Tag Archives: intimacy with God

Spiritual Gifts are Free, Maturity is Expensive

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         Christians follow others for many reasons. Personality, charisma, doctrine, integrity, social status, perceived success, speaking skills, etc. but the main reason people follow a Christian leader is because of their relationship with the God.

          All great Christian leaders have one thing in common, a genuine intimate relationship with God that is obvious to all. The reason Jesus did what He did was to restore man back to intimacy with God. The message of the Gospel is one of reconciliation and restoration of relationship, the removal of all barriers that stand between God and man. If a Christian is not continually growing in this revelation, walking in, and living out this truth, he/she is not qualified to lead others anywhere.

          A leader’s influence should be used to bring others into a deeper relationship with God. Deep down this is what we all want. This can only be done by example first and teaching second. It is impossible to lead someone to a deeper relationship with God than you have personally experienced. You can’t lead anyone to a place you’ve never been.

          Jesus is the example of leadership that we must follow. We can look at His life and glean many leadership principles that we can live by, but I will only address one main principles that we see Him practice in the gospels. Intimacy with God.

          There are no shortcuts to intimacy, it takes time, discipline, effort and commitment. Intimacy with the Father is the greatest investment you can make in yourself and others.

Gifts are free, but Maturity is expensive.

          Intimacy leads to maturity and intimacy is a result of continuous fellowship. Many Christians follow others because of their “Spiritual Gifting,” not understanding that gifting can easily be manifest without spiritual maturity.

          Our identity is not found in our gifting but in our relationship with the Father. Pastor, Teacher, Prophet is not who I am, it is how I serve. We must find our identity in loving and serving, not gifting.

          The goal of a leader is to reproduce themselves and nothing is reproduced without intimacy. First priority is relationship with the Father. Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. This demands a lifestyle of watching and praying. It’s not always convenient or comfortable but it is always necessary.

          A leader can easily get distracted from spending intimate time with the Lord. A common trap is to replace reading the Bible and studying with being alone with God and communing with Him. The problem is, you can only learn about God from reading the Bible and studying. To truly know Him you must spend time with Him, commune with Him, listen to Him.

          If I read your biography I can learn a lot about you but I can’t honestly say that I know you. I can only know you by spending time with you. It is the same with God. When intimacy becomes a lifestyle, reading and studying takes on a whole new dimension and bears much more fruit. While reading the written word you see them through His divine nature, you look at them with eyes and a heart of love that makes you more sensitive to His spoken word. This is when the scriptures really begin to come alive.

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          The Lord taught me a powerful lesson about who I am and I would like to share it with you.

          I pray often that God would live in me and through me in fullness. That people would see Him in me. I remember some time ago, ministering to a lady on the phone one day and she asked me if I was a Pastor. I said “No, my wife is a pastor, I have been offered ordination and refused it because I am not a Pastor.” The Lord then spoke to me and said, “But I Am a Pastor, and if you deny Me that expression in your life I can’t answer your prayer to live through you in fullness.”

          God was showing me that titles and labels don’t define who I am, He does. I was limiting His expression through my life because my words were stout against Him and I had a limited idea of who I am.

maturty3.jpg          Who you think you are must come second to who He wants to be in you at any given moment. He showed me that He is the embodiment of the fivefold ministry and if I will maintain intimacy with Him and be sensitive to His desires He will be free to move through me and touch lives in a way that I could never do through my own strength and ability.

Ephesians 4:11-16  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith (P)and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

JC

Maintaining an Awareness of God

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          Have you looked back on your life and realized that there were times that you felt closer to God, the anointing was stronger, God seemed to be moving more in your life and you were noticeably more focused on Him? I have experienced this myself and questioned God about it. His answer was simple, yet profound. He said: “At those times you were more aware of Me, more conscious of Me.”

          I began to see the importance of maintaining a high level of “God Awareness.” Furthermore, I realized that the responsibility of maintaining that awareness fell to me. With that realization I began to think about what produces and awareness of God and what pulls me out of that awareness.

          2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The principle is this: “WE BECOME WHAT WE BEHOLD.”

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          We draw power, influence and identity from the things we are most conscious of. One of the sneakiest tricks of the Devil is to make us, and keep us Sin Conscious. The price for sin has been paid and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from a consciousness of sin. It doesn’t cleanse us from our ability to sin. This is where the Devil tries to get a foothold in our mind. He brings thoughts and memories of past mistakes and uses that to draw our attention to our weakness instead of God’s goodness. If we don’t control this thought process we end up in guilt, condemnation and shame and draw our identity from our ability to sin and not Christ. Our awareness of our weakness becomes greater than our awareness of God. This is why it is so important to continually cultivate our revelation of righteousness.

          Righteousness is the foundation of our identity in Christ. As our identity in Christ becomes grounded, our awareness of God increases. If we can keep this truth before our eyes we rob the enemy of many of his tricks to deceive. If he can keep us from realizing who we are, he can keep us from functioning in the power of the Spirit. If he can keep our attention on ourselves, he can keep our attention off of God. 

Matthew 6:22 The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, (single, clear) your whole body will be full of light. 

          Again we see that what we look at has a profound effect on our lives. We must be narrowly focused on what we allow ourselves to behold. Our perspective determines the amount of light we have, how bright we shine, and how full of light we really are.

Presence vs. Principle

          Another trick the enemy uses is to get us to substitute knowing God, for knowing about God.

1 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

          The word “knowledge” in the above verse indicates an intimate knowledge that unites you with the object or person it is talking about. It indicates a personal experience with instead of merely knowing about. There is a HUGE difference.

          If you read a biography on the life of any given person, you can acquire a great deal of knowledge about that person, but unless you actually spend time with the person you can’t honestly say that you know them.

          As a people, Christians have been duped into believing that knowledge of God’s word is the equivalent of knowing Him personally. We understand the principles and grasp the concepts of faith but we don’t really know God because we don’t spend time with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, quietly meditating on who He is so that He can expand our hearts and minds to receive the awesome revelation of His eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, being. We can’t begin to wrap our head around who He is by only reading His word. We must also spend time in the light of His presence. Both are needed to mature, and both are needed to effectively live and walk by faith.

          We learn the principles of God’s amazing Word and then we try to live by these principles in our own strength. If we will spend as much time with God as we do learning about God our awareness of His abiding presence will produce an effortless walk of faith that keeps us living and abiding in holiness. Instant obedience becomes a natural thing. Resisting temptation to sin becomes effortless.

          Think about it, if Jesus Himself was physically with you every minute of every day, walking with you, standing right beside you, would you have a problem resisting sin? Would have a problem obeying His word? You would be so acutely aware of your every action and word  that you would only do and say those things that pleased Him. This is how Jesus lived His life. He set the example for us to follow.

John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 

John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

John 12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

awareness exper.jpg          The more time we spend alone with our Heavenly Father, the more awareness of His presence we will walk in throughout our day.

          Awareness of God births the character of God, the nature of God, and the faith of God within us. Awareness of His abiding presence makes us more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading. Awareness of God helps us to see others how God sees them and therefore opens the door for us to minister Christ to them more effectively.

JC