Archive for April, 2009

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – No Insignificant Land

April 24, 2009

Isaiah chapter 9. Here we have the birth and reign of the Prince of Peace again prophesied. Begin in verse 2.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 

They are happy because the King has come, the reign has come. And we read that, “You shall multiply the nation.” And I just want to say that we are the nation of God. Our land is the realm. Our land is no insignificant land; our kingdom, our nation is no insignificant nation. We have been called to be a people not of this lesser realm. We’ve been called out of this land of darkness, not removed. Jesus prayed in John 17, “Father, I pray that You do not take them out of but from the midst of it.” If we do not get this issue of the significance of the realm, the nation, the government to which we are called, we’re going to find our hands burned from holding on too tight to a lesser nation.

I’m speaking to you from the depth of my heart. If the church does not let go of, and I don’t mean by that to not pray for, not witness to, not go after to save, these lesser kingdoms, but if we do not let go of our ownership of that which is less, they have no hope, and we’re going to be severely burned when she’s judged. Because she shall be judged, this lesser kingdom and I believe it has begun. And by that I do not mean economic downturn. It is going to begin with us.

Judgment first begins with the household of God, the children of this exalted realm. They must first have removed from their life that which is not from God. That’s what judgment is all about. Only God judges and He only judges that which is not of Him. It is the world that persecutes. It is Satan and the world of darkness that comes against the children of God. And their persecution is always aimed at that which is of God. And because of our immaturity and our ignorance we’re going to be calling persecution what is really judgment, what is really intended to remove from us, to break from us, to tear out of our hands. And if we do not let go early, we will be injured in its removal. It’s necessary what is coming. It’s necessary.

And I encourage you to let go and take hold of the realm that can bring hope to the children of this lesser realm. Their only hope is in a people being raised up who know the reign of God in their heart. A people who are manifesting a life like Paul and Silas in that inner prison representing a life in the midst of what looks like physical bondage that’s free and above and reigns over all the circumstances of life. And they will not want to leave us once they see it. But if we’re holding on to that which God is judging we offer no hope to them. We’ve deceived them by our own selfish self-reigning ambitions.

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – Can You Hear Me Now

April 20, 2009

Luke chapter 4, verse 14.

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.

Isn’t that interesting?

And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

This is found is Isaiah chapter 61 which we will look at later. In this passage you will see what He came to do, sort of a mission statement, to preach the gospel to the poor. Isn’t it interesting that He says that He came to preach to the poor? You would think that He would have been all-inclusive in who He came to preach to. But we learned in the parable of the sower that He did not intend for everyone to understand what He was saying.

Whatever it is that He was saying there, He intended to hide it. “It is the glory of God to hide a matter and it’s the glory of those who are in the reign to search out a matter” (see Pr. 25:2).

He was saying, “You know, some were not ready. Some cannot hear this.”

But, the ones who were among those that were intended to be on the inside, those He went to, here He refers to as the poor. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder what He means by that? There’s no room for the rich? That would exclude most of those reading this book. Most of those who would have the means to purchase this book are in the top 1% to 3% of the wealth of the world if they are just average. And if they are at poverty level here in the U.S., they’re still in the top 10% of the wealth of the world. Isn’t that amazing?

He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, and set free those who are oppressed.

That reminds me of Mark 16 where He says, “And these signs will follow. Demons will be cast out, and recovery of sight to the blind, healings will take place” (see Mk. 16:17-18).

I don’t know where you are in all this but I just declare it to you. I’ve witnessed it. I believe it. And, it is so a part of what I believe, these are my convictions, that I am not yet satisfied with His witness of the gospel that I am preaching. I am expecting signs and wonders to follow. That may not be in the context of where you are or how you’ve been raised. You don’t have to accept it because I’ve said it, but Jesus came to do that. And He has promised it to those who preach the gospel. Whatever that means, it means something!

Now, verse 20:

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

And all were speaking well of Him…

Isn’t that interesting? “And all were speaking well of Him.” Why were they speaking well of Him? Well, they were. Great stories had gone on about Him and their response to His sharing this text from Isaiah 61 is that:

And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words, that’s how it is written, at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

And He was saying to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ But I tell you the truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days if Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

What was He saying to His neighbors? Whatever He was saying, I’ll tell you how they interpreted it. All of a sudden the words were not gracious.

