“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17~
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” ~John 15:4-8~ (nlt)
He is CLOSE to the humble of heart. Just the expression of hunger and broken transparency…DRAWS Him like the sweetest, most insanely delicious fragrance you can think of…HE CANNOT resist the adoring expression of His kids who just can’t get enough of Him. True ministry is the partnering of our hearts with His to release the glory found in the Throne Room…right here on earth. NOTHING compares to thinking His thoughts, feelings His emotions and seeing His kids the way He sees them.
Even when things are very dark and folks are hurting REAL bad…there is joy because He invites us to see the end product of all the suffering and hurt. We can then DECLARE what He allows us to see…that which has not materialized but is ALREADY more real and eternal than the temporary suffering!! Because He is outside of time…and He invites us to walk with Him above and beyond the limitations of this fallen world, we can ALWAYS REJOICE with GREAT EXPLOSIVE JOY.
The surest way to walk in this unbroken joy and VICTORY is to aggressively guard our awareness of His presence resting UPON us….guard against offense, pride…ANYTHING that unsettles your spirit. This stuff (attacks) usually come when we’re tired, hungry, facing a stressful situation…or after a great victory! So here is a key I’ve learned…instead of maintaining a defensive position or just “trying to hang on to the victory” mindset…we must know that we are EMPOWERED WITH MORE POWER THAN WE CAN EVER USE, by the indwelling Spirit of GLORY…to FORCEFULLY ADVANCE His rule and reign of PEACE over EVERY little and BIG thing we face in our day.
I’m talking real stuff…marriage, parenting, career, ministry…from the most mundane to the most “spiritual” things we undertake in a day, we have been given EVERYTHING WE NEED to glorify King Jesus in ALL things. How to take this from mere theory to practical application? ONE STEP AT A TIME…walk into His heart every minute of everyday…again and again and again…until you will find that you no longer have to step into His presence; He has clothed Himself with YOU.
The difference between visitation and habitation is our grace empowered determination to STAY AWARE of His abiding Presence; as we learn how to host His presence with trembling joy, the measure of His glory on our lives increases until its not so much what we express as Who we express. It is Jesus of Nazareth, the Risen King of Glory living, breathing, talking and touching, laughing and loving, smiling and healing…through us.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” ~John 15:9-17~ (nlt)
Lambs, Kids, Calves and the Ruins
“Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.
Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, ‘Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.’ He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.
Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.’
Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. So the high priests plotted to kill Lazarus because so many of the Jews were going over and believing in Jesus on account of him.”
The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead seemed to many of the people, to be a final certification of Jesus’ authority as the Son of God.
This inarguable evidence of the Jewish Carpenter’s legitimacy spun the religious spirit into a chaotic red alert panic; stirring some of those who witnessed this stunning miracle and sending them to inform the religious leaders.
What was the goal of the enemy?
To silence Jesus. Did you notice that they plotted to kill the miracle?
“So the high priests plotted to kill Lazarus because so many of the Jews were going over and believing in Jesus on account of him.”
The goal of this spirit, is now, has always been and always will be, until that wonderful day when it is finally thrown into the Lake of Fire, to stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
I have no doubt these men were hoping to gain favor with the temple leaders. What was the temptation to which they succumbed?
Selfish ambition. They had just witnessed one of the most spectacular events in all of eternity, a wonder which proclaimed the Lordship of Jesus over Death itself, and yet rather than be overcome by the beauty and glory of that moment, they instead saw an opportunity for selfish gain, for the advancement of their own little kingdoms.
The chief priests and Pharisees were also motivated by self interest and the fear of losing their “position and their nation.”
According to James, wherever selfish ambition is present, one will find every evil thing:
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
Based on extensive study, here’s my paraphrase of James 3:16-
“Where there is zealous emulation, tumultuous anarchy prevails.”
Of course, not all zealous emulation leads to anarchy, but emulation of the devil through selfish ambition does every time, and if unchecked, always ends in murder. Whether it’s the taking of a life by stopping one’s breath, or the taking of a life by slander, accusation and false judgments, at the bloody root of every murder, lies selfish ambition.
Caiaphas in particular, was very wealthy; a consummate politician who, it is believed by many, held his unusually long tenure as high priest through skillful manipulation and favor currying with Roman officials. Mosaic law stated that the appointment to priesthood was for life and was passed from one generation to the next, maintaining a consecutive blood line. During the time of Roman rule, however, the man who filled the position of high priest was selected and appointed based entirely upon the discretion of the Prefect, who at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, was called Pontius Pilate. Caiaphas is said to have kept his coveted position as high priest for 18 years, in a period when the average time held for this position, was but one year.
It can be said, quite accurately, that his avarice and manipulations gained for him a significant earthly reward. He is mentioned in the book of Acts as one who continued to persecute the early church. It requires little imagination or discernment to recognize the source of his power. I wonder how well he slept at night.
It is to his personal home, located in the wealthy quarter of the city, that Jesus was led for His initial interrogation and in the inner courtyard of Caiaphas’ house that the plot to kill Jesus was first vigorously enjoined.
Surrounded by the trappings of earthly wealth and power, God’s appointed high priest enthusiastically planned the arrest and murder of His precious son, Jesus. The religious spirit, which thrives in an atmosphere of accusation, fear and self exaltation, whipped the hearts and minds of the Sanhedrin into a frenzy of greed and jealousy. They became convinced, in those dark hours when they were possessed by jealousy and venomous envyings, that their only hope for survival lay in Jesus’ death.
What a Divine irony!
It was their fear and hatred, once crowned with their own high priest’s bewildering prophetic declaration, which drove them headfirst into a doomed complicity with Hell itself.
Caiaphas prophesied the greatest miracle known in all of Eternity without realizing it, for God’s mantle of priestly authority rested upon him as the last, sinful high priest to preside legitimately over Mosaic law.
