Archive for the ‘Cost of Discipleship’ Category

POSSESSING THE REIGN – The Universal Principal

May 27, 2009

Let’s go to Matthew chapter 5. The truth is we could write several books just on the Sermon on the Mount. And I would love to do it. I’d love an opportunity to write extensively on the Sermon on the Mount. It is so rich, it is so full. We are just going to spend a very little time on the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Now the Universal Principal for Possessing the Reign.

So let’s begin in Matthew chapter 5 beginning in verse 1.

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them saying…

 

The Lord’s tricky, you know; He really is. He’s hiding something and He’s tricky about how He’s done it.

I’m here in the Atlanta area because He tricked me. I am! I told the Lord, “Lord, I’ll go anywhere You want me to go……on the Gulf side of Florida.” And we were heading out to Florida. We knew we had been called out to minister and teach out of Indiana. And Patti and I were heading to Florida. And He tricked us, He tricked us. And He will trick you.

There’s a bit of a trick here. You would not know that the Sermon On the Mount was an address immediately after Jesus’ receiving the names of the twelve and that it had particular importance to those who were being called to be apostles unless you read Luke 6. But you won’t read Luke 6 because you don’t like the “woes.” And so the church always hears Matthew 5 without even hearing Luke 6. God did this. Satan didn’t do this. God’s the one hiding it. But you’ve got to want it.

 

Blessed When? –

 

I’m going to just put these “blesseds” down for you to read. By the way, “How blessed are” might be an easier to understand translation, and The New English Bible is very good here by using “How blessed are.” I’m going to put it down and put particular emphasis on a couple of words in each of the “blesseds.” There are nine of them although the last two are so similar that it could be said that they are one. Three are different from the nine and have something in common, and six are also alike in another way. You pick out the differences. Beginning in verse 3 of Matthew 5:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Bless are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

Did you see the differences? It’s good to compare, isn’t it? Six are future rewards and three are present rewards and the title of this chapter is “The Universal Principal For Possessing The Reign,” the ‘in the now’ reign.

We read in Romans chapter 5, verse 17,

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Emphasis added.)

In Adam it is death that reigns. In those who received the gift of righteousness and an abundance of grace, they shall reign in life through Christ Jesus. It is this reigning in life that distinguishes the children of the kingdom from the children of the world. You reign in life. Jesus says in Luke 12:32, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the reign,” His reign. We want to read that, “It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” so we see mansions and streets of gold. That’s not what He’s saying because it’s a present owned promise. It’s a promise of His reign. It is the Father’s good pleasure; it is the Father’s good pleasure to give John or Patti the reign in his heart. It is an offer; it’s not taking against our will, the throne. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give His children the reign. It first and most importantly means His coming into us to take the throne. It’s the Father’s pleasure.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – These are Beatitudes?

May 25, 2009

Luke 6:23

“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich…”

 

Whoa! I thought this was beatitude? You know, with all those “Blessed are…” Here Luke tells the rest of the story.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

“Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.

 

Woops!

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”

 

Oh my! I confess it. I want you to think well of me. I do! I would like you to speak well of me too. But that is such a dangerous trap. I have lived most of my life that way, and if God were to reveal it on a blackboard in front of your eyes, it would show that I still strive. It is always there. I want you to accept me.

That is so dangerous. I will not love you to speak to your pleasure so I have to tell you that it’s hard to walk that way. That’s why there are so many prophets who are speaking what the people want to hear. It’s not the way of Christ. Speaking the truth will not please Adam’s ears. It will not. And if you embrace this gospel as I believe you are, you need to know that you will not be received in some places.

I’ve been asked to leave places. I have. I’ve been standing in the pulpit preaching and asked to leave. I really have. I didn’t understand it at the time. It was hard at the time. I saw it as failure at the time, but it was God’s grace preparing me. God’s grace was preparing me. I confess that I was asked to leave or to shut up because I was wrong. God used that too. There is a “woe” next to the “blesseds,” and we need to see the two.

POSSESSING THE REIGN – A Classroom

May 13, 2009

Now we’re going to take a look at the Beatitudes in Luke chapter 6. We never, ever, ever, ever, ever read the Beatitudes from Luke 6. I encourage you, if you are not wanting to put your friends off be sure and not read the Beatitudes from Luke 6. It’s not a pleasant reading. I would dare say that none of you have ever, ever, ever heard the Beatitudes preached from Luke 6. Let’s begin in verse 20.

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy…”

 

Leap for joy when they persecute you and insult you and slap you in irons and scorn you and name you as evil, jump for joy. We have not believed that God’s reigning in our lives and we are resisting…

Do you really think that anything that is happening in your life is by chance? Do you think that the enemy can do anything to you without permission? If he can, it means you are not the Lord Jesus Christ’s. If you are His, the Lord Jesus Christ’s, been born again, and the enemy comes, it’s by permission.

It was God who brought you up and said, “Have you considered my servant Bob (or Ralph, or Mary; insert your own name here)?” Then the evil one could say, “You remove a little hedge around this person and they’ll buckle.” Well, the point I am making is, why are we resisting the course that God has given us? I’m not talking about our sin. He does not lead us into sin. He does not lead us into temptation, He tells us to pray not to be led into temptation. He doesn’t lead us there where another would lead us. We need to pray against that. But I’m talking about our own thing, our coming out from under the reign. But everything else, finances are out of your control, weather is out of your control, the car breaking down, the air conditioning breaking down, Johnny’s sick, the boss at work, and work!

It’s like a school. This is a class room. It does not begin until we graduate. This is all preparation for entering in. We must begin to see it that way so that we recognize that God is reigning and see that it’s through many tribulations that we must enter into the reign.

The word tribulation literally means pressure from outside. Do you even feel like there is pressure from outside? You wouldn’t feel that way, would you? It is God ordained. And unless you say, “Amen, Lord!” Unless you can in all things give thanks, you’ve not learned the lesson. If you don’t learn the lesson, you may spend ten years in the first grade or third grade when you should have graduated years ago. He’ll keep you there until you learn it. You just go around that mountain again. Until you get it you’ll not move into the promise. It’s taken me a long, long time, I have been around some mountains so many times that they’ve named a street after me. I still see that sign with my name on it on some of these mountains but I think I have finally understood some things and have moved on.

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 – 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.