Tag Archives: faith

Faith is a Narrow Perspective

For many years I prayed, “God, help me see things, people, opportunities, and situations the way You see them.” I thought that sounded like a pretty good prayer until the Lord interrupted me one day and said, “Jack, I don’t want you to pray that way anymore. Instead, pray that you see things the way I want you to see them.”

At first, I thought, “Isn’t that the same thing?” But He quickly showed me that it wasn’t. Man is not capable of seeing the way He sees. God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours that the difference is immeasurable.

1 Samuel 16:9 (NKJV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Isaiah 55:9 (NKJV) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

There is a way that God wants us to see everything and everyone. We cannot see how God sees because we view life from the filter of two opposing natures. The fallen nature we inherited from Adam and the nature of God that we received at the new birth. Living in this incredible paradox demands that we adapt to seeing things from a particular perspective called faith.

Faith is a perspective, not a tool to get our needs met. Faith is a narrow way of seeing, thinking, believing, and speaking. Faith is the perspective that fills our entire being with light and is formed in love and devotion to God. Faith is simple trust in God.

Matthew 6:22-24 (NKJV) The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good (single), your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad (evil), your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

The word “good” in verse 22 is the Greek word “haplous.” It means single. It is used only one other time in Luke 11 in his account of this same passage. The word “bad” in verse 23 is the Greek word “poneros” and is always translated as “evil, wicked, or wicked one.” Why is this important? Because anything other than having a faith perspective is evil.

Paul said in Romans 14:23, “whatever is not from faith is sin.”

If we do not see from a faith perspective, we see things from an evil perspective. What we look at illuminates our entire being with what we see.       

Without this narrow perspective, it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

Thank you for visiting Truth Pressure Ministries. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

Take the Legalist Test.

   Is it possible to be a legalist and not even know it? Why do Christians fall prey to performance-based religion? Are you convinced that God is mad at you and that the only way you can make Him happy is by being a better person? Are you convinced that your obedience and performance have some bearing on your salvation? Are you tired of trying harder because it seems that trying harder is never good enough?

Legalism is a system of thought where rules, expectations, and regulations promise God’s love in return for human effort and obedience. Legalism is an attempt by man to justify God’s Love. Under the cloak of Christianity, legalism offers salvation and God’s Love as a reward for performance. Legalism is a toxic virus, spread by religion and best treated by God’s unconditional and amazing grace.

SO, IF YOU ARE BRAVE, AND PREPARED TO BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF, TAKE THE LEGALIST TEST AND SEE HOW YOU DO.

YOU MIGHT BE A LEGALIST IF:

1) God’s love for you depends on what you do, instead of who you are.

2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in your congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.

3) You believe that if you don’t tithe, your other 90% will be cursed.

4) You try hard to obey God and it irritates you that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication and commitment that you have.

5) You fall short because you don’t have enough faith, or you haven’t prayed enough, or because you just need to be a better person.

6) God is predisposed to be angry with you because you are a sinner and He knows that YOU know you can do better.

7) Your sense of spiritual well-being is tied to a Christian leader and their opinion, or membership in your church rather than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

8) You tell your children not to do something in church or around other Christian families that you allow in your home.

9) You believe that what people wear, hairstyles, piercings, or tattoos, is a clear indication of that person’s spirituality and character.

10) After being around Christians for a while you feel drained because you are weary of putting up a false front.

11) When you happen to miss a service or activity of your church, even if it is a valid excuse, you feel guilty.

12) If your ability to receive a blessing from God, such as healing, depends on how you have been performing.

13) If you see Christ as more of a judge than a Savior.

14) If you believe God’s love for you depends on how much love you have shown Him.

15) If you know God’s law but not God Himself.

16) If you think you MUST take a Sabbath once a week.

         So, how did you do? Did you find some of these comments describing you? Legalism has been a danger to the church from the very start. It is addressed in the New Testament repeatedly and the book of Galatians is written, almost entirely, to address this point.

          We are all susceptible to legalism and we must ever guard ourselves against falling into this trap of wrong thinking. Wrong thinking produces wrong believing. Wrong believing, over time, creates a stronghold that the enemy can hide behind to maintain our deception. Make no mistake, legalism is deception.

          We must all learn the difference between legalism and disciplined obedience. If we fall into condemnation when we miss the mark, we could be slipping into legalism. The only sure way to stay free from legalism is to pursue intimacy with God through prayer and His word. Having a growing healthy relationship with God is our best protection against any kind of deception.

