Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Asking Into the Glory Realm

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
Here is the promise of answered prayed. There is only one condition, but with two parts: 1. Ask. 2. In the Name of Jesus

Many people do not have what they desire of God simply because they do not ask. Others ask and do not receive because they ask amiss (James 4:3). Or as T.D. Jakes says, they ask like a fool.

Now, to ask in Jesus’ name does not mean to tack “in Jesus’ name” on at the end of your request. Rather, it means to ask as He would ask, for His purposes. In order to do this, you need to know Jesus’ heart. You need to get into your relationship with Him — an ongoing, vital, ever-growing relationship. God is a person, not a cosmic ATM.

Whatever you ask in Jesus’ name, Jesus says He will do. That’s the promise, now take a look at the reason: “That the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Notice that Jesus did not say, “That My Father,” but “That the Father.” For He is the Father of all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ. “But as many as received Him [Jesus], to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12). If you have received Jesus, I hope you are exercising that right and are claiming God as your Father.

Whenever you see God spoken of as the Father, pay close attention, because the Scriptures are telling you something about your inheritance in Him. When you ask anything in Jesus’ name, you are interacting with the inheritance God has for all His children.

Now let’s talk about glory. Glory is the manifestation of the greatness and goodness of God. Jesus said, “That the Father may be glorified.” In other words, answered prayer is about the Father’s glory — His greatness and goodness being made known — and it happens when you ask in Jesus’ name. Your prayer becomes an opportunity for His glory to show up in the world. When you pray with the heart of Jesus, you are entering into the glory realm of God.

“That the Father may be glorified in the Son.” You see, Jesus is all about the Father — glorifying and making Him known, saying what He says and doing what He does, pleasing Him in all things. If you are all about Jesus, and Jesus is all about glorifying the Father, then you will be all about glorifying the Father, too.

When you understand what Jesus is all about, begin asking in His name, and whatever you ask He will do. You will be entering into the realm of your inheritance in God and you will see the glory of the Father show up all over your life.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Eyes of Your Understanding

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.
(Ephesians 1:15-18)
This is one of Paul’s powerful pastoral prayers. He was offering it for a young church learning to walk in faith and love. It is a Trinitarian prayer. That is, in it we see the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory and the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus is the basis of our fellowship with God because of His what He came to do for us.
  • The Father of Glory speaks of the family we are now a part of, because of Jesus, and the inheritance of glory we now have in Him. Glory is the manifestation of God’s greatness and goodness. (See A Partnership in the Glory Realm)
  • The Spirit is given to us to impart wisdom and revelation, so that we might know God more and more intimately.
As gifted as Paul was at teaching and preaching, he realized that what these young churches really needed was the wisdom and revelation that comes directly from the Holy Spirit. That is something that happens, not in the mind, but as an activity of the Spirit of God at work in our spirit. Paul calls this an enlightening of the eyes of our understanding, therefore it has to do with seeing in the spirit, seeing the kingdom of God.

The purpose, as Paul continues in Ephesians 1:18, is “that you may know.” This is not theoretical knowledge, merely something to which you give mental assent. No, it is practical, intimate knowledge that comes out of vital relationship, in this case, relationship with God.

There are three things Paul wants the Holy Spirit to reveal to you and me, and they are all about God and how He is at work in us:
  • The hope of His calling (v. 18). It is His calling, His initiative, not ours. He is the caller, we are the callees. He is calling forth something in us — something wonderful — and He will bring it all the way through to completion.
  • The riches us of the glory of His inheritance (v. 18). There is an inheritance at work in us, the inheritance we receive from God, and it is full of His greatness and goodness.
  • The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe (v. 19). Theologians call this the omnipotence of God — His all-powerfulness. That is awesome in itself, but what is even more magnificent is that God applies that exceeding great power on our behalf. It is the exact same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him high above all principality, power, might and dominion, and every name that is named (v. 20-21). This is the power that is at work in us (see Ephesians 3:20).
Father of Glory, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask You to give wisdom and revelation by Your Holy Spirit to the one who is reading this today. That they may know You more and more intimately, experience Your love and grace, the wonderful destiny to which You have called them, the tremendous inheritance which You desire to place within them, and the exceeding greatness of Your mighty power, at work in them to fulfill Your great goodness in their life. That they may see Your kingdom breaking forth into their world. Amen.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Progression of Boldness

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD,
  When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
  For great is the glory of the LORD.
(Psalm 138:4-5)
We are coming into a time when all the kings of the earth shall hear the words of the LORD. Hearing, they shall believe, for faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Believing, they shall rejoice and sing praises to the LORD.

How shall this be? How is it that they shall hear the words of God’s mouth? Through you and me. Notice the words of David in verse three:
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.
Boldness is the answer. Boldness is strength of soul, and it comes from the LORD — all we have to do is ask.

