Posted in 2Corinthians, Hebrews, John

Honoring the Son 

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:22-24

Honor means to give esteem, respect, and to place a high value on someone. Do you honor the Son? Does your life bring honor to His Name? To truly honor Jesus we must honor His position as our Judge, honor His word as the final authority in our lives, and honor His work as the only way to eternal life.

All judgment has been given to the Son. This means that at the end of our lives only One opinion of our thoughts, words, and deeds will matter, and that is the Son’s. Paul defines living in view of Christ’s judgment of our lives as the fear of the Lord: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord…” (2Corinthians 5:10-11) We honor Him by acknowledging His right to judge us.

In our text Jesus talks about the importance of hearing and believing His word. In fact, in John 12:48 He says that He won’t personally judge us but will only judge us by the word He has spoken. He has made His sayings known to the human race through the Bible. We cannot honor the Son without honoring His word.

The One who sent Jesus, the Father, sent Him to die on the cross so that those who believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) In fact, the reason the Father gave the Son the right to judge the human race was that He became a Son of man. (John 5:27) He is the only One worthy to open the scroll which brings the final day of the Lord because He was the Lamb who was slain. (Revelation 5:9) We honor His work on the cross when we put our trust in Christ for our salvation and trust Him for every need we have in this life. Because of His work, Hebrews 4:16 says we can come with confidence to a throne of grace whenever we have something we need help with. We aren’t bothering God when we ask, we’re actually honoring Christ’s work.

Posted in Galatians, John, Romans

The Orphan Spirit

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16

As I was preparing a sermon on the prodigal son returning home, I remembered a family in Minnesota who had adopted three siblings from Guatemala. The three came from an orphanage where there was never enough into a family where provision was abundant.

All three children had trouble grasping their new identity. They used to hide food and lie about it when confronted by their new parents. I couldn’t help wondering how long it took for them to be totally free of the orphan spirit, so I found a phone number and had an opportunity to chat with the mom. (She gave me permission to share their story.)

“How long,” I asked her, “did it take for the kids to stop hiding food?”

“Two years,” was her sober response. Think about it.  Adopted into a home, loved and favored by their new parents, abundance surrounding them, yet it took two years to actually believe that they didn’t have to be afraid of not having enough to eat.

“When do you think they were completely free of the orphan spirit?” was my second question.

There was a long pause. Finally she replied, “That spirit’s a bugger. Two of them have been able to find their identity in Christ, but I don’t know if any of them are completely free in all areas of their lives.”

Our heavenly Father has chosen to adopt us and to give us the full inheritance and privileges of the children of God. (Galatians 4:5-7) He has given us the best robe (the righteousness of Christ), put sandals on our feet (removing shame), put a ring on our finger (access to heaven’s resources), and has thrown a party for us (the Father’s joy in having us home).

Only eternity will reveal all this entails, but for now He wants each of us to know we don’t have to live in fear. We’re home, we’re accepted, there’s always going to be enough, and He will never abandon us!

Posted in 1Corinthians, John

Understanding the Anointing

“He who is thirsty let him come to Me and drink…and out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

I once heard the late German evangelist, Reinhart Bonnke, tell a story that made a great impression on him when he was a boy. A barge had become stranded on the beach when the tide went out and he and his friends contemplated how impossible it would be for anyone to move it. Yet when the tide came back in, he found he could move this massive rig all by himself. He realized that the laws all change when the tide comes in.

The first crusade he led in Africa was in a city named Gaborone. He only had one pastor join him, yet Reinhart had rented a stadium. The pastor questioned this, “If my whole church came, we would only have 40 people.  Why have you rented this stadium?” The answer was, “Because God told me to.” The first night, 100 people attended, but while he was preaching the blind began to see, crippled people came off their mats, and the deaf began to hear. Reinhart said the stadium was filled the next night. The success he had in Africa since that time is one of the greatest miracles of our time. There were over 73 million recorded conversions; 58 million since the year 2000.

Jesus wants us to do more than our best for the people around us. He wants us to come and drink of Him, so that He can do His best for them. Paul said to “pursue love and earnestly desire spiritual gifts.” (1Corinthians 14:1) This world needs more than our love; it needs to experience heaven’s love and in a way that they know God is alive.

Posted in 2Corinthians, John

The Need to Drink

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.” John 7:37-39

I want to share two dreams I received in March of 2013. In the first one, I’m in a discussion group where we are talking about the things of God and a man comes up to the group with an empty cup in his hand and is excited. He says to us, “I know what the problem is – we’re like this empty cup. We’re trying to give people a drink but we’re empty so there’s nothing to refresh them. The cup itself has to drink (be poured into) before it can give anyone else a drink.”

