To be sure, all growth is intentional. It is not automatic. Therefore, we must create a plan of action. Too many in religious circles believe that growth is automatic, but it is not. You can come to church, worship, be involved in ministry and NOT GROW. You can sit on a church pew and be unforgiving, bitter, hateful, spiteful and just down right mean. However, when you develop a plan for growth, you begin to switch your focus from the parts that need to be changed to the transformed nature that we need to change into. I assure you, if you do not have a plan for growth, you are not growing. But, with a plan you have an opportunity to grow beyond anything you thought possible. A transformed life begins with an intentional plan for growth.
So, what does it take to grow people personally? How do you do this? Let me tell you about the plan that God showed me when I was 19 and struggling as an evangelist to make it in full time ministry. It was a plan that at the time I didn’t realize would lead to a transformed ministry. The Lord spoke to me in prayer when I was fretting over my future, not quite knowing whether or not I would be able to make it. He said, “If you will meet me every day, I will show you how to do it.” And the remarkable thing about it is that God was true to His promise.
In the story of Esther when Mordecai went back to the King’s gate, even after he was exalted by Haman for a day, he knew that Israel was still under Haman’s curse to be executed. So he returned to the King’s gate to weep and pray for their complete deliverance (Esther 6:12). God told me, “Go back to the King’s gate every day.”
Pentecost is so event oriented that we have forgotten how to be growth oriented. I wanted to change that culture and the Lord told me to “teach them how to grow.” I called it the Rule of Five. Leadership gurus have used this term for years. The Rule of Five is the basic practices that you will complete every day, no matter what. Consistency is vital and more important than quantity or even quality; the key is do it every day. You have to have a designated place where you can get alone, and you have to have a plan. Judas was able to betray Jesus in the middle of the night because he knew the place where Jesus prayed (John 18:2). If you don’t have a place, then I know your plan will not work.No place, no plan = no growth.
My Rule of Five
Read and pray the Word for personal and kingdom purpose.
Write in a journal the things that you learned while reading and listening to the voice of the Lord.
Speak a word of encouragement into a leader’s life.
Speak a word of healing into a hurting saint or sinner’s life every day.
Reflect at the end of the day whether you completed your rule of five and plan the next day’s journey.
Four Transformational Attributes that will develop from a consistent application of the Rule of Five:
Abundance Mentality (defeats a jealous spirit that consumes professional Pentecostals)
Serving Heart (defeats the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent in today’s culture)
Blessing Tongue (defeats the negative viewpoint that causes complaining and criticism)
Yes Spirit (the ability to have faith that God has a plan and a destiny for each one of us)
You must commit to this daily process. If you have a day filled with victories, do your rule of five. If you have a day that seems like nothing but an utter failure, do your rule of five. If you are walking on clouds and life is bliss, do your rule of five. If you are in the darkest of days and your worst trials, do your rule of five. Your rule of five can differ from mine, but key ingredients should include: prayer, a daily diet of the word of God, and pouring out of oneself.
What happens to water if it stands still too long and there is no movement or flow? It becomes stagnant. Water is necessary for life and the world around us shows us that water is itself a life source. But this substance that was once a life source, can become foul, putrid, and rotten. So every day our spirit needs to be renewed, refreshed and rebooted to allow for the free flow of His Spirit.
John 7:38 (AV)He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Rivers can only exist where there is a constant current or flow. We must have that outpouring of ourselves into the lives of those around us so we do not become stagnant Christians, and the only way we can pour into those around us is to have a constant source of this living water. The necessity for the rule of five works from both ends of the current!
Ultimately, the only one responsible for your growth is you. You can’t buy all the raw materials and tools needed to build a house and then get mad when the foundation never gets poured. You must start the building process. God has given us all the power and resources we need and it is up to us to put them to good use.
Earlene Perkins, a dear lady in our church who has worked with our Sunday School Department for almost 50 years received the lesson I taught our church about the rule of five. Although she has served the Lord all these years, she obediently and happily applied it to her personal life and came up with an acronym that encompasses the heartbeat of this lesson – PULSE.
Praise – Wake up with praise and praise God throughout the day.
Unleash the word (read the Bible).
Lean on God in prayer.
Speak the word to someone.
There is no better time to start than now and no better place than home, so let’s begin.
One of the great privileges I have enjoyed as a Pastor and a mentor is to share my passion for personal growth with others. Today, more than ever before we must create a growth atmosphere and learn how to sustain it. Our culture bombards us daily with its corrupt message and the only deterrent is for us to resist this terrible onslaught every day. We must become convinced that we have a destiny and that we were made for more. We must learn to grow into our purpose or we will be infected by the world and become powerless to change ourselves or those around us.
In light of the current culture, we can allow ourselves to become negative and refuse to speak blessings into the lives of those who look to us for influence and leadership. We can be in a bad mood and miss what God wants to do. It is our duty to allow the seed of God’s word to grow in us until we are able to bless even our enemies.
It is crucial for us to be careful that what we are asking for and speaking is what God has intended for us to live and to do. We must diligently search the scriptures to make sure that what we are asking for is God’s original plan and intention for our lives. I am fully persuaded that if it is not God’s design, I just don’t want it. I don’t want my will, but His.
It is my hope that I am able to provoke you to take inventory and to see the hand of God on your life, to recognize your anointing, to speak God’s blessing and to lift you to a higher level where God is able to fulfill His eternal purpose in and through you. You are anointed, you are blessed, and God is still working to bring you to a larger place in Him. God gave me a plan 5-6 years ago that changed the culture of our church. Although the process of change is nowhere near complete, it is definitely much improved and growing every day.
The culture of our churches will never change until our concepts change and those concepts must become convictions. I know that these concepts have been corrupted by people who have no intention of examining the scripture to make sure they are representing the true meaning of God’s intention. Yet, it cannot be denied that these concepts are biblical; they are tried, and they are true. The word has been placed in the crucible seven times, meaning, they have been proven to work in every kind of situation. There is no conflict, attack or problem where the word of the Lord has not been proven to work. This word picture refers to a completed process that leaves no doubt that God’s word works all the time in every situation. Psalm 12:6,7 (AV)The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
Concepts for Transformation
Concept #1: Jesus wants every believer to flourish with abundance and to increase in favor.We are heirs to Abraham’s blessing and because we belong to Christ we are heirs to the promise. It belongs to us by divine decree.Galatians 3:29, And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. The only force that would oppose this is the devil, who hates to see God’s will done in the earth. It is clear that God intends for us to have these blessings, and intends for His chosen people to be more, not just for themselves, but for the kingdom. To experience these blessings, we must grow. We lack the virtue to use it correctly; we lack the capacity to hold it in righteousness and we need further wisdom and guidance to leverage these concepts in a way that is Christ honoring and will advance the kingdom. Growth is not only necessary but is an essential part of God’s sovereign plan. So, the question is, “Do you dare to bring yourself into alignment and agreement with God’s will?” If you answer, “Yes,” then you can begin to unlock the treasure of a renewed hope and blessing that comes only from a God who takes great joy in seeing His children realize their purpose, grow through the process and in the end possess the promise.