And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.

They all thought well of Him, at the gracious words that fell from His lips. And this gentle lamb, this meek one, says, “You remember Naaman the leper? He wasn’t from Nazareth in Israel. God went out of Israel to find a leper to heal.

Well, what did they hear? Well, it may sound like what they heard was condemnation. It was, but why did they use the words “gracious” before that? Go with me to Isaiah 61. You need to see that Jesus stopped one phrase short of a verse that they all knew.

The Spirit if 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; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God.

Woops! All of a sudden this passage takes a radical turn. Setting captives free, making blind men see, setting the oppressed free; what were those people hearing that encouraged them to believe that these were gracious words? They were captives of Rome. And they had been beaten down and were seeing themselves as a subservient nation. And what they were hearing was the Messiah who would come and in vengeance declare the day of the Lord. And He did it. He did it. He did it to the people of Nazareth who were not wanting the reign of Christ in their heart but were wanting to share the reign over the Romans, and the Ethiopians and the Egyptians and the Palestinians and the Syrians and the Greeks. Are you hearing? They couldn’t handle that.

But where did this rage come from? Jesus spoke a simple truth from Scripture and the people were filled with rage. How did this rage get there? It came upon the heart. Now stay with me here. This is important.

The religious among us do not want to hear about His reign. The religious among us are wanting to share in the world’s benefits of the reign, but are not wanting to share in the servanthood of the reign, and are not wanting to raise their own white flag of surrender in repentance over their own reign. These two things are going on.

For example, if you were to turn to Isaiah 42:1, you would see the paradox, the seeming contradiction.

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice…”

John the Baptist came out as one crying in the wilderness. Jesus’ voice could not be heard in the street.

“…Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.”

You know, this is the second time this passage says that He will bring forth justice. What brings forth justice? Government! He’s come to reign.

“He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

He’s come to reign, this gentle one, this meek King, with a gentle voice, out on the battle field making His offer, saying, “I’ve come out here to reign. Will you surrender?”

And it’s just that way. And unless you hear it that way, you’ll not share it that way and if you don’t share it that way we will bring children into the kingdom who feel they have to perform, trying to live up to a demand, still living under a sense of the Law. Can you hear that? Some of us are still trying to live that way that’s why we’re yet to discover the reign of God in our life. That’s why we are not reigning with Christ over those things that are coming into our life. It’s because we’re trying to perform, a striving here to be. No, it’s an offer. Just raise your flag of surrender, inviting Him in to occupy the throne.

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – A Brief Review

April 15, 2009

Now, I’m going to do a brief review of this issue of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the gospel of the reign because I don’t believe you can hear it enough. That word basileia means reign, it means the rule itself, the government, if you would.

This reign is an offer. Israel had a problem with this idea because they could not handle a gentle king, a meek king, coming and offering His reign. And that is exactly what Christ has done. He’s come and in this age, if you would, this dispensation, in this period, it is an offer.

We are going to learn the universal principal for accepting the offer. This offer is enacted by our abdicating the throne. It’s called repentance. And we saw in Mark 1:14 & 15, “After John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God.” I encourage you; you need to memorize that text. You can preach the whole gospel from those two verses. It is the most concise statement on what the gospel is. “Jesus came preaching the gospel of God saying, ‘The time is fulfilled…’ ” What time is fulfilled? The time of man’s reign in his own heart! Man’s reign is coming to an end! The availability of the reign in the earth, the coming of the King! He’s here!

“The time is fulfilled, the reign of God is at hand. Repent…” And that is the enabling force, that is the abdicating, the laying down of crowns. I made the point in the last chapter and I cannot say it too strongly, repentance is the white flag of surrender. It is surrendering our reign. And that’s what repentance is. Yes, it’s first a change of mind, but if a change of mind does not affect our lives by our hands and our feet it is a false repentance. It is like the repentance of the scribes and the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

John the Baptist was not of the realm, the reign of Christ: he was the last of the prophets, the greatest of all, and yet the least in the kingdom. The least in the reign is greater than John the Baptist. So John the Baptist, he came as one crying in the wilderness, crying, “Repent!” It was a demand. But when Jesus comes, the gentle Lamb, it’s an offer.

