Poking Out Your “I’s”

There is an important step in spiritual growth after the babyhood stage of Christianity. Growth means more than the acquisition of “knowledge” as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 8:1

“Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (makes us grow up)”

In other words, if our goal is just to “know all we can” about the Bible, we will lean towards pride, being puffed up, and this is what generally happens to people who just “stay home and study” but never learn the importance and value of community among believers in Christ.

Maturity in the life of a Christian is evidenced by “love of the brethren” as Apostle John stated in 1 John 4:11.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

This kind of love develops through relationships otherwise it is loving in word only and not in deed.

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” 1 John 3:11

 A huge acceleration will take place in a person’s spiritual growth in Christ when they make a commitment to live in community with other believers. I’m not suggesting that we all sell our homes and go in for communal living as that is not what Scripture teaches. But the Bible does teach that we are to “share life” with other believers, it is the Greek word “koinonia” meaning “partnership, communion, and fellowship.” 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John1:7

God has made provision for our fellowship by instituting the Local Church as the place where believers have “partnership, communion and fellowship” in order to grow strong in the Lord and be effective witnesses in our world.

Again, growing spiritually means more than getting Bible knowledge, which we can all do by watching tv and reading books. But we cannot “grow in love for one another” with out “relationship” with “one another.” Real growth takes place after relationships are formed where we actually have to deal with each others strengths and weaknesses, develop the Fruit of the Spirit, and learn to work together on God’s projects for our City, State and Nation.

The big hindrances to growing out of babyhood stages include the following “I’s”.

IGNORANCE –  Many believers are not involved in the life of the Local Church due to ignorance, they just haven’t discovered what God said about it in His Word. A study of all the “one another’s” in the New Testament will provide the revelation.

ISOLATION – Other believers know they should be engaged in the life of a Local Church, but they remain isolated for a variety of reasons. Someone has “hurt their feelings” and they have forsaken the community through offense. Or, some have been abused by authority figures in life and are living in fear of abuse from others. On and on we could go with the reasons for isolation, but the result is the same, they will remain “baby Christians.”

INDEPENDENCE – This is by far one of the main reasons why many Christians stay aloof from the community of saints, pride. Pride is earmarked by the independent spirit that says, “I don’t need the Church; I have Holy Spirit and He will teach me.” There is often an unwillingness to work with others unless “I can be in charge.” Pride looks down on others as not being worthy of “my company” because I am “so spiritual.”

I’m sure you have met people with one or all of these issues that keep them in “babyhood Christianity.” It is time for believers to make spiritual maturity a priority in their lives and become the people God can use to bring transformation to our world. We must obey the Word of God that teaches to “live in Community” with the saints and learn to “love one another.” One of the greatest enemies to our testimony as Christians is the lack of involvement in the Local Church. Without commitment, there can be no conviction to our testimony. See you at worship service!

Dr. John

God Wants To Promote You

33068939_sOne of the most important traits Christ sought to develop in His followers was the characteristic of faithfulness. This is the quality that is the most rewarded by God, and is the source of the believer’s unending joy.

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” NKJV Matthew 25:21

Notice three things that result from faithfulness in our lives:

  1. Commendation. “…Well done…”
  2. Promotion. “…ruler over many things…”
  3. Joy. “Enter into the joy of your lord”

So what exactly is this essential quality in a believer’s life? The word “faithful” actually means to be “dependable” or “trustworthy.” God’s way of developing and testing our faithfulness is by giving us responsibility as He did the three men in the Parable of the Talents where this verse is taken from. (Matthew 25:14-29)

Developing Faithfulness

 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” Luke 16:10-12

When God is developing faithfulness, dependability, and trustworthiness in us, He will test us in the three following areas:

  1. With something small. “…faithful in that which is least…”
  2. With material possessions. “…unrighteous mammon…”
  3. With what belongs to someone else. “…what is another man’s…”

As faithfulness is developed in our lives, it eliminates at least three aspects of our “old man” that correspond to the above, which are pride, love of money and disloyalty. God desires to promote us all and bring us into everlasting joy, but first He must work this great quality of faithfulness into our lives.

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).

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?

Your Ministry Connection

26311742_sDo you have a calling on your life for a leadership role in God’s Church?  If so, it is vitally important that you understand the connection that God uses to prepare and release you into destiny.  The disciples had to maintain the connection with Jesus as their mentor in ministry because satan will always try to separate you from the anointing you are called to sit under until release comes.  Many people move themselves out from under the place where God set them and at that point they stop the process of development for the call.  You can’t take these things into your own hands and divide yourself from the spiritual relationships that God has ordained for your life.  (Read Luke 22:31-32 and Mark 10:9.)

Many are called, but few are chosen.  After over 40 years serving God, much of that time has been spent in training and raising up leaders.  I have seen many more get sifted out of relationship and end up living far below what God intended for them than those who went all the way.  We must understand what spiritual parenting is all about from the Word of God.  You didn’t choose your natural parents, or trade them in for someone else, you remain their children for life.  Paul said, “you have many teachers, but not many fathers, follow me therefore..” (1 Corinthians 4:15-17).  There is so much religion in spirit-filled believers and so little understanding of the Bible and the ways of the Lord.

Also, there is an independent spirit that doesn’t listen to any other voice but its own, thinking it is God.  The Bible says, “let every matter be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses” because we can be deceived by our own agenda (self).  I know this goes out to a lot of people, and that’s good because the problem is widespread.  We need people who go all the way in the process and don’t take themselves out, because the harvest is great but the (real) laborers are few.  My heart’s cry is for spiritual sons and daughters to maintain in the process until they hear the prophetic word from leadership in their life (Acts 13:1-4, 1 Timothy 4:14).  I have would-be sons and daughters in many places that I hope will read and heed this word.