Concept #2: You cannot grow someone else’s spiritual walk; you can only grow yourself.
Paul paints a perfect picture of the blessings we receive when we reach our full potential in Christ: Although we are poor, we have made many people rich. And though we own nothing, everything is ours (CEV 2 Corinthians 6:4-10). God’s ORIGINAL intention for man as expressed in Genesis 1:28 is abundance, dominion, and multiplication. In order for us to receive these spiritual gifts, we have to change our ways, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).It’s important to recognize that this intention only comes to fruition when we make the effort in our own lives. We must make the conscience decision to obtain His intention for our lives, and in doing so, we can be a light to others. However, this does not mean that we can force our own growth, or our own spiritual walk, on those around us. We must learn the difference between mentoring others and “growing” them. The only person we can grow is ourselves.
Concept #3: Develop an abundance mentality.
I believe that God is calling us all to a higher level in Him.We, like Peter, are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). This is a never-ending process.As John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”We should never feel that we have “attained” for that is the point in which we detour from our journey towards full potential in Christ. When we recognize the potential for intentional and continual spiritual growth, and in our relationship with Him, we can then begin to realize what abundance really means. The more we seek, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more we can see that there is always more!
Jesus said in John 10:10, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.Jesus came to give us life, abundant life. When you begin walking towards your goal you will see that He has been walking right alongside of you.
There are some things that you need to take for your journey: purpose, hope, encouragement, a positive attitude, and determination.Even if you are not sure of your “final” purpose, we all have things that we know the Lord is calling us to.Start heading in the right direction and you will find your “destination” will become clearer as you get closer.He will bless you abundantly as you take the steps to better yourself. No one can do it for you. You have to walk this walk.
Concept #4: Learn to take authority and have dominion.
Taking authority is a learned behavior. As you walk in life you will see that in almost every situation you will need to take dominion.From the beginning of time God has given us dominion as we were made in His image. Genesis 1:26 tells us, And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Jesus again tells us in Luke 10:19, Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. We were created to have dominion, not to be dominated! Notice that Jesus goes beyond Genesis and its dominion over everything.He lets us know that we have power over the enemy. Satan never had and never will have power over us unless we give it to him.Paul tells us in Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you… There is no one who can stop us from reaching the potential God has for our lives. The choice is ours. As William Jennings Bryan, an orator from the turn of the century said,” Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”
Concept #5: Multiplication is the promised result of all growth.
Finally, I want you to reach for the high calling of Christ and experience the blessing of multiplication. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that it is His will for each servant to increase their talents. You find that you have even more to offer Him than you originally thought. Each of the servants had a PLAN to multiply their talents. We too must develop a plan and take the necessary steps to grow into God’s intention for multiplication. I have identified five steps to a successful execution of a plan: define your goal, set priorities, organize your time, determine the measurement, and remember the power of words.Follow this plan, give of your time and ability to increase in His kingdom, and you will find that your talents will also be increased.
It’s a scriptural principle we can be sure of, Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38). That multiplication in your life will spill over to every area of your life. You will increase in compassion, charity, and wisdom. In conclusion, we all as Christians need to become more than just conquerors; we need to learn to rule the possessions given to us by the promises of God well. This is what Paul meant when he said, …we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37).
We have a supernatural power through the Holy Ghost to grow and become more like Christ so we can be used in His kingdom. It is His will for us no matter what we look like or what others think. He saw the simple fisherman, Peter, preaching to the thousands on the day of Pentecost. He saw Paul, the Christian killer, as the writer of thirteen books in the New Testament that we are still reading for wisdom and guidance today!It is undeniably God’s will for us to continue to grow. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers. You were Made For More – now start walking!
Unresolved shame creates mental, emotional & spiritual dysfunction. It is the root of almost all Christian inconsistency. If we are to advance in the kingdom of God we must resolve the issue of shame. To live without condemnation is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its’ transformation in our life. Therefore, we must become intentional about removing shame from our lives.
Shame is defined as “the painful feeling of the loss of self-respect.” Shame emphasizes the humiliation felt at the loss of esteem. This includes the idea of feeling humiliated or embarrassed as from a sense of inadequacy or inferiority. Shame also includes the pain caused by losing the respect of others. It can only develop through problems in inter-personal relationships that are significant to us.
Shame is always a product of the failure, or perceived failure, to meet the expectations of someone from whom we desire to receive approval. This “failure” results in rejection or perceived rejection. Therefore, failure and rejection are the key elements of shame. When I feel that I am not good enough to be accepted by the people that I consider most important to me, I will usually reject myself.
*** THIS SELF-REJECTION IS CALLED “SHAME”! ***
Shame says to us – you are a mistake; you are flawed and defective as a human being; you will never be good enough; you will ultimately be rejected by everyone as soon as they find out what you really are; you are a failure.
What leads to these feelings?
MY OWN ACTIONS – the most obvious sources of shame are those things that I did that I wish I had not done or those things that I did not do that I wish I had done. Goals that I did not reach which greatly disappointed me or let someone else down causing me to feel that my life will be forever incomplete. Things that I earnestly intended or greatly desired to do, but missed the opportunity to do because of neglect, procrastination, etc.
REJECTION – The real or perceived rejection by someone of significance to me. Shame is usually created through emotional, mental and verbal abuse such as: “Why are you so stupid? You will never amount to anything. Why can’t you be like your brother?” Sub-consciously, the rejected person blames themselves for not being able to be or to do good enough to be accepted.
ALIENATION – This includes the idea of the extremity of alienation which is ABANDONMENT. People who have been victims of sexual infidelity of their mate, victims of divorce, these feelings of being abandoned can cause this type of alienation.
