5 Aspects of Christ: How can Jesus’ church become like Jesus?
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Many people say they like Jesus but not the church. The church follows but does not act like Jesus. We are called to be his hands and feet, but making the church like Jesus hasn’t been very successful so far, has it?
Ready: How can the church become like Jesus today? The church has a responsibility to reflect Christ. After 2000 years we are still lacking. How can we finally equip ourselves, and find our perfect character in Christ?
Set: For the church to operate in the way God intends, we need to be led within the structure God intended. One key lies in the five fold ministry, Jesus’ gift to the church. These five fold ministries are: apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, pastor. Each of these ministries is an aspect of Christ, who had all of these qualities. We need all the qualities of Christ if we are to operate in his authority and power.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to My Father.”(John 14:12)
Through these 5 ministries, the Body is prepared. Within the church, there are people with the particular calling of pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet, or apostle.
The calling does not have to do with education but everything to do with anointing. You may know the person that just opens his mouth and out comes revelation about God’s Word (teacher). Or whenever someone is in need of wise counsel, you can spot the gifted pastor, ready with just the right word in just the right season. There are those who have a special gift for sharing Jesus with unbelievers, who’s witness seems so easily to affect others toward him; these are evangelists. Some have the ability to see God’s plans and purposes and are designed for the prophetic. Finally, there are apostles who lead naturally, and hold visions for the new things God has for His Church.
With any one of these ministries missing, the church is lacking a necessary part of it’s headship and does not grow as God intends it. So often everything falls to the minister employed by the church; many things cannot be fulfilled by one key person. God loves unity (Psalm 133) and to see His people working together for good.
How to play your part in building the church:
Step 1: Recognize the church structure is imperfect but God has given us the perfect structure to equip the Body of Christ.
Step 2: Study and learn these 5 fold gifts. See if you spot others who are these gifts to the Body of Christ. Could you be one of these gifts?
Step 3: Encourage the gifts in others; identify and practice them. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 tells us the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12 lists the gifts of God.
Step 4: Encourage your church leaders. Honour them. They too are gifted and seeking to honour God with their lives.
Step 5: Pray, asking God to reveal the gifts of Jesus that are within the congregation. This may be radical thinking for your church, so pray for God’s will to be done and for willing hearts within your congregation and church leaders.
Go: Intercede for your church, your city and your region, that the Body of Believers would be equipped and ready to serve the LORD with gladness, and the people with love. (And when you feel called to step out to share this message, step out in faith and share in love, asking for God’s timing and His window – first.)
The World is full of people yearning to fulfill their destiny. Those of us who are in Christ know where we are going when we die. But do we know how to find our life’s purpose while we are on earth?
All of us are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe. He knows us intimately (Psalm 139) and has a purpose and calling for each of us. But how do I discover what that calling is? We begin by asking, “How do I find my life’s purpose in Christ?”
Ready: Wise Solomon advises us in Proverbs 3:6, to seek the LORD for his plans and purposes: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)
Set: A number of years ago I decided I was going to find out who God had made me to be. It took me two years in discipleship training (for a Diploma in Theology) to discover I was uniquely made for a particular purpose, and a further two years of personal study, prayer & fasting, with deliberate tuning and analysis, to find out what that purpose was. I write this post as a springboard for others to seek and discern their personal calling more easily.
There are 9 spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12, where you can begin to connect with God and His word to find where your spiritual strengths lie. Also, listed in Romans 12 are God’s 7 gifts of grace. The five fold ministry gifts of Jesus are listed in Ephesians
“The most successful Christians are those who come to know their calling, understand their special gifting, and faithfully stay with that calling until they fulfill their membership ministry.” (Dr Bill Hamon, The Day of the Saints, Destiny Image Publishers Inc (c) 2002, p211)
1. Read the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, God’s gifts of grace, Jesus’ gifts to the church, to learn what gifts God has offered us.
2. Pray and “earnestly seek” God’s gifts. (Hebrews 11:6)
3. Consider your own passions for the LORD. What gifts have you got? What talents and abilities? What gifts do you yearn for. Ask.