Can you picture this? A meek and seemingly powerless King facing what appears to be overwhelming forces in the midst of battle? This meek, humble King, walking out onto the battle field to what appears to be this huge overpowering army and overwhelming forces and saying to the enemy, “Would you surrender?”

And no one can handle that. A few could. But, that’s how He came. In the midst of overwhelming odds, it would appear, He comes as a gentle lamb before the wolves and says, “Will you surrender and turn from your reign? You can’t be what you were created to be without the reign of God in your heart. I implore you, be born again. Repent!”

Repentance is the white flag of our reign. It’s turning from our reign to His. Can you not see that? Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled. The reign is at hand. Repent, give up, and believe in the gospel.”

One is a banner of defeat, willing, yielding, surrendered, and the other is the banner of the King. This is accomplished by His faith, it is what He believes. Faith is a gift. To each has been given a measure. But as for faith, He is the author, the one who first speaks it, and the perfecter, the one who finishes. Faith, it’s His banner over us. It’s the sign of His reign. Repent! Raise your flag of surrender, and then lift the banner of His reign. Faith, belief, it is the banner over the disciples of the kingdom. Repent and believe in the gospel.

And so we looked at that in the last chapter. We looked at how it requires a resolute decision, it requires a radical decision. That’s the thing that Israel could not handle. They thought His coming would be such that if you did not bow, your knees would be broken. They believed that He would just take the nations, roll over them like the stone in Daniel. He is doing that but it’s not what we think. And they just could not handle that and neither can we. It requires a resolute, radical decision to follow Christ. And you don’t have to choose Him. It’s an offer. It’s not a demand. He did not come to judge. We may think of it as a demand but as soon as we think of it as a demand, when we’re before the judgment seat we will wish we would have accepted that offer.

And this is why Jesus could walk into a room full of harlots, thieves, embezzlers, and they would know who He was. They knew who He was. He’s this religious teacher, this one some are wondering if He is the Messiah. He’s this prophet who can reveal hearts. He’s a man who can come into your midst and reveal hearts. That’s a little scary even among Christians, isn’t it? Wow! And these people did not feel threatened, judged or condemned. We’ve got to get a handle on that. Why did He not condemn them? They couldn’t keep from doing what they were doing. They couldn’t have the life of the reign. Even though He did not come to judge or condemn, His offer in the end will be that which will judge us.

“My words before the judgment seat,” He said, “they will judge you.” “But I did not come to judge, I came to offer.”

Thank You, Lord. Lord, we thank You for calling us together. And Lord, our hope is in and our eyes are set on Your speaking to us. Lord, we thank You for Your long-suffering with us, Your patience with us, Your delight in our coming to be before You. Our desire, Lord, is to hear whatever it is that will cause us to surrender all that we are and all that we’ve been entrusted with, including our reign, that You might reign. Now, Lord, speak to us from Your word. We look to You only and we know that You will protect that which You are speaking. May my words, O Lord, fall to the ground. You speak in our midst. Include me. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – Remarkable Miracles

April 9, 2009

In the last chapter I recommended that you read the book Remarkable Miracles by G.C. Bevington. He was a Holiness preacher out of Wesleyanism. He preached holiness and sanctification. But I’m not sharing it with you on the basis of that particular theology he is coming from. Here is a man, who as a young boy discovered what was required to hear God. He learned that the greater portion of prayer is hearing not speaking. And he often would not get up for hours or even days until he heard. And what came out of that hearing was “Remarkable Miracles.” And he’s just sharing his life experience.

I hope you discover two things in this book: the role of the kingdom, the reign of God in Bevington’s preaching because our Lord Jesus has promised that whenever this gospel is preached, signs and wonders will follow. He wasn’t a Pentecostal, he wasn’t a Charismatic, he was a Christian. You’ll see that he talks that way.