ABUSE – These are defined as violations of the “person.” They can be physical, mental and emotional. The perverseness and irony of all types of sins against the person is that the victim subconsciously blames themselves and not the perpetrator.
CLASS REJECTION – Shame experienced by a group of people because of rejection experienced as a group. When one is misunderstood and being accused of being something that you are not racism, prejudice and
SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR – Shame begets more shame. Shame is the root cause of ALL self-destructive behavior.
Once shame creeps in, we tend to fall into a cycle:
Shame-Based Identity – I begin to associate myself with the person that rejection has convinced me that I am – someone worthy of more and more rejection. I become convinced that I am hopelessly flawed as a person and that there is no power within me to change me. Distorted Thinking – I become convinced that I need someone or something more than I have within me to be happy, to feel complete, or to feel better about myself. If I could just find something from outside of me that is better than what I have within me, I could become a better person and feel better about myself. Acting Out Feelings – I resort to searching for ways to fulfill my lust for things, pleasure, etc. This includes drugs, alcohol, adultery, perversion, gluttony, etc. Life Damaging Consequences – The results of my actions obviously serve only to severely compound my problems. Now I must deal with the consequences of my actions which have caused a intensification of my shame beyond my imagination.
Prior to their sinful action, Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their nakedness before God, in fact they didn’t even know they were naked. It was only after they sinned that they became aware of their nakedness. While they were guilty in their actions, that was not what caused them to feel shame. The problem was that they had lost the ability to believe that God could love them – SHAME.
When people feel rejected and are filled with shame they develop a sense of feeling naked. Therefore, we hide from God, people, and ourselves. Shame causes us to feel naked or VULNERABLE. Therefore, we create “fig leaf’ type defense mechanisms behind which we hide. These are not comfortable, and they certainly are ineffective, but they are all we’ve got!
You see, shame is often confused with guilt. Guilt and shame are not synonymous. Guilt is the sin or offense deserving of blame or punishment. Guilt rejects the act as wrong. Shame rejects the one who committed the act. Guilt results when I violate the Word of God. Shame results when I am accused of not being good enough to keep the Word of God.
Guilt says, “I have done wrong.” Shame says, “I am wrong.”
Guilt says, “My conduct is not good.” Shame says, “I am not good.”
Guilt says, “I have failed.” Shame says, “I am a failure.”
While Satan’s goal is to keep us sinking lower and lower into sin in attempt to keep us a prisoner of shame, it is our confidence in God’s love for us that is the foundation for our defense against the Devil’s attack of accusation and the onslaught of fear in the midst of crisis. Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, God did not separate Himself from them. In fact, He went looking for them. He sought for them; they did not seek for Him. Why? They felt shame not guilt.
Our guilt is not a problem to God. Our shame is a problem. He is well able to deal with our guilt. – He provided all that was necessary to deal with our guilt all we must do is asked to be forgiven and we are.
If God forgives so readily, why do I feel the need to constantly repent over and over again for the things in my past that God’s Word says He has already forgiven? Because, I am dealing with shame. Even though God has forgiven me, I do not feel forgiven. Why? Because I have not forgiven myself – Shame! Shame undermines my faith preventing God from being able to answer my prayers. (“my heart condemns me”)
How Does One Recover From The Snare Of Shame?
When I allow Satan to coerce me into opposing myself through a verbal assault conducted by me upon myself, I then open myself to being taken captive by Satan at his will. A person thus captured must be taught how to extricate themselves from the Devil’s snare.
II Timothy 2:25-26
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Here in verse 26, the word recover means – to return to soberness, as from a state of delirium or drunkenness. This is speaking of those who, oppose the truth through accepting perversions of it, falling into the snare of the Devil, becoming intoxicated with error; for this “recovery” is possible only by “repentance unto the knowledge of the truth.” This “error” includes believing Satan’s Lie about who and what we are in God, and his lie about the faithfulness and effectiveness of God’s forgiveness and cleansing in our lives. The source of this recovery is a “sound mind.”
I Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
If we are to be free from Satan’s influence we must be freed from the intoxicating delusion of his lies that we have come under the influence of. The teaching of the truth about God’s love for us and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to our hearts will bring us to the point of deliverance.
Jesus was not subject to Satan’s insults, why?
John 14:30 (ASV)
I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me;
Jesus made it clear why He enjoyed such success against Satan and why He had no fear of Satan or his influence upon Him: THERE WAS NOTHING IN JESUS THAT SATAN COULD USE TO OVERPOWER HIM! If we are to be free from shame, we must identify and deal with those things that Satan is claiming as his and that he is using to influence or over-power me.
God’s method of dealing with shame was first demonstrated in the Garden of Eden. God took away their shame by taking off of them the aprons of fig leaves that they had made and clothing their nakedness with coats of skin that He had made.
God’s method of solving the problem of shame is very specific and is very effective. It is not based on Psychology. It does not promote the idea that my problem is permanent and that I must learn to cope with it. God is a healer and a deliverer. It is His perfect will and plan to make each of us into a new person.
The Lord deals with our shame by providing a covering for it. He clothes my sins, thus taking away the shame that I feel because of them.
There is a specific garment that He has provided to “cover” my shame permanently. Christ is our hiding place and His personal righteousness is our robe of righteousness that God has provided for our covering! How do we put on this “robe”?
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
God has made it very clear to us that he not only wants to save us but to make us whole. Jesus not only came to seek and to save the lost, but he also came to heal and deliver us.
II Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
When we allow the Lord to help us, He will set us free from our timidity. (Greek word for “fear” — “Timidity” is another word for “shame.”)
Jesus wants us to:
-accept His love unconditionally
-forgive ourselves of the grudge of shame
-let Him clothe us with His righteousness
Daniel 6:3 (NIV 84) Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
I hear it all the time, “I just want to be normal,” and “I just want to be like everyone else.” However, it is amazing that when we find out what everyone else is like we don’t want to be like them anymore. They mistreat people, they are messy and they aren’t very disciplined. We all want above average results but we must remember that in order to get exceptional results we have to work at it. No one is an overnight sensation. Everyone has to put in the work if they are going to make a difference. It doesn’t take much more to be exceptional but it does take more. You must learn to become exceptional if you want to find out what the King has planned for you. So let’s find out how to do that.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it shows up in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
You have to do the work and put in the time if you are going to excel in whatever you have found to be your life’s work and purpose. No one is good the first time they do something; everyone fails or does sub-par work. But, that is when you need to get up, shake the dirt off and learn to improve.