Look at what happened in Acts 4, when Peter and John were admonished by the magistrates to cease preaching the name of Jesus. They gathered with he believers of that city and cried out to the LORD:
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.
(Acts 4:29-31)
Boldness comes from the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is the courage to speak the Word of God without fear, for it is accompanied by the authority of God. As the Word goes forth, all the kings of the earth shall hear and give praise to God, for the glory of the LORD shall be revealed in healing, signs and wonders.

Cry out to God for boldness to speak His Word with great authority. Ask for the filling of the Holy Spirit, and you will receive power for bringing evidence — signs and wonders that demonstrate who Jesus is and why He came. Many will come to the LORD in this hour.

Vocabulary: boldness

boldness—strength of soul (Psalm 138:3). Comes as a filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:29-31).

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Wisdom 24/7

Wisdom is too lofty for a fool;
He does not open his mouth in the gate.
(Proverbs 24:7)
Yes, I’m making a play on words with the address of this Scripture (Proverbs 24:7) and the popular numeric expression for doing something around the clock, that is 24/7 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Wisdom is a 24/7 affair. That is, wisdom is not something you dabble in, it is a way of life. Dabblers are like the blind hog who runs across an acorn every now and then. Sure, you may occasionally find a few cheap morsels that way, but it is wildly undependable — and who wants to be a blind hog, anyway?

“Wisdom is too lofty for a fool.” That is, a fool cannot rise up to that level, he is in over his head. The Hebrew word eviyl is one of the commonest translated as “fool:”
the idea conveyed by which is that of one who is hasty, impatient, self-sufficient, despising advice and instruction, ready to speak and act without thinking, quick to get angry, quarrel and cause strife, unrestrained in his anger, silly, stupid even with brute stupidity. He is associated with “transgression,” with “sin,” with the “scoffer.” [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. “fool.” I’ve left out the Scripture references.]
A fool may be a person who has simply failed to lay hold of moral direction. Or he may be a person who has actively resisted such direction and is living in open rebellion to the way of God. Wisdom is freely available, but the fool either does not seek or does not accept it. He is unwilling to learn and walk in wisdom.

“He does not open his mouth in the gate.” The “gate” signifies the place of decision, authority and responsibility — a place that cries out for wisdom. The fool has absolutely nothing to offer in that venue. His life is a waste and he is headed for destruction.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10). If you want to be a world-changer, ask God and get the wisdom that comes from walking in the fear of the LORD.

Vocabulary: Wisdom

wisdom—(wise-dom) the domain or territory belonging to the wise. Comes by asking God in faith (James 1:5-8).

Vocabulary: Fear of the LORD

fear of the LORD—to live in absolute awe of God and trust Him implicitly, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to treasure His favor above all things and avoid His displeasure at all costs, to take pleasure in His word, His will, His ways and His works and to honor them in everything you do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Vocabulary: mountain-moving

mountain-moving—accomplished by faith, hindered by unforgiveness, meaningless without love.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Strength for the Day of Adversity

If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.
(Proverbs 24:10)
To Hebrew word for “faint” means to slacken, abate, be feeble, fail, forsake, give up. The word for adversity, tsarah, literally means “tightness.” By usage, it refers to an adversary, affliction, anguish, distress, tribulation or trouble. Strength is your firmness, capacity or means. The Hebrew word for “small,” tsar, means “tight” or “narrow.”

In other words, if you give up in the day of tightness, it is only because your capacity to overcome is too tight and your inner resources too narrow.

What to do? Go back a few verse for the answer:
A wise man is strong,
Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.
(Proverbs 24:5)
A wise man is strong and by knowledge increases strength. This word for “strength” in verse 5 is the same as in verse 10. It is exactly what you need to overcome.

So now the answer is simple — if you know how to get wisdom. But that is simple, too. Wisdom comes from the LORD, and if you ask, He will give it freely to you:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will received anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-18)
Once again, it all comes down to faith. Ask in faith, with no doubting. God will freely give you wisdom and He will not reproach at all for asking. He is glad to impart it to you — He wants you to overcome and enjoy the victory.

God gives us wisdom through His Word. “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

God gives us wisdom through His Son. “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Wisdom is about Jesus and the glory realm of God.

God gives us wisdom through the Holy Spirit. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17). Here again, wisdom is about Jesus and the glory realm of God. It is also about inheritance, because Paul is speaking to us about the Father. This inheritance of wisdom leads us to the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Go to God for wisdom. Ask in faith, and you shall receive. You will begin to enter into the glory realm of God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — where wisdom flourishes. With this great wisdom you will begin to increase in strength for the day of adversity. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Partnership in the Glory Realm

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul is writing, not only to a church he has established, but to a community of believers who were active partners with him in the Gospel:
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:15-19)
There was a financial partnership going on here — that is, the Philippians aided Paul’s ministry out of their finances, not just once, but often. Paul actually uses a mercantile metaphor in the phrase “concerning giving and receiving.” The Greek words translated “concerning,” eis logon, are an idiomatic expression referring to the keeping of accounts. “Giving and receiving” is the language of credits and debits.

