Society is falling into chaos. This is the message we see in the news everyday as violence and lawlessness continues to increase around us. We can look at this in a few different ways. We can agree with the turmoil around us, become fearful, and retreat within the comfort zone of our theological walls. Or, we can take action in the same way Jesus did. Did you ever notice that Jesus didn’t spend anytime judging the Roman culture around him? We don’t see any mention in the Bible of Jesus condemning the activities of the Roman government, or the rampant perversions that commonly occurred during his time on earth, or getting sucked into the political arguments of the day.
What was his model? To bring the kingdom of God to earth. How did he do it? By going into the marketplace and anywhere else people commonly congregated and revealing the love of God by performing miracles, setting people free from demonic oppression, and teaching the principles of his kingdom. The church in today’s society is poised to be incredibly impactful if we would adopt this same model. It’s easy to wait for people to step into the four walls of a building before we try to minister to them but there are so many people who won’t come anywhere near a church. So we have to go to them.
We have what the world needs. We have access to everything in heaven and we have an opportunity to change the world. We don’t need to be concerned about what is happening around us. We can change that reality if we are willing to step out in faith and actually do what Jesus modeled for us. When the world sees that there is a better way, they will abandon the chaos and step into the love of God. This is how we change the world. This is how we change society. This is how heaven comes to earth.
“Be perfect, therefore, as you heavenly Father is perfect;” that’s a big requirement Jesus gave in Matthew 5:48 and one that most of us probably think is out of reach or completely impossible. But I have this theory, if Jesus tells us to do something, it’s possible for us to do it. Jesus made other seemingly impossible statements about healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and doing greater things than he did. If you are of the belief that the supernatural ways of God have never ceased, then you probably familiar with God’s desire to work through people to bring about supernatural results and you know that these things are not outside of our reach. But this whole idea of being perfect is a tough one to think about, probably because it is something we cannot logically picture as a state we can achieve on this side of eternity. But Jesus said it, so it is possible!
One of the things that stands out to me in Jesus’ earthly ministry is that he was 100% accurate with every prophecy, word of knowledge, and any other spiritual gift he used. And he healed every person that came to him. I wonder if he operated at this high level because of his perfection. It’s common in most healing meetings to see 10%-20% of the attendees healed but what would it take to see 100% all the time? Jesus talked about how a mustard seed’s amount of faith could move a mountain so I don’t think it requires a ton of faith to see greater levels of the miraculous. But it might be attached to this perfection idea. If we could live out a perfect life, I suspect we would have zero distractions to keep us from clearly hearing God’s voice for every situation we encounter and we would be able to bring the solution every person needs. Of course, this is just a theory because Jesus is the only person to ever live a perfect life. But, he left the door open for us to follow in his footsteps of perfection and if we are supposed to represent him, then maybe, just maybe, we have a chance at hitting that mark and operating at a much higher supernatural gifting level.
We are in a season of time where God is choosing to reveal himself in a lot of new ways and, for some people, these new ways are too far outside of the box of what they are used to. Manifestations of the Holy Spirit might freak you out a little bit or maybe even make you feel a little uncomfortable. That’s perfectly understandable if it is new to you but if you hang around God long enough, you will quickly discover that he likes to show up in a lot of different ways. I tend to think that if God always did things the exact same way, we would create a theology out of it, and scorn anyone who chooses to think differently. Take a look at church history, it has happened a lot of times and is one of the reasons we have so many different denominations.
The Bible very clearly teaches that God does not change, he is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8) but I am confident that no one on the planet knows everything about God so we can’t possibly assume that we know every detail of his personality. There are aspects of his nature that we have never experienced and when we experience him in a new or different way it could be that he is revealing a different part of himself to us. I don’t know about you, but I get excited whenever the creator of the universe reveals himself to me in a new way because it takes my relationship with him to another level. For me, it’s exciting to discover something new about the God I love and serve. For others, it may just freak them out, but we have some great Biblical examples that prove this point.
God revealed himself in a burning bush in front of Moses, he used a cloud and a pillar of fire with the Israelites, and lightening surrounded the top of the mountain when the law was given; God chose a handful of different ways to reveal himself in just the first few books of the Bible so why would we ever think that he isn’t continuing to do the same thing today. What if Elijah ignored the still small voice because he was looking for a burning bush? What if the Israelites ignored the Messiah because he didn’t show up the way they expected? Oh wait, a lot of them did. Maybe that proves my point. Here’s the deal, there’s no logical reason to think that God won’t continue to show up in new ways today and I think it is very wise to ask him for the discernment to recognize when it is him so we don’t make fun of something that he is doing.
So here’s my point, don’t discount what God is doing just because you have never seen him do it in a certain way before. He is as infinitely creative as he is eternal and there is so much more to this relationship with him than we will probably ever fully realize on this side of eternity. Ask for more of him, and expect him to show up in a new way. You just might be surprised at how excited he is to reveal himself to you in a real, tangible, personal way.
