Christianity 201

November 19, 2018

Running from a God-Assignment

The mission given to me by the Anointed One is not about baptism, but about preaching good news. The point is not to impress others by spinning an eloquent, intellectual argument; that type of rhetorical showboating would only nullify the cross of the Anointed. – I Cor 1:17, The Voice

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom.  I Cor 2:1, CEB

Once again we’re back with J. Lee Grady who blogs at Fire in My Bones. He was editor of Charisma Magazine for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression.

As this article is joined in progress, you are strongly encouraged to read the whole thing; click the title below to read this at source.

Are You Called to Speak? Don’t Run From Your Assignment

…When I tell friends that I stubbornly resisted the call of God to preach because of my lack of confidence, they act surprised. They think most people who stand in pulpits want to be there. Think again!

We assume God always chooses gifted orators. But true preaching is not a natural exercise, like any other form of public speaking. It is one of the most supernatural tasks anyone can ever be called to do. It requires an imperfect human vessel to yield himself (or herself) to speak the very words of God.

If we deliver our message in our own human ability, the results will be miserable; but if we wholly trust the power of the Holy Spirit, prophetic preaching unleashes supernatural anointing.

Most preachers in the Bible were reluctant. Moses made excuses about stuttering. Gideon tried to disqualify himself, blabbering on and on about his weaknesses. Jeremiah complained about the responsibility of carrying a prophetic burden. And Jonah bought a one-way ticket to the other side of the Mediterranean Sea so he wouldn’t have to give his unpopular sermon to the people of Nineveh.

As long as God has been anointing people to speak for Him, people have been running from their assignments—and giving God all kinds of creative excuses for their delinquency.

The apostle Paul, who was a silver-tongued Pharisee before he met Christ, was stripped of his eloquence before he preached the gospel throughout the Roman empire. He felt weak and totally incapable when he spoke.

He told the Corinthians:

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:3-5).

Think about it: The premier apostle of the first century trembled as he spoke. Yet God used his words to spread the message of Jesus Christ throughout the known world.

Revivalist Arthur Katz, who died in 2007, wrote about the power of true preaching in his 1999 book Apostolic Foundations:

The only one qualified to preach … is the one who wants to run the other way, like Jonah. … The man who sighs and groans when called upon to speak, who does not want to be there, who feels terribly uncomfortable … is the man out of whose mouth the word of true preaching is most likely to come.

That is certainly not the way most of us view pulpit ministry today. We celebrate the smooth and the polished. We look for the cool, hipster delivery style. We measure the impact of a sermon not by whether hearts are slain by conviction but by how high the people jump when the preacher tells them what they want to hear.

That kind of carnal preaching may win the accolades of men, boost TV ratings and even build megachurches. But the kingdom is not built on smug self-confidence. We need God’s words. The church will live in spiritual famine until broken, reluctant, weak and trembling preachers allow His holy fire to come out of their mouths.

If you have a message from God, stop making excuses. Run instead to heaven’s altar, raise your hands in total surrender and let the Holy Spirit touch your mouth with a burning coal. Die to your fears, doubts and excuses, and let a holy anointing intensify within you until it becomes like fire shut up in your bones.

September 11, 2018

Honoring God as Holy

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by Russell Young

Do you honor God as holy?

God condemned Moses and Aaron because of their attitude towards the one with whom they had enjoyed fellowship while leading Israel out of captivity. “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” (Num 20:12) Moses and Aaron had travailed in the wilderness with a rebellious people and with God leading the way. The people had become quarrelsome because they lacked water. The LORD had told Moses that he was to take his staff and Aaron and to gather the people before a rock. He was to speak to it and water would flow from the rock. However, Moses did not call upon God before the people but struck the rock twice with his staff as he made his proclamation; consequently, the LORD uttered his indictment, “You did not trust me enough to honor me as holy.