Discover your uniqueness and your purpose.
First of all, you must discover your uniqueness. You must find your purpose and live it out daily. People cannot live intentionally if they do not discover why they exist. Alice Bloch expressed what I so often see in others: “We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.” Quit wasting time trying to do stuff that makes you feel good about yourself and start doing the things that will make you a better person.
It is disgusting when people always talk about what they want to see in others but never change themselves. “Be the change you want to see in the world”. – Gandhi
Consider what I have heard others say, “It’s all about souls.” Yes, it is. But when you say that and never witness, never work in an altar and never pray intercessory prayers then you don’t truly embrace the virtue and it makes you a fake. If you want to be about souls, then be about the Father’s business and become all that you want to be. If we say that we need more worship and yet do not apply ourself to increase our own worship, then we are just being judgmental and critical. If you are leading the charge then you are at least investing energy and time to influence others to follow your example. If you say that we should live holy and a separated life, you need to make the change in your own life to reflect the values that you say you have. If not, then all we have are good intentions rather than an intentional life.
Most everyone I know wants to make a significant difference but few ever do. Great ideas have to be backed with consistent daily actions that are reflected upon nightly. You have to quit playing Monday Morning Quarterback and get out of the bleachers and into the game. Yes, you may get knocked down; you may fumble the ball but get up and keep at it. Don’t just go to church, but get into it. Stay with it. If you hit a stronghold don’t relent but keep the pressure on. If you want amazing grace and results then you need to do things that are unamazing. Practicing, studying, reading, trying, changing and yes, even failing are not amazing. But when you learn to do these unamazing things with passion you will begin to improve and then you will discover just how amazing grace can be.
“I possess the greatest power ever bestowed upon mankind, the power of choice. Today, I choose to persist without exception. No longer will I live in a dimension of distraction, my focus blown hither and yon like a leaf on a blustery day. I know the outcome I desire. I hold fast to my dreams. I stay the course. I do not quit.” – Andy Andrews
Set your own standard of excellence.
If you are waiting for someone else to motivate you, lift you, encourage you or do it for you, it will never happen. You must set the standard higher than what others expect of you. If you are only interested in meeting other’s expectations you will find they can change with the wind and you will be like a chameleon that blows up sitting on a bold plaid pattern because he didn’t know which color to relate to. So, set the bar high; move it up not down, declare it, write it out, hit it and then learn to leap over it into a greater tomorrow.
Develop a winning attitude. Learn to grow from the inside out because your root system is going to determine the longevity of your fruit. Your attitude is either your best friend or your worst enemy. It is the librarian of your past, the speaker of your present and the prophet of your future. So, choose it carefully. Work on it daily. Let God change it if necessary.
Exceptional people invest in themselves.
Learn to invest in yourself. Spend time with God, keep up your rule of five and allow God the chance to speak a word of power into your life that can create something that didn’t exist before.
“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desire to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell
What is important to you?
You cannot find the passion to do the grunt work if you don’t know what it is you truly want to see. Where and from whom do you get your feeling of importance? This is the wellspring that your values, your morals and your choices will flow from. Change what is important; change the source of your significance and you will change yourself either for the better or for the worse. That is why we need grace so much because our significance needs to come from the Lord.
“If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determines your character. That is the most significant thing about you.” – Dale Carnegie
Become exceptional and let’s together discover what the King has planned for us.
Exodus 19:12 (AV) — And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:
Highways have lines that guide us into the proper lane and any new driver soon finds out that driving can be hazardous if we are not careful to stay within the lines provided. Along with those painted white and yellow lines, many times rumble strips – or warning strips if you will – are placed just off to the side of the road. We tend to wake up a bit and pay closer attention when we hit those rumble strips. They jolt us to awareness when we drift, and help us to straighten up and get back on the right path again. In life we are given the freedom to move as we please, but without true guidance we can end up being destructive in other peoples’ lives as well as endangering our own. Freedom comes at the price of responsibility. We must accept our responsibility to use our freedom wisely and to the good of others. This is the case on the literal roadways, as well as in life’s ever winding metaphorical roads.
When God chose Israel as His special people He made sure they understood their purpose by setting certain spiritual guidelines to keep them moving in the right direction. God used Moses to set these guidelines and you would think that his connection with God would cause the people to accept him. But their rebellion proved otherwise and instead of recognizing his leadership as a blessing they chose to make life difficult for him every step of the journey. When we ignore the rumble strips that indicate we are moving in the wrong direction, we open the door for great tragedy; we grieve the heart of God and become dysfunctional and destructive in our behavior. This impacts our own lives and the lives of the people around us.
What are our spiritual “guidelines” that keep us going on the right track? Exodus 19 reveals three important guidelines that we must learn to follow.
Change your Identity
To prepare for the appearance of God, Israel was instructed to change their clothes and wash (Exodus 19:10-11, 14-15). Today we are accustomed to having soap and water readily available and extra clothes hanging in our closets, but people in Bible days didn’t enjoy such luxuries. They couldn’t take showers daily, and only the wealthy had stores of extra garments. That’s why bathing and changing clothes often marked a new beginning. Washing and changing clothes is the Old Testament equivalent of 1 John 1:9; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and 2 Corinthians 7:1; Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. By repenting of our sins and walking not in the flesh but in the spirit, our identity is effectively changed and we are being led by the presence and the will of God.
Keep Your Wonder
Moses gave Israel strict instructions to keep a distance between them and God (Exodus 19:12–13, 20–25). Staying away from Mount Sinai was a matter of life or death, for the presence of God sanctified the mountain. Moses put up barriers to keep the people at a distance. He also posted guards with authority to kill from a distance anybody who broke through the barriers, and nobody was to touch the dead body. When the trumpet sounded, Moses ascended the mountain to meet God, but even then, God sent him back to warn the people not to get too close to Mount Sinai. In a dramatic way, God was teaching the people the distance between a holy God and sinful men and women, as well as the danger of presumptuously rushing into the presence of the Lord.