You do not see him mentioning his church. He was a “Kingdom” kid – the kingdom was everything. I want you to see the kingdom here. With his preaching, with his view of the reign of God, I want you to see the role of prayer, the role of intimacy. If in the end you come out of this with three new doctrines, one on the kingdom, one on discipleship, one on this other life, you would have lost. My intent is, in the giving of all that you are and all that you’ve been entrusted with to the King and His kingdom that you end up with Him and He ends up with you in an intimate relationship. And Remarkable Miracles talks about that relationship. I encourage you to read it.

John’s Remarkable Miracle –

Along with the theme of Bevington’s book, I want to tell you about an experience I had back in the late 70s right after I had read Remarkable Miracles for the first time. In this book, Bevington explains that whenever he got down, he waited until he heard. And you find him in a hay stack in the middle of winter and the Lord would come and tell him where to go. He would show Bevington the roads and the turns because there were not many road signs in those days. He would go miles and cross states to see a man and already have his name. He got on a train one time and ended up in West Virginia from Ohio. He got off the train and there was another man who lived a somewhat similar life who was waiting on Bevington when he got off the train because he had seen him in a dream. This is the kind of life that Bevington lived.

I had never experienced those kinds of things. I had never experienced precise kinds of stuff in prayer that were in the book. I was living in Watseka, Illinois and had been invited to Kankakee, Illinois to teach in a little home church meeting. In this house there were probably about sixty people in an old house that had a living room and the living room overflowed into the dining room. The people filled both rooms.

I had never met these people before and in the back of my mind was Bevington’s book. I was praying that I would know the Lord that way and hear Him speak and have Him direct me specifically.

So, I’m sitting in a chair up in front of the room. The brother with me was leading the music. It was his home town and because he knew some of the people there, we got the invitation to come because they had heard about me through him. So we are sitting there and all of a sudden I hear this woman crying. I heard this woman crying in my mind. And it was not a little cry, it was wailing. It was so real that I was looking around the room to see who it was and very quickly I realized that no one was reacting to it. But I heard this wailing in my head. And it just would not stop. I’m trying to think about my message, you know, and before you know it I’m introduced to speak. I’m standing up there and still it’s in my head. I’m praying in my heart, “Lord, what am I to do?”

So I said to the group, “I don’t know what’s going on. I hear some woman who is just in great agony and is wailing.” And as soon as I said that, a lady that I could not see broke out crying and I recognized her voice. She could hardly control herself once she started, so we took a few minutes and some of the women comforted her, and when she was able, she shared what was going on.

She is Charlene Gray and her husband Bob who was an executive with Penn-Central Railroad in Chicago which is just north of Kankakee, had been in a mental hospital for six months. He had not spoken for six months and was almost, like, comatose. You could lead him around but there was no response from him to anything. And she had heard that very afternoon from the hospital that if there was no change in his condition over the weekend, he would be transferred to the incurable ward. They both were in their late forties and had had twin boys just after she turned forty. She owned a flower shop and he worked at Penn-Central. His benefits were running out and she had to sell her flower shop to pay bills. She was desperate; just desperate.

So, all I could think of at that moment was Bevington and how, when a situation like this would come along, he would just get on his knees and say, “Lord, what is going on here? What’s happening here?” And he would hear and go and there would be healing, restoration, freedom, whatever. And so I tell this little story about Bevington to the group there and suggest that we get down on our knees to pray for Charlene and Bob and look to the Lord to speak to us.

You need to know that I’m a guest speaker in this home. They’ve never met me before. They’ve never heard me teach before. So, they’re looking at me kind of funny but I get down on my knees where I was and they slowly began to kneel where they were. I had this feeble little prayer and a few others prayed. We are down, I suppose, about five minutes. People are getting restless; some are getting back up on their chairs. I’m saying to myself, “O God, what have I done?” I said, “Lord, won’t you speak.” And finally I get up and shared this miserable little message. I’m defeated. I go back home just miserable.

This is Saturday night and I’m preaching Sunday morning. I don’t do well Sunday morning either. Sunday night comes and I can’t sleep. I get out of bed and go down to my living room. I got down on the floor and said, “Lord, I’m not getting up until I hear.” So an hour passes and I pray everything I can think, of to pray. Two hours pass, then three. I’m waiting to hear and I’m determined to wait it through. I’m determined I’m going to stay there until I hear. So it’s the wee hours of the morning and I’m out of things to say. I haven’t said anything in a while and I didn’t recognize it at the time but it was what Bevington called “getting quiet.”