          Freedom from legalism will only come from a healthy relationship with our Father. The greatest thing Jesus did was restore our ability to come before God without guilt, condemnation, or shame. He changed our identity from sinners to sons and daughters.

          God’s love is unconditional. Christ has redeemed us from every curse of the law. We are to live a life of the Spirit, laying down our lives daily and taking up God’s agenda, being an instrument of righteousness and an expression of His image….Just like Jesus. This is the path to freedom from legalistic thinking.

          Some believers think that having a sin consciousness will help them avoid sin. If they think about their wrongdoing, feel the shame of it, and carry the guilt of it, then it will deter them from repeating those things. That is purely Legalistic. That didn’t even work in the Old Covenant. At best sin consciousness only leads to more sinning!

         What we focus on we move towards. What we are conscious of, and what we think about, is the reality we create. No wonder we struggle so much with sin when our mind is constantly focused on it.

         Why don’t we try focusing on righteousness? On Christ’s perfect gift of righteousness that He has imputed to us. When we focus on righteousness, grace comes on the scene and moves us towards right thinking, right believing, and right living. It builds faith and destroys the enemy’s strongholds.

         Legalism produces sin consciousness. It is a result of having a law-based, legalistic mind. Romans 3 says that by the law is the knowledge of sin. When our mind is law based we will live sin conscious. The focus will be on our flesh, our ability, and our self. Being “self-focused” is in direct opposition to the love of God.

         We can’t overcome sin this way? Grace is the answer! Grace is divine influence. As we focus on Christ we open the door for God to influence us. We place our hearts on the great potter’s wheel and He begins molding us and shaping us into His image. This is faith. This is how we walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This is how we make a draw on His strength and ability Instead of struggling to overcome sin in our own strength.

         We should focus on our relationship with Him, and practice spending time with Him. Focus filling our hearts and minds with the word of God.

         He has forgiven all our sins, past present, and future. He has made us perfectly righteous with His own righteousness and no sin can make us unrighteous. He has brought us completely out of a law-based relationship with Him and into a grace-based relationship. His love and acceptance of us are not based on our performance but on Christ’s perfect performance on our behalf. We have a new nature, God’s very own nature. We are sons, not sinners. Our consciousness of Him, and His righteousness in us, will grow to a place that crushes our consciousness of sin and delivers us from legalistic thinking.

Our focus should always be on our relationship, not our works. A robust and healthy relationship with the Lord produces the fruit of holiness in our lives without us struggling to produce it in our own efforts. Romans 6 says that we have been set free from sin and made righteous in God’s sight. If we can believe that truth it will produce the fruit of holiness.

Romans 6:18-22 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

If we have truly been forgiven, then we should wake up every morning and live forgiven! If we can learn to make that one adjustment, we will flourish in the Kingdom of God and become everything Jesus paid for.

Thank you for visiting Truth Pressure Ministries. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

Leadership Development for Christians

           Not all followers of Christ are qualified to lead and not all potential leaders are qualified to lead right now. Being a leader requires two main things, the development of a Christ-like character and the development of leadership skills. Character without leadership skills causes frustration and discontent from the body and with other leaders. Skill without character produces animosity and mistrust from the body and other leaders. Both situations can set the leader up for failure and hinders the growth, development, and fruitfulness of the ministry.

            Developing both character and skill ensures the leader will become a pillar in the church and not a stumbling block.

fruit5

Character

            Character reflects nature. It is the nature of God being expressed in our lives that is the ultimate goal. This applies to all believers, not just leaders. The character and nature of God are what all leaders are leading others to. We can’t lead another person to a place we have never been. God’s nature must be established and confirmed in a believer before they are qualified to lead.

Love is God’s Nature

1st John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1st John 4:16 (NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1st Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

            According to John, love isn’t just the nature of God, love is the embodiment of God. God IS love.

           In 1st Corinthians 13, we see how love behaves. These behaviors must be developed and continually strengthened in a leader so that God’s nature can be evident to all. Embracing love (the nature of God) will bear the fruit of the Spirit. The development of these behaviors doesn’t come through striving and trying to “be better,” They are developed by intimacy with God and a growing closeness in relationship with Him.

Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

            In Matthew 12:33 it tells us that a tree is known by its fruit, so let’s take a closer look at the fruit that should be hanging from the tree of a believer.

1) Love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. A leader lays down his life for others, sacrificing himself in favor of another. It should never be about you.

2) Joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy not only brings strength to the leader but to those around him. A good leader enjoys what he is doing and others enjoy working with him.