Because of their financial participation in the ministry of the Gospel, the Philippians were not only giving, but receiving as well. Paul was experiencing an abundance in the area of his ministry needs, and he was believing God to abound toward the Philippians in the same way. Notice the mention of accounts again: “I seek fruit that abounds to your account.” There is nothing we can give to the ministry of the Gospel that will not be repaid many times over. Jesus said,
Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
This is what the Philippians were doing, and an accounting was established. We can see that their gifts were offered in faith, for they were pleasing to God, and without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrew 11:6). They were well-qualified in their giving, so they were well-qualified to receive the abundance and prosperity of God.

But what does this have to do with the glory realm of God?

Simply this. By their righteous use of finances in supporting the ministry of the Gospel, they were in partnership, not only with Paul, but with God Himself. God’s promise was that He would abundantly supply all their need according to His abundance in glory. In other words, by their giving, the Philippians were positioned to experience the glory realm of God and see it manifest in the area of their needs.

When you are in partnership with what God is doing in the world, your every need becomes an opportunity to experience the realm of His glory as they are met with His overflowing supply. Are you positioned to enter this realm and receive this abundance? If you are giving in faith to the work of the Lord, then yes — God shall supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory realm by Christ Jesus.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Does Atheism Mean Freethinking?

Couldn’t help chuckling at a comment in a recent letter to the editor in our community weekly. It was written by a woman who is apparently an atheist, and at one point she blithely equated atheists with freethinkers. Three things strike me about that equation.

First, it is silly and unjust to assume, as is implied by this equation, that only atheists are free to think and all others (by process of elimination, that leaves theists) are not.

Second, it is oxymoronic for an atheist to claim to be a freethinker at all. For if there is no intelligent creator who brought the world into existence for certain plans and purposes, and if we are here only as a result of random, mindless processes, then our thoughts are anything but free. They are merely the result of random chemical processes which happen to occur in our brain pans. If our thoughts are nothing more than random and deterministic chemical reactions in a chaotic field of complex interactions, then they certainly cannot be called “free.”

Third, if there is no purposeful creator, then being a free thinker is neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. Those are ultimately meaningless categories in the absence of a moral God. So if one is an atheist, it is simply a vanity to tout himself/herself as a freethinker. In addition to being a self-refuting proposition, it is a distinction without a difference. It offers no advantage, because advantage implies purpose, and that is something that is lacking in a world with no purposeful creator.

Now, here is what would be required if one wanted to think freely. They would need a sovereign creator, because every effect requires a cause that is sufficient to account for it. The nature of the cause and effect relationship is such that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. So if there is an intelligent effect in the universe (and one cannot meaningfully deny that there is), then there must be an intelligent cause or creator.

In order for the effect to be able to think freely, the ultimate cause of that effect would also have to be capable of thinking freely — hence, it must be sovereign. For the effect to have the capacity to think and choose freely, not only must the cause be able to choose freely, it must also be willing to grant that attribute to the effect.

This, in fact, is what we find in the opening chapters of the Bible. God, a sovereign, purposeful, intelligent cause created man as an intelligent effect and gave him the capacity to speak, think and choose. What is more, the choices are real, and so are the consequences, whether they be pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad. For if the consequences are not real then neither are the choices.

That is what I suspect may be the sticking point for so-called “freethinkers” — that they desire the freedom to think and choose, but find the consequences of evil thoughts and wrong choices to be quite distasteful. But we cannot have freedom of thought or choice without the possibility of unpleasant outcomes.

God has given you the capacity to choose, and He invites you to come think His thoughts with Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Gateway Between Heaven and Earth

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement.
— Patricia Graynemore to Joe Banks,
in Joe Versus the Volcano
(One of my favorite movies.)
When everyone is asleep, the few who are truly awake look like dreamers. Consider the story of Jacob, when he went out from Beersheba toward Haran. Along on the way, he spent the night at a certain place and went to sleep with a stone for his pillow.
Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven, and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. (Genesis 28:12)
The Lord appeared to Jacob and confirmed to him that same promise He had made to Abraham and Isaac, telling him that He would bring him back to this land upon which he was resting, and it would belong to him.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17)
Jacob went to sleep and dreamed reality. We would call it a dream, because we have been asleep for so long that our perspective is all backwards. What we consider to be reality is actually a shadow, but what Jacob experienced that night was the fundamental nature of reality. For the first time in his life he was seeing things as they really are.

When he came back from his dream, he understood something that had been true all along, only he just had not realized it:
Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it!
For a brief moment, the shadows of the natural, sleepy world were peeled back to reveal the underpinnings of the universe, and Jacob was gripped hard by this truth: “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Yes, there is a portal between heaven and earth, and the angels, God’s messengers, are constantly ascending and descending, ministering to the needs of the saints.

Has it not always been this way? In Isaiah’s vision of the LORD in His holy temple, he heard cry of the seraphim, those fiery angelic beings who minister before the presence of the LORD:
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts.
The whole earth is full of His glory.
Think of it. The whole earth is full of the glory of God — and always has been! There has never been a time when this was not so. It is woven into the very fabric of the universe, for the worlds were framed by the Word of God, and are not His words filled with His glory?