Over a week later I had another dream around the same theme. Two women, one middle aged and one older were receiving prayer and I was watching. Suddenly I knew what God wanted to say to them so I put my hand gently on the head of one and said, “This is the word of the Lord. The enemy’s strategy has been to wear you out over a long period of time. The Lord’s strategy is now to refresh you over a long period of time; first, by teaching you how to drink, and then by causing you to become addicted to His presence.”

I then looked up and she was on the floor basking in the presence of God. I looked over at the older lady and she was beginning to fall, so I caught her and eased her to the floor where she too was enjoying God’s tangible presence.

After I woke up I realized that what had happened to those women was just a fresh drink of the Spirit. But the plan was not about one drink; it was about a lifestyle of drinking. Think about this: every other addiction binds and restricts a life, but “where the Spirit of the Lord is (and only there) there is freedom.” (2Corinthians 3:17) May the Father teach us how to drink and then cause us to be addicted to His presence.

Posted in 2Samuel, John

The Michal Spirit

‘How the king of Israel distinguished himself today! He uncovered himself today in the eyes of his servants’ maids as one of the foolish ones shamelessly uncovers himself!’ … “I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished.’ Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” 2Samuel 6:20; 22-23

It was a great moment for the kingdom of God. David had conferred with all the leaders and there was great unity in the decision to bring the ark of God back and to make a place for it in Jerusalem. There was celebrating, rejoicing, dancing, and great wonder in the people of God because something significant was happening in their day and they were privileged to be part of it.

Unfortunately one of the main members of the team, David’s own wife, Michal, couldn’t participate. Instead of being part of the celebration, she was sitting on the sidelines despising David and everything that was going on. Before we rush to judgment on Michal, I think we need to get in her shoes.

She was a king’s daughter. She knew how to do things the right way and she probably wasn’t even consulted. What she was seeing was not the way her Dad, the king, had done it, so her own experience and tradition were actually in the way of her accepting what God was doing.

I’ve been under the Michal spirit before and it is miserable. Here are a few signs that you may be under its influence:

  1. You don’t enjoy God anymore. 
  2. You find you can’t enjoy people because you’re so critical.
  3. You can’t enjoy church because of what’s wrong with the preaching, or the worship, or something else.
  4. You are spiritually barren. There’s no such thing as being dead and right in Christianity. However right you may think you are, when you’re dead, you’re not right. (John 5:39-40)

The good news is that if we will agree with God about our sins, He will forgive us, and can remove the barrenness the Michal spirit causes.

Posted in John, Luke

Ministers of Forgiveness

“’Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’” John 20:21-23

I grew up in a tradition that took this verse to mean that there were some men who had the authority to forgive sins on this earth. The truth is that only God can forgive sins, but He has placed the authority to give the conditions of forgiveness to His people. This is John’s version of the great commission.  Jesus is sending them out to preach the gospel which at its core is about forgiveness that God has made possible. The church has the authority to assure those who meet God’s conditions that they are forgiven, and the responsibility of being careful not to promise forgiveness when those conditions are not met.

The first condition is faith in Christ. The idea that I must be forgiven because God is a “forgiving God” is false. God is loving, and God is just, and in His love He sent His only begotten Son to pay the penalty His justice required, so that anyone who believed in Jesus would not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) There is no forgiveness outside of Christ, only justice for our sins.

The second condition for forgiveness is repentance. In the exact scene of our text above Luke records a more expansive version of what Jesus said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48) The church has no authority to offer forgiveness without repentance which means both a confession and a turning away from sins committed.

In the tradition I grew up in I was regularly told my sins were forgiven when in fact, they weren’t. I was living for myself and adding a little religion; that is not repentance. If we don’t repent and live for God, it doesn’t matter how much religion we add to our lives, we won’t be saved in the end.

Does God want us to live in fear? Absolutely not!  It’s His good pleasure to give us the kingdom. We just need to treat our forgiveness as something precious to be protected by a life that honors God, and not trampled on by a life that presumes that God has to forgive.

Posted in Acts, John, Mark

The Authority of the Believer

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”  John 14:12-14

One Monday morning I needed to meet someone for an early appointment, but I couldn’t leave without my cell phone and it was lost. I looked in all the usual places, but it wasn’t there. Everyone else was still sleeping and I certainly didn’t want to wake them up, but I could see no other alternative than calling my own number and letting it ring until I found it. I was stunned when after dialing l felt a vibration and heard a ring coming out of my own left pocket. 

Almost immediately after finding the “lost” phone in my pocket, I sensed the Lord whispering something in my thoughts: “This is how believers are with authority.” Think about it. We as believers are often looking for someone else who can pray for us. or deliver us or who can hear God for us, yet the authority to pray powerfully is already in us. Every believer already has the equipment connecting them to God’s voice and power in their hearts, it is God’s gift to us in Christ, but it doesn’t do much good if we don’t recognize that we have it.

