Faithful To Your Family

Most of us value our families above all else because they are actually part of us. Nothing will change a person like becoming a parent. You find a love you never knew was even possible for a human to experience as you look upon that child made of your own flesh and blood. I think there is a parallel truth here for Christians who are born again and part of God’s Eternal Family. We are now “bone of his bone and flesh”, just as Eve was taken as a rib from Adam’s side, the Bride (Body) of Christ was taken from His wounded side when He was pierced by a Roman spear where blood and water flowed out. Think of it, when Jesus looks at you, He sees someone that came from his own flesh and blood, and He loves you. 

There is something that happens when we are born again and become part of His Family, we share the same DNA with all those who are born again as well, and we find a new love for these family members we never knew. As Jesus said “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, because you love ONE ANOTHER” John 13:35. This is not a natural love because we may have personality differences (and other issues) that make us unlikable to others at times. But in spite of all this, there is the love of God in our hearts that overlooks things and has compassion instead of complaints about people in the Family.

There is a love you discover as you grow together with others in Christ that you may not at this time even know is possible. But this love grows as we “live in community” with others and are faithful to our family relationships in Christ.

Here is an amazing verse that shows us the love that is possible to experience as we learn to live together, serve together, pray together, eat together, learn together, and worship together,

“Hereby perceive we the love of God,  because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16

This is a great love that is more thrilling to experience for the one loving, than the one being loved. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. We have achieved a great level in God when we grow to this point.

We are the “Family of God” as Paul said in Ephesians 3:15, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” This is God’s Family, and you are part of it forever.

As we comprehend these deep truths, we will start to relate to the “family” with faithfulness, we will care for one another, watching out for one another’s spiritual well being. We will come to worship services because we love one another and have the “family spirit” that seeks community and relationship. Joining a small group will be something we desire in order to grow in our love of one another.  Being part of God’s Family is so much more than attending an occasional worship service because we “need some Word this week,” or “we need to show up so no one thinks we have backslid.” This type of thinking reveals ignorance of what God intends for His Children, and is missing the greater life of love that is only the result of “Living In Community” and being Faithful To The Family.

At Faith Church International, our motto is “Learn The Word, Live in Community, Leave a Legacy.” If we an help people achieve these things, we will see God’s Name be glorified in the earth.

Dr. John Polis

The Call To Prayer

37086006 - hands of praying young man on a wooden desk background.

When it comes to prayer you will usually see more women joining the meeting than men. Although it was “The Man” Jesus who prayed and taught 12 MEN the necessity and methods of prayer. It was Abraham who prayed for Sodom Gomorrah, it was Moses who prayed for rebellious Israel, on and on men in the Bible prayed.

So what has happened to men today that makes them reluctant to take the lead in the ministry of prayer. Jesus tells us in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked the disciples to pray with Him for one hour, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41. Men must learn to let their spirit have mastery over their flesh, they must learn to have good performance not just good intentions. This is a matter of spiritual maturity as Paul tells us when he speaks to the Corinthians who were “fleshly or carnal.” Carnal people are dominated by the desires of the flesh, and the flesh never wants to pray, it wants to watch tv, play golf, go hunting and fishing, drink beer, have sex and so on. There is no getting around it, prayer left up to the women in the Church is clue to the carnality of the men. The men in the New Testament didn’t neglect prayer and that’s why they had such a powerful move of God to change the world. The leadership were faithful to pray (Acts 6:1-4), the men prayed (Acts 1:14), and the whole church prayed together (Acts 4:23-31). The great leaders of Awakening and Revival were men of prayer, Martin Luther, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, and so on. They had revival because they were dependent on God, evidenced by the realization that God would respond to their devoted prayer life.

A young boy will follow his father’s example; if Dad prays, the boy will pray. Many men in the world today view Christianity as a women’s religion because they don’t see MEN taking the lead in spiritual things, like prayer and fasting. It is the women who know that things won’t work if someone doesn’t pray, so they pray. The most manly thing you can do is PRAY.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” Acts 1:14.

MEN, YOU ARE BEING CALLED TO PRAY, not PLAY!