Later, Nadab and Abihu would forget this principle, and God would kill them, (Leviticus 10). This shows just how important it is to heed the warnings of God’s boundaries. The structure of Old Testament worship emphasized man’s sinfulness and God’s “otherness”: the fence around the tabernacle; the veil before the holy of holies; the fact that only the priests could minister in the tabernacle and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and that but once a year. The emphasis was always “Keep your distance!” But the New Testament emphasizes the nearness of God, for the Son of God became flesh and came to dwell on earth (John 1:14), and His name is “Immanuel—God with us” (Matthew 1:23). By His death and resurrection, Jesus opened a new and living way into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:1–25). The New Testament emphasis reads, “Let us draw near!” This doesn’t mean that we should get “chummy” with God and act like we’re His equals, but He is our Father and He welcomes our love. (See Hebrews 12:18–29.) He established a new set of boundaries, guiding us in closer relationship with Him.
Understand Your Storms
A storm was created when God appeared on the mountain (Exodus 19:16–19; 20:18–20). Sometimes when storms enter our life it is not the work of the enemy but the presence of the Lord. In Scripture, a storm can be a symbol of awesome presence and power of God (Psalm 18:1–15; 29; Habakkuk 3:1–16). The cloud and darkness, the thunder and lightning, and the earthquake and fire, all manifested the greatness of God (Deuteronomy 5:22–23, 27) and produced a holy fear in the hearts of the people. Even Moses trembled with fear and admitted it! (Hebrews 12:21; Deuteronomy 9:19) God was about to teach His people His law, and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The combination of washing themselves and changing their clothes, witnessing the storm, and keeping their distance from Sinai, couldn’t help but impress the people with their need to be changed in order to enter the presence of God.
Today, we are losing the need to be changed. Quint Studer, in a recent newspaper article said, “It’s time to change how we think about change.” Only as Israel obeyed God could they truly enjoy the privileges of being a kingdom of priests, God’s special treasure and His holy nation. Just as the people in the Old Testament needed to have a healthy dose of reverence to God’s greatness, resulting in obeying and listening to His commands and warnings, we need that same reverence today. We must recognize the warnings (convictions), and use every tool God has given us as a guide in our lives (His Word, His Spirit) in order to keep on the right path. As long as we remain obedient to His guidance, we are able to continue on in the will of God. Learn to realize the boundaries God has set before us, allow the awareness of the rumble strips to provide correction, and in doing so, may you stay in God’s lane.
What if we could visually picture the grace and blessings that are poured out on us in every moment? What an awesome view that would be! Rooms with a view are always more costly but worth it to those who understand that outlook can oftentimes affect outcome.
We all know that when it rains so hard we cannot see two feet in front of our face it can slow us to a snail’s pace and at worst, it can stop us dead in our tracks. But what if our eyes were suddenly opened to see God’s abundance all around us and that God was there all the time? Talk about an awakening; it would put us in the moment and we would focus on what God is doing now and learn to appreciate what’s right in front of us.
Yet, many times in our anguish, pain and emotional upheaval we can become so upset at the rain that we miss the water that brings the blessing of life into our lives.
A perfect example of this is when Hagar was faced with the rejection of Sarah and her ultimate dismissal from Abraham’s tent. At first, she had difficulty responding correctly to her adversity, but eventually corrected her way and later was given a unique blessing from the Lord that is still in effect today. Haven’t we all responded in the wrong way?
We cannot fix or enjoy what we cannot see. When Hagar first faced the mistreatment of Sarah, she did what most people do; she ran away. Too many are living in denial, running from their place because of pain, and consequently missing the blessing. An angel appeared to her and told her to return to Sarah. Hagar returned and submitted. We find out that no matter the difficulty, even in the face of injustice, we can still grow if we learn not to escape.
We must stop running away and learn to obey.
We never experience the rain unless we are positioned correctly and respond positively to God’s voice. Trying to escape difficulty is pointless and fruitless. Hagar had a unique character flaw that many of us portray when we are faced with adversity.
After Ishmael was born Hagar allowed her pride to get the best of her and taunted Sarah, in turn causing Ishmael to follow her example, which ended badly with both of them being expelled from Abraham’s camp.
When her son needed her the most Hagar left him under a tree and did not attempt to console him because she couldn’t bear the pain. The scripture recounts that when the water of the skin was consumed, she cast off the boy beneath one of the trees. She went and sat herself down at a distance away and said, ‘Let me not see the death of the child”. However, Hagar experienced another visitation and grace fell like rain.
We must stop blaming others and start accepting responsibility.
Ben Zoma taught in the Talmud that all happiness comes from within (Pirkei Avos 4:1). He said:
Who is wise? He who learns from every person.
Who is strong? He who conquers his desires.
Who is rich? He who is satisfied with what he’s got.
Who is honored? He who honors others.
External factors are not important; what is happening within you makes the difference. If you can learn to see the problem in the right perspective and understand God never reveals a problem to condemn you, you will see that through Him, you will have life more abundantly.
If we start depending on Jesus, we can begin to not only see the problem but receive the solution to the problem. Once we are free from the blame game we are free to become wise, strong and honorable.
Remember to first see the problem. Own it and set a path to overcome it.
Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems.
Learn to think differently. Stop self-medicating and entertaining yourself to death. Learn to listen carefully to the still small voice because God’s voice has the power to alter our perspective and give us the right view. Yes, it may be raining but the water is life.
The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
We must stop quitting and learn to start again when we fail.
Sometimes in our panic we quit. Our emotions cloud our judgment and we react rather than responding correctly. Notice that Hagar had abandoned her son and fled, saying that she could not bear to see him die of thirst. God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water (Genesis 21:19). God did not create a well where none had existed, but “opened her eyes” so that she could see an already-existing well, which she had not seen because of her state of panic.
Many opportunities may be right before our eyes but if in our anguish we panic, we may fail to see them and the result may be a misfortune that could have been averted.
Hagar almost lost Ishmael, not because there was no water, but because she could not see it. What was necessary was not a miracle, but a correct perception of reality.
God’s word can teach us and provide guidance that can assist in avoiding distortions of reality.
Today, make up in your mind to avoid panic and any other emotion that clouds the ability to see what is truly before you.
Just like God opened Hagar’s eyes to a well of water that had been there all the time, He can open your eyes too. Ask yourself this question, “What is right before me that I am not seeing?” What grace is invisible yet working to save you? Remember what God did for Hagar. He changed her name to Keturah (beautiful as incense). The same blessing God gave to Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Simon Peter, He gave to Hagar by changing her name. You may have called yourself, “worthless, useless, clueless, and beyond hope.” But now you drink from another well, and the water is not the poison of the past but hope for the future.