I realized I was out of thoughts. And just out of my mouth comes this statement: I said, “Lord, if You would heal Bob Gray, I will praise You as you deserve.” And then this thought came to me that I just knew was not my thought. “You never did before.”

And I knew instantly that I’d pray for something for six months or nine months with little 30 second prayers, 10 second prayers, two minute prayers; and it would come to pass that I’d thank Him in 10 seconds, or 15 seconds and go on.

And so, I spent another hour asking, “Lord, what does it mean to praise You as You deserve?” I realized that He needs to get the honor for the act. He works to show Himself strong that men might get to know Him. You’ll find that all through the Old Testament. He speaks it, “It’s not for your sake that I do these things, it’s for My name’s sake.”

So I end up making this list of those that I’m going to give Him honor and praise His name. And on the top of the list are Charlene Gray and the elders in that little house church that I’d done so miserably with.

After I had made the list I felt pretty good about it. Then the next words that came out of my mouth, sort of like a prayer, were, “Why won’t You heal Bob?” And immediately the thought came back, “I’m interested in more than his healing.”

Now what would you think if you hear that? He’s not saved, is he Lord? I knew instantly he’s not saved. And so I spend the next little while preparing in my heart this outline of how I am going to share the gospel with Bob Gray as soon as I hear that he is healed. I said, “Lord, as soon as I hear he is healed, I will go and share the gospel.” Well, it’s about 4:30 in the morning and the very next thought that comes is, “What are you doing this morning?”

Now, what would that say to you? It would say, He’s healed, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s what I thought it said. And I wrestled the next hour over, “What if he isn’t?” “What will I do if I call all these people praising God for Bob’s healing, go there and he’s not healed?” But I finally realized that the only way to know is to go.

And that’s when I learned another thing that Bevington points out in his book, it’s as important to know what voice is not God’s as to know what voice is His.

So I said, “Lord, I’m going.” Now, it’s 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning. Kankakee, Illinois is an hour earlier but I have already said to the Lord, “The minute I know he is healed, I’m going to begin praising You.” So, at this early hour of the morning I call Charlene Gray and I said, “This is John Brown.”

“Who?”

“John Brown who was at the house meeting.”

“The house meeting on Saturday night?”

“Yes…” I knew what was going through her mind: “That John Brown?”

And I said, “Charlene, the Lord has just spoken to me and said that Bob is healed.” And there was dead silence. And I said, “….and he’s not saved.”

And she said, “No…., he’s not.”

And I said, “I’ve promised the Lord that as soon as Bob is healed I would go to the hospital on the south side of Chicago to share the gospel with him.”

She then said, “You can’t get in. I can only see him once a month and they are supposed to be transferring him this morning.”

And I said, “If the Lord has spoken, I believe He’ll get me in because I’ve promised Him.” Then I shared the whole story with her.

She’s not convinced but she promises me that she will call the hospital. So she hangs up and I get on the phone with the elders of that fellowship in Kankakee, Illinois. I shared the story with each of them and finally got two of them to agree to go with me to Chicago. I am about an hour and a half from Kankakee and then it’s another hour to Chicago. They agree to take off that morning and go with me. So after I pick them up, all the way to the hospital they keep asking me, “How do you know it was God? What if it was not God? Why did you call Charlene?”

But I had promised God that I would do this. And I am thinking, “Do I have faith? No! No! I was just learning faith.”

We get to the hospital and go to the front desk and I said, “I’m John Brown from….”

“Oh, yes, Reverend Brown. You’re the reverend who believes that Mr. Gray is healed. The doctor wants to see you.”

Everyone there in that area is watching me because they have all heard about why we were there. The elders with me were about two paces behind me.

The doctor comes out and says, “So you’re the reverend who believes that Bob Gray is healed. Well, come with me.”