4. Deepen your lifestyle of prayer, fasting and eagerly seeking His will to be fulfilled in your life.
5. Connect with others. Pray with them. Together, seek the LORD for His gifts, calling and purpose in your lives.
“Therefore I remind you to stirupthegift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV)
6. Be diligent and be patient. God is faithful!
Go: Study, pray, seek, knock: God has plans for you, and a purpose, and in due time He will make them known to you.
Ready: When I want God’s will in my life, how to I overcome the urge to have my own way? How do I surrender to God’s will? How do I find God’s will and yield my day-to-day life to Him?
Set: I know God’s will is superior to mine, in power, in goodness, in wisdom. But sometimes I just want to do it my way. Sound familiar? Even Paul wrestled with his will, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19) How can I surrender to God, when my will seeks its own way? Our flesh is strong – not just the physical part of us but our soul as well. Our soul or mind is made up of our will, emotions and intellect. But we also have a spirit, which is that which separates us from all other living beings, and is revived through our faith in Jesus. Though the will may seek its own way, our spirit hungers for God. Our spirit is superior in wisdom to our soul, and just as we can be led by our will, so too can we learn to live by the spirit.
1. Daily, hourly, moment-by-moment, seek for God’s will to be done in your life.
2. Surrender your soul (will, emotions, intellect) to your spirit
3. Surrender your spirit to the Holy Spirit
4. Discover the power of your living spirit over your willfulness. Therein is life!
Go: Be refreshed now, and be willing to allow your living spirit to lead you closer to the LORD God and to life as He wills and purposes for you.
What is the difference between Jesus as Lord and as saviour?
Life is a journey of decisions and experiences, achievements and mistakes, victories and defeats. When we choose to live a life surrendered to the creator of the universe, we have peace with God, man and ourselves. We have the assurance that every outcome is within His purposes and for our ultimate good. There is a difference between Jesus as Lord and as saviour.
Ready: If you have become born again, you are saved by God’s grace, and you have received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8) Jesus is your saviour. But have you surrendered your life to his Lordship?
Set: When we allow Jesus to be our Lord it means we follow him, we surrender our lives to his will and direction. Jesus as Saviour means our spirit is reborn; Jesus as Lord means we allow him to lead us, even into the valley of the shadow of death; yet will fear no ill.
To receive all God has for us, surrender is the key. While salvation leads us in to eternal life in Heaven, surrender ensures life on earth is within the Father’s will. When we know we are within the sovereign will of God we have peace – peace that passes all understanding.
If you have hard decisions, are stressed or confused, suffer persecution or prejudice, you can rest assured that the LORD God, in His sovereignty, is aware of it. He has allowed you to be in your current situation for your ultimate benefit. He does not will that any perish. When you surrender to Him, you can be certain that the creator of the universe, with ultimate authority and power, has things in hand. There is nothing that passes His gaze or awareness.
1. Choose to place your life into His hands, surrendering your will to His.
2. Trust God. He loves you; he knows you intimately, and has placed the deepest desires and passions within you and wants them to be fulfilled.
3. Search even the nooks and crannies of your will and yield them to the Father. In this you will find peace.
Go: Surrender! God has the best plans and purposes for us. His protection is complete. He even watches our backs! So, we surrender, knowing ‘not your will but mine Lord’ is the safest place we can be.
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; Thegloryofthe Lord shall beyourrearguard.” (Isaiah 58:8 NKJV)
The truth is God is raising an Army of Believers to fight for the human race against spiritual darkness. We fight to the glory of God, for the Prince of Peace, with the power of the Holy Spirit who operates within and through us.
Ready: The world is becoming a very dark place spiritually. Youth are depressed, trained to believe there is nothing after this life and that freedom is doing what you want. Bereft of hope, so many people are turning to substance abuse as false comfort. These are only two of many areas that reveal spiritual darkness. Prayer and praise, the application of God’s Word in our lives and for others – these are the weapons of our warfare to combat spiritual darkness.
Set: What is spiritual warfare? How do we apply the weapons that we have?
