years) and was blind-sighted on the wedding night to find it was indeed Leah actually given to him in marriage. Jacob was forced to wait 7 days for the fulfillment of the wedding and work for another 7 years for Rachel. When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb (Genesis 29:31). Rachel was barren.
It is important to note that the three of the wives of the Patriarchs were barren. These were Abraham’s wife Sarah, Isaac’s wife Rebekah and Jacob’s wife, Rachel. The chosen seed of all three of these barren women were Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Joseph’s mother Rachel only conceived for one more child, Benjamin, to whom she gave birth to on their journey to Ephrath (meaning “ash heap/place of fruitfulness”). Ephrath is modern day Bethlehem. She subsequently died during the birth. Jacob set up a pillar on her grave.
Joseph endured much persecution and his brothers “hated him and could not speak peaceably to him” when his father presented him the coat as the son of his old age and they knew that Jacob loved him more. (Genesis 37:4). Jacob used Joseph to “spy on his brothers” and report back to him what they were doing in the field.
Genesis 37:5 and 37:9 the Lord spoke to Joseph through a prophetic dream about the call on his life. Upon sharing with his father, Jacob rebuked him and asked if it meant that he would rule over all of them. His brothers hated and envied him after hearing both dreams, however, Jacob “kept the matter in mind”
Habbakuk 2:3- For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but in the end, it will speak and not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it because it will surely come, it will not tarry”
The just shall live by faith…
Vision- Chazown– vision in the night, a prophecy
Appointed Time- Mowed– A season, a set appointed time, meeting or sign
Tarry- Mahahh– to delay, linger, refuse or turn back
Wait- Chakah- To wait for, long for, wait
Proverbs: 29:18- Where there is no prophetic vision, the people cast off restraint.
Psalm 105:17-22- Joseph was sold as a slave, they hurt his feet with fetters (literally; his soul came into iron…until that time his word came to pass….the word of the Lord tested him).
He refused to look at his master’s wife
Did not want to sin against God (walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh)
His brothers hated him
Conspired to kill him
Threw him into an empty pit, they ate a meal while he begged for his life! Then they pulled him out and sold him as a slave (Deuteronomy 24:7- if a man is found kidnapping any of his brethren of Israel and mistreats or sells him, he shall be put to death). He was purchased by Midianite traders and then sold to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. He was, then, taken down into Egypt and brought to Pharaoh’s officer, Potiphar, who was the captain of the Guard. Joseph, having much favor with God, had favor with Potiphar also who made him made him overseer of his household. Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her (she had been trying to seduce him day after day, to his denial). Potiphar’s anger burned toward Joseph and he was thrown in prison. The truth of Joseph’s imprisonment and unjust suffering can be found Psalms 105:18- They tied a rope around Joseph’s feet. They put an iron ring around his neck.
Let’s look at this example of suffering, endurance, perseverance, trial tribulation all in one paragraph:
Imagine the weeping from Joseph. He is thrown down into a dry pit he cannot get out of and begging from that pit hungry and crying. He is calling out to his half-brothers for help while they eat their lunch and laugh at him. Without warning he is sold as a slave, not once, but twice, and driven hundreds of miles away from all that he knew, leaving his beloved brother Benjamin and father, Jacob. He is sold to a stranger and had to learn how to survive, put in torment daily by a woman who lusted after him. Then accused falsely of something he did not do. And after all that, he is put into a pit again, is tied with a rope around his feet and an iron ring around his neck for TWO full years!
On divine appointment, he is put in charge of the Pharaoh’s butler and baker who have been thrown in the prison. They both had disturbing dreams that Joseph, by the Spirit, interprets. They are both so pleased with him and 3 days afterward are released from prison. His cry to them “Please remember me when it goes well with you. Please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house”. They returned to their positions, surely as Joseph had predicted in their dreams, however, they forgot about him. Joseph remained in shackles in the pit for the completion of two full years.
Let’s look at this – Joseph had two dreams; the butler/baker each had one (two dreams) and Pharaoh subsequently had two dreams AT THE COMPLETION OF TWO FULL YEARS of Joseph’s imprisonment.
The number 2 is used of agreement and by implication, the truth. One witness with the other as in Revelation 11. John 8:17- It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. Also, Hebrews 6: 17-18 states we have strong consolation that God cannot lie as He confirmed it by an oath by 2 immutable things. Joseph’s dream was confirmed by the second, Pharaoh’s dream was confirmed by the second and both the butler and the baker’s dreams spoke the truth of each other opening the door for the completion of the assurance that the vision is for an appointed time (Habakkuk 2:3). Joseph finally had his appointment.
Upon hearing Joseph’s Godly wisdom and the interpretation of both of his dreams, Pharaoh asks “Where can we find such a one in whom is the Spirit of God” (literal Hebrew-Ruach of Elohim) (Genesis 41:38)
Galatians 5:22- Defines the Fruit of the Spirit:
Love– Joseph saved and forgave his brothers
Joy-wept on his Father’s neck for joy
Peace– the favor of God was with him
Longsuffering– in prison for something he didn’t do until an appointment time
Kindness- He showed kindness to the captain of the guard and to Potiphar
Goodness– Gave five times more to his brother Benjamin and blessed his brothers
Faithfulness– Joseph feared God and was not bitter against Him
Gentleness– Joseph hugged his brothers
Self-Control- Joseph, as a leader, could have had his brothers imprisoned, but restrained himself
Upon his death Jacob said: Joseph is a fruitful bough (literally means son). The archers (Ba’al) bitterly grieved him (literally shot at and wounded him).