We see Muslim men answering the call to pray by the millions and they are giving the Western world a rough time right now, they are praying for Shariah Law to rule the world. Where are the Christian men praying for “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” If Islam wins the battle, here is the reason why…they are devoted to the cause as evidenced by their call to prayer.

I am pleading for Christian men to get out of the flesh and into the Spirit of God, become men of prayer. This is the only hope for victory.

Dr. John Polis

God’s Plan For Sundays

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 2.57.40 PMA national outreach program called “I Love Sunday’s” was just concluded with over 30,000 churches participating, including Faith Church International in Fairmont, WV where I am Senior Pastor. The messages were very helpful in refocusing our priorities and the use of Sunday as a day God intended for physical rest and spiritual refreshing. Another aim of this series was to give people who attend church regularly an opportunity to invite those who don’t. The efforts were successful at our campus with many new guests in our Sunday services. Our prayer now is that all the folks will get in the habit of using Sunday as God intended, and continuing to invite others as a matter of course.

While reading Acts 20 recently, I noticed a passage that shows how Christians in New Testament times met on the first day of the week (Sunday) to do at least three things that we should also practice today.

“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them; ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Acts 20:7

  1. The disciples came together. Scripture exhorts us to “assemble together” regularly to provoke one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:23-25
  2. The disciples broke bread. This can be a reference to eating together, and/or taking the Lord’s Supper.
  3. The disciples heard Paul preach the word. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God under the anointed ministry of the local church eldership who are five fold gifted ministers.

This was the practice of the first Christians, and one reason the early church was so effective in turning the world upside down. We could summarize these three points by saying that an effective Church/Christian will understand the need and importance of a “corporate unity” (coming together for a common purpose), “to establish close relationships with other believers” (breaking bread) and to “grow in faith” (hearing the Word of God).

Are You Lukewarm?

35050637_sOne thing that God doesn’t tolerate for long is a lukewarm believer (Revelation 3). Jesus warned the Laodicean believers that remaining lukewarm would result in being spewed out of God’s mouth (Revelation 3:16). This is strong imagery used to emphasize the seriousness of the matter. Imagine taking a drink of supposedly hot coffee or tea and finding it lukewarm, what would otherwise be satisfying now becomes nauseating and is not swallowed but rejected. What is a lukewarm believer anyhow? The text makes it obvious; it is trying to remain in neutral without making progress in one direction or the other. Many believers are in this category, trying to avoid any serious sins but not passionately seeking to advance in relationship with God. God says to us, “I will have you either hot or cold,” remaining lukewarm is not an option for a believer in Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:15). God will allow the lukewarm churchgoer to remain comfortable for awhile but will soon begin the promptings of Holy Spirit to relight the fires of passion for God by fasting, prayer, bible study, and fellowship with believers who are also passionate for Him. If the lukewarm believer resists the grace work of Holy Spirit to get moving again towards God with passion, Father God will remove some favor resulting in difficulties occurring that will cause the stubborn one to move towards God again. This would not out of desire for Him, but out of desperation for His favor to be restored. The Church of today is largely lukewarm. Few attend prayer meetings and others miss church randomly as though commitment to corporate activity among christians is optional. Many others spend God’s tithe on things other than what it is designated for by God, resulting in closed heavens over their lives. These kind of challenging things are not often mentioned because of the intimidation pastors feel. They often feel they will be accused of not having love or being legalistic. How then, do you explain these words of Christ in scripture? Can we just ignore them and continue on in a nauseating spiritual condition in the eyes of God and still think that we as individuals will enjoy all the blessings of the Kingdom, and we as a Nation of Christians will see God’s favor on our Country? That would be mocking God, and “God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7). God is a loving Father for sure, He is the model of all parenting. He loves His children passionately and desires that same passionate response from them. As a parent, He doesn’t enjoy having to deal in discipline any more than I, as a parent would (Hebrews 12). But it is necessary because when we are living in neutral, we are also very vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. Not to mention that we are not useful in the Kingdom of God as ambassadors sent to disciple nations (Matthew 28:18-20). When we are living in neutral, we are forfeiting the rewards that could be obtained for faithful service to the King, for we will all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ to give an account of our lives as believers and be rewarded accordingly (2 Corinthians 5). How are you doing with this? God loves you too much to leave you in a lukewarm condition. I strongly urge each one to do as Jesus said if you are trying to live in neutral, “Repent and do your first works over again” (Revelation 2:5). Get back to your prayer life, bible study, church attendance, and giving, these are Christian vital signs, not rules and regulations. You will be glad when the fire of God is burning brightly in your heart and God is your first love again.