A look at Ephesians 6:10 – 18 will serve to deepen our understanding and preparation. We know the truth (vs 14) and must grow in our own character to have the right to fight the enemy (vs 14). We fight against principalities and powers and not people (vs 12) , instead loving them toward the light of God’s love and His inner and inter-relational peace (vs 15). Faith keeps us strong against the lies of Satan our enemy (vs 16). In our own minds we are confident of our salvation and rightness in Christ (vs 17) further supported by our knowledge and growth in God’s Word (vs 17), our ultimate instrument of victory. The eight verse text is packed full of encouragement and empowerment. Get to know it and stand to fight against the enemy for family, friends, colleagues and strangers, that they might be saved from living death and called to life today.
1. Learn the weapons of your warfare (use Ephesians 6).
2. Grow as God leads you, in truth and righteousness.
3. Walk in peace toward whomever you encounter.
4. Allow God to grow your faith. In all things acknowledge Him and He will ensure your path is straight.
5. Be wary of that which seeks to challenge your confidence in your salvation. The enemy likes to attack our minds to shake our assurance. (Mind = Soul = Emotions+ Intellect+Will)
6. Read the Bible. Learn scripture. Prepare to use it against the enemy.
7. Don’t go in presumption, but rather prepare and trust God’s call.
Remember, it is the Truth that sets people free.
Go: Wait on the LORD. Be ready to speak of the hope you have. Love. And walk in the measure of holiness the LORD has already given you. You need not look for the battle. When you are prepared, it will come to you. God bless and may ‘The glory of the LORD be your rear guard’. (Isaiah 58:8b)
How much does God Love? Let us live by the Law of Love. Let us learn and live in the width and length and depth and height of the Love of Jesus and Father God.
Ready: Can we contemplate the extent of God’s love? And can we measure how that enables us to live in love too? Can we receive the Father’s love and allow it to build us, shape us, heal us and save us?
Set: God lavishes His love upon us. What does lavish mean? It means: to expend or bestow with profusion; to expend without necessity or use; to waste; to squander… profuse; liberal to a fault, wasteful… superabundant; superfluous. (The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of The English Language, Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago, C (c) 1971)
Wasteful? I’ve never thought of the LORD GOD as wasteful, but there it is in black and white. He loves us so much that He wastes to excess His love toward us.
Knowing this, why do we suffer?
We suffer in order to grow. We suffer in order to learn. Sometimes we suffer chemical imbalances in our brains. We all suffer, from time to time.
Wholeness is not refraining from the experience of suffering. But wholeness is the absence of doubt, knowing His love and His truth abound in the universe and in my life, in your life.
Wholeness is knowing there is purpose in each moment of every day, and a purpose to our being here, and a purpose even in our suffering.
Wholeness is rejoicing even in our suffering. Wholeness is trusting God unconditionally. Wholeness may not be attainable this side of Heaven, but I’ll continue to reach for it, knowing God is the author and finisher of my faith and of my life.
3 Steps to living in the Father’s love:
1. Thank Him, even when you don’t feel thankful. The mind is fallible, the heart is not.
2. Praise Him. Praise Him some more. How you praise, where you praise is up to you. I encourage you to be authentic and free, sharing with Jesus your praise.
3. Receive blessing. Whatever follows from your thanksgiving and praise is from the LORD. Believe He loves and honours you. He only sees the beautiful person He has created. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Go: With every breath, know He loves you and is the all-powerful. There is nothing He does not know and cannot do. There is nothing He has created that is not perfect. The Christian Life is a journey between self-discovery and the realization that we are made perfect in His Love.
When people talk about making a decision, and they are wrestling between their head and their heart, I believe they mean the are debating between an intellectual choice and an emotional one. But actually, both our intellect and our emotions are part of our soul, our mind. Neither have anything to do with our heart. Rather, the heart – apart from being the literal pump in our bodies – refers to our spirit, that part of us which is our identity, what makes up the core of our being. For Christians it is the part of us that connects with the Holy Spirit and affirms we are a child of God. For the unbeliever it is dead, awaiting salvation by God’s grace.
Ready: How do we minister to a dead spirit so that it may be made alive again through faith in Jesus?