The commands of God are important. He will do as he has promised but he is to be obeyed and honored through humble obedience; he is not to ignored. Neither is he hallowed when people assume credit for his work. Moses and Aaron left out God when they struck the rock and declared, “Must we (Moses and Aaron were before the congregation.) bring water out of the rock?” (Num 20:10) They were incapable of making the rock produce water and yet they were taking credit for the work of the LORD. They had denied the holiness of God through their disobedience. The had not hallowed him.

The modern church is presented as dwelling in an age of grace. Unfortunately, the presentation of that grace has left out the need for obedience to God. However, any rejection of the commands of God is a lack of the acceptance of his holiness and of a lack of trust. He alone knows his plan for the believer and he alone has ordained the way to his eternal promised land. Believers will hear his calls, will look neither to the right nor the left and will respond in obedience. The understanding of grace that has pervaded many of the churches allows God’s grace to excuse disobedience; however, such neglect of his holiness will bring its own reward, just as it did for Moses and Aaron. Salvation, including eternal salvation, is by God’s grace, but that grace is often revealed though the obedience necessary to trust the course that he has set. God is holy and so must be his people. “Be holy: without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14)

Some accept that the sacrificial offering of Christ has made them holy and that this will remain their state forever. The Word addresses the need to become holy or the need to be made holy. The writer of Hebrews has presented, “Because by that one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Heb 10:14) or to re-order the passage, ‘Those who are being made holy have been made perfect forever.’ Paul also addressed the issue, “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Rom 6:19)

The Spirit, who is Christ in you (Col1:27) is the means of developing holiness. “And so [God] condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:34) If a person is to live according to the Spirit, he must hear the call (commands) of the Spirit, must treat the one giving the commands as being holy, and must live accordingly. Paul has also written that those who are led by the Spirit of God are not under the law (Gal 5:18), and that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. (Rom 8:14) Christ taught that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 7:21) and that his sheep hear his voice and follow him. (Jn 10:27)

God is holy and he must be treated with respect through the recognition of his authority and through trust in his provision, plan, and intervention in their lives. Just as Moses and Aaron disregarded God’s holiness before men and reaped loss, so will those who reject his authority and holiness and rest their hope in human philosophies and teachings that do not humbly recognize his sovereignty and glory. Those who mock God through disregard will reap destruction. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:78).


Russell Young lives in Ontario, Canada and is the author of Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” Really? available in print and eBook in the U.S. through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  His column appears here alternate Tuesdays.  To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link.  There is also a feature-length article at this link.

(All Scriptures are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.)

 

February 26, 2012

Where Changing the Culture Begins

I’m always happy when people take advantage of our offer of direct submissions, but it helps if I actually check that e-mail inbox. This was submitted a few days ago by Jarod Hinton who lives in Georgia and blogs at Sermonettes, where this appeared (for the second time!) under the title Reformation’s First Step.

Our country is in sad shape. Our culture, also, is just this side of Gomorrah. Maybe a taste of what we’re up against is that in a recent research survey they discovered that 57 percent of “evangelical Christians” believe their faith is not the only way to eternal life! This goes back to my previous post a little bit. Hypocrites in the church. But beyond that, my own compromise and hypocrisy. Basically we need a reformation in our country. (And our Canadian neighbors also.) I have been praying for a mighty movement of God’s Spirit for a long time. Our society is doomed if we do not repent and seek the Lord again. I say that with all seriousness and sincerity. I’m not a doom-and-gloom-er, but we are in a war for the future of our children, and our nation.

But we will not see a great movement of God upon our country until the body of Christ repents of its own sins and failure to behave as Christ would behave. We need a reformation (or revival, whatever you want to call it) in the Church before we will see it in our country. That is in part why I am a minister seeking to help God’s people live in freedom and power.

But we will not see a great movement of God in the Church until there is a stirring of God’s Spirit in families. The family is the backbone of the Church. That is to say, the family structure is vitally important for the successful carrying out of the Great Commission. Also, the best discipleship happens in the home. A powerful revival in God’s body will come in the form of families that are changed and unified and powerful, in God’s Spirit.