He was not pleased by what I had told Charlene. He leads me to the incurable ward which was behind locked doors. Here was a person walking around with no clothes on and another beating their head against the padded wall. It was horrible.

The doctor leads us into what looks like a little counseling room with a small table and a couple of chairs. The man sitting in one of the chairs was Bob Gray. He was dressed in a suit that looked slept in and it was baggy on him because he had lost lots of weight. He does not seem to recognize our coming into the room either. The doctor says, “Here is your Mr. Bob Gray who you believe is healed. Just call me when you are through.”

Bob Gray looked so pitiful and my heart went out to him as he sat there with his head down staring at nothing. I said in my heart, “Lord, no matter what, I’m going to share the gospel with that man.”

I remember that his eyes were so milky that you could hardly see his pupils. He did not move, he did not look at us and there was no recognition that we were even in the room. The two elders with me were leaning against the wall near the door.

I sat down across from Bob and couldn’t even look at him. I opened my Bible and started reading the Scriptures and relating the gospel message. And as I was delivering my message, without thinking I said, “Bob, do you understand what I am saying?”

What I heard was, “Yes, I do.”

This had obviously startled the two elders because they were desperately trying to get their balance as they stood erect.

Then I led Bob Gray to the Lord.

Within a couple of days he was out of the hospital and about a year after Patti and I moved to Marietta, GA we got a call saying that Bob had been restored to his job.

All this came about because of Bevington’s book. I encourage you to get one and read it. I hope it sets in your heart a fire to know God in that way. There are some things in the book that may be different than what you’ve been taught and what you believe but don’t get tripped up on that. Some of it is good. I just want you to see what Bevington says about the gospel of the kingdom.

Also, you will find in Appendix II an article reproduced there called “Where Will Our Hearts Be Buried” by Bishop David Huskin. It is an account of Doctor David Livingstone, the missionary of the mid eighteen hundreds that pioneered the gospel to the “dark continent” of Africa. When he died after 32 years of service to his Lord, his body was buried with dignity in Great Britain in Westminster Abby, while his heart, having been removed by his servants, was buried where it belonged, under a shade tree in the plains of Africa.

I have included this article because we will look at the passage in the Sermon on the Mount which says that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

GOVERNMENT OF GOD – Made For God

April 5, 2009

Introduction –

Coming from a Christian culture where we’ve heard a gospel that is costless and has left us powerless to reign in life through Christ Jesus, when the truth comes you know that the Father was after more than blessing us with forgiveness. The Father’s intent from the beginning was not just that we might have life and then sin so He could forgive us to show us how loving He is. But He had an intent that goes beyond man’s sin, and it goes beyond salvation. And that intent requires His having His place in creation and we are that place in His creation. We are the people made for Him. We’re the tabernacle of God in creation. We are His dwelling place. And He will only dwell where He can reign. He’s not interested in being invited in as a guest. Because the intention is to have the Holy Spirit with us, we sometimes, really not thinking, invite Him in like we would invite a guest. But He’s not interested in coming as a guest. And, I pray that all of that is sinking in and I hope you will have the tenacity to hold onto it. I just want to encourage you that God is going to bless you for your perseverance.

Made For God –

We were made for God. Once again let me say it again, we were made for God. Without Him we can’t function as we were created. I don’t mean by that we are puppets, mindless puppets, and I don’t mean by that we should expect to have a miserable existence. I mean the joy is being with One who considers Himself the bridegroom and us the bride. We need to change our paradigm. When we come together in the end, when Christ returns, we will not be heading for a judgment seat; we’re heading for a banquet hall, a wedding banquet hall. And we need to see that it will be His delight in that moment to feast His eyes upon us. That’s a different paradigm. He will not be able to take His eyes off of us, because of who we have become in Him. And that’s a different paradigm. We’ve all heard it in many different ways, but that’s what God is doing. God is bringing a people to the place where His heart’s intent, love unbounded, love that knows no extremity, can have its place. And that’s us. But it can’t be us unless we receive the fulfillment of the life for which we were created – His life. I can hardly wait until we receive that, when we, with joy, bow before Him and in exhilaration, remove our crown and place it at His feet. And I don’t mean in the sweet by-and-by, I mean the crown of our own reign in our life. Now when we abdicate the throne, with joy for His coming and taking His rightful place, that’s now, that’s where He’s wooing us, that’s where He’s bringing us. I believe you’re hearing that or I pray that you do. Because the dying, the cross, all of that other outside of that vision, is outside of where His heart is set. You cannot put the two together. If you have the cross and death without the promise and experience in the now of reigning in life with Him, it becomes an ugly religious thing, it becomes beating up flesh, it becomes a ritual that is self-exalting in its abasement. And there is little value in self-abasement. And so, unless you have the vision, you’ll not stick with this. But once you see it, once He has wooed you over the precipice, to where you are falling freely into His reign, once you’re out there on the water with Him, there is no going back and there is no desire to go back, there’s no thought of going back.