Set: Relationship and prayer are at the core of encouraging someone who does not follow Jesus to find their faith and to trust in Jesus as God’s son. As we pray for someone who does not know God, let’s begin by praying for the opening of their heart. Let’s minister to their spirit, asking God to revive it, and to soften their heart so that it might become connected to God. When the heart awakens it can receive, recognize, and call out to God.
The way of salvation is through the heart.
1. Pray for your friend or loved one to have their heart opened.
2. Encourage them to reflect alone, to connect with their heart – that core of their being. You may not mention it, but this is the pathway to their personal discovery of God.
3. Befriend them. Be ready to answer questions about your experience of God. But above all, love them: “If I have the faith to move mountains but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Go: Be a light to others in the world, not by talking but by being the love of God and enabling them to soften their heart to the one who loves unconditionally.
A Revelation about Spiritual Maturity, Physical Reality and Miracles: Spiritual maturity means facing challenges without contest. It means fighting the good fight and finishing the race. Today, I believe it also means God enabling us to see into the future and into Heaven at a deeper and broader level than ever before. We are in a new age. Old things have passed. New things have begun. Let’s begin to allow God to use us to shift them.
Ready: God is doing a new thing in His people and we need to be prepared to be ‘blown away’ by His power and presence at work in us. We need to prepare ourselves for a paradigm shift.
Set: We live in a material world. Reality is tangible. But I believe our awareness of reality needs to expand – at least for the spirit-filled believer in Jesus Christ, hungry to mature and see God’s purpose fulfilled in his life. This is a time for a paradigm shift.
What is a paradigm? A paradigm is a way of thinking, a way of perceiving our reality based today on our previous experience and the assumptions we’ve developed from those previous experiences.
For example: We base our thinking on certain assumptions, which in turn leads us to make certain decisions. For example, the thought “I’ll eat lunch at noon today because I’ll be hungry at noon today” is based on our previous experiences which established our eating habits . We usually feel hungry at noon and so we assume we will feel hungry today. Because of a pattern in our previous experience, we anticipate or expect we’ll be hungry at noon today.
A paradigm shift is a shift in our thinking, our expectations and assumptions. The example above is trivial. But it leads us somewhere… As we walk out our faith and grow in maturity, God will use us when are prepared. Studying the Word of God, learning to give and receive love and forgiveness, surrendering every moment of our day to the Holy Spirit – all of these are signs of our growing spiritual maturity. Our character is being built. But there is more to this faith-walk. What about the miracles?
For what are we being prepared, if not for more of God’s glory on earth as it is in Heaven?
Friends, I want God to move mountains for the Glory of God and as a witness to the world! Jesus said with faith we could. How about you?
I believe there is something new on the horizon for the disciples of God who wish to fulfill their purpose in Christ. What it is and how it effects our walk with God has to do with our concept of physical reality. There is more to be learned about our physical world and it’s boundaries. In order to move in God’s miracles we need faith. To move beyond our assumptions and limitations and into an understanding of different dimensions, we will be enabled to move in God’s miracles.
Today, humankind’s suspicions about other dimensions and ways of perceiving our world is growing. But we must stay God-centered. Isn’t it time to fully explore the supernatural and otherworldly nature of His universe? How do we move mountains? How do we do greater things than we saw Jesus do?
I believe it has to do with our understanding of reality. Perhaps it is through a Godly-supernatural transcendence of reality that the limitations of our physical world are overcome, and the sort of miracles that Jesus accessed we also will be able to do. Individuals in our secular world today assume what we touch is real. In fact, some people believe “if we don’t see it or can’t touch it, it’s not real.” I’d like to propose a paradigm shift.
What is most real, Believer, is that which we cannot see. Until we live and breathe this truth, we are limited in our faith and action.
Consider scriptures such as the following: “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) Clearly the literal/physical meaning of weapons is being replaced by the concept of spiritual weapons. I suggest that this transcendence into the spiritual realm can be discovered elsewhere in scripture to help us deepen our understanding of, commitment to, and maturity in Christ.
“But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fitforthekingdomof God.”(Luke 9:52)
When we read scripture from the 1st Century church, do we filter everything based on our current understanding? Let’s consider Jesus’ words carefully, and put it in the in light of a paradigm shift. Let’s go back to what Jesus and the hearers knew.
