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By My Spirit

Zechariah 4:6-7 So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!” ’ ”

Zerubbabel was concerned that he will not be able to finish the work the Lord had called him to do. The obstacles before him seemed like a mountain that had to be moved. There were political enemies, threats of physical violence, and the people who were doing the work had their own concerns for family and safety. Then the angel of the LORD conveyed a message from the LORD to Zerubbabel. It is not by might or power, but by the Spirit of the LORD that things are accomplished.

The message went on to say that the mountain of obstacles would become level ground. He would bring out the final finishing stone while the people shout blessings on the finished Temple.

You probably can see a mountain that must be moved in your life and have asked many times how it can be removed. Man often intervenes with his power and might and ends up making a bigger mountain. It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD. Ask the LORD to do it by His Spirit. Act only at His leading.

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Keys to Restoration–Repentance

Jeremiah 15:19

Spiritual change implies a return to God. The term repent, signifies “to have another mind,” to change the opinion or purpose with regard to sin and set a right course.  Religion has presented grief over sin rather than abandonment of sin as the primary idea of New Testament repentance. The change wrought by Biblical repentance is so deep and radical that is has an effect on the whole spiritual nature and involves the entire personality.

The story of the prodigal son is a classic example of the process of repentance and the restoration it brings.  Instead of using his portion of the inheritance to prepare for his bride, the son went to a far distant country (as opposed to the closeness of a portion of his Fathers property) and wasted it. When hard times came – as they inevitably do – he was all alone.

Greek philosophy equated redemption with the concept of coming to senses – which is what he did –  but Biblical repentance takes it further.  It requires a response:

  1. Recognition of the condition or need
  2. Decision to make a change
  3. Action that “puts feet” to the decision
  4. Confession of the failure/sin and need for salvation/redemption/restoration

When he had done this, not only did he find the father waiting for him but he found forgiveness and complete restoration.  It is a sloppy, false gospel that promises salvation and restoration without repentance and confession.

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Counting the Cost

1 Chronicles 21:24 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

David wanted to purchase the ground upon which to build the altar and later the Temple. Ornan offered to give it to him. You might say he was generous, but remember that he was standing in the shadow of an angel with a sword (see vs 16, 20). David insisted on paying full price because it was his sin that brought this situation on his people and therefore his responsibility. Even though it was offered to Davis as a gift it would have still been Ornan’s sacrifice!

It’s very easy to start to claim something as our entitlement from the Lord because we heard some preacher mention it, read it in a book or even for ourselves in the Word. Often this comes from taking something out of context or not seeing that there may be a condition attached to the promise.

How often have we held back from doing or giving something to the Lord because we felt it would cost us too much?  Everything comes at a price.  Offerings cost. Our salvation came because Jesus paid the ultimate price on our behalf.

We live in a culture where more and more people claim rights but very few accept responsibility.  The idea of spiritual things coming at a cost is considered ridiculous. The concept of sacrifice is virtually forgotten.

What are you offering to the Lord?  Is it what is left over of your life or time when everything and everyone else has been done?  Or is there an understanding that we need to bring Him our best – even (or maybe especially) that which costs us something.

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A complete work

 1 Peter 2:24  He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By his wounds you are healed.  (NLT)

As we have already seen, Jesus sacrifice and death on the cross was more than just symbolic. i.e. He was not just the symbol of the necessary sacrifice, He WAS the sacrifice.  He took our sins, sorrow, and diseases on HIMSELF.  He did not send an animal as a substitution this time.  The blood of bulls and goats had to be offered each year because the shedding of their blood would NEVER completely satisfy the penalty for our sin!

A perfect sacrifice was needed to accomplish a complete work! There could be no other than the Son of God Himself – the spotless Lamb. In fact, so complete is the work that Jesus did on the cross, that the concept conveyed in the Greek literally means to be separated from our sin so that it no longer influences our standing with God.  Where once sin was our master, now we are to be ruled by righteousness because of what Jesus suffered on our behalf.

Healing is inherent in the finished work of Calvary! The phrase, “by His stripes we are healed” is a very graphic picture in the original language.  Peter was there when Jesus was scourged and he saw the welts came up and the skin break and bleed as the whip came down across His back.   The effects of sickness and disease would be reversed because of what He took on Himself that day.

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

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Keys to Restoration

Acts 3:21 For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.

The Greek word for restoration (a noun) in this verse occurs only in this one time in the New Testament.  It signifies a return to original condition as in a broken limb being restored to its right placement in full health and strength. The verb from which it is derived occurs eight times and refers to healing, setting things in order and completion.

Scripture promises restoration for the people of God.  Things that have been lost, stolen or as yet unfulfilled – everything God has promised for our lives – He has promised to restore.  But restoration takes time.  Life is not ½ hour sitcom; 1 hour drama; 2 hour movie.  Most of our issues don’t get resolved by some “romantic” fictional storyline or scriptwriter.

For the believer, though, the script has been written by the Perfect Writer – the One who knows the end from the beginning.  The promise is that all things that were spoken by the mouths of the holy (God inspired) prophets since the beginning of time, will be restored.

Pray that every encounter, every touch, every word and every action will bring and minister restoration of Gods promises to you and those around you.  Be an agent of restoration through the power of God.

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Look Out, Look Up!

Psalm 102:1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You.

Prayer meetings can get you down sometimes because, lets face it, the requests can be a litany of woes. A missionary is having health problems. A child is in hospital. A couple you have known for a long time is getting a divorce. The economy is in a bad way. And you have struggles of your own. The more requests you hear, the wearier you grow.