Genesis 21:17–20 (AV) — 17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
When invisible grace is made visible, things change. The Rabbis teach that Hagar (or Keturah) never remarried even though she was cast out. She remained faithful. There is just no substitute for faithfulness. She was blessed. Let’s not escape our pain but turn to God in prayer, and let’s grow and improve. The rain is never designed to destroy, but to lead us closer to Jesus. Hagar obeyed and the grace like rain blessed her and it will do the same for you.
And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be (Deut. 33:24).
If you had inherited $6 million, would you claim that inheritance? Let me ask you that question again. If someone wanted to give you $6 million because it was rightfully and legally yours, would you take the money?
I think most of us would respond with an emphatic “Yes!” However, I can tell you that there is one man who would not. That man is Tomás Martínez, a 67-year-old from Chile who not only did not accept his lawful inheritance of $6 million but also fled from the authorities who tried to give it to him and was never seen again.
Let me explain. Forty years earlier, Tomás and his wife had separated after only a few months of marriage.
To escape prosecution for writing some bad checks, Tomás fled to Bolivia where he became an alcoholic and drug addict, known for begging in the streets.
Meanwhile, his wife continued living a quiet life in Chile. Though they had been a middle-class couple, she inherited a huge fortune a couple of years before she passed away. The two of them never divorced, and she never remarried. Since they had no children, Tomás Martínez was her rightful heir.
When detectives were hired to locate him, they tracked him to a bar that he often visited. Tomás realized the men were looking for him and thought they had come to arrest him for the bad checks he had written years ago. He slipped away moments before they could identify him and hasn’t been seen since.
Now let me ask you, can you imagine someone living as a homeless beggar when they could be rich? What kind of convoluted thinking would keep a man trapped in the petty mistakes of his past when he could claim an inheritance worth millions? That is a tragic story if ever there was one.
But here’s the thing, friends. Many of you are living right now like Tomás Martínez. You have been granted an inheritance by your heavenly father that is worth far more than millions of dollars. It is a blessing of abundance and favor and wealth and security and strength. It is a blessing, an inheritance that is yours to claim right now.
The Blessing of Asher is your right and your inheritance, and you can claim it tonight.
And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
To Claim Your Inheritance, Break Free from the Past.
You must break free from your past. The tragic thing about the story of Tomás Martínez is the way he allowed the mistakes of his past to dominate his life. He missed out on an inheritance worth millions because he was stuck in the past. That’s a mistake we often make. We allow old patterns of thought, old habits, and old mistakes to keep us tied to a negative way of life.
One of the first things I noticed about the blessing that Moses pronounced on the people is that he was determined to break that pattern.
The Israelites were poised to enter the Promised Land.
The long career of Moses was at an end. The new generation of Israelites had risen up to replace those who had died in the wilderness. It was time to move into the future. And to ensure that the people could do so, Moses gave them a little history lesson. His point? Don’t get stuck in the past.
They needed to learn from the past if they were to move into the future. You must do the same. If you are to receive God’s blessing in the future, you must be sure that you won’t repeat the mistakes of your past.
When were the times that you didn’t trust God, preferring to remain stuck over the risk of following the Lord?
Where are your weak spots, the places at which you are especially vulnerable to temptation?
How have you failed—the Lord, others, yourself?
What have your learned from those mistakes? How will you guard against them in the future?
If you want to inherit $6 million, you must quit writing those bad checks.
Learn from your past.
Another lesson Moses taught the people was that they need a new identity. If they were going to inherit the Promised Land, they would have to break old patterns of thought. That older generation all died in the wilderness because they had the wrong mind-set. They had come from the bondage of Egypt, and they could never quite get accustomed to thinking in terms of freedom.
As soon as they faced the least hardship, they begged to go back to Egypt. They saw themselves as slaves, and they could never break that old way of thinking. They allowed themselves to be defined by the process not by the mission. They could see the struggle but not the victory.
Moses knew that the present generation needed a new identity. To think like an overcomer, you must stop comparing yourself to other people and pay attention to what God says about you. You are an overcomer (1 John 5:4), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a conqueror (Romans 8:37). The way you see yourself will largely determine how you see the world and how you view the challenges you face.
Find your true identity in what God says about you. Let that positive, optimistic vision guide you into the future. Moses wanted the people to break free from the past, and he wanted them to accept their new identity as overcomers. If they did not, they would never inherit the Promised Land.
The same is true for you. What are the mistakes and failures that are holding you back?
What are the small ways of thinking about yourself that are blocking your faith?
Move up, move forward, and claim the inheritance that is rightfully yours.
To Claim Your Inheritance, You Must Believe It Is Your Right.
The second point I want to make is that to claim your inheritance, you must believe it is your right. Moses had prepared the people to receive God’s blessing. It’s likely that people in biblical times had a better understanding of what a blessing is than we do.
A blessing is not simply a brief prayer before meals or a polite thing to say when someone sneezes. A blessing is a future already decided. A blessing is a gift from God, made available for you to receive by faith. The Bible is filled with descriptions of God’s blessing, and we’re about to review the Blessing of Asher.
Before we review the details of that blessing, I want you to understand why this blessing is yours to claim.
First, a blessing is irrevocable. A blessing cannot be altered because it is the Word of God. Once you are blessed, you are blessed. We see that principle illustrated in the passing of the Abrahamic blessing from Abraham’s son Isaac to Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob swindled his brother Esau out of his birthright. Jacob tricked his father into pronouncing the blessing upon him rather than upon Esau. But once it was declared, the blessing could not be altered, even though Esau pleaded with tears. A blessing is irrevocable.
Understand that the blessings God has given are still there.They’re still good, still in effect. God’s Word cannot be broken. Any blessing, once given, is secure.Also, you must realize that blessings grow greater with time. When God created the world, he pronounced a blessing on the first human pair, Adam and Eve.
“God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
This was a blessing of abundance, dominion, and multiplication. The blessing, however, did not go away.
It was later repeated and expanded when given to Abraham. God said to Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2–3), “Thou shalt be a father of many nations. . . And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. . . And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:4–8).
Notice that in addition to abundance, dominion, and multiplication, God added that Abraham would in turn bless the world.
The blessing was enlarged. This blessing that God pronounced first to Adam, then to Abraham, was expanded again through Christ to include freedom from sin. The writer of Hebrews states God’s promise this way: “ I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:8, 12).