First, we need to be fit for the kingdom of God. How do we know if we’re fit? For one thing, we look forward (not backward). For another, we relinquish the plow (and the provision by self-effort that it symbolizes).
I have nothing but an inner sense of revelation; I believe the plow also represents the confines of physical reality.
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they hadallthingsincommon.” (Acts 4:32) Jesus encourages us to let our possessions – or family members or significant persons or things – go. As we become unfettered in our mind and will, God may move us into a different dimension where the tangible cannot hold or limit us. But in order for that to happen, perhaps, first we have to let go.
John transcended our reality when he saw the Revelations. Philip was translated in order to meet the Ethiopian Eunuch. Jesus walked on water; he moved through walls when doors were locked, he was translated to be with Moses and Elijah on a mountain. Might it be that, through faith he overcame physical reality so that he was able to accomplish these miracles?
Understanding how his faith worked does not change the fact that Jesus worked miracles. But perhaps in order for us to do ‘greater things’ for the Kingdom, we need to alter our perception of reality so that we can overcome physical – and mental – limitations, and allow God to increase our faith.
Jesus promised ‘greater things would we do.’ The Church seeks to operate in the healing miracles and the food multiplications and to ‘move mountains, but relatively few of us are doing these things. I’m wondering if a key to this is a paradigm shift to our understanding of reality. Can we begin to operate more effectively in the realm of God’s supernatural power when we have an improved understanding of God’s different dimension(s)? Is it through this revelation that we can defy the natural world and it’s natural laws – which are subject to God’s laws? Are we being called to overcome the physical world in a Godly way?
The 1st Century believers may well have done this; perhaps we need to do this in order to bring the fullness to earth as it is in Heaven, the fulfillment of what Jesus promised for his Church, and bring it all of the glory to God.
Steps to enabling a paradigm shift from a tangible focus to the supernatural: 1. In God’s timing, willingly surrender your worldly goods in principle (I’m suggesting you don’t literally give away everything, but through Holy Spirit’s conviction upon you – if it should come to you – surrender all of your worldly goods to God). This way you break free of any hold they may have over you. 2. Pray and ask God to bring us all into a deeper experience of His love and glory. 3. Seek the will of God: Does He want you to move in the supernatural? Ask Him to take you there in the Spirit. 4. Go (physically, literally) to a place local to you where a miracle is needed. Ask God to show you Truth and how to bring it closer to whomever you are with: in hospital, in the street, or in your home or workplace. Be open to whether the miracle will be measurable in the physical realm or internal. 5. Pray for a miracle.
Go: We can’t manufacture miracles. We can’t even manufacture faith. But we can ask God for both, and we can grow in our understanding of how He can make these as accessible to us in a greater way, as He did for the 1st Century Church.
‘Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.’ (William Congreve) And it can do so much more!
Ready: We sing songs in church, and that’s nice. But what is worship really all about?
Set: Whether singing old hymns or new tunes, worship is a serious issue. Worship is much more than singing songs at the beginning of a church service, or enjoying a praise CD in our cars on the way to work. Although those experiences can be fulfilling, worship is a lifestyle and as we engage with our Heavenly Father, we can offer a sweet fragrance to Him and simultaneously thwart the enemy’s intentions. When we walk in a lifestyle of worship, we enjoy peace of mind, freedom of expression and joy in the Spirit.
Is worship a form of spiritual warfare? This question, “Is worship a form of spiritual warfare,” is one of the most commonly asked questions by today’s Christians.
If the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and self-control, then any exhibition of these fruits will be sweet to the LORD and sour to the enemy. There are prayers of intercession, and declarations to transform our present circumstances to God’s will; there are prayers to heal hearts, overcoming poverty and oppression, and to protect the land and its heritage. But one of the most basic battles we can wage against the enemy is to enjoy this life and whatever circumstances we face (Philippians 3:1). As we worship the LORD in Spirit and in Truth, it pulls down the enemy every time!
1. Celebrate your life, with or without a music track.
Go: Enjoy every moment of the LIFE the LORD has given you today, knowing the weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual.
“For the weaponsofourwarfareare not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:14)