We do not realize this because we have been asleep for so long. Jacob had what we call a “dream” and Isaiah had what we call a “vision.” These were powerful moments of lucidity and wakefulness to the way things really are. For an instant they saw the truth, the true truth about everything: God is in this place and His glory fills the whole earth. Though Jacob and Isaiah may have fallen back into sleep, it was not as deep as before, and they carried the truth with them, and this truth changed them forevermore.

Now, fast forward to Jesus at about thirty years old. We are in John 1:43-51. Jesus is beginning His ministry and is calling His disciples. He finds Philip and says, “Follow me.” Philip finds Nathanael and says, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asks — it is a rhetorical question.

“Come and see,” is all Philip answers, and they both go to see Jesus.

Seeing them coming, Jesus says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asks.

Jesus answers, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

“Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel.” Nathanael has suddenly stumbled into a divine moment of lucidity and wakefulness.

Then Jesus declares, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these. Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Though you may not have realized it as you sit there reading this (wherever “there” may be), the LORD is in that place. There is a portal, a gateway between heaven and earth, and you are at “ground zero” with the angels of God ascending and descending all around you. The whole world may be asleep, but you are invited to come and be one of those who live in a state of constant, total amazement — a life of divine lucidity and wakefulness. You begin by understanding that it is all about Jesus, for He is the one upon whom the angels ascend and descend.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Faith From Beginning to End

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
God’s way is always a way of faith, from beginning to end, and faith always comes by revelation. More specifically, it comes by a revelation of God’s righteousness — His way of doing and being right.

Since it is about faith all the way through, let’s examine this revelation a little bit closer. As we discover in this passage, the revelation of God’s rightness is embodied in the Gospel of Christ. The word “gospel” means “good news,” and “Christ” means “Messiah,” or to put it in English, “Anointed One.” This revelation, then, is the good news about Jesus the Anointed One.

Now, in the Bible, the anointing is very significant. Listen to how it is described in Isaiah, concerning those who are delivered from tyranny and oppression:
It shall come to pass in that day that his [the oppressor’s] burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. (Isaiah 10:27, the KJV simply says “the anointing”).
The anointing is the powerful manifestation of God’s goodness and might that completely removes the burden and shatters the yoke of oppression. No wonder Paul calls the Good News of the Anointed One “the power of God to salvation.” Salvation is not merely the forgiveness of sins. It is a total restoration of relationship with God that includes healing, deliverance, freedom and prosperity. Whatever you need to be made whole is found in the Gospel, and it is available “for everyone who believes.”

The good news about Jesus the Anointed One is the revelation of God’s righteousness — His way of doing and being right — brought to bear in your life. It comes, not to condemn you, but to save you and empower you for living. And it is all about faith. That is why Paul declares, “The just shall live by faith.” It is a new way of life, a way of faith and rightness from beginning to end.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Faith Will Work For Anyone

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:27)
Everything in the world is governed by spiritual laws. It all works by spiritual principles. A law, or principle, is something that will work every time for every person and in the same way.

Faith is a spiritual law.

This means that it will work for any and every one who uses it. It will perform exactly the same way every time it is put to work.

Notice that faith excludes boasting. There are two reasons for this:
  1. Faith is a law. Have you ever heard anybody bragging about gravity, as if it were some personal accomplishment? Neither have I. Why? Because gravity is a physical law which always works for everybody in the same way every time. It is the same with the law of faith.
  2. Faith is a gift. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s gift of faith is available to everyone who wants it and will work for anyone who uses it.
Here’s an example. The Bible says that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Just as faith made Abraham right with God, it will do the same for you when you believe God because faith is a spiritual law.

Hebrews 11 is often called the “Hall of Fame of Faith.” That is because it features a litany of many Old Testament heroes who accomplished mighty feats by faith. If you want to see how faith will work for you, study this chapter to see how faith worked for them. Faith will work for you in the same way it worked for them.

Now, we may not perform the same exploits as these Old Testament saints because desires to do things in us that pertain to these times in which we live. But the principles of faith will work exactly the same for you as it did for them. Sometimes we may fail to use faith properly, or to remain firm in our faith, but faith itself will never fail us.

Grab onto the principle of faith. Believe God’s promises and see how they will change your world. Faith is a spiritual law that will work for anyone, every time.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Good Man Leaves an Inheritance

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. (Proverbs 13:22)
Here is wisdom for fathers, although that is not what the writer calls them here. He simply says, “a good man.” But two things tip us off that this good man is, in fact, a father:
  • He has children.
  • He leaves an inheritance.
Okay, maybe the first one is an obvious mark of fatherhood, but the second is not so obvious. At least, not so obvious to us today because we have forgotten something very important about fatherhood: The essence of fatherhood is inheritance.

That is, a father always passes something on to his children. Some pass on little more than DNA. Others pass on character traits, whether good or bad. Some pass on inheritance without vision, which is foolish. Others pass on wisdom and vision as part of the inheritance.