3) Peace. Peacemakers create an atmosphere that promotes healthy relationships with God and others. They avoid unfruitful confrontations and diffuse strife and contentious situations. A leader will find common ground to build on and will magnify the positive, not the negative.

4) Patience. Patience makes room for others to grow in their gifts and calling, providing a safe environment that allows them to make mistakes without the danger of condemnation and shame. Patience doesn’t just see the individual’s current state but has a view of what that individual will look like when completely submitted to God.

5) GoodnessRomans 2:4 tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Being good to people even when it costs you, and doing the right thing even when it is not convenient causes people to turn to God and away from self-centered living.

6) Gentleness. 2nd Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.

Being mindful of proper etiquette and the emotional state of those you are dealing with, using kind words, and expressing genuine concern for the individual creates a platform to minister from and gives you the influence to speak effectively into the lives of others.

7) Faithfulness. 1st Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

Leadership is stewardship from God. Being steadfast, reliable, honorable, and consistent, speaks volumes about the heart and character of the leader.

8) Meekness. Meekness is not being a pushover, it is the humility of controlled strength. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man on all the earth and yet he was the one used most on the earth at that time. There is a connection between meekness and a vessel that God can use mightily.

9) Self-control. This can’t be accomplished without a healthy prayer life. You don’t have the ability to control yourself without the Father’s help. The more intimate time you spend with God when no one else is looking, the easier self-control will be. A robust prayer life creates a constant awareness of God that makes it easy to resist temptation and make the right decisions.

Question: As a leader, are you stronger in your character or your skillset?

Question: Do you, or did you have strong leaders to mentor you and help you develop as a leader?

Question: What are you a steward over right now, and what would you like to be a steward over in the future?

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank your faithfulness?

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

Qualifications for Christian Leadership

          There are many great teachings available on Christian leadership. However, in this teaching, we will focus on what I believe to be the basic essentials needed for a successful culture of leadership within a ministry. Leadership is not a position as much as it is a perspective that dictates how we think, act and make decisions.

“Leadership Is Not Position, It Is A Perspective.”

          The greatest Christian leaders have a plan for disciplined spiritual growth and developing skillsets that enable them to be more effective while mentoring and equipping others for the work of the ministry. Great ministries are built on the shoulders of great leaders. Great leaders are not born, they are developed and committed to the development process.

Choosing Leaders

          The New Testament has some established guidelines for choosing leaders and if we don’t have these standards in place first we undermine our entire leadership culture.

          I see many churches that hold their senior leaders to a high standard of character and behavior but they have very low standards when choosing other leaders. It is not fair to put a person in a place of leadership that requires strong character when their character has not yet been developed. I see it all the time. A person is chosen for a position of leadership simply because of availability or obvious gifting, or even worse, people are placed in positions of leadership because of their financial contributions to the ministry with no consideration of character or maturity. It is a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

Here are a few questions to consider before choosing leaders:

  • Is the individual a devoted follower of Christ?
  • Have they proven themselves faithful or are they recent converts?
  • Do they pursue Jesus passionately and have an obvious intimate relationship with God?
  • Do they have a robust prayer life?
  • Does the individual have a good working knowledge of God’s Word?
  • Are they able to encourage people to take steps to spiritual maturity?
  • Do they possess self-control?  
  • Are they gentle, hospitable, upright, holy, and disciplined?
  • Is their life an example to the flock?

          If you look at this list and fall under conviction, it’s ok. Maybe this applies to you or a person you have placed in a leadership role and you realize you have missed the mark. Don’t fret. Correction is a part of leadership, receiving it and giving it. We will address these questions in light of scripture and provide a roadmap to develop a strong leadership team in future teachings.

Qualifications For Leadership

          Understand that God has a prescribed method of choosing leaders. It is His way of determining who is and is not qualified to lead. Being mindful of this and honoring this process inspires faith, produces strength, promotes success, prevents problems, and establishes structure and boundaries. If we adopt any other method of vetting leaders we subvert God’s plan and set ourselves up for unwanted challenges. 

            Let’s start with qualifications for Deacons and Elders and define their roles in the church. The roles of Deacons and Elders encompass all of the qualified leadership positions in the Church. All others should be in a position of being groomed and mentored for these offices.