All that God had promised remains available, and to those promises were added others. As Hebrews puts it, “The new covenant is established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6, niv).
Blessings grow greater with time.
And now we come to the most important point about blessings. This blessing of Adam, of Abraham, and of Christ—this blessing is also available to you right now.
It is your lawful inheritance.
Paul states that the descendants of Abraham are not the literal offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that is, not just the Jewish people. For by faith in Christ, all who believe are Abraham’s children. Paul writes: “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:7–9, niv).
So what’s the result? Paul puts it this way: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, niv). Translation: All of the promises God made to Abraham belong to you too. You can trust the promises of God. They are irrevocable. They grow greater with time. And they are available to you right now. You are an heir to the blessings of God. Believe it.
You Can Claim Your Inheritance by Faith Today.
You can claim your inheritance of blessing today, if you will act in faith. For the blessing that Moses pronounced on Asher can be your inheritance today.
Let’s take a look at the five parts of this pronouncement and see how you can claim what is rightfully yours.
The first blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of abundance.
Moses declared, “Let Asher be blessed with children” (Deuteronomy 33:24). The blessing of children was especially meaningful in biblical times when families depended on their offspring for agricultural work and to care for them in their old age. The birth of Asher himself represented the end of a struggle to bring forth children. The blessing of children symbolizes the abundant harvest. So this blessing, that Asher would be blessed with children, is a blessing of ample provision. Asher was to be blessed with abundance.
That this blessing is available today should be beyond dispute. Jesus himself promised that God will provide our food and clothing (Matthew 6:25–26), and Paul writes, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). From Elijah’s multiplication of the widow’s oil, to the feeding of the five thousand, to the miraculous catch of fish, the Bible is replete with stories designed to show the blessing of abundance. God will provide for his children not at a subsistence level only, but in abundance.
Remember that we are blessed to be a blessing.
When we freely give, we freely receive. By faith, adopt an abundance mentality, and you will begin to see the full measure of God’s provision.
The second blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of favor.
Moses declared, “Let him be acceptable to his brethren” (Deuteronomy 33:24). The role of the tribe of Asher was to produce oil for the sanctuary. This service was a benefit to all of Israel. Because of this selfless provision, Asher would enjoy the favor of other tribes. The people of Asher weren’t simply looking out for themselves; they helped move the whole kingdom forward. They taught their daughters to marry into the priesthood, ignoring the risk to their own tribe’s identity. By faith, adopt a mind-set of generosity. Put others ahead of yourself, and you will be blessed with favor.
The third blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of wealth. Moses declared, “And let him dip his foot in oil” (Deuteronomy 33:24).
Oil was a valuable commodity in biblical times, as it is today. Because Asher produced oil for the temple and the benefit of the priests, God blessed them with an abundance of oil—so much so that they could bathe their feet in it. Think of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing Jesus’ feet with pure nard (Matthew 26:6–13). What an extravagant act! Asher was blessed with oil to spare.
Jesus, too, promised this blessing. “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38). To claim the blessing of wealth, you must abandon the notion to hoard it. Freely give, and you will freely receive.
The fourth blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of security.
Moses declared, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass” (Deuteronomy 33:25). The reference to shoes of brass denotes peace or dominion. The person shod with brass is wearing steel-toed boots: nothing can harm him. That person will be secure, having nothing to fear. Once again, this blessing is guaranteed also by Jesus for his servants.
When sending out the seventy disciples on the first-ever short-term mission trip, he told them, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). Paul writes: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
The fifth blessing pronounced on Asher is the blessing of strength. Moses declared, “And as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
What a beautiful promise! The natural way of things is that we grow weaker with each passing day.
We have come to expect that as we age. We’ll lose a little bit of ability. We won’t be quite as effective as we once were. But the blessing of Asher establishes a spiritual law that countermands the natural one. As your days increase, your strength will also. Impossible? Not for Moses, who didn’t begin his real work of liberating the Israelites until he was eighty years of age. Not for Sarah who bore a child in her old age.
Not for Caleb, one of the faith-filled spies who believed it was possible to conquer the land.
Years later, at the age of eighty-five, Caleb told Joshua: “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. . . . the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Joshua 14:11–12).
To claim the blessing of strength, you must have a mind-set of purpose and possibility. Do not surrender an inch of ground to the devil, who wants to render you useless. Work while the Lord gives you strength.
By faith, you can claim this inheritance of strength.
Romans 12:10-11 (The Message) “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.”
Have you ever walked back into the house from the cold outdoors looking forward to warming yourself by the roaring fire but instead found glowing embers? Left alone for too long, that blazing inferno you left in the fireplace has died down to smoldering embers. You get down on your knees, and steadily blow a stream of air watching as the red hot glow comes alive. Low and behold, they burst into flame again! Now you can stir up those coals, add some more wood and feed the fire. Although many have witnessed this very thing in the physical, the same thing can happen to us in our spiritual walk. Of course we must first be filled with the fire of God’s spirit. That infilling of fire will keep us for a time and creates in our spirit a bed of coals formed from the alter of personal devotion, church prayer and services, and daily Bible reading. We must be careful that we don’t get so smothered by life that we forget the Lord and allow our fire to burn out! We need to maintain the Spiritual glow—how? Blow the coals!
It takes three element to make fire burn:
Oxygen= Holy Ghost
Ignition= Word of God
We may all be at different places in our spiritual walk, but many of us need to recover our spiritual passion. You could exchange the word passion for words like: fervor, desire, and zeal. I don’t care what we call it…I just know that we need it. When I say passion, I’m not talking about becoming spiritually hyper-active. I’m not calling for more religious motion. I know that we all lead busy lives where the demands are endless: family, work, church, and other obligations crowd our schedules. Romans 12:11 admonishes us to be “fervent in spirit”. This word fervent means to boil. A chemical reaction takes place when water boils and its very nature is changed from a liquid to a gas as steam rises. Energy is released.
Many of us have seen those who have had their passion evaporate into thin air. How does it happen? Place an open pan on the stove, fill it with water and turn the heat on high. The water warms, boils and then evaporates. It boils away. But, now, take the same heat…the same water…and put it inside the boiler of a steam engine. The power of the steam causes motion that can transport that engine around the country. The problem then is not the passion. The problem is the control. We need to be passionate under the control of the Spirit of Christ. The person who maintains their spiritual passion has a boiling on the inside that is released as energy on the outside.