Can one action be a catalyst for changing a life, a neighborhood, or even a nation? What happens when someone is so impacted by an event in their life that it sparks a desire to do something different or be someone different? I have this idea that if we can be the catalyst that shifts the perspective of someone else’s life, we can create a chain reaction of catalysts that can eventually change the world. And if we can be that catalyst in a handful of lives, we could change the world pretty quickly. Something I try to do when I meet someone new, especially when doing ministry is to give them an encounter with God that they will never forget. We have this amazing opportunity to partner with God and, essentially, get people what they need by pulling it down from heaven. So when someone standing in front of me has a need, I want to show them how much God cares about them by making sure their need is taken care of. So within the realm of supernatural ministry, that could mean a physical healing, inner healing, or deliverance that brings about an immediate change to their lives. That’s a great catalyst. If someone has cancer and suddenly the tumors disappear, it is an event they will never forget and they will most likely go tell their friends and family about what happened. One supernatural event in one person’s life can change their life forever and can easily become the catalyst that changes many more lives. The story in John 4 about the woman at the well is a great example of this. She spent a few minutes with Jesus and then went back into town to tell everyone about this encounter; and, as verse 39 shows us, many people believed in Jesus as a result. One event. One catalyst. Many lives changed. You too can be the encounter that creates the catalyst that changes you neighborhood, city, state, or even nation.
If you have been around churches or church conferences where prophecy is common, you have more than likely received a few prophetic words. It can be fun and exhilarating to hear someone recount God’s plans for your future but these events often leave a few blazing questions in our minds not the least of which is the question of when it will happen. It’s pretty rare for a prophecy to come true instantaneously and most people who receive promises from God in this way tend to go through a season of waiting before the promise becomes a physical reality. There’s a lot of precedence for this in the Bible; Abraham and Sarah waited more than a decade for Isaac to be born, the Israelites (and the rest of the world) waited for thousands of years for the Messiah to be born, and all Christians continue to wait for the promise of the return of Jesus.
Waiting isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if you have been holding onto a promise for a long time. I know that I personally have a list of promises I have been waiting on for many years so I understand the waiting game very well. But is seems to be so common that, as we wait, we start to wonder if something happened along the way that kept the promise from occurring. Here’s a scenario for you to think about; Bob goes to a conference and while he is there the speaker picks him out of the crowd and prophesies that God is going to do something very specific in his life. This is exciting for Bob! He writes down what the speaker said, takes it home with him, thanks God for it, and declares it over his life on a regular basis. But after a year goes by Bob begins to wonder why the promise hasn’t happened yet. He starts to wonder if he did something that kept it from happening. He ponders if maybe he didn’t have enough faith to see the promise come about. Doubt really sets in, and Bob becomes discouraged, the complete opposite of how he felt a year earlier. This is a common occurrence and I’m sure many of the readers of this post will be able to relate to at least part of this scenario.
So here’s the deal, if God makes a promise, he always keeps it, and, unless he puts a condition on his promise, it is guaranteed to happen. I don’t believe that we can do anything to keep God’s promises from being fulfilled in our lives but we often get confused when a significant amount of time passes without anything happening. And we start to think that we did something wrong, or didn’t have enough faith, or that the person who gave the prophecy was wrong. Hang in there and don’t stop believing. Many people have walked this same path before you and God has always proven himself to be faithful. He will do what he promised.
Imagine the kingdom of heaven as a giant playground where you are free to explore God’s creation. Think about that for a minute. Jesus said we need to become like little children to enter into the kingdom (Matt 18:3) and what do kids love to do more than anything else? Play! I remember as a little kid loving to play on monkey bars or any other playground equipment; I even fractured my arm once taking the risk of getting on the tall ones and then falling off. Kids are fearless until someone teaches them to be afraid. So what if we took the same approach of entering the kingdom of heaven with childlike abandonment and with no fear of how high the monkey bars are, or how difficult the challenge seems to be. The Christian life is supposed to be about risk. It’s supposed to be about taking the risk of partnering with God in faith with an expectation that something amazing will happen as a result. But the risk should be fun. If we take this playground approach, kids take risks but they are having fun while they do it. I love engaging with complete strangers on the street because I get to deliver a gift that only God can give. The only real risk I am taking here is to be rejected but I have learned to ignore that element because the reward of seeing a life completely transformed is worth the small risk of rejection. So the kingdom of heaven has become my playground and playing on the playground brings joy, happiness, and excitement as we discover all that God has planned for us.
So what are you waiting for?
There’s a story found in Matthew 13:54-58 and Mark 6:1-6 where Jesus was teaching in his hometown synagogue and while he was there he was not able to perform any miracles. It has been taught for a long time that a lack of faith can keep someone from experiencing a miracle and that idea typically comes from these 2 passages because the account in Matthew seems to clearly point this out. But after seeing so many miracles with people who have no faith I’m starting to think the value of honoring the gift on a person is more important than believing that something will happen.