The Ministry of Jesus vs. the Ministry of Paul

32372485_sI find that many church leaders, especially those who were born again during the Pentecostal and Charismatic Revivals of the 60-80’s, emphasize the ministry of Jesus more than the ministry of Paul. What is the difference between these two apostolic ministries, and what should be the focus of each?

During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He ministered primarily to the “lost sheep of Israel,” with the exception of his teaching ministry to the disciples whom He had chosen to be in the school of ministry. The mission statement of Jesus, found in Luke 4:18, is directed to the needs of people for repentance, healing and deliverance: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

This was not a message of spiritual growth and maturity, but of liberation to those “whom Satan had bound.” Jesus came to “bind the strongman and spoil his goods” by preaching, healing and casting out devils. Jesus was not speaking to born-again people who could understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. But so often, church leaders are trying to duplicate the ministry of Jesus to the church every Sunday, as though they were the unsaved crowd Jesus was ministering among. We often use John 14:12-14 as the basis for this philosophy of ministry: “The works that I do, shall he do also” (referring to the deliverance ministry of Jesus). By following this practice each week, we actually are keeping the congregation in need of healing and deliverance, because they are never growing up spiritually and taking their position as sons of God through Christ. We need the ministry of Jesus to the masses of unsaved people, and we need the availability of that ministry to people in our congregations that need it.

But we need to shift our focus for the church to the ministry of Paul as stated in Colossians 1:25-29: “…of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.“ Notice especially verses 28-29, where Paul outlines the

functions and purpose of his apostolic ministry to include both “preaching to warn every man” and teaching to “present every man complete in Christ.” As we read the letters of Paul, we can sense that “power that worked mightily in him” as he taught the church who they are “In Christ.” The apostolic ministry of Paul weighed heavily on a teaching ministry that would produce Christ-like people who understood the New Creation completely.

Herein lies the difference between the Ministry of Jesus and the Ministry of Paul. We need both operations in the world, but we should realize that the Ministry of Jesus was more to the unsaved world, while the Ministry of Paul was more toward the church, even though Paul’s apostolic ministry included preaching to people who were hearing the gospel for the first time, and was confirmed by miracles, signs and wonders; yet he spent most of his time teaching the believers New Creation Realities. When believers have understood completely what God’s work in Christ means to them, they will not need the Ministry of Jesus every Sunday to get them healed and delivered again. The reason pastors are often trapped into doing the Ministry of Jesus weekly is because the people don’t have a New Testament understanding of redemption. This may be because the leaders themselves have not yet received the revelation contained in Paul’s writings. We need to understand more than, Justification, Sanctification and Regeneration – we also need to know what it means to be a son of God with all the privileges and inheritance of the Family of God: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) Much of the church is still living as “servants” and have never moved to “sonship.” There is a transition from servant to son that must take place where we are not relating to God based on our “performance” but from our “position” in Christ.

The church today desperately needs the Ministry of Paul so that they can come to maturity and “do the greater works” of which Jesus spoke. The Lord said that believers would do the works that He did listed in Matthew 11:2-5, referring to the deliverance ministry of Jesus: “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’ ” But He also said we would do “greater works than these,” referring to getting people born again, spirit-filled and grown up in Christ.

The world is waiting for the mature sons of God to manifest, those who will reveal the nature of the Father, who is Love. May the Lord help us to see when each of these apostolic ministries is needed, and release them accordingly for His glory.