Joseph had two sons born to him while in Egypt from Potiphera’s (the priest of On) daughter:
Manassah– Causing to forget- of this child he said, “God has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father’s house”
Ephraim– God has made me fruitful in the land of affliction (Ephraim is from the root of Ephrath where Rachel died- Joseph used the root of the same location his mother died to say God had made him fruitful in the ash heap)
Isaiah 55: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down and the snow from Heaven and does not return there, but water the earth and makes it bring forth and bud that it way give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth, it will not return to me void, but will accomplish what I please and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Job 5:6- Man is born to trouble
Job 5:18- He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds but His hands make whole
Hold fast to the vision God gives you. Do not divert from it- He will bring it to pass. Remain faithful to God- endure, believe, persevere. Do not compromise when the vision is slow. Believe that God is sufficient to see His purpose through you. Trust in the sovereign providence of God
Keep Joseph as our example, for he said “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction”
Most of us use the words perseverance and endurance interchangeably but there is clearly a difference:
“For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Heb.10:36-39
“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
It has been proven scientifically that self-control is a limited resource. Studies have shown that if a person was in a position of having to exert self-control for a period of time, it is very likely that when they are faced with a temptation after this period, that they will succumb to it.
The definition of self-discipline:
Discipline may be defined as “orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior” and “to train or develop by instruction and exercise, especially in self-control”
Some of us were raised with lots of discipline. Others not so much. There are many in this current generation that have been allowed to do what they want. We need to understand the relation between self-discipline and self-control.
John 14:26 2 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
The apostle Paul wrote on self-discipline.
2 Thessalonians 3:11
For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.
It is about having that plan. That plan is rooted in our purpose. Our purpose is connected to YHVH’s purpose, or it should be. That is what finding meaning is all about.
In order to achieve this, we are to discipline ourselves:
1 Corinthians 9:27
but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
We have seen before that YHVH has given us His Spirit in order to teach us all things.
2 Timothy 1:7
For Elohim has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
In order to live a set apart life, we need self-control and self-discipline. We have learned that self-discipline and self-control are closely related. Self-discipline is the habit and self-control the good choices we make to realize this plan in our lives.
Dear Christian, the Lord continues to speak about repentance: If you are living in sin you will suffer serious consequences… and often times, the people nearest you will also suffer. Wake up before it’s too late! Sin must be confessed and dealt with. Sin will destroy everything you have worked for. Continue sinning and it will eventually pull you away from God. This is why the Lord is now warning His people. Many have compromised and have grown lukewarm… and there is unrepentant sin in the Church because many have been blinded by the political correctness of our culture. He is now sending strong conviction of sin. It is time to turn away from the sin that has ensnared you. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:7-8).
Much of the Church has fallen asleep; many have become lukewarm. The world has influenced God’s people and caused them to compromise. They have accepted, and even embraced, many things that God clearly says are sinful and evil. Almighty God, who is righteousness, holy, and just is now calling His Church to repentance. Hear the word of the Lord: “Wake up and turn away from your sin! There are serious consequences ahead. Those things done in secret will be exposed to the light. Shame and humiliation await you. This is your warning!”
Grace was never meant to cover your sin. The indescribable torture of Jesus Christ… the shedding of His blood, covers sin. Will you continue to take His suffering and the shedding of His precious blood for granted? Will you continue in this sin? No more excuses!
Most Christians have heard the word “repentance” for years and think they know what it means. It is mentioned 25 times in the New Testament. Confession is mentioned twice. To confess, means to agree with God and acknowledge you have sinned. The Greek word for repentance “metanoia” means “a change of mind, making a decision to turn around, to face a new direction.” Please understand. Repentance is not only admitting you have sinned and saying, “Forgive me, God, I am sorry.” It requires a change of heart and a genuine decision to turn away from that sin and turn toward the Lord. Turning away from sin requires an action on your part. If you have not done that… you have not repented of your sin.
Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (Matt.5:29). He says the same thing in Matt.18:9. (It is very rare to find the same words stated twice in the same book.) Of course, Jesus is not saying to mutilate yourself but Holy Spirit is trying to stress this point: You must take extreme measures to turn away from your besetting sins. (By mentioning the right hand, instead of just “hand” the Lord is clearly putting an exclamation point on this statement.)
Extreme measures could mean: break this relationship now, cut your internet, confess your sin to another, become accountable to someone, get into a program. Seek the Lord with all your heart. He loves you and will give you the help (grace) to overcome temptation. Nevertheless, He will not continue to tolerate your willful sinning. Repent now or there will be serious consequences.
Make no mistake, everyone is responsible for what they say and do… and will be accountable before God. You can no longer make excuses for yourself. You cannot blame others for your actions. Our God is loving and merciful. Admit and confess your sins… and get help. The Lord will transform your life.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to act even when afraid.
Joshua and Caleb Num. 13-14, David and Goliath 1Sam.17, Peter and John Acts 3-4
Paul said in 1Cor.2:3 “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.”
These are a few things that have caused many ministers to fall. Nevertheless, you don’t need to fall. God is “able to keep you from falling” (Jude 1:24).
If you are to run this race to the finish you must first become (and remain) intimate with God. This cannot be done without daily prayer. You will surely be deceived if you are not faithful to spend time with Him. God desires that we love Him above all else… even the ministry.