We’ve seen non-Christians healed, we’ve seen believers of other religions healed, and we’ve even seen people healed while they were still high on drugs. None of these people had any expectation for a miracle but there is one thing they all had in common; they honored us by allowing us to pray for them. One thing that jumps out at me in these verses is Jesus’ statement that a prophet is without honor in his own home. The people in the story were questioning his legitimacy because they knew him as the kid who grew up down the street as the local carpenter’s son. They dishonored him by not believing he was the Messiah. Their lack of faith in who he was is more about dishonor than about faith for miracles. Another passage in Matthew 10:41 says “Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Welcoming a prophet or righteous person appropriately means to honor the gift that is on their life. It’s a spiritual principle; dishonoring someone who represents Jesus blocks their gift from operating.
Jesus wasn’t able to perform any miracles but the account in Mark adds that he healed a few sick people. I suspect these few sick people weren’t part of the group dishonoring him and as a result they were able to receive what they needed. The simple act of someone allowing you to pray for them is an act of honor. They may not have any expectation or faith that a miracle will occur but they are at least honoring your beliefs enough to let you pray. And that little bit of honor is what releases the reward mentioned in Matthew 10. So my perspective is that, at least in the area of the miraculous, honor is more important than faith because by honoring the gift on a person we are honoring Holy Spirit since he is the one who gave the gift.
I have come to the conclusion that we need pot stirrers in the church; people who are able to stir things up through their own personal journey with Christ. Has your Christian walk ever felt stagnant? Have you ever sat in a church that you felt was little stale or wondered why your spirit wasn’t being fed? AW Tozer once said that “there are rare Christians whose very presence incites others to be better Christians. I want to be that rare Christian.” I know what it’s like to become stagnant. My spiritual life ended up there at some point and I sat on a plateau with very little growth until one day, a day I like to refer to as an appointed time on God’s calendar, Holy Spirit woke me up to a new reality. Over the past few years several different charismatic Christian leaders have put forth an idea that there is more to the Christian life, more to the experiences we were created for, and more to God than we have ever completely realized. The problem, is that until someone or something comes along to stir things up in our life, we don’t realize that we are missing out. This is where the pot stirrers come in. God uses pot stirrers to awaken the church to the greater reality of who He is and the purpose he has for all of us. It’s easy to get into a routine. It’s easy to go to church once or twice a week, volunteer here and there for a good cause, live a good Christian life, and then suddenly realize that a few decades have gone by while our relationship with God has been on cruise control. So we need these pot stirrers to come in from time to time to get us moving in the right direction. Paul mentioned stirring up spiritual gifts in the first chapter of 2nd Timothy and I think the concept here is the same. Fan the flame, stir up the gift, in yourself and in others. Start stirring the pot!
We become what we meditate on. What we consistently think about eventually becomes a reality in our lives. Dictionaries have a few different definitions for meditate and it essentially means to ponder or contemplate something. That means to think about something over and over again. This is a truth that we all need to understand because so many of us focus on the wrong things and it quite literally births that thing into our life. Focus on fear, think about fear all the time, and you will become a fearful person. But the opposite is also true. Focus on and think about love all the time, and you will become a loving person. In the very first Psalm we are shown the value of meditation when it involves God’s word; “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night.” God is a creator and his word, whether written in the Bible or spoken to us today, is creative by nature so we should expect it to create something in our lives if we are constantly reading it. What I have found to be true is that when I meditate on a section of scripture it gets planted in me like a seed and eventually grows into exactly what the verse talks about. God’s word literally has the power to create something new in our lives and if we meditate on the topics where we want to see a change in our life we are guaranteed to see it happen. If you want to be more loving, meditate on 1 Cor. 13, if you need peace in your life, meditate on John 14:27. You become what you meditate on. Choose to meditate on who God says you are and you will be transformed into exactly who he created you to be.
Have you ever wondered why John was called the apostle of love? When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment he responded by telling us to love God with all of our heart, soul mind and strength. But then he continued with a second commandment to love others as ourselves. There was this idea that love was the most important thing and it is an idea that John really grabbed hold of. If you read any of the books John wrote in the Bible, you’ll quickly see that love is a constant theme and a constant thread throughout all of them. John understood the importance of loving people. And if we jump over to 1 Corinthians 13 we see this chapter on love that, John didn’t write, but that he definitely lived. And this is probably why he was given the book of Revelation because he could deliver it in such a way that it wasn’t condemning and confrontational but it was done through love. A lot of people today are pursuing the gifts of the Spirit, and that’s awesome, but really what we should be doing first is to pursue love. If we can’t love somebody, we have no right to be prophesying to them or asking to pray for their sickness or injuries. I love doing all of that stuff but the first priority has to be loving the people. Think about this, if someone stood in front of you and you were able to discern the deepest darkest sin in their life, you have to still be able to love them. That’s the level of love we all need to operate from. It’s way too easy to become judgmental and condemning and if we don’t love people well, we will never fully operate in the gifts that Holy Spirit has for us. So I just want to challenge you to learn to love first. If you want to operate in the gifts of the Spirit, that’s great, pursue that, but pursue love first. Ask God to give you his heart for people and to let you see people the way he sees them. Those are two prayers he loves to answer!
Follow Gene on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Join our newsletter