3G Christians

32014371_sIn the cell phone world there is 3G and 4G service allowing us to connect with one another at any time and place (usually).  I happened to think about 3G’s relating to believers in Jesus Christ the other day and thought others might be blessed by them.  As a pastor/teacher, part of my spiritual gifts include receiving and giving messages to the Body of Christ, so here goes.

GOING TO HEAVEN

As Christians we know that we are “Going to Heaven” because of the shed Blood of Christ, and that is our first “G”.  This “G” corresponds to what I call “babyhood faith,” because as new believers this is about the extent of our revelation.  But hopefully, we will not remain spiritual babes for long, but will get into the Word of God and start growing up in Christ.

GROWING UP

This brings us to our second “G” – “Growing Up”, or what I call “maturing faith.”  The Bible speaks of Moses “when he came to years” (Hebrews 11:24-27) as having made some mature choices that resulted in him becoming the leader who brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage.  The Word says that Moses“chose to suffer affliction with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of Egypt.”  As we grow up in Christ, we must realize that confessing Christ publicly may result in some persecution as well, but we embrace it by the grace of God.  Moses also had spiritual values because he “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”  How true it is that when we encounter the Living Christ, our appetites change and we consider Him our greatest treasure.  Finally, Moses demonstrates the level of maturity he had reached by “not fearing the wrath of the king (Pharaoh), for he endured seeing Him who is invisible.”  Moses lost the fear of Pharaoh when he had revelation of his God Who was greater than all the kings of the Earth.  We also can grow spiritually to live like Moses did even during hardship, persecution, and unfavorable circumstances (like having an army chasing you into the sea).

GOING INTO THE WORLD

The last “G” is “Going into the World.”  I call this “ministry faith.”  We have “babyhood faith,” “maturing faith,” and “ministry faith.”  Our spiritual growth is not complete until we have reached this third dimension, where we are actually doing the “works of Jesus” by going into all the world with the Good News and proclaiming it to others.  We not only share the Gospel with others, but we do what Jesus did by praying for healing, deliverance and miracles that will exalt God and confirm our message of faith in the resurrected Christ.

Are you a 3G Christian yet?

The Next Big Things Is Small

We have been in a boom of “mega churches” in America for over 20 years, but will the trend continue?  According to pollster George Barna, there are between 4 and 6 million people meeting in homes for worship on Sunday and about every other day of the week.  I suggest a few reasons for the new trend to go from ”big to small.”

First of all, many view “mega church” as a “big business” rather than a “spiritual family,” where “Christian consumers” go to shop for the all the latest “offerings” in “goods and services.”  The “Wal-Mart” concept of church, with everything under one roof for convenience of shopping, is being challenged by the “Dollar Stores” popping up in communities by the hundreds, where you can get just about everything for daily needs you can imagine, and it’s close to home.  People are counting pennies today due to the global economic recession, which shows no sign of improvement in 2014, according to economists.  The new frugality questions the massive amount of contributions that go for building costs, insurance, utilities, etc., putting a big drain on a church’s budget.  The “mega church” model provides opportunity for “spectators” to enjoy the weekly extravaganza of worship and the Word, but may not be bringing huge numbers into a life of service and discipleship, as some suggest.  People have a tendency to depend on the professional staff to do “ministry” rather than become “ministers” themselves.

However, the “simple” church (or “organic” church as some are dubbed), reduces the financial overhead, leaving the majority of giving to be used to meet the needs of people and support missions of all kinds.  Also, the members have to “care for one another” as the scripture teaches, because all are anointed for ministry as members of Christ’s Body.  The “house” church, meeting in homes across the community, affects the neighborhood as “leaven” spreads through the dough.  Parents are more responsible for the discipleship of their own children, and the kids have opportunity to experience worship with their family in the small group setting.

Will there continue to be “mega churches?”  I believe there will, along with various other models of church that God is using.  But for sure, the move to “house church,” “simple church,” “organic church,” or whatever term you may suggest, is not an “off-brand” of Christian ministry, but is becoming a mainstream part of God’s work.  God gave me an acrostic for our House Church Network, which we call “Acts Now House Church,” and it goes like this:

Authentic

Christianity

Transforms

Society

Isn’t that what the Book of Acts is all about?