But then the prayer warriors get to praying. With confidence, they come before the Lord, knowing that He hears them. With tears, they intercede for the lives of those who are in need. With honesty, they acknowledge that we don’t always understand what God is doing. Like the psalmist, they turn a time of complaining over man’s problems into a time of praising God for His power to work miracles. Prayer turns to praise because one saint believes that the Lord hears “the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer” (Psalm 102:17).

Are you struggling with difficulties in your own life or the overwhelming problems of friends and loved ones? Learn to hand them over to our faithful, loving God.  That’s how prayer meetings become the most exciting meetings in the church!

Although the outlook may be bleak, the “uplook” is always bright. (Unknown)

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Culture versus Kingdom

This is an adaptation of an article by Pastor Joseph Matera

Matthew 6:31-33

Many believers (including preachers) interpret the Bible through the lens of their culture.  This has resulted in many beliefs, doctrines and practices prevalent in the church that are not in accord with the clear teaching of the Kingdom paradigm of Scripture.

The following are some of the contrasts between Western Cultural Christianity and Biblical/Kingdom Christianity:

1.  Western Cultural Christianity focuses on individual destiny. The Kingdom focuses on the reign of Christ over the nations.

2.  Western Cultural Christianity focuses on individual prosperity. The Kingdom focuses on stewardship.

Much of Western preaching today focuses on “our rights in Christ” to be blessed. In Scripture the emphasis has to do with being blessed by God in order to be a blessing by bringing God’s covenant to the Earth.

3.  Western Cultural Christianity appeals to using faith to attain stability and comfort. The Kingdom encourages believers to use faith to step out to spread the Gospel.

4.  The Western Cultural apologetic focuses on human reason. The Kingdom apologetic focuses on the power of God.

We have been taught to defend the faith utilizing scientific, archaeological and linguistic proofs to validate the historic accuracy of the Scriptures. In the Bible we see the prophets, apostles and Jesus based their message on the anointing, authority and reliability of God.

5.  Western Cultural Christianity promotes a culture of entertainment. The Kingdom promotes the pursuit of God.

We are often catering to an obsession with entertainment and visceral experiences, instead of cultural engagement and personal intimacy with God.

6.  Western Cultural Christianity is about efficiency. The Kingdom is about effectiveness.

The whole point of being part of the “Body of Christ” is not to see how much we can pack into the shortest amount of time in a building but about being effectively equipped to take the Gospel to the world!

Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God… because often the culture cannot meet the needs! Learn to be more culturally relevant than culturally driven!

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On earth as it is in Heaven

Isaiah 64:1-4  Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence. As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!  When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence.  For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.

God is releasing the order of heaven on the earth.  This is the foundation of prayer – “…Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”  This realm between heaven and earth was bridged by Jesus on the cross so we would have access to the Throne of God.  In fact, this bridge was seen by Jacob in his dream and Jesus later affirmed that what Jacob saw was the Messiah. John 1:51

One of the biggest problems in the church is that we are striving more for success or position than His Presence and His will.  This is satan’s original sin – I will exalt my throne above the Throne of God.  In heaven, success is not based on our position – the elders give up their position (thrones).  Success is in being in His Presence.

And that’s why Jesus came and preached the Kingdom of God.  The manifest power of His presence would be brought to bear as we “seek first” His Kingdom.  As Kingdom people, we need to quit asking for what they want and start asking for what His Kingdom requires.  He responds to that kind of prayer by tearing open the heavens to get His Kingdom to come to us.

The problem is that too many are living subject to the order of this earth. We need to get back to the Divine order of His will on earth as it is in Heaven.  When this happens, it is an irresistible manifestation of His presence. It goes beyond what the carnal man could comprehend. Natural resistance is melted away at His awesomeness!  The longing and deepest desires of our heart begins to come to pass as He tears the heavens open and reveals Himself to us.

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The Anointing

Many people think of the anointing as a warm fuzzy feeling that they get inside; or goose bumps on their skin; or chills running up and down their spine.  For some it’s the emotion evoked by a familiar old song they used to sing or any of a whole range of ‘feelings’ based reactions.  As Christians we need to learn to differentiate between the anointing and the feeling of nostalgia; between the anointing and simply the good groove of a song; between the anointing and having our ears tickled by something that the preacher is saying.  We must learn to go beyond the surface feelings and go deeper into what the Lord really wants to do in and through us.

The anointing is not star power, available only to a certain few people or celebrity ministers.  It is not a rush of adrenaline or emotions – though our emotions are often affected by the anointing.  Simply stated, the anointing is God’s supernatural empowering and ability to do what He has called us to do.  Simple!  In all the research that I have done, in all the questions that I’ve asked and all the opinions that have been expressed, this is the one thing that seems to keep coming out over and over again. The anointing of the Holy Spirit is not goose bumps or a weird feeling in your belly.  It is the Divine enabling through the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish the will of God for your life.

Every believer has an anointing from God – His presence and ability available in our lives.  Through this anointing, the Holy Spirit will teach us, give us revelation and empower us if we will listen and yield.  John 16:13; 1 John 2:27.

I could play you music and sing you songs that would move you to tears.  That would not necessarily mean the singer or the song is anointed.  It could be that I have combined certain chord patterns and lyrics that will produce the desired emotional reaction.  On the other hand, I could sing you anointed songs that would not necessarily move you to tears or joy.  Remember, the anointing is not adrenaline, nostalgia or emotions.  Our emotions are affected by the anointing yet the bottom line must always be what the Holy Spirit is doing in your heart.

The cry of my heart is that we would experience the reality of the anointing day in and day out; that supernatural ability from God to do the things that He has called and ordained for us to do.

Excerpt from “FRESH OIL” – Living and functioning in the power of God.  Available Oct 2015.  Contact us to order your copy now.

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