God’s plan was that those who believe in Jesus would walk in the same authority as He did by using His Name. Jesus gave the first sign of those who believe: “In My Name they will cast out demons…” (Mark 16:17) Not the first sign following apostles, or pastors, or those who have walked with the Lord for at least 30 years; but the first sign following those who “believe.” The right to use Jesus’ Name is a privilege every one who believes in Him has been given.

Peter was very conscious of this authority when he replied to the lame man who begged him for money: “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!” (Acts 3:6) Are you conscious that you possess the authority of Jesus Name, or are you still looking around the kingdom to find someone else who has it?

Posted in Isaiah, John

Doing the Works of Redemption

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4

The disciples were confronted with a man who had been born blind, so they wanted to seek a reason for this calamity. They asked Jesus, “who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?” Jesus replied that neither answer was right, “but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus didn’t dwell on those things that sin and Satan have brought into this world. His view was that all situations can be turned around and become a showcase for God’s redemption. He wants us to gain the same viewpoint.

Notice that He doesn’t say “I” must do the work, but “we.” He was modeling for His disciples the kind of works they would be doing after He was gone. A few chapters later He makes the same point in an even clearer way: “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12)

Jesus did two kinds of work while He was on planet earth: Isaiah 53 work and Isaiah 61 works. Isaiah 53:5 tells of the work He did on the cross for us: “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” This is finished work and it is work that only He could do. All we can do is receive that work and be grateful for the forgiveness of our sins.

Isaiah 61:1 tells of the works of His ministry by the anointing of the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners.” This work He began while He was on earth but would be carried on by His disciples under the anointing of the same Spirit. Jesus modeled this work for them and then commissioned them to allow Him to continue these same works through them.

The church today preaches Jesus’ finished work of Isaiah 53 but largely ignores our responsibility to practice the Isaiah 61 works. I believe God is changing that. He wants us to recognize in a greater way the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and He wants us to gain His viewpoint, so that we can join Him each day in the works of redemption.

Posted in Exodus, Jeremiah, John, Revelation

Drinking the Spirit

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

We will never have rivers flowing out of us into this needy world until we learn how to regularly drink of God’s precious Spirit. It is not enough to believe in the Spirit, or even acknowledge our need for the Spirit; we must drink. Why don’t we regularly drink of the Spirit?

  1. We don’t drink because we are often trying to get a drink of something this world offers. “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Sports, TV, hunting, fishing, video games, work, and education are all neutral things unless we are looking to them for the renewal that only God can give, then they become leaky cisterns. Alcohol, pornography, gambling, smoking, and drugs are often the doorways to addiction for desperate people that started out only knowing that there was a thirst in their souls. God said that He alone is a fountain; an unending supply of renewal and refreshing for those who truly bring their thirst to Him.
  2. We don’t drink because we presume we already have drunk because we go to church, pray, and read the Bible. One of the saddest pictures in the Bible is Jesus outside the door of His own church knocking in Revelation 3:20. He has everything they need but He’s unable to give it to them because they have adjusted their lives and expectations to what they already have so they aren’t even asking for more. “I have need of nothing,” is what they say. 
  3. We don’t drink because we aren’t confident of God’s heart toward us. Exodus 34:14 in the New Living Translation says, “The Lord your God is passionate about His relationship with you.” God doesn’t just love you and me, He likes us. He wants to be with us. Jesus didn’t just die so that we could be forgiven and go to heaven some day. He died so that we could come into God’s presence now, and regularly drink of His Spirit.
Posted in 1Peter, Acts, John

Thirsty for God

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

Are you thirsty for God? Not thirsty for knowledge about God; not thirsty for God to do something for you; but thirsty for God Himself? The reward for drinking the very presence of God into your spirit is that “rivers of living water” will flow out of your innermost being in blessing to those around you. (John 7:38) Ministry is more than what we do, it is whose strength we do it in. Peter says, “whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies.” (1Peter 4:11)

Serving God in our own power will quickly burn us out and leave a chip on our shoulder that says subconsciously, “I did this for God, so now He owes me.” We become dry and eventually bitter if we work without drinking. Make no mistake about it – what God gets out of this relationship is not the work we do for Him. Listen to Acts 17:24-25 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything.” God doesn’t need us, He’s in it for the fellowship we give Him while serving Him.

Several years ago I was overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord in a time of personal worship and kept saying, “I will do anything for you, I will do anything for you…”, when I had a clear stream of thoughts interrupt my prayer that went something like this: “I don’t want you to do anything for Me; everything I’m calling you to do, I’m calling you to do with Me.” Since that time I’ve tried to remember that God delights in relationship and that I must always drink of Him while working for Him. Make sure you take time to drink today.