We see that even at the fever pitch of demonic activity…Jesus is identified and exalted as the perfect Atonement and thus, Messiah.
It was Caiaphas who delivered the spotless Lamb before Pontius Pilate, most perfectly fulfilling his office of the high priest; the one who every year made the sacrifice of atonement for the sin of the nation, and upon whom, in that unforgettable year, rested the dubious honor of offering the One Who takes away the sin of the whole world.
There were, however, those among the Sanhedrin, who believed in Jesus and favored Him as Messiah; among their number, the man Nicodemus.
What is the point of this history lesson, you may be asking?
The necessity of understanding how we might today be yet crucifying Jesus, albeit ignorantly, with our words, thoughts, actions, and lives.
There is a grave accountability which accompanies every gift of revelation; as we continue together, I exhort you to tread circumspectly.
God has shown me how some WILL NOT COME. They are of Caiaphas’ gang, intent on preserving position, prestige and fast fading power. Their choice to worship a god of their own making has led them into such a strong delusion, that most of them will leave the conversation before we do.
The ones who stick around, make a choice every time they lash out to bring division, strife etc…and the Lord instructs us to warn them twice and then turn away from them. They will have as many opportunities to repent as they’re given, I suppose.
Then there is the company of believers who still speak, think and act in certain religious ways, only because that’s all they’ve ever known…and they are disgusted and fed up with it themselves.
I was formerly counted among these and my heart burns and breaks for those still numbered in that crowd.
I love talking to these folks because every time they mutter some religious platitude or out-of-context scripture to justify some deeply ingrained weakness theology, there is a detectable desperation, if not in the words themselves, then in the tone. A hunger, an ache…a divine dissatisfaction that begs for encounter with the the King of Joy. This heart attitude draws the anointing out like a mighty river. What a privilege to lead them into the revelation of the finished work of the Cross!
There’s been much controversy lately over what is being called a counterfeit movement within the Body of Christ.
The truth is…there IS a counterfeit movement but it is not easily detected unless one is walking in close friendship with God, and it is not organized and united. It consists of a number of disconnected and easily camouflaged groups and individuals, heavily oppressed by the religious spirit, and who are usually very quiet about their true beliefs regarding salvation, hell, election, and the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit.
Their preferred method of teaching the demonic doctrines which seek to undermine the finished work of the Cross, is a one on one setting with new or shaky believers. The spirit controlling them does not like the spotlight unless there is little chance of being confronted with Truth.
The enemy is a master at sleight of hand and he has focused the attention of many on beloved brothers and sisters who truly love Jesus and walk in holiness before the Lord, while the more subtle and divisive deceivers walk amongst the brethren virtually unnoticed; that is until one finally begins to fray and shows his or her true colors with such spectacular fits of fruitlessness, that no one can ignore it.
The Word of God tells us that the ones to watch out for, slip in unnoticed and they promote a life of sinfulness, citing God’s grace as justification.
“Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.”
~Jude 1:3-4~ (msg)
Here’s how it may look and sound in your world:
“Of course we still sin, none of us are perfect…that’s what God’s grace is for. I’m so glad we’re friends. Forget all that religious striving for holiness and just live! I love you. We’re all going to Heaven eventually anyways. We’re all part of the same family. I love you.”
“Those manifestations, that terminology, that way of relating to God…is not of God. It’s the devil. You know he comes as an angel of light, right? We have to expose these false teachers because the precious sheep are being duped. Everybody with any common sense knows we still sin and blow it everyday. Those teaching perfection are heretics. We’re commanded in the Bible to attack and expose false prophets.”
My response to both of these statements is this-
- YOU HAVE BEEN TAKEN CAPTIVE BY THE ENEMY TO DO HIS WILL AND WORK. REPENT FROM PRIDE AND SELF WORSHIP. GET FREE WHILE IT IS YET LIGHT. NIGHT APPROACHES.
The mark of true believers and a true move of the Holy Spirit, is not carefully ordered meetings which satisfy the need of the religious spirit to control and stop up the River. The authentic move of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by joy, freedom, holiness, peace, unity and above all else…LOVE. The true Gospel of the finished work of the Cross is now being preached with an increasing measure of glory.
“The fragrance of the oils filled the house.”
Lives laid down with wholehearted abandon; each one from crown to sole, a living, breathing expression of adoration poured out before King Jesus.
Extravagant love. Uncontainable joy. Explosive hope. Glorious freedom. The Lamb’s shed Blood. Ecstatic sobs of crushed lives being resurrected and thundering shouts of glad rejoicing, rising and dancing, spinning, whirling mixed with angels’ laughter and wild celestial celebration.
We must not be tricked by the religious spirit into missing out on what God has for us in this hour.
Make no mistake; no matter how much energy is given to resisting the River, Religion is going down. Papa God has been calling His children to come out of the decaying cathedrals of man’s weakness theologies, and some have been stubbornly refusing to budge. God is now shaking these vermin-infested structures, warning His kids to get out. Those who align themselves with dead ways will be crushed, while those who flee the rotting frameworks of empty traditions, will watch as Religion comes tumbling down. Once the dust has settled, they will be the ones dancing and frolicking amongst the ruins.
A lost and hurting world doesn’t need any more intellectual discourse, convincing or manipulation.
People need an encounter with their Creator. And God is calling in this hour, separating unto Himself those who tremble at His Word…those who will carry His Glory.
We are not representatives of some cold death truth. We are not ambassadors of some weak and distant god. We have been rescued as those perishing and brought face to face with a Consuming Fire.
It’s time to start some Fires…
“By working righteousness, Holy God will show what “holy” is. And lambs will graze as if they owned the place, kids and calves right at home in the ruins.”