I know that you have had difficulty in dealing with this. And I have had those places in my life that in leaving it was difficult, it was hard. And it was at great cost and loss. It was with loss. But I’d never go back for what I lost. It’s nothing compared to what He has for us here, and I don’t mean in the sweet by-and-by, I mean in the now. It’s reigning in Christ now. And, it’s my heart for you to see you reigning in life through Christ Jesus. I want to see you on top of life in Christ Jesus to where what comes is irrelevant in terms of our reaction because we are in Him facing it; we are in Him handling it, reigning in life.

OFFER OF THE KINGDOM pt II – A Radical Decision

April 2, 2009

Now turn to Luke 13 and we will begin reading at verse 22.

And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

“Strive to enter by the narrow door.” You know how another text reads, “Wide is the door, broad is the way” (see Matthew 7:13). “Strive to enter by the narrow door.”

We began this section in Luke chapter 16 where it says, “Many are trying to force entry.” And you know the text in Matthew 11:12 that says, “The violent take it by force.”

It’s a radical decision and may require radical measures to carry out the decision. That word translated “strive” in verse 24 is also translated “agonize.” It literally is a word that is used in competition where the athlete is straining so much that he is sweating profusely. It is going to take some effort to enter by this door. It is a decision that is radical. I’m not speaking of performance, I’m saying that it’s gong to take some strain, some sweat just to make the decision to turn our backs on our own self-reign, our own self-will. And many want to enter by that door and will not because they will not make the radical decision to put Christ in His proper place and allow the reign to take over by way of their surrendering their reign, and allowing His will to come in place of their will. It requires a radical, radical decision and a costly one too.

Go to Matthew chapter 19.

This, once again, is the story of the rich young ruler that begins in verse 16.

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

And you know what the young man’s answer is; he has done that since youth.

The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”

And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”

We covered this parable from the Gospel of John and we saw that the issue with this man was with the selling of his possessions. But Jesus was not giving us a new law about getting rid of all of our goods. He was really saying, “Do I have the right to be Lord?”

Turning our back on self-reign, and self-will makes available to our Lord everything that we are and everything that we have been entrusted with; and that is a costly decision. It is a decision that must be resolute, firm, with perseverance, radical, extreme from the world’s eyes, extreme from the eyes of most even in the church. And it will be costly because from the very beginning you’ve said goodbye. It doesn’t mean get rid of it. It just means that He now reigns over it: families, farms, children, possessions. But there is a promise with it. There is a life to come promise, and there is a present promise too. A promise of more children than you can count, more possessions than you could ever own of your own; houses a hundred fold. He’s promised us houses a hundred fold as our own should he require our home. I’m telling you, it is far better to live out of His purse than our own.

Patti and I have counted beyond a hundred, places where we could go to live were He to require our home. And I’ve had several people who have attended our seminars come up to me and say, “Add ours.” And it works that way. But it is a resolute, radical, costly decision to surrender our reign and our will.

O Lord, I am asking that the ones reading this book make a conscious effort that they intend to face this decision to repent of their reign if it has not yet been done, and to repent of their will and in surrender, repentance and faith, accepting your offer to reign in their stead. Lord, I am believing that from among these will come a people that requires of their neighbors and of the church at large a supernatural explanation for their lives. Give us the courage to make the necessary decisions in surrender because You have made it possible. Lord, we give you thanks and praise Your Holy name. Amen.