I realized last night something significant I can do to speed along the reformation of our culture. In fact, I realized what the very first step, the beginning, of this reformation will be. If we will not have reformation until the church repents and is revived, and we will not have revival until the family is surrendered to God’s control, and I am the leader of my family, then I can begin in my own life to prepare the way of the Lord. Prepare ye the ways of the Lord. Make his paths straight.

The first step to reformation is in ME!

I must begin now to seek the Lord and earnestly pursue a life of holiness and a pure walk with Christ. How does that happen? It happens through the Word of God. That is the instrument God will use to shape me into the image of my Savior. Then my living will be what it ought to be. (Or at least, it will begin moving in that direction.) God cleanses and directs me through his Word. That is the key to spiritual growth.

So I need to quit bemoaning the sins of society so much — not that I will stop completely — and start working on the compromise and selfishness in my own life. I need to be a man and get up early enough in the morning, regardless of circumstances, and spend time with Christ in prayer and His Word. Then Christ will begin, more and more, to live my life for me. That is the goal. To be filled and controlled by the Spirit.

So I am going to start taking the first step of reformation. I hope you will join me.

~Jarod Hinton

Got an idea for a Bible study or devotional piece that would fit here?  Click submissions.

February 15, 2011

Letting God Be Your Mentor

Back in August we connected with Tim Burt, a devotional blogger and associate pastor in Minnesota.  Today we decided to see what Tim’s been up to lately, and discovered this piece at Fresh Manna, which he titled, Mentored By God.


One definition for mentored is “to be instructed by a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Did you know that people pay good money to be mentored? They really do. Many times when people want to experience higher levels of achievement and success, they hire personal trainers or mentors that observe their thinking and behavior so they can make suggestions for improvement. Did you know that the greatest mentor of all time wants to be your mentor… for free?

1 Th 5:23 says, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through…” Did you catch the words “May God Himself… sanctify you…” The word sanctify means to be set apart. Set apart from what? He want us do be set apart from or to think and act differently from how those that don’t know how the Lord would have us think and act. He wants us set apart in how we approach life, in how we think through life, and in how we speak, act, and walk out our day-to-day life.

How are we going to do that? The verse says that God Himself will help us accomplish that. It begins with holding Him in our heart with reverence as Almighty God. At the same time, He wants to be a Father to us. That is His heart behind the words, “May God Himself…” It’s pretty amazing that the God of the universe Himself wants to be a Father to us. In being a Father, He desires to mentor us.

It’s interesting—many times I’ve had people ask me if I would be a mentor to them. I do not have the resource of time available to mentor people one-on-one. I’ve told them if they want to be mentored by me, they will simply have to be a part of what I am doing and become a part of my leadership team. My leadership is more exposed to my thinking and doing than most and they can learn from listening and observing. (And of course they can read Fresh Manna!) I am just a man and just one man. I can only accomplish so much. That’s the very reason we want to be mentored by God. He is not limited. He is really the only one that is absolutely capable of steering each and every individual into right thinking and the plan for their life. Knowing this then—knowing that the God of the universe loves you so much that He wants to set you apart and mentor you personally—is truly a mind boggling statement of just how awesome and loving the Lord is. The way He will mentor you is through His Holy Spirit whom lives within every person who has accepted Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will take the Word of God and bring understanding to it so that we can understand God’s ways. This is a very special and supernatural thing. It is what allows you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the God of the universe.

Now as today’s Fresh Manna verse continues, it says, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through…” What does that mean, “…through and through?”

God wants to teach you how to think through each decision in your life from His perspective. How do we do that? That could lead to volumes of writing. The simplest way to hear from God’s Holy Spirit in a practical ongoing way is for you to ask yourself, “What would Jesus think and do?” And then, in putting it to work in your life, remember that the rudder for all you do in Christ comes from Galatians 5:6 “…faith working through love.” You have to have faith that God is mentoring you and HE WILL help you think through every situation. But, you also have to make sure your heart is guided by the spirit of God’s love. God’s love is filled with forgiveness, mercy, and grace toward you and that must be how you think it through toward others. This is the rudder to good decisions and to being mentored through and through by God Himself.

Psalm 143:10 (NLT) “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.“

In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt