New Wine for New Wineskins November 2017

By , October 31, 2017 9:22 pm

iBelieveLogoSilver01iBelieve (Part 9)

John 3: 16

6 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

The Message

16 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 17 God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

DST (Donnie Stewart Translation)

God loved all the lost and broken people in the world so unconditionally that at the very highest personal cost to himself he was willing to provide the only possible solution when he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in Him as the demonstration of God’s unconquerable benevolence and undefeatable goodwill can be restored to the true purpose of their lives and have all of their brokenness fixed.

Only believe.

Jesus asked his disciples one day (Matthew 16), “Who do men say that I am?” The disciples responded with several subjective and philosophic perspectives. “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets….” Jesus then asked, “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter responded with what was not just another subjective perspective. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus was saying, “Peter, you have been blessed by the Holy Spirit with the objective perspective, the prophetic perspective, the Father’s perspective.

Only believe.

A father sees differently from a brother or a sister, because a father has no rivalry in his heart. He only has the strong desire for his children to experience the best of everything.

God so loved the world that he gave his very best and demonstrated his love at the very highest level with absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that he would get anything in return.

Last time we saw Gideon trying to do the right thing the wrong way in the wrong place. Whenever the church reverts to trying to produce a harvest behind closed doors it is trying to do the right thing in the wrong way and in the wrong place just like Gideon. The winepress is for crushing grapes, not threshing wheat. For generations we have tried to drag the harvest into a church building and crush them under the weight of condemnation. These days we are more likely to employ the more contemporary methods of trying to lure unbelievers into church and attempt to get them to fit into something that is not designed for them. That will always require going back to employing either the law or lust when we have been told to stick to love. And love is always synonymous with truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Jesus demonstrated the Father’s unconditional love by not coming to accuse or excuse but providing a covering that gives people the opportunity to choose how they respond to that love, either by embracing it or rejecting it.

In 1 John 4: 19 it says that we believers love him because he first loved us. We have chosen to embrace his love and to respond to that love by loving him and loving all who are made in his image. After all, how can we say we love God who we can’t see if we don’t love those that we can see?

Gideon was commissioned to defeat the Midianites.  Midian means strife. Midian was actually a son of Abraham to Keturah, and so his descendants were supposed to be the brothers of Israel. The LORD said to Gideon that he would defeat the Midianites as one man. What does this say to us prophetically? We are to defeat strife. And we will do it in unity, as one.

I remember hearing the leader of a large ministry say one time that he had learned that he could never leave strife unchecked among those who served in the ministry. He said if there was an issue between members of the team he would give them the opportunity to resolve their differences, otherwise they would have to leave.  He recognised the toxicity of strife and how damaging and debilitating it can be.

Only believe.

How do we defeat strife?  As one man, united. Jesus said there is world-reaching power in a united church. Is it surprising that the enemy opposes this so vehemently?

I read something interesting last year that Donald Trump had said in a meeting with a large group of church leaders. He said that those who oppose our values speak with one voice but this is not true of the church. And so the upshot of that is that we are defeated by strife between brothers. We often spend more time and energy and resources competing with and criticising and maligning one another within the church than we do focussing on the commission we have been given to reach a lost and dying world.

Paul spoke in Ephesians 4 of two levels of unity – one that we are responsible to maintain, and one that we are responsible to attain.

Ephesians 4: 1 – 3

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavouring to keep (maintain) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

We are to honour and respect one another even when we might find ourselves in different camps or with conflicting viewpoints or doctrinal differences. We should always be willing to extend a hand of fellowship to those whom we recognise as our brothers and sisters because we have the same Father.  This attitude honours our Father and any other attitude is disrespectful to him as well as to others.

Ephesians 4: 11 – 16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come (attain) to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

We will attain to the unity of the faith when we all give up our personal agendas and pet doctrines and simply agree to agree with what our Father says in his word.  It’s all part of growing up.  Genuine love for God and his word and a real desire to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ will iron out all of the differences as the Holy Spirit confirms the word of the Father and causes us to stand in awe of him.

Strife is always an evidence of lust and never of love.

Romans 12: 3

3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think doesn’t mean that you should think about yourself as a no good and useless piece of nothing. You are greatly blessed and highly favoured, and you are his beloved child in whom he is well pleased.

Only believe.

But it does mean that you shouldn’t think of yourself as being better than anyone else. There is a subtle difference between the desire to be the best that you can be and the desire to be better than everyone else.

Galatians 6: 3

3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

In Judges 6: 34 it says that the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon. The literal translation from Hebrew means, “The Spirit of the LORD clothed himself with Gideon.” The reality is that we are of no eternal good to anybody in and of ourselves.

At Pentecost the LORD clothed the church with himself. That puts us all on level ground as our success is no longer to do with our natural talents or ability but the Holy Spirit’s gifts and his supernatural enabling.  At Pentecost the church came out of hiding in the winepress and back into the real world where the wind of the Holy Spirit had access to the harvest and immediately began to separate the wheat from the chaff. 
It is amazing how irrelevant and out of touch the church becomes when it reverts to trying to thresh wheat in the winepress and trying to do the right thing the wrong way in the wrong place. It really is a miracle of the grace of God that some people still get saved.

I stumbled on a TV show some time ago which was a recording of the mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown  doing his latest stage show called “Miracle” which is basically a (at least bordering on) blasphemous rip off of what he describes as faith healing where he mimics all of the very worst caricatures of healing evangelists and where he performs “healings” using all of the flamboyant lingo and extreme mannerisms and references to credit cards, etc that people too often associate with this type of ministry.

I couldn’t stomach too much of it but it did set me thinking about how many people are put off by styles that have developed within the church’s sub-culture and which have absolutely no foundation in Scripture whatsoever. A lot of the stuff that is accepted and even applauded within the walls of the church doesn’t generally transfer very well into the real world where we are supposed to be ministering.

I did a little bit of research and discovered that Mr Brown was actually an evangelical Christian for a number of years before coming out as gay and declaring himself to be an atheist. It struck me that his current parody of healing evangelists may be the result of his having encountered a lot of the showmanship of churchianity with all of the accompanying excess of self-indulgence and self-promotion, and so he possibly missed the reality of the true nature and expression of our heavenly Father’s heart and his overwhelming desire to unconditionally demonstrate his love and compassion by healing the sick in spirit, soul, and body without fuss and minus all of the theatrics and histrionics associated with the excesses of certain types of “ministry”.

Over 20 years ago the Lord gave me an acronym for unity: Unconditional Love, No Personal Agenda, Intercession, Tender-hearted thankfulness, Yieldedness to the Holy Spirit.

The Father is seeking worshippers in spirit and truth because genuine worshippers carry the heart of the Father and demonstrate unconditional love with no personal agenda and are committed to intercede and pray with tender and thankful hearts that are yielded to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit.

And so, the first thing that Gideon was told to do was tear down the altar to Baal (the false god of lust) that his father had erected and build an altar to the LORD on top of that stronghold.

Only believe.

All of the old altars of ministry that are self-promoting and self-exalting and lust-driven must come down, and a true altar must be rebuilt that simply recognises that in the context of worship and awe-filled acknowledgement of the goodness and faithfulness of God every need is supernaturally and abundantly supplied.

In the kingdom it is very easy to become a victim of your own success. You just have to forget the fact that you didn’t get where you are or achieve what you have achieved by your own effort or ability. There have been too many over the years who have started well but finished badly. That is why the Word of God places more importance on how you finish than on how you start out.

Luke 14: 28 – 30

28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?

Paul could testify at the end of his life:

2 Timothy 4: 7

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Did Paul believe that he had achieved this by his own ability? No, his consistent testimony was:

Philippians 4: 13

13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

The kingdom of God is equal opportunity and so every one of us regardless of gender, race, age, educational qualifications or social status has been given the same Holy Spirit and we can have as much of him in our lives as we make space for. Everything we do that is of eternal value is by the authority and power that belongs to him and so none of us can claim any personal glory.  Those who serve well will be commended at the end of the day but nobody can say that they were personally responsible for any success that they achieved.

Only believe.

It is time for us as believers to rise up as one man to defeat strife, to commit to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and to commit to attain to the unity of the faith that will release such authority and power from heaven into the earth that the world around us will be radically impacted and transformed.

Only believe.

It is time for us as believers to be an answer to the prayer of Jesus.

John 17: 20 – 23

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Only believe.

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