God’s way in the world is inheritance. We discover this in the Creation account, for God created every living thing to yield “after its kind.” That is how they fill the earth — not created from scratch each time, but each multiplying the inheritance and increasing it with each generation. Adam and Eve were to be fruitful and multiply the image of God and fill the earth with His glory.

An inheritance is not for squandering. That is what happens when there is no vision, no revelation of the heart of the father (and of the Father). No, an inheritance is to be received and enlarged by faith and wisdom, and then is passed on to the next generation.

How can you tell when you have effectively passed your inheritance onto your children? Proverbs 13:22 gives us the answer. You can tell you have been successful in passing it on to your children when you see that your children have passed it onto theirs.

Ah, now we see how much wisdom it takes to be a father, a good man. Now, “father” and “good man” should not be restricted only to the male of the species. Gender issues aside, women can also be “fathers” and “good men,” for all of us, male and female, are created to multiply the inheritance of God upon the earth, to be “fathers” in the Spirit.

That is one reason why, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh (as at Pentecost in Acts 2), it is the sons and daughters who prophesy. Even more interesting in regard to inheritance is that, though “your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). You see, the old men are not reminiscing about the “good old days.” They are dreaming dreams. That is, they are oriented toward the future. They are not remembering what the inheritance used to be, they are dreaming about how it will multiply and what it will become. They are fathers, and they are good men.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children because he is oriented toward the future. He is dreaming dreams for the sake of future generations. His inheritance becomes a manifestation of faith, patience and expectation, to bless even his children’s children.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

How to Sow Generously

Sow generously, reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6). That is how it is both in the natural and in the spirit. It is God’s way, ordained from the beginning — everything multiplying after its kind.

So how do you sow generously?

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul offers the example of the believers at Macedonia who, even out of an abundance of persecution and a poverty of assets, gave freely of their funds to Paul’s collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem (v. 1-4). In the midst of such dire circumstances, how did they ever manage to be so generous to the work of the Lord in others?

Paul gives the answer in verse 5: “But they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”

First they gave themselves to the Lord! They held back nothing from God but committed themselves fully and wholly to Him. That was their priority.

When you give yourself to the Lord, everything now belongs to Him, both your assets and your liabilities — everything! For He is ready, willing and able to multiply your assets. The Bible says that He gives seed to the sower and bread for food, but also that He will supply and multiply the seed for sowing (2 Corinthians 9:10). What is more, God is ready, willing and able to take care of all your liabilities, as well. When you belong to Him, so do all your needs and debts. They are now God’s and He always pays His bills.

God always takes care of His own. Now you are coming into position to sow generously.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
When you give yourself to the Lord first, your purpose becomes clear and your heart begins to line up with God’s. Your heart becomes set on giving, because God is a giver. When your heart is prepared, it is no longer a matter of giving grudgingly or out of some sort of rule-keeping. God does not keep a score-card, He looks for what’s going on in the heart. That’s where the action is.

God loves a cheerful giver. The Greek word is hilaron, which is where we get our word “hilarious.” It means to be ready, willing and quick to give. God is ready, willing and able to do in your life everything that needs to be done for you. He is also looking for those who are ready and willing to partner with Him in the work He is doing in the lives of others. When we are ready and willing, God will make us able, and He gives us this promise:
God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
There is a great freedom that comes when you realize that God will take care of you completely in every situation.

First, give yourself to the Lord, then you will be ready, willing and able to sow generously into what God is doing in others. Next, purpose in your heart what you will give and set it aside. Don’t hold back. Trust God to not only supply your seed, but to multiply it, as well. Then have fun with it. Get happy about it, because you are stepping into a wonderful partnership with God. You will discover that you just can’t wait to give.

Friday, May 13, 2005

How to Reap Generously

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6 NKJV)

Remember this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. (2 Corinthians 9:6, The Amplified Bible)
How do you want to reap? A. Sparingly and grudgingly? B. Generously and with blessings?

If you answered with A, hit yourself on the head with a rubber mallet, and when you come to, perhaps you will think differently about it.

Sane and sharp people will answer with B. They want to reap generously and with blessings. That’s what we call a “no-brainer.”

How do you reap generously and with blessings?

The answer is clear and simple: Sow generously and with blessings. For as you sow, that is exactly how you will reap.

And yet, strangely enough, there are people who sow sparingly and grudgingly but expect to reap generously and with blessings. They have not yet believed the truth — it has not yet been settled in their hearts.

Everything is about faith, even our giving. If you truly believe that we will reap bountifully, then that is exactly how you will sow, gladly and willingly — even expectantly.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Algebra of God’s Will

Here is what I call the algebra of God's will, based on the truth that God is love, and the prayer Jesus taught us: Kingdom of God, come. Will of God, be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • God is love.
  • The will of God is being done in heaven.
  • The will of God is the love of God.
  • The love of God is being done in heaven.
  • The kingdom of God is the love of God being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Under God’s Circumstances

Some Christians talk about their circumstances as if those circumstances have the final word on their life. “Well, under the circumstances …,” they say, as if that settles the question. It does not—there is more to be said. God always has the last word, and for believers, it is always a good word.