Elders:

            Elders are the spiritual leaders of the church. They provide general oversight on organizational, financial, and spiritual matters. Elders can be 5 fold ministry gifts that have matured in their gifting and have proven themselves faithful in ministry, serving under the authority of other leaders. Elders are not limited to 5-fold ministry gifts but should live a life in such submission to Christ that they can readily embody the expression of the 5-fold ministry at any given moment. They understand that Christ is the embodiment of the 5-fold ministry and if Christ chooses to move through them as a Prophet, an Evangelist, or any other gift, they yield to that expression.

            Leaders don’t find their identity in the office that they occupy, but in Christ alone. In other words, Apostle, Bishop, Pastor, or Teacher is not who I am, it is how I serve. A seasoned Elder will wake up every day and be willing to serve others in whatever capacity God chooses. Without a heart to serve, one is unqualified to lead.

          Elders understand that they exist to love and serve others, that their life is not their own and that selfishness is never an option.

Deacons:

            The biblical requirements of deacons are very similar to that of elders, but there is a clear distinction between the offices. The role of a deacon may include a variety of services. In general, deacons function as servants, ministering to the body in practical ways. They may serve as a lead usher, oversee the benevolence outreach, lead a home group, or lead the hospitality department.

             No matter how they serve, scripture is clear that the office of a deacon is a rewarding and honorable calling in the church and a necessary role for elders to be able to function in their office. The ministry of deacons is vital to the success of the elders, it frees them up to focus on prayer, studying God’s word, and pastoral care. It is a great example of how one body part depends on the other. Deacons are Elders in training.

Leadership requirements for Elders:

Titus 1:5-9 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

1Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Leadership requirements for Deacons:

1 Timothy 3:8-13 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

           These scriptures are not overly complicated, in fact, they are very straightforward and leave no room for misinterpretation. I believe God made it simple for us so we wouldn’t mess it up. If we deviate from these simple guidelines and place an unqualified elder or deacon in a leadership role we have created a recipe for problems.

            Placing an unqualified leader in one of these roles devalues the office in the eyes of the flock as well as the other leaders. These offices should be held in high esteem and the people in them should be honorable, above reproach, and worthy of respect. This creates structure and boundaries within the body of Christ that are clearly defined and easily understood. It shows people that there is a defined structure of authority that is from God and sends a clear message that the leadership is here for their benefit.

Question: What is one thing you could change right now to make you a more effective leader?

Question: Do you hold your leadership team to a higher standard than what you are living yourself?

Question: How much time do you spend with the Lord in prayer daily?

Question: Do you spend as much time in prayer waiting and listening as you do talking?

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.

Develop Your Ears To Hear God.

The Lord asked me years ago, “How does faith come?” I immediately said, “Faith comes by hearing Lord.”  (quoting Romans 10:17). The Lord then asked: “So then how does hearing come?”   

I recalled all the scriptures that state: “he who has ears to hear let him hear,” and passages that said, “they had ears but could not hear, and eyes but could not see.” I began to see why people who confess that Jesus is their Lord have the appearance of faith but are struggling in their Christian walk and getting little results. They don’t have a hearing ear, so faith never comes.

The standard teaching is that faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing etc. And there is truth to that line of thought. However, there are different ways to hear, and there is a difference between natural and spiritual hearing.

 Romans 10:17 (NKJV) So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Let me give you a more accurate translation of this verse to make it clear.

Romans 10:17 (my paraphrase) “So then faith comes by what you hear, and your hearing comes from acting on the word of God you have heard.”

Just because we have ears does not mean we can hear spiritually. The word of God alone opens our spiritual ears (our hearts). That word can come from the written and spoken word, but only the word we act on will develop our spiritual ears. When we are obedient, it demonstrates faith, and we become receptive to more instruction. Obedience is the act of faith; disobedience is the act of doubt and unbelief. Faith without the work of obedience is a dead faith, and dead faith has deaf ears.

The Bible shows us repeatedly that the disobedient and rebellious people “had ears but could not hear.”

Deuteronomy 29:4 (NKJV) Yet the LORD hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

Jeremiah 5:21 (NKJV) Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:

Ezekiel 12:2 (NKJV) Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.

Spiritual hearing only comes from the word of God that we act upon. Suppose we find ourselves unable to discern God’s voice rightly. In that case, we should humble ourselves before the Father and ask Him why. If we are rebellious or disobedient in any way, He will reveal it to us if we are sincere in our asking.

There are vast realms of understanding and revelation that we will never acquire if we are not doers of the word. If we do not act on what we have heard, the bible says we are deceiving ourselves. When we hear the word and do nothing about it, we become spiritually deaf. 

James 1:22 (NKJV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto

Thank you for visiting truthpressure.com. I hope this has been a blessing to you.