THE KINGDOM (Principles & Practice)
The Keys of the Kingdom
Written By Ruth Grigg © 2012 Edited and re-constructed, 2017
CHAPTER 1: The Kingdom
CHAPTER 2: Kingdom Structure
CHAPTER 3: New Kingdom Identity
CHAPTER 4: Kingdom Principles & Parables
CHAPTER 5: Knowing His Voice & His Word
CHAPTER 6: Kingdom Characteristics: Good fruit & Servanthood
CHAPTER 7: Kingdom Characteristics: Integrity & Holiness
CHAPTER 8: Kingdom Characteristics: Unity & Love
CHAPTER 9: Kingdom Power: The Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts & Body Ministry
CHAPTER 1: THE KINGDOM
The Kingdom of God and Heaven is the place where God rules, reigns and has authority, and is also a place where He dwells. In the natural, a Kingdom is where a king rules and owns a people, or land or country – so it is in the Kingdom of God. The King is in charge and He has the final say on how His Kingdom is governed. His Word is final and this cannot be changed by anyone except the King himself.
The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament
Those of the Jewish faith and heritage, the King or Messiah coming to earth means a literal ruler-ship on this earth – hence many hailed Jesus as King as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The Kingdom of God was prophesied and viewed as a physical kingdom. The Jews believed the Messiah would come and free them from their oppressors and would set up an earthly kingdom, as in the days of King Saul, King David and King Solomon, and the subsequent kings; however, Jesus made it clear, that His Kingdom is a spiritual one, it is with us, within us, and is to come.
In the New Testament, Matthew 25:34 it tells us that the Kingdom has been in preparation since the foundation of the world, therefore, the Kingdom of God has been in existence in different forms. The Kingdom of God on this earth was originally established through Adam and Eve. They were the first ‘sons’ to rule and reign over the whole earth, to have full dominion, and full fellowship with God, until that was broken through sin, and they lost it all.
However, God still had plans for His Kingdom on the earth, so he made a covenant with Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation and a great King would come through Abraham (Genesis 17:5-8). God also made a covenant with Moses and the Israelites, that they would become a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5-6). Joshua partly bought about the physical Kingdom of God as Moses’ successor, when he lead the second generation of Israelites into Canaan, the Promised land. The physical Kingdom of God was therefore partly expressed on the earth, through the nation of Israel and Judah, through leaders and prophets and priests, and through physically establishing the nation of Israel in the promised land of Canaan. However, Joshua did not conquer and live in all the land that was promised to Moses and Abraham’s seed, so this part is yet to be fulfilled in the future, when Jesus and his co-heirs comes to rule and reign.
The Kingdom of God was also seen and expressed through the ruling and reigning of three of the Kings over Israel and Judah in the Old Testament, although it was not God’s original will and purpose for Israel to have earthly kings, because he was their King (1 Sam 8:7). However, after King Saul, David and Solomon sat on the throne of God, ruling on His behalf over the nation (1 Chronicles 29:23-24) Israel represented the Kingdom of God on earth at that time. David wrote this Psalm as King of Israel, as God’s representative of the Kingdom of Heaven. In Ps 67:4 he wrote: “May the nations be glad and sing for you, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.”
King Solomon asked God for wisdom to rule the nation he inherited from King David, he therefore became the wisest and richest man on earth, whom many came to see, including the Queen of Sheeba. Scripture and prophecy says that King David’s throne will rule forever. Jesus came from the family line of King David.
However, there were not many good or Godly kings and there were many wars. David stands out as one of those Godly kings, Solomon, Hezekiah and Josiah were the most outstanding good and Godly kings. Whilst they were reigning there was peace in their kingdom, however, their kingdoms and other kingdoms fell when the people of the nation were disobedient and turned to other gods. Despite warnings from the prophets, they refused to repent and turn from their ways. As a result of this, their nation was destroyed and the people captured and taken by the Gentiles to another land, (this is called the “times of the gentiles,” which started at this point and will end when Jesus returns) because God promised to restore the nation, with a new heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Although the Jews have returned to their land, only a remnant returned. One day Jesus will restore the Kingdom on earth once again, through the Jewish nation (as this is an unconditional promise to Abraham) and through Jesus’ co-heirs.
The Kingdom of God in the New Testament & Present Age
When Jesus, the promised Messiah and King came, he taught us much about the Kingdom of God, and many thought he had come to over-throw the Roman Empire and set up an earthly Kingdom, with him as the King. However, Jesus taught us that His Kingdom is WITHIN US (Luke 17:20). It is unseen to the human eye. The Kingdom of God is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, living within us, and the power of God released within us that flows out of us. Only those who believe and accept the Messiah, who have been truly born-again through faith belong to the Kingdom of God; this includes both Jews and Gentiles. In Colossians 1:13 it says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
We have the right to enter by the blood of Jesus. The Jews are his chosen ones, and the Gentiles have become his adopted sons, grafted in, and therefore we have become joint heirs of the Kingdom of God. The Gentile Church is now under a new covenant because of Jesus’ death on the cross. We are now a Holy Nation as well as Israel (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9-10). We are now the Kingdom of God, and the people of his Kingdom. We are one new man with the nation of Israel (Eph 3:9-11).
When Jesus was on the earth, his message was about the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God), and he taught us Kingdom principals through his teaching and parables, that are the opposite of this world’s system. Jesus not only taught them, but he modeled them and demonstrated them.
Jesus taught us about Kingdom living. Jesus taught us that holiness and integrity from the inside out is far more important than outward appearances and adhering to man-made rules and customs. He taught us that love is the greatest gift we give to God and to each other. He taught us that we need to bare good fruit, and he taught us that to enter his kingdom we must become as little children, and to be first in the Kingdom, we must serve others and be last. He taught us that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, and that we have power and authority over the works of the enemy; he not only taught it, he demonstrated it. Then he demonstrated his love and power by dying for us, changing our destiny forever. He was the servant King, bringing his Kingdom to us.
And so we pray the Lord’s prayer as our guide. We pray, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts (sins) as we have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us). And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” So Jesus taught us how to pray to our heavenly FATHER (because we are his sons).
Jesus taught us to honour God and recognize His worth and His holiness when we pray. He taught us to pray for the Kingdom to come in us fully, and be released in us for the glory of God. He taught us to pray according to God’s will – God’s will be done, not mine. He taught us to ask for our daily needs (our daily bread) because he is the giver of all good gifts and always gives good gifts to his children. He taught us ask for forgiveness for our sins and to release forgiveness to those who have sinned against us and hurt us. He taught us to fight temptation and not let ourselves be delivered into the hands of the evil one. The Lord’s prayer is a model for us. We can use the principles He taught us in this prayer to release the Kingdom of God in our lives and to others around us. Jesus taught us everything we need to know about the Kingdom of God about Himself in the Gospels, and this is enhanced in the Epistles.
At present, the Kingdom of God resides within us, and His power and glory breaks out and is released when people hear and receive the message of the kingdom, when the sick are healed and when people are delivered from evil spirits or other things that bind them. His Kingdom breaks out through signs and wonders and through revival.
When Jesus taught us about the Kingdom of God, he did not emphasize the physical kingdom, but spoke of a spiritual kingdom resident within us. He focused on what we need to do to be part of it. The Kingdom of God is revolutionary, because it is our future – but it is also our present and affects how we live and think and act in this age now. We prepare for the future King and Kingdom by living it now, in accordance with his teaching.
The Future Kingdom
The Apostle Paul speaks of believers “inheriting” the Kingdom of God as a future experience, which comes at the end of the age. Revelation 1:6 also says that ... “he has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.” We are not only inheriting it, we are the Kingdom. Scriptures referring to the Kingdom of God in the Bible could be referring to both the present and future kingdom, but the Bible does make it clear that the wicked (unbelievers) will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-10, Gal 5:21, and Eph 5:5).
The coming kingdom will be a physical kingdom again. Jesus has promised to physically return to the earth again, to rule and reign as the King of the Kingdom over the whole earth with his sons and heirs - this will be the time when the ‘sons’ of God will be revealed. He will reign for 1000 years, known as the Millennium Reign. During this time, every country and kingdom will be under His authority and leadership. Many other end-time events will take place both before and after this event, but after this, there will be a new heaven and a new earth where He will rule and reign and his sons with Him.
The completion of the Kingdom of God is still future – at present we still wrestle with sin and darkness, and sickness, set backs, persecution, and rejection in this world. But when we pray and release God’s word and his Spirit into this world, spiritual atmospheres change. Lives change. Circumstances change. We change.
Jesus established the spiritual kingdom and released it amongst us. So now we have the Kingdom of God and Heaven present in us and with us, and we have the coming Kingdom, where we will rule and reign with Him. In Daniel 2:44 it says, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the Kingdom of God shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” Daniel was prophesying of the Kingdom to come that Jesus will establish here on the earth in the future. As it was in the beginning with Adam and Eve, so it will be again.
At the end of the age, the Messiah will return in his power and glory and the Kingdom of God will be again be transformed into a heavenly and earthly (physical) realm and kingdom. It will be dramatically different to our current experience of the Kingdom. Currently we are experiencing God’s Kingdom in a more limited way, in the future it will be fully established in reality. The Kingdom of God is both historical and continuous. It existed in the PAST, is in the PRESENT, and will exist in it’s fullest capacity in the FUTURE.
One day however, when Jesus comes to rule and reign among us, we will have FULL DOMINION over the earth, over governments, kings, nations and peoples, with his as our ruling King. In that day, we will no longer be caught between two worlds, between the natural and supernatural, nor will we be limited by our earthly bodies, but we will have full dominion and rule with Him. In the meantime we can rule and reign in the spiritual realm, seated in heavenly places.... take your place
and use the authority He gives us.
The long awaited Kingdom of God on earth that both the Jews and Christian and hope for, will one day be a reality, until that time, we can learn to live and walk in the Spirit and in authority, as Jesus taught us. We can, if we apply the Kingdom principles he taught us, learn to use the keys he has given us The Keys of the Kingdom.
We need to walk in the Holy Spirit and with authority, we need to use His KEYS of authority. Jesus said, “I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 16:19) So He has given us keys: keys of authority – it’s these keys we will explore in this Manual.
Ultimately God has all authority over power and dominion and title, in the past, present and in the future (2 Phil 2:9-11 & Eph 1:20-22): but he has delegated authority to us, His church, His representatives. We carry and use His name, which has authority because we are his ambassadors. We have been given authority to trample on snakes and scorpions... and to overcome ALL the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:10). We have been given power and authority to cast out demons and lay hands on the sick (Mark 16:17).
However, we only truly have his authority when we are submitted to Him. To have and use his authority we need to be under His authority, otherwise we will no longer we acting as His servants and ambassadors: we could abuse or misuse the authority He gives us instead of using it to serve others. In order for that NOT to happen we need to remain in submission to Him. Jesus was completely in submission to His Father – he expects no less from us. We are accountable to Him.
CLASS & GROUP WORK:
1. Discuss and describe what the Kingdom of God was and looked like in the Old Testament and compare this to what the Kingdom of God was and looked like in the New Testament.
2. Discuss: how is the Kingdom of God manifested in the world today, in your church and community and in your life?
3. Discuss: How will the Kingdom of God be manifested in the future?
4. Discuss in detail: What does it mean when we pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?”
1. This week, read through Matthew 6:5-15 and pray the Lord's prayer, not necessarily word or word, but pray it meaningfully, focusing on every aspect of your life, church and ministry. Ask the Lord to challenge you, where his will is not being done. Journal your journey.
2. Intercede for your church, family and community this week, SEEKING, praying and releasing God's will in prayer. Journal what God shows you and journal your journey.
3. Read through the book of Matthew and find kingdom principles and teaching for living the Christian life: list the principles in your journal.
CHAPTER 2: KINGDOM STRUCTURE
There are two spiritual kingdoms in existence: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this World (or of Satan). We are born into the kingdom of this world, and those who do not yet know Christ and those who do not acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour belong to the kingdom of this world and it’s ruler.
Satan holds the position of the provincial ruler or Messianic Angel, over the earth. Satan is the incumbent ruler over the earth. He has held this position since the beginning of time (prior to his fall), when it was appointed to him, and will hold this position until his successor appears. Satan therefore rules from a heavenly realm, not on the earth, but over the earth, and have access to the earth (Gen 6:2-4, Job 1:7, 22:1, ! Pet 5:8, Jude 6), but they do not rule on the earth.
We know Satan rules over the earth (in the heavens, just above the earth) through scriptures and through the passage in Daniel 10, which describes how an angel from heaven was sent to Daniel in answer to prayer, BUT the angel was detained on route by the Prince of Persia, until Michael the chief princes (or arch angel), came to release the angel that God sent to Daniel. We see from this passage where Satan and his army of followers operate from: (all are fallen angels, as 1/3 was cast down to the earth with Satan when upon his fall). We also see that Satan’s angels have structure and they all have varying degrees of power and authority: we see from Ephesians 6:12 that there are demonic rulers, authorities, principalities, powers and darkness. Rulers are rulers over kingdoms on the earth, authorities, principalities and powers rule (from the heavens above the earth) over countries, states, provinces, and cities and other assigned areas on the earth.
These demonic rulers and authorities operate through un-regenerated mankind, through counterparts on the earth, and gain their authority and power over the nations and cities through man, e.g. there was a prince of Persia in the heavens and one on the earth....this prince of the heavens was able to operate through the prince on the earth. The structure of Satan’s Kingdom, or the Kingdom of the World is similar too, and mirrors, the earth’s systems and structures. There is a shifting of powers in the heavens, under Satan’s leadership, to our earthly kingdom. Any person occupying a position of rulership in any Gentile kingdom or country is occupying a position of power under Satan and his angels, as they rule from the heavens through their counterparts, through man on the earth. This is the same today: there are principalities and powers that rule over our nations and cities in the heavens with counterparts they operate through here on the earth.
As well as having influence and control over kingdoms and nations, Satan also dispatches various demonic spirits (fallen angels) with various assignments and powers, which are aimed directly against mankind (including Christians), to torment us, bind us, influence, build strongholds in us, oppress and depress, and form demonic holds over us and demonic possession. He seeks to keep us blind and deaf, and going in the wrong direction. He seeks to steel, kill and destroy (John 10)... However, Satan can only do what we give him permission to do.... He can only take hold of something in our lives that we (or our ancestors) open up to him; they come in through personal sin, through trauma and life experiences, or through sins generational curses. Every power of Satan has been broken on the cross, and Jesus came to break every curse, to lead the captives out of darkness and brake the chains of the prisoners (Isa 61:1-2). We do not need to live under curses or demonic control in any area of our lives. Jesus can and will set us free if we want Him too.
Eventually, at the end of the age, Satan and his fallen angels and the Kingdom of this world will be replaced by Jesus and his co-heirs, who will take the scepter and rule over the earth once again (Ezk 28:12-17).
The Kingdom of this world is associated with authority and power and earthly rulership and leadership. This worldly kingdom has different values, principles, beliefs, and morals. The kingdom of this world is a different culture and way of living, which is rooted and based in sin and rebellion against God.
The Kingdom of God is also in complete opposition to the Kingdom of this World, that is why we encounter spiritual warfare in this world. There is a warfare between the heavenly rulers (Satan and his angels) and God and His Kingdom, his angels and his people, and we need to be trained and equipped to fight in this warfare, so that we are not weak, defenseless and ineffective. We need to be a strong army who follows the captain’s orders, knows His strategies, and knows how to enter and engage in spiritual warfare. We should be feared by our enemy, and not the other around.
God’s Kingdom Structure: Heavenly Realm
The Kingdom of God and Heaven has an ordained government, both in the heavens and through the his people and the church, on the earth. God’s Kingdom is structured under one headship; God is the King, the sovereign ruler over his Kingdom.... alongside his son Jesus the Holy Spirit, as they are three, operating in one. He is the one who made the universe, the heavens, the heavenly beings and angels, the earth, the animal and plant kingdom, and mankind, and he delegated the role of dominion on the earth to mankind.
In the Heavenly realm where God dwells with his created living beings and angels, there is a structure and order, and different levels of responsibility and spiritual powers that not only the angels hold, but the Redeemed ones. There are many different roles that angels have in the Heavenly realm.
In the First Sphere we have Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones/Elders and Orphanim. The Seraphim are the angels who take care of God’s throne and worship around it continually (Isa 6:1-7). There are Cherubim, who have four faces: each one with a face of a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle. They have four joined wings covered with eyes, a lions body and they have ox’s feet. The Cherubim guard the way to the tree of life in the Garden in of Eden (Gen 3:24) and they guard the throne of God (Ezk 28:14-16). There are Thrones, or Elders... they are living symbols of God’s justice and authority and are mentioned in Cols 1:16 and Rev 11:16. And there are Ophanim... angels that appear as wheels, covered with eyes, and they are closely connected to the Cherubim and move when the Cherubim move... these are mentioned in Daniel 7:9, and Ezkiel 10:17.
In the Second Sphere we have Dominions, Virtues, and Powers or Authorities. Dominions are angelic lords who are a hierarchy of celestial beings who regulate the duties of the lower angels. These angels also preside over nations... they will very rarely make themselves known to humans. They are known to hold orbs, scepters and swords.
Virtues or Strongholds are beyond the Ophanim (thrones and wheels). Their duty is to supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies so ensure that the cosmos remains in order. There are Powers or Authorities that collaborate with the principalities (rulers). There duty is to oversee the distribution of power among mankind (Eph 1:21).
In the Third Sphere we have Principalities or Rulers, Archangels and Angels (Eph 1:21, and 3:10). Principalities carry a scepter and their role is to carry out the orders given to them by the Dominions and bring blessings to the earth. They oversee groups of people, and they are the guardians and educators of the realm of the earth, they inspire mankind in science and creativity.
There are Archangels: Some believe there are seven. The archangel Raphael is mentioned in Book of Tobit, and Uriel, whose name means light of God or fire of God, is mentioned in the Apocryphon. There is Gabriel, Michael and Lucifer. The Arch angels have rulership over the other angels, who all have roles and responsibilities and different levels of spiritual power. Lucifer was head of worship and music in heaven and had rulership over one third of the angels... He fell from grace, and was thrown out of the heavenly place where God dwells, down to the earthly heavens, where he dwells now, with one third of the angels who rebelled with him. Michael is a warrior Archangel, (Daniel chapter 10) and Gabriel a messenger Archangel (Luke 1:19 & 26). The role of the Archangels is to be guardians or gate keepers of the nations and countries, and they are concerned with politics, military affairs, commerce and trade. The Archangel Michael is seen as the protector of Israel and of the ecclesia – the Church.
The Angels are generally the lowest order or rank of angels, but are also the most recognized. They are the ones who are concerned with the affairs of living things... within this category there are many different functions.
The angels come under the authority of the Dominions and Archangels. Some of the angels are ministering angels - they come specifically to minister to mankind; others are worshipping angels and creatures (Rev 4:7-11), some are guardian angels; some are warrior angels (2 Kings 6:15-17), some are messenger angels and they bring announcements (Matt 2:13 & 19) - they often release God’s decrees (Luke 1:19, 26, Luke 2:9); some are healing angels (Jn 5:4), some are angels sent to release God’s judgment and orders and will on the earth (Rev 15:1-7).
Generally the functions that angels perform is to: worship and bless the Lord (Psalm 103:20), to carry out assignments and commissions and His word, minister to mankind, bring dreams, visions and revelations; bring messages, bring counsel and might, bring strength and warnings; bring deliverance in war and battles, partner with us in spiritual warfare, bring protection, release finances, release decrees, release spiritual gifts, assist in bringing people to salvation, scribes, and take believers souls into God’s presence when they have died.
There are probably many more assignments and roles that angels have, that we do not know about, but each of the angels has a rank, responsibilities and an assignment, to fulfill the will of God ... there is order and structure in God’s heavenly Kingdom. God has ordained however, that when he comes back to restore his Kingdom on the earth and brings us into co-heirship and rulership with Him, that God’s people will have charge over the angels. We therefore need to know how to rule, how to take responsibility in God’s house and in the Heavenly spheres, through intercession, warfare, and through accessing the Heavenly realm by the Spirit, and working, co-operating with what He is doing. We can ask God to release the gate keepers over nations and other angels to us to assist us in many situations; e.g. in spiritual warfare, in physical battles, in healing, in any form of ministry, and under God’s orders, we can release the angels ourselves.
The Earthly Realm
However, there is a different spiritual structure of God’s Kingdom of God on the earth. God’s Kingdom is generally administered through the ecclesia, the Church, however we see that the earthly realm has different levels of administration and government.
a. self government (or self control)
b. family government
c. church government
d. business and commerce
e. civil government
A. Self Government
That is our ultimate goal: to be ‘dead’ to ourselves and our nature changed into something far more beautiful and powerful than we could ever imagine. And how do we become like this? We need to become intimate with Him, daily, and become sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We need to spend quality time in His presence, worshipping Him, praying, seeking Him, reading the Word (which renews our minds). Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit involves us listening to His promptings, and allowing Him to touch us and move within us with freedom, and obeying His voice.
One of the first things we need to do is to learn self-control, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit, in Galatians 5. Self control is self-discipline; it is when we learn to bring our ‘flesh’ into line with God’s Word, such as anger, bitterness, hate etc. Self-Control is when we learn to submit and align our will with God’s will. Self-control is the ability to bring our impulses and reactions under control, so that we do not ‘lash-out’ and react without thinking about the consequences of what we say and do. Love reacts it the opposite spirit to those who oppose us; that is why Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek and to go the extra mile. Self-control not only learns to not react in the flesh, but learns to react in the opposite spirit of love.
Self-control is also the ability to think things through and understand the outcomes – to control our compulsions and desires, and bring them into submission to the Lord, whether it is food, sex, or habits – these all need to come under submission to the Lord.
Self-control is also the ability to observe ourselves and to correct our mistakes; to recognize our own weakness, sin or failure and to accept that we make mistakes, and sometimes we need the help of others. We need to recognize our own mistakes and failings without falling into self-control.
All believers are encouraged to govern their own lives, to live a life that is self-controlled, that buries the old life (before Christ) and lives a life that bears the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:16-26). All believers are encouraged to grow and develop in their faith, in their service and love, and to mature from babyhood into fathers in the faith.
Condemnation or self-pity
We need self-revelation and humility to recognize our own mistakes and we need self-control and kindness and patience with others who do the same. We need self-control and humility to alter our own attitudes, speech, mind-sets, ways of thinking and behaving. The Lord expects us to exert self-control and discipline, but if we do not, then He may have to correct us; but it is far better, from my experience, to discipline yourself and to submit to the Lord than have the Lord discipline you.
We are all encouraged to bring our lives into full submission to the King of the Kingdom. The degree to which we truly submit to the King and go about His business is directly related to the authority God will give us in the Kingdom. Those who cannot govern their own lives or their homes should not be in a leadership or governing position within the church, according to Paul the Apostle (1 Tim 3). If a person is unable to govern themself then it can affect and corrupt the entire system, from marriages, relationships, organizations and churches.
B. Family Government
God set up family in an order, and he set up that He should be first, then family, then friends, and in that specific order. In our society today, especially in the West, there is an all-out assault on marriage, which has led to children and families becoming torn apart and individual very hurt. We need to make sure we always keep our house in order. If we do not, and we end up with problems with our spouse or any of our children, it could seriously distract and weaken us as we try to work for God in the calling that He has set up for our life. The value of marriage has declined, along with its traditional roles.
The husband’s role is to be the head of the wife - to take responsible leadership in the home, without being dictatorial or self-serving and controlling. In 1Corinthians11:13, Paul says,“but I want you to know that the head of every woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God... “ and in Ephesians 5:23 it says, “For the husband is head of the wife...”
The husband is the head, but he is not superior. The same verse that says man is the head of the woman, also says that God is the head of Christ (1 Cor 11:13), and we know that God and Christ are equal in nature – both are fully God. Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I” (Jn 14:28), yet he also said, “I and my Father are one.” (Jn 10:30). Jesus submitted to the Father, as an example of the wife submitting to her husband.
The husband needs to start accepting responsibility in leading the family and in the family decision-making process. Even if the wife is out of line, the husband needs to stop blaming her and begin to do what is right before God. The husband’s headship is functional: it helps to make the marriage work, and it carries with it great responsibility. The husband is to provide loving, understanding, God honouring leadership.
The wife is instructed to submit to the leadership of her husband. In Ephesians 5:22 it says: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” In 1 Peter 3:1 it says, “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands;” and it Titus 2:4 & 5 it says: “admonish the young women... to be obedient to their own husbands.”
The husband does need to be head of the home, and taking the lead, especially in spiritual matters. The wife needs to give the reigns back to the husband and not take over his role – when he has the reigns back, he can then begin to lead. The wife’s responsibility is to be loving and supportive and grow in inner beauty.
God made man and woman to come together in a fulfilling, satisfying relationship. If a woman insists on being the head and decision maker in the home, she is placing herself in a position of disobedience, and will become a threat to the marriage. The marriage works best when both husband and wife accepts their roles – it’s functional and necessary. Jesus submitted himself to the Father, although he was equal with Him, so it is similar in marriage. The husband will find fulfillment in headship, and the wife will find joy in submission, and the marriage will be fruitful when it works as He designed it too.
When there is a breakdown in marriage and family life and values and government, there are also wounds – unhealed wounds cause spiritual and emotional infection which needs to be cleaned and healed, so that individuals are not torn apart and wounded for life. It is right to have proper respect, relationships and roles within the family that reflect the Kingdom, and family Kingdom- government. Peace and Godly government in the family home is necessary in the life of every believer and can and does have a positive effect on the whole of society and future generations.
C. Church Government
Church structure and government can be varied in different denominations, but the first Apostles installed a structure and church governmental system in the early church that has been superseded by man-made systems and governmental offices.
The Apostles are the first in the church, as they have the most responsibility. The role of the Apostles and Prophets is being resorted to the church, along with the Pastor, Evangelist and Teacher, and these five fold ministries need to be in place to bring balance and maturity to the Body of Christ (Eph 4:16).
The Apostles and Prophets in particular, need to be restored to their rightful place, as they are the foundation upon which the church structure and government needs to be built, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone. Apostles give the church correct governmental foundation, structure, wisdom, vision. Even though Apostles are first, and Prophets and Teachers are next, they are not to exert control over the Body of Christ, but to release it. They are there to serve the Body of Christ, not the Body of Christ to serve them and their ministries. Their role is to build, edify, train, equip, help the Church to mature into Sonship and Kingship within the Kingdom and prepare them for the Bridegroom. They are servant leaders, serving under the Servant-King.
The Prophets help to direct and guide the church, they are the eyes and ears of the church. The Pastor shepherds, nurtures and feeds the flock. He is the heart of the Body. The Teacher inspires, equips, trains and edifies... they feed the flock with a correct balance of the Word and help to bring the Body to a place of understanding and maturity. They are the head, or the mind of Christ, but not The Head in the same sense that Jesus is the Head.
Jesus is Head because He is ALL of the five-fold ministries in one. He is the Head because he is master-shepherd who gave his life for the sheep and who was sent by the Father. He is the Head that connects us, the Body to the Father. The Evangelist is the like feet of the Body. The Evangelist is the one who points the lost ones to Jesus and brings them to a place of salvation. He helps to grow the church and advance the Kingdom.
Without the five-fold ministry installed and working in their governmental positions in the church, each playing their role effectively and co-operatively, the church looses its power and effectiveness, both inside the church and outside in the world. However when it is working effectively and co-operatively, the church becomes an expression of the Kingdom of God.
The Apostles (Acts 14:23 ) also appointed Elders and delegated authority to local churches. The Elders had oversight of their own local churches but also needed to meet the character requirements (Titus 1:5-9). They also appointed Deacons (Acts 6:2-6) to carry out the practical aspects of the life of the church.
This is Kingdom governmental structure for the Body of Christ, the Church, along with the whole body of Christ actively involved in various forms of ministry within the Church. We are a body, each one has a part to play and each part relies on the other part to function fully and effectively in the Kingdom.
D. Business & Civil Government
The other governmental structures are Business and Commerce and Civil Government. Our business, commerce and civil governments needs to be run with integrity and honesty, caring for the people we have authority over, work and trade with. Our businesses and governments should not be influenced by the Kingdom of this world’s values, principles or morals, if they are not, they can become corrupt, self-serving, and destructive; if however, we run our businesses and civil and governmental affairs according to God’s laws and principles as far as possible, then we will have a governmental structure that is just and fair, benefiting the people we serve.
Bad government at any of the five earthly levels, can produce rebellion, confusion, dependency, poverty, injustice and damage and decline. Godly government produces order and productivity and peace. When God’s government is in place, peace will flow.
If we practice God’s government, and Biblical principles at every level in the earthly realm, (even in a non-Christian country and environment) we can bring the Kingdom to our communities and societies. We can be light and salt. We can release God’s Kingdom in and through our lives to those around us and advance the Kingdom of God in our lives, in our society, churches and communities. So the Kingdom on the earth is currently, (until Jesus returns) structured in five different ways, but the Kingdom is manifested and governed mainly through the church body, which extends out into the market place,
community and the world. “May your Kingdom Come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Mat 6:10).
CLASS & GROUPWORK:
1. In small groups, discuss the differences between the governments and structures of two Kingdoms.
2. Discuss church government and how this works.
2. How can we participate and rule in the Heavenly realms?
1. Compare the differences between the two Kingdoms and how they are governed.
2. Explain how the role and functions of the angels in the heavens.
3. Explain how we can enter and participate in the Heavenly realms.
4. Explain why self government is important.
5. Explain the government of the church and how it works.
CHAPTER 3: NEW KINGDOM IDENTITY
God is in the business of restoration! He wants to restore us back to the original plan and purpose. He had planned for us thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden. Way back then, we (mankind) had an open relationship with God. We were made to worship him and have fellowship with him. We lived under an open heaven and had no sin, no barriers, no shame and pain, no fears and hang-ups etc and we lived in perfect harmony with our heavenly Father. We had dominion and rulership over the earth, and there was no sickness or disease or death, until the fall of man. It was then that we lost our identity as sons of God and lost our place of intimate fellowship with Him. It was then we lost dominion over the earth and over sickness and death.
BUT Jesus became the second Adam, and by his death by the cross he RESTORED to us everything we lost in the Garden of Eden, the only thing is, we haven’t realised it, haven’t understood it and haven’t lived in it.
Old and New Covenant
We live in under the New Covenant order, not knowing and understanding that we have been fully redeemed and full restored under the New Covenant. Our identity as Sons, Heirs, Priests and kings of God has been restored, yet we live as orphans in this world ... we live under curses and live as though we do not have a Heavenly Father who is rich in mercy and love, and who gives us everything he has, including his authority to take dominion and rulership over our lives on this earth.
God has better plans for us, his children, who has redeemed and restored. In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future....”
So this is what the Lord plans for us.... he plans to give us a hope and a future, and he wants us to ENTER into a deeper relationship with him.... jus to come in faith and Enter into that place of trusting him..... trusting that he does not plan to manipulate us, control us, hurt us or abuse us in any way; trusting he will not lead us into danger or harm, but he plans to release us into freedom and truth and to bring us into Sonship and into that deeper personal, one on one relationship with him, where we call him “Abba, Father” and where he calls us his child, his “beloved, ” his special one. And he calls us individually, by name.
He wants us to know his love released in EVERY part of our lives – love that sets us free from lies, doubts and fears, and love that set us free to be who we are and love that sets us free to reach our goals, dreams and destiny in Him.
Psalm 23 says .... He restores us. He restores us by opening up our spiritual eyes to see the truth, because the truth sets us free. The truth shines the light on the darkness on the dark places within us, and opens the door to freedom – if we choose to go through that door, because “Whom the sons sets free is free indeed.” (Jn 8:36). Jesus already purchased our freedom and our restoration and He is calling us forward to leave behind the chains, the things that hold us back, and to step forwards, by faith to receive all he has for us.
Relationship first comes with knowing and acknowledging our sin and receiving his grace, but it is more than than – much more. It is a relationship that changes and deepens over time. We are born into His family (born again) therefore we are sons, not just sons, but sons and heirs – we are sons of a loving, caring, providing father. We can trust him as our father to care for us and not hurt us, belittle us, reject us, forsake us, disown us or betray us. He is never too busy and never unavailable. We can trust that he will always accept and love us unconditionally, always be with us, always hear us, and provide for us. We can trust him. He is not like our earthly father who at times failed us, but he is unfailing, faithful and good, kind, generous, gracious, loving to the end. We can run to him as his children and never need to be afraid of him. We can call him Papa, Abba, Father, and know He loves us wholly, unconditionally, at all times, no matter what we have done.
You know Jesus restored MANY people’s lives, but there is a STORY in: Mark 5:15 About a Legion – the demon possessed man, who lived in tombs and was possessed by Legion – many demons. He was excluded from society He was bound physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. He was totally unstable, and hee was so strong he could NOT be bound by chains .... Until his encounter with Jesus. When those evil spirits were cast out of him, he was TOTALLY RESTORED. Verse 15 says.... “When they (the locals) came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the Legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. “
There is another up to date, true-life STORY, of a young girl who was anorexic. She was prayed for by the Healing on the Streets team, last year. The girl’s father testified about her healing. He said... “You prayed for her. She had been suffering with critical Annorexia Nervosa. At that time she weighed close to 6 stone and was a week away from being sectioned under the mental health act. She had lost weight every week for 18 months.
Since that day she has gained weight every week. She now weighs 8 stone and is looking healthy. This Saturday her mother and I dropped her at University to begin a degree course, which would have seemed like a foolish dream not long ago."
These are true stories and just show us that Jesus is in the business of restoring lives, and this is the kind of relationship the Father wants us to have with Him.... he wants to remove the lies and the barriers that have held us back, e.g. our past experiences that blind us. But He is the truth, and he wants to open our eyes to see our true worth and receive it and enter into this. Because in Him is our true identity. We are Sons of God.
New Identity - Sonship & Kingship
As we begin to receive and understand that we are children of the King and his Kingdom, we begin to realize that we have a NEW IDENTITY. We are adopted into his family. We have His identity, we bear His name, we bear His imagine, we carry His presence and His authority. We have a new PASSPORT with our new identity stamped on it ! We have a new citizenship, and all that this entitles us to live in the Kingdom of Heaven, in the Spiritual realm, ruling and reigning with Him. As his Sons, we have access to all he is and all he has in his Kingdom, which is for NOW and to come in the future. Most of all we have access to Him, to the Father. The curtain of division in the temple was torn in two when Jesus died, and now we can come boldly before the Father. We have access to the Throne-room, to the seat of mercy, to the Courtrooms in Heaven, to the Garden (Eden), and many other realms in the Heavens, by and through the Spirit of God, because we are seated with Christ, in Heavenly places. This is not just spiritual talk – this is real. I have been to the Heavenly places in my Spirit, when I have prayed and worshipped God.
So, we have access as a child to a loving father with no fear, we have access to Jesus as a friend and brother, and we have access to the Holy Spirit and to his living presence and supernatural power within us, so we can release this here on the earth, over sin and sickness and all kinds of bondages.
We have access to Him in every area of our lives and to this new. His Identity. The old is past, we have become a new creation. A new spirit-being. Our New identity is in Him, His Family, and we are the inheriters of His Kingdom. both now and in the future. Our New Identity says we are ACCEPTED, LOVED, we have FREEDOM, PEACE, and JOY..... our new identity is that we are SONS, HEIRS, PRIESTS and KINGS. We are Overcomers. We are no longer Orphans but adopted into his family.
The Woman caught in adultery (John 8):
A woman was bought to Jesus in shame. She was about to be stoned because of adultery, because that is what they did according to Jewish Laws and traditions ... and when she was accused by the Pharisees, Jesus replied... if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her..... at this the crowd left one by one, starting with the oldest. Jesus said to her .... “woman, where are your accusers? Has no-one condemned you? ..... then neither do I condemn you ...
This lady was saved from death ....Jesus restored her life, literally and spiritually .... She was given dignity, given a new beginning, given a new identity when Jesus, “Go and sin no more... leave your life of sin.” So her reputation and lifestyle was turned around by Jesus, the one who restores and gives us his identity.
So we bear a new identity, not the old one any more. But this is where we get trapped and tripped up by the evil one. We have been and are being restored, but Satan lies to us and tells us we are not what God says we are. Satan tries to conceal our true identity from us and makes us live under the old one, before we knew God.
He tells us we are no good, a failure, not worthy, unlovable and no one will want us or love us, especially God (and we believe it). These are lies that get embedded in our minds and spirits over the years and we believe them because they have been our experience, and a big part of our PAST. But these lies stop us entering into the truth, so we become entrapped. Satan not only wants to CONCEAL our identity from ourselves, but he wants to STEAL IT. You know about identity theft? Well that’s what Satan does... he wants to steel our passport, our passwords, our bank accounts, our whole life.... we need to realise he is a thief, and he comes to steel, kill and destroy, but Jesus comes to give life, more abundantly. THIS is my Jesus wants to restore our mindsets/thinking.... Rom12 says: be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your MIND.... That means we recognise old thought patterns, lies about ourselves and we replace them with the truth.
Recently I was feeling anxiety over many changes happening in our lives, AND future... We had just left one church, our home for 12 years and the security there.... To begin a house church and to step into a new adventure with another new church plant that we were connected with. In prayer and a vision, the Lord showed me the Keys of Kingdom; he said I could take authority and loose myself from these anxieties that go back in my life. (father and mother, re preaching). The Holy Spirit gave me access to what was happening in the spiritual realm. He began to show me the reasons, the links and memories associated with some of the anxieties, which made sense. So when I understood the links and reasons why and how these anxieties had got into my life, I was able to bind the anxieties and fears and loose myself from them.
We have delegated authority and power. Authority enables us to enforce the laws and power of God. There is power in the name of Jesus. His name is one of those keys of the Kingdom. Phil 2:9-11 says, “Wherefore God had highly exalted Him and given Him a NAME which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth, and that EVERY tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father.”
A NAME HAS AUTHORITY. The Queen has authority. The President has authority. The Queen is the figurehead of the British government. On her behalf and the law, many are brought to trial and justice. Her head is printed on our coins and notes. She has the final say on laws passing through our government. Her name is her STAMP OF AUTHORITY. So it is with Jesus’ name. At HIS NAME every knee must bow, in heaven, on earth and under the earth – kings, governments, nations, angels, spiritual forces and Satan himself. HIS NAME REPRESENTS HIS AUTHORITY and his GODHEAD. His name represent WHO HE IS and what he has done at Calvary. HE HAS NOW GIVEN US THE KEY OF HIS NAME.
He said, “ask ANYTHING in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus said, in His name we can heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, perform miracles, set captives free... because of His power and his life within us. We carry and use the name of Jesus. This does not mean we can use his name as a magical formula to get what we want – no we use his name when we are praying according to his will, according to what the Holy Spirit is showing you, according to the Word, then we WILL BE granted out requests. We only use the name of Jesus in prayer to FURTHER THE KINGDOM OF GOD, not our own little kingdoms!
Let me give you some examples:
Peter (the Apostle) said to the lame man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6). In his name a man was healed. Healed has been purchased for us at Calvary and we have been empowered to heal in HIS name.
In 1 Sam 17:45 we read that David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with the sword, spear and javelin, but I come against you IN THE NAME OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY.” David triumphed over Goliath with a sling, a stone, without a sword, but WITH THE AUTHORITY OF THE NAME OF THE LORD. God had given us authority to use the NAME OF JESUS to accomplish in prayer, the things that the Spirit is showing us, to SLAY GIANTS of fear, temptation, evil, rebellion, AND to drive out the enemy. David faced the giant in the name of the Lord – so can we!
3rd Restoring Dominion
We are Sons and Heirs of the Kingdom, therefore we have the privileges and authority of the King’s children – to rule and have dominion with him on this earth over spiritual realms and in our everyday lives, in and over our circumstances and in and over our past, (self image etc) and in and over the kingdom of darkness that is present in this world. Jesus has not only restored us to be sons, but heirs.... we are restored to rule and reign with him as kings in His Kingdom.
The Lord wants to restore in US, in the Church, his LORDSHIP, rulership, Priorities, values, principles, visions and he wants to restore His dominion IN us.... he gives us the Keys of the Kingdom to bind and to loose not just ourselves, but others around us.... FIRST he restores the Kingdom of God within us, THEN he makes us KINGDOM RESTORERS., like the 12 Disciples who went from fishermen to Apostles, spreading the Kingdom of God in every direction.
He releases his dominion through us into the world. We are Kingdom Ambassadors. We can EXTEND His Kingdom in our workplace, in our towns, cities, country. The Word says, the Kingdom of God is forcibly advancing and the forcible men take hold of it.... The Kingdom is forcibly advancing through us and we need to take hold of it.... We can STAKE the FLAG of the Kingdom in the Ground and claim it for Him. This is His ground. Holy soil. Holy Ground.
Adam was given dominion to rule over the Earth as a king, which mankind lost when he sinned. But this has been restored back to the Sons of God, through Jesus. Jesus came, died and rose again to restore us to the original mandate of God. In the beginning, the original mandate to Man was stated by the Lord. God said, "Let us create Man in our image and after our likeness and let him have Dominion.” Man was not given Authority in the beginning only Dominion.
So, We don’t just have authority, we have dominion, but we gain this from our position in Heaven, seated with Him in Heavenly places, and not by asserting authority here on the earth. There is a difference.
At first Jesus gave his disciples delegated authority. They had to learn to operate in it. Authority is when we reinforce the laws of God. We do something in God’s name and reinforce them. Dominion, however, is when we make decisions and we rule.... we are able to make laws and establish things ourselves... as Adam once did.
Dominion is when we make a command, declaration, decree, without having to ask the King, because he has already released us into this position. To have dominion, we need to become mature and we need to learn how to operate in His authority first. As we mature in Him, we learn how to have dominion. Authority is the training wheels in our life for God to be able to trust us with Dominion. The Church of Jesus Christ is maturing and moving from Authority back to our original state of Dominion.
An example of dominion, as opposed to authority is when Jesus said to his disciples.... "Whatsoever you bind on Earth will be bond in Heaven, whatever you loose on earth is loosed in Heaven.” When we exercise authority, we are enforcing God’s law, but Dominion is when He enforces ours.
We do not have dominion over people's personal choices, over men's hearts, minds and wills, because mankind needs to willing submit these to the Lord themselves, and to try to take dominion over somebody else’s will, is spiritual witchcraft. BUT we DO have dominion over the spiritual forces that work behind the scenes, the demonic powers and rulers and that influence and control mankind, governments and authorities ... We can bind and loose them from the Heavenly places and realms and they are released on the earth. We have dominion over our own personal lives and personal economics - it is Kingdom economics, rather than man's. We have been blinded and unable to see who we truly are, but God is now revealing the truth and the truth sets us free. We have dominion over every spiritual force that sets itself up against us and against the Kingdom of God, and we need to learn to operate in this place.
Prophets are given authority but Kings (which we can all be) are given Dominion. Apostles are given authority but Emperors are given Dominion. The Church has been given authority on the Earth, but as His Kingdom of Kings on Earth, we have been given Dominion on Earth.
To recap: Jesus also gave us a new relationship, identity - sonship, authority, and dominion. God is restoring Kingdom in us and through us. We are translated out of the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. We have been born again.... given a new spirit, where the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We become his children, and therefore we become his sons and heirs. We have a new inheritance, both now and in the age to come. We become rulers in his Kingdom with Him, and we bare and carry His authority. We are seated with him now in heavenly places. He has given his children authority and dominion over the spiritual realms on the earth, over nature, and sickness and diseases. When we realize this, we understand that healings and miracles are not so difficult, because we are operating from a position of dominion and authority over the enemy.
It is also a Kingdom that IS coming, it is present and continuous, so we do not (yet) have full dominion on this earth. Satan currently dominates this world’s governments and economics until he is over thrown by Jesus and His Heirs. Then the Kingdom of God and Heaven will have full dominion on the earth.
CLASS & GROUP WORK:
1. Discuss: What is the Kingdom of God and Heaven? Is it here now? What is your identity? Can you enter the Heavenly realm? What is the difference between having authority and dominion in God’s Kingdom?
2. In small groups of 3’s or 4’s, intercede together. Just bring 1 or 2 situations or people, no more. Pray for about 30 minutes to 1 hour in each group.
Listen and ONLY pray what the Holy Spirit show you and guide you in prayer. Do not rush this process – take your time to listen. Each person needs to individually and co-operatively listen to what the Holy Spirit reveals to you, and share this with the other members so that you can pray in agreement with each other.
Feedback to other groups how you got on.
1. Write down any comments or questions, to share in the School or Church Group.
2. What is your concept of the Kingdom of God? What is your concept of yourself as a son, an heir, and authority as a child of God? What is your true identity? Find out as much as you can about the Kingdom of God (Heaven) from the Gospels.
3. Read the book of Matthew and find out as much as you can about the Kingdom of God - Kingdom of Heaven. Record your answers.
CHAPTER 4: KINGDOM PRINCIPLES & PARABLES
The way the kingdom of this World operates is completely opposite to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God has opposite values, principles and attitudes to the World, and love is always the key in Kingdom; for example, Jesus taught us the ‘Be-attitudes’ (Matthew 5:1-12) where we are called ‘blessed’ if we are poor in spirit.
In the world’s eyes, being poor in spirit, or being humble and broken in spirit, is a bad thing. Being poor in spirit in the Kingdom is an entrance gate... we need to recognize our spiritual poverty, our sin, before we can even enter into eternal life and be born again. Being poor in Spirit is also a continuous place of yielding and posturing our hearts in submission to God our King. We go lower, not higher.... Jesus said the first shall be last, and the last shall be first... we need to be humble like a little child. The world wants riches and power and honour and prestige, but we are called blessed if we mourn over evil in this world, if we are meek, if we hunger and thirst for righteousness, if we are merciful, are pure in heart, are peacemakers and if we are persecuted for this sake.
Our ‘mourning’ is to mourn over the brokenness in this world and how it has caused damage to so many. Our meekness is not weakness, but it is controlled strength, controlled by the Spirit of God within us, when people hurt us or abuse us, or when life’s circumstances and situations are harsh and out of our control.... we are self-controlled and motivated by love not the desire to hit back and and hurt others.
Our perspective is different and our heart is different. Our hunger and thirst is not for money, honour and power, or any of the things of this world, but for righteousness... we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things are added to us... we seek Him first, not last. We take the attitude of a servant, we take the bowl and the towel to wash people’s feet. We take opposite principles to this world; opposite morals, ethics and we put on the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth (Eph 6). We have integrity in our lives and we run after God with a passion.. we hunger for more of his presence, more reality, more living bread and living water. We run after him, we keep our eyes fixed on Him and we change into his likeness.
In the Be-attitudes, we are told that peacemakers are blessed... they are called the sons of God. We are not argumentative, selfish and boastful, seeking our own way, to make our point, to prove ourselves, but we submit to one another in love. If we love one another then we will not be at war with others ... we will be peacemakers in the right sense of the word, in our homes, churches, at work, in society, in the world we live in. Our lives are governed by peace, not rivalry or competition. We live in peace and we reflect the Prince of Peace who dwells within us.
We may even be persecuted, accused, abused etc .... Jesus said, “Blessed are the those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus said in this world we WILL have tribulation... he did not say our lives would become easy. He said the path is narrow and few find it. We will endure some suffering but all of this will bring about changes in our character that make us more like the King.
We are merciful.... we are forgiving, as the Father is towards us. Mercy comes from compassion and grace. We can be merciful to others when we have received his mercy and love and we have been transformed by His love. In the Kingdom, the pure in heart are called blessed. We can only be pure through Jesus. He is holiness and love incarnate. We cannot be pure in heart by our own self-effort, nor by religion or religious works, only through Him and by abiding in Him and changing into his likeness (John 15).
In the Kingdom, we are taught to love our enemies not just those who love us. We are taught to forgive and not bear grudges. We are taught to bear good fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23). We are taught to die to our sinful nature with its passions and desires, and to put on Christ.
As children of God and citizens of Heaven, the The Holy Spirit seeks to live in us and through us to make us effective and powerful in the Kingdom. He wants to develop relationship, character, sonship and heritage. Jesus and the Father seek relationship with us – that was the whole purpose of Him coming and dying for us – to restore relationship. That is what prayer is all about – relationship and restoration. Our relationship was broken in the Garden of Eden, but has been restored by the blood of Jesus. He is urgently seeking our hearts. He is searching for us. When we accept him as our Lord and Saviour, we receive his son-ship and we receive His favour. He wants us to know that we are loved and accepted by the Father – that we have been adopted as his sons and daughters.
In Matt 6:5-6 it says about prayer, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Jesus seeks that quite place with us... he wants us to abide in His presence, rest in His presence, sense and know his presence, live in his presence... He wants us to remain and abide in his presence. In John 15:4-8 Jesus speaks about remaining and abiding, and in this context it means to obey his commands. I think this can also be extended to mean: to be IN relationship with, and to be CLOSE too.
Can you define what a close relationship with a friend means? To be in relationship with someone we need to be spending TIME with them, TALKING with them, listening, exchanging ideas and thoughts and feelings, DOING things together ... enjoying one another’s company. That’s how Jesus wants to be with us. In Jn 14:8-10, and verse 20 we read that:
Jesus is IN the Father
The father is IN Jesus
Jesus is IN the Father We are IN Jesus And HE IS IN us!
It’s as if God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has let us IN on their own special unity, fellowship, and Godhead. It’s more than friendship and relationship, it’s INTIMACY, it’s a face-to-face relationship. Moses had a face-to-face relationship with God (Numb 12:5) and so can we. We can enter into intimacy by talking with him face-to-face, friend-to-friend. We enter this through our love for him, through our deep desire for more of him, and through our desire to become like him and this may involve a cleansing and clearing out process. We enter through our worship and adoration of him. Our love for him is our passion in life, it consumes us. In this place we hear his voice, we have conversations where we speak to him and he speaks back to us. We hear his whisper, we hear his heart, and we obey his voice because we love him - “then we shall see him face to face” (1 Cor 13:12). John 14:23 says, “If anyone loves me (Jesus) he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. How more intimate can you get?
Prayer and intimate relationship, face to face with God is one of the FIRST THINGS we need to grow mature in our walk in the Spirit. As we abide we also bear fruit. One of the aims God has for us when we abide is that we grow, mature, to be conformed (changed) into the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). The Father is seen IN his son Jesus, and Jesus is seen IN us. But most of all, abiding and remaining in his presence is a place where God reveals his love for us. Sometimes God just wants us to ‘be’ with him, not necessary to ask for anything, but just to KNOW THE FATHER and HIS LOVE; this is ALL that we need; this is intimacy in it’s deepest form.
Prayer has several elements: Firstly, it brings you into contact with the Father, and with the Holy Spirit, and with Jesus. You are praying TO the FATHER. You are praying IN the name of JESUS and you are praying THROUGH the power of the Holy Spirit. All three members of the Godhead are bought together in prayer. Also see Mark 11:25, tells us says, “and when you stand praying, if you hold ANYTHING against ANYONE, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
If we do not forgive:
1. We hold the offender bound:
Jn 20:23 says, “if you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven, if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven...”A person can be held bound by our unforgiveness. Jesus had the power to forgive sins & expects us to do the same! He has given us the same power to either forgive or withhold forgiveness. Matt 18:18 says that “whatever IS BOUND on earth IS BOUND in heaven, and whatever IS LOOSED on earth, IS LOOSED in heaven. If we forgive someone here, on earth, we release them in heaven. We are in the business of bring release to people and we need to loose them of their sin, shame and guilt, even if it is against us. We have the power to forgive, because we have been forgiven. As you release others, God releases you.
We hold ourselves bound:
If we don’t forgive we can become embittered, critical, condemning. We become bound by not freeing ourselves from anger, bitterness and pain therefore make a prison for ourselves. We develop a sharp tongue and bitter heart that everyone avoids, because it is poisonous! By not letting go of pain and bitterness, we carry a heavy weight that gets heavier (glass of water, how heavy is it now?). By not letting go we become ‘bound’ – by not being able to free ourselves from the bitterness and pain we feel, and therefore we make a prison for ourselves. Sometimes, unforgiveness can lead to physical or emotional or mental illness. Unforgiveness HOLDS the ANGER and PAIN INSIDE but FORGIVING RELEASES YOU.
We hold God bound to his Word:
Mat 6:15 – “But if you do not forgive men their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins” ... God cannot deny his Word or bend it to suit our circumstances. He says he cannot forgive us because we will not forgive the offender. We cannot receive the benefits of God’s forgiveness and release unless we are prepared to do the same. Jesus emphasized the need to forgive because we have been forgiven.
In the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:23-33) the master, knowing the servants plight was moved with compassion and released him and forgave his debt. And yet, this same servant refused to forgive and release a much lesser debt owed to him, and threw a fellow servant into prison. When the master found out, he was very angry and made the first servant he forgave, pay back all he owed. BECAUSE WE’VE BEEN FORGIVEN, GOD EXPECTS US TO, AND GIVES US THE POWER TO DO SO.
The Kingdom and Parables
Jesus also taught us many things about the Kingdom, and how it operates through parables. There are many parables about the Kingdom, most of which are in the Gospel of Matthew or Luke.
Some of the parables are about us being found by the Father or coming into the Kingdom, and sonship (The Lost Son, The Lost Sheep); some are about finding the Kingdom and giving up all we have for it (Hidden Treasure and The Pearl, the Lost Coin); some about accepting or rejecting Jesus (The Tenants, the Two sons, The Sower and Seeds, the Wedding Banquet); some about using our talents and skills, trustworthiness and shrewdness (The Shrewd Manager, The Talents, Workers in the Vineyard); some about our attitudes/persistence, actions and forgiveness (The Good Samaritan, the Unforgiving Servant, and The Persistent Widow).
Some parables are about being ready for His return (The Ten Virgins, The Wedding Banquet), some about judgment, end times and eternal destiny (The weeds, The Net, The Rich Man and Lazarus, Sheep and Goats); some parables are about being faithful and wise in managing Kingdom affairs.
There are many more parables and more principles to be learned from them. Each of the parables illustrates something about how the Kingdom operates. We should not teach doctrine from parables, because the parables only illustrate Kingdom. They give us a picture what Kingdom is like and when we read and interpret parables, we need to retain the same meaning that Jesus was relaying. We need to look at the original hears, the context and the culture to understand the illustrations. But we really need to keep parables simple and practical, not put them in the past or the future, but the present, otherwise we will not be accountable to God for our lives.
When we look at the parables we need to put ourselves into the character roles of the people in the parables and ask ourselves, “who am I?” We need to ask what does this parable teach us about God and his Kingdom? and what question does it answer? Many parables start with someone asking Jesus a question and the parable illustrates the answer. We need to look at the closing of the parable or the punch-line - the ending reveals the meaning in nearly all the parables. Nine of the parables do not have a closing punch-line, and some are left open with no resolution – in this case, we need to insert ourselves into the story and write the ending for ourselves; what am I going to do? How am I going to respond? What action does Jesus expect from me?
The parables are not just to give us information, but rather insight, revelation about the Kingdom, bringing transformation to our lives - what we believe, how we behave and respond. We are meant to internalize the Kingdom principles within the parables, so that we in turn become Kingdom people.
The world does not see the value of the attitudes or principles of the Kingdom, nor does it perceive the spiritual truths and meanings and the fulfillment and freedom it brings to live our lives God’s way, because the world’s values and principles are based around self and personal power and accomplishment and gain; but as people of the Kingdom, we must live the way that Jesus taught us.
We are taught that we are a new people, a new creation, the old has passed the new has come (2 Cor 5:17). We are now sons belonging to the family of God. We have a new identity, a new heritage, a new image, and a new destiny. We are his servant, yet we are also sons, and his friends. We are soldiers and warriors in his Kingdom. We are a royal priesthood, and holy nation, belong to God, and we are the Bride of Christ, for whom He will return. We bare his name and his image and his glory. We are his representatives and ambassadors here on this earth, therefore we choose to be fruitful and honour his name; we choose to live way, according to the principles of the Kingdom.
CLASS AND GROUP WORK:
1. In small groups, discuss and compare the differences between the values and principles of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world.
2. Discuss the concept of intimacy with God – what is this and how can we obtain this?
3. In small groups, discuss he effects of unforgiveness on your personal and prayer life. How do we hold ourselves, others and God bound? What can unforgiveness lead too?
4. In small groups, discuss how we should interpret and apply Kingdom Parables.
HOMEWORK - JOURNAL:
1. Explain in your own words what the Kingdom is – use scriptures from the class to back up your ideas.
2. In prayer, as the Holy Spirit to highlight any areas of unforgiveness in your life. Release people from unforgiveness and ask God to change your heart. Pray blessings on the people who hurt you. Journal.
3. Which Kingdom Principles mean the most to you and why?
4. Which Parables speak the most to you, and why?
CHAPTER 5: KNOWING HIS VOICE & HIS WORD
I would like to share about the importance of discerning God’s voice in situations and hearing God’s voice through many avenues, concentrating mainly on rhema words. Rhema is a Greek word, which means the ‘spoken word.’ The Holy Spirit (who is God) speaks directly to our spirits when we hear His rhema words. We do not need to be anxious about hearing or receiving rhema words, because they will NEVER contradict the Logos (written Word) and never contradict the character and nature of God; therefore we can check them out to see if they are ‘in line’ with these; if they are in line, then they are from God.
I would like to share some examples from the Bible and also many of my own experiences. I believe hearing and discerning the voice God’s voice brings us into deeper revelation of who He is and what He is doing and wants to do in our lives and in the church. Hearing and discerning His voice is key in our lives is essential because we can DO NOTHING without him and because we need to “only do what we see the Father doing”.
How do we know that it is really God speaking? We all ask this question! I want to encourage you ALL that YOU CAN HEAR GOD – If you are one of His Sheep, you CAN and DO HEAR HIS VOICE! (John 10:3-4, 16, 27). We often question if it is the voice of God or our own mind, or the enemy. When we are ‘born again’ our mind is being transformed and renewed when we fellowship, walk and talk with Him regularly – he speaks to us and we receive the ‘mind of Christ’ (see Rom 12:12). He longs to talk to you and share his thoughts and feelings with you – we can become like ‘Mary’ who sat at his feet to listen. He wants us to sit and listen.
To hear God’s voice we need to know & understand this scripture in John 16:13-14 which says, “but when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will NOT speak on his own; he will speak ONLY WHAT HE HEARS and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me (Jesus) by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” If we let that sink into our spirits we will understand that Holy Spirit wants to REVEAL to us the mind of God – God WANTS to speak to us and fellowship with us – he WANTS US to HEAR HIS VOICE! All OF US – not just a select few! It just requires us to be open to receive – to tune in, to listen. If we cannot hear, then something may be blocking His voice – sometimes it is our own sin or lifestyle that blocks it, sometimes it is our own experiences or expectations that limit God, and sometimes we are too busy to stop and listen!
WHY do we need to hear God’s voice?
Firstly, it takes us into a deeper fellowship – knowing him, really knowing him, it takes us to a deeper place of intimacy. Secondly, his voice conveys his heart, his mind and his will and will give you direction, guidance and wisdom. Thirdly, we need to hear his voice so we can share him with others; we need to be able to ‘hear’ Him for others and be His voice. He uses our voice to be his voice.
In Psalm 29:3-9 it says, that the voice of the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.... The voice of the Lord is POWERFUL. The voice of the Lord is MAJESTIC... it breaks the cedars, it strikes with flashes of lightening, it shakes the deserts, it twists the oak and strips the forest bare. He created the World by speaking his Word. His voice and his Word can create and loose, tear down and destroy, or bind and heal. God’s powerful voice may come in the form of a vivid dream, in a vision or trance, in an audible voice, in third heaven experiences and visitations, or it may come powerfully through somebody else speaking God’s Word directly to you or about your life. God’s voice can also be gentle, speaking through his still small voice, through pictures, words, impressions and gentle visions. God has many more avenues that he can speak through!
Jesus said “The Wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8). I believe Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God, the source of all life; and life moves – it does not stay still – so it is with the Wind of God, it can blow powerfully or gently. It can change direction. We cannot see it or touch it, but we know He is there by the effect that the wind of His Spirit has. The wind is a powerful force. It CANNOT be controlled by people - it blows where it wills; therefore we need to be flexible and be willing to go where the wind is blowing, rather than resist or run and hide or deny it is God, but rather be willing to MOVE WITH HIM in our own personal lives and in the life and structure of the church.
HE, the Holy Spirit, wants us to have the same experiences that the disciples experienced in Acts 2. Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days, God says, I WILL pour out my Spirit on ALL PEOPLE. Your son and daughters WILL PROPHESY, your young men will see VISIONS, and your old men will dream DREAMS. God spoke to the prophets and early Christians through these experiences and wants to speak to us in this way too, and in other ways.
Object lessons and nature
God can use the everyday objects that we are in contact with to speak to us and also nature. God spoke to me once when I was in the shower, washing off a fake tan. He spoke to me clearly about the Body of Christ being transparent and about washing away any falseness in our lives.... On another occasion, my son broke our window intentionally nearly cutting my husband. We wanted him to pay for his behaviour, but he was not able to do this, so the Lord spoke to me through this about how he forgives us, and doesn’t ask us to pay when we cannot possibly do so. God speaks through nature also. Many times God uses nature to speak to me, whether it is birds, the sea, the sky whatever it is, he speaks volumes through the things he has made.
Books & Movies
God can speak to us through any book or movie, it doesn’t need to be Christian! God can speak through the characters, through the story-line , scenes, events and circumstances which connect to our experiences, and things that have or are happening in our lives. He can teach us principles and guide us and give us hope. We just need to be listening.
Repetition is when we keep receiving the same message from God via different means and different people. God will keep sending us the same message until we respond, e.g. God may want us to enter into a time of prayer and fasting, and wherever we go or whatever we do, we will hear the same message via different means like radio, T.V. newspaper, Bible etc until we obey the Lord.
When we have a personal relationship with God we can develop a deeper intimacy with him, or a ‘face to face’ relationship’ in the quietness and stillness of his presence. In this relationship we can hear his heart, we can hear him whisper to us, we can have face-to-face conversations with him. This is developed over years and by us just getting into his presence and spending time with him, worshipping him and loving him, and of course, listening to him. Our spirit connects with His Spirit and he takes us into heavenly places and shows us his Kingdom, and shows us things from his Heavenly perspective. He will show himself to us when we take time to be with Him. This type of intimacy is the kind of relationship He seeks with all of us, as his ‘sons’. He knows us intimately and want us to know Him intimately also.
When we listen intently and quietly, we can also JournaL God’s words to our hearts and our words to Him. We don’t need to speak our thoughts and prayers out loud or speak out loud what he is saying to us – we can just journal it, record it on paper, like a live conversation. We can ask Him questions and He will answer us. He gives us His thoughts and we just record what he says to us. We need to be quite and still and have open hearts, open minds and open ears to hear what the Spirit is saying in this form of listening and communicating with God.
God can speak to us individually about our personal circumstances, our families and situations in our lives through teaching materials, whether it is via videos, sermons, T.V. radio, books, Bible. The Holy Spirit IS our teacher, and it is His job to teach and guide us in order to mature us and bring our lives in alignment with His Word and His will for our lives.
Still Small Voice
The voice of the Lord can also be a QUIET, STILL VOICE. We see this in reflected in many of the Psalms 46:10 e.g. “Be still and know that I am God” and Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” This indicates that in waiting and being still, God will speak – and he does.
In 1 Kings 19:11-13ff it says that God was NOT IN the earthquake, wind and fire, but IN the still small voice, or the gentle whisper. Elijah heard it – do we hear it?
We need to be sensitive to the still small voice and NOT DISMISS IT as our own thoughts and feelings. If we are ‘in tune’ with God and if we have been praying, it is likely that the Holy Spirit is speaking to us in a small voice. This is a good sign. God does not, or should not need to SHOUT at us to get our attention. God can speak quietly: he may quietly put thoughts into our mind, giving us impressions of what he is saying or doing, giving us pictures or written words within our mind or making our spiritual senses aware of his presence.
Urim and Thummin / Inner Witness
In the Old Testament we see that God spoke to people through the Urim and Thummin (see Lev 8:5-9, Exd 28:29-30). These were two stones kept in the Ephod that the Priests wore, and was used to determine a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from the Lord, and people would enquire of the Lord in this way, e.g. in 1 Samuel 23:9 David enquired of the Lord whether Saul would come down to Keilah to destroy the city because of David’s presence there. The Lord answered him with a ‘yes’ via the Urim stone.
Today, we have the Holy Spirit resident in us, and he has become our inner witness, our Urim and Thummin, and He will answer us directly with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by the nudging of His Holy Spirit inside us – if we have prayed, and laid the circumstances before God, and we feel very uneasy, or a check in our spirit, then we no it is a ‘no’, like theThummin in the Old Testament. If we sense peace and joy within our spirit, then we know it is a ‘yes’, like the Urim in the Old Testament.
Songs, Music and Worship
Songs and music can minister deep into our souls and spirits in a way that words cannot.God often speaks to us through worship, but mostly by HIS PRESENCE in the worship! God inhabits the praises of his people, so when we worship His Spirit draws near us – we hear him speak, we feel His presence.
Through my senses in worship, I have smelt the lovely fragrance of Jesus during worship, and some people have a taste in their mouth – like honey or wine. God’s presence and voice is often manifested during worship. In 2 Chronicles 5:12-14, and 2 Chronicles 7:1-6 God’s presence was manifested so strongly during worship that the priests could not continue their work because the GLORY of the Lord filled the temple. I know we can experience the GLORY of the Lord manifested in our worship today. Miracles, signs and wonders may break out, or there may be a holy awe of silence because God is here, in our midst, and we worship Him or stand in silence and awe because of his holy presence.
Another way we can discern the voice of God is through circumstances, situations, and open doors of opportunity. God may lead or take you somewhere (planned or unplanned) and in that place God speaks directly to your heart, or most often, he uses you to speak directly to others. He plans the moment, the people or person, and the opportunity – then he speaks to our spirits and mind telling us what we need to say or do.
When we obey this prompting of the Holy Spirit we bless others and honour God with our obedience. This happened to Nicodemous, The tax Collector, the women at the well, Zacheous and many others who ‘accidently’ or ‘incidently’ bumped into Jesus.
This happened to me when I met a lady in on the hospital ward where my son was admitted for a head injury. Both our children happened to attend the same school, and were both on the same ward at the same time. God prompted me to talk to her about her son (also on the ward) and comfort her. She was obviously worried and upset. I had coffee with her, talked with her about God, and offered to pray with her. She was amazed, but also receptive and grateful. This was God’s timing and God-ordained, not an accident, but a door of opportunity. God may open many other doors of opportunity, if we will place ourselves in His hands, be willing and obedient, come out of our comfort zones, and step out in faith; the more obedient we are, the more doors of opportunity may open.
Gifts of the Spirit
God’s voice can speak powerfully OR gently and through the revelation gifts of Prophecy, Words of Knowledge, Words of Wisdom, Tongues and Interpretation. We mostly hear and receive these gifts through the Body of Christ, and they can be direct and precise and exactly what we need to hear from God at the time of hearing it.
Words of Knowledge come as God imparts knowledge to us about a situation or person’s life we could not have known other than through Him, and they are related to the past or a current situation, often giving specific details that are needed. A Word of Wisdom provides insight, guidance and counsel into how to handle difficult situations. They are the ‘mind of Christ’ given by supernatural impartation.
Prophecy is God’s word for now, or the future – it can be proclamation or decree, a forth telling or foretelling. Sometimes prophecy brings correction and rebuke, but prophecy mostly they bring comfort and exhorts and edifies the Body of Christ. These words can sometimes be challenging, so direct, so precise, and so well timed, that we are left in no doubt that this was God’s voice. For those speaking the prophecy, we may have received pictures and words, or just words or impressions, or heard a voice, but however the prophecies come, they are the exact words we need for the time and situations we are in at the time.
Those who receive the prophetic gift may receive it in different ways – some are ‘seers’ they see things in the spirit or pictures or visions; some people are ‘hearers’ – they hear what the spirit is saying in their spirit/mind; and some people are ‘knowers’ – they just know something and feel it, but can’t explain how. Some are ‘Feelers’ – they feel God’s word in their body, or sense something in their emotions – this relates to something God is saying about somebody else e.g. could be a healing He wants to do or a word he wants to give to the ‘body of Christ’ and something He feels about a situation.
I have often ‘seen’ in the spirit, in my mind’s eye or though words He has placed in my mind (prophecy or Words of Knowledge), and had an interpretation of what the picture means, or I have had a general ‘knowing’ – I just knew something because He has told me in my spirit.
Sometimes I have sensed and felt His presence in the room when we have worshipped and prayed, and felt His manifest presence in and on me, and this is often when the Gifts of the Spirit are often released in or when He speaks to me. Our spiritual senses are like our natural senses and are linked to the Gifts of the Spirit, in particular the Word of Knowledge and Discerning of spirits. We do not only discern when evil is present, but when good is present; we discern, feel and know the presence of God and know His voice speaking. We can touch, see, smell, taste, feel, the presence of God, and through this and what he is doing with us and with others; we can hear and discern God’s voice and His presence. We can hear and we sense what God is saying and doing through our spiritual senses, so we need to listen, take heed to them, and obey what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through our senses.
However, when we receive words or receive something through our senses for others personally or the church, we need to exercise WISDOM in when we deliver it and how we deliver it (which is always with humbleness, gentleness, patience and love).
Sometimes we need to wait for the right timing, sometimes we just need to pray over what God has shown us, sometimes we need to deliver things privately to people rather than in public, and sometimes we need to wait and deliver it at the appointed time He tells us. We must always ask for guidance in how and when to deliver a Word or Gift of the Spirit before we attempt to do so – we could cause more harm than good if we do not exercise wisdom.
There are many examples of the Gift of Prophecy, Words of Knowledge and all the other gifts throughout the Bible. (Nine all together, see 1 Cor 12:1-11). The Prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist prophesied about the coming of the Messiah, (which came to pass). Jesus prophesied about his own death and resurrection (which came to pass, found in the Gospels), about the about the coming of the Holy Spirit and ‘End Times’. Daniel the Prophet (Book of Daniel) and John the Apostle (book of Revelation) had prophetic pictures and visions of the End Times, and there are many more examples. (Excerpt, Prophetic Training Manual)
Dreams and Visions
Joseph in the O.T. had dreams about becoming a ruler – God spoke to Him clearly in dreams and all these dreams came to pass. Joseph, (NT) Jesus’ earthly father, also had dreams. An angel appeared to him in a dream and spoke to him, telling him to take the child and escape to Egypt – this gave Joseph direction. God’s voice can speak clearly and directly through dreams, giving precise details and descriptions of places and people and events.
Dreams can be literal or symbolic, and need interpreting..... although some things may be universal in meaning, we need ask the Holy Spirit to interpret for us, rather than rely solely on universal symbols in the Bible or ‘handbooks’ about interpretation. Some symbols have more than one meaning, so it is important we interpret correctly by asking the Holy Spirit. Sometimes He will use symbols that mean something individually to you that does not have the same meaning to somebody else – this is especially applicable across different cultures. Some dreams are not clear and require interpretation. If God gives you a dream or vision or a revelation and interpretation, check that it is in line with God’s Word and his nature – then you will know if it is from God or not. * (Excerpt from Dreams & Visions Manual)
I mention dreams and visions because they are an important way that God communicated with us in the past, and also today. They are mentioned in Acts 2:17 / Joel 2:28-32) as something that the Holy Spirit will be imparting to us in the last days, so many of us can expect to receive ‘revelation’ in this form. If we do, then we need to pray that God will make the message clear, if it isn’t already, then to give us knowledge and wisdom about what he wants us to do with the knowledge he has shared with us.
Dreams (whilst we sleep) can be vivid and details remembered but the meaning of dreams may not be entirely clear, until you ask the Holy Spirit to explain it to you. Visions are like a moving and talking pictures or a video in your mind’s eye, that conveys a significant message to the church or to you personally. Again, we may need to seek the Lord over the meaning of visions.
Joseph in the Old Testament had dreams about becoming a ruler – God spoke to Him clearly in dreams and all these dreams came to pass. Joseph, (NT) Jesus’ earthly father, also had dreams. An angel appeared to him in a dream and spoke to him, telling him to take the child and escape to Egypt – this gave Joseph direction. God’s voice can speak clearly and directly through dreams, giving precise details and descriptions of places and people and events.
As previously mentioned, dreams can be literal or symbolic, and may need interpreting..... and some may have universal meaning, but we need ask the Holy Spirit to clarify this for us, because some symbols have more than one meaning, e.g. a Lion may be the Lion of Judah, or Satan the roaring lion. Some symbols are individual and some have different meanings in different cultures, so we interpret according to the individual’s personal understanding of the symbol.
Different kinds of Dreams:
There are different categories of dreams, which help us to understand how and what God is communicating with us. There are Healing dreams, cleansing dreams, garbage dreams, internal dreams and internal and external prophetic dreams.
EXAMPLE of healing dreams: I’ve had several healing dreams recently, but I will share one. I was hurting and I prayed into the areas of hurt concerning certain relationships, including my father (I called him dad), before I went to bed, exhausted. I was so tired, I asked God to speak to me in my sleep.
In the dream, Jesus took me to my old home where I lived with my parents, and into a back room where my dad was – he was very angry and got out the broom (brush) to beat me again (this actually happened in my life, it was my dad’s way of disciplining us). I would not get off the chair I was sitting on, because I was so afraid of him. So he started to beat me whilst I sat there. The broom broke and he became more angry. I was afraid of his anger. Jesus came and stood in front of me to protect me – he took my dad’s anger on himself, plus the beatings and reminded me that he was beaten too – he took my punishment.
He asked me to release forgiveness to my dad – to say it to him, which I did (remember there is no release from pain without forgiveness). Jesus then touched my face and hair gently, and said I was precious.
The dream seemed to go on all night, in phases. It was like thoughts and moving pictures, and very, very gentle. After this I felt a sense of peace and relief, like something had been taken off me. I knew healing had taken place. I felt incredibly peaceful. The whole dream was incredibly gentle and peaceful. This was a healing dream!
I have not had many prophetic dreams, but after I came back from a ministry to Kenya, trip in October 2008, I had an internal prophetic dream, or a commission dream. At first it came as picture/vision in my mind, then a dream (or a night vision) ... I was being called up to heaven, going up a ladder. I went to the top of the ladder into heaven. I walked along a roadway that led to the Father’s throne.
Whilst there I He showed me some black African people and children (and others behind them; Asian & brown-skinned people). He said I was to lay hands on them (including the children), to bless them and give them gifts from the Kingdom of Heaven.... that I should teach the children AND adults profound simplicity, about His Kingdom, his love, his goodness and grace and to put keys of the Kingdom into their hands too (not just the adults) to give them keys of authority; to teach them to have open hearts and minds to receive his grace and gifts from heaven. I was to put precious gifts of wisdom, kindness, grace and compassion into the hands of the women and to equip the them all in the full armour of God – to put the Word into their hearts and the sword into their hands.
The dream came in parts, (progressive – one part set the stage for the next part) and it had a clear message – first GO and TEACH about the Kingdom of Heaven – to children and adults alike to the nations. Lay hands on them, give them gifts and equip them. This dream is line with God’s Word to GO and make disciples of ALL NATIONS (Matt 28:19). Some dreams are not clear and require interpretation. If God gives you a dream or vision or a revelation and interpretation, check that it is in line with God’s Word and his nature – then you will know if it is from God or not.
Visions and the audible voice of God
Visions can be for personal communication, e.g. personal destiny and calling (Gen 15), a commission from God (Isa 6, Ezk 1), personal or ministry directions (Acts 16, Mat 1:20), correction and reproof (Job 33:14-18, Dan 1) or instructions (Acts 10). Sometimes we have visions that heal us inwardly (Luke 4:18-21); sometimes we will have visions to share with others (1 Sam 3, Numb 24); sometimes we may have visions from within ourselves that are not necessary from God but from our own minds (Jerm 17:9), and sometimes we may have false visions e.g. ESP or anything with any connection with New Age, cults and the occult (Ezk 13:7).
You may hear the internal audible voice of God, but others around you usually do not - that is because God is not speaking to them! When Paul was converted, only he heard God’s audible voice, but others saw the light. In 1 Samuel 3:4-10 we see that only Samuel heard God’s audible voice.
God called his name three times, before he understood that it was God speaking to him. Samuel, not Eli, only heard this voice but Eli had the wisdom and experience to recognize it was God’s voice speaking to Samuel.
The internal audible voice of God is not spoken out loud so all can hear it: it only sounds audible to you and it feels like is spoken out loud and into your hearing – it is very distinct and clear and resounds through you – it is not coming from your thoughts but cutting through them, but it is actually spoken to your spirit rather than your ears.
Some people hear the audible voice of God, externally, outside of themselves. It is not only loud but immense in nature. It can be heard by you, but not by others around you. An example of this is a vision and audible voice found in Matthew 3:17 at Jesus baptism we read: “and a voice from heaven said, this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The voice and the vision was God’s sanction of favour on his Son who was about to commence his ministry on earth and fulfill His mission to redeem mankind.
In Acts 9:4ff whilst Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, that he saw a bright light (a vision) and heard the audible voice of the Lord say to him “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” This was a dream that contained correction and reproof, but as a follow on to this vision and Saul’s conversion, it changed the course of his life leading to his personal destiny and calling and commission.
Peter had a vision and an audible voice (a correction and reproof vision, which also gave instructions about food, which had an affect on his future ministry). It says in Acts 10:11, that he saw heaven open, and a large sheet let down to earth. On it he saw all kinds of animals, and the voice said “get up Peter. Kill and eat” and “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened to Peter three times. The experience changed his attitude to ministering to Gentiles. In Acts 10:34-35 Peter says, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Through this experience, we Gentiles have received the message of salvation – this was a life-changing and historical moment for believers.
Trances are a bit different to visions. In a trance you may be aware of your surroundings but actually caught up in a vision, it surrounds you, and you are transfixed on the events enfolding in front of you or around you. You may participate in a scene through your actions. Trances can last from seconds to several hours. The Apostle John heard God’s audible voice, and was most probably in a trance on the isle of Patmos where he received visions and revelations, including visits or visions from angels (book of Revelation).
I’d like to share a personal experience I had. God spoke to me once in an vision, with an internal audible voice, when I was a young teenager. It was a healing vision, giving me assurance. I was in bed at the time with severely sprained ankle and could not walk on it and had used moved to the USA, away from my home country in England. I was also facing a difficult and challenging time in my life and family. I was praying, asking for God’s help, when I saw a vision of Jesus. He walked into the room I was in he walked in and said “it’s alright Ruth” then walked out another door. I knew, from this vision that the situation was going to be alright. He heard and answered my prayers for myself and my family, and assured me that things would work out alright – and they did, in time.
Visions can come in varying degrees. Some people have “open visions” where they ‘see’ everything in front of their eyes (outside of themselves); some enter trances with visions, others have moving pictures/visions from within them, within their mind’s eye, and others have ‘still’, non- moving pictures in their mind – we usually call them ‘pictures’.
Most of the time however, I have moving pictures (or internal visions) in my mind’s eye, rather than an open vision/visitation but the voice of God is just as clear. One of these vivid ‘moving pictures’ came in October 2001 at a house-group meeting. It was a commission vision for me and the church.
I saw a host in Heaven. I was kneeling before the Jesus’ feet saying “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy Lord.” The host of heaven starting saying “you are worthy Lord, you are worthy”. The host of heaven parted to make a path and they started to SHOUT to the earth.... “MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY, MAKE WAY FOR THE KING, MAKE WAY FOR HIS KINGDOM, MAKE WAY FOR HIS COMING...” (This reminded me of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus coming). The message through this vision was that the church must prepare the way for the Lord’s coming by proclaiming the good news and making the message loud and clear. We are his messengers; we are preparing the way for the Lord’s return. This was a commission vision and is also part of the great commission Jesus gave us. (Excerpt from Prophetic Training Manual)
Angels are God’s messengers and are also our guardians. On many occasions throughout biblical history angels were sent with messages to people, either in a vision, or by visitation. Mary and Joseph had angels visit them personally, and in dreams (Matt 1:18 ff, Matt 2:13-15 ). The wise men had angels visit them in dreams (Matt 2:12). John the Apostle had angelic visitations (Revelation). We see angelic visitations throughout the Old and New Testament, especially in the book of Acts. In these visits or visions, angels always bring a message from God – it is just one of his ways of speaking to us, especially when he has something very important to tell us! Angels are still messengers and can still bring us messages from God today... they are not redundant! We are all still in spiritual warfare, so we need the angels! (excerpt Prophetic Training Manual)
HIS WORD (The Logos)
I also know that God’s voice can be heard through others; when they preach or teach from the Logos Word, or bring a revelation from God, we KNOW, beyond any shadow of doubt, that God has been speaking to us directly - about our attitudes, our situations, our spiritual state, and what we need to do next. The Logos is essential the Rhema word recorded, to bring us into knowledge of God and to salvation through Jesus, to bring instruction and bring us into maturity (see Heb 4:12). This is a common way that most of us ‘hear’ God – let’s keep listening; by hearing we develop faith and we learn to ‘grow’ – we develop a deeper level of understanding and maturity; we also learn to ‘fight’ using the Sword of the Spirit, and we learn to ‘share’ the word with those around us.
BEFORE we begin to study, know, understand and apply the Word of God we need to recognize the important role the Holy Spirit plays in teaching us the Word, helping us to understand and apply it. Without the HS teaching us, revealing truth to us, the Word becomes dry – it becomes a ‘religion’ rather than a living, breathing, relationship with the Holy God.
The Word says that the Holy Spirit guides into all truth (Jn 16:13): He brings us understanding – the dictionary definition of “understand” is to: comprehend, make clear, have insight, to perceive, to accept, to fathom, to make sense of, to learn, to know, to “see,” to reveal.
In Matthew 13:10-17 Jesus said that the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven has been given to us – He said our eyes are blessed because they see and our ears are blessed because they hear – many prophets and righteous men longed to see and hear what we have seen and heard, but did not; 1 Cor 2:9-14 also says that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind had conceived the things that God has prepared for those who love him, BUT God has REVEALED IT TO US BY HIS SPIRIT, and we HAVE received the Spirit, that we may UNDERSTAND what God has freely given us. The things the Spirit shows us are spiritually discerned.
Jesus is saying that these deep spiritual truths have been opened up to us, to see, hear, and understand, and He said that the Holy Spirit will speak what he hears and tells us what is to come (Jn 16 vs. 13f). He will speak what is on the Father’s heart – the Holy Spirit will REVEAL, make plain the things of God – both in the present and what is to come (see vs. 14). He (The Holy Spirit) makes it known to you (us!) We catch it in our spirit – not in our head but our heart - we are truly blessed – we just need to open up our eyes, ears, hearts and minds to receive it. SO when we are reading the Word of God we need to ASK the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, ears, hearts, minds and allow Him to speak to us whilst we read – let the Holy Spirit bring revelation to you from His Word and by His Spirit.
Besides being taught by the Holy Spirit, from His Word, we need his word TO GROW-See Eph 1:17-18 – so that you may receive wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Through Scriptures, we learn HOW to be saved, WHO Jesus is, and about his plans and purposes for our lives. The Holy Spirit ILLUMINATES the Word and makes in become alive in us, so we can understand God’s Word and apply it. The Word is VITAL for our GROWTH – it is bread and water to a starving man. Jesus said “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE, he comes to me shall NOT HUNGER, he who believes in me SHALL NOT THRIST.” (Jn6:35). IF we feed, we will not be hungry. IF we drink, we will not be thirsty. We need to spend time in his presence, feeding on and drinking in his presence, feeding on His Word, feeding on and drinking in His Spirit; then we will EXPERIENCE growth and life more abundantly (Jn 10:10). When the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word it TRANSFORMS our minds and our lives – it RENEWS and brings RELEASE, HEALING and GROWTH.
We need God’s Word to help us FIGHT – Eph 6:17 says “Take the helmet of Salvation AND THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT which is the Word of God”; and Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God has put a weapon in our hands, to FIGHT and DEFEND ourselves when Satan comes against us to attacks – Jesus used the Word to combat Satan when he was being tempted by the devil, he said, “IF you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread”. Jesus replied with the Word as his sword, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mat 4:3-4) ... he used the word as a weapon. When Satan tells you are “NOT WORTHY”, or that you are “NO GOOD, NO- ONE WILL LOVE YOU or WANT YOU,” don’t believe him and don’t agree with him, instead, speak the Word of truth: “I am a new creation”, “I am made worthy in God’s eyes”, “I am loved and accepted by God”.... If Satan tells you that you are going to be a big failure and you’ll never make it, use your sword and say “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”. Remember, “the weapons of your warfare ARE NOT HUMAN, but mighty in God to pulling down strongholds...”
Strongholds of Satan’s lies to your mind, strongholds of fear and unbelief he plants in your spirit – you can defend yourself and pull them down, and you can FIGHT TOGETHER – ask others to stand with you and pray with you when the battle gets hot.
You can also use the SWORD of the Word of God to GO ON THE ATTACK, to take back the things Satan has stolen from you, and from others. God’s Word can SET PEOPLE FREE from sin, fear, chains that bind. Jn 8:32 says “You shall know the truth and the truth WILL set you free” and verse 36 says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. We can set people free from demons that bind people by a word of Command and by the Word of God. Jesus said, “but if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come to you” (Luke 11:20), God’s word is powerful – demons don’t like it because they know that God’s Word holds power and they know the person behind the Word; they know he will accomplish and fulfill every word He has spoken; if they know this, then surely we should too? We need to believe Him. He says he wants to set us free by His Word... we just need to be willing to LET HIM! We can use the Word when we tell others about God (wisely), when we pray for others, and when we bind the enemy in intercessory prayer. His Word is powerful and will accomplish its purpose and plan.
We need God’s Word TO SHARE – Jesus said, “freely you have received, FREELY GIVE, go in my name and because you believe, others will know that I live". God has not given us his Word, new life, new freedom, to keep to ourselves, but to SHARE the good news with others who have not yet heard it, so that they might believe. He Word has transformed us, and is living and active within us. We can SPEAK those words of life he has given us to activate faith in others.
He has also given us his Word to share among believers to encourage and exhort one another. Often we need to share a word of encouragement with when our brothers or sisters are feeling down, having a hard time. We often need to hear the Word to exhort our spirits, to encourage us to go on, or to point us in the direction we need to go in. We need to share the world with ONE ANOTHER and within the WORLD. It’s not just for our benefit, but for blessing others.
To know and understand the Word of God we need to HEAR IT (Rom 10:17) faith comes by hearing – we may hear the Word through sermons, teachings at church, CD’s, radio, TV, books, whatever form it takes, God can speak through it, even when it is years old – because His Word is alive and active. When we hear the Word it convicts us, inspires us, encourages us, builds faith in us, moves us to a deeper level of understanding and experience of God.
We need to READ the Word and study it. Paul writing to Timothy says devote ourselves to public reading, teaching and preaching... be diligent in these matters... watch your life and doctrine closely (1 Tim 1:13-15, 16). We need to OBSERVE the Word: what is the passage saying? Then INTERPRET the Word correctly – questions about where, when, how, why, what etc? Look things up. Dig. Ask the Holy Spirit – He will guide you into all truth. We need to be diligent, not lazy with regard to God’s Word - we can rest on God’s Word, but not go into a coma!
We can MEMORISE the Word (Ps 119) “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you”. The Holy Spirit brings scripture back to our mind, once we have memorized it, in times of need – our own personal need or other people’s need and remember it is a weapon you can use in times of battle; if it’s already in your memory then it will be your aid.
We can MEDITATE on the Word (Ps 119:15). Meditating allows the HS to reveal truth to us at a deeper level – it allows us to SOAK in the Word, let it wash over us, cleanse us, motivate us, and bring deeper revelation to us about what that particular scripture entails for our lives.
We can SPEAK or SING the Word (Col 3:16) which is a also good way of memorizing the Word and meditating on the Word and giving God thanksgiving and praise for the things he has done and is YET to do. Singing and speaking the Word releases faith in our spirits that God is WHO He says He is and will always be the faithful and loving God that he always was.
Most of all we need to OBEY and APPLY the Word: “apply” in the dictionary means to: put into practice, to do, address, focus, devote, administer, commit, impose, dispense, implement – without application there is no growth. See James 1:22-25: “Do not merely look into the word...” – ask the HS to show you how it is relevant to you, and how you should apply it – remember it is not a dead religion of rules and regulations, but a living relationship. When we fail, we are forgiven, it is a daily walk, a growing relationship.
BUT REMEMBER in all of this that the Holy Spirit is not seeking scholars or Pharisees. Pharisees were legalistic and ritualism – Pharisees made up new religious rules (church rules / church politics? going to all meetings? Tithing? certain clothes, going to the cinema etc), placing a heavy burden on people – rules and politics is NOT part of God’s Kingdom – He didn’t write the rules, we did!
Pharisees were unteachable, see 1 Cor 8:1-2“.... We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” Jesus is looking for willing, servant- hearted workers, who will listen, learn, obey and apply the truth. He seeks our HEARTS FIRST. Remember that He, the Holy Spirit, speaks what he hears from the Father and tells you what is to come (Jn 16 vs 13f). The Holy Spirit will speak what is on the Father’s heart – the Holy Spirit will REVEAL, make plain the things of God – both in the present and what is to come (see vs 14) he (Holy Spirit) makes it known to you (us!) We catch it in our spirit – not in our head but our heart. See 1 Cor 2:9-14.
Our service comes from love – not fear, not duty. We apply God’s Word because we love him. We apply God’s Word because we love others. We apply his Word because we growing in his likeness – we want to MIRROR him. God is not looking for people who can quote the bible, know the history of the Bible/church/ Israel, or who know and understand different interpretations – the Pharisees knew all that stuff. God is not looking for religious people or Pharisees, but Sons. Pharisees knew all this stuff, but they didn’t know the living God, they had a religion – a form of Godliness without the power – they didn’t know the love, grace, mercy, kindness, goodness of God – they didn’t have a living, breathing relationship with God – that is what God is looking for – a heart that is willing to listen, learn, love, be alive, receive his Word not just as a logos/written Word but as a Rhema Word.
Let God, by the Holy Spirit, speak his Word into your heart daily – the written word and Rhema Word of God so that your relationship with him is fresh, alive, active, relevant and born and growing in a love relationship with Him.
When we are understanding and applying his Word we are growing – we are ‘walking’ in the Holy Spirit. It is not a one-off effort but a continuous journey.
We need to KNOW the Shepherd, to KNOW his voice be it powerful and loud or quite and gentle – we need to TUNE ourselves into the Holy Spirit and know WHERE he is leading us and HOW he is leading us. If we cannot HEAR his VOICE or SEE what He is doing, how will we know what to do? We need to do the things we SEE the Father doing. The Holy Spirit also takes that which is God’s and reveals it to us, therefore we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what God is saying to us, either through the Rhema Word or through the Logos Word (they will not contradict each other) so that we can GROW, FIGHT and SHARE His Word. We need to remember also, in all things pertaining to the Kingdom and to prayer, to use the NAME OF JESUS, because His name represents His authority, His will, His Godhead. His name will accomplish his purpose and will. Remember, IF WE USE THESE KEYS we will start walking in the Holy Spirit’s power and authority and remember, keys unlock doors.
IN CLASS / GROUP WORK:
1. Look up some of the scripture passages in the lesson and record how God spoke to individuals or a nation, or a group of people.
2. Discuss different ways God has spoken to you personally, or to your church.
3. Look at a character in the Old or New Testament who clearly heard God. How did God speak with them? What was the response of the character?
4. Discuss the authority of the word and how this can be used in situations today. Find scriptures that apply to your circumstances and begin to pray them together in your groups.
5. PRAY for one another and practice listening to God's voice. Ask the Lord to speak to you and with you concerning the needs of people in your group or church-ministry.
Homework – Journal:
1. Write down any questions or comments to share with the class.
2. Record the many ways God has spoken to you. Note down anything that really stands out to you.
3. Ask the Lord to speak to you in new and different ways and record what happens.
4. Meditate on a few of the Psalms and other bible passages that speak into your life.
Record what God is saying and doing in your life through these passages.
CHAPTER 6: KINGDOM CHARACTERISTICS - GOOD FRUIT & SERVANTHOOD
When we are born into a family, we bare the resemblance of our parents. We may look like them, speak like them and we learn the family values and take on different family characteristics, talents, gifts and skills. When we are born into God's kingdom we take on God's characteristics; we behold him and we become like him in our characteristics, our thoughts and actions.
In Galatians 5:16-26 it says: “The fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control.” Jesus says (John 15 vs 5) we will bear MUCH FRUIT if we abide in the vine. The seed of the Holy Spirit in us is GENETIC – we inherit the genetic nature of God within us (who is a HOLY God) when we are ‘born again’. If the seed of God in us is genetically good, then we cannot help but bare good fruit. His fruit is produced in our character by the Holy Spirit – the fruits of the Spirit are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit / God. But the seed needs to be planted, watered, fertilized, and nurtured in order to grow and mature .... Just as natural plants need light and water, we need the ‘bread of life’ and the ‘water’ of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 6:43-45 Jesus said: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. THE GOOD MAN brings GOOD things our of the GOOD stored up in his heart, and the EVIL man bring EVIL things out of the EVIL stored up in his heart.”
However, Jesus also warned us in a parable that the enemy would sow weeds among the wheat, or among the good seed (Mat 13:24-30). They will grow alongside each other; the weeds cannot be pulled out until the harvest because it could harm the wheat: this is a picture of the church – real disciples and false in the same church. They look the same, sound the same, may even act the same, but they are not the same seed. This is not said to scare or to judge, but to make you aware that both may be existing together in your church and we need to discern the difference.
In Romans 12:6-8 Paul talks about gifts of prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving (or contributing to the needs of others), leadership, governing and mercy as ‘gifts of grace’. These gifts are practical as well as spiritual, e.g. if we are ministering to the sick we may display the ‘fruits’ of gentleness, kindness, love and ALSO gifts of grace, e.g. serving and mercy. I believe there are times when God gives us gifts of grace in a different sense: this is extraordinary grace given in times of extraordinary need... and can also be over an extended period of time. God may give extraordinary spiritual and emotional strength AND SKILLS in order to display the fruits and grace of God in acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, understanding and empathy, counsel and healing, forgiveness, gentleness, patience and giving, and many other areas, which is often worked out through our daily ministry and daily lives (2 Cor 8:7).
This grace goes beyond our own natural strength and abilities and gifting. It is a specific anointing for a specific time and season, e.g. we may be given extra grace when we are ministering to the dying; to those in great poverty or trauma, sickness or disability .... God may also give us gifts of the Spirit, working alongside these gifts of grace that compliment, help, support and strengthen those we are ministering to e.g. Words of Knowledge and Wisdom. Think of mother Theresa ... she had extraordinary grace and strength when ministering to the street people and the dying.... These are of course, the FRUITS of the Spirit, but God gives us the capacity to display them in abundance; over and beyond what we could normally give.
Another example of these gifts is in Acts 6:1-7 where Stephen and others were appointed to serve the widows. Gifts of grace are about serving others, especially in particularly difficult times. Here we would see the gifts of grace, as defined by Paul in Rom 12:6-8, of giving, serving and mercy being worked out in this ministry to the widows. We also know that Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and was powerfully anointed in the gifts of the Spirit, performing miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 6:8). Grace gifts and gifts of the Spirit work together; both may have been in operation whilst he served the widows.
God’s compassion, grace and gifts overlap and work together in unique and specific ways in people’s lives and circumstances. This fruit of the Spirit and grace gifts becomes MINISTRY as we minister the compassion of God to others. They are all ministry gifts, and are the love and compassion of God manifested in different forms of gifts and fruit of the Spirit.
Jesus also spoke about having the right attitudes, OR the ‘BE-ATTITUDES. Our attitudes display who we are, which need to reflect the character of God. What attitudes does God want to see in us? (Matt 5:1-12) Humbleness, a contrite heart, meekness, hunger and thirst for the Kingdom, a merciful heart, purity, peacemakers, perseverance and a spirit of rejoicing in suffering. These need to be ADDED to the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ God wants us to display in our lives.
To display the Fruits of the Spirit we need to PUT OFF our old self (or our old nature - Eph 4:22) and PUT OFF falsehood (Eph 4:25). We are asked to PUT TO DEATH our earthly nature .... (Col 3:5) and to get rid of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language....(Col 3:8) and not to lie to one another since we have TAKEN OFF our old self with its practices and have PUT ON the NEW SELF which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Col 3:9) Taking OFF the old and putting ON the new is a choice – a deliberate act.
In Colossians 3:12-14 we are told to CLOTHE OURSELVES or to PUT ON compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, (humility has been added to the list). We are to bear with each other and forgive grievances. We are then told to PUT ON LOVE, which binds them together in unity.
Putting ON and clothing ourselves in humility is a DELIBERATE ACT – a choice of how we will behave – we can make a continual choice to ‘walk’ in the way of holiness and love that we are called to.
We are called to PUT ON LOVE – 1 Corinthians 13.
We can have gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith and give to the poor – but if we are not bearing the fruit of love, we are nothing. “Love is... patient, kind.
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and preservers. Love never fails. Faith hope and love remain, but the GREATEST is LOVE.” Love is not an option where God is concerned; it is His character. Without love our words betray our actions; our lives and words do not match the nature of God.
2 Peter 1:5 – we are told to ADD to the above (fruits of the Spirit): Goodness, knowledge, self- control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. (Knowledge and godliness has been added to the list).
We are also called to PUT ON – The Full Armour of God (Eph 6): The helmet of SALVATION (the good genetic seed of God), the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS, the belt of TRUTH, the shield of FAITH, the SWORD of the Spirit – the Word of God. The Feet shod with the GOSPEL... all bound together in prayer. Notice the fruits here... righteousness, truthfulness..... faithfulness... we put these on to help us STAND OUR GROUND when the enemy attacks. This is our protection when the enemy seeks to rob us of our life in God, to steal our position, our hope, our joy, our faith. We STAND firm in the truth and we do not let him spoil our character or steal our goods.
A SERVANT HEART
One of the most outstanding characteristics of Jesus was his servanthood. Jesus did not grasp at equality with God, but took on the nature of a servant. In Phil 2:1-2 it says: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of the a servant, being made in human likeness... and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” As Kingdom citizens we need to be baring the same characteristics and servant-heart that Jesus had. When people see the 'marks' of Jesus' characteristics in us, they will know we belong to His family.
He took on human flesh – putting aside his glory and majesty, and became a man. He took a Jewish maiden and was born in a lowly cattle shed – not a King’s palace. Jesus placed himself under authority – under the authority of his earthly parents as a child, and his Heavenly Father. He waited until the right time before he began his ministry. He trained and learned to work as a skilled carpenter, from a young boy up until he was 30 years old: then for 3 years he served mankind and God, teaching about the Kingdom and demonstrating the Kingdom. He waited on his Father before he did anything ..... He only did what He saw his Father doing... He was obedient and submitted to his Father. He did not TAKE or DEMAND power, position or authority over people’s lives (only over Satan, nature and sickness), instead, Jesus turned it on its head and said: “unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ....” (Matt 18:3-4) Jesus loved and honoured little children, and the sick, and ordinary men and women, not great Kings and Queens.
At the end of his ministry... he took beatings, mocking, thorns in his head, he took nails ... he chose the cross to save mankind, ultimately becoming a sacrifice for us in his death. He showed us how to serve by being a servant himself. IF Jesus didn’t have the nature of a servant, IF he hadn’t laid aside his majesty... then he would not have accomplished what He did... it was the only way... he CHOSE to humble himself. He lived serving, he died serving and He continues to serve.
SERVANTS serve the needs of others. We need to learn to serve one another and serve the Father to enhance the Kingdom of Heaven, and not ourselves – not just our own church, or our own kingdom: we need to think more widely about serving the King and his Kingdom which is much wider than our own ‘back yard.’ We are not here to gain glory or power or position or recognition or money: we need to check our motives. We should only be doing the things God has placed on our hearts. Service needs to come from the heart. Where will this service take us? Where is God calling you? Are you willing to go and do this until he stops you, redirects you or takes you home? Service to God involves sacrifice. Sacrifice of money, time, family (but not neglect) home, car, job, and overcoming anxieties ... going places and doing things we have not done before. A servant heart is a WILLING heart and a COURAGEOUS heart. Serving takes courage and perseverance, especially in the face of persecution.
We must not loose this attitude of servant hood, no matter what position we have in the church. Leaders in particular need servant attitudes towards everyone in the church, their neighbourhood and beyond. If we loose our servant attitude and become proud and self-seeking then a mighty fall will follow – especially if we stop listening to God and others around us, and we refuse to repent and see our own mistakes. Pride comes before a fall. Let’s not be in that position but place ourselves, our lives into His hands and remain in true humility with a serving and compassionate heart. Compassion for God and others keeps us humble. In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul exhorts us, “not to do things from selfish ambition, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves... each of you should look not to your own interests, but also the interests but also to the interests of others....” AND also the interests of the church... the interests of the community.... the interests of the mission... the interests of the Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul had a servant heart. He was willing and courageous. He was thrown in jail, beaten and persecuted, thrown out of town, mocked, accused and misunderstood, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked.... All for the sake of the Gospel. In 2 Cor 4:7-8 vs 16 & 18 it says: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.... Therefore we do not lose heart, through outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.... So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen....” Servant-hood is an attitude – a state of heart and mind that deliberately chooses to humble oneself for the benefit of another. The attitude of servant hood comes form a heart that is submitted to God and a heart that loves God and others. Obedience, submission and love are the keys – His love for us and our love for him, motivates us.
We are called to be Fruit bearers, ministers of His GRACE. Bearers or Carriers, of HIS nature, bearing His good seed, His characteristics – wherever we go.... we are to reveal the nature of God to others.
CLASS & GROUP WORK:
Discuss lesson/chapter, and any questions.
1. Read Matthew 5: 1 – 12 (The Be-attitudes) and Galatians chapter 5 (Fruits of the Spirit): discuss how these attributes and fruits display themselves, what might they look like in action today?
2. In groups, encourage one another – share with one another how and where you see the Fruits of the Spirit manifested in each other’s lives.
3. In groups, discuss ways you can serve your community (a one-off act of kindness). Do not do this for reward or any sort of spiritual return, but simply to show God’s kindness and love for others. (Research and find out if what you would like to do will benefit others – then you can offer your help.) . Then, as a group, plan how and when and where you will do this, and carry it out as a group task. You may want to repeat it!
1. Are you displaying servant-hood in your life and in my characteristics? In your dealings with people? In your ministry? in your job? in your family? Bring this to the Lord and let him show you where he wants you to be more like him. Let His Spirit speak to you heart. He will transform you from the inside out!
2. Think about 1 or 2 people this week you can serve. Find out the best way of doing this, and then approach them and ask them if you can serve them in any way? (As a one-off act of kindness)
3. Look at the life of a Christian believer you know or admire, OR a character from the Bible, and the way they served others in their ministry. Why does this person inspire you? What can you do to become more like this, and more like Christ?
4. Meditate on the Fruits of the Spirit, in Galatians 5: for a few days, and ask the Lord to manifest these fruits in your life.
5. Read through 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and write down what love is: how is it displayed in action? Give examples.
CHAPTER 7: KINGDOM CHARACTERISTICS: INTEGRITY & HOLINESS
(Titus 1:6-9 / 1 Tim 3:1-12)
The Father is looking for leaders and those called to the five-fold ministry to have character – His character. He calls us to model Him.
In the book of Titus, Paul says that we (especially leaders) should be: blameless, of good reputation with outsiders; the husband of ONE wife, and whose children are believers, not wild and disobedient. In Timothy it says, an overseer must be able to manage his own family, and he should have a good wife who is not a malicious talker, who is respectable, temperate and trust- worthy. To be a good leader you need a good marriage! Your spouse is your working partner, your spiritual partner. If you are a wife, you are called to submit to your husbands in everything, because the husband is the wife’s covering. If you are a husband you are called to love your life as He loves the church and gave himself up for her. Treat your wife well, love her and honour her! Then she will love you, respect you and be faithful and supportive to you in your life and ministry.
It says a leader should be: hospitable, loves what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He should hold firmly to the message taught, encourage sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 3:1-2 also says we should be obedient and submissive to authorities, peaceable and show a humble attitude to all. In Titus 2:6 it says, “in your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.
INTEGRITY means: sincerity, soundness, wholeness, virtue, incorruptible, solid. Integrity requires us to have honest intentions and motives and actions. We need integrity in our goals, ambitions and dreams (in our inner man) and the way we carry it out. We need to be in harmony with God’s Spirit, His ways and His Word, with our words and actions. We speak and act out of the things within our hearts, whether they are good or bad, so to be a leader, or if you are already a leader, you need to have the character He is looking for; you need to be teachable, mouldable and shape-able in His hands – always willing to be disciplined by Him and changed into His likeness.
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) lacked integrity – they became corrupt and dishonest. They sold their property and pretended to be give all the money from the property to the Apostles. This resulted in their death. They wanted to ‘look’ the part. Peter saw behind this; he had a word of knowledge, and knew their intensions were corrupt. It serves as warning to us; God sees us on the inside, not just our outward appearance, that’s why he tells us to be clean on the inside, not just the outside.
Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24, emphasis verse 9/18-22) lacked integrity. He had ‘power’ as a sorcerer, but became a believer. However, when he saw the Apostles laying hands on people and them receiving the Holy Spirit, he wanted to ‘buy’ this power. Was his heart corrupt? Or was he insecure - perhaps he wanted power and position? Or a sort cut to the top? Or maybe he wanted the power of God in his life, but went about it the wrong way? Maybe his intentions were good, but his methods were wrong.
We CANNOT sell or buy the power of God, the anointing of God, the healing of God, or ANYTHING ELSE God gives – it is a FREE GIFT – so let’s keep it that way. Let’s not corrupt the gospel or any of the free gifts God gives. Let’s make sure both our intentions are right, our methods are right, and our message is right. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt 10:8).
Leaders and ministers be aware! You may be more prone to corruption and loss of integrity than others, because you will come under direct attack from the enemy who seeks to bring you down and stop the advancing of the Kingdom. We can lack integrity in certain parts of our lives... in our finance, in our relationships and how we treat others, or in our marriages. Also be aware of people/leaders who SEEK to be at the ‘top’, who are basically insecure – they are the ones who hold power, control over people’s lives. These people often misuse their power and many people are hurt. This is NOT God’s way – he is looking for people with servant hearts, humble hearts. Remember, Jesus took a little child and said, “...whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven...” (Mat 18:1-4)
Stephen in the book of Acts, (Acts 6:5, 8-10, 51-51, 55-56, 59), was a man full of the Holy Spirit, faith, wisdom and of integrity. Under scrutiny he did not deny Christ and he had the courage to confront the Pharases with their sin. He had the courage to proclaim what he saw even whilst he was being stoned. He had the integrity to forgive them and he asked God to do the same.
David was a man after God’s own heart, yet because he was a leader, because he was human and susceptible to the enemy’s tactics to divert you off course and way from God’s calling on your life, he fell into a secret love affair with Bathsheba. He had an affair with a married woman and had her husband killed. It was an affair with dreadful consequences – the loss of his son’s life, (see 2 Sam 11:1-27, emphasis on verses 2-5). However, David repented (Ps 139) and his relationship with God was restored. Leaders be aware of falling into sexual sin – many good leaders have had their marriages, ministry, churches etc ruined by not guarding their heart, their integrity, their vision and calling. If you loose your vision, you loose your integrity. God wants an undivided heart.
If we are not mouldable in God’s hands, if we become hardened in any way, proud or unteachable or unloving and unwise, then we are no longer acting as God’s servants, and no longer useful in his service. We become ‘doers’ of works rather than a real reflection of Him, and his love to others.
It’s your heart He is interested in most of all; your heart and your willingness, ABOVE any kind of works you can produce, and above your knowledge. Our knowledge of God is limited, but when we seek him, seek his face and his ways, we gain counsel from Him and his counsel far exceeds anything we can offer.
True spiritual integrity is a heart that longs after Him, is hungry for Him and His ways, and desires to seek Him and His Kingdom first – above all other things – above your own personal ministry and church etc. We are urged by Paul to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1).
True integrity will be obedient and put into practice the revelations God gives you, in every area of your life: you cannot have hidden parts that you keep to yourself. It is total surrender, total dying to self and resurrection to new life, a holy life. A life full of integrity, hope and faith and the love of God, which is the force, the passion behind all that we do. So is passion for Him our motive in ministry and leadership? It’s passion for Him that gives you passion for others – let love be your ONLY motive, then you will speak in love and act in love and this is true integrity (see Romans 13:8-10).
Death to Flesh
Paul also said: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me....” (Galatians 2:20). God brings us to a place where he asks us to put our flesh to death. God sometimes places us in the fire, to test what is inside us. He wants to bring us to a place where we put to death our old man, and our flesh, in all areas, to bring them to the cross and let our flesh die, so his holiness lives with us. He wants us to bear His fruit, to reflect his beauty and his holiness. He may do this through circumstances he brings into our lives, through others, through His Word, through other people, through conviction of the Spirit or a combination. God needs vessels that are sanctified (set apart) and holy, fit for his purpose.
God ALLOWS us to experience difficult and painful circumstances in personal relationships, finances, jobs, health, experiences, death of loved ones, accidents, traumas. God ALLOWS us to make mistakes and make choices. We often cause our own problems however God can and does turn things around for good. God does WORK ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD (Rom 8). We can be made more wise, kind, patient, understanding, compassionate etc when we submit our life circumstances to God and let him work in us and through is IN THEM. We become softer in our heart – more holy.
Stretching faith & obedience
God calls us to a place of submission and obedience. God asks us to use our skills and abilities and often asks us to do things that we think are BEYOND our abilities – he asks us to step out in faith and obey him, and in doing this we GROW – we grow in strength, we grow in our gifting, we grow in TRUSTING God and in our relationship. Obedience to God, stepping out in faith, is holiness – it’s faith and trust in action, and it is RELIANCE on God rather than SELF-RELIANCE. We become totally reliant on him, not on ourselves. When we do this it HONES OUT PRIDE and SELF, therefore making us holy – more like him.
Gideon sent away most of his army and only had 300 men left to fight the vast armies of the Midianites. How did they fight? With swords and arrows? NO! with clay jars, torches, and trumpets! They won the battle because they obeyed God. David killed Goliath with a stone and a sling, not the King’s armour..... Joshua won the battle of Jericho not by human means and weapons and strategies, but by marching around the walls for 7 days, 7 times, then blowing trumpets! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? God asks us to take up the armour of God (Eph 6) and to fight with his weapons – not weapons of this world but: “the weapons of our warfare are not human, but mighty in God to the pulling down of strongholds!” Our weapons of prayer, faith, and the Word of God may be ridiculous in this world, but they are mighty in the Kingdom. God asks us to stretch our faith and obey him because it keeps us humble and reliant on him, it hones out self and pride; it brings a sense of awe, it brings us into a more trusting and close relationship with God; it brings us into a deeper place of holiness.
God uses people to purify us: our relatives, friends, colleagues etc OFTEN hurt us, and make us angry. Our reactions/responses are what is most important here. How do we handle other people’s deceit, anger, betrayal? Do we respond gracefully or do we lash out and respond the same way they do? Jesus told us to “FORGIVE” – seven times seven, and so heap ashes on their head” – when they ask for your shirt, give them your coat... when they slap on the left check, offer your right...” (Matt 5:38-42) what He is saying is BE GRACIOUS and FORGIVING.... (and WISE!) This will make people question what they are doing, it will prick their conscious. This is the grace of God in action... this is holiness.... It is NOT EASY... one of the hardest things to do, but what God expects from his children... to reflect his likeness.
Releasing and Healing hurts
There are times when God shows us we need to be released from things that are holding us back; things that bind us, hurt us, CONTROL US, blind us, past and present. Again, bitterness and unforgiveness will hold you back. When you forgive and allow God to bring inner healing and release it brings us into a better place with God... into a more trusting and holy place with God.
Mouldable . (See Jerm. 18:1-6)
The Holy Spirit also wants to empty out the RUBBISH: the selfishness, the pride, and rebellion. He wants to SHAPE us, as the potter shapes the clay. WE NEED TO BE MOULDABLE IN HIS HANDS. God’s release, healing and cleansing/purifying is AN ONGOING PROCESS! We may be broken and remoulded, put through the fire and heat, but when we are mouldable, and allow the HS to work in us, we become more like him – reflecting his glory and beauty.
Worship and time in His presence
When we worship and honour God, and soak in his love and his presence, God’s presence is there, changing us. We cannot be in his presence and NOT be affected. His presence is holy. It’s in us, on us, around us. His characteristics rubs off on us and changes our characteristics. Our friends and family can influence us all, for good or for bad. When we spend time in his holy presence, we are influenced for good.
When we worship and spend time in his presence, God pours out his love into our hearts, his peace, power and our hearts become mouldable, softened by his presence and IF we ALLOW him and ASK him, he will come in and make us more like him.... Holy.
Jesus was our model. He was tempted but did not sin. HE WALKED IN HOLINESS & INTEGRITY. He did not have double standards. He did not say one thing and do another. Jesus was true to his mission and calling, true to his father, true to his character. He did not become PROUD, he was not diverted off course, he did not gather riches for himself or his mission, and he did not seek glory for himself – he was led by the Holy Spirit and only did what he saw his Father doing. That is integrity. He was focused. He did not take his eyes off his Father and was led and guided by the Holy Spirit in all that he did.
He calls us to model him, so that others can follow. We are called to walk in the Holy Spirit – as Jesus walked in integrity and holiness! Jesus said, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness... for they will be filled,” (Mat 5:6). He is seeking hearts that are genuine and hearts that are hungry and thirsty for him. He is looking for people who will be true and faithful. Jesus expects us to FOLLOW HIM – NOT a RELIGION or movement, but a PERSON.
CLASS & GROUP WORK:
1. Discuss lesson /chapter and any questions.
2. Discuss integrity and holiness: what is it? What blocks us? How can we obtain this?
3. Discuss characters in the Bible who showed integrity: what did they do – how did they show integrity? Do you know anyone who shows integrity today? How do they do this?
4. Pray with a partner: be honest & open. Let God minister to you through each other regarding integrity and holiness.
1. Write down any comments or questions, to share in the School or Church Group.
2. Reflect on your life regarding integrity. Do your words and actions match each other? Do your words and actions match the gospel and Kingdom principles and values? Do you have good intentions but lack integrity in any area for any reason?
3. In prayer, allow the Holy Spirit to heal you and release you of any previous hurts in relationships, forgiving others... and then become mouldable in the Father’s hands, for Him to work in you as He wills.
4. Spend time in the Father’s presence, not praying, but just meditating, worshipping and listening to what He wants to say to you.
CHAPTER 8: KINGDOM CHARACTERISTICS: UNITY & LOVE
This key is important to walking in the Spirit because, we are NOT walking in the Spirit when we are in disunity with our brothers and sisters, when we are not ‘walking in the light’ there is no ‘fellowship’ (1 John 1:7). This key of Unity is important because we need to reflect the unity of the Godhead, both in our intimacy with Him and in our fellowship with each other. Where there is no unity, there is disharmony or dishonour. This is not honouring to God and therefore, we cannot walk in the Spirit, unless we walk in unity.
TO BE IN UNITY means– oneness, singleness, union, solidarity, accord, agreement, alliance, communion, harmony, peace, wholeness, and I would add, fellowship.
John 17:20-23 depicts the intimacy, union, oneness, unity that Jesus has with the Father and wants us to have with HIM and with EACH OTHER. Here Jesus models His intimacy with the Father. Intimacy is KNOWING the thoughts, feelings or emotions of another person, knowing their personality and characteristics, and knowing their likely actions or reactions in any given situation. Intimacy is developed by spending time with the other person, in communicating and listening, and enjoying one another’s company. When we really worship Him, in Spirit and truth, we become intimate. When we pray, learn and listen with an open heart and mind, we become intimate. We are invited into this intimacy with the Godhead and with each other.
John 17:21 says “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Intimacy is also about having joint, open communication and agreement with each other, about having joint purposes and plans. Intimacy is about KNOWING the person and pleasing a person. That’s how we are to be with God and when we have intimacy with Him, then we can begin to have deeper unity and fellowship with one another. John 17:22 says, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity....”
The trinity, or Godhead, is a unified Godhead. They do NOT pull apart from each other. They do not promote themselves but each other. The do not go off in different directions, doing their ‘own thing’. They have one purpose, one plan, one vision, one goal and work in unison to achieve it. They have solidarity, agreement, alliance, harmony, wholeness. They exist in unison and intimacy. They are one, but have different FUNCTIONS.
GOD THE FATHER: is Creator, provider, protector, ruler, He hears and answers our prayers.
GOD THE SON: is Saviour/redeemer, Judge, Healer, Mediator, Friend
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT: is Creator, teacher & guide, counsellor, intercessor, and giver of gifts. He also dwells within us, and fills us.
Although they may have separate roles, it does not mean that they are working individually but are ONE Godhead. They work together to ONE PLAN: and that plan is to.....? Redeem – bring/buy mankind back into relationship with God. So if the Godhead work together as a TEAM, with one purpose, all working towards the same goal... then he wants us, the church, to mirror this unity and intimacy in fellowship with each other also!
HE WANTS US TO MIRROR UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST. In Ephesians 4:1-6 it talks about us being ONE BODY, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Each member of the body of Christ has a different function and purpose but with ONE GOAL, all equally important and necessary for the body to function effectively.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 it talks about the different functions of the body. If parts are missing or not working together properly then the body is ineffective – and falls into disunity. DISUNITY is the enemy of the Church – it makes it sick, powerless, ineffective and weak: that is why Paul tells us to “accept one another” (Rom 15:7); “to agree with one another, and not let there be any divisions (1 Cor 1:10); and to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).
THE BODY (prophetic word) 7.6.09
Whilst in prayer and worship, I had a picture (vision) of bones coming together to become a body. The body became flesh and stood up to be a giant - warrior. Then I received these prophetic words, which came in two parts.
”Blow the trumpet - call my Body to come together. They must not be scattered, they must come together and work together. Can the leg cannot say it doesn't need the arm? Can the toe say it doesn't need the hand? I call every muscle, every bone, every fibre to work together and be my Body.
Blow the trumpet - I call my Body to awake! I call them to arise and be a warrior in the land, to take the nations, to proclaim and to bring salvation to the land.
Blow the trumpet - I call my Body to be my voice to the nations. Be my voice, speak my words, proclaim my Kingdom.
Blow the trumpet - I call my Body to prepare for my coming. Anoint yourself with oil - the oil of worship and holiness and readiness for my coming. Blow the trumpet. Church arise.”
(See Ezk. 37:1-14 & 1 Cor. 12:12-27) Second part:
”I am calling an army - an army of mighty warriors to invade the world and the kingdom of darkness and to plunge and pull back and pluck out people who are lost and perishing. I call you to proclaim. Proclaim my word! Proclaim my Kingdom. Arise mighty warriors! I call you to go into the darkness, into the depths of darkness, to bring people out into the light. You will find precious treasures in the darkness. How will they know the light unless you go? How will they see it, unless you take it? How will they hear unless you speak it and proclaim it?
I call you to put on that armour. Put on the armour and fight with my sword, for my sword is MIGHTY! Mighty in battle, mighty to conquer, mighty to divide, mighty to save. I call you to be a people of valour. Put on the breastplate of righteousness! Hold up the shield of faith! Go the nations with the gospel of peace. Keep on the helmet of salvation, always! Always proclaim salvation and truth. Wear and proclaim the truth - it sets you free! Go to the corners of the earth! Go and spread my word. Go to every nation, every city, every town, every village. Go, and my strength and my power and might will be with you!
My church shall arise and be seen in the world again as a mighty army, as a powerful body, not to be tampered with, not to be mocked and scorned as weak and ineffective, but mighty in God!” (See 1 Thess 5:4-8, 1 John 1:5-7, Eph 6:10-18, Matt 28:19-20)
To work in unison we need good working relationships with each other, and good communication with each other. If they are not good, then we need to do the Biblical thing: to humble ourselves, seek reconciliation and unity – in Matthew (18:15-17) is says we should sort out our differences privately, and only take it wider, or public if they do not listen. Remember, Satan’s tactics is to DIVERT Christians off course... off their commission to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead .... into smaller, less important, often political issues, and also to DIVIDE Christians from each other. If he can divide you, he will. If he can make you jealous, angry, bitter, he will, if he can make you gossip and cause disunity, he will – beware! Don’t fall into this trap... remember your calling.
If we have fallen into this trap then there is a way out: in James 5:16 says we should “confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed....” And 1 John 1:6-7 says, “if we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. BUT if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
We need to walk in the light with each other! We cannot hide, or we have no fellowship! If we have sinned, against each other, the book of James says that confession and repentance will heal the wounds – it’s risky! it takes COURAGE and WISDOM, and HUMBLENESS on our part – but it is worth the journey to emerge the other side in wholeness and in unity. Phil 2:1-2 says; “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of the a servant, being made in human likeness... and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
Forgiveness and Unity
So that we CAN walk in unity, we have been given a Biblical model; we are told FORGIVE whatever grievances we may have against one another. Colossians 3:12-13 says: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all virtues, put on love, which binds them all together, in perfect unity. “
Remember, if do not forgive, we bind three people; we bind ourselves in bitterness and anger, we bind the other person, and we bind God to His Word. In order to release all of you, you will need to release forgiveness and bitterness. You will need to ‘lay your gift on the alter’ then go and make peace with your brother. This is the attitude and approach God would have us take so there is no anger and bitterness in you and so there is no disunity within his Body. Remember He is a triune God; He is unity with Himself and His church and He expects us to be in unity with each other.
If God has called you into the ministry, especially in one of the five-fold ministry offices, then you are called to be a servant and you are called; (Eph 4:11-13) “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so the body may be built up, until we reach UNITY in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become MATURE, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
How will we become mature and cause others to be mature? In relationship, in love, and in unity.... Laying down your lives for each other, modelling his love... this is what brings us into maturity and the whole measure of the fullness of Christ!
We are also called to be SERVANTS and model Jesus. We need to learn to serve one another in the body, and in the wider church, to enhance the Kingdom of Heaven, and not ourselves – not just our own church, or our ministry or our own kingdom: we need to think more widely about serving the King and his Kingdom which is much wider than our own ‘back yard.’ We are not here to gain glory or power or position or recognition or money: we need to check our motives. We must not loose this attitude of servant hood, no matter what position we have in the church. Leaders in particular need servant attitudes towards everyone in the church, the body, their neighbourhood and beyond. In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul exhorts us: “not to do things from selfish ambition, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves... each of you should look not to your own interests, but also the interests but also to the interests of others....” AND also the interests of the church... the interests of the community.... the interests of the mission... the interests of the Kingdom.
Examples of Unity (or the body working together)
When we walk in unity and harmony, we are effective in the Kingdom of God. In Acts 2:42, 47 it says that.... “the believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, to breaking of bread and to prayer.... All the believers were together and had everything in common.... And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Because their was unity, great power was released...
a. TODAY a global mission are planning mass evangelism in different nations, involving many evangelists from around the world, churches, committees and working parties. These teams all need to work together for one purpose – to see the lost, saved – to see cities/towns impacted by God. It takes 12 months of preparing and hard work. Teams need to communicate with each other, listen to each other, accept each other, and work with each other’s gifts. They need to be committed to the vision/goal, to the advancing of the Kingdom, and work towards and preserver with the plan until it is accomplished. They will hold crusades with thousands coming to Christ. We must remember, that it’s not about us, our gifts and calling so much as it is about God’s plan and purpose – to redeem mankind.
On a NATIONAL & LOCAL scale, in Britain, we had HOPE 08; a national challenge to all church groups to work together to share the good news of the gospel. Many churches have come together, worked together to achieve this aim and have been able to ‘evangelize’ their localities.
On a LOCAL SCALE, we can work together with like-minded churches and independent Christian organizations to achieve the goal of sharing the gospel in our towns/cities and villages. When armies join forces, they increase in power and effectiveness. The Church is an army, in the Spiritual battlefield of the souls of mankind. When we join forces we increase our effectiveness. When we move at the right time and in the right place, and when everyone is in their in the place, playing their part, using their gifting efficiently and effectively, working in unison, you can accomplish more. NO PLANS should be made without PRAYER. No plans should be made without the Holy Spirit’s direction. He is the captain.
On a SMALLER SCALE – ALL OF THIS also applies in our local church: we need TEAM work, a pulling together in the same direction... We need to keep working on our relationships and communication: We need to honour one another, and channel our individual gifts and calling in the right direction to fulfill the Great Commission and to build and love the Body of Christ. We are not just an army but also a FAMILY, so we need to care for one another in the Body of Christ.
Jesus is coming back for one church, one bride, not a divided church, bride or body of people. It says in Psalms it says that ‘where there is unity, He commands a blessing’..... We are a model to the world of God and who he is... He is NOT divided ... He wants us to model this unity that he has. Disunity brings dishonour to God and on the church. Let us honour one another above ourselves. Let us learn to love one another and therefore dwell in unity.
Because of God’s great love for us, because we have received it and we are ‘in love’ with Him, our lives need to be motivated by love; love for God and others. Our lives and ministry need to be soaked in love – our purpose, aim and everything we do needs to steam from love and NOT religious duty, or our own purpose and gain. The Father sent Jesus because of his love. Jesus came because of his love. Jesus asks us to go because of his love. In Romans 13:8-10 (read) it says we have a debt of love to each other. The early disciples reflected unity and love for each other by sharing everything they had with each other. This is what makes us STAND OUT from the world, and from other religions. Other religions may contain aspects of love, wisdom, purity, obedience, self-control, peace etc, but do they have the love of the Heavenly Father? Has the love of God been ‘shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost?’ .... But we HAVE received this love of the Father, and he wants us to show it to one another, and to reflect who He is in this world. God is love – that’s who He is. What are we?
We are all called to PUT ON LOVE – read 1 Corinthians 13; this particularly applies to leaders, who must always model love in their lives.
We can have gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith and give to the poor – but if we are not bearing the fruit of love, we are nothing.
“Love is... patient, kind. Love is not: not envious, not boastful, not proud, not rude or self seeking. Love is not easily angered, does not keep a record of wrongs, does not delight in evil – but rejoices in truth.
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and preservers. Love never fails. Faith hope and love remain, but the GREATEST is LOVE.” Love is not an option where God is concerned; it is His character. Without love our words and displayed within the Body of Christ, we betray what we know and believe; our lives and words do not match the nature of God, therefore to be in unity with each other, we need to have his love, his passion in our hearts; passion for him, passion for one another and passion for the lost.
Let’s study Ephesians 3:14-21 about the love of God: verse 17: “being rooted and established in love....”
ROOTED – seeds have to planted (in good soil), be watered, fed, have TIME to grow up and GROW IT ROOTS DOWN deep. To be rooted we need to know the Word and let it grow in us. Rooted suggests stability. To be rooted in love we need to know, EXPERIENCE and understand the love of God and what this means to us, DAILY.
ESTABLISHED – means something has been repeated; it is a continuous, on-going practice – to be established in love is to be continuously active in the art of loving God and loving others. It is practical and ongoing.
Let’s read Romans 13:8-10......verse 18 says, “having the POWER TO GRASP” - the power of Christ is already in us – what Paul is saying is we need to USE FORCE – to grasp hold tightly this truth concerning the love of Christ.
Power to grasp, how WIDE & LONG - is talking about God’s mercy and grace which is UNLIMITED in its boundaries. “AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST..... so far have I removed your transgressions from you....”
Power to grasp, how HIGH and DEEP is the love of Christ. HIGH, suggests entering into God’s presence and holiness, which we can only do because of Christ’s sacrifice – the curtain was torn in two, we can now enter His presence to worship and intercede.
But his love calls us to walk DEEPER in holiness, to become like his son. Eph. 4:13 says, “until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and BECOMING MATURE, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. This is the height God’s love calls us to.
Jesus went DEEP. He went to the cross, then down into hell to loose the prisoners. There is NO WHERE he would not go to reach and save the lost. NO WHERE.
What about us? How deep are we willing to go – can we grasp how deep his love is for us? For the lost? That he would go to ANY MEASURE to find us and restore us – remember the parable of the lost sheep and the Shepherd, depicting the Father sending Jesus, His Son, to find us, His lost sheep? (Luke 15:1-4). Once we’ve begin to grasp how deep his love is for us, he also gives us a deep love for others. How deep are we willing to go? Will we go deep into his love and be willing to go to get others?
As I was in prayer (18.6.09), the Lord gave me these prophetic words for the body:
“Compassion; have my heart of compassion. Compassion reaches out, gives out of oneself. Compassion lays itself down on the altar. Compassion says there is no place you will not go. Compassion loves the leaper and the outcast. Compassion is all embracing. Compassion goes beyond yourself into another realm; the realm of my supernatural love, which is non-exhausting, never ending. Can you have that heart of compassion? This is what the world looks for and needs. It needs the heart of a Father who loves and protects and guides and gives and gives without expecting return. This is how the world knows you are different – not by what you say or do, but by the measure of your love and your willingness to be broken and to reach out to touch the unlovely and unloved.
Will you be my hands that reach out and touch them? to hold them, to love them, to pull them out of darkness? Will you be my feet that will walk with them in their pain and loneliness? Will you walk the way I walked? Will your love be a fragrance to the dying and the lost? Will your words be healing and life? Will your eyes see? Do they see? Do they see with my eyes? Do you see people the way I see people? I look with eyes of compassion and my heart longs, yearns to be one with those who are lost and seeking me. Let this love be in you that was in Christ Jesus. You are my body, my hands, eyes, ears, feet, mouth; let this love be in you; let love me your mark.”
I met Rose, in Aberaron, Wales whilst on holiday in a caravan. This was God’s perfect timing. I accidently met her in the ladies toilet! She said ‘hello’ to me and just started to share her life with me – about how she had been beaten, homeless, suffered sexual abuse as a child and now her daughter being fostered... God told me to tell her, that He loved her..... She was shocked I was a Christian and had been a Christian herself and had been to YWAM Bible School, but would not get rid of her tarot cards, like they asked her to ... I said she should get rid of them, because they lead down wrong road; she said she was already on the wrong road. I replied that things could change, this is not the end of the road.... She thanked me and asked me to pray for her....
God spoke to me later that morning as I was walking by the sea. He asked me how deep am I willing to go? I was thinking of the natural... not a good swimmer, need the right equipment..... he said, “if you had that, would you go?” I said I would go wherever or however deep he wanted me to go.
God spoke and asked me again, how deep are you willing to go? I said I would go however deep he wanted me to go. He said, “are you willing to go deeper in my Spirit? To have visions and dreams and to go places you haven’t been before?” I said, I would go, however deep He wanted me to go.
He asked me again, how deep are you willing to go? Are you willing to have more experiences like today? To say more about me, to pray with people? To do more to help? I said, I would be willing..... but not on my own, I need a partner.....
He replied, “would you be willing to do some things on your own, only you could do?” I said “if that’s necessary, then that’s what I’ll do.” Again he said, “how deep are you willing to go?” I said, “I will go as deep as you want me too.”
God calls us to go deeper into the Spirit, deeper into his love.... He calls you to do the same... look at Eph 3:19 “and to know this love that surpasses knowledge...”
1 Cor 8:1 says, “knowledge puffs up”.... Knowledge, on its own CAN puff us up... knowledge without the love of God in our hearts...
1 Cor 13:2 says:
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom ALL mysteries and ALL knowledge, and if I have
FAITH that can move mountains but HAVE NOT LOVE.... I AM NOTHING!
Paul prayed that the Ephesians would have an experience and understanding of God’s love that SURPASSES our mind and all our intellectual knowledge. This experience of God’s love is a revelation to our HEARTS not our HEADS.
Our lives and ministry need to be soaked in love – our purpose, aim and everything we do needs to steam from love and NOT religious duty, or our own purpose and gain. The Father sent Jesus because of his love. Jesus came because of his love. Jesus asks us to go because of his love.
We HAVE received this love of the Father, and he wants us to show it to one another, and to reflect who He is in this world. God is love – that’s who He is. What are we?
CLASS & GROUP WORK:
Discuss lesson and assignments, and any questions. In groups:
1. Look up, record and discuss the scriptures from class about unity and love. What are these scriptures saying to you?
2. Discuss how you can work together as the Body of Christ, what any barriers are and how they can be overcome.
3. Follow up on number 2 above: Pray and then plan to do something that will demonstrate unity and love - it could be a meal, it could be some form of joint mission.... Let the Lord lead you in this. Plan and it and carry it out, with the Lord leading you, using and working with the principles taught in this lesson. Record the outcome and share it with others.
1. Record any comments or questions, to share in the School or Church Group.
2. Is your life and ministry truly soaked in love, including your purpose, aim, goals and ambitions, NOT religious duty, or your own purpose and gain?
3. How willing are you to love others and reach others? How far would you go for the Lord?
4. What are your barriers to living and working in love and unity your brothers and sisters in the Lord? Do you need to change your approach or attitudes to anyone?
5. Study / meditate on these scriptures from class, and just let the Holy Spirit minister to you through them.
KINGDOM POWER: THE HOLY SPIRIT, SPIRITUAL GIFTS & BODY MINISTRY
To access and use the keys of the Kingdom we need to be walking in the Spirit: and walking in the Spirit means exactly that: it is a daily walk and relationship with the living Lord, worked out by the power of the Holy Spirit - we have to live it out, walk it out, work it out in our lives everyday and walk in the authority He gives us. This is not so hard when the Holy Spirit is living in us as our helper and guide. He is on our side!
Walking in the spirit requires that we acknowledge Him and who He is and that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, that we do not grieve him (Eph 4:30) or squash him out, or disallow him to have access or control in our lives. Walking in the Holy Spirit requires us to be open for him to mould us and for us to be convicted by the Holy Spirit at times when we have failed or have fallen into sin (2 Sam 11). Walking in the Holy Spirit requires us to be holy and to get rid of all bitterness, and to be fruitful in our character (Matt 12:33-35, Gal 5:19-22). We are required to be filled, immersed, overwhelmed, baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17-18). In order be effective we need His power - without it we operate on our own batteries, which run flat and dry pretty quickly. But most of all, we need to get to know the Holy Spirit, as a person, to know Him personally, and understand who He is and what He does.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
To ‘walk in the Spirit’ we need to understand a bit about who He is and what He does. The Holy Spirit is the Ruach or the Pneuma: the breath of God. Wind is moving air. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God, the SOURCE of all life. Life moves, it does not stay still, neither does the HS. The Wind has no material shape or form, but his presence is often symbolized as fire, or water, or a dove (see end of chapter). His Spirit has no physical form - we cannot therefore touch it or see it (except on occasions, e.g. tongues of fire). The Holy Spirit is the Wind or Breath of God: “SPIRIT” in Hebrew is “ruach” – in Greek it is “pneuma”
Meaning: Wind or breath; a life-giving element. When we read the Word it needs to breathe new life into us – not a dead religion – not a set of rules and regulations, but the very life of God, relevant to me TODAY!
The Holy Spirit is the presence of God, the SOURCE of all life. Life moves, it does not stay still. Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8). The Wind of God is like our wind on earth. Our winds change direction, and we have different types and strengths of wind from a gentle breeze to a tornado. We need to be flexible and change direction when the wind of the Spirit changes direction; He may be moving in a certain way and in certain area in our lives (not just when we are born again) and in our church; he may be moving gently and quietly, or powerfully – the key is not to resist, or to run and hide, or to deny it is God, but to move with Him. If we allow the Holy Spirit to move, rule and reign in our hearts, then we can allow Him to rule and reign in our church structures. Our structures and services need to be flexible and flowing with and in the Holy Spirit rather than our man-made structures. The more we let GO, the more He can move mightily amongst us, and the more we can become the POWERFULL church we are called to be.
Jesus said the Holy Spirit: Convicts of son, righteousness and judgment (Jn 16:8) and 2 Tim 3:14- 16 says: “continue in what you have learned... to make you wise for salvation... All scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness...”The Holy Spirit has many functions: He is our teacher (Jn 14:26). He is the one who “enlightens” us when we read the word – he is the one who gives us spiritual or deeper understanding, than we had previously.
The Holy Spirit has his own destination. He is an unseen force, but his presence is known BY IT’S EFFECTS. The wind is a powerful force but can also be very gentle, like a dove. He cannot be manipulated, directed or controlled by people or human force. He is not subject to our control but to the will of God, (Jn 3:8) but will most often come when we call Him and help when we ask Him.
The Holy Spirit has divine qualities:
In John 17:11 he is described as Omniscient - one that lives within us. He is also omnipresent - one that is always present, everywhere, and he is Omnipotent - all powerful. In Gen 1:24, it describes the HS being God with God in creation - he was active in creation, he hovered over the waters and he brings order out of chaos. In John 11:16 “I will pray to the Father and he will give you ANOTHER Counsellor or Allos. Allos means EXACTLY THE SAME. Heteros means different.
Jesus was saying that the HS is exactly the same as Him. They are one, and He was the One who endowed and empowered Jesus with the gifts of the Spirit (Luke 3:21). He is the same Spirit who empowers the Church today (Acts 2, 4, 10).
The Holy Spirit is the vehicle of God’s revelation and activity - He takes what is the Father’s and reveals it to us. He inspired the prophets (1 Sam 10:9-13) and he can be conveyed from one person to another, e.g. Moses to Joshua, Saul to David, Elijah to Elisha.
The Personal Qualities of the Holy Spirit:
He is also a PERSON who has feelings and is part of the Godhead. He is one who has knowledge, feelings and a will. He has intellect, integrity, ability, emotion. In 1 Cor 2:11 it says, “No-one knows the mind of God except the Spirit of God.” He is in full unity with God and knows his mind and will. The Holy Spirit thinks (Acts 15:28), speaks (Acts 1:16), leads and guides us (Romans 8:14), and can be grieved (Eph 4:30). The Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Rom 8:26) and distributes gifts (1 Cor 12:8-11) and He is the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7). The Holy Spirit teaches and counsels us (John 14:26) and he sends workers out (Acts 13:2).
Because He is a person, He wants us to know Him – personally. He wants most of all to have fellowship with us. When we are in that place of fellowship and intimacy, then we are really walking in the Spirit. This is the place that we need to seek first and foremost. To be in His presence and to know Him and love Him – everything else will then fall into place – we can then start to use the Keys of authority He gives us.
We NEED TO BE EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. We need to be filled with HS, anointed and led by Holy Spirit in order to lead others.... We need to CONTINUALLY drink of the Holy Spirit, “be being filled”.... With the Holy Spirit comes the POWER or the DEMONSTRATION of the Kingdom of God.
Acts 1:8 says, “You SHALL RECEIVE POWER, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you....” Not you may get it, but you SHALL receive it! We need to reach out and believe it and receive it and NOT believe that this has passed... that the Holy Spirit dispensation of gifts was only for the early church.... We are the same church and we need it MORE THAN EVER!
Paul said, “I preach Christ and him crucified....Not with wise and persuasive words but the a DEMONSTRATION of the Spirit’s power... intellectual debates, wordy sermons, and religious forms and ceremonies LACK the power of God... Paul said that in the last days people will, “have the form of godliness, but DENY its power” (2 Tim 3:5). We can do all the religious looking stuff on the outside, but lack the power on the inside. Many will lack knowledge and experience of who He really is. You cannot fool God and you cannot fool the world – they know. Without the Holy Spirit it is MANPOWER not GOD'S POWER. Without the Holy Spirit it is RELIGIOUS not RIGHTEOUS.
Firstly, have we been filled with the Holy Spirit? Without the power of the Holy Spirit our ministry it is OUR ministry, not His, and can be largely ineffective unless it is led by Him. Have we been baptised in fire? Are we CONTINUALLY being filled with the Holy Spirit? Overflowing with his love and power? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to have full control or partial? In our lives, AND IN THE CHURCH? Or do we want to control what goes on in the church. It’s very sad when we do this.
Very often the Holy Spirit is SQUASHED or CONTROLLED, shoved OUT of the door, or worse still, not allowed IN the door. Think how much this grieves Him. It is meant to be His church after all – isn’t it? If we DENY his power, are we also denying Jesus his Lordship, and the Father His glory? Accepting one part but not the other? They are ONE. Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30) and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit.... Who is one with him and the Father. So do our churches lack the power of the Holy Spirit because we are trying to control it ourselves? Or we deny it? Or we just don’t allow it? For the gospel to be effective in the world, the gospel we preach needs to be DEMONSTRATED with power as it was in the early church. If you have NOT received the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and you want to, then all you need to do is ask, open up completely. The Holy Spirit can also be IMPARTED by the laying on of hands.... As Paul did with the early believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6).
The Gift of Tongues
Tongues has two main purposes: the first is for private use, for prayer and edification; and the second, is for public use – for giving messages in tongues in church/to the body of believers. Tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and it is a language you’ve never been taught (Acts 2:4, 1 Cor 12:10).
If a person gives a message in tongues, an interpretation should immediately follow, so that there is no confusion and so God’s message is clearly understood (1 Cor 14:27,28). It’s purpose is to edify and build up the body and the individual (1 Cor 14:4).
Giving a message in tongues takes courage. It involves putting aside our own thoughts and feelings when we feel that the Holy Spirit is urging us to speak out a message. It is an inner urging and anointing to bring God’s message. However, only 2 or 3 messages should be given, each with an individual interpretation, and it needs to be done in order (1 Cor 14:40). The person giving the message may interpret, or somebody else present, who has this gift. A message in tongues can also be in song, and the interpretation can also be in song. This gift is often squashed in the church, and is very misunderstood. It is a tool God uses to speak to his body and to individuals. We miss out when we don’t allow God to speak to us and minister to us.
If we are using the gift of tongues in private, we use it to worship and we can use it to intercede. The Spirit makes intercession on our behalf (Rom 8:26-27). He speaks what is on our hearts and minds and speaks in the Spirit, to the Spirit to God. This is a very effective way of praying and of God hearing and answering our prayers! If we are praying in the Spirit, then he will be listening!
Interpretation of Tongues
An interpretation comes directly after a message in tongues, given to the body, for the edification of the church – in the form of prophecy (1 Cor 14:2). Interpretation comes by listening and stepping out in faith to give it. It may come in the form of a thought, an impression, a picture or vision, or an internal audible voice. We can pray for this gift of interpretation, and we can interpret our own message in tongues (1 Cor 14:13). Interpretation is not necessarily a translation of the message, but an interpretation - a general meaning of the message in tongues; however sometimes, a literal interpretation is given. The gift of interpretation is needed in the church – or how we will hear and understand the Rhema message He wants to bring?
Gift of Prophecy
The gift of prophecy is a special gift God gives to speak his Rhema word to the church today; to build it up and to edify. God also communicates his heart, mind and purpose to through this gift. The gift is given that all may understand (1 Cor 14:16) and can be both fore-telling and forth- telling (Isa 42:9) but is mostly edifying, ministering faith, hope and love into our lives.
The gift can come in the form of an impression, thought, quiet voice, vision (moving pictures) clear pictures (still) or internal audible voice. Sometimes people see words, superimposed over people, or verses of scripture, and sometimes prophecy comes with actions to show us something e.g. Agabus tied his own hands and feet with Paul’s belt, to show Paul this would happen to him and he be imprisoned if the continued on his missionary journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14). This was also a common practice of Old Testament prophets.
If we have a ‘picture’ or ‘vision’ we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what this picture means, to interpret it, then you can describe the picture, and its meaning/interpretation, as you speak out. Other times you may only receive a few words, given as an impression on your mind, or in the form of writing. You may only have a few words in advance at each time, but as you speak out, God will give you more. When He stops giving you words, you should stop speaking. It does not matter if the message is short. It is better to start and finish in the Spirit, rather than finishing in the flesh. You may be given some words of Scripture to speak out first, then a further message from God. The gift of prophecy requires that you step out in faith and that you wait on God, and speak the words he gives (Rom 12:6).
All prophecy needs to be weighed (1 Cor 14:29) to see if it is in line with God’s Word and His character and ways, and to see if it is edifying to the church. Prophecy should not be directive, damaging or condemning, only edifying; if you follow these guidelines you will do well. However, please do not be afraid to step out for fear of making mistakes. Mistakes teach us quickly – please do not condemn yourself when you make one, and please do not let mistakes stop you operating in the gift, or we will never learn to use and operate any of the gifts if we stop when we fall or make mistakes!
Prophecy is NOT usually corrective or rebuking. Pastors, Apostles, and those in the Office of a Prophet should normally carry out correction and rebuke. This is rare and needs a lot of wisdom and care before it is delivered in a prophecy.
Don’t confuse this gifting with the office of a Prophet. Isaiah and Jeremiah were prophets to the nation and Barnabas, Simeon and others were named as prophets in NT times (Acts 13:1) . A Prophet has a specific calling and ministry with a high level of anointing and God’s authority in their life. They will have regular and accurate prophecies for the church, or for individuals. They will be held accountable at a high level for their words and actions and ministry. They will be regularly interceding, worshipping, praying and seeking God: this is their hidden ministry. The office of prophet requires sacrifice, character refinement, years of preparation and training in life, and a very close, obedient and holy walk with the Lord in every area of their life. A prophet may not be recognised or accepted or appreciated and some are persecuted or martyred. Some prophets minister to nations or intercede for nations.
The office of Prophet still exists today, and will become more relevant in today’s climate and times; as the time draws nearer for His return many things are happening in the world around us that we need to be aware of and praying for. A prophet should be bearing good fruit in their lives, and not using the Word or their ministry for their own gain, but the gain of the Kingdom of God.
The Principles of faith
BEFORE we can understand how the Gift of Faith works, we need understand some general guidelines or principals of faith. If we want to operate in the Gift of Faith, we need to put these basic principals in place first.
Faith grows - mustard seed (Matt 17:29) AND Faith is NOT blind faith. It is based on what you have heard, seen and know. It is based on God’s Word ! It is based on what he has spoken to us and experienced. Faith builds upon faith.
Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God. We need faith to SEE with an ‘open mind’ the things that are not yet, and seem impossible.
Faith must be solid, not doubting - Faith to believe when everything is set against you or the situation is impossible - Mat 21:21 /James 1:6-8.
Faith needs to STAY FAITHFUL and HOPEFUL and PERSISTENT DESPITE time elapses, James 2 / Mt 21:21.
Faith is NOT based on feelings. Don’t confuse faith and feelings. We need faith first, feelings will follow. Faith works despite circumstances and feelings.
Faith comes from the Word of God (Romans 10:17). It comes from total belief in the Word of God, from simple childlike, unquestioning, faith in the Word. If you feed your spirit on the Word, your faith will grow. Jesus has given us authority to heal the sick etc, so we can command healings and deliverance in His name, acting in faith.
Faith is not JUST belief but ACTION - faith to act on what God says to us and believe Him for the outcome - Ja 2:17 -26 / Mt. 8:29
God always responds to GENUINE faith i.e.
a. the parable of neighbour, knocking on door for bread
b. the Centurian - Mt 8:5-13
c. the man lowered through the roof d. the Canaanite women - Mt 15:21
You need to be SURE that you are praying according to GOD’S WILL, plan and purpose, not just your own desire when you pray in faith. If we do not pray in His will, the answer will be “NO!” We need to learn to really listen to what God is saying and seek Him first, then if we pray according to His will, the answer will be “YES!”
Satan tries to steel our faith: he comes to STEEL, Kill and DESTROY. If he can destroy your faith, he will. He may do this through –
· Unbelieving thoughts that intrude, then take root – unbelief, or the spirit of unbelief, needs to be renounced.
· Previous experience or failure
· Education or training, in particular religious studies
· Reliance on other people’s faith
· Bad press/news concerning faith, healings or miracles or someone who operates in this area, but has committed an offence that has become public knowledge.
We need to remember that Satan is a LIAR and DESTROYER. Do not listen, but listen to and seek the truth – the truth sets you free.
We have some examples of people using Faith (Hebrews 11 is also full of faith warriors including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon and many more):
In the OT we have the example of Elijah & prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:22 ff). Elijah spoke out in faith, telling the prophets of Baal to pour water over his sacrifice 3 times, then asked God to come and light the fire for the sacrifice ... to prove that God is God, rather than Baal. This needed courage and unshakable faith. Of course, God met the challenge.
In the New Testament (Acts 3:7-10) we have an example of the Gift of Faith, when Peter spoke out in faith, before the man was healed. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”. He knew God was going to heal him. He saw it in faith and spoke and acted in faith. His faith was not blind or based on assumption, but based on his knowledge, experience of Jesus and the Father, and on ‘seeing what the father is doing’ and doing the same; this is key in healing and ministry – seeing what the Father is doing, and doing the same.
If you want to move/operate in the Gift of Faith, and become a faith warrior, build faith upon the faith which God has already given you; Listen carefully to what He is saying to you and showing you – only do what you see the Father doing; then you can step out in faith, speak out in faith and act upon the faith he has given you. It may take courage, and you will need WISDOM from the Holy Spirit about when and how and where. He will give you this if you ask. But you have to take risks – ask if you can pray for someone; test the waters and take every opportunity you can to operate in this gift and others, according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
REMEMBER that God meet us at our level of faith (wherever we are) e.g. if we believe God can heal us just by speaking his Word to us, He will. If we believe if can heal us through the laying on of hands, He will. Or if we believe we will be healed through doctors or a combination of both – He will. Jesus said the Blind man (who asked for healing) let it be (or happen) ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH (level of faith). HE will HONOUR the level of faith that you have and wishes to build-on your faith, so it goes to a higher and deeper place.
The Gift of Faith
Faith believes and receives BEFORE it happens. It is the evidence of things not yet seen. It calls into being that which is not yet - faith grasps hold of a higher truth DESPITE evidence to the contrary, believing it until it comes to pass. The Roman Centurion displayed extraordinary faith in Jesus: he know that if Jesus commanded his son to be well, just by his word, he would be. He knew Jesus didn’t need to come to see him, he just need to speak his Word and it would happen. What a revelation he must have had. He understood Jesus’ authority. With authority comes the power to enforce or put words into action; simply a ‘Word’ that Jesus spoke healed the Roman Centurion’s son – What faith!
The Gift of Faith is a supernatural anointing for a given situation or circumstances, and can aid you in praying powerfully (including warfare prayers) and confidently into situations (1 Cor 12:9). It is like having an awakening in our minds, eyes, ears, and heart.
The Gift of Faith links into healings and miracles, these gifts cannot operate without faith being present. We also need God’s wisdom and gifts of discernment in knowing how to pray for miracles and healing .... so we need to wait and listen.
Through the Word of God, the Gift of Faith may be implanted in someone else’s heart, and cause them to believe for their healing or miracle.
Gifts of Healing
Healing involves, spirit, soul and body, (1 Thess 5:23). The three are all inter-linked, like 3 circles. Healing involves getting to the root cause, so be aware that when we are ministering, we can may be ministering in all three areas, not just physical healing.
Healing can be blocked by sin, unforgiveness and bitterness. This hardness blocks what God wants to do (see prayer and forgiveness). Forgiveness is a basic requirement for healing. We need to remove all blockages so God’s Holy Spirit can be released in us and on us, (see Isa 59:1,2). Also, in Mark 11:24 it says, “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” BUT.... Jesus goes on to say in verse 25... “and when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” In this verse we can see a direct link between God answering our prayers and our need to forgive others. If we want healing and release, we need to forgive and release others.
· Supernatural healing, God being the source, no other e.g. new age, witchcraft etc.
· Healing brings blessing, wholeness, edification and evangelism – Mat 4:23-25, Acts 19:11-12
· Healing comes by faith, and openness to receive the gift of healing. We need to build people’s faith that they can receive healing. You can
We can build their faith by telling them about healings from the Bible or your experiences or you can read bible verses that build faith e.g. Mark 16:18 says, “they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will lay their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (or they will recover) and Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”
Let me give you an example of how Healing and Recovery work together. When a doctor performs successful surgery, the patient is actually healed - the condition has been put right; however, the patient many not 'feel' healed at this time: they need time to recover from the operation, bruising or swelling and pain after the operation, and may need physiotherapy or further medication to complete recovery. This is ALL part of the healing process. The person's body has been restored, but they may not yet feel the effects of the healing until full recovery has taken place.
Another example is when a sick person goes to his doctor and the doctor gives him medicine or antibiotics. The medicine doesn’t usually cure the illness or virus or condition straight away, and some need repeat prescriptions and ongoing treatment. The patient needs to complete the course of treatment before the condition or illness is treated effectively, and needs to take the medication in the correct way for it to be effective and for him to recover. If he does not believe the medication will work for him, or stops taking it before he’s finished the treatment, then of course, he will not get well.
So it is when someone ‘lays on hands’ and prays for you. This is like the surgeon performing an operation or the doctor giving you medication. At the point when hands are laid on you and pray over you and minister to you (no matter how you feel) you receive healing, and you start to recover from then onwards. This may take time for some, (even though some are healed instantly). You may not feel the effects of the prayer for healing straight away. Sometimes it takes a few hours, a few days, a week, or longer. It is a bit like putting on a light switch, but the bulb is an energy saving bulb. The bulb begins to light up, then it slowly comes on in full power; sometimes healing is like that. We need to complete the recovery process, which will be aided by faith, prayer and the Word of God.
Therefore we can encourage people to thank God for their healing, even if it is not fully manifested yet, and to keep believing. You can encourage them to believe although they feel nothing in the initial stages – many are healed or recover, over a period of time. We can encourage them to believe the Word, which says, “they shall recover”.... Healing is delivered immediately with prayer and the laying on of hands, but recovery can take longer, and may be a short while before it is seen. We can however, ask God to speed up the healing and recovery process – he often does.
Speaking of doctors and medication, I would not encourage people to stop taking any prescribed medication because this could be dangerous. If you think you have fully recovered, go to the doctor and check it out. They can advise you about taking further medication, if needed. There is no harm in medication and prayer working together until there is full healing and recovery.
When ministering healing, you also need to minister his acceptance, grace, and compassion for the person you are praying for. If people feel judged and unaccepted, they will not be able to receive God’s healing and grace. Many have experienced rejection, loneliness, hurt etc and need to know the love and acceptance of God the Father. They may need help to open up their hearts to receive God’s love, release and healing, and may need to release forgiveness to those who have hurt them (by name). We can tell them they are loved and accepted by God and you could include verses from the Bible to reinforce this (Eph 3, Ps 139, Rom 8, or any other), or a specific Word of Knowledge.
When ministering in healing, we need to remember that ministry takes time, and we should not rush the process – this is the work of the Holy Spirit and he wants to do a deep and lasting work in the lives of people.
We need to remember to keep the whole process simple, that there needs to be gentleness and dignity given to the receiver, and there needs to be co-operation between the people ministering and those receiving, and mostly, co-operation with the Holy Spirit. We need to listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and watch what he is doing. The process only needs a short interview, e.g. what do you need prayer for, watching and listening to see and hear what the Holy Spirit is doing, and letting the Holy Spirit do His work, without interfering, preaching, teaching or counseling.... We can give words of knowledge or prophecy or words of wisdom, but it is essential we let the Holy Spirit do His work, rather than us trying to do it for Him. We can give commands to the sickness to leave, break off strongholds or curses, cancel assignments or commissions against the person, release healing and health to their bodies.... As the Holy Spirit leads us... remember we follow His lead, not the other way around ! Gifts of Miracles go BEYOND the laws of nature. God is not bound by our circumstances, by time or in the natural realm.
Miracles are not like the energy saving bulb – when we switch on the energy saving bulb, it comes on slowly; however, miracles are like floodlighting or a great surge of power when we put the switch on. We need to be connected and plugged into God’s power (or his anointing). When we are connected, a great surge of power is instantly released and we instantly receive a miracle or instant healing.
God may have already shown us what he wants to do, then we can ask Him for it and thank him for it also: but if he hasn’t yet shown us we can ask Him for a miracle, and if it’s in accordance with his will and timing and we believe, then we will receive it. We need to ask. Jesus said “you have not, because you have not asked. Ask and you shall receive.” James (1:6) says, “but when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like the wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” We will have confidence if we spend time seeking Him and His will first. When we are confident we are asking for the right thing, then we can ask with boldness, without doubt - and then experience the grace of God’s miracle.
In Matthew 8:23-27, the disciples were in a boat with Jesus who was asleep. There was a fierce storm, and the disciples were over-whelmed, they started to panic .... “SAVE US..... we are going to die!” or words to that effect. Jesus rebuked them for having little faith. Faith also comes from having REVELATION of WHO HE IS, and what he is capable of doing – in knowing his authority and his character. The disciples had already SEEN and HEARD what Jesus was capable of doing because they had spent time with Him in His ministry, yet their experiences and knowledge did not seem to extend to faith or belief in Him in these circumstances... however, the disciples expected Jesus to do something - but what they saw, they did not expect!
Jesus got up and ordered the winds and waves to STOP! (vs 26) The storm stopped and EVERYONE WAS AMAZED and said: “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!” I wonder if this event brought revelation to the disciples about who Jesus really was – revelation about his character, his origin, his worth, did they wonder? If the wind and waves obey him, then WHO IS HE? Miracles may bring us to a deeper understanding and revelation of the power and majesty, the awesomeness of God.
Jesus’ actions of calming the raging sea, DECLARED WHO HE WAS. This man who could command the wind and waves must be more than human... and God who created all things will naturally have power and control over all the things he has made.
Jesus spoke to the wind and waves – it stopped
Jesus spoke to demons – they fled
Jesus spoke to the fig tree – it died
Jesus spoke to the dead – they rose
Jesus spoke to the sick – they were healed
This same Jesus lives in us, by His Spirit. His power has not changed. Miracles are not ordinary everyday events... or for our own personal gain, but miracles can when life is endangered (the disciples in the boat), or to meet great need (Jesus feed the 5 thousand hungry people).
Miracles build our faith and miracles happened in many ways in the Bible (and today); these can be in the human body, e.g. an instant healing, or healing at a distance, over nature, e.g. fishes and loaves, poison and snakes, walking on water, over our finances, and escaping death or raising the dead (Lazarus etc).
Miracles are not beyond our reach, if we are believe and act in accordance with God’s Word and His will (1 Jn 5:14). His will is to prosper us (not make us rich, but to meet our needs) and to give us good health, (3 John 2, 2 Cor 8:9). We need to have a right heart relationship with God. If we have this, and are obeying his commands and loving others, then there is no reason why God cannot use us in this way. If we recognize WHO HE IS – that He is a God of miracles – and that He lives in us, then we must realize that it is possible for Him to do this today, through us.
Gifts of Revelation
Gifts Revelation are TOOLS that God gives to reveal himself and his message to us. We are the channel through which he works. These gifts are given to us when we ask, and when they are needed. These gifts and revelations are often given when we are in prayer or intercession for people or situations. Sometimes they come unexpectedly.
Firstly, I want to briefly mention dreams and visions, which are ‘revelations from God,’ but they do not fit neatly under any particular gift category, but several, namely; Prophecy, Word of Knowledge and Word of Wisdom and are given for edification, clarification and direction
Words of Knowledge
The Word of Knowledge is insight and information into a person’s situation or into any given situation. Remember, the Holy Spirit speaks what he hears and passes it on to us (Jn 16:13-14); this may come in the form of an impression, thought, vision or picture, or voice - it is something that we see, feel, read, know, and speak. The Word of Knowledge is also a ‘rhema’ word that judges thoughts and attitudes of the heart (see Heb 4:12-13).
Examples of the Word of Knowledge in Scripture: Jesus had a Word of Knowledge (with Wisdom) for the Women at the well, concerning her husbands (Jn 4:16-18) and for the Rich Young Ruler, whose wealth prevented him from entering the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:18-25). Peter had a word of knowledge concerning the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira, alongside the gift of discerning of spirits (Acts 5:1-11).
Knowledge and wisdom work together; in fact knowledge without wisdom could be damaging if delivered in the wrong way or at the wrong time. Like prophecy, it needs to be submitted to the body and confirmed as being from God; otherwise we could be subject to our own deception. When we give or receive a Word of Knowledge it increases faith and points us in the right direction. This gift is very useful in ministry and in revealing the heart and mind of God to the body – however, sometimes people are slow at responding due to embarrassment or shame. We can also wait on God before ministry or a meeting, and He can give us Words of Knowledge beforehand, that we can share in the meeting, and for an individual, to edify and build the body. If we ask God, we can expect this gift to begin operating through us; remember to use wisdom and compassion with this gift.
Words of Wisdom
The Word of Wisdom is a gift where the Holy Spirit gives supernatural understanding or counsel in dealing with difficult situations and it works closely with the Gift of Knowledge. Some say Words of Wisdom are similar to prophecy in that they are able to foretell the future.
The gift of Wisdom may come as an impression, vision, picture, thought or voice. Wisdom and sensitivity is needed in how we pass on and deliver any message or revelation God gives us, especially when God reveals personal details, or reveals sin in someone’s life (Word of Knowledge) therefore we need Wisdom to deliver the word.
Examples of the gift of wisdom:
Solomon with the 2 ladies who claimed the same baby (1 Kings 16:28);
Jesus and the Pharisees, concerning paying taxes (Matt 22:15-22);
The woman caught in adultery: “if anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn 8:1-11).
Wisdom is a practical gift, useful in counselling and in everyday life (e.g. Marion and Lilly re testing for Aids). James 1:5 says that “if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all....” Wisdom is the first gift listed – it is a gift that we need and use alongside all the other gifts, and alongside love. We need to let wisdom and compassion guide us in all ministries and in ministering in the gifts of the spirit... The Holy Spirit will give us wisdom and will open the doors to minister at the right time, in the right way. This way love and wisdom work together in unity.
Discerning of Spirits
The discerning of spirits is a knowledge, uneasiness, a revelation in your own spirit, concerning the presence of influence of evil in or on someone’s life, or in or on a situation. Discerning of Spirits may also mean that you able to see into a person’s heart and see their intensions e.g. Peter and Simon the Sorcerer’s. Simon the Sorcerer wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9- 24 ). Peter discerned his spiritual condition; he discerned his heart condition was not right and challenged him to repent. A person with the gift will also be able to discern the presence and power of God, when and how he wants to work... because the Spirit of God shows this to him.
Jesus discerned the thoughts and intensions of the Pharisees concerning him (Matt 12:22-25), he discerned the presence of evil in the man who lived amongst the tombs and cast the demons out into the swine (Mark 5:1-16). Jesus also spoke about driving out demons with the finger of God (Luke 11:20). Demons DO NOT LIKE the Word of God; it is powerful and effective. I imagine when Jesus used the finger of God, he also used the Word of God.
Jesus told his disciples to heal the sick AND cast out demons. The gift of discernment, the Holy Spirit can show us which demons are controlling people and situations, including who the chief demon is, and their names, in order to cast out these demons to hell. Demons can cause sickness, physically, spiritually and mentally, therefore the gift of the discerning of spirits is an important part of healing ministry and deliverance. This gift can aid deliverance and freedom to the captives.
We need to PRAY and ask for discernment concerning severely demonized and Christians who have we suspect are demonized. The Holy Spirit can show us the root, and how to pray and minister.
YOU can then TAKE AUTHORITY over every demon discerned or manifest and COMMAND it to leave. You DO NOT need to shout. We need to respect the dignity of the person concerned and how they may be feeling. When ministering to the demonized you not only need discernment, but WISDOM. If you are ministering to severely demonized you need a mature and experienced team, much prayer, and on-going pastoral care and counsel.
You need to TAKE TIME and care if you are ministering in deliverance. You may need to take breaks (or minister over an extended time/days etc), and reconvene to refresh your strength, and out of care and concern for the person involved.
NO ONE should be involved in abusive practices when ministering deliverance – such as burning, scolding, shaking etc. This is NOT the way of the Holy Spirit and should NEVER happen. Children, young people, and people with mental health difficulties need extreme care and gentleness. Take great care and prayerfully discern before you do ANYTHING! Most often, the child you suspect is demonized, has suffered emotional harm and neglect and needs pastoral love and care. WITH the gift of discernment, we need LOVE and WISDOM, gentleness and God’s authority working together.
Any gift of revelation (Word of Wisdom, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits etc) is like having your spiritual eyes open to see / know something that could not be known to you, other than by God. It is like an inner knowing in your spirit. Remember, we need the Word of Wisdom working with discernment and all the other gifts, and our motive for ministry needs to come from a heart of compassion for God and for people. All gifts need to be operated in and exercised through compassion and the grace of God. All good gifts come from Him, so let us use them wisely.
There are MANY gifts and ministries given and birthed by God, which take many different forms, and different functions in serving in the Body of Christ. Every Christian can be a minister, and every Christian can have a ministry in some form, whether it is hospitality, helps, administration or preaching. Each one of us is part of the Body and need to be fully functioning. God can use the natural gifts He has given us, for His Kingdom, but it does need to be given to God for his glory, and not for our own ego e.g. I have a naturally good singing voice, and God has taken that gift, and has used it to minister to many people over the years, both in song ministry and in leading worship.
The key is to discover where your gifts and ministry are. This isn’t so difficult. What is on your heart or what is God saying to your heart? What do you feel drawn to? What do you enjoy? These are the areas you need to explore, study, pray about, and begin to operate in.... often God takes you under someone’s wing for you to learn from, to be mentored by them ... this is a good thing. We are meant to share our gifting with one another and we are meant to mentor others, especially if you are being called, or are already in leadership – that is ultimately our calling, to equip and train the Body of Christ. Remember, ALL natural gifts, ministry gifts, and callings needs to be used for God’s glory, not our own... they need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit, and all ministry needs to be soaked in love and demonstrate his LOVE, his grace, his fruit AND his power! Ministry is a calling, not just a profession. You are God’s key person put in a particular place, at a
particular time, to do a particular job. To do it well you need the power and anointing of the Holy
Spirit – WHATEVER your role is and whatever your ministry is!
Ministry gifts (found in Ephesians 4:11-13) differ to ‘Spiritual gifts’ (in part 1) because ministry is a calling, an inner urging to follow and DO the mission/vision God has put on your heart; however Spiritual gifts link with ministry, because whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you to do it. Paul talks about DIFFERING GIFTS and KINDS OF SERVICE, and DIFFERENT KINDS OF WORKING, in 1 Corinthians 12:4. This indicates that our gifts and ministries overlap with Gifts of the Spirit; they interweave and should work together, BUT they all work in different ways; not exclusive of each other, but inclusive. Remember, ministry is not just a place of position, nor of control or power, but it is a place in the body where you serve others.
A ministry gift, or Ministries of the Spirit, (called Diakoniai in Greek,) is found in 1 Cor. 12:28, which includes: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, and gifts of healing, helps, administration, and tongues. Those with ministry roles within the church are also called ‘domata’ (Greek) or Equippers of the saints.
In Romans 12:3-8 we have another list of ministries, but similar and overlapping with other scriptures. These include: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, organizing, and mercy. Other gifts mentioned in the Bible include: celibacy (1 Cor 7:7,8) giving/philanthropy (1 Cor 13:3) and hospitality (1 Pet 4:9), and, I would include, evangelism and missions (Philip, Acts 8:4-8, and 8:26-40 and Paul’s missions) and the gifts and skills of leading worship.
Let me give you an example of one ministry gift:
Worship leading is a specific skill and gift or anointing that brings people into the presence of God, close to his heart, where people can minister to God’s heart and He ministers to us. Some worship leaders like to draw attention to themselves – then they are not leading people into true worship of the living God, but more into a place where they admire the worship leader. Worship leaders are to point people to Jesus, and Jesus alone.
When we are in His presence we hear and receive the love of God, where we hear the Rhema Word and receive healing and wholeness. We are exhorted by Paul to be “Filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19). The Psalms are full of worship to the Lord, in songs and words. Psalm 95 and 98 exhort us to sing joyfully to the Lord and shout and give thanksgiving, to make music with harp, trumpets and singing. Satan hates worship because he used to lead worship in heaven (before his fall), and he now wants to be worshiped himself. Worship is a wonderful ministry, but also a place where the leaders come under temptation and attack by Satan who hates real anointed worship and hates us entering into the presence of God. Leader’s hearts, minds and lives need to be guarded and holy, resilient and watchful so that they are being effective in their ministry.
I believe that God wants to totally restructure the Church as it is, and He wants the whole Body of Christ to be effective and powerful ministers, both inside the church and outside of it, in every dimension of society and life, affecting our community for good. I believe that God wants to make his church, his bride, a powerful, free-flowing, effective body of people that impacts society, impacts the world around us, with signs and wonders as a natural part of life. The world will then look at the church for answers, when they see the power and anointing of God upon it and the positive effect it has. I believe the Body of Christ will carry the message again: “the Kingdom of God is at hand! Make way for the King!” The Body of Christ will ferment and expand across the earth and boldly advance God’s Kingdom like never before.
We have been given access to the Kingdom and given the Keys of the Kingdom because we are sons and heirs of the King, and we bare His name and carry His authority. Keys unlock and lock doors.... so we can lock and bind up the works of the enemy, who we have been given authority and dominion over, and we can loose the blessings and favour of God upon people. We can use the keys given to us to allow the Holy Spirit to enable and empower our lives, both in intimacy and fellowship with Him, in our lives and in our ministries. Jesus said, “I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven,” (Matt 16:19). So He has given us keys: keys of authority, many of these Keys are mentioned here in this Manual, so if the Keys are used correctly, then many doors will be opened up to you. May God richly bless you as you learn to use the Keys.
CLASS & GROUP WORK:
Discuss the lesson, assignment / projects and any questions.
1. Discuss and describe nature and qualities of the Holy Spirit.
2. Discuss and describe the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. Discuss and describe the principals of faith and how they work.
4. Discuss and describe the different gifts, in detail.
5. Discuss and describe any gifts God has given you and how you have used them.
6. Discuss and describe the concept of 'body ministry' – describe what this looks like in practice and detail.
7. Ministry time in groups: pray for one another and ask the Lord to manifest his gifts through you to members of your group – share what the Lord has given you for them.
8. Begin to pray for any of the sick among yourselves, using the principles taught. Pray for one another’s ministries... and encourage one another. Share what happened in the ministry time with the class.
1. Note down any gifts of the Spirit that the Lord has already used you in, and ask the Lord to increase that gifting and anointing in your life.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh, and ask Him for spiritual gifts - ask him specifically for what you want and need, and for anything He wants to give you. (It is right to earnestly desire the gifts and it is also right to ask for them.). Reach out and believe it and claim it in faith.... then begin to walk in it - begin to step out into those gifts, like a toddler learning to walk, you must learn to walk.
3. Practice and use the gifts He gives you, and learn how to nurture and hone and them. Get alongside others who operate in the gifts of the Spirit and talk with them . and be encouraged by them.... learn from them... step out and walk and keep walking, even if you fall and make mistakes.... do not give up, keep going.
4. All of us can operate in the Gifts of the Spirit and all of us can have a ministry.... spend some time waiting on God. What is God saying to you? What is on your heart? This is key, because what is already on your heart is often from the Lord. Ask him to show you specifically what He is calling you to do – whether it is a serving ministry, or one of the Five-fold Ministries.
God can, and will give you gifting, skills and abilities, especially for the ministry he has called you to.
3. If you already know what God has called you to do, then ask the Holy Spirit specifically for direction in this ministry, for His vision, and how He wants to you to move forwards in this.
END OF SCHOOL: Self-evaluation
Share how the School and lessons (Chapters) have helped you develop in your personal development, in your relationship with God, in your relationships, and in your ministry. Which lessons or part(s) of the school helped you the most? Which parts are you still struggling with? Journal this, and share it with the Chairperson/leader of School, (and others) so they can encourage and support you. Once you have done this, ask the Chairperson/leader to sign your Journal, so you may receive a certificate of completion.
REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY
Irvine D, 3 Books in one, Spiritual Warfare, Omnibus edition 2001, Kingsway Publications, England. Garret J, The Warrior’s Manuel, 2009, Apostolic Restoration Ministries International,
Grigg R, 2012, Prophetic Training, Lulu, UK Grigg R, 2011, Dreams & Visions, Lulu, UK
Taylor, David E, Article, “Authority verses Dominion – Your original state as a King”, September, 2012.