You see, God has circumstances of His own. He has a plan and a purpose, a will and desire. He has a kingdom, a rule and a reign. He invites us to partner with Him in it all, and Jesus taught us how to do that.

We pray:
  • Kingdom of God, come!
  • Will of God, be done!
Are there any circumstances that can stand up to that? I don’t think so.

Get up under God’s circumstances by getting into agreement with His Word. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (God’s way of doing and being right) and everything will be taken care of.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Prayers Rising Like Balloons—With Ribbons

Last night in Life Group (small group, home group, cell group, care group) we were worshipping the Lord, singing a song about how every nation, tribe and tongue would come and bow before Him in worship.

It came to me that the Lord has been preparing the soil for that for years, preparing every tongue to sing His praise. He has been sanctifying and anointing every language for worship, perfecting praise in every tongue.

The way He has been doing this is through the gift of tongues, a.k.a. praying in tongues. When we pray in tongues, we are praying in the languages of men and angels. Though there are thousands of languages and tens of thousands of dialects, I believe that the Church has been given every one in a prayer language, that is, in a tongue not learned, but given by God.

At that point in the meeting, we all began to pray to the Lord in tongues, moved by the thought that God was using those prayers to prepare the soil of the nations of the world to receive the Word of the Gospel.

When our prayer time ended, Sheila, one of the women in our group, said that, while we were praying, she saw our prayers rise like balloons toward heaven. Each balloon had a colored ribbon. Although she did not know what all the colors represented, she knew that some were for salvation, some for forgiveness, some for healing.

Your prayers, even from the solitude of your own little room or prayer closet, are changing the world. Even when you do not know exactly what you are praying, as in the gift of tongues, your Spirit-led prayers are accomplishing more than you could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

How Can You Know God's Will For You?

Here are some things that are true of everyone who knows God, who has entered into a personal relationship with Him through faith in Jesus Christ:
  1. You have the revelation of God's Word. The Word of God reveals the will of God. God has made wonderful promises for every area of life, and they are all found in His Word. When we know His Word, we discover His will. Then we can pray with confidence, knowing that God will keep His promises and perform His will (1 John 5:14-15).
  2. You have the Holy Spirit living in you. The Holy Spirit, by whom we are born again through faith in Jesus, lives in us and communicates with our Spirit. He is here to show us the things that are about Jesus — His life, His teaching, His works and His ways—and to reveal to us the heart and mind of God. Paul said, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
  3. God has a plan to renew your mind and transform your life, and He does it through His Word by His Spirit. Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Let your mind be renewed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, and you will discover what the will of God is for you — and you will be quite excited about it, because God's will for you is good.
  4. You can always ask God for wisdom and He will gladly give it to you, without scolding or rebuking you. James said, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the sea" (James 1:5-6).
Ask God for wisdom, and then trust Him to give to you. It will always be in agreement with His Word, and the Holy Spirit will give you an inner witness of peace about it.

Monday, May 9, 2005

Reaching Into the Hour of Glory

Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come. (John 2:4)
A few days after Jesus began choosing His disciples, they were invited to a wedding feast in Cana, in the region of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there and, when the wine ran out, she said to Him, “They have no wine” (v. 3).

Jesus answered, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me?” While this may sound to modern ears to be an abrupt answer, and one full of rebuke, it was not taken as such in that time and culture. Rather, He was saying, respectfully, “Yes, but what business is that of ours?” Then He added, “My hour has not yet come.”

The hour was soon coming when Jesus’ public ministry would begin and miracles would flow like wine  — but this was not yet that time. The hour of His glory was yet to be revealed.

No matter. Time is no problem for one who has faith, as Mary did. Seeing into the realm of the Spirit, she reached forward into that future hour in order to meet the need of the present. Then, with full confidence that the present need would be met by the future glory, she instructed the servants of the feast, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (v. 5). And so it was done.

For those who know how to see into the realm of the Spirit, the continuum of time and space present no problem. We are not bound by them when we learn how to exercise faith and pull on the eternal glory of God.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Time is No Problem

It has often been said that there is no distance in prayer. The substantiation for this is the account of how Jesus healed the seriously ill servant of a Roman centurion. The centurion, having a solid understanding about authority, realized that Jesus did not even need to trouble Himself to physically go to the house where the ailing servant lay — “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). Seeing the great faith of this man, Jesus gladly spoke the word and the servant was immediately healed.

Distance is no problem when we are talking about things of the Spirit.

Einstein showed as that space and time are not two different things, but two different perceptions of the same thing. This is known as the time-space continuum. On a simpler level, we understand the basic formula r x t = d, Rate times Time equals Distance. If I am traveling at a rate of sixty miles per hour, then in an hour’s time, I will have traveled sixty miles. That’s a no-brainer.