So, how do we build our passion? First, everything you do, do unto the Lord. Don’t just work in the kingdom out of “duty” but let everything you do be for the glory of Christ Jesus. Although there may be some, accolades aren’t usually poured out on those who work in the church. Whether we are appreciated or not, we must learn to do our best for our brothers and sisters, loving them without jealousy. Jealousy kills passion. Second, we need to follow the example of Jesus. In John 2:17 it says of him, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Jesus was a kind gentle shepherd yet He was consumed with a passion for His father’s business. We see that same passion in His first disciples. They burned with a steady, inward fire. When the religious rulers told them to stop preaching, their response was, “we cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard”. They had that fervent spirit and energy was released witnessed by all around.
We also need to have that same passion for the things of God and I have found the secret to accomplish it. We should cultivate a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship generates spiritual fervor and zeal. We don’t need to live our lives interpreting passivity and lack of emotion as maturity. There is a place for that, but we must also fan the flames of revival in our own lives and ignite the passion it will take to reach the lost of this world. As Tony Campolo said, “Instead of praying, ‘If I should die before I wake,’ we should pray, ‘Lord wake me up before I die!”. Oh, God, make us people of passion!
Esther 8:11, 14- “Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey…So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.”
Luke 16:16- “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
Philippians 3:14- “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
What do you do when life isn’t turning out the way you thought? What do you do when dark clouds gather and the sun seems hidden from sight for days? YOU PRESS ON! Our enemy has a carefully crafted strategy to disconnect us from our source of strength and life. We read in Esther an example of one of our enemy’s attempts when the decree was set for the Jews to be destroyed. Although that command was irreversible, the king set forth a second decree that the Jewish people would be allowed to fight back against their adversary. The messengers went forth immediately to put out posts that informed the Jews of this new decree…the message was urgent so they did not stop…they pressed on until all the land was up-to-date. Jesus has empowered us with that same command. When Satan fights against us we are not supposed to give in! We have been given power and authority to resist him. Even in the darkest night, the gospel will give you the strength to keep going. This truth, that God is for you and His Word is true, has to be settled in your heart.
As Christians, we can look at the headlines in our world and see the urgency of the hour. There are battles raging on all fronts and if we are not careful it can cause an emotional deficit in our spirit. We must learn to gain a spirit of urgency without fretting. There has to be balance. Yes, the battle is on, but we have such a HUGE advantage because the Lord is on our side! We need to learn to focus our sight from a Godly perspective. Just like the servants of Elisha had their eyes opened to the angel army surrounding them in Dothan, we need to have our eyes opened. Storms will come into our lives, but we have to change the way we think about them. It is in those moments when we are backed up against a wall that we see the power of God come to light in our lives. Chaos has never hindered Jesus from operating in the midst of His Church.
We need an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for what you do have and don’t give into the fear of what you might lose. We are blessed with the Word of God at our fingertips! The material things in life will come and go; but the assurance of everlasting life, if we press on, should never be taken for granted and dismissed. We all have the choice to accentuate the positive or dwell on the negative reality, but choosing a grateful spirit will pay tremendous dividends in your spiritual investment. It will allow others around us to witness a Divine Optimism that is forged in the fire of hope.
Gratitude cannot be formed though unless we learn the art of selective hearing. We cannot deny the obvious. Bad news is inevitable and part of our present reality. We have to learn to unplug from negative voices that drain us of energy and press on, making the courageous decision to move forward through the adversity. As John Lubbock said, “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” I challenge everyone to join together as God gives us a great revival of truth! Yes, we recognize the difficulties of the times, but let us let the Word order our perspective. We need to understand the higher calling God has given us—and the opportune time we live in.
Just as individuals go through seasons, so do churches. There is a time of “seed planting” and a time of harvest. I believe that we have only tasted of what God has for us! We know God has more…and we want it! A harvest is coming and every hand must be on deck, every part of the body functioning properly, if we are to reap the “full harvest”. It will be worth whatever we must face to see the kingdom of God expand, and for us to experience the kind of revival that God has for us.
The final words: PRESS ON! Many times we maybe be tempted to quit. However, if you persevere we will be rewarded in the end with a Divine that will lift our Spirit and give us hope for the future. Persistence has always been rewarded by the King and today is no different for the King’s commandment has been given; now press your way into it!
1 Timothy 4:13-16, Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
In these verses of scripture, Paul is admonishing Timothy to discipline himself and perfect the behaviors needed to be an affective saint and leader. These five behaviors not only benefit the person doing them, but according to Paul, the benefits will reach others in your world also.
Let’s look at each of these comportments as they are listed:
Read to Exhort and know the Doctrine. Of course Timothy did not have the Bible as we have today, but he was probably privy to the Septuagint (Hebrew writings from the Old Testament) as well as letters from Paul. At the writing of this letter, Timothy had been a fellow traveler with Paul, starting churches, and tending to the needs of his mentor for about 10-15 years. This illustrates that even “seasoned” saints needs to continue in their studies of the Word.
Neglect not the Gift; Stir it within you. Paul teaches in Romans that we each have giftings in the Lord. When we become aware of those gifts within us we should work in them. Don’t neglect your gift and let it go stale in your life. Use it for the glory of God and the increase of His Kingdom.
Meditate upon the Word. There is a difference between studying the Word of God and meditating on it. When you meditate on the Word, read it purposefully and not just out of duty or to meet a goal. Take the time to read and re-read it, even to the point of memorization in some cases. Be quiet and listen for that still, small voice that will speak and teach you about that verse and how it fits into the rest of the Bible and into your personal life.
Examine Yourself. As you study the Word and hear it preached, you need to take a moment of reflection and see how you are measuring up. Be cautious when you consistently feel you are hearing messages preached to others around you; it may be time for some self-reflection. Pray that Jesus will open your eyes to those things that He would like you to change about yourself! Living this Christian life should not be stagnant, but a steady stream of growth as we become more and more like Him.
Continue in the Doctrine. From the beginning of the New Covenant the fundamental doctrine of salvation was established. On the day o Pentecost, when the apostles had just received the “promise” that Jesus said would come, that infilling of the Holy Spirit drew quite a crowd. When the others asked what they should do to be saved, Peter answered them authoritatively, ”Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Although the apostles where chosen, it was not an exclusive club that no one else could join! This promise was for the Jews of the time and spread on to the Gentiles, to the rest of the ancient world, and lives on today for us.