If it is true that there is no distance in prayer — and it is — then what does that say about time? If distance is no problem for things of the Spirit, and if time and space are actually part of the same continuum, then it follows that time is also no problem for the realm of the Spirit. Hmmmmm, let’s open up that can of worms and go fishing.

The Essence of Faith

In the Bible, faith is not the general ability to believe anything and everything. Biblical faith is much more precise than that and it has a particular basis: Faith is believing what God has said.

It is not positive thinking. Positive thinking is about what we can do. Faith is about what God can do. More precisely, it is about what God has promised to do in His Word.

Faith is not theoretical, it is concrete. That is, it is not just believing what God can do, but what God will do because He has promised to do so. For example, it is not just believe that God can provide, it is believing that will provide for me, because that is His promise. So faith is personal — between us and God.

Faith is dynamic, not static. It is not merely something we possess but something we use. It is living and active.

The essence of faith is believing what God has said. Even God uses faith — He always believes what He says and expects to see it happen.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Faith Comes From God

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22)
“Have faith in God.” A more literal rendering of the Greek text is “Have faith of God.” This reading is supported by a number of translations, including Young’s Literal Translation, the Modern King James Bible, the Literal Translation of the Bible, and The Worrell New Testament.

Adolphus S. Worrell, Baptist preacher and professor of Hebrew and Greek, explains:
Have the faith of God; translators generally render this, “Have faith in God;” but, if this had been the thought, it would have been easy to have expressed it in the Greek. Faith originates with God; and those who have real faith have His faith; the same perhaps as “the faith which is of the Son of God.” (Gal. 2:20) This mountain: nothing short of the faith of God can remove mountains; but His faith, operating through His obedient children, can accomplish this, (Acts 3:6; 9:34). (Worrell, A.S. The Worrell New Testament, 1904)
W. B. Godby’s Translation of the New Testament also supports “have the faith of God.” Godby was a nineteenth century Holiness preacher. In his commentary on Mark 11:22, he says, “There is a difference between faith in God and the ‘faith of God,’ the latter being a perfect faith, admitting no admixture of doubt.”

John Gill was a Baptist preacher of the eighteenth century. He pastored the Strict Baptist Church, which later became the Metropolitan Tabernacle pastored by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Here is what Gill said this about this passage:
“Have faith in God; or “the faith of God,” so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; that is, exercise, and make use of that faith which has God for its author, which is the work of God, and of his operation, a free grace gift of his; and which has God for its object; and is supported by his power, and encouraged by his goodness, truth, and faithfulness: and so the Arabic version renders it, “believe in God”; not only that such things may be done, as the drying up a fig tree, but those that are much greater. (Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Adam Clarke, early nineteenth century Methodist preacher, said:
Have faith in God — echete pistin Theou is a mere Hebraism: have the faith of God, i.e. have strong faith, or the strongest faith, for thus the Hebrews expressed the superlative degree; so the mountains of God mean exceeding great mountains—the hail of God, exceeding great hail, etc. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)
A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, supports this reading, as well, in The Gospel of Healing:
Jesus does not say to you, “Have great faith yourself.” But He does say, “Have the faith of God.” God's faith is all-sufficient, and you can have it and use it. You can take Christ for your faith as you took Him for your justification, for your victories over temptation, for your sanctification. You may then rest in the assurance that your faith has not failed to meet the demands of the promise, for it has been Christ's own faith.
Every one of us can have the faith that comes from God. In Ephesians, Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). To the Romans, he said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10.17).

There is a faith that comes from God, and a faith that comes from the world. The faith that comes from the world teaches us to trust in ourselves and to be moved by circumstances. It conditions us to be directed by our own understanding and to rely on our thoughts, emotions and senses. The faith that comes from God brings us into total dependence upon Him, leaning fully on His Word and the rich promises He has given us. This is the Bible kind of faith. It comes from God and it always directs us back to Him.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Calling Things As Though They Were

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:16-17)
God calls those things that are not as though they were. That is how the heavens and the earth got here in the first place. Once they were not, now they are—because God called them as though they were. The worlds were framed by the Word of God (Hebrews 11:3).
That’s how God works.

When God made man, He made him in the image of God. He formed Adam from the earth and then puffed the breath of life into him, and Adam became a living being. An ancient rabbinic commentary says that Adam became a “speaking spirit.”

God is Spirit, a speaking spirit. The Bible says that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek word for “inspiration” is theoneustos and literally means “God-breathed.” God breathes out His Word.

When God breathes out His Word, things happen. They come into being because He calls them by the breath of His mouth. At the Creation, for example, when darkness was upon the face of the deep, God called for light. Light came into being and solved the problem of darkness.

Now, the breath of God is one. The same breath He breathed into Adam’s nostrils is the same breath by which He breathes out His Word and causes things to be.

After God created Adam, He set him to work. He brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them (Genesis 2:19). With the breath of God, Adam was to breath forth words and name the animals. By naming them, he called forth what they were to be and do. Another way to say this is that he called things which did not exist (the purpose and destiny of the animals) as though they were already in existence. That is how faith works.

God did not tell Adam what to call the animals, He simply gave Adam the breath and the authority to name them and call forth their destinies. Then He stepped back to observe and see what Adam would call into being.

God operates in the world by the Word of His breath, and that is how He created man to operate as well. In Romans 4, we see that God called Abraham, which means “Father of Multitudes,” even though, at the time, Abraham was the father of none. But God was calling things that are not as though they were, and He expected Abraham to come into agreement with His word, this name Abraham, Father of Multitudes. So whenever Abraham or Sarah spoke forth this name, they were calling things that did not exist as though they already did. They were not speaking lies or denying facts, they were calling for things to come forth. The Word of God cannot fail—whether it comes from God’s own mouth or from ours—so the things that Abraham called eventually showed up in the natural.

God has created you and me to call things which do not exist as though they did. So explore the Word of God to discover the promises of God and what His heart is all about. Then open up your mouth and start calling them forth in agreement with Him. It does not matter whether you can see them, feel them or experience them in any way. Just keep calling them as if they already existed, and they will eventually show up. For everything must eventually line up with the Word of God.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Yahweh the Portion of My Inheritance and My Cup

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance
  and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
  The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
(Psalm 16:5-6)
Here is a wonderful name of God: Yahweh the Portion of My Inheritance and My Cup. The name LORD (all caps) is the Hebrew Yahweh, the personal name of God, the name by which He reveals Himself to His people in covenant. The words You are are in italics, signifying that they are not in the original text but were added by the translators).

A “portion” is that which has been weighed out. The Hebrew word for “inheritance” used here refers to a portion that is received by allotment, an inheritance. It comes from a word that literally means “smooth.” Smooth stones were used for making allotments, i.e., drawing lots, and came to refer to an inheritance which is received by allotment, or lottery.

By the double use of “portion” and “inheritance,” David, the psalm writer, is saying, “LORD, You are the Portion of all portions to me.”

We might think of it this way: When we know the LORD, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have won the highest lottery. We have hit the jackpot of all jackpots. We have received the highest and greatest reward there is to receive.

A cup is a holder. God is a cup for us. He holds everything in our life together and fills us with abundance. In the Shepherd Psalm, David said, “My cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5).

After calling God “The Portion of My Inheritance and My Cup” David then says, “You maintain my lot.” The word for “maintain” means to obtain, sustain, retain, maintain. It is not about what we do, but about what God does. What He begins in us, He brings through to completion.

“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” The lines are the boundary lines of what we receive in the LORD, and the field they describe is delightful, a place of fruitfulness and abundance.

“Yes, I have a good inheritance.” The word for “good” used here literally means “glisten.” Our inheritance in the LORD is good — bright and shining, and fair to look upon. It is delightful and very desirable.

Finally, notice that David is speaking in the present tense. The inheritance we have in the LORD is not something we will receive someday when we die and go to heaven. No, it is an inheritance we possess now. It is given to us for this life.

If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, you have won the lottery. You are now in possession of the portion of all portions. Take time to reflect on the wonderful inheritance you have in the LORD. Look to Him to maintain and take care of you in all things. Enjoy the Lord, your portion and your cup, now and forever.

Monday, May 2, 2005

Prospering in Heaven and Earth

Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said; “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” (2 Kings 19:15)
God is the Maker of heaven and earth. Heaven and earth are made up of the same stuff — the Word of God. The Bible says,
By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3).
Not only are heaven and earth made up of the same substance, they both operate by the same principle — the Word of God. When darkness was upon the face of the earth, God spoke His Word and said, “Light be!” and there was light upon the earth (Genesis 1).

Some people study only the earth, and they understand neither heaven nor earth. Then they propagate their ignorance. Others study heaven and think it has nothing to do with the earth, and so they fail to live effectively in either realm. The wise will study heaven with an eye toward understanding the earth, and they will prosper in both realms.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

The Benefits of Praying in the Spirit

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. (1 Corinthians 14:2)

He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. (1 Corinthians 14:4)

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 20)

What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. (1 Corinthians 14:15)
When we pray in the Spirit, our worship is inspired because the Holy Spirit leads us in perfect praise. Worship is a spiritual activity, that is, a Holy Spirit directed activity. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).

When we pray in the Spirit, He reveals mysteries to us (1 Corinthians 14:4). The Holy Spirit takes the things that belong to Jesus and reveals them to us. (John 16:15)

When we pray in the Spirit, we are not limited by our own understanding because the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:11).

When we pray in the Spirit, we give thanks to God well (1 Corinthians 14:17).

When we pray in the Spirit, our prayers are focused because the Holy Spirit is not distracted.

When we pray in the Spirit, our prayers are pure because the Holy Spirit has pure motives.

When we pray in the Spirit, our prayer is effective and powerful because the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray.

When we pray in the Spirit, we are built up, because the Holy Spirit is the one who strengthens our faith. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God, and the Word of God comes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Lay hold on God’s great gift of praying in the Spirit and let Him bring